Theory of Theories

McDonald’s Theory On How Best to Rescue Conversations

And more!

Karthik Rajan
6 min readJan 13, 2021

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Photo by Jurij Kenda

95% of the people have experienced trouble starting a conversation. The rest 5% lie.

Yet, our lives are filled with these friend of a friend stories.

“Then there was the friend who prided himself on the following pick up line…He would walk up to a woman and just say “fat penguins.” Of course, the woman would say, “huh?” or “what?” He would then reply, “Fat penguins are a great way to break the ice.”

I watched this line work more than once until he tried it on a more voluptuous lady. She responded by slugging him with her bag. (She thought he was implying that she was a “fat penguin.”) I still think he got her number.”

And just like the friend of a friend stories — theories can have odd starts.

Here are a few theories that resonate with me.

1. McDonald’s Theory

I was once seated in front of my boss during an annual review. He was pensive. Knowing him through the years, I knew he was about to say something deep. All he shared, “I like that you are among the first to venture to a white board.”

When I gave him a quizzical look, he elaborated –“I like that you volunteer as the first one to the whiteboard. It helps set the tone. Not everyone puts themselves out there in a group setting with a rough idea.”

What I understood then — he liked that I took an initiative even when the ideas were half-baked, sometimes quarter baked. I enjoy problem framing — rough drafts on paper, on whiteboards, even on napkins over lunch (with pens borrowed from the waiters.)

What I did not realize until later— a rough draft gives control to the recipients to become collaborators. The art of editing and refining does something to people — they make the idea their own.

In all that humdrum, one thing was clear to me: as humans we are natural editors than we are as writers.

What happens if we use that very human construct to break the ice and start conversations.

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Karthik Rajan

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.