In most of the work places, interviews are the entry barrier to become a part of an organization. The general tendency of anyone to approach an interview is to do it like an examination. An evening or two of preparation especially if it is a technical job and some search on the net for answering typical questions gives an illusion of being prepared for an interview. It is easy to get through examinations with an overnight of preparation as only the factual accuracy of the answer matters.

Interviews in my opinion are more of discussions than question answer sessions like exams.  For technical jobs, the interviews will be centered around the sound understanding of the fundamentals and application of that knowledge rather than checking the memory of first page search result answers for the questions. If the attitude and approach towards a day job is inclined towards continuous learning and improvement, then that may help a lot at an interview than an overnight preparation. In other words we should be able to meet an employer on a flight journey, conference or social events and stumble on a job offer without any preparation.

Being employable is analogous to being physically strong. Just like how one should exercise every day to be fit and strong, the learnings and applications every day at workplace helps in strengthening our capabilities. It will also not come to us in a few days, it is a long and continuous process which should become a habit.

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Maintaining an inventory will always cost money. Millions of wealth is spent in optimizing supply chain and some have earned billions by cutting down warehouses or having zero inventory policies. New technologies, online presence, faster shipping has made people make more money by optimizing their supply chain. In my school days owning a knowledge bank like encylopedia, tell me why, how stuff works were considered to be prestigious. The advantage of large inventory of knowledge was very evident in General Knowledge exams and quiz competitions. School curriculum also relied on the application of knowledge especially in mathematics, physics and chemistry. All those days, I was relying largely on access to printed books with little or no exposure to computers. My dad’s workplace (manufacturing and engineering) also had a similar environment with little access to knowledge when immediately needed.

Technology for sure evolves at an exponential pace. In two decades internet and communication technologies has revolutionized data access such that a great amount of knowledge is available at finger tips. Does this make our process of learning and keeping ourselves up to date an expensive time consuming activity? If knowledge is available in a handheld device at any time, is it worth going through lengthy college courses for performing day to day technical jobs?

Knowledge is a basis for a thorough understanding of the fundamentals. A strong foundation of fundamentals is a prerequisite for great productivity. The more the understanding, the more is the creativity. The ability to deal with higher levels of abstraction also increases which in turn helps to deal better with our limited working memory (refer to Miller’s law). Access to knowledge/information is a boon to us to increase our ability to learn more, not just to help us remember less. Let us keep learning everyday.

I read somewhere that your spending pattern varies according to the denomination of currency you have. If you are out shopping and have 500 rupees as a single note then the first buy is delayed as long as possible but the entire amount gets spent soon; if you have 500 rupees as five 100 rupee notes then the initial urge to spend is less but it takes longer to spend the entire 500. I thought this might not be true until I observed my snacking habit on weekends. I have the habit of snacking on biscuits in the evening while watching TV, most of the time I end up eating the entire pack. One weekend I ended up buying individually wrapped biscuits instead of the regular pack, to my surprise I did not consume even half of what I used to have regularly.

How the seemingly expendable wrapper can alter the behavior or consumption of someone? Our brain is wired or conditioned to be in a state of anxiety neutrality which in other words is a comfort zone. The inertia to stay in the comfort zone will be too great that there must be a strong justification of the increase in comfort or well being has to be justified in order to come out of the comfort zone. Niggles play an important part on how someone either breaks a bad habit or catches a good habit. Most of the bad habits are niggle free to catch on and will cause utter discomfort when quitting, a great example is smoking. In my case the individual wrapper is a niggle which prevented me from consuming more than what I require.

Every workplace has lots of niggles, I have seen people not using the intranet site just because it requires a password or times out frequently. A very good example so far I have observed is the reading habit and the library policy. Man power shortages have reduced libraries in many small/mid size companies to mere shelves with locked doors. Checking out the book through a system is mandatory even for reference to prevent loss of books. While this may sound to be a fool proof system to save books from getting lost, it defeats the purpose of books as there is an entry barrier.

Some niggles are not too obvious, my mom was finding it difficult to get used to cell phones and was next to impossible to keep her phone on. One weekend spent a good amount of time trying to get her into the comfort zone of using cell phones, but she said if all that you want me is to have a phone then get me a landline where I can lift the receiver to speak and put it down to switch it off. She was right, I was trying to force my way of using phones which is very new while she had used phones the old way for 40 years. Niggles prevent effective communication between developers and clients across different timezones over the phone, the same client who had relied on many senses is now forced to rely only on hearing. This niggle may cause the person to avoid calls and stick to more comfortable form of communication.

If the urge to catch on a good habit is strong or the potential benefit of overcoming the niggle is tangible and big enough then the niggles on the way wont matter much, but if we don’t understand what they are or what the benefit of overcoming it then we would perform less efficiently than what our resources, time and environment permits us to do.