Garo Garabedyan's Divergent Thinking Blog

A quick and easy rule to judge whether a society is tolerant

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While there is credible work defining tolerance and interpreting data about it, this post is about presenting a quick to apply rule that can be used to identify some and not necessarily all tolerant cultures. The goal is to provide a quick way to answer with small enough mean error whether a culture is tolerant or additional investigation is needed to decide whether it is tolerant or not.

I claim that intolerant cultures condition it’s members to both hide external unattractive characteristics and underline attractive ones, which conditioning can be easily spotted by looking for not conditioned members, and if such are spotted it is justified to conclude that the culture is tolerant. Consider walking on the streets of a nation and seeing unattractive women feeling confident and sexy – that culture is tolerant as it has not conditioned it’s female members what is attractive; and has not conditioned them that they are attractive only and only if others find them attractive. The human subconscious can try to compensate with looking better for not being satisfied with the quality of the life we are living. External appearance and presentation is expected to compensate the lack of success in business (there is a saying in the business world that in case you can not make it right, at least make it beautiful). I suspect women are subject to external pressure from intolerant cultures to look pretty. Women tend to try to escape everyday worries by looking for a beautiful face in the mirror in order to cheer up that they look beautiful and, in one part, because of that, they put extra effort to look beautiful. If a woman is with low confidence, she can put more make-up and/or wear clothes which underline her attractiveness.

If you see a woman who is feeling sexy, but is not, very likely the society has not conditioned her that in order to feel sexy she must look sexy. Women are traditionally more sensible than men about how others perceive them. Women notice when a man turns his head around them with “Wow”; and notice the contrary as well.

When I was going to in-person job interviews I used to look at the shoes of the full-time HR, if she is a woman, and try to guess how comfortable they are. If an HR was wearing uncomfortable high heels that was a red flag to me that the company culture can be valuing the presentation of the work being done more than its’ quality. (As a heterosexual man I am interested in understanding women to the extend possible to me)

I am convinced that some executives are willing to hire professionals by their appearance and that is one of the reasons the HR role at least in the IT world in Bulgaria is heavily occupied by exceptionally beautiful women in their 20s and 30s.

England leads my list of tolerant cultures. For my short visit in London, England I saw a lot of women wearing short skirts which were definitely not for them and they were speaking with British English accent. However, Brits have enough collective anger from not being successful in business to give political power to far right nationalistic formations which blame foreigners and foreign countries or more precisely the European Union for Brits not living better.

Since I am from Bulgaria, my observations are that Slavic people are intolerant as you can see the shocking lack of ugly women on the streets in Bulgaria. Most of the women in Bulgaria wear good amount of make-up.

This rule of thumb is hard to be applied on traditionally Muslim countries and on Scandinavian countries. For instance, Finland is a country populated by Scandinavian women which in general are considered hot, because of their white skin and blonde hair. I would guess that woman living and working next to naturally hot women will put effort to look as hot as her female friends no matter of her satisfaction with others areas of life.


Written by garabedyan

June 13, 2015 at 15:33

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Design and analysis of algorithms is an ingredient of a software engineer

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While education can help you find a good job, not any course which offers you to get immediately hired is proper education and can replace the university education. Practical education aims at summarizing the current successes in the field in order to make you as efficient as possible in your future jobs. Design and analysis of algorithms is a theoretical summary of the practical know-how gathered from solving real world problems in more than a hundred categories of typical software problem types and their solutions. While covering cutting-edge technologies which are designed for solving common past problems makes you more efficient for short time since technology is constantly improving, covering algorithm fundamentals will boost your efficiency for career long time.

The bare minimum of theoretical algorithms can be found in the course Algorithms: Design and Analysis (click to view Preview of Part I and Preview of Part II of the course) from Stanford University. Let me warn you that following such lectures is not as entertaining as other tutorials and articles available on the Internet and it requires not only focus but devotion as well.

Let me share that here in Bulgaria are courses where they taught you cutting-edge technologies and the trainers tell you that as you solve more algorithmic problems you will become better at it and this is the way to pass the course in order to get a job offer from the company hosting the course. While they teach cutting-edge technologies the course exams are on using that knowledge to solve algorithmic tasks, which by its nature is not a genuine but rather a frivolous academic process, because the exams are not on topics covered by the course. Sadly, if you do not know where to read from you might never realize that you are solving problems which have been summarized in theoretical computing. The letter can seriously jeopardize your career growth if you decide to change your job for a more challenging one.

To proclaim that a software engineer does not need theoretical knowledge about design and analysis of algorithms is like to proclaim that a master in chess can go without theoretical knowledge about the opening of the game, like to proclaim that a teacher/trainer can be anyone who understands the topic he/she is teaching about and like to proclaim that a surgeon is anyone who can handle a scalpel. The era when a software engineer was anyone who have read a single book on any programming language have completely passed and since then there has been taking place significant improvements making the IT one of the most fastly changing industries.

Peter Norvig, currently Director of Research in Google and previously Division Chief of Computational Sciences in NASA Ames Research Center, have published an essay in 2001 titled Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years where he summarizes “The key is deliberative practice: not just doing it again and again, but challenging yourself with a task that is just beyond your current ability, trying it, analyzing your performance while and after doing it, and correcting any mistakes. Then repeat. And repeat again”.

Written by garabedyan

May 18, 2013 at 08:07

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Common cognitive biases in communication

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After the elections in Bulgaria here are a few cognitive biases in communication which were used both public and private relations. I have seen them in business atmosphere first but they seem to be well understood by journalists as well. Since awareness is the first step to overcome irrational beliefs, it is my pleasure to list them here.

1. The first impression irrationally influences next impressions

The firstly formed impression remains irrationally long in our mind and influences the perception of the new behaviour from that person.

2. Release an unpleasant information just prior a moment when all concerned or at least the individuals who are likely to be contacted in relation with the information are out of reach

Even though you already can recognize that going away is a coward behaviour, people significantly lower their reactions and even do not react at all toward the unpleasant information (the provocation).

3. Generalizing an unpleasant rule to be addressing all but not only the party the rule is unpleasant for

As the scenario above people significantly lower their reactions and even do not react at all toward the unpleasant information (the provocation), too. Mostly the unpleasant feeling is desired by the perpetrator. The tactic is aiming to avoid revenge and hatred as a reaction toward the introduced rule.

Written by garabedyan

May 18, 2013 at 08:02

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Staying in the orbit

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Delivering custom solutions to clients of a product you were previously part of its development can be extraordinarily beneficial.

Most of the time we do not know where we are going with a client and this itself is beautiful. We do not know what problems we are going to solve. We try design a solution for one requirement and we have a huge impact in another requirement. Those are the moments that make working with clients really incredible.

Working with clients is most of the times an interdisciplinary venture. You take the insides of one discipline and combine it with the the product. It is an explosion of possible scenarios that can go from outstanding well to fail miserably.

Focusing on clients’ needs will help you grow. This is a short path to improve a potential innovation. You can easily complete the loop. You will learn to solve problems clients have and even problems they do not know they have.

In my case staying in the orbit of a product I was part of its development was a good career move, but due to circumstances not within my power I will not remain in it. I am very happy that there are managers who evaluate experience as the types of solved problems but not in years of solving problems.

Written by garabedyan

February 1, 2013 at 22:11

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Evaluating 2012

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In the eve of the New Year we all revise the last 12 months and make plans for the future.

2012 was the year I and my colleagues have received our B.Sc. on Computer systems and technologies diplomas. Even thought practical experience is crucial, the workplace will not teach you about the things that can be learned in the university. John William Gardner, one of the most thoughtful leadership “gurus”, lists what university stands for:

  • things that are forgotten in the heat of the battle;
  • values that get pushed aside in the rough and tumble of everyday living;
  • the goals we ought to be thinking about and never do;
  • the facts we don’t like to face;
  • the questions we lack the courage to ask.

In 2012 I have changed my job. I have applied for my first job from a recommendation of a friend of mine and it turned out not to be the place people speak about. As employee you give as much as you work but the evaluation of your work is in the hands of your employer. Let me warn you that taking steps to apply for a job in a company you have left and even eventually accepting a job offer from that company will send an unequivocal message that according to you that company offered you the industrie’s leading evaluation of your profession. Changing my job turned out to be a big career shift which have significantly broadened my horizons, of course have increased my incomes and helped me to better understand the needs of the clients and how the technology and the client needs come together.

The blog post about job interview tips have gained huge success in 2012. It is remarkable how many readers you can reach with a single blog post when you use a simple language and provide examples. The people’s job interview experience has changed for better.

The most valued skill in 2012 was the ability to work with little and even with no supervision. This skill has been valued and will be valued as a defining characteristic of leaders on every level. From a resources consumption point of view supervision is the most expensive thing after employer compensation (at least in a statistically average company) and, therefore, employees which can work with fewer supervision are generating higher profit.

I would like to use this high stage to thank my parents, my mother Vartuhi and my father Avedis, and my younger brother Hagop for their unconditional support during the past year. The family is the most important thing. My success is because of their indispensable support. I have achieved so much because of their faith in me, which is being confident in things they do not understand and do not see. Your support, Vartuhi, Avedis and Hagop, made me what I am.

Written by garabedyan

December 25, 2012 at 15:57

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Some thoughts for young entrepreneurs

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Having some memories from my participations in interviews and interactions with bosses and with the help of the vast library of XAGE HR Consultancy from Vietnam which among recognized books contains MBA lecture notes here are some easy to understand and apply technique which can be helpful to the diverse public among which are some young entrepreneurs I am very excited to talk to.

When conducting an interview:

1. Walk the person to the door. Call the candidate by name. Calling people by name causes sympathy.

2. Bring a glass of water to the candidate or something else for drinking during the interview. When the candidate has a hard time answering a question point to the glass of water to give him some time to think on the question while drinking water and later ask a different question instead of waiting for his answer. This will cause comfort for the candidate and you will spot the areas where the candidate is not confident. Say you will test the candidate’s English speaking and ask in the conversation in English the questions you consider as most threatening to the candidate.

3. Open the interview with introduction sentences like “We are interested in finding out about you as an individual and we will give you information about our organization”. Acknowledge that you have something in common.

4. The candidate is supposed to speak about 80% of the interview. Feed back what you hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what you have heard in your own words, to confirm what you have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties (a technique known as active listening). Do not take notes while he/she is speaking. Tell candidates that you will be taking notes before you begin writing. Assess the candidate’s personal qualities: leadership, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and motivation.

5. Use “we” and “our” to address the company, e.g. “we have a policy here about …” and “our way is …”

6. When calling candidate references call them at their lunchtime when it is likely to reach an assistant or voice mail. Leave a simple message “Please call me back if the candidate was outstanding”. If the reference responds quickly they were considering the candidate as outstanding.

The Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique of Context reframing can be used for indirect transformation of a known bad impressions from the real perpetrator to someone else and consequentely to less negative impressions. Since there is no guarantee of not wrong doing at work and in case wrong doings can cause bad impression or even insult one or more employees, covert reframing of the experience is a good approach to handle the problem in its post-factum phase. Even in a job interview an HR can reframe a freshly formed bad impression by an incorrect question by repeating the letter with an underlined and more powerful bad attitude aiming to take the negative impression on himself/herself. When the problem is not a concrete issue but the attitude it can be simply repeated with something more desired by the victim of the bad attitude aiming to make the victim accept the attitude as something normal or at least not personally against him/her. Any event depends upon the “frame” in which we perceive it. When we change the frame, we change the meaning. This is called reframing: changing the frame in which a person perceives events in order to change the meaning. When the meaning changes, the person’s responses and behaviors also change.

Employees will not stay in a company neither for the pride in the organization, nor for being lead by a respected supervisor, but will look for a place where to be valued and a place with a financial security. Part of the compensantion is offering a role where the employee will gain experience. Younger employees, like me, will look for place to gain experience and will be thinking whether will be able to support a family with their work.

Young employees are attached to their work and feel bad if they need to revert it or if the work will not get in use.

How to spot a sincere smile: A natural smile produces characteristic wrinkles around the eyes – insincere people smile only with their mouth; A false smile often appears stronger on one side of the face than the other, as both sides of the brain attempt to make it appear genuine. The half of the brain’s cortex that specialises in facial expressions is in the right hemisphere and sends signals mainly to the left side of the body. As a result, false facial emotions are more pronounced on the left side of the face than the right. In a real smile, both brain hemispheres instruct each side of the face to act with symmetry.

Written by garabedyan

November 24, 2012 at 14:31

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What will improve in the next 3 years

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After the huge success of the post about job interview tips the present post’s goal is to be as popular as or even more popular than the first. It is remarkable how many readers you can reach with a single blog post when you use a simple language and provide examples.

People underestimate what will happen in the next 3 years and overestimate what will come in the next decade.

Public relations strategies will become a powerful ingredient in approximately every business. Companies will make special efforts to create a positive image both as an employer and as a vendor. Consider the case of a competitor starting a promotion campaign just prior its rival is going to release an important improvement to the public. For instance, here in Bulgaria many companies create a bad image when reject an applicant who, in his turn, badmouths the company in Internet forums and among the most simple things that will bring change will be polite techniques to make the interviewed person feel comfortable and motivated to apply for a job again even if rejected. Consider a scenario when the HR advises you to drink water when you have a trouble in answering the question and the person who have asked the question asks another question and by that simply makes you comfortable to not answer the question and not feel stupid and not motivated to seek a way to present the company as arrogant. Consider a rejection mail that reads something like “We value your time in searching for a new job. We were not able to find a suitable place for you in our company where to fit and use your full potential. We hope that in future we can meet again and potentially hire you.” – will you apply for a job in that company again in future if already rejected once? The rational choice theory has been tricking managers for a while in making them believe that customers exemine all possible choices with an eye on details and chooses the best choice for their needs while in reality customers rely on rules of thumb. Clients are more credible than the vendor itself and all companies will follow tactics encouraging clients to publicly promote the vendor.

Knowing something more than the others will be an advantage for a short period of time in this dynamic and open world. Knowledge has become as rapidly obsolete as universally available. Most of the businesses fail offering the lowest price and the best quality in one, so they implement a strategies that add value to their goods like customer services and privilege in speed of delivery. Companies will promote active members of the customer communities which help other customers using the company goods.

New leadership style will emerge from social networks. We see how we all fastly get familiar with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social networks which innovative information sharing tools were unthinkable in the past–social networking is rewiring the way we communicate and collaborate. These new leaders will improve themselves in the social networks by the feedback they receive from ordinary people without even requesting it.

New leaders will facilitate collaboration in followers instead of distributing tasks and defining responsibilities among employers. New leaders will lead from the middle.

Employers will neither stay in companies motivated by pride in the organization, nor motivated by working for a respected boss. Breakthroughs and groundbreaking innovations are not keys to success of bosses and companies anymore: We see how Madonna, a shocking and always with a new view performer, is not so popular anymore as she was in the beginning of her career.

Communities’ wisdom and social networking data will enter in companies as a source of private feedback. Big data processing will be a new discipline in determining strategy and trends. Clients will not use general channels for providing feedback about small details that pisses them off but because the pleasant experience is crucial, the vendors will look in social networks for feedback improving their products and services. We know that Microsoft is querying Twitter’s database of public tweets for comments of new features in Bing search in order to improve it as Twitter is about broadcasting short messages.

Written by garabedyan

October 23, 2012 at 19:39

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