Why do introverts get depressed easily?

Earlier I’ve written about building mental immunity to prevent depression. Lately, I’ve been very interested in the predictive processing theory of mind, and trying to build has intution about how gets depression takes shape.

I connect a few concepts from evolutionary psychology and predictive processing theory to explore why introverts are more susceptible to depression. Watch the 10-minute video essay below.

In case you prefer text, I tweeted the main ideas from the video as a thread...  Read the entire post →

Simpson’s paradox, or why your intuition about averages is probably wrong

I came across Simpson’s paradox in Judea Pearl’s book The Book of Why. It completely changed the way I thought about average statistics such as mean, standard deviation and correlation.

Inspired by that, I explored Simpson’s paradox in a 10-minute video.

I hope you enjoy the video. Leave your comments on Youtube (or on an email to me) if you have feedback.

Your company’s org chart is more important than you think

Startup founders have many biases. Some are classic cognitive biases that impact decision making, while others are specific biases that impact their product thinking.

There’s yet another founder bias whose impact is not felt for a long time. It occurs when founders assume employees think and act like them. The often repeated advice that “early startup employees wear multiple hats” is an implication of this bias. I remember I assumed that just because I was able to do multiple things (coding, design, marketing, etc.) I expected our sales folks to make their own presentations and engineers to think of new product features.  ...  Read the entire post →

Evolution explains everything

I love evolution. It’s hard to not get awed by a process that took Earth, a big rock full of chemicals, and gradually chiseled it to create humans, creatures full of complex emotions and behaviors. Impossible as it may seem, the mind-bogglingly diverse human behavior can be explained via evolution.

Let’s take our sense of boredom. We dislike doing nothing so much that sitting still during meditation requires active concentration. We have this anti-boredom drive because our ancestors who were action-oriented survived longer and had more babies, ultimately outnumbering our ancestors who were happy chilling and doing nothing. ...  Read the entire post →

Thinking in analogies is dangerous

From your high school classes, do you recall the image of an atom where electrons revolve around the nucleus (just like planets go around the Sun)? I’m talking about images of this sort:

A completely misleading diagram (via here)

This analogy of electrons as tiny planets is so common that most people imagine electrons to be like tiny spheres. This bothers me because it’s utterly wrong. Electrons are not tiny spheres. Instead, they’re like a cloud spread around the nucleus. In fact, even the cloud analogy is wrong. Human intuition never evolved to understand things at that scale, so the most accurate picture of an atom is given by the Schrödinger equation. Note that the quantum mechanical equation is not just a mathematical description, it is what an electron really is. By the way, here’s a photo of an atom that was taken recently. ...  Read the entire post →

Building mental immunity against depression and anxiety

Mental health issues were the primary cause of the recent deaths of famous celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Avicii and Chester Bennington. I wish peace to their families and friends.

I hope that these deaths don’t go in vain but serve as a wake-up call for the rest of us. Across one’s lifetime, there’s a very high likelihood of going through a mental health issue. Studies suggest that about 25% of all people suffer a mental disorder in any 12 month window. This means that it’s likely that one in four people you know have recently gone through a depression or an anxiety episode.  ...  Read the entire post →

How to become a leader in 10 hard steps

Wingify, a company that I founded, turns 8 today. Over these years, I’ve seen myself evolve from a silly little punk doing a side project to the Chairman position where I’m responsible for creating future leaders within Wingify.

Wingify’s office in 2011. We had one long table where everyone sat back to back 🙂

In my career, I’ve observed a few people rapidly rise in their careers within while most others simply drift along. What distinguishes leaders from non-leaders?

Our eighth anniversary is as good as any other day to reflect on the subject of leaders. So here goes my advice and observations, listicle style. ...  Read the entire post →

How to critically dissect a success story

We thrive on stories. We want to know who did what to whom and what happened after that. People watch the news for hours and binge on Netflix because we’re evolutionarily wired to seek stories. Our ancestors who told and listened to stories had a higher survival rate because stories bound them together. Stories helped form groups that killed Mammoths and take over the world.

Stories bind people together because they provide a natural boundary between us-and-them.  Those who share similar stories are ultimately similar people – Christians bound together by Biblical stories, USA bound together by stories of freedom and independence. When friends gossip, what they’re really saying to each other is: we belong together. ...  Read the entire post →

The metathinking approach to making big decisions

Big decisions in life are gut-wrenching. Who to marry, where to work, who to hire, how to fire, which subject to major in, how to make a career change, which car to buy, where to invest, et cetra. We stall and brood over those because all such decisions represent major forks in our life. Usually (but not always) these are one-way roads. After all, you don’t buy a house or choose a company to work for every other day.

Given the importance of big decisions in our lives, it’s a surprise that nobody teaches us how to handle them. We’re taught solving for lever and pulley problems (something we’d never encounter in real life) but we’re not taught how to choose a career. ...  Read the entire post →

Cognitive biases that lead to poorly designed products

I have previously written about cognitive biases and how to avoid them. In this post, I want to focus specifically on biases that impact product designers, product managers and startup founders. This post is based on a talk that I gave in Bengaluru at a product conference. So this post will contain slides interspersed with my commentary.

What’s a cognitive bias?

There are multiple definitions floating around the Internet, but I like the following one the most.

Cognitive bias is a systematic error in perception due to the environment that one is embedded into. ...  Read the entire post →