Neil Gupta

Why Psychology?

374 words • 2 minutes to read

via TechCrunch

It is such an under-discussed issue as we spend our time in startups mostly talking about products, marketing and fund raising. And business schools seem to also over emphasize the quantitative skills over the human ones. I guess the latter is harder to teach but I believe a bigger driver of success.

If you want to attract world class talent you have to be inspirational, persuasive and persistent (they best people always have other offers). If you want to retain the best talent you have to be able to devolve power, coach people for performance, resolve conflicts, find ways to create growth opportunities, balance carrot / stick motivational techniques, etc.

People always wonder why I'm double majoring in Psychology, when I'm clearly a programmer and a businessman at heart.

I originally decided to study psychology because it would complement my Computer Science side. I wanted to use aspects of learning theory to make good interface designs. A good interface is just as important to a program's success as the code behind it, a fact that is unfortunately often overlooked by most programmers. In this regard, studying psychology has already helped me tremendously.

However, along the way, I realized that psychology has several uses in business and even day-to-day life.

Psychology is also useful in marketing. Knowing how people tend to think and respond let's you stay one step ahead. Do you want to use the foot-in-door phenomenon of attracting people by advertising low prices and then upselling, or use the door-in-face phenomenon of setting high prices and then offering a discount to reduce the price?

And psychology is good for managing people. Any HR specialist worth his salt will be properly trained in Industrial Organizational psychology, which focuses on hiring and managing people. I think that all CEO's should also be trained in it. Knowing good leadership techniques, how to motivate, and even how to properly fire somebody are crucial skills for any leader.

It is often said that a company's most important asset is its people. Well, good people can't be programmed, they have to be found and nurtured.

Most people think that psychology is only good for running therapist sessions. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Written on September 7, 2010 in Chicago.