Theory of Theories

McDonald’s Theory On How Best to Rescue Conversations

And more!

Karthik Rajan
6 min readJan 13, 2021


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.



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.