Friday, November 28, 2008


I just came back from this awesome Thanksgiving dinner at my friends place, and realised that I met more than one person whom I had not met before. Some of them were classmate, and some were not. So back at home, I started reading this book by Suketu Mehta, the Maximum City. On page 38 of his book, it says
Bombay is built on envy: the married envy the single, the single long to be married, the middle class envy the truly rich, the rich envy those without tax problems.

For some reason these kind of observations in his book make me think about the random incidents that happen to me everyday. Like how I instantly liked a few people I met at the party today, and didn't quite connect with a few others. I question myself, why didnt I connect?

As I try to answer that question, I realize I might well try and break that problem using the consulting case interview methodology - after all, there has to be some use of all those million interviews I took. I realize the basic question can be answered by breaking the situation into 3 parts : a) my own understanding of my own self, likes and dislikes b) the assumptions I make about a person based on the few things are we talk about c) what else is on my mind that might influence my perceptions. Deep diving into (a) I remember that I believe I know myself very well by now. Although every once in a while, I get the opportunity to question that self-assertion. Do I really know myself that well ? I guess the quest's on. Analyzing (b) tells me that I occasionally make a quick opinion on people. I know that's being hasty (and making judgments based on a small sample dataset just isn't the Chicago way of looking into a problem), but I still act the same way. Maybe this is an innate behavioral flaw, I guess I have to work on that. Finally (c). I realize that there were other things on my mind. Moreover, I also feel that I was making a tonne of comparisons, between two different people, between many different people. I was obviously also evaluating the whole environment as a whole, you know the context. Makes me feel that was I even enjoying the party, but I know I was, because all these analytical thoughts were in the subconscious.

Anyways, the whole point is that in "my view", a lot of business school interactions are temporal (maybe a little more at Chicago because of ours being more of a commuter school). People meet at parties, social events, networking events, they chat a bit before they are finally drunk, they talk about some stuff they are interested in, some stuff which might not really interest anyone on the table but everyone thinks plays along for sake of others, and then we go off. We meet again at some other party, social event or networking event, and the case repeats. But this doesnt really help form a connection, at least not a real one. Real connections happen when you connect the first time, and like each other enough to meet more often than the occasional rendezvous ( duh!! ). The question I ask myself is, can I change something to make more connections and have less missed opportunities to know the great people I bump into. What work do I need to do in the (a), (b) or (c) or maybe the unidentified (d), (e) and (f) that can help me the swing the needle the other way ? And it's important to swing the needle - because these arent necessarily connections that will translate into an addition of my LinkedIn contacts list, but these are people whom I can get something from. Not a favor, but some smarts. As I realize now, the cost of missed networking opportunities in business school is very high.

Here's wishing me luck, and if I figure out a solution for myself, I will remember to share.


v said...

This may be true in the bombay you lived in. its not true anymore. Just because you are sitting in America, does not mean you know how Bombay works just by reading books.

Forrest Gump said...

never lived in bombay, so dont really have an opinion, and i was quoting from a book anyways. but i think mr mehta is right to an extent, and i think what he says is probably true about most other big cities. i would also think that as income disparities reduce, the phenomenon might change for the better.

Udipi Ghosh said...
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