Story-telling & Research

Photo by Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

#1 Success = Storytelling (Insight source: Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari)


Trying to join a firm you want to work with? Applying to get a visa to a country you really want to visit? Seeing a story posted on social media? Almost everything we interact with, talk about, or desire is a part of a fictional reality created by humans. A country doesn't have thoughts, feelings, or emotions — earth just has land and water after all. Cooperations and firms are not real — they are just the names we give to a bunch of people cooperating towards making another imaginative story come true. Money is just paper without any objective value. The human mind is so overwhelmed by stories, out of which only a few are popular at a global level — like money, nations, cooperations, and social media.


According to Yuval, the reason we are the dominant species of the world as compared to chimpanzees or guerrillas is because of our ability to cooperate at a large scale. Put a chimpanzee and a human on an island to survive, the chimpanzee might come out ahead! But when it comes to 10,000 chimpanzees vs 10,000 humans, the humans clearly dominate. Our ability to cooperate more effectively than any other species on a large scale makes us the most powerful species on the planet. And our ability to cooperate comes from our imagination — we can use our imagination to tell fictional stories like nations, money, technology, and firms.

The Modern World Objectively

Human A imagines something → Human A tells stories about what he/she/they  imagined → 10 other Humans listen to Human A's story and cooperate with him/her/them → Human A's imagination becomes a part of fictional reality

In the process above, Human A got compensated for his/her/their imagination +  cooperation

The other humans get compensated for their cooperation

The method of compensation itself has fictional value — money

Personal Insight

Taking a step back to think about objective reality has changed my life in two ways:

Importance of stories in our world — if your goal is to be successful, wealthy, have a great impact, or all of the above, you have to be great at telling stories. The better you are at making people believe in some fictional reality, the more successful you will be.

[On a lighter note] If you feel like your mind gets overwhelmed by work, education, or a combination of 100 different things you are trying to do, always remember — whatever it is, it's a story and not objective reality at the end of the day.

Book recommendation for story-telling skills:

How to make friends and influence people?


Yuval's Bestselling book:


#2 Why I feel everyone should research in college? [ok maybe not everyone]

Like so many of you, I'm someone who likes what he's studying but doesn't necessarily know how that might translate into a career that actually builds upon it — it's true that many people know their end goal or actually don't mind having it as something which doesn't build upon what they are learning. If you come in my category (and if you're a student in college), just cold email every professor that is working in the field you're interested in — might be because of a class you liked, a book you've read, a podcast you listened to, or a video you watched. You'll be surprised to know how useful something like this can be. Just to convince you how insane you are not to try this out, I can just tell you guys about my experience:

  1. I was actually taught technical skills that would be used in the area I was interested in.
  2. I got to use those technical skills on projects — some of which gave me the recognition and validation everyone looks for invariably.
  3. I learned more practical theory that could be applied to my life than the average class out there.
  4. It's an experience you can talk about in any interview.
  5. I actually like it.
  6. I get compensated for my work, even though I am the one benefitting in every way.
  7. I get to meet really cool people - allowing me to network with people through everyday work.

If you actually end up trying this and it works out for you, please do email me about your experience!

NOTE: The above benefits only come if you actually contact a professor who's doing something you are interested in, otherwise it is totally futile.

#3 Random Netflix Recommendation

If you're someone who likes family dramas or ensemble content, watch Schitt's Creek.

#4 My issue with "applying"

As someone who's quite shy and hates self-promotion, I find it really hard to constantly prove my worthiness for a particular role or position. I hate studying for assessments or interviews or any other part of an application process. I hate writing cover letters and updating my resume every month. More than anything, I hate spending so much time "preparing" rather than actually doing something productive. If you're like me and have found a good balance for yourself when it comes to applying, please let me know.

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Aryan Khanna

Aryan Khanna