The value of truth depends on the circumstances

A few years back, I was late for an interview.

I told the truth, I lost my way, had to take a U-turn and there was more traffic than usual.

The discussion went well. 

On my way out the hiring manager wanted to give me friendly advice.

She said, Alok, it is good, to be honest, but next time you are late for an interview tell there was a flat tire or cook-up something, an excuse that is beyond your control. 

*As if the unusual traffic was in my control*

At that point in time, I just shook hands and said thank you.

Obviously, it was my fault. I could have factored in the peak traffic hours.

As I was driving back, I thought, I was only 10 minutes late. 

My mind was telling me, Alok, think of all the times you were on time and the interview was delayed by even 30 minutes.

But at the same time, the hiring manager had a point.

The value of truth depends on the circumstances.

A flat tire is a better excuse than the unusual traffic if you are late for an interview.

It doesn’t matter if you are telling the truth or you are lying about it. The fact is you are late. However, you can still “control” the perception. 🙂

But isn’t simple truth more convenient to tell than a well-fabricated lie?

Why so many complications? 

What do you think?


Pick your narrative carefully [Part 2]

Our happiness depends on the way we develop our life stories.

It is the narrative that matters.

Facts don’t change but the narrative keeps on changing.

Recall the story you tell during your interviews. 

A failure in the past becomes a stepping stone to bigger achievements.

As we grow we slowly develop these narratives into a meaningful plot.

We also constantly update them. Revise them.

Facts don’t change. Some facts are discarded and replaced with relevant facts that matter to you.

Failed relationships are forgotten. Misadventures are chucked away. Career dips are deleted.

But all this happens in the minds of people who build positive narratives.

These narratives are called redemptive narratives (search from Dan McAdams’ research in this area.). Redemptive narratives have a progressive growth story.

To make the progressive story even better, you anticipate positive events around you.

Now, look at the flip side.

Stories that still carry the burden of failures and misfortune build a depressing narrative.

Facts don’t change. But the mind only picks facts that are toxic to the self.

Even in this case, the narratives keep on changing.

Depressing narratives pick up events of failure to build a very justifying story. Justification matters because you can’t fool yourself right?

Irrelevant failures are dropped from the plot, failures that contribute to a better story remain. 

To make the depressing story even better, you anticipate depressing events.

We all are storytellers.

And the state of our mind depends on the type of stories that we weave. 

Want to be happy? Build a positive and progressive narrative. 

It only takes a little imagination. 


Pick your narratives carefully

Yesterday, I was reading about how the Corona Virus was produced in a lab based in Wuhan, China. 

The source was credible. It was a very long narrative, supported with facts. 

Nevertheless, it was just a narrative. 

The problem is that the world works on narratives. 

World issues are so complex that fiction can be built using objective facts.

Sounds like a paradox? 

Take Bitcoin for example.

The single narrative that is driving Bitcoin to the sky is the “fact” that Cryptocurrency is decentralized. No single organization, government, or bank controls it. 

A few days back when Elon Musk sold billions of worth of Bitcoins, the Bitcoin lost 15% of its value.

Decentralized? Not anymore right?

One man can change the fate of a currency by 15%

Which narrative would you believe now?

Elections work the same way. Election campaigns sell narratives. Of course, they package facts but only in the sequence and structure that sells.

In hindsight, there is no lie. 

Very few people can afford a lie. 

Lying is cost-intensive and risk-intensive activity. 

There is only the truth. The greater truth and the lesser truth 🙂

There are only narratives based on convenient truths.

Pick your narratives carefully.

There is no free advice

Last week, my left eye developed redness

Google made me more paranoid. Too much information.

It was high time, the redness did not recede after a couple of days. Hence I booked an appointment on #Practo.

The doctor looked at the image of my eye and asked a couple of questions. 

After which he declared it was Episcleritis 

My heart skipped a beat

Is it dangerous Doctor, I asked.

Not at all he said 

He prescribed eye drops and that was it

What if the redness sustains? 

Don’t worry it is common. Get back to me after 5 days.

I used the eye drops for two days and my eyes were normal

The doctor gave me advice with accountability attached to it

Very much unlike the free advice available online

The doctor’s advice came at a modest price though

We live in a time where free advice is all over the internet. 

But where is the accountability?

Well, you don’t need to have any #accountability because the advice is free right?

For instance, people who offer stock market tips have no skin in the game, do they even buy stocks that they recommend?

LinkedIn is no different, free advice is all over the place because stakes are so low for those who offer that advice. 

It is not their fault, the internet makes it easy 

What do you think? 


Story of every meeting room before the pandemic hit us

Meeting rooms always had a crazy demand.

Premium property perpetually blocked by souls who over the years had developed a strong belief system around the significance of meetings.

These rooms have creative names; hope, mars, Kevin Spacey room, Medula’s lair, you name it.

It was considered taboo to replace a meeting with an email.

It was so upsetting to see these spaces blocked for hours on the calendars.

Some rooms were booked well in advance. Predictive analytics?

“This room is booked”, was the assertion if one was found using a room booked by others.

Some people were almost residents of these meeting rooms.

You would never find them at their workstations.

Their workstations were merely parking spots for their bags, rewards, smiling photos, and other paraphernalia.

In the mornings, these meeting rooms smelled of room fresheners. 

Thanks to office boys. They “owned” this task!

Post noon they smelled like food.

In the evening they smelled like humans.

Forgotten chargers, underused diaries, and pens.

A whiteboard was full of action plans.

Fast forward it to the present.

Now you have infinite meeting rooms.

#Meetings are conducted on a whim.

All you need is a link.

Do we conduct more meetings now? 

You tell me.

Evolution of Netflix and the Millennial Mindset

Evolution of Netflix in India and the millennial mindset.

2015: Rs 650 is too expensive. What are torrents for? 

2016: Let me try the one-month free option, I will binge-watch my favorite shows and then cancel my subscription.

2017: Let us share credentials, buy the 850 pack and divide among the 4 of us. What are friends for?

2018: This works! this is how you squeeze these services. Smart move eh!

2019: You know what, I will go solo. Just don’t want to share a password with random people. I need a feed that suits me. My viewer history matters so that I continue from where I have left. Moreover, I use Netflix on my iPad when I am on the move. I watch Netflix on like 4 devices. It is worth 650 Rs. 

2020: This works! Factoring in the inflation, 650 Rs is nothing as compared to 650 Rs back in 2015. This is a killer deal.

2021: I don’t really have all the time to consume Netflix but it doesn’t hurt to subscribe to it till eternity. It is a pain to unsubscribe and subscribe to it. I don’t even remember the last time I unsubscribed from Netflix.

Valuation of Netflix in 

2015: 40 Billion dollars
2021: 230 Billion dollars

Consumer behavior in a nutshell.


Creating Vs Coordinating

Some advice for people in their early #careers

There are two types of opportunities in this world

Creating and coordinating

Creating is for those who appreciate originality, those who like to think and apply

Copywriting, coding, drawing, designing, building, developing, solving

Co-ordinating is a different world all-together 

It is all about managing resources, selecting #resources, and aligning resources.

Scheduling, conducting meetings, talking, listening, influencing, negotiating, taking notes, enabling, planning, organizing, calendarizing

While creating is celebrated more in books and movies, coordinating takes a backseat 

Terms like innovative, out of the box, free and radical are associated with creating

Terms like mundane, boring, soul-sapping work get associated with co-ordinating

Unfortunately, there are more opportunities for coordinating 

Because the world works that way

The economy tolerates mediocrity in coordination

The #economy has zero-tolerance for mediocrity in the creation

Mediocre creators are punished by the economy

Mediocre co-ordinators simply survive

Excellent co-ordinators excel much faster than excellent creators 

And it is easy to be a mediocre coordinator because there are just too many of them

Decide what you want to become 🙂

Doing things you hate doing

There are two ways you can grow in life

1. Doing the things you really like to do

2. Doing things you really don’t like doing

Finding your True North needs a lot of patience and dedication.

It is a difficult path, full of trials, mistakes, and failures.

I believe if you live long enough, you would eventually find your calling. Some find it at 20 and others at 45. Doesn’t matter. Don’t stress over it.

If you dare to be a little more optimistic, you will always find your true calling. The question would be whether you chase it or not.

Anyway, the essence of this post is the second aspect because things you don’t like to do are often found in abundance.

And there is always a reward attached to them.

Most people fall for this trap, after all, it is a lucrative trap.

Then there is a hybrid approach: Keep on doing things you don’t like to do until you find something that you would really like to do.

People seeking financial freedom and early retirement follow the hybrid approach.

Which choice is the best?

Well, how does it matter as long as you grow?


Think before you take a break!

Here is what happens when you take a break.

Last year I got very consistent at writing on #LinkedIn.

Wrote hundreds of posts, organic reach on my website spiked-up.

I inspired a few, met awesome people here.

I received some very good feedback on the way I write and put my ideas across.

Somewhere in October, I decided to take a small break, I thought I “deserve” it.

That small break derailed everything for me.

Eventually, it led to a hiatus in my flow and consistency.

I could have developed so much more.

I am less curious now than I was back then.

I am less creative now than I was back then.

The break made a small dent in my belief system.

Consistency drives the wheel of our belief system.

Consistency is like the law of inertia; an object in motion stays in motion.

The moment you halt/take a break, things fall apart.

Our life is no different.

Think before you take a break.

Think before you take a career break.

Think before you take a break from your exercise routine.


A small break in your #routine can make you fall apart.

It can derail your belief system and can make you a different person altogether. 

The best culture book in the world

In 2012, Valve’s handbook for new employees got leaked.

It had hilarious illustrations and step-by-step guideline for new employees to understand various aspects of Valve’s #culture.

For those of you who may not have heard of Valve, I bet you must have played their video games like Half-Life and Portal.

I love reading culture books and slide decks.

Last week when I found Valve’s book, I felt like I have struck gold.

And because I am so much interested in organizational structures these days, I found a fresh perspective and some food for thought.

Excerpt from the book below:

“Welcome to flatland: Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability. It simplifies planning and makes it easier to control a large group of people from the top down, which is why military organizations rely on it so heavily.”

As I eagerly read through more pages, I realized how they have built a unique culture, appraisals, compensation system, etc.

There are interesting facts where they illustrate why their desks have wheels and how to make the best use of their vacation policy.

It is a must-read for all curious minds who long for utopian and egalitarian workplaces and also those of you (and me) who think they do not exist. 🙂

(The link for the pdf )