While I speak from a more Product manager’s perspective, this is generally true for everyone who wants to be intellectually curious
It’s easy to be be a believer, it gives you sense of purpose, a sense of comfort, but if you really want to succeed, you need to be a bit of a skeptic.
And skepticism can be taught. Here is a simple trick I suggest
Developing a habit of skepticism
Whenever you read or listen to something interesting, something that catches your eye, especially something that makes claims: Think about one small fact that you can verify. I typically add a small note “really?” in my personal notes.
Go ahead and try to see if you can substantiate that. It could be a very simple thing: Eg someone says that a new study says that Covid vaccine is very effective, you can just check if the study exists and it makes that claim. It could be even simpler than that: Eg a startup says that their market is all tax payers in india and that is Y Million people. Just try ad find that data, is that accurate.
Slowly you start moving to questioning the interpretation on those facts. Eg: In the covid vaccination is “good” case above, you could now try and substantiate what is good. The research report may say 80% efficacy. Is 80% good? How does it compare to other vaccines. Are there any specific things that have been missed? Which age group, which demographic, which variant?
Eventually you start questioning the whole premise of the argument itself.
At the highest level you move to the very motivations driving the argument.
Most things you evaluate would be correct, but that is not the point. You are not trying to find malice, but just building a muscle for questioning.
With enough practice you would start seeing a pattern. You will get a “gut” for understanding what to check and verify.
Every industry, and also every individual has a pattern of what they tend to overlook or what they exaggerate. It could be personal bias or just a generally accepted “industry practice” (see Uselessness of NPS score article as an example of how a generally accepted industry practice is not necessarily accurate)
With this you are not trying to be cynical, but just being skeptics.
A very good exercise might even be to treat this very article with skepticism
Have I defined skepticism right
Can skepticism be taught, or is it just genetic
Who said PMs need to be skeptics. Is there some kind of qualitative or quantitative evidence to support that claim?
After writing this article, a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this came about. I started seeing some WhatsApp forwards and tweets talking about how upto 40% apple workers intend to leave for lack of full remote, or 90% apple employees want indefinite remote.
While I am all for flexibility and do believe that full remote is here to stay, the 40% / 90% number seemed way too high.
So I decided to look a bit deeper. Thankfully one of the newspaper itself posted all the details including their own skepticism
This data does exist. It was collected from employee survey done at Apple
It was done by Apple Employees themselves
It was done in a slack group specifically meant for people invested in remote work . DUH!!!
Without even trying too hard you can see that only 36% of employees in a group specifically meant about remote work spoke about resigning.
If I was teaching a class on bias, I would use this as a perfect example.
You can draw absolutely NO conclusion about what apple employees want in aggregate from this. While I do give points to media sites for publishing the survey details, I hold them accountable for publishing it in the first place knowing fully well that this data has no validity.
It leads to absurd headlines and unnecessary conclusions amongst people who trust them.
It’s like me doing a survey in a “Board game lover”internal group about how important it is to have board games in the break room, i may get 90% Yes. That does not mean 90% people in my company want boardgames in the break room
NO company is going to lose 40% employees just because the do not offer full remote work. Ironically, the most accurate data about the pulse of their organisation might be with the company itself. The company’s survival depends on it. No one would risk losing 40% of employees.
You can obviously dig further and look at specific questions and see if these questions had inherent bias already. Surveys are not that easy and results can vary widely based on how you ask a question.
Motivation: Now you can ask, why did these news sites publish these results knowing fully well that they are widely inaccurate and biased. What is the motivation:
As as kid, one of my favourite subjects was Hindi.One of the things I enjoyed was writing an essay(yes sounds boring but I was really good at it)
Most essay questions in schools revolved around some finite set of themes, and one theme was religion, superstition etc ..or something like that. My Memory fails me here
I no longer remember the exact title of the essay , but I do remember that I used to always quote two dohas by Kabir for good marks
Kankar pathar jod ke, Masjid laye banay
Taa chadh mulla baang de, kya behra hua khudaey
Loose translation: You collected pebbles and stones and made a masjid out of it.
Then you got your priest to go on top of it and shout. Has God gone deaf?
Patthar puje hari mile, to main poojun pahad.
Ghar ki chakki koi na puje, joko pees khaye sansar.
Loose translation: If praying to a stone gets you God, then I will pray to a Mountain
Instead, why doesn’t anyone pray to their flour mill at home, it gives people food
Now I am pretty sure, I am not the only one who used these dohas for those “extra marks”. Many must have remembered it years afterwards like me.Many who came before me and many who came after.
Both the dohas question and satirise one of the most dearly help aspects in both religions. Azaan and Idol worship.
But it was ok to write about this in examinations.It was all ok, at least that is what we felt, to question these things without getting an exaggerated reaction from anyone.
What worries me now is, that the generation that I studied with, the generation that remembered these dohas and probably wrote them down multiple times, is also among the generations that are getting so offended over someone questioning the use of loudspeakers for azaan , aartis etc
The same generation, as kids, thought that it was OK to question the whole concept of azaan and idol worship, now has people who think its blasphemous to question the use of loudspeakers?
Yes, there are people across all age groups who fall into this category, but it makes me much sadder when I see people who I presume are from “my generation” discussing this.
Yes education is not same across, people change and blah blah blah
It is the same feeling you get when you see one of your old classmate who has ruined his life. You had nothing to do with it, but you feel so sorry and somewhat guilty. He is a part of your childhood and you cannot fathom it taking such a turn.
The cursor on my writing app blinks thinking I will have something to say . Appear ,disappear,appear ,disappear , once per second ever so patient ever so diligent ever to expectant.
Why do we write anyways? Seems like a rhetorical question .
Because we love to write? Or something else.
Many people say that we write for ourselves and not others, it makes them happy,but then a lot of great writers claim to have died a bit with every book they wrote . Why write?
If life is nothing but a race towards the oblivion then what is the point.
Perhaps we all know that that oblivion awaits us and we want some part of us to be left behind. Something that will not die till there is conscience life that understands our language.
It seems like a fight against the inevitable, a fight to achieve permanence in some form. Human beings have always fought for that.
Many go out quietly but many kicking and screaming and spewing thoughts ideas that changed the world.
Many used their worldly successes to leave behind monuments and macbaras that still stand long after people even forgot who they were .
Is it some sort of urge to create something new, arrange the words in a fashion that perhaps is truly unique. Words that have been used together before but not in this order, not to express this feeling, not to evoke that response?
Do we write for us? We already know the story in some form in our heads, we already felt that emotion that sheer joy or pain , then why write and share?
Because we write for others, to make them feel the way we felt , to let them know our story, to linger on in some sense when we are gone . It is not for us , but us wanting to imprint them with our thoughts that drives this .
Writing and sharing then can I say is a form of selfishness?
We all want to be millionaires without doing much work ,and the fastest ,easiest and the one with lowest entry barrier way seems to be click baiting recycled content.
“You won’t believe what X did” , “This actor just cheated on his wife, click to know the name” ,”5 ways to XYZ”
But before you do that , think why?
Content Virality sites can do much more , help obscure content, help spread of ideas and initiate conversations on uncomfortable topics or just be click baits. The former needs more courage, the latter not so much , just be clear which one you are .
Think hard because in the long run you need to be OK using your intellect for whatever path you chose
This intellect part is something most people ignore.
Is there another problem you want to invest your brains in? Every second , every minute counts .
Also remember : Lower the entry barrier => Higher competition ==>Less chance of success. Nothing comes easy
The biggest issue is that some of the brightest minds are trying to figure out, how to get more clicks ~Some famous guy
I have been wondering, what is motivation and how do you get it?. There are many theories and many ways people tend to describe it
It is when you cannot sleep to achieve your goals
It is when you do not mind stressing out for a better tomorrow or sometimes just because
But then , why is that? Is motivation a result on your trials to fill in some gap? You want something because you need something and hence you are motivated to achieve it. Does it imply that not being motivated to do anything implies you are actually content ? This makes motivation seem like something you would have in a non-ideal state
And why does motivation sometimes strike you at weird times? Like in the middle of the night when you just wake up to write something , just because.When you become restless for no reason and sometimes when you feel all charged up by looking at the success of others.
The motivation you get by looking at success of others , is it even motivation or just a manifestation of your jealousy that your mind gives a positive spin to?Perhaps you think you are good person and do not get jealous of others but when that ugly demon crops its head, you mind puts a mask of motivation on it.
Bearing that in mind, should we even act on motivation that is motivated by success of others?
What is true motivation and how do you even get it? Does it just strike you , or you work hard enough till you are motivated to work harder?
Are you expecting me to answer this? Sorry, I am just as confused as you are
Sometimes, things happen that make you aware of your insignificance , impermanence the futility of it all.
When you tend to question why it is the way it is, does the question even matter.
How do we celebrate a life or mourn it’s demise , how do we define life or can we define it. Is it what you leave behind or what you took with you.
Yes sometimes things happen that make you aware of your own mortality.
Should you comfort yourself by believing in the soul and the religious texts which talk about rebirth or resurrection.? Or should you believe in much harder to digest the end.
Are memories a person leaves the real self ,? And if yes are you leaving behind you ..because one day.
Reached Kolkata at 12:00 , and my next transportation is at 8:oo PM(train to jalpaiguri)…8 hours to kill . Did not dare to leave the Airport .
Surprisingly found this Internet Cafe with cubicles unfit for any normal sized human to fit in , at the airport.
Killing 1 hour here , sipping overpriced coffee and a taking bite of what looks like stale sad witch. The keyboard at the cafe does not have any letters visible, playing guess what letter I am game. One key “I” is actually a different Red colored key, looks like a trigger to some bomb…let me try again IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII. Ha nothing happened here at least.
I think I should stop cribbing , possibly I hate cubicles and waiting and bad key boards and stale sandwiches 😛
If you are reading this, this article is just for you. You probably have felt like this or still feel like this about yourself for various things.
There are points in your life when you have felt that you get more than you deserved or your success and credit you got was disproportionate of the amount of effort you put in. Maybe people are just exaggerating .
People tend to trust you more than you trust yourself ,you sometimes feel you are not ready for the responsibilities being thrust on you.You didn’t really do that much
Is there something wrong with you?
Not really, many people suffer from this .When I say suffer ,it is because it is irritating and disappointing. When people around you celebrate your success, you are never completely involved because deep down inside you feel you could have done much more.
While you can take a positive spin-off to this by saying that
-You tend to be more humble and overconfidence remains at bay
-You tend to give more effort the next time
-You respect others because you feel everyone can do so
But again there are some downsides to this
-You may not be completely confident
-You may not take up bigger challenges because you do not feel ready enough
-You will not enjoy the moment completely
So what is the solution?
The middle path : Start giving yourself some credit, for God’s sake think about it,if it was so easy everyone would have done it. It is not just the result that you achieved but also the fact that it was YOU who took that initiative is aplaudable.Pat yourself for that and start accepting the fact that the success had something to do with YOU. YOU are the reason and a missing piece of the puzzle.
Start believing in your abilities and have faith. YOU have something that others don’t have. It might sound overconfident and your psyche might not accept this fact initially ,but sometime’s its important.Only then can you become truly confident, you will start realising that it is not that tough,contrary to popular belief you will start being more accommodating of other people,you will realise that it is easy to motivate people to overachieve as that line is not too far.Being successful is not that tough,all it takes is taking the first step.
This is a story of three guys on a mission ,a mission to have one memorable trip
December is a funny month in US,especially if you are anywhere near east coast. It’s funny because on one end you have the start of holiday season,the beginning on christmas celebration and a mad shopping rush , and on other you have heavy snow,extremely short days ,a nature imposed curfew and almost daily predictions of a snow storm
1 year back ,exactly during december me and a few of my friends were planning to use our holidays and maybe go for a trip. Various options were mentioned ,such as Miami,Mexico and even europe. One crazy guy,I do not remember who(Maybe Shashi) suggested a drive ,drive from east to west coast of US,but initially we decided against it because of various practical reasons such as ,most of the gang might not join, monetary cost might be too prohibitive,One heavy snow on the way could destroy the plan
But have you ever had a feeling when against all Odds, you just wanna do it?When an idea just sticks in your head and you can’t think beyond it?When every possible easy solution such as relaxing on the beaches of Miami sounds just too small?
That’s what happened with three of us Shashi(The organizer) ,Me(The PR/Blogger and Miser) and Ramu(Caretaker and cook :P).
Another problem we foresaw was that there were only 2 drivers me and shashi, and I had not driven for such long hours. To be frank I did not even know whether I liked driving or not.This trip was also a validation for me if I was a traveller,did I really liked to travel?
Everyone likes to go out once in a while but only when you go for trips like this you realise your inner self
Anyways we just decided to go for it. Within a day we had rented a car,shopped for fruits ,energy bars ,Raw
dals,vegetables,rice and even heating pan and rice cookers. We also got torches,flashlights,extra batteries,memory cards and chargers .We were prepared for the worst.
Ramu flew from Columbus to join us from the very start.
And hence the journey began:
The rules of the journey were
1.Mission was to drive and not visit Places
2.Stop at places people don’t generally stop
3.Drive till you drop and then take the nearest cheapest motel
4. Be cheap–This was the rule I inserted,was trying to save those days ;)(Ok i was being a miser)
Day 1:–24 December
Day 1 was cool, we started from Rhode Island and drove towards new york. The weather was awesome and the snow Gods seemed to favor us
Our major stop was New jersey Liberty national park ,it is a place made famous by Shahrukh Khan :). It is here that I discovered ,what big Fans of Shahrukh me and shashi were. We just HAD to get our pictures taken in the same place where Sharhukh Khan once stood. It was freezing and our hands could barely move ,but we were men on mission;). After our 30 minutes adventure in almost zero degrees I rushed to the nearest washroom to heat my hands in a Hand dryer . The Car was too far to be approached. It was that COLD
Anyways we continued
On a journey have you ever looked at the Road as an attraction? Maybe it was the first
time we looked at it that way. Man..was it pretty? It was the most beautiful sunset I had seen till date.Who could have imagined ,that we could see the wonders of nature right there on the winding roads among so much traffic .
The beauty of travel pushed shashi hard and he just couldn’t stop driving. We drove 750 miles on day 1 and dropped at..guess what columbus 🙂 At Ramu’s room
Day 2:–Christmas eve
Woke up fresh and ready to start another day.
The pressure cooker used by ramu had no security valve,,so it did not whistle.He had to rely on the advice of his “friend” to cook the pulao and barely managed to prevent it from burning,he now thinks she can cook…
Anyways today was My Day to drive:). We got news that Cumberland(the place we started from) ,just received heavy snow. Had we delayed even for a day ,we would not be on road at this moment.Talk about luck 🙂
We drove west and though we saw a lot of snow on road sides, we did not encounter any snowfall.Saying that we were lucky would be an understatement.
I drove for a solid 300 miles .I wanted to have some historical information about the states we were traveling through, but in-spite of my frequent requests as the driver, Ramu ,who possessed the power of WIFI phone refused to google it out.
But I must say,he was right. Our trip was not about going places or discovering facts,it was about the basic human instinct of exploring and traveling. Maybe we were like ancient Nomads,who vaguely knew our destination but not the path .Who planned as per the conditions and not made conditions as per the plan
Soon I gave up the wheels to Shashi and Lo Behold it starting snowing. We stopped at St Louise ,near the famous Arc
Have you ever felt that you just cannot express a moment or a feeling in sentences and words?It was exactly what I felt at the arc.But let me still try
Imagine Christmas eve,very light snow. Now imagine a church lightly lit ,a Giant arc in the middle of a huge park with perfectly lined up trees covered with white snow.Imagine you are all alone there,the grass is covered with fresh snow and there is not even a single footprint.
Now light up the sky with a faint orange glow.Capture this entire scene in a single frame.Gosh my words fail me.
Day 2 simply surpassed day 1 in every respect. We were awed and amazed.We were right there enjoying the best Christmas ever and it was all accidental.The world was inside their houses,cosy and having dinner, while we were there,right where God had created the most beautiful scene our eyes could see
Day 3:26 December…Lookup
And we drove again…without a plan,without a target,without a worry.
We did what is the purest form of driving,followed the road signs and just drove. For the first time I saw the Farm lands of US.It was the state of Colorado.
Stopped in between to have some amazing Dal prepared by Ramu a night earlier at the hotel and some Extra Elaichi chai by Shashi,stored in a thermos. We were packed;)
It was an amazingly beautiful drive but as luck would have it,nature was about to unravel to us another wonderful picture in the most unexpected place
We had stopped at the side of a highway and then suddenly Shashi said,look up.
We all have read that there are billions of stars in this galaxy and we are just tiny little things.But do we realize it? Well we did it that day. It was something that’s everywhere,stars,countless and endless.Their brightness heightened by the lack of any light except for a in frequent passing car.We were dumb , we just looked up.It was just beautiful . Our cameras totally failed to capture what our eyes could see.
You had to be there to feel it
Our polluted environments prevent us from seeing this nature’s big picture and deceives us into thinking that we are bigger than what we really are.That is the reason we lose perspective
But that was not all as we were about to see. As we started our journey again I saw something in my rear view mirror,something Large and yellow. What was it. No it could not be.It was the moon.
It was so near to the road that it looked huge,beautiful. I will not even try to explain it.Again you HAD to be there to experience it
Take my advice,whenever you go on a journey do look back and look up once in a while. You never know what you are missing.
This was a surprising day for us, think about it, we saw one of the most beautiful sights we had ever seen on a side of an unknown highway.Our trip was already a a success.We didn’t care about what tourist spots we were just passing by on our way without even giving them a glance. We just had the most incredible experience right here on the Road.
I Drove almost nonstop for 11 hours covering 600 miles.My longest drive ever. I can now say I LOVE Traveling:)
Day 4:Walking on water
Woke up pretty early to cook and organize everything.I found I had left my tooth brush soap etc at Ramu’s place and the hotel had no tooth brush for guests,they were out of stock.Just my luck:(…anyways used the trusted finger,had the complimentary breakfast and headed out
We wanted to reach Aspen which was supposed to be the best place to ski but as expected ,we didn’t care about skiing ,we just wanted our dose of travel and Aspen was just a Point.
But Incredible things were like almost a necessity for us:). On our way we found a frozen lake.Yes a frozen lake .Imagine a frozen lake covered on all sides by mountains ,under a blue clear sky right at a road side.
You might think I am using the word awesome and amazing too much but trust me,its not an overkill.It truly was awesome
From there we headed towards Aspen and drove through a town called Val,another ski attraction .It was an amazingly beautiful drive and as you expect from your’s truly, we stopped at various road side points to take pics and enjoy.
Also stopped to have first food outside :).Yes till now we survived on our stocks of oranges,energy bars and freshly cooked food ,cooked by Ramu every night at the hotel :).
Finally crashed at a city named Cidar
Day 5:National park at night:)
We decide to visit one natural wonder called Bryce canyon ,which was not too far away from us. As expected the drive was simply amazing, we stopped at various scenic points,horse ranches and what not.
We even stopped at a subway and Cooked rice in our rice cooker ;).Yeah we cooked there,hid the cooker behind our jackets to prevent being caught while we enjoyed our Subs:P.Thank you subway, the rice was good.
We even stopped at some unknown town/village where life seemed to have stopped because of snow.We jumped over the car,jumped on stationary tractors and basically made a lot of mess with the snow
Bryce canyon is a beautiful rock formation formed by sediments and water erosion from ancient river and seas.it is called a cave without a ceiling,being in the vicinity of canyons was inspiring.The point itself was aptly named as the Inspiration point
Our journey ahead would now take us through another national park named Zion National park. Sadly we were passing it at night which apart from being very dangerous was also disappointing because we wont be able to see anything ,but was it?
NO, nature had decided to give us surprises and here also it did not fail us.While we carefully drove slowly through Zion National park ,with absolutely no streetlights on narrow hilly roads ,passing an infrequent car .We decided to stop and again look up at the starry night,a habit we had acquired after the scene we saw on day 3.
And Gosh were we in for a surprise
Imagine this,pitch Dark(we even switched off car head lights) ,the starry night I described earlier and now add to it a mountain valley with you at the center.
Every day I was seeing the best view of my Life till date and this day was no exception.It was the great master’s masterpiece and somehow we felt like its center
Imagine 3 guys standing in the middle of a national park and just gazing at the stars,no words,no talk,no sound and no movement
That was the scene and we are Glad we passed through the park at night.How many people would have witnessed this scene even after passing it 1000 times?
Day 6:Vegas–Beyond the casinos
Ok we reached Vegas, I know many of you might be disappointed at WHY Vegas,but it is a MUST see for any one in US and we wanted to spend a day there
As people would have already mentioned to you, Vegas just hits you. One moment you are driving through desert and suddenly BAM you see lights and light and lights.Its like a carnival in the middle of a desert
BTW Vegas is not all Gambling,it is much more.Yes casino’s themselves are pieces of art such as Cesars palace and venation but there is more,there are amazing street performers,many quirky talented people out there,then there the huge water dance and some beautiful mesmerizing shows.
Inside Wynn casino we even found a small hotel which has an actual Pine forest ,yes a small pine forest in a desert ,and they have some 5-10 minute shows every 30 mins.Must watch
But who am I kidding?Vegas=Gambeling and faithfull we did play Black Jack.All of is won 🙂
And did I mention Shashi was approached by some pretty girl who inquired about his name and his residence and mentioned how Cold his hands were ,and our seedha saadha Shashi didn’t even ask her name,disappointing her I guess,not good courtesy Shashi 😉
Day 7:The end
We reached LA on day 6 itself and crashed at our friend Chris’s Place . We were at the west coast but wanted to celebrate when we actually hit the beach in the morning.
The drive was dry,nothing that I could write about after what all I had already seen.
We woke up and were treated by Chris at a wonderful Organic Food restaurant. The woman running the restaurant also gifted us her special organic cookies when she came to know that we drove all the way from east coast .
We hit the beach and it symbolised the end of our incredible journey. We were happy,I guess.But in our hearts we so wished the beach moved a few thousand miles away.The journey was over ,but it was not
We took pictures ,jumped but when we drove back ,Shashi asked how do you feel ?and our answer was we don’t know!
Yes we were happy ,we crossed out an item off our bucket list and undertook possible one of the longest journeys of our lives,we crossed 16 states and drove 3300 miles but still,we wanted more.
We could not comprehend that it was over.Only many days later when we discussed our story with family and friends ,we realized it was over.
Normal life now seemed boring.We knew that from now on, every morning when we wake up, we would want to drive off to someplace unknown,awaiting the next surprise ,the next wonder of nature and the next incredible adventure
This trip was an incredible adventure for me and I realized many things 1.Beauty is all around,you do not need to go to special places to view it.Nature is just incredible 2.When in doubt,lookup. When we looked up we saw what we had never seen before,all we needed was to lookup 3.Travelling is like meditation,it really is.While traveling you and the road become one,you are aware of yourself and the road but still lost in the journey,nothing else matters 4.Its the journey and not the destination that matters
5.Luck favors the brave: Every single person we spoke to ,advised us against this trip but we went ahead following our heart.Luck was on our side .Even if we had failed we would have had no regrets because we tried