By Karthik Rajan – LinkedIn

Have you wondered about how to market yourself better and be your natural self?

Are you naturally comfortable to let your work do the speaking?

Did your upbringing center around virtues of humility with words likes these [from my parents, loosely translated from Tamil] – “what you have learned is a speck of sand, what you do not know is all the sand, world over.”

If your answer to any of these three is a yes, then this awesome interview nugget from Mckinsey & company would interest you.

I stumbled upon it couple of years ago. My backstory on how I stumbled upon it could be interesting. What may be more interesting to you – if you are into puzzles – the best advice is a treasure hidden in this video – well within a blink of your eye.


The 3rd advice was my biggest aha.

When the majority of expert advice talks about sharing results in quantifiable terms, here we are with the biggest power of subtlety within stories highlighted as the final bullet point.

Think about it – for every person in a bottom-line role at a company, many are in support roles.

If you are in a support role, the emotions and reactions of others to your achievements is more natural to communicate.

Even for folks in commercial roles (say a top salesman) – the numbers are verifiable facts. Yet, the words “the company president personally came down to my floor to thank me on the way I handled a large customer’s sticky issue” makes a memorable impression.

It is one thing to know “we buy on emotion and rationalize with logic.”  It is quite another to tactically apply it where our personal stakes are high – interviews.

This McKinsey advice connects those dots.

Karthik Rajan

P.S. Here is a story from my experience. I will share my favorite line at the end.

The year was 2011. I faced a growth challenge – to grow a B2B business in a mature, saturated electric market. The marketing team was earnestly generating leads and the sales team followed through, within a 48-hour deadline. Yet, it did not translate into bottom-line results. When I studied the process and the people dynamics – it was similar to many other places. Marketing said, “we are whipping up the leads” and the sales folks quipped, “Those leads are not as warm as they are made out to be?”

In trust situations like this, I work towards swapping mindsets without switching jobs.

So, I orchestrated something different – leveraging my data skills, I enabled sales folks to pull out accounts that populated the “wish I had more time in a day” segment of their pipeline and sent them to marketing. One thing different about this list – each account had a sales person’s name before the start of a campaign. In other words, behaviorally, the sales people “owned” the list as they provided the accounts.

In the past, the marketing teams mandate was to give leads – as many as “warm” leads that had a higher probability of closure. There were subjective words everywhere. I refined the marketing campaign goal to something simpler and different – to find the decision maker at the potential client and/or a champion at the client.

The results were amazing – the sales folks smiled as marketing team did something truly difficult – get them a foot in the door with a human. Marketing folks chuckled at the warm reception for their work.


1) In all this, Steven Covey’s equation rings so true.


Increased Trust = Increased Speed + Decreased Costs

2) Lao Tzu words are inspirational about getting out of the way and becoming invisible – “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

3) My favorite lines are in bold above. People matter. Their reactions – more so.

Wishing you the best in your next interview. What are your favorite lines?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *