The “Potato Effect”

Tomiwa O
2 min readNov 4, 2019
FD — I stumbled on this (quite instructional) story on Quora and I thought it best to share here. — Photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash

Two guys started working, on the same day, at a large company. Let’s call them Pete and John.

After about 5 years Pete made an appointment with his boss. During the meeting he asked his boss why he was still on the same level as when he started whilst John was already in management.

Pete’s boss said that he would explain but if he would run down to the vegetable shop on the corner to find out if they had potatoes for sale.

Pete ran as quickly as he could and when he got back to the office he proudly exclaimed that they did in fact have potatoes for sale.

The boss asked how much they were so Pete hurried back to the shop and when he came back he told his boss that they had large potatoes for only $10 per bag.

The boss then asked if they don’t have smaller bags. Pete, once again, rushed back to the shop and on his return told his boss that they did in fact have smaller bags at only $7 per bag.

The boss then asked if they were washed or unwashed and after Pete went back to the shop he explained that the had both washed or unwashed available.

The boss then asked him to call John to the office.

When John arrived the boss asked him to go to the vegetable shop and find out if they had potatoes for sale.

When John arrived back his answer was:

They do have potatoes for sale, both in large and small bags at only $10 for the large ones and $7 for the smaller ones. One can also choose between washed and unwashed potatoes.

The boss then asked Pete if he now understood why John was promoted and he wasn’t.


Taking the initiative is something that is rarely explicitly taught but is actually very much needed in today’s world.

Never underestimate the power of going over and beyond just what you feel you should do.

We all need to constantly take the initiative, whether it be at work, in our personal relationships or even in our development journeys in life.



Tomiwa O

Product Designer. Brand Strategist. Problem Solver.