Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do We Really Need to Wear Socks in pairs?

Yesterday, I met up with one of my favorite professors from Rotman - Alex Manu.

Alex Manu teaches Strategic Foresight, Innovation, and Business Design at Rotman. He is an unconventional business school professor. A few interesting facts about Alex:

  • Alex always (and read always) wore White - he taught us for 4 months and we always saw him in White clothes.
  • He did not stress on the usual "seek A+" trend - he always said," if I can have 1 brilliant (and practical) idea from this class, I have done my job". Essentially, he encouraged us to think in an unconventional way.
  • He was always friendly and un-intimidating - so much so that it was easy to forget that he is a professor.
  • His power points were stellar - he conveyed his ideas with pictures and minimal words - I mean a maximum of 3 words on a power point.
  • On the last day of our class, he served 3 types of wines - a) $20 wine, b) $100 wine, and c) $500 wine. The main idea being that he wanted to introduce us to good, bad, and fine wines.
As I was talking with Alex, I noticed that Alex was wearing a bright orange sock on one foot and a bright green sock on the other! I immediately started laughing and asked him why was he wearing different colored socks. His answer was that he always wears two different socks!

After another 5 minutes i.e. when I couldn't figure out why he would be inclined to wear different socks, I asked him whether there was a particular reason he wore socks in such a manner. Alex said that when his son was 6 years old, he asked Alex why did he have to wear socks as a pair? Why couldn't his son wear two different colored socks and head to school?

Alex had absolutely no logical answer for his son. Ever since that day, Alex has been wearing different colored socks. In fact, Alex suggested to retailers that socks should be sold as singles!

The conversation made me realize that there are so many things we do in our day to day lives without questioning their logical explanation or existence.

Perhaps, we should look for logical explanations rather than accepting things as norms.

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