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. ...
Let’s imagine Artificial Intelligence, but in reverse. In such a world, humans are equivalent of machine learning algorithms (like deep learning) and some aliens (or our simulation overlords) feed labeled information from their world into us and ask us to “learn” the mapping between the inputs and the outputs. In all likelihood, their world will be incomprehensible to us (as it would have a very different nature than our world). Hence, whatever data is fed to us will seem random (as, in our world, we’d have never come across it before). ... Read the entire post →
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 →
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:
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
1/ Reading @robinhanson and @kevinsimler new book ‘Elephant in the brain’. Here are my notes on big ideas from the book.
2/ Human intelligence evolved as a result of arms race of getting ahead in social situations where two contrasting incentives always existed: to co-operate or to compete.
3/ Unlike chimps where hierarchy is strictly from alpha male to least powerful individuals, language allowed humans to form coalitions and keep most aggressive individuals in check. These coalitions are where laws and norms come from ... Read the entire post →
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 →