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Alok's Posts / Startup

Why I don’t care about what I wear. Why I open doors for people.

Story 1 – What I wear. 

In or around 2004 , 2007 one of our Companies – Mobile2win  Games2win was growing fast and needed VC money.

Neeraj Arora of Google Ventures was interested in meeting me and I went for a meeting with Neeraj and with Thota Ranganath – Founder of Mobile2win (China).

I think it was the Mumbai summer time.

I was dressed in a shirt and formal trousers and had a jacket on. The meeting was at the Grand Hyatt Vakola. Ranga was wearing a formal shirt (I think with cufflinks) and trousers.

We walked towards that sofa area outside the coffee shop and spotted Neeraj sitting with someone in the coffee shop. The only sofa we got to sit on was the one next opposite the table so we sat there. Immediately I recognized that the person sitting with Neeraj Arora was Mahesh Murthy (of Mahesh Murthy fame; Pinstorm, etc). I said ‘Hi’ to him. 

Once we were settled, Ranga whispered to me – “Alok, do you know that person sitting next to Neeraj?” 

I said, “Yup – well. He is MM”. And I explained MM’s background to Ranga.

Ranga said, “Alok, look at what he is wearing”.

I looked and noticed that Mahesh was wearing a round neck T-Shirt that was either Navy or Black in color. It was faded and its collar was slightly wonky. It has the words “NASA” written in it in white on the right side… the “N” of Nasa was completely faded and was barely visible.

Neeraj seemed captivated by his conversation.

I was sweating in my Jacket and shirt and my mind was on my clothes and not on my pitch.

Till I saw Mahesh Murthy dressed the way he was.

That’s when I realized that it’s not what you wear to work – it’s what you DO that matters.

Thank you Mahesh Murthy!

(Ps – I told this story to MM last month when we met at MICA for a conference – he was shocked).

Story 2 – The Doors 

I was visiting the Google Campus in 2009 with my Games2win founder Mahesh Khambadkone.

We had lunch in that superb Google café complex and were returning to the office buildings.

On the way back, I saw something that I can never forget.

The main door of the google office had lots of movement and 2 people tried to enter one door. Then one man who has lots of salt and pepper hair stopped and retracted and held the door open for the other man. The other man fumbled but the salt and pepper guy urged him to enter.

In a few seconds I realized that the salt and pepper guy was Larry Page. He was holding the door for his employee and making it a point to let him go first.

There was no drama, there was no formality. It was just pure COURTESY.

Funnily, he was wearing a white tee, khakhi bermudas and white crocs. I remember those distinctly.

I always open doors when I see someone approaching from outside (if it’s a glass door) and if I am moving between doors, then I am very careful holding the door open and gently handing it over to the person behind me as I move forward. Be it co-founder, driver or janitor.

I think people (in India) think that holding doors for people behind them is insulting – it’s as if they are holding a door like a servant. They just leave the door as they exit and it’s so insulting and bad mannered.

Larry Page who created Google can teach us a thing or two in that department. 



If you enjoyed this article, you should read
Move over James Bond, the Startup Guy is here!


First Published on: Dec 4, 2011


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  1. Its all about how you perceive success as, if you take it as momentum, the state of mind & circumstances its a part & parcel of life BUT if you take it as your destination & feel you,ve arrived of sorts, it goes to yr head & then starts your downfall & arrogance!


  2. In America ‘Holding Door ” even for a stranger is a normal courtesy, and people do say ‘Thanks’ without fail, so I also learned that during my 6 month stay, and I countinue this here too.

    People stand in cue patiently waiting for there term where ever you go- shops,taxi ,food courts,moviehalls,bus,train subway,here ‘Me First’ is Indian attitude no matter someone else is standing there first.

    in elevators some times people great eachother even most of the time.

    Liter- people throwtrash in dustbins no matter what, Cleanliness is religion next to chrishanity .


  3. Thanks for sharing this Alok. I learned two lessons from this.

    I’m also in two minds what to wear for a meeting. I love Jeans and T-shirt.

  4. Hi,

    What I think, the door holding thing is a matter of your values.  I regular do that holding the gate for the other person if I approach the gate first.  As Guy Kawasaki said of karmic meter, hope this also counts in there….

  5. Well, I agree that holding doors open is normal courtesy and should be done. However, what you should do in instances when the other persons think that you are meant to open doors. Numerous times I had to wait holding the door open as many persons don’t even acknowledge that you are holding the door open and just stand in the front of the door talking to someone behind them or enter at their own convenience.

  6. My experience in this case is to ask them politely to remove themselves from the gate so that you can close it.  Or you can fake any instance like mosquitoes, dirt, or heat may get inside……Or if you want to pass, just excuse them…

  7. Inspiring observations indeed.

    Many a times we tend to forget the smallest of things that are important in our day to day life, e.g. COURTESY!!

    It’s rightly said, “Success must bestow humility”

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. The dressing bit it’s not practical as in most places and most interviews i have been to, the first impression is made by the appearance of a person even when most of them preach that you “never judge a book by its cover”. According to me the dress code is a mandate for most unless you’re a famous or important person, this can be backed with the formal dress code system followed by most organizations. When it’s a client meeting or so formal should be compulsory but otherwise casuals should be allowed.

  9. Alok, I read this post today and could’t agree more. If there are 2 things I have learnt from my 11 years in the US, they are showing courtesy (esp when opening doors!) and what-you-do-matters, not what-you-wear!

    Hope this post teaches many these important lessons of life.

  10. Wow, Great One.. Thanks for Sharing



  11. Alok

    So true !!! U hit the nail on the head !! I believe Indians as a whole mass are averse to holding doors and waiting in queues !! Its so frustrating at times when at the airport the gentleman behind you (dressed in suit – no less 🙂 ) keeps trying to crook his arm to reach the counter even before you have finished.

  12. Currently people have forgotten the word COURTESY… everyone is running and wants to win the race by any means..!!! Instead of running hard everyone should try to win other people’s heart… in my view that would be the greatest win!!!

    Thank you Alok Sir!!!

  13. The confidence level is very important.If you have good content may be even if your dont dress according to the occassion it doesnt make a difference.Initial stages you need a proper dressing (first impression matters if you are nobody).When you are somebody popular with a good knowledge, experience, dressing becomes  secondary.

     With knowledge comes humility.

  14. Thanks for sharing these stories. I think, no one can disagree with what you have written. It’s good to read these, helps me keep going.



  15. 100 % correct Alok . Live life as simple as possible . Be it in appearance or behaviour.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Kiran N. Bolantkodi.

  16. wow 🙂 amazing message for all. 

  17. about the dress !

    This is exactly what i was telling my team ! if i keep thinking that my dress is going to impress my customer or investor , i will always feel under prepared , i will always NEED something beyond me to complete me.Sometimes the shirt will have a crease , and sometimes the stubble might be a little too much. None of this wins customers most of the times or investors. What works is not whether m dressed casually or formally but  what content comes out of me. Hence, stopped caring much about all this and focusing on the content 🙂

  18. Alok,

    You are right in saying the dressing isn’s important. But, would you recommend to go to a VC in a round neck T shirt?


    (New Rodinhood.)

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