Employees Reveal Common Knowledge In Their Industry That Would Surprise Everyone Else

Many of us know the "tricks of our own trade", but what may be common knowledge to those of us in our own fields, could be completely new information to the outside world. 

The following insights on Quora reveal some amazing facts about everyday industries, from investment bankers to poker stars, that not everything is as it may seem while these professionals are at the"office." (wherever that may be)

Regarding the book publishing industry: I worked for a client in this industry for many years in a marketing capacity. 

Most people would be appalled at how most (but not all) books make it onto important lists such as Amazon's Top 100. It's not always based on the quality of the book.

The books with the most publicity win. Unless an author is very well-known with a huge following, it's very difficult to make a buck without a lot of promotional effort.


Most of the Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tweets and posts are not written by the author, they are written by their staff or social media people handled by their publisher, and pre-approved and scheduled using third party programs like Hootsuite and Buffer.


Reviews on Amazon are heavily seeded by marketing. Therefore, I don't believe most rating systems on Google, Amazon, or Yelp. It's very easy to and inexpensive to get people to upload great reviews. The negative ones are real, however.


When you're flying on an airline, the fuel tanks on the plane usually aren't full. There's enough fuel to taxi to the runway, fly from the departure airport to destination airport, plus reserves and some extra. 

The reserves and extra is usually enough to fly for another 75 minutes. If the tanks are topped off, then there's probably less than 75 minutes of extra and reserve fuel on board. 

This only applies to domestic flights in the US. Also, minimum reserve fuel is enough to fly for 45 minutes. Passengers will be bumped off a flight to ensure enough fuel will be on the plane so the flight can be safely completed.

Dale Gentry, Airline - Daily Operations Planner Extraordinaire

I'm a technical recruiter, so my world is likely quite different than other types of recruiting. For engineering positions where there isn't a 1:1 need (i.e. there's not one position open that can only be filled by one person), offer deadlines are pretty arbitrary if even [or] non-existent. Smaller companies are more likely to mean it when they say an offer expires on a [blank] day. But when large companies [are] looking to fill big engineering pipelines [they] pressure someone to accept an offer with a deadline, it's totally arbitrary. Trust me when I say, if you come back to Google or Oracle two months later wanting to accept an offer, they're not going to kick you out of bed (if you know what I mean). The equity side of the offer might not be the same, which would be entirely within their right, particularly with the ebb and flow of the market, but no tech company worth their salt is going to turn down the opportunity to hire someone they already agreed they wanted to hire. But sitting a long time on an offer also makes you look [selfish] and can be disrespectful to the company. I recommend finding the balance.

Ambra Benjamin, Tech Recruiter @ Facebook

Technical recruiters get a bad reputation for a lot of reasons. One thing that absolutely is common knowledge among peers in my industry is that it doesn't matter how awesome a company is, how awesome the product is, or how much money (or equity) you throw at a person. More often than not, none of those things can entice someone to leave a company (or a role) where they feel valued, appreciated, or needed. I have encountered some of the most fiercely loyal employees for completely non-understandable reasons.

I've worked in recruiting for 10+ years. I've worked for big companies like Google, Nintendo, and Nordstrom. Mid-size companies like Facebook and Expedia. Start-ups like LivingSocial and Lithium Technologies. I have reached out to tens of thousands of candidates in my lifetime and the average person would be shocked at how many passive candidates recruiters have to reach out to in order to [get] one candidate hired. At times, it can feel like a frustrating numbers game even when you're doing all the right things. 

Ambra Benjamin, Tech Recruiter @ Facebook

'Investment' banking has little to do with investments. Your primary job is to advise corporations on equity/debt issuance and mergers & acquisitions. Heck, that's not even true, you are really a 'salesman', and your primary job is to maintain a relationship with corporations and convince them to hire you on financing and M&A activities.

Henry Wong

I used to work in the mining industry in one of the biggest mines in Europe and one of the most advanced mines in the world. So, here [are] some random facts from 1.5 km deep (that's about [a] mile deep in ye olde units) underground mine. 

The spool for the lift going all the way down has to be positioned in [a] certain compass direction as the spin of the Earth affects ropes that long and, thus, would danger the lift itself if positioned the wrong way. The lift itself flies up-and-down at 60km/h (~40mph).

Mikko Tikkanen

No one actually says, "Lights, Camera, Action." This is a holdover from when film was much less sensitive and it was costly/dangerous to leave studio lights on for long periods of time. Also, notice that there's nothing in there about sound. 

What they actually say is more like this: "Quiet, please! Ready? Roll sound..." Someone says, "Sound speed", then someone else says the name of the shot and take, "Scene 21-Echo, take 2"..."Roll camera..." Someone else says, "Camera speed" [and] "Mark" and [then] claps the slate. "...Action!" Also, depending on the Set/Director, most of this may be said by the first Assistant Director.

Aladdin Steiman-Cameron

I used to work in a consumer goods company that sells products to buyers at retailers.

Competitor's product placed at eye level and yours is on the bottom shelf? You're in trouble. If your manager happens to walk into that store and sees this, prepare to come into work the next morning accompanied by a long lecture (that is, if he/she didn't already text you a picture of the poorly placed product along with the text "why are we placed below [insert competitor brand name]?" Any product not placed at an optimal position? Then it's your fault because you've failed to maintain a good relationship with the store manager/buyer or you didn't plan your promotional budget well enough to secure the best space.

Diana Tan 

Obviously, it looks full because this gives the impression of abundance. This looks better and customers are likely to pick up a product if the display looks pretty. More importantly, we are afraid of selling too much stock to the retailer and/or the retailer is afraid of being too aggressive and buying too much stock (your manager will say, "Why doesn't the retailer have faith in our product? This is your fault."). If there is stock left over long after the promotion is over, our sales suffer over the next few months, as we try to purge this overstock. 

Diana Tan 

I was a professional poker player for three years. I spent about 70% of my time playing online, with about 30% reserved for live tournaments (think WSOP, WPT, EPT, etc.) and cash games. These are some of the things I noticed that people find most interesting (note: these are just my observations):

Most of the guys you see on TV are "horses," backed by other players. Typically, backing deals are 50-50, but include make-up, which means that if you win a tournament for $1M, but your backer has put you in $500,000 of tournaments without a payout, the $500,000 comes out of the winnings (and gets paid back to the backer) before you split the profits. Then, the cycle starts all over again.

What this means is that most tournament players do not have 100% of themselves in any tournament. Even the ones who back themselves swap percentages with other players to defend against the variance.

The other product from this is that most players are playing from behind. Backing creates a vicious cycle; the only way to get out is to win a big tournament. So, you get people who are dead broke (because they haven't been paid out in forever) playing in high buy-in events chasing a big score. It's a recipe for disaster. 

Joshua Goldstein

Want to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event?  All it takes is $10K.  It's not that special to play in live events. All you have to do is pony up the dough.

Joshua Goldstein

Most poker players do not see numbers floating around when they are making decisions. They know the math, but most are not going to recite 50+ digits of pi for you. Instead, they are doing quick multiples and fractions in their head.  How much should you bet? It's a multiple of the blind or the last bet or a fraction of the pot or the last bet. Then, it's an understanding of pot-to-stack and what the sizing will be on later streets.

Joshua Goldstein

This is a function of the evolution of poker. Back in the day, it took people years to acquire the same experience that it now takes months online.

Think about it like this, in live poker, one can only play 1 table at a time. Now, a great live dealer might deal 20 hands/hour. That means if you play 10 hours a day, you've played 200 hands. If you play 300 days/year, that's 60,000 hands. Meanwhile, some online players can play somewhere between 10-20 tables at one time. Let's say an online player plays 10 tables at a time, at an average rate of 100 hands/hr/table.That's 1,000 hands/hour, 10,000 hands/day and 3,000,000 hands/year. It's not even close.*

NL Holdem' isn't a solved game, but online players have broken down the game to the minutia. There are great forums (2+2, Pocketfives, etc.) that give online players the ability the discuss any decision. There are awesome video sites (Card Runners, Leggo Poker, Run It Once, etc.) that give online players the ability to watch some of the best players play and discuss strategy in real-time. And online players can share hand histories via chat platforms to discuss small tweaks in strategy.

Joshua Goldstein

I am a mathematician (but I studied physics as an undergrad, hence, I know a bit about both fields). These facts are probably not that surprising, but here they are anyway:

Most (if not all) of us suck at arithmetic. There is a (probably apocryphal) story of a famous mathematician who, when asked an example of a prime number, said 57. Most of us can barely add to save our lives (especially while splitting restaurant bills). So, we all hate the term "Do the math." (Simply because "mathematician" is not equal to "calculator".) This brings me to the next point.

Even strongly mathematical fields like physics or engineering rarely touch (except in high-energy physics) research-level mathematics. In fact, most people (even if they do a Masters in physics or computer science) stop at early twentieth-century mathematics. So, as a consequence, we are universally asked "Really? What research can one do in mathematics anymore?"

We are paid in universities to teach. In fact, most of us never produce anything applicable or useful in our lives, and some of us take pride in [that]. All this "mathematics is very useful everywhere" stuff is not applicable to research in pure mathematics. Our aim is not to produce something that can be applied. (Think of poetry for instance.) However....

Mathematics is strongly inter-connected. So strongly that a tool (Ricci flow) that is developed solely to solve a pure mathematics problem (The Poincare conjecture) is used in Robotics. I used to think that Tropical geometry is divorced from "mathematical reality. But, apparently, it was applied by an economist recently to the banks in the UK! This is the reason we believe that even if applied mathematics is the only thing that can make a difference to a lay-person, one shouldn't ever get "rid" of even obscure branches of pure mathematics.

Vamsi Pritham Pingali, Mathematician at IISc.

Personal trainers aren't really that necessary for most people beyond 5-6 sessions.  Personal trainers will often give clients different exercises to perform during each session in [an] attempt to "mix things up", and so the client does not get bored. In reality, you can learn proper technique for just 6-8 exercises, some stretches to help correct muscle imbalances, and warm up/cool down routines in about 5-6 sessions. (They obviously won't tell you or necessarily show you this. They want you to keep buying sessions.) This applies to anyone that is overweight and looking to just "get into good shape", which applies to about 95% of most people. If you are training for a particular important sporting event/photo shoot/movie scene, having an expert around all the time obviously [because it] becomes a lot more important. Additionally, if your biggest problem is motivation, then having a personal trainer is, in fact, quite helpful to hold [youself] accountable.


Models for photo shoots are sometimes chosen not because they have the best look for the project, but because they are the most compliant or convenient. We'll photoshop the rest to make sure their looks fit. Models who are not well-known, despite their supposed attractiveness, are treated like they are at the bottom of the food chain. They're merely blank canvases for the artist to paint on, but have no say in the overall creative direction of the shoot. 

Melissa Lim, Culture Vulture

The software's very specialized. We have back-end and front-end, DBAs and C++ optimizers. It's a lot of fun to work "full stack" on a small project, but few of us get this opportunity. The competence ordering of a set of engineers changes radically as the underlying technologies change (which is the economic motivation behind the so-called "religious wars" around technical infrastructure).

Michael O. Church 

Adding some tidbits from the pharmaceutical industry. 

Drug development is a very long process. Any new drug that you see released to the market probably started in a lab some 8-15 years ago.

The success rate is extremely low. For every FDA-approved drug that makes it to market, 5000 to 10000 compounds were explored during the drug discovery phase. This is expected; what most companies optimize for is to have the failure occur as early in the pipeline as possible. The later down the pipeline a drug fails, the more costly development becomes.

Ti Zhao

Here are a few behind-the-scenes facts that some people don't know about your local vet.

Restraining your pet is not cruel or heartless, it's standard procedure. Where children or adults can be bribed or calmed down using forms of communication, a pet can not be reasoned with. A pet associates fear and discomfort with the vet, we can't help that. The kindest way to handle a necessary veterinary procedure is quickly. The faster, the better. Proper restraint not only applies pressure to certain pressure points, it also eliminates any unnecessary injury to pet, employee, or owner.

Having you restrain your pet is not a good idea. We've been trained and have years of experience dealing with animals. Your precious Fi-Fi might be an angel at home, but all bets are off at the vet, and we know that. Let us do our jobs. 

Kat Lightman, works at Veterinary Medicine 


Westend61/Getty Images

When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.

These are those stories.

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