Out of the World!

An elderly owner of a convenience store decides to hire a manager.  Two candidates turn up.  He picks a ballpoint pen from the shelf and says, “Sell me one of these.”

The first man examines the pen, “This is an excellent pen.  You will note the transparent barrel, which indicates the color as well as the remaining quantity of the ink.  There is a stopper to prevent the ink from seeping out.  The top fits well and covers the nib so you can clip it in your pocket without fearing the ink will stain your shirt.”

The impressed owner passes the pen to the second candidate.  He takes it, snaps it in half, and says, “You need a new pen.”  The owner hires the second man. 

In relationships, our primary focus should be on the needs of the opposite person (and not on what we have to offer). 

With the manager’s selling acumen, the store gets many new customers.  Years roll by, and the owner sells the store to the manager and retires.  Surprisingly, the sales start dipping with fewer old customers turning up. 

Hearing of the manager’s woes, the retired man pays him a visit.  After warm greetings, the old man asks, “Can you get me a chicken from the frozen section?”  The manager goes and picks out the last remaining chicken in the refrigerator.  “How much is it?”, the old man asks.  “For you boss, it will be a special price of $5.50,” the manager replies.

“Yes indeed, that’s a good price, but it really is a little too small,” says the old man, “Don’t you have anything larger?”  Hesitating but thinking fast, the manager returns the chicken to the refrigerator, pauses for a moment, and then pulls out the same chicken. 

Knowing that the old man can’t see too well, he says faintly, “This one will be $6.65.”  The old man contemplates and decides, “You know what, I’ll take both of them!”  Caught in his web of deceit, the manager realizes the reason for his downfall! 

In relationships, our primary focus should be on what we have to offer (and not on the needs of the opposite person).

The story has conflicting takeaways.  Why?  As affiliations mature, our approach needs to evolve too.   

When the association is new, our window of opportunity to capture the opposite person’s attention is tiny.  Therefore, our focus should be outward – what is the immediate need of our new connect? 

However, once the rapport is built, the needs are obvious.  Therefore, our focus should shift inward – what we can or can’t bring to the table.  For often, bonds collapse merely due to expectation mismatch. 

Sure, in relationship transactions – the needs of the opposite person should be at the center of our universe.  But that doesn’t mean we can promise them the world that we don’t have! 

Expectation, Adapted, Customer


  1. Good one, all POs and Product Managers need to have these skills

  2. Very True, Arun. Excellent one!

  3. The beauty of this piece is in the understanding of the reader. It is applicable to our professional and personal lives and how we imbibe these qualities.

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Out of the World! - Arun Nathani Blog