Setting: at a Google conference
Me: loitering around waiting for the conference to start. There were just a handful of people, and I didn’t particularly feel like chatting anyone up. Besides, I was about to meet someone there anyway so I should probably save my energy up for that.
Oh well, there’s a guy in a suit. Looks like a cheap suit, but still, whatever. Let’s warm up my social muscles by talking to him first.
“So, what brings you to this event?”
Within 3 minutes I was already regretting my decision to talk to this guy just because he looked vaguely like a decision maker (one of his lapels was folded inwards, maybe I should’ve picked up on that sign! Silly me, still easily fooled by suits!). It wasn’t a conversation as much as it was a speech about his big idea, his foresight to have this idea back in the 80s, the exact structure of his conglomerate of companies, each of which would be a R&D pioneer in its field, how everything would work, his expertise in the area etc. Halfway through all this I found myself wondering how this guy could be 50+ years old and still not have the self awareness to notice his egregious mistake, and still entertain the notion of heading a group of companies even though he had been an employee all his life (and not in a CxO position either).
And what did I say to all that?
“That sounds interesting, how did you come up with this idea?”
My punishment was to spend another 10 minutes listening to him whilst other increasingly-interesting-looking-people filtered in.
After the conference, I looked him up. He was actually somewhat accomplished, but I already had a bad impression and therefore wasn’t interested in working with him. After all as a programmer I have plenty of opportunities to choose from.
Now imagine. What if I was a girl, and you were the guy talking to me?