Work Hard – Aim High

Wikipedia article on Skills


Teacher’s job is not teaching

Teacher’s job is not teaching. Teacher’s job is helping students to learn.

Students learn ( Math )  to be able creating value for others in the future.

How to Make Decisions: Slow or Fast?

The mind makes 35,000 decisions a day.

Half of all business decisions end in failure.

Data-centered decision-making results in 5-6% productivity increase.

Make your decision based on data and reasoning (when it is possible).

(c) 2014 Merit Career Development.

(c) 2014 Merit Career Development.


ImageI confess that I was not on top during an interview for a job at Google. The interviewer was the manager who gave his name to one of the social networks. He was very nice guy. He asked me a question:

“What is your strategy to find your car along a very long street if you don’t remember the parking place?”

Being under interview pressure, I quickly improvised an answer like this: I double the distance every time I change direction.

The mathematically correct answer might be the linear search.

To go X blocks (cars) in one direction, then 2X in the other, then 4X forwards, 8X in the reverse direction etc… The initial X depends on the standard deviation.

Now I have time to think about the real problem, I find that the theoretically correct answer is not correct for real life. My mistake was sticking to the initial data; I did not think about the real situation. There are no infinite streets in real life.

One of the practical approaches is : choose a direction and go until the end;  if I am not lucky, then go in the other direction.

When I ask a manager about the solution he said: “I will use the key signalization to find my car.” This is “a management solution”.

Is this problem an example of the math paradox: the theoretical solution is not the same as the practical choice? There are many anecdotes about mathematicians: mathematicians are absolutely right and absolutely useless.

Here the list of 140 questions at Google:

Recently, the senior vice president of people operations at Google admits that certain brainteasers are useless.

When I applied to my recent job, there were not formal interviews. We just discussed business development. At a dinner, the company owner asked funny coin puzzles. I was the first who correctly answered. I got the job.

I still think that such challenges are very useful. I do it.  Engineering and non-HR managers still informally use such questions.

I did not get the job at Google and I am happy about that. Since that time, I have collected logic problems and put 150+ questions/answers into a book titled Job Interview Logic Puzzles. This is a great help for engineers and managers who want to be ready for challenging interview questions.

Funny Questions and Unexpected Answers at Tech Job Interview

Brain Teaser Interview Questions And Answers on Amazon

Brain Teaser Interview Questions And Answers on iTunes

What motivates us to work hard?

ImageMotivation theories can be very complex. This story is simpler than the reward analysis given in Dan Pink’s TED talk. Let’s look at a simple model of individual motivation at work, which can be presented as a MMM model:

  • M1: Myself:  I do it my way.
  • M2: Mastering:  I always improve what I do.
  • M3: Mission: I do it for a compelling purpose.

M1: Myself

Whatever I do I try to do it my way. This is valid for children and adults. We are all the same. It’s valid for work, leisure, and study. People often distress about purposelessness of their work. Doing own way is the first motivation factor for people who don’t find a potential at their main job and develop open source products like UNIX or Moodle.

M2 Mastering

Once we successfully produce something in our own manner, we constantly introduce improvements. We master our art and become craftsmen. The term ‘craftsman’ is not only related to “a skilled manual worker who makes items,“ it’s also related to teachers, software engineers, and all other professionals. It takes time to become a craftsman.

M3 Mission

A craftsman never ceases striving to master his arts, continuing to work for a purpose. In the book Craftsman, Richard Sennet said: “the craftsman is special because he or she is an engaged human being”. This stage corresponds to the highest level of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Human beings are “social beings” who work together and learn by looking at how others work. Thus, we create our masterpieces for others. The purpose of creating and giving to others is at the top of the motivation pyramid.

Here is an example:

When I was a young boy, I studied mathematics in school and also on my own using Martin Gardner’s puzzles books. I often walked several miles to the city library in chilly Siberian frost to read just a few of the puzzle books’ pages. Very soon, I missed compelling challenges.

Now, as an adult, I am eager to help children throughout the world who are in the same position that I was in as a child to discover interesting, practical, and challenging math and logic puzzles and answers. We created a collection of more than 2200 compelling problems at

How the project was developed?

M1  Myself

At the beginning it was just a desire to challenge myself with logic puzzles and to present them in Internet. I saw many collections. What dissatisfied me? Existing solutions were concentrated on a specific type of problems and user age. Many of them were boring. It was difficult to fast find what I looked for. I do it in MY OWN way. I decide to improve our users’ experience according to the KISS approach: Keep It Simple and Stupid. These puzzles are illustrated, short, simple, and interesting for all ages. No sign up, no fees, and no advertising. Steve Jobs’ obsession with the customer’s experience was an inspiration for me.

M2 Mastering

After first months of exposing the set of problems, we receive feedback, suggestions for improving. It motivates us to improve the quality, to add interesting illustrations. We started to MASTERING our craft. So the number of puzzles grows to 2200 in two years and the new puzzles became more interesting.

M3 Mission

Now we continue working for a compelling PURPOSE. I always say WE, because dozens of people worldwide have helped us develop this library of math and logic problems. They thoroughly reviewed the problems and helped to make them simple and clear. Here a testimonial is:

“Strangers reaching out to one another, across great distances, just because of common interests in learning and helping other learners ~ kind mutual exchanges like this give me hope for a better world!”

Everyday, thousands of children spend a great deal of time and effort mastering their logical reasoning and mathematical thinking at Aplusclick. We thank all of our users and contributors for such a marvelous initiative to help children grow intellectually and become problems solvers.


We often find ourselves on one of the steps of the MMM model. The higher the step, the higher the level of individual motivation. More detailed hierarchy of work motivation is given in the Work Motivation pyramid. KokcharovWorkMotivation2015