N4L 155: "Observe to Unmask" by Pushpendra Mehta


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


Little did Pushpendra Mehta know that by answering one simple question on Quora, his book, Observe to Unmask: 100 Small Things to Know People Better, would emerge.

The question: “What small thing can tell you a lot about a person?” Mehta’s answer would get over 1 million views and lead to his collecting bits of wisdom for understanding human nature. As a writer, marketer, and mentor, Mehta has been a lifelong observer, watching for subtle clues about people hidden behind their “masks.” Says Mehta, “Most of us wear a mask, a social mask to hide who we really are and what we’re feeling, to protect ourselves, to avoid conflicts, or to masquerade a personality trait that wouldn’t otherwise be appreciated or accepted. The fear that the world is going to find us out leads us to adorn a mask. This displays us in the best possible light—giving, kind, confident, secure, and humble.”

Although not backed by data or scientific evidence, Mehta’s experience and intuitive insights help us "observe to unmask."


  • Gather as much information as possible about a person’s early years.
  • Learn a person’s backstory by assessing his sense of humor.
  • Notice body language for a tipoff for a person’s true nature and passions.
  • Study social media posts that reveal who someone is.


  • “Observe a person’s bookshelf or find out the type of books he or she reads, owns, borrows, or likes to discuss. It will tell you more about his or her personality, interests, and character.”
  • “Ask a person to look back and share…the best and the worst days of his or her life. This will tell…a lot about what a person treasures most, what troubles them, and how they overcame crises and challenges.”
  • “If you want to know a person really well, get the honest opinion of his or her parents, grandparents, children, siblings, spouse or partner—or ex-spouse or partner—best friend, household staff, executive assistant, or former friends.”


Listen to Nonfiction4Life Episode #110: The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger.

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