and the Curse of Knowledge bias.

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

A couple of years ago, I interviewed for a product manager position at a Silicon Valley company. I didn’t get the job, but it is till date one of the best product management interviews I have attended.

My interviewer asked me this deceptively simple question, and it shifted my perspective on storytelling.

The question:

“How would you verbally explain the rules of your favorite game to someone who has never played it?”

During the interview, I picked my favorite early 2000s mobile game — Snake. I then started explaining the rules of the game:

As the player, you need to…


The wonderful Mariko Grady talks about herself, her love for miso, and her food philosophy

Mariko (far right) and team, at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. Photo by the author.

Mariko Grady is the owner and founder of Aedan Fermented Foods, which is a San Francisco based small business specializing in hand-crafted, small-batch fermented foods from Japan, like miso, koji, and amazake. The kanji characters for Aedan loosely translate into “generational wisdom”. Mariko envisions her food promoting harmony among various cultures and communities.

What she started as a means to raise funds to help Japan during an earthquake crisis in 2011, evolved into Aedan Fermented Foods when Mariko’s friends encouraged her to sell her miso and other “alive foods” to more people.

Mansi Narain and I, both employed by an…


Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

I have lived in the United States of America for six years now. I moved here for graduate school and work.

The good parts of being a tech immigrant worker living in the Bay Area are that I enjoy a high standard of living, the illusion of gender equality in the workplace, beautiful libraries, parks, bars, public systems and infrastructure that just work, and the means to do pretty much anything I want. …


Do you enjoy reading obscure books? Here are a few that may just blow your mind.

I love books.

I mean, I like reading, but I truly love books as artifacts.

Making a book is a real labor of love. Many things have to come together for a book to be held and read by a person.

It makes me sad to think that there are books out there that I will never read in my lifetime. However, here are some obscure books that I serendipitously found and read.

I don’t believe in categorizing books at all, and these are particularly hard to put into metaphorical boxes. So, I’ll just leave them here.

Go forth and…


and ways to deal with them

Toxic workplaces are not uncommon. Tight deadlines, competition, bad bosses, large egos, the need to climb the proverbial ladder, are all culprits in creating environments that don’t make you feel supported to do your best work.

Here are some ways in which a toxic workplace can impact your own sense of self-worth, and your mental health.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

1. You doubt your own abilities

Everyone has their own style of doing work. Some are visual thinkers, some people are strategic, some fare better when thinking about the details, some people want to be owners and so on. …


Marina talks to us about Brazilian cakes, drinking coffee as a kid, and much more

Marina Bichoffe is currently a Software Engineer living in San Francisco. She was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and came to the U.S. about four years ago. She spoke to us from Hawaii, where she was vacationing after a long year of quarantining indoors. We started chatting about food, and Marina described her earliest food memory: coming back home from school to the aroma of carrot cake baking in the oven!

Carrot cake in the oven

“The one sense that brings me most nostalgia is the sense of smell.”, she says.

“Sometimes, I walk through a bakery and I smell cake like they used to…


There is a Dumbledore and an Umbridge in every office

Photo by RAMSHA ASAD on Unsplash

Imagine for a minute that your office is the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is not as crazy an idea as you may think! I bet there are people in your office who share several characteristics with the following Hogwarts professors.

Severus Snape

He favors his own house and maligns others.

Professor Snape is biased against non-Slytherins. Most notably, he shuts down Harry and Hermione even when they are being perfectly diligent. When Snape finally becomes the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he asks his class to explain non-verbal spells. …


Learnings from vedantic meditation

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

4 years ago, my work was not going well. I was thousands of miles away from everyone I loved.

Everything seemed to be crumbling around me.

That’s when I discovered Advaita Vedanta, a branch of Hinduism that aims to teach humans to transcend suffering and attain eternal happiness.

Sounds great right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Advaita Vedanta (advaita means ‘non-dual’) tells you that your real nature is the same as God’s nature. Tat tvam asi, which translates to “That Thou Art” (‘That’, being the supreme divinity), is a fundamental fact according to Advaita Vedanta.

Then why don’t we know…


The illusion of explanatory depth

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Of course, you know how a bicycle works, right? Wrong.

Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Kiel, Yale psychologists, first concluded through a series of experiments that people tend to overrate their understanding of causally complex systems like artifacts (bicycles, microwaves, sewing machines, microchips, zippers, refrigerators), and natural phenomena (tides, rainbows, waves, etc.).

They coined a term for this: the illusion of explanatory depth (IOED). Simply put, if you ask a bunch of people to rate their understanding of a causally complex system, say, a bicycle, they are likely to give themselves high ratings. …


Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

I was 21 when I wanted to become a product manager.

I was a software engineer in Chennai, India, working for a company that manufactured HVAC systems. As a fresh college graduate, I wanted to understand how what I was working on was making a difference to the world!

One year into my job, my team hired a product manager. He used to talk to building operators and site managers who were actually using my software, and pass on real, human feedback from them back to my team. He was the one telling us what to build and what our…

Ashwini

I'm a product manager living in San Francisco with a heart that refuses to leave Chennai! I enjoy writing about product management, technology, and food.

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