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« Be Yourself | Main | "Screw it, Let’s do it..." - Lessons in Life by Sir Richard Branson »

July 12, 2018


Lopeti Senituli

I like to think that I only see good in all people. But now that I have read your piece I realise that I have indeed kept a Second File secretly, although I will not readily admit to!


Thanks Anand for sharing this lesson and lot more during our long discussions. I agree that our values determine whether we keep the second file or not, but atleast we know how the jungle operates.


Very interesting!
The 'second file' can be a useful tool depending upon which side of the fence you are!
Fall in line, as they say is the option of majority.


i have no energy for the 2nd file but I guess ignorance is not bliss; it can come to bite you...

Singapore Student

Politics is an art including in corporations.


Wow, you did it! Got the 2nd folder story out to all your FR subscribers/ fan club

California Guy

The Second File sounds like a useful risk management tool for relationship management at any level, whether between individual persons, between company departments, between business entities, etc.

Like disaster recovery plan, the Second File seems most effective when used during "emergency" or "crisis" situations as a "survival" mechanism.


There is a well-known rivalry in the world between the hedgehogs and the foxes (as described first by Aesop, and later by the writer, Isaiah Berlin). The fox is clever, with many tricks up its sleeve. The hedgehog has essentially one trick, but it knows skillfully how to apply this to a myriad of situations. So, which anthropomorphic animal has the better strategy? This eternal question in our contemporary age…has no correct answer, and yet each of us knows what is the right answer for ourselves.

Many writers in philosophy, history, journalism, and business have tackled the question. A favorite journalist, Nicholas Kristof, has an interesting take here :

I bring up this fable because the FR story this week seems to hit on a similar dichotomy. In the "cut-throat" corporate world, is it better to be conniving and ambitious, or is it better to be apolitical and assume the role of a quiet leader, who modestly rejoices in the recognition of the team's accomplishments? Is the latter type naïve and vulnerable, inferior to the confident and paternal type of leader? Many might argue thus. I for one am not so sure.
Perhaps the foxes do fare better in a typical, "red-ocean" scenario, while hedgehogs know how and where to forge new, "blue-ocean" opportunities. But perhaps this picture is too simple even for Aesop's conception.

Many of Anand's readers, including myself, are or were affiliated with one of the corporations where he worked. We have seen his curious style of leadership, very much built upon trust and values, rather than hidden FBI-style dossiers. Most curious indeed! So atypical of other execs in his industry. And yet he thrived, and he demonstrated the effectiveness of his style to build a robust organization and a legacy. Those who have worked with Anand, or even nearby to him, would attest to his mysterious mix of softness and confidence in leadership (perhaps, ENFP or ENTJ?... In my view, I was fortunate enough to observe how a hedgehog can survive and be happy, even without needing a 2nd file. Certain corporate big-wigs should only be so lucky!


It's better to know the rules of the game and choose how to play it (i.e. knowing the Second File exists), rather than being ignorant of the game and one day being left out in the cold with no idea what happened.

As you say, doesn't mean that you have to keep a Second File, but knowing others might does offer some protection.

The Golden Rule

It's a really good reflection. And I agree with microCEO - not many of us gets to know a leader that is true; doesn't need to use the 2nd file. I personally get to experience the usage of 2nd file by some of the leaders in my company in many instances. One in particular used in so often, he used it on his own superior. In return, his superior used it back on him.
Everything comes back full circle coz what goes around really do come back around.
And ultimately, it is a vicious cycle - unless it stops somewhere.

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