Barack Obama explains why a president should avoid TV and social media when making a decision

  • Former U.S. president Barack Obama said that when making a decision, it's helpful not to watch TV or read social media.
  • That's because those things create "a lot of noise and clouds your judgment," Obama said at a San Francisco event organized by tech company Splunk on Wednesday.
  • He also said it's important to have teams with a diversity of opinion to help with decision making and providing context.

If you're president of the United States, Barack Obama has two important tips to help make good decisions. 

The former US president spoke about his decision making process at a San Francisco event Wednesday organized by data analysis company Splunk. 

First, Obama said, you should "make sure you have a team with a diversity of opinion sitting around you."

He added: "The other thing that's helpful is not watching TV or reading social media. Those are two things I would advise, if you're our president, not to do. It creates a lot of noise and clouds your judgment."

Obama spoke about how he entered office in the midst of the Great Recession. He said that it's been said that the presidency is like "drinking out of a firehose. That's doubly true when you're in the middle of a crisis." 

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump (L) listens as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to meet with members of the Republican leadership in Congress later today on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, listens as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Obama on Thursday met face-to-face with Trump, who spent years questioning the eligibility of the first black U.S. president and now will succeed him. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Republican President-elect Donald Trump (L) during a meeting on transition planning in the Oval Office at the White House on November 10, 2016 in Washington,DC. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Republican President-elect Donald Trump (L) during a meeting on transition planning in the Oval Office at the White House on November 10, 2016 in Washington,DC. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House on November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and former president Barack Obama stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with First Lady Melania Trump and Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Rob Carr/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump listens as President Barack Obama talks to the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) reaches out to greet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) as he and his wife Melania arrive for tea before the inauguration with the Obamas at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama walk out of the East front prior to Obama's departure from the 2017 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS\Jack Gruber\Pool via USA TODAY NETWORK TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
(FILES) L-R: First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump,former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama at the US Capitol after inauguration ceremonies at the in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. While the new US president has shown a capacity to change, both his tone and his positions, he has been unable to show the world a 'new' Trump, with a steady presidential style and a clearly articulated worldview. As the symbolic milestone of his 100th day in power, which falls on April 29, 2017, draws near, a cold, hard reality is setting in for the billionaire businessman who promised Americans he would 'win, win, win' for them. At this stage of his presidency, he is the least popular US leader in modern history (even if his core supporters are still totally behind him.) / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON / TO GO WITH AFP STORY, US-politics-Trump-100days (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (L) greet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania for tea before the inauguration at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (L) greet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania for tea before the inauguration at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. Melania Trump presents a gift to Obama. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US First Lady Melania Trump looks on as US President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama talk on the East front steps of the US Capitol after inauguration ceremonies on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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A president can't absorb all the information on their own when making a decision, so it's important to have teams to provide information and context about the problem, he said.

"Then what you have to do is create a process where you have confidence that whatever data is out there has been sifted and sorted," Obama added. 

Obama said that there's so much information out there now, including "opinion wrapped up as fact" and clickbait, so it's important to filter through the noise. 

"What it does mean is that if you are susceptible to worrying about what are the polls saying or what might this person say about this topic or you start mistaking the intensity of the passion of a very small subset of people with a broader sense about your country or people who know something about the topic, that will sway your decision-making in an unhealthy way," Obama said.

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