400050 to 400079

Day 5 / 100 of the 1000WADv3. I am writing this a day late. Last night a combination of factors made is tough for me to post it. All of those will sound like whines from an old man but I'd rather focus on "create" than "crib." So here goes. Also, read this as a continuation post to the one I made when I moved from Nahar to Bandra.

So, about a fortnight back, I moved from Bandra to Vikhroli. And everyone I tell this to, they are surprised shocked. One of my colleagues says and I quote, "the dumbest idea I've ever had" 

Of course it is a dumb idea. Of course they are shocked. Bandra is where all the hipsters are. Vikhroli is where all the lukhkhas are. Bandra is cool. Vikhroli doesn't even qualify to be included on the continuum of cool to drab. 

Unless, you are BUYing yourself a home in one of the new high-rises that are dotting this side of the town. In fact lot of friends from MDI have made homes on this belt. And since these folks and others buying a house here are the rich ones, the area is "upgrading" with new fancier restaurants, salons, cinema halls et al coming up. Of course its getting expensive. Ok, I am digressing and trying to sort of defend Vikhroli. Cut. Back to the move.

So, why did I move? One simple reason. Money. I have a limited budget in terms of rental that I want to pay. And I have unlimited expectation from the house I want to live in. Marrying the two is impossible in a city like Mumbai, especially when there are greater fools around. So I had to look for a place where I compromise a tad on both (pay a tad extra and get a tad less amenities). 

My list of expectations include (and is not limited to), a gated compound, a place with enough space that the two people living there dont bump into each other while walking, an ample view of sky, a newish building free of pests, access to public transport, proximity to a Starbucks (and a Starbucks only), home delivery of groceries, minimal interference from neighbours. There is more but these are like SUPER essential. To give context, Nahar offers you all these things. Think of Bandra - it offers transport, Starbucks and groceries at best. Rest, well...  

My budget, lesser said about it, better. I am doing great financially but I am still far from a car and I cant even think of a house. Chasing your dreams and treading your own path is the worst thing that you could ever do, if you want to make it big. Digressing again. Back to move.  

So, I had to move away from Bandra because I found it too claustrophobic - there was the sea and the old world charm and cute women and fancy restaurants and clubs and restaurants and performance venues and celebrity spotting and Shameem's studio and Jai Jawan and all that - and I had to move away. Its an amazing place but not for me. May be once I have made enough money to afford the kind of house I want to live in, I will reconsider Bandra.

After a ton of permutations and combinations, I realised that it had to be either Kandivali (Thakur Village etc.) or Vikhroli. Both are far from the places where I chill at - office (which is close to Andheri Station). And no, I dont want to travel in train (or metro) on an average day. And since Vikhroli is close to two or three friends I have in Mumbai and to Powai (the best part of Mumbai after the queen's necklace), it made sense to choose Vikhroli. 

So I moved here a couple of weeks back. And like each time I have moved around in Mumbai, the experience with brokers was far less from pleasant (there is SUCH a BIG need for a professional brokerage services that it's not funny - more on this sometime later). In fact I am still sleeping on the floor and the AC's dont work and... No, I shall not crib. Back to the move, Mr. Garg.

Now that I am here, let me look to the future. Life has been kind in the last few months. Work has more or less fell into a rhythm (I still am a part of two growing organizations),  I have saved some money and I can now take time off to think on a wider canvas. 

So, here's the offer. Wait. Lemme copy-paste from the old post.
... if you live in / around Bandra Powai / Ghatkopar / Vikhroli and would want to catch up for coffee / drinks / something, please do let me know. While I have varied interests, I can hold interesting conversations on startups, marketing, branding, poker, travel, writing and self-improvement. Up for it? I am @saurabh on twitter.
The focus is on media and entertainment business, especially live events. And of course starting up. I dont have an expertise to offer, but I am pretty handy with seeing the larger picture, working on communication / marketing / brand-building et al. After all that's what I've done for the last 10 or so years! I am on saurabhgarg.com/contact

That's it. Do let me know next time you are at 400079. Till then,  over and out. 

P.S.: Apologies for the delay on post and I know that this is not 1000 words but I dont have anything else to add. And I stand by my words. The kitty is 1000 bucks. And there will be a post for 21st  

Untitled - 19 Oct 2016

Day 4 / 100 of the 1000WADv3.

So its 7:40 PM and I am staring at a mile-long todo list. And I have to do all those before tomorrow morning when I have a really important meeting that I cant miss for anything. If there is a day when I am going to miss my 1000 words, its going to be today. And this is when I chose to prioritize and put everything on hold till I got these 1000 words out of the day. 

The other thing is that I dont know what to write about. I dont lead a very exciting life and apart from the two Uber rides to and from work, all I do is stare at a computer screen and sleep. And there's as much I can fill in. 

So let me call this untitled and just vomit my thoughts. Let me use bullet points. 

A. The highlight of the day is a ten-minute long chat between Shekhar Gupta and MDA (cant embed and thus just the link). I am told that the man and the company are manipulative and all that but the interview is such an eye-opener into how that man thinks. The entire thing is not online but I am super impressed with the way the man thinks and the kind of people he is connected to. In ten minutes of the interview, it was clear that he is very methodical, very particular, very articulate (he did make some mistakes and all that). No wonder he's THE MDA! 

B. I just got a new tnks sticker on the new laptop. And today at a meeting, a client asked me about the next book. In last few days, the number of people asking me for the book has gone up considerably. I need to get the writing game going. And I think these 1000 words a day will go a long long way in helping me do that. 

C. I've rediscovered my love for the music of film Taal. The entire OST is super amazing and super conducive to work. The music helps you get to flow faster. Try it. 

D. I spent bulk of the day in the meetings. The mile-long todo list that I spoke about is a side effect of that attempt to meet as many people as I could. I thus get stuck with delivery and the client that cries harder and or pushes shoves me farther gets his things done faster. Of course this is not a great way to get things done. I need to hire people. And for that I need budget. And for that I need money. And to make money, I need people. Vicious circle you see. 

The point of D is that I need to be able to put a team that helps me deliver. Or may be, if delivery is my thing, a team that can get me work. At C4E, I am trying a bit of both. There are people that I am paying to get my leads and intros. And there are people I am trying to get on board to deliver on projects that we are on. Read this longish post I wrote yesterday. And to make it clear, I mean EVERY word of that. I stand by all the promises I've made in there. Of course, time shall tell. 

E. Continuing to talk about work (have you noticed that I talk of work lot more these days), I made two hiring blunders and I dont know how to fix those. I dont want to fire. I know that the said person is not capable of delivering what I expected them to. I dont know about others but a business has to fundamentally make monetary sense. MDA even acknowledged it on a public forum that you have to sense for shareholders to invest time and all that. So, while the obvious way to go is to let go, the non-obvious way is to let the mistake linger on, let it fix by itself and then evaluate after a while. I dont really know the right way to go about it. But thats the point of doing your own shit - you learn each day. And you better do - or else these 100-week hours are meaningless. Oh, I got the 112-hour week from this amazing advert by Ram. I can watch this all day long - I often do! 

F. Just looked at the watch. Its 9:52 and I am still on this. The mile-long list is still around. Staring at me in the face. And in the last two hours I have called a friend, chatted with a couple of colleagues, posted 10-odd tweets and opened and closed 20 old browser tabs. I've ordered my dinner, gossiped with a colleague, heard some Backstreet Boys (yeah, am a dilliwallah like that), saw a few YouTube videos (cant post links here), discussed a business idea with a friend and then, checked 200 times about the length of this post. 

And this is where I will end this. If the purpose of writing it to get the word count going, no point doing it. And on the contrary, thats the purest chase. The chase of a deadline and chase of a goal. It helps instill dedication, confidence, goal-orientation, focus and all these positive things. 

So yeah, this is it for today. May be tomorrow I will write that will add value to you as a reader. Till then, over n out. 

P.S.: I am still accepting "invitations" to be a part the list of people that I send these blog updates to. All you have to do it, tweet at home, write me an email. Either works. Preferably before 7 - thats the time I try to read all my mails from the previous night.

It's a sign!

Day 3 / 100 of the 1000WADv3. I will use today's update to get some work done. I run C4E, a full-service, live-entertainment business and I need people to help me build it. This post is a JD / requirement doc for the same. Here it goes. 

Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen and children of all ages, if you are young, have a fire in your belly, an uninhibited ambition, the mad streak, passion to create world-class businesses, hatred for a regular 9-to-5, quirks that make you who you are, I need you!

Heck, we need each other. And more importantly, the world needs you, needs us!

P.S.: Mad as in Jack's mad. Look to your left. 

Who am I?
I am Saurabh. 34. MBA from a decent business school. My LinkedIn profile is here. I am pretty active on twitter. I am @saurabh there.

I run an events agency and a social media / digital marketing agency. Right now, both are small, but will be big. I am very sure. So sure that the question is not "if," but "when." And when that happens, the team to make it happen will probably be the greatest set of hustlers ever gathered at one place. And I am building that gathering right now!

Why this "JD"? What am I hoping to achieve? 
One thing and one thing only. Gather a set of great minds - people of thought and action. People who are smart and yet can slog. People who are intelligent and yet hardworking. People who are articulate and yet eager to learn. People who think they are inherently lucky and yet are ok to work to get the lady luck to shine on them. People who know they'd get if they set their minds to a task. People who can pick a discipline and naturally excel at it. People who do not have boundaries. People who are mad. People who have the streak in them that makes them stand out. Alphas. People who get things done rather than mere pushing paper.

More than that, people who believe that life has larger plans for them and all they need is someone, something, an opportunity, a platform to launch themselves.

Ladies and gents, this is a call. The is the fucking sign that you've been seeking all this while. For you to spot others of your ilk and get together. To create something Utopian. Something that puts a ding in the universe. Something that you can be proud of. Something that you know that requires you to do it. Something that is an extension of you. An expression of how you think, how you work et al. Something that no "JD" can describe.

What kind of work will you do?
Right now, we are in the business of entertainment. Tomorrow we could be making spaceships. Or grazing cows for that matter. Or maybe continue to remain in the entertainment business. We dont know of tomorrow and we dont really know how to plan.

So, for the time being, you will be part of a business that entertains people. We do so by creating, producing, managing live events. Soon, we'd have other avatars. Right now, you will be part of the team that sits together and racks brains to come up with things that can blow people's heads off. Things, events, experiences that make people go, "awwww" or "woooow" or I say, "O! faaaaaaaak."

And as and when we change direction, you would be a part of the decision. Not collective per se but you'd have a say! After all, its going to about you and me and everyone around us.

So, what is the grand plan? What is the mission statement? 
Wait. What you to mean by mission statement? If you are looking for the grand plan behind all this, there is none. I have vague ideas about where I want these businesses to go. More importantly, I have a clear idea about the kind of people I want to build this business with.

What kind of people? Who are you (aka, the ideal "candidate")?
We dont care for degrees. Or amount of hair on your head (I dont have too many). Or the number of endorsements you have. Or the connections that you father as - your last name for that matter.

But few things are super important to us. Long-term thought and approach to life. Honestly. Loyalty. Meticulousness. Confidence. Clarity of thought. Conversation skills. There is more but to shorten it, you believe in the "treat others the way you want them to treat you" maxim.

And most importantly, you have the ability to hustle.

So, what is hustle?
Hustle is defined as... wait. I want you to tell me your interpretation of hustle should you decide to start a conversation. 

What can you expect in return? 
Of course money. Limited to start with. And if things fall in place, enough to take care of every whim of yours. And the ones around you. Think wealth. Not money.

Apart from that, you will work with me (not for me). You will work for yourself (not for the "company"). You will be an owner (not just figuratively but on paper - of course after we've vetted you out and your have taken the oath of Omerta). You'd be part of family (the Mafia kinds).

And here are two promises. From me, as an individual.
  • I will ensure that I am as much invested in your success as you are in yours. After all thats how you define a clan!
  • SUPER IMPORTANT. I know that each person has a world-view and a way of doing things. I respect that. And each person has an idea about what s/he wants to achieve in life. I will ensure that we work with you to achieve that goal of yours. Or I'd die trying. Promise. 
Why should you NOT take this up?
If you want to reach home at 7 PM, this is not for you.
If you dont have ambition, please refrain.
If you cant handle ambiguity, things will be tough for you to manage.
If you see yourself retiring at the age of 40, please dont bother.

Team / who else is in?
In no order, Kunal, Rajesh. Ritika, Rahul. Paras. And friends. And mentors. And giants. In fact, before you decide that you want in, how about speaking to one of us? Do share your details and we will buddy you up with someone from the team.

Thank you for reading this!


P.S.: It would help if you read consumed following pieces... 

Untitled - 17 Oct 2016

Day 2 / 100 of the 1000WADv3.

Day 2. The toughest of them all. You've just announced a new habit that is anyway tough to keep up to (1000 words is no mean feat - easily a 2-hour job) and it hasn't met with the mass hysteria that you hoped it would create. You dont have any motivation to do it. But you have to. If you dont, you risk public ridicule. If you do, you'd have to kill the procrastination dragon. You dont know which is the lesser evil. Irrespective. You have to do what you have to.

So, today, its been a busy day. Lot of errands to run at home. Lot of small meetings at work. Both require a lot of attention and are unproductive in the long run. The kind of chores that you ought to outsource. Not that you'd do great things with your time but its your time nonetheless. You can damn well sleep at that time. Its your time.

I did get some time to read a few things. The one that topped the list was this article that dissed Chetan Bhagat. But then apart from talking about Chetan Bhagat, the article also talked about this set of Hindi authors (Ashish Chaudhary, Nikhil Sachan and Divya Prakash Dubey) that are apparently as big as Chetan is. These guys write in Hindi, for an audience that is Hindi and like Chetan Bhagat, are a bridge between the classical, literary authors and mass, colloquial readers. I hadnt heard their names but a tiny investigation revealed that they actually exist! And exist they do. They are kings and princes of the Hindi heartland. May be I need to look at that as a market! Or may be not. I am not sure I have time to create things. Or talent for that matter. I remain mediocre at best. A persistent one at that. And I've learned that a persistent and mediocre dude is always better than a lazy exceptional man.

The other highlight of the day is the renewed focus on being efficient and effective. For a change, I could focus on things while I worked. Not that I got more things done but I am hoping I would retain lot more than previous times. The theory by definition will take some time to test but I shall keep at this focus bit.

Other disjointed piece of information that I have started to settle down at the new house. And my luck continue to remain fucked up with the house. Guess its a sign, that I am going to get a place of my own pretty soon. And going by the going rates of realty prices in the city, my first million is just around the corner!

I got into a bet with a colleague that I would be 30" same time next year. So #in2017, I will be 30". Super tall task and considering the fact that I've struggled with weight all my life, I will need to put in super-human effort to do so. And you know what? I will. I am already off Coke (and all sugarless variants, Red Bull and coffee). I need to cut on processed food and add some sort of work out. And once I get into the groove, it should be easy. Look at this guy. If he could, I can. Of course he ran a half-marathon. I am sure I can do it as well.

And the last yet another thing for this update. I continue to have the regret that I dont get time to read as much I want to. I recently got an Agatha Christie - that has made me restart reading. I am seriously thinking to reactivate the Kindle that I dont use. But may be, I dont need a Kindle. All I probably need is an intent to read! I'd may be take a 100 books a year challenge once I am done with these 100 posts. Or may be I will find a better way to work and make out more time for reading?

Brings me the last thing for this post. Thing is, I am just vomiting out all the unconnected thoughts and threads that I have in my head. Anyhow. SO today I sat and thought about how I want to work. And I realised that I suck at how I work. I spend a lot of time in actually doing things. Which is not cool if you ask me. At this stage in life, I have to manage things. I have to find people to help me do shit. In fact I just posted about the kind of person I want to work with. You know of someone I could work with? Please help me with some direction. I will really appreciate it.

Thats about it from this post.

Oh, one more thing. Do let me know if you want to be updated as I post the daily 1000 words. You have my email address and twitter handle (@saurabh). :)

P.S.: Not checking for copy and grammar. May be will edit it tomorrow or day after. Or a weekend. Or may be never. That's the point. No? 

P.P.S.: Not very happy with how this post has come out. But, for the time being, the struggle is to churn out those 1000 words a day and not worry about the quality. 

Introducing #1000WADv3

Today on, I am starting #1000WADv3. 1000 words a day, version 3.

In simple words, I will write 1000 words EVERY day for the next 100 days (at least) without fail. In case you want me to email you when I publish the post, let me know and I will add you to the list. There are 4 people on the list already. The day I dont write, I'd donate 1000 bucks to my poker kitty. Sidenote: I did something similar about #book2 and I never got around to keeping my word. Let me take this up in a bit. 

So, lately I have been super busy with work and travel and shifting the house. And as a result, I havent been reading, havent been writing, havent been exploring ideas, talking, meeting new people, growing or anything that has made me who I am. So, there is this void in life. I am not happy - I mean I am happy most days, most times. If I look back at this phase of life ten years from now, I will consider myself happy. But that thing, that magic that we seek from life is missing. I cant put a finger to it but hope you guys get the drift.

Anyhow, so, I need to reclaim life and what better way to do so than getting back to writing? For as long as I can remember, writing has given me pleasure and I've never had any issues with churning words -- I am very fast writer -- but I have had issues with sitting down to write.

I have had phases where I've written for days non-stop and then there have been phases where I havent written a single word (this one for example - the last time I wrote, it was septemberthe23rd. Almost 15 days, if not more. If I were Suketu Mehta, it makes sense to not write for this long. But I am not. Thing is, it takes serious effort for me to write something that is half-decent. And unless I write copious amount of words, I wont be able to leave behind a body of work that keeps me alive after I am gone.

Wait! Do I want to leave something behind? Something to be around when I am gone? I dont know. As I grow older, I feel that the impending end of time is closer than ever and the reality has started to hit home. No, I am not scared. No, I am not suicidal. No, I am not depressed. Its just that with every passing day the frivolity of life is getting more evident (may be its all the reading around death that I am onto lately - When Breath Becomes Air, Chasing Daylight, what else can I read?). Its disappointing that you live through all these years, hoping to make a dent in the universe and in the end it amounts to nothing. There is no grand plan. There are no white lights at the end of the tunnel. All is useless.


Except things that keep you going, before you die.

For example, something that you are attached to. People in most cases. Family, friends etc. I live away from my folks and I hardly have any friends per se. Or for example routines, things, disciplines, beliefs that you get attached to. You get so attached that you want to live forever on one end of extreme. And you want to kill (or even get killed) on the other. Religion is a case in point. Or may be the blinding chase of a passion project that wakes people up in the morning and like Warren says, makes people tap dance to work. There is no passion project for me except writing. There are few other things that I want to take up but I am not consumed by those yet. For example, there is this thing in my head where I want to impact a large subset of humanity but I have no clue how to go about it.

Even with writing, because of all the useless action around me, I have been postponing writing. Actually come to think of it, since I can remember I have postponed things, procrastinated to the next minute. Next hour. Next day. Next month. Next year. All the time keeping things pending for the tomorrow that would be brighter and better and see me more richer, more famous, more comfortable and God knows what all. Funny thing is that, none of it is true. Tomorrow is as useless as yesterday is. The worst thing you could do, ever, is to put things off to tomorrow. Of course, there is a "right time" and there are things that require deliberate practise before you master them - say, learning guitar, or running a marathon. Its ok to invest time to learn things. But the lessons can NOT wait. You have to do them while you are awake. There is jack shit on the other side of the sleep.

The point is, the "better" world is not coming anytime soon. Ever. All you have is today. The now. You cant fuck the tomorrow for whatever may be trying to fuck it for you. You've got to be that unstoppable force that is willing to collide with an immovable object. I've learnt that friends often arent around when you need them most, families tend to engage in petty politics more than they care for you, bosses and colleagues tend to be assholes. The day you are getting late, you will get red light on each intersection. Shit goes wrong. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Of course there are exceptions but you cant let anything affect the steady rock in your head. Funny that the person with mood swings larger than the Foucault's is talking about being stable. Being sane. Being immovable. Gyaan is easy. No?

But, as I go along, I will make sure I become stable. I dont know what could help. But there has to be something.

I think it all starts with one small thing - the resolve to do things now. Keyword is Now. Its ok to make mistakes. Its ok to pay for action. Action trumps everything else. And things = writing, getting out of the bed, putting on those running shoes, saying no to that last piece of jalebi and so on and so forth. Action. Things. Now.

And to kickstart one of the things, I promise that I will write 1000 words a day. For the next 100 days atleast. Follow me as I do this. Help me do this. Reprimand me if I falter. And may be, just may be, take up the challenge? 1000 words a day for you too? Or may be 10000 steps a day? Or something else that you thought you wanted to do but havent had the time to?

Oh, one more thing. This one, on promises.
So, through my life I have made promises and more often than not, I tend to deliver on those promises. But lately, since I've got busy with things, I havent kept my word. I have promised things and I havent delivered. With clients, friends, colleagues, people etc. I even made a similar promise about #book2 and I did not keep it. And it sucks! I want to avoid this suckiness in my head as I go along. I want to sleep in peace at night.

I know I cant fix what is broken but going forth, I will not make promises that I cant deliver on. My word has to become Gold standard. People have to put enough faith in me. All that will happen if I start delivering. Most times I do. But then I need to aim for perfection and ensure that I deliver on EVERY promise. My zubaan has to be respected. After all zubaan is what makes the world go around. I am nothing if I cant keep my word.

As I start afresh, the first promise going ahead, is to write 1000 words a day. Starting today. Godspeed Mr. Garg.

The Birthday Blues

So, the most depressing day is here. A day when you're constantly reminded by everyone - friends, family, neighbours, strangers, brands, businesses trying to sell to you, hoardings, pop ups, enemies, ex-girlfriends, future girlfriends, Tinder dates and what not - that you are an year older and have one less year left. To make that impact. To reach that goal. To give happiness away. Hell, to be happy. 

I know conventional wisdom says that I ought to be happy and get sloshed and throw parties and all that. I think the entire world has to be happy on my birthday. After all I am The One. Well, everyone is The One. But in my mind, my heart, I am.

Point being, the day is of course special. People look forward to it. People plan for it. Event managers like me actually make houses and what not, thanks to elaborate celebrations that people plan and the obscene amount of money they spend on the day.

Am sure at some point in time it was special for me as well. At least in 2004 (April 24, 2004) when I signed up for a google email address and a blog titled, well, septemberthe22nd. I don't know when the switch flipped and I became an escapist. Yeah that's the word. Escapist. I am sure I would be escaping something when I switched off my phone for the first time on my birthday. And since I've been pretty jobless almost all my life I would have easily escaped to a cave or something. And I would've liked the not speaking to people bit (afterall I get embarrassed about things and I dont know how to show gratitude or say thank you). And like a drug, I got hooked onto it. And it has sort of worked fine for me. And like any other creature of habit, I now do it every year. And I plan to do it for rest of my life.

Thing is, I've never understood all the festivity surrounding a birthday. Every day is a new day and you are sort of born everyday when you get up in the morning. Or in the afternoon, depends on how things are at your end. I am ok celebrating a new year - on Dec 31. Or on Diwali, as I've been taught as I was growing up. I am all for making yearly plans and resolutions about things you ought to do the next year. I actually take those pretty seriously - not that they work out often. But on the day you were born? I dont know if its worth all the hoopla around it.

You may argue that you turn over a year and you are older. And thus wiser and thus must celebrate. But you don't add a year to your life at the flip of a button on your birthday. It's a slow gradual process and you don't even realise when the eyes begin to sag, the hairlines start to recede (lol) and that stoop in your walk becomes prominent. If it were a flip, it would be worth celebrating. But its not and no there is no celebration. Nah, every day is not a celebration. There are ups and downs. Highs and lows. Smiles and tears. And so on and so forth.

However, there is that silver lining as well. sgMS texts you. By herself. So what if the conversation is awkward and you exchange all of 4 texts? And 2 of those texts are emoticons and one is a "thank you" from your side? How many times does she message you by herself in a year? Once! And that by itself makes the ordeal worth the effort.

So what about plans for the 35th year of my life? The same - that has been around since I was 16. Get rich (Richest man in the world). Buy a cars (cars actually, latest obsession is GLS). Buy a house (houses around the world). Make some impact (enable people, eradicate poverty etc). Get fitter (30", Everest). Fall in love. Learn new things. Work hard. Try and get sleep. Repeat till I die.

That's it for the time being. And here is a thing before I leave you. Thank you Swanand for this.

Oh, and, one more thing. Thank you everyone for calling me, messaging me etc. I did not know that so many people care for me. Humbled. Really am. The best thing to have happened today yesterday? A peck on the cheek from MG as she cut my birthday cake :)

Work and all that

C asked, "Hi hoomans who are happy with their profession/career path, did you always know what you wanted to do? How did you get here?"

I responded, "not happy but not sad either. no i did not. got here by LOT of luck, some hustle, some grind and LOT of help."

She asked me to elaborate. I thought 140 chars is too less. And thus, here is a longish explanation.

So, am I happy with my profession / career path? 
Sort of. I am very happy at the place I am at. I run two small businesses. One I know will become big - I have someone partnering me on it and giving me direction. The other, I am not sure. There's just me and a few friends that help as and when they get time. None of them is a well-oiled cash-churning machinery - I need to constantly work on them, think on them, invest time and resources and money and all that to be able to make ends meet. But then, I work for myself. And that makes me happy.

Can I make more money if I worked in a job? Of course.
Can I be happier? Of course.
Can I do better? Of course.
Could I've had a better career path? Of course.
Do I have regrets about what I do? No way!
Will I achieve my #lifeGoals? I believe I would. I am actually on my way!

Next, did I always know that I'd end up here? And how did I get here? 
Let me club the two questions.

No I did not.

How requires the long answer. So, I did computer science before I did my MBA (from MDI, Gurgaon). And my first job post MBA was with GE Money where I was supposed to sell credit cards. I did it for three months (after a 11-month "training") and I quit. In fact I knew in the first month itself that I had to quit. And I did. Back then, I was still fresh out of b-school and I still believed that I could change the world. I was still hopeful. I was dreamy. And I knew I loved advertisements. And thus I decided that I had to join an advertising agency. With no portfolio to speak of (I did not even know what a portfolio meant), I approached a recruiter and asked her to find me openings. [grind]. She told me that I could be a brand planner at best and none of the bigger agencies would hire me and I would have to take a pay cut. So I interviewed with two "startups", both accepted me and the person who offered me more money, I joined him. And it was the best damn move of my life. [luck].

For the next two years I worked with Raj at CLA. I saw Vikram and Raj build up a team and a body of work that was / is enviable. I learnt the business, met some amazing folks (some are friends till date) and most importantly, realised that I wasn't good enough. So, a time came when I had to move on. Plus Raj had shown me that my world is not limited to my batchmates and peers and all that.

Quit CLA to start something with a friend. I did not work out. Joined an events agency (not that I knew what events management was - I trusted the guy (Suvi at Gravity) and took a leap of faith. [luck]. It was the second best move ever. Next three years I worked really hard [grind], travelled the world, learnt how "real" businesses are managed and grew a lot as a person. I also realised that I am an adrenaline junkie. Well, not a junkie per se but I love on-the-spur decision. I love live entertainment. I love action. I love travel. I love to make people happy. And most importantly, I learnt that I am cut out for the business of events.

Quit Gravity to startup yet again. This time with another set of friends. Each day at 5times5 was a battle. We tried a lot of things, most failed and yet we kept at it. [grind] It was the toughest thing that I've ever done in my life. Could've done more. Could've hustled more. But I could not. I still believe I could've done it better. Anyhow, while we sustained business for almost 18 months (purely because of the hardwork that my partners put in, we never broke even, leave alone getting profitable), it got reaffirmed in my head that I need freedom and independence in how I work. We eventually shut the business, moved on and I was lucky to find a job fairly fast. With a social media agency. [luck]. This time, the guys who hired me took a leap of faith, by hiring someone like me who was new to this whole social media thing. But I think I did ok. But it got stifling pretty fast and I wasnt good enough for them to bend the rules for me. And I had learnt the importance of time by then. So, quit them in about 6 months.

Started freelancing - thanks to (Sanjay at SWL), they offered me the first gig. And from there on, I hustled really hard. I told everyone I knew that I am in the market and I can work on brand planning, social media and / or events. People couldn't fathom how could one guy do all three (and they still dont get it). I was ridiculed (I still get ridiculed). I kept at it. [hustle]. I got a few projects that helped me pay my bills and survive in Mumbai. Oh, I was lucky that I did not have to send money back home. [luck].

And then, one fine day, I struck gold. A guy I worked for knew a guy who knew another guy who was looking for a brand planner for a project in Nigeria. [luck]. I knew nothing about Nigeria and the guy who was hiring me knew nothing about me. He offered for some reason and I needed the money, so I took the gig. Did pretty well with that project (I think) and starting getting more work from the guy. With each piece of work, we got comfortable with each other and started working on more things. Think of a positive feedback loop. So much so that today Rajesh (at Viscomm) and I have partnered to setup an events management business, C4E. And I spend bulk of my time working with him at Viscomm and C4E. And this is where I am.

And now that I am at it, lemme answer a few more questions that C did not ask.

Will I do this for rest of my life?
I dont know. I have never planned my life and I dont think I can plan. I take things as they come and then react. All I know is that each year, I need to build on what I did in the year before.

What is next?
Again, I dont know. One things for sure. For the next few years, I am going to build C4E and grow AWSL. I have a clear idea about how I want C4E to evolve (an entertainment conglomerate). And a vague idea about what I want AWSL to be (enabler for other businesses). Will explain what I mean by this and intend these to be, in subsequent posts. For the time being, I think I am enjoying where I am. Wish me luck!

Oh, one more thing. Apart from "work", there are a few things that excite me and I want to explore further. I dont know how and when and where and why etc. but I will. These are:
  • Writing. I did write a book in 2014. And I am working (albeit very slowly) on the next. And I will probably write a few more before I die. So, writing is on the cards. 
  • Music. I want to play guitar. And I will learn it someday. 
  • Fitness. I really want to get fit. So I will probably spend a lot of time in the coming years on my fitness. I have made a promise to myself that I will scale Mt. Everest before 2025. So that. 
  • Compete. I want to compete in some sport at the international level. At 34, I am too old to be an athlete. So, I will probably pick up a sport like Pool, Snooker or Poker. So may be that. 
  • Teach. I dont know if I am wise enough to teach. But I have been in front of students and I love the feeling. I love being the enabler and I want to give teaching a sincere shot. 
That's it I guess. Thank you C for helping me think on this. While I was writing this, I realised that I've been extremely lucky in life. I may not have a house and I may not earn as much as my peers do, but I have a lot to be thankful for. I just hope things work out and I do make the ding. And I do become the richest man in the world! After all somethings never change - even if its been 10 years since you passed out of MDI. You are a change master and you can and you will change the world! No?

P.S.: And, if you have time, you must read the story of Prof. Bakshi.

P.P.S.: Another epiphany. All these people that I have met, all the things that I have done, is because I went out and made tons of loose connections. Last few months I have stopped doing that. I need to re-start. 

Untitled 1 - Sep 2016

So since I started working on C4E, I sort of "inherited" an office space. And now that I have a space, the middle-class Indian in me is making me maximise my time at office. Couple that with my hatred for traffic in Mumbai and the shitty house I live in, you have me spending 15 hours in office. Of course I am not working all of those 15 hours but I am busy on something or other.

I honestly dont mind long hours, if only we have a snooze room or something where I could take occasional naps. And a gym kind of thing with a shower that allowed me to pretend and do something to lose weight.

On lose weight piece, I stumbled onto this piece about this guy who wanted to climb to the top of the Everest with a Google Street View camera and record a panoramic view from the top of the world. No he could not, he died in an earthquake. Hats off to him and his balls. Really. I mean how many have such an audacious plan and the balls to actually chase the dream, while working at a hyper-competitive setup?

The other bit from the story is that providence seems to be sending me signs. Of two things - my promise to myself to climb the Everest before 2025 and the limited time that we have. Oh, on the shortness of life and all that, I re-read the account of Prof. Bakshi's life yet again. Read it. Must read. In BOLD. He also posted this note on the BFBV group. The thing that jumps at me is that a man ought to get financially independent as soon as he can. I am 34 years too late for that. But then I cant cry about it. Can I? What I could do is reach there fast. May be in the next 2-3 years? But wait. What's the number that I am chasing? At the way I live my life right now, I spend about a lakh a month and I dont have a car or a house. Should I want those, I need to shell out 5 crores upfront and say another 5 on maintenance over lifetime. Assuming my lifestyle remains same and I live till I am 50 (another15 years), I am looking at another 3 crores (adjusted for inflation). So, am looking at a 13 crore kind of corpus. In 3 years. 5 crores of net income each year. Or 10ish crores of topline each year. Wow! Thats a lot of money. And such a depressing thought.

Thing is, I shouldve more prudent like my batchmates from MDI. Almost all bought the house within five years after MBA and now they are almost EMI free. Wait. Lemme not compare. It will suck whichever way I look. The point of this post was to talk about how I am in office and I dont want to to back to where I live. There's no one to go back to and worse, the place sucks. Good bit is that I am going to move out soon.

And with that, the pain it takes to move! Sigh! You know of someone who wants to rent out a 2BHK in Mumbai? All I want is a high floor, new construction, gated community and a swimming pool in the complex. Too much to ask for? In Mumbai? May be. May be not.

Untitled 2 - Aug 2016

Note: Wrote this sometime last week. Never got around to publishing it as I did not get time to edit. 

As I write this, I am sitting at a site where a team I have hired is putting up a LED wall and other AV equipment for an event that I am producing, directing and managing. The work has come to a standstill as the other team that the client has hired has, sort of, fucked up!

The venue is about 30 KMs from Jaipur, on the Ajmer Road and I have been working on this event for some 20 days. Lately things have been so hectic that I haven't spoken to my folks in a week. And it is the week of Rakshabandhan, a day when my extended family gets together at my place. Once a year. And thus I make it a point to be at home on Rakhi (apart from Diwali, the other time in the year when I ensure that I am home). Of course for someone like me, these festivals are essentially symbolisms of archaic life that we Indians lead but its nice to keep some traditions.

Coming back, I haven't opened my workflowy in a while. I haven't written. I haven't checked email. I haven't had time to get a haircut (whatever hair is left on my head). In one line, I don't even know what is happening in my own life. On the work front, I haven't cracked a single new client. The last client I had hopes of making money from has sort of disappeared. It wasn't going anywhere and I just did not have the energy to chase it. There are no new clients in the pipeline. Heck, I don't even know what a pipeline looks like. See how easy I digress into a rant? Especially when I want to hurt myself?

So, like I said, I am at a setup and work has stalled for a stupid reason. I am not really liking this feeling of time ticking away and me blogging while work has come to a stand still. I have a deadline to meet and there are people on my clock. And they better work. Shit is stalled because of the incompetence and oversight of the other set of people working on this. The sad bit, I cant control what they are doing - after all I am not paying them. The client is.

I can try and complain and get them to move their ass faster. But the industry I work in, things often get stalled and the pushing around will not help you. As they say, the baby will take 9 months to come out. So, I wait. And I will have to get my team to work harder to cover up for incompetence of the other team.

The silver lining is that I can learn a few lessons from this snafu. After all its not often that you get to learn from expensive mistakes of others. Here it goes.

First and foremost, the biggest lesson so far is that indecision can fuck things more than doing em wrong. Doing things leads to outcomes - desired or undesired, good or bad, loss making or profitable. But they are outcomes. They move things forward. They are visible. Indecision leads to nothing. It just makes you sit on your ass, making your bottom rounder. And we were definitely not gifted this life to make our bottoms rounder. I can rant all I want on this but the sense of urgency captures this like nothing else.

Second, I need to build in redundancy in the systems. I still operate like a one-man army and while I love the action, the adrenaline, it is a deterrent to growth. Of course I hate corporate behemoths where process manuals are longer than the Holy Bible but I can see that they are there for a reason. Just need to find the right balance. More on this on the work blog.

Third, while I was sitting around, it dawned onto me that my parents are now old and they need me. All my life I have opined that I need to live away from my folks. Not any more. I can see the frail bodies and parched souls. I need to be around them. I am sure I cant be in Delhi. And I am not sure if I want to uproot them and make them move to Mumbai. It will be the mother of all selfish things. So its going to be a tough tricky decision. And I am not even sure if I want to be Mumbai for long. After all I am in love with my nomadic life. I love it that I can pack a suitcase and move at the drop of the hat. So, I don't know. But I will speak to them, speak to SG and then decide on this. Fast. And act before end of September.

That's it for the time being. Oh, one more thing. I need to get back to writing. There is no other thing that gives me joy like writing. May be being on the road? I think its the ultimate pursuit - to create something. Even if its as small, simple, silly as a blogpost that no one may even read.

And, coming back to the setup, I will ensure that it gets done. And in time and cost and quality that we have promised to the client. They've trusted me to deliver a fantastic experience to their guests. After all thats what I we do at C4E.

Note: Like I said, I am writing this almost a week after the event and it went like clockwork. There were a few things that I could've done better. I will ensure that we address them as we put up the next set of events. In case you want to see how the setup, the event looked like, drop me an email (sg@c4e.in) or head over to the blog.

Untitled - Aug, 2016

So, I haven't written on my blog in a while. Its been more than a month! Actually I've been super busy lately and to be honest I am liking this busy-ness. Am making (some) money, am (almost) independent, (I think) am taking calls that I've never taken before, I control the output, I am travelling (within India) and so on and so forth. This is the closest to Kwan (Love, respect, community and the dollars) that I've ever been. After about 33 years of living, I feel alive. Well, excuse the hyperbole but you get the drift. 

Coming back, even though I have been busy, I had to take out time to write this post. Its been some time that I've written and I don't like the feeling. There is this emptiness in me that I dont know how to tide over. The same emptiness that shrouds me when I havent spoken to her for a while. If not for this emptiness, in the current life, if I could make more money, have a little more impact, get time to write, pick a hobby (guitar), get fitter (yoga, running, hiking) and make meaning, I'd be a happy man. 

Actually I dont have much to complain about. I am sorted for the time being and I just need to keep doing this well and hope I get all that I want someday. 

The other thing that has happened in the last few days is that I got myself an Air. And its such a brilliant machine that my productivity has gone up by at least 10 times. I wonder why did I not buy this sooner. Have to have to learn the importance of investing in self. I need to revisit Rich Dad Poor Dad

While am talking of investing on self, I want to talk about the place I live at - Bandra. In a dilapidated building full of old people. In a house that need maintenance. And not just a coat of paint kinds. But the kinds where you tear down the walls and erect it foundation up. 

Taking up this house has been the worst decision of my life (except may be moving away from Mumbai the first time around). And not a day goes by when I dont regret the decision. The good bit is that the lock-in period for the lease is getting over in another month or so. That means I can change the house. And when I do, I will ensure that I get a fancy place - even if I have to pay extra.

Of course I can crib about the fact that I have to hop from house to house and all that, while all my friends and their friends and their pets and everyone else in the world have houses worth crores. But thats not the point. The point is that I need to change this place. In an ideal world, I would move into a place of my own, do it up the way I want (minimal) and then keep it spic and span and airy and all that. In one line, make the place has to be inspiring.

In fact I am going to blame the delay on #book2 to lack of inspiration caused by the fuckall place I live at. Of course it's a lame excuse but I sincerely couldn't write. I go back and I am fighting the pests, spiders, crows, leaking faucets, the AC that doesn't work, noise from the street and all that. Of course the ones who really write can write anywhere, under any duress and all that. But not me. I need the perfect setting, the table, the temperature etc etc. I have these amazing walls built about me! Thing is, it is depressing to even go back to the house.

Now you know why I spend so much time in office (yes, I have an office - actually it's a seat that I've borrowed from a friend who's made my life infinitely times better in the past few months) and you know why I dont invite you home. I am embarrassed about it. Had it been a shack, I wont mind showing it off, hell I pimp my poverty all the time. But this place, its like pseudo - everyone thinks Bandra is a cool place but no one gets to the underbelly. You know what am saying?

Ok, need to change the rant about the house. Lemme rant about something else. The other day I was thinking that most pieces on my blog are longish pieces of depressing content. I mean the last few posts are about how I am alone, an attempt to make friends, cribs about work. Essentially, I am discussing people. They say, bad people discuss people, good people discuss things and great people discuss ideas. I think I read this when I was very young but the lesson has stayed with me. To the extent that all my life I have tried to discuss ideas and not things or people. One of the reasons I have no clue about politics, relationships, gossip etc. My EQ, I think is zero, if not negative. May be going forward I will try and post ideas and their implication. But then, am human and I want to be able to vent out and in absence of friends, I don't know how else do. See the paradox?

Where does all this lead to? I don't know. But I do know that its awesome to have written after so so many days. Thats the point of a blog. You write for yourself. And to end this, some days back, I came across "ना सम्मान का मोह , ना अपमान का भय" on FB wall of Udita, one of the early readers of #tnks. And I've been blown apart since. Its such a simple statement and yet it says so so much. Exactly the kind of writing that I hope I can pull off some day. I sincerely wish she makes me her शाग़िर्द some day. Till then, over n out.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?