Being underestimated is not always a bad thing.

I learnt this back in high school. I was just chilling in the hallway, reading through a book during free period, when a junior walked past me, doubled back and asked, “you can read?!”

See, I’m of the generation that lingers between the tail-end of Mean Girls and the genesis of Hipstermania. It wasn’t cool, back when I was in high school, to be artistic. Or creative. Or smart. I learnt, very early, to sit on top of my hands, blend in and answer questions only when I was called upon.

I learnt to hide my writing and my reading. I learnt to giggle and toss my hair and be actively interested in Sports. I learnt that pretty girls were listened to, or at least heard because everything is quid-pro-quo.

I began to observe silently and became good at discerning when it’s necessary to shed certain skins. See, at the end of the day, everything boils down to body language.

If you can make someone comfortable around you, you’ve got the advantage.

This is my business mantra.

Most of the time, there’s no need for me to actually say anything.

Alot of people don’t want answers. They want to talk. They want to feel important. They want to be heard.

So I am OK with being underestimated, constantly. By people who write me off as being too young, who mistake my quiet for ignorance, who believe themselves to be smarter because I ignore their jibes. I am OK with it, because I am also vindictive*, and it gives me great pleasure and secret satisfaction when amidst all their posturing, all their long-winded, loud lectures that say absolutely nothing, they are giving away everything.

I invest my time in one sided conversations, because listening to the other person means your attention is actively on ‘others’, instead of ‘myself’.

This allows me access to facts they’ve given away unconsciously. Which always proves advantageous in investment meetings. See, this is a business tip most people forget…Knowledge is power and only fools give themselves away.

My other mantra is a simple life fact — The more you know, the more you understand you don’t know.

Worst case, I get bored. Mostly, I learn a lot.

*It’s a character flaw. I’m working on it. And on paring down my innate youthful arrogance.