Untitled - 16 Aug 2017

Yo! Been some days since I've written here. More than 2 weeks if I am not wrong.

If you care, lifes been ok. There is still no money but theres been some work. And there's been some travel and some meetings and some getting things done. All in all, a mixed bag. The kinds that I think I like. Just that I need to get some more on the money bit.

Coming to an update (I dont even know why I do this -- there's no one reading these. May be I do these for giving my updates to myself? Who knows. Who cares. I love writing. Here it is.)

This time for the first time in life, I probably missed the Independence Day. The cynic in me is fucked in the head because of all that is happening around me (read communal tension, ups and downs in the economy, policies of Modi Ji, general confusion about where the country is headed).

If I were the kinds to get radicalised (if I havent been radicalised already), I'd be a prime candidate! I mean look at my character profile (blame the author in me for this). I have very little education, I am confused, I am an under-achiever, I hold strong opinions, I feel helpless (I dont know what to do to fix things; I dont even understand the problem) and I dont see a way out. You know what I am saying?

P.S.: The way out is to get out of the country. While I have always wanted to live in the Silicon Valley, this is the first time I am actually serious about it. A couple of friends are moving to Canada next year and from what they tell me, its not a bad place to be at!

And no, views are not of my employer. My employer will not endorse these. This is me. Personal. Individual.

The other thing that is happening soon is that I will be 35. At the age of 35, I was supposed to be a dollar billionaire. I am not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that!

I have realised that I am not as cool as I thought I were - the good ones actually do well for themselves, the mediocre ones like me crib. I mean at my age, Zuckerberg is launching his bid to be the president of the United States and here I am crying about money. At my age Steve Jobs had done the cycle of getting fired from Apple, creating Next and becoming the CEO at Apple all over again. At 35... there is a long long list. For the time being, I know that I am poor. And I dont know where I want to be in life.

This piece caught my eye yesterday. See the following video.

The way those 5 people have been thanked for times than God, I want to be thanked as well. The purpose of my life, the reason why I exist, is to enable others to reach the peak of their chosen paths.

I wrote this on LinkedIn. Read if you are interested.

This also beings me to a debate that I had with a classmate from MDI. He said he is not in the race to go down the history. And rather, he wants to live it up here. He wants to experience as many things as he can, while he is here. He wants to enjoy life with his family. He wants to contribute to society and die a content man. Let me call him a Warren Buffett disciple. I on the other hand want to go the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk way. I am not sure if I want to enjoy life per se. Id rather push our collective understanding and enjoy that process, rather than going to national parks or something. While the friend made a very compelling argument in favour of going the WEB, in my head, I am still keen on being the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Elon Musk. I want to push the human race forward. Make that dent. Give our species a chance when shit happens. You know what am saying?

I am gonna be taking a break for a week in September. I want to go to a place that is cold, has good Internet connectivity on mobile phones (if in India) or cheap access (if abroad). I want a good writing table and a chair. A place where I can go for long walks. Access to clean water (lots of it) and cleaner restrooms. Budget is NOT a problem.

Where can I go? Recommendations anyone?

Book 2. So I've told myself that if I cant get the first draft of #book2 out by end of September, I will quit on the project. That means the next couple of months would be super hustle - there is a lot of work, C4E needs attention, other ideas needs attention, health needs attention and of course book2 needs attention. Lets see which bit of attention do I give into.

Thats about it. Do write in. Tell me how are things with you. Till I find time to write again, adios.

The Television Conundrum

I live as a "bachelor" in Mumbai.

If you are from Mumbai, you'd get it. If not, its a (often derogatory) term used to define people who are un-married, live without parents in accommodations that are sparsely furnished (no beds, tables - just the bare minimum furniture). Often these bachelors "engage" in wild parties, keep the place unclean and in general, lower the standard of living at the community you live at.

From personal experience, in large part this is true. And in some parts, as far from truth as things could be.

Of course its not unusual to live as a bachelor. Blame it on urban mobility, concentration of jobs in certain pockets etc. What is unusual is that at my age, very few people live like that. Either they get married (India!) or they step up enough in life to start owning assets and make enough money to actually buy designer furniture, state-of-the-art gadgets and other things vain. None of the above two is true for me.

So I've lived like a bachelor for about 10 years now. In cities like Gurgaon, Chennai and Mumbai. And because I've had a fairly limited access to money, I never had the fancy places. And while I have wanted to buy things that could take me out of the perceived bachelorhood, I havent been able to afford those. Plus whatever little I could buy, I did not because my sense of decor is fairly fucked.

And I've always remained light. I mean when I moved last, I had 2 bags of clothes, 1 guitar, 1 writing table and few cartons of books. Unknowingly I was being Steve Jobs ;P

The point is, I did not have any material possessions. And because I was growing old (not up), I saw all these friends, acquaintances around me growing old and up and getting things that I've dreamt of since I was a kid. And of course I am / was jealous and I long /ed for them.

So, when in the last year I made some money I started to splurge on things. I bought a book shelf. I got a shoe stand (to make space for those numerous pairs of shoes that I buy by the dozen and do not wear). And I got a TV!
The next in queue, after a TV is a car and then, a house. And then, world domination! 

The TV Conundrum
If you ask the brand planner in me about three things that transform a house from a bachelor pad to a home, I'd say it would be a double bed with a proper mattress, a clean and functioning kitchen and a television!

The place that I live at came with a double bed and almost functional kitchen. So all I needed was a TV.  And I have wanted one for a long time. I dont know why. May be to tell myself that I am not too far behind from my peers?

Anyhow, since I got the TV, I have rearranged my entire house to make the TV the focal point. I mean I don't even remember how the hall looked like when we did not have a TV. I mean the houses where they don't have a TV, where do the sofas and other seating structures face? Ask Simpsons ;P

The Reason
So, coming to the REAL reason why I started writing this post. I want to analyze the decision. And then may be bookmark this post, remind me often of the foolishness that I epitomize. Yes, I believe that buying the damned TV was a wrong decision.

When I had the money to be able to buy one and I decided that I want one, I knew of a few things. Here is a list, categorized into positives, negatives and neutral.

  • A TV becomes the focal point of the house and the bachelor pad starts looking like a home. I wanted that (as mentioned above). Call it my mid-life crisis. Or call it the rat race. I wanted one. While this looks like a negative, this to me is a positive. 
  • Allows my parents to kill time when they visit me. If they visit me. Thats all they do now that they are retired. Not trying to be derogatory. But thats how it is. And thats ok. Not everyone is on a mission.  

  • Its a good to have thing. Like a checkbox in that long form! 

  • Money. My budget was 50K. No, its not a small amount by any stretch of imagination. For 50K I could've bought a holiday and dont know what all. 
  • Maintenance. I will have to lug it around when I move houses (I still live at a rented accommodation - and its contingent on whims and fancies of the owner of the house). Plus its an electronic product - it will get damaged and will stop working. It will give me unnecessary heartbreak when that happens. 
  • Time sink. With Netflix and others, a TV is such a time sink that its not funny. No wonder its called an Idiot Box. 

Apart from these three, here are few more notes that I dont know where to categorize...  
  • It was not an impulse purchase. For some weird reason I wanted a TV for a long time. I actually looked online. I went to the stores. And I sat on the decision for at least a month. And then finally one fine day I got it. 
  • Since I've got the TV, after the first few days, I have hardly used it. Key reason being, I dont have cable TV. I rely on Netflix and since I have a bad connection at home, I cant spend time on it. Which is a good thing. 
  • A great influencer on the decision was the 15K worth of reward points that I had on one of my credit cards. It made "sense" to buy a 60K TV for 45K. I could see a bargain. I made the classic mistake of looking at potential savings and not at the money I'd have to spend. A great case where points look good to you, but are bad! 
  • Ideally, in life I want to be at a place where I dont have to think too much about money and these decisions. But till the time I reach that point, these incidents are interesting milestones, to help sharpen the decision-making acumen. 

As I was making the list, I automatically realised that the list of cons outweigh pros already. I dont have to think too much about it. The decision was a fucked one. I shouldn't have bought the TV. But just to make a list, the mental models at play were Loss Aversion (did not want the points to expire), Validation aka Social Proof (from society about not being a bachelor), Constant chase of excitement (I bought it when I was probably not doing so well in personal / work life - though I have no way to validate this), FOMO (obviously), Envy. These are the ones I can think of. And I am sure there are more at play. What could those be? 

That's about it. You are welcome to see the Smart TV I bought :). And here's to making wiser decisions. What do you think waise? 

Saturday breakfast / Powai, Mumbai

Sent the following email on my alumni group. Got a lot of people to write into me. And thus, pushing it here as well, hoping to get more participation.

Hi Guys, 
I introduce myself as Saurabh Garg, PGPM class of 2006, MDI Gurgaon. In my day job, I run C4 Events - we are going to be THE finest events agency in the country in the next 5 years. And when I am not working on C4E, I try and chase "worldly wisdom" - the kinds Prof. Bakshi taught us using finance as a tool. Just that I am teaching myself (hello, Internet) and I don't really go deep - I merely scratch the surface. I mean I could go deep but I love knowing a little about a lot of things (the proverbial "Jack"). Feynman actually advised against the kind of learning that I engage in and with all respect to RF, I enjoy being an edge surfer and thus I choose to ignore him.

Coming to the point, one tenet of trying to be wise is to think on a large number (both quality and quantity) of problems, especially the ones where outcome does not affect me directly. Think of a doctor. More patients that the doctor works on, better he becomes. And larger the variety of medical problems he looks at, better he gets as a GP. No, I don't want to be an expert, Like I said, I love being the Jack.

So, I am / was looking for ways to get access to various problems to think on.

And this is where I thought that if I create a forum where anyone could sit across the table from me and tell me what they're perplexed with. And I could jam with them to come up with actionable insights. Now, I am not an expert but I like to believe that I am good at seeing a problem from various vantage points. And the shift in vantage point is often what it takes to crack things!

So, here's the offer. Lets meet on Saturday morning for coffee. Lets jam on things that you've been wanting to get an opinion on. Lets crack em! A typical set of questions could look like...
  1. Want to write a book. Dont know where to or how to start. Lemme tell you how I worked on my book.
  2. Want to expand your professional network? Well, I dont know that one but we can jam!
  3. Launch plan for your startup? Well...
  4. Want to get more done in a day?
  5. Want to chase a new hobby outside of work?
  6. Etc etc.
I dont have a specific tool or a talisman. I am a mere bouncing board, a fly on the wall (while you talk to yourself about the things in your head) or even a coach for that matter!

Think of me as a one-member board where you as a company goto find a solution to a business problem. I am one of the navratnas (nine wisemen) at your majesty's service. I am the Birbal, oh Akbar. I am the Krishna to the Arjuna in you. I am the Robin, the quintessential sidekick that opens the door while you go chase the Joker! Wait! did the Nolan version have Robin in it? Enough of hyperbole...

I mean ask other MDI alums like REDACTED and so many others. They can vouch for advantages of brainstorming with me. Bhai log, please kuch bolo :D.

In terms of output, I don't promise any tangibles but I do promise the discussion will not be a waste of your time. It WILL help you. And if you think that it was a waste and did not help you, I will buy you a book of your choice (upto Rs. 500)!

So, after this long a sales pitch, I am hoping to host the first session on Saturday, July the 29th, at Starbucks, Powai. To make it useful, I will restrict the meetup to 4 people. As always, first come, first serve. Lemme know if you are in. The coffee is on me.

Oh, one more thing. Each session I will try and get someone super wise to these sessions.

P.S.: Apart from the selfish motive of trying to get smart, I have a few questions of my own that I need answers to. More on this when we meet on Saturday:)
So, are you in?

Credits: Thanks to Raunak from Mensa Mumbai for inspiration. 

Untitled - 16 July 2017

So I am at a Starbucks. Here since 720ish. On a Sunday morning. Was looking forward to this time - so that I may focus on things and get things done. I cant seem to get anything done at office. May be I need a closed space to do things?

Digressing. Coming back. 

The point of this post is that I cant seem to focus for some reason. I had a mile long todo list and I am determined to do those. But the brain aint no functioning. Nothing has changed. I managed that 2-3 hour of sleep (blame on my nasal polyp) and I am as fresh as I could be. I took a long cold shower and listened to some great music while I made my way here. And yet once I found a comfortable place to seat, I cant seem to focus! The flow is missing.

I may argue that the todo list would have chores that I want to avoid. I have noticed a pattern with that. I tend to procrastinate on things that I dont want to work on. Things that I think that dont deserve my time, I keep delaying those. Till they become so urgent, so last minute that I swallow the poison and get over with it.

Digressing. Coming back. 

One of the things that I had planned to work on is the next book. I want to work on it. I want it out. I am committed to it. I know the basic plot as well. I have characters mapped clearly in my head. I have a final deadline in my head - if I cant get the book ready by then, I will drop writing altogether - rather focus on other things. And yet for some reason I could not do it. 

Then I tried to while time on twitter and youtube. I could not concentrate on that either. While its binging and there's very low friction to it, I could not. 

Finally I had to resort to this. Blog. Free-writing. Without a context or agenda. Vomit of my thoughts on a public platform. To what end? I dont know. I could rather be working on C4E, AWSl, xT, Book2, onWriting or any of those one thousand ideas that I have floating around! 

If only I could focus :(

Thank you, Anusha

Normally I dont participate in these things but since Anusha asked me, I had to.

1. What would be your name if you kept a name for yourself?
Steve. Partly inspired by Steve Jobs. Partly because Saurabh and Steve start with S :D

The other way to answer this could be to give names to my kids. After all we want our kids to do things that we couldn't. Also, I am not sure if I'd ever "get" my own kids but if I do, I would call em Kabeer, Meera. Why? I love the whole mysticism around them! 

2. Who is your best friend?
The list will be a mile long. But if I have to pick one name, it will be Neo.

3. How will you distinguish need and want?
I dont know how to answer this. May be by saying that things that are wants for most people are need for me. Things like AirCon, expensive laptops, fancy holidays etc etc. 

And then, the want for me would be changing the world, impacting a billion lives, doing things at a global scale. 

No, there is no love, affection that I need or want or crave for. 

Makes sense?

4. What does lust mean to you?
In one word? Chase. 

I lust for things that I crave, things that I dont have. I lust on things that are shiny and I know I cant achieve. To me lust is a such a powerful emotion. It makes me want to do things that I havent dont. It pushes me. Motivates me to do better! 

Of course the classical, biblical definition is "strong sexual desire." And may I expand sexual desire into desire of anything that gives you pleasure? That to me is not negative. If I desire something, I as a free man, a free-willed man must be free to chase the desire. The chase! 

In fact, in my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story, I delved on the concept of lust (and other sins) in great detail

5. Which is better to watch: Sunrise or sunset?

After sunrise, there is the known, the monotony, the day. So while I am watching it and the world is coming to life, I know that I am looking at going back to the monotonous life. 

After sunset, there is dark, the unknown, the chase. The exploration. And when I watch a sunset, I know that the world would probably sleep and I would get to explore and get an unfair advantage!

6. If you received a card and flowers from a stranger, what would be your reaction?I'd say thank you, to start with. 

And then I would brag like hell to the world. Cos I think its a very thoughtful gesture. Not a lot of people get flowers / cards etc. Plus I dont think I have any friends or something that would ever send me these mushy things. So yeah, gratitude and showoff. 

P.S.: I'd also try to pay it forward. Send em to someone else :) 

7. Write a small 4 line story.
The toughest of them all. A, brevity is not my strong suit. B, I have to work hard to be able to write. I think in Hindi, translate in English and then write. And most times when I write, I dont have plots or stories. I have characters and what they want!

So, I am going to skip this one. 

8. Do you think love marriages are better than arranged marriages?
None. The concept of marriage is broken. It was a need for humans to settle in pairs, in groups, in communities. While communities are still important, the 1-v-1 bonding and mating has ceased to serve any purpose. 

If I had to pick one, I'd say love.

9. Have you been in dilemma that you have never been able to come out from?
Tons. Of. Times.

10. Who are you?
I'd like to answer this question by sharing a couplet from one of the songs of my favorite singer - Rabbi Shergill. The song's inspired by the writing of Bulleh Shah

Avval aakhir aap nu jaana, Na koi dooja hor pehchaana
Maethon hor na koi siyaana, Bulla! ooh khadda hai kaun

This translates into, 
I am the first, I am the last, None other, have I ever known
I am the wisest of them all, Bulleh! do I stand alone?
Credits for translation and complete lyrics: Rabbism.

Thats about it. Thank you, Anusha! 

Masters of Scale

Few things.

Each month, I send an email to all contacts at C4E. This month I wanted to send out work from award winners at Cannes (here's the newsletter that I finally sent, featured 3). And rather than sending anything at random, I wanted to curate a list of 5 (or 10) pieces that I have loved from all those that are on showcase. While I was going through the list of winners and seeing their work, I realised that the quality of work, the scale at which things happen and where we I stand in comparison.

I was unwell yesterday the day I started to write this and since I dont take medicines, I was uneasy. And I was irritable. To the point that I was alone. And when I was at my wits ends, I succumbed to the temptation and subscribed to Netflix to kill time. 

And once I got it, I put on House of Cards. I started with S3E1 and in there, Doug succumbs to alcohol. Thats not the point (the similarity between Doug and I). The point is that in that episode I realised that work could be so important for people that they'd lay their lives for it. I mean Doug gets a sliver of window to meet the President and even though he cant walk and he breaks his arm while showering, he goes through excruciating pain and makes it to the meeting. People and their work means so much to them. And here I am. Rather than doing things that scale, I am blogging about it.

Then I saw an episode of Elementary. I was reminded of my love for the series because of the way Sherlock and Watson go under the skin of people and decode them. I wish I was as brilliant. I wish I could read things. I wish I could solve individual problems that were unsolvable. What I currently do can be done by anyone in the world. Where is my individuality? What makes me unique? Am I making sense? 

. . .

What defines me? What boils my blood? Why am I alive? What is my raison d'etre? This one I know - to entertain and enable others. But thats not the point. Point is, what am I doing about it? Why am I content with being a paper-pusher? I mean my work is great and I know why I do what I do. But where is scale? Or Impact? How many people have I entertained? Impacted? Enabled?

I feel I am stuck at where most other people are. I have an ok career. Ok life. Ok things. Everything is ok about what I do and where I am. Mediocre. Nothing is great. Nothing is extraordinary. I dont make any difference to anyone's life. Maybe I do, once in a while. But where is the perpetual excitement of having moved a ball?

I think, the other thing is lack of impact at scale. Most of what I do remains at the individual level (when I spend time with some great people with whom I work). Or at a few hundreds at best (when I put together an event and that too for the duration of the event). There is no perpetual change. I dont tilt the Earth. I dont make a ding in the universe. Worse, I dont create. The largest thing that I've ever created is the book. And that too has sold less than 2500 copies. That means I have not entertained even 2500 people! 

And you know what sucks the most? I dont have anything in my hand that allows me to do that even in the future. And I dont know how to go about it. And I dont know who to talk to about this. 

P.S.: So, I agree that House of Cards and Elementary are fictional pieces. I agree that no one starts working at scale from day zero. I know that you have to work towards it. I know there is a time and place and all that. The question is, where is mine? When would I do things that would make me exhausted with happiness? 

P.P.S.: Title inspired by RH's podcast - Masters of Scale. You HAVE to listen to this if you want a better life for yourself.

The Lost Story

Last time I wrote about The Lost Story (book, open letter), I was talking about Suds' book. In case you haven't read it, you must! This time, I will talk about myself. In multiple bullet points. And please be warned that's this is yet another in series of long ranty posts that I've been making in recent past where I try to motivate myself. Guess am reading too much Deepak Chopra! 

So, here is a list of things that I think are broken with me (no, not another rant about my career and underachievement but about other more worldly things). As always, in no order.

A. Age
I am growing old. And that means I am not as lithe, as fast moving, as strong as I was. And is evident in the way I work. Most days these days, at around 4, my battery dies. I have to sleep to recharge. No amount of sugar or caffeine or taurine (or whatever they put in RedBull) seems to give me no wings. And since I leave work at 5ish, I sleep in the rickshaws, neck rested on the sidewall and my mouth open, trying to get in some air. (Uber is way too expensive with upfront pricing). I reach home after battling all the traffic and I just crash. I cant control my senses. I have to sleep. And when I do sleep, I snore like a motorcycle. And most days, I just cant get up till the next morning. So, the productivity, which has been low lately, has hit the rockbottom!

B. Snoring brings me to the next thing. The blockage in my nasal cavities do not allow me to breathe at all. That means I am often left gasping for breath. And that's not cool. I cant talk or eat or just be without making those weird sounds. Like someone is choking me to the death. All the time. 24 x 7. And no, its not funny after a while.

I am ok with all the choking to be honest. But the thing is, I cant sleep properly. And since I anyway sleep very little, I really want my sleep to be peaceful and all that.

Also, since I breathe through my mouth, I am sure I am inadvertently taking in lot of foreign objects in my system that I should not. I have tried all sort of inhalers and ointments and nothing seems to be helping. May be an operation is the only way to go.

Thing is, I like to be active. I love being able to jump and walk and play. Except when its too hot (which is the case 11 months our of 12 in India). The inability to breathe fucks up the ability to do all of that in the one month that I get.

There is so much that this inability to breathe does to me that its the single biggest problem that I have. Apart from general ennui.

C. In the last week, I have lost a pair of sunglasses, 2 pens, 2 mouse devices and I don't know what else. Knowing how I think about people who are careless, its such a shame and personal defeat that I am losing things like that. I am supposed to be brainy and all that and its not cool that I am careless. Of course there is financial loss. There is also this irritant factor. For everything you lose, you need to put in time and effort to get a replacement. And that, is not cool.

Finally there is this thing where this carelessness becomes a pattern. And then the pattern is often tough to break. And the pattern extends to things that you absolutely can not fuck up. Its like the butterfly effect. Small things give rise to huge issues.

Plus I abhor people who are not careful with things, people who are sloppy, people who lose control. I am no Saint Jean Paul V but I am sure about a few things that I don't like. And I can NOT become one of those. At all. And thus!

D. Last few days, there isn't a lot happening on the work front. There is work but there is no action per se. There is no excitement. There is no world changing happening. May be it will happen with time?

But for the time being, work is easy and no I am not liking it. I am used to be being busy all the time. I have so much time on work front that I don't know what to do with all the time. There are a 100 projects that I can take up but again, I am the kinds that works on triggers and feels. And there ain't no trigger, no feel, nothing exciting happening!


So, now that there are issues, there are two things that I can do from here. I can sit on my ass and whine about it. Or I can take control and take some action. Let me do the later!

What would I do about it?

1. Say no to AC. I know its the baarish season and this is THE best time of the year and when its not raining, it would be humid like a bitch. And I will try and live with it.

2. Start stepping out. I often prefer comfort over activity. Today on, I'd make it reverse. Let me choose action over comfort. That means I will do things that I inherently hate (dressing up, humidity, small talk).

3. Do the daily tiny workouts that make me healthy and better. These include (not limited to) steaming the fuck out of my nose, walking for 45 minutes, meditating etc. I will probably get that Neti pot and flush the muck outta my nose.

A lot to do but I have one life and I am yet to make it big. And I have to do these if I am serious about leaving that damned impact. You know this list? I have to be on it! I

4. Start planning life and day better. I am already super serious about how I spend my time. I need to step up the game and become even more strict. If there is no work, I will not go to office. I will not create work to merely showoff. I will do what makes meaning.

5. Fitness will become number 1 priority. If something comes in the way of fitness, I will abstain from that. If I have to brisk 45 minutes each day, I will do so - irrespective of the looming deadlines that I impose on myself.

That's about it. Lets see how it goes. I will probably revisit this post in a couple of months and see where I've reached!

P.S.: Now I put a reminder on my calendar about these posts. Like I've put for this one. The next update on this post shall happen on Aug 25, 2017.

The Turbulence Overreaction

I am at the Mumbai airport, waiting for a flight. I’ve just realized that I have lost yet another pair of sunglasses. Typically, I am not this careless but fact remains that I’ve lost a pair. I need to work on my brain and ensure that the muscle doesn’t atrophy. Need to pick a new hobby or something. May be get back to making a memory palace?

Apart from this, the other thing that’s fresh on my head this super crazy turbulence yesterday. The plane was in free fall for a few nano-seconds and it was scary like a bitch. In all the flights that I have taken, this was probably the scariest of them all (there was one where masks had dropped from the ceiling but I dont recall those). Thing is, I was not really afraid (I knew at the back of my head that this shall pass) but I was worried that all the things that I've wanted to do (primarily #book2, a billion dollars and an attempt at the Everest), what happens to those?

Of course I came out unharmed -- statistically air travel is the safest mode of transportation -- and I can go back to working on things that I've wanted to work on. But the flight was scary to the extent that since the flight, I’ve read a lot of articles about turbulence and air pockets.

Apart from rant about my balls that shrunk like raisins, the flight did make me realize something. That life’s unpredictable. You better live each moment up to the fullest potential. And that means while you plan for the future and all that, you better ensure that each moment that you are alive is worth the opportunity. Ought to stop doing things you don’t want to do.

Which brings me to the existential question. Why do I exist? While I love the concept of doing my own thing, truth be told, I am still a slave to a comfortable salary, thanks to largesse of this dude. If not for him, I would probably be scrambling to make ends meet. And I am amongst the luckiest people to have the unconditional patronage of someone with means. And I ought to make the most of it. And not get lazy or complacent. Like this turbulent flight, each incident reinforces the belief that I need to do more with life. Much more than what I am doing right now.

Come to think of it, if I could change a few things, what would those be?

For starters, I need to get more work out. I ned to ship more. In whatever shape or design or format. Could be a blogpost, a book, a project, a startup, a brand. Something that comes out fast. Something that inspires others. More importantly, something that inspires me! Must create things that inspire me. And what could those be? I have no clue!

I have done this exercise a million times, if not more times. Each time I come back with two answers. A, I don’t know what I want in / from life. B, if I go by signs, what I am doing right now, is what I ought to be doing!

So, all I need to do is, bid my time and wait for the right opportunity to come my way. It’s a matter of time when things fall in place and I will have a life of abundance. Abundant time, money and energy to do all the million things I want to do.

The other way to do this is that I go all-in with whatever little I have. That means I gather all my money (sell all the stock I have, liquidate the tiny FD that I have and take back the money I have invested in C4E) and chase a large dream. I will either end up super rich and would have made an impact and die a satisfied old man. Or I will be a pauper with no money to my name and will die a man who’d have to work hard to make ends meet. In either case, when I die, I hopefully wont have any regrets. 

Thing is, I am 34. Will be 35 in less than a quarter of the year. And at the age of 35, while people like Zuck are working towards becoming the presidents and all that, here I am, talking about my existential dread. Now, I can take solace in the fact that Col Sanders was 143 years old when he started KFC and Sam Walton was 832 years old when he did Walmart. But I know that I have lost the damned rat race. Instead of making a difference to the world, lives of people, I am ranting about things that no one even cares about!

I mean, why go far to Facebook and Zuckerberg and all that. I am at the airport and there is this Spa, O2. Right outside, I see a blind man, dressed up in uniform of O2, talking to himself and being happy for no reason. Compared to him, I am a loser at so many levels. Everyone else is a winner! O2, for giving employment to people with alternate skills. The blind man, for accepting that he’s been dealt a raw hand and being happy about things. The friends around the man who are humoring him. And above all, the fact that despite so many people who need opportunities, fate brought him in touch with O2. Can I not do something similar? Where I help people have lost on the Ovarian Lottery and make some money in the process?

And why is money important? It enables you to buy happiness. Case in point? Last weekend along with 15 other people that I care for (yes 15), I went on this holiday where we stayed at a super expensive hotel and had everything taken care of! All of it was enabled by the fact that we had access to money that we were ok spending. Agreed that people find happiness in small things and can live without going to fancy hotels or clean beaches or serviced rooms or great food. I have been on that side myself. But now that I have little extra cash to be able to afford a better lifestyle, I can safely say that the happiness derived from the ability to buy the best the world has to offer, is unparalleled.

Of course to be able to travel, you often have to take a flight.

Aur, udaan hai to turbulence hai.
Turbulence hai to fategi.
Fategi to yaad aaega, ki life main karna kya hai.
Yaad aaega to kuch karoge.
Lekin kya?

The Reputation Research

Last few days, a few things have happened that has made me re-think my love for visual anonymity. Lemme quickly talk about the incidents.

1. Last Saturday (or was it Sunday?) I accompanied a friend to an open mic night. The idea of open mics is pretty simple. You are an aspiring stand up comic. But because you are aspiring, you cant gather an audience. Along with other standups, you get in a room, invite your friends and use them as Guinea Pigs to practise your jokes. I was one such Guinea pig. Plus, often, places that give you access to a quite room and a mic and AC tend to be expensive. So you get friends to pay and the friends, because they are friends, bear the bad jokes and help you cover the cost!

So, I went with a friend. There were some 30 odd people, about 10 performers. Each person gets 4 minutes to perform a set. And audience gets all the time to react!

Most of the performers were very average. May be they are average performers. Or may be they were trying new material that required practise. Irrespective. It took balls to be able to stand in front of the crowd and deliver a piece that you know is going to bomb!

2. I met Komal the other day. I told her about my dislike for dressing up for the occasion. She said that I ought to think like an actor and each interaction as a role. Like there are different roles, each dictated by a different situation, life encounters are different and they demand a different approach. And each role demands a different piece of content to be delivered. And if you are going to act and make people believe, you better know how to pull various roles off! After all, in life, newer roles come along all the time on an ongoing basis!

In my case, I am an actor and when I work, I ought to play the work role. Which I suck at. All this while I have been playing my personal role at scenes that demand me to play a certain role - work, social, gathering etc. So may be, I need to re-think and change. Or may be I want to be a Steve Jobs where I wear the same thing over and over and over again till that becomes as irreplaceable as my name? Or may be I need to identify certain archetypes, practise them like crazy and then put those archetypes in various roles. Or may be something else. Lets see.

3. I presented my company creds on a stage where I had some 30-40 people in audience. I had a great deck to present and I have used that deck at multiple places in the past and have got great reception. But all those times have been in the boardroom. This time, it was on stage. And it sort of bombed! Not bombed per se. People did recall seeing it. But they were not blown away with what I had presented.

Thing is, I want to be able to create a reality distortion field when I talk to people! Of course I dont have a product like Steve Jobs. Neither did he for that matter. But he had something that I definitely dont have! I need to identify and work on that!

4. Mihir talked me into doing a video podcast. That means I now have a video (43 minutes long) where I am talking about life and philosophy and raison d'etre and other such things. Now, to be able to do justice to the effort that is going in, we need to push it out and market it like a bitch. And that will mean that my notions of closely guarding my pics / video on the very permanent Internet is under heavy questioning.


So, now that I have captured these four things, the real reason for the outburst is hence.

As I get along in life (read, I am supposed to take on larger responsibilities), I am realising more and more that to be able to get things done, I need to have a reputation.

Reputation is a complex "thing" and its often a combination of things like association (with people, things, brands etc), popularity (read personal brand where you are known by people outside of your third degree), experience (in terms of years you've worked, things you've done etc), expert status (in chosen field of expertise), contacts (how many famous / rich / powerful people you know? Who has saved your number? Who will pick your call in less than 4 rings etc), performance (when you go up on stage to perform a stand up act or you are expected to perform in a certain way depending on the societal context or when you are making a presentation or when you are peddling gyaan) etc. You get the drift? You now know where I am coming from?

The funny thing is while all my life I have been aware of this, I have shied away from it. To date I have issues in talking to people where I dont have a context. I cant seem to hold a conversation with a client if there is no work. Compare this to a lot of people who are by default agony aunts for every Tom, Dick and Harry. In fact in my previous organization, there's this lady, lets call her A, who has this knack of befriending everyone in the very first conversation that she holds with them. And from there on, by the time A meets someone for the second time she is thicker with these people than their respective best friends for 100 years! And who do you call if you have to commission a new event? Of course your new best friend!

I am not saying that I ought to be as slimy as A but the point is that your reputation is super important and having great people skills is the starting point! Which I lack.

So may be, the reason I am unsuccessful is because I dont have the social skills to succeed? I cant work on the way I look but I can change the way I dress up and all that. And then top if off with some level of polishing.

Any help anyone?

PS: unless, you are someone who is happy being yet another employee is a large organization, making a great fat paypacket, this post may not be a good idea to read. This is counter-intuitive and is meant for hustlers. Are you one? Lets connect and help each other!

The unconnected unrest - Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Last night, I slept at 730. I woke up at 630 this morning. Thats 11 hours of sleep. No, I am not to sleep for this long. Like Frank, I have often hated the necessity of sleep. And food for that matter.

The thing is, I've always got by with limited amount of sleep. My metabolism is reasonably high and I can function pretty well even when I've slept for 4ish hours. Just that I cant tolerate garmi. Rest is ok. Most people who know me know that I dont sleep much. And when I tell them that there are days when I sleep for 11-12 hours, they get surprised.

And honestly, I surprise myself as well. A, I dont get enough air in my lungs to be able to sleep for that long, thanks to my nasal polyp. And B, I have a million things happening right now (between AWSL, Book 2, C4E, xT etc). So, I know that I could rather work and not sleep. Like I say, sleep is such a waste of time!

I did what I do when I get some ailment. I decided to read on the Internet about the probable reasons. And I found that if you sleep for that long, you are either tired. Or depressed. Take a pick :)

The other non-scientific reason is that I dont have a computer. That means I cant work or entertain myself. For me work = reading, writing, connecting people etc. Entertain = youtube, TED, Big Bang and now that 5th season is out, a date with Claire and Frank. Both happen over the Internet. And Internet means Computer.

Coming back to sleep. I am sleeping a lot and it sucks. And no, I am not enjoying all the freshness that you get after sleeping for that long. Oh, I do remember some of the dreams. One of them featured me left at an unknown place with tight alleys with dogs roaming around. And I change my path because I am scared of dogs. Even in the dream, I am telling myself that I need to confront my fears (I have actually become a motivational speaker). The other dream, I dont recall now but I saw a friend - Nalin taking a chartered flight to somewhere.

. . .

Anyhow. I dont know what to write. The mind is THAT blank in absence of the computer. And here are some unrelated thoughts.

1. Since I moved all my data to cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote et al), I had assumed that I can work from any location, on any device. I was so wrong. I need MY laptop, MY settings, MY table to be able to function. I so need to change this in case I want to become time and location independent.

Or may be because I am on a Windows machine and its super inefficient, it is tough to get things done? I worked on a Mac and while I missed my files, once I was logged into Chrome, I got access to all my files (including bookmarks etc).

And no, I suck at using the phone for work. Like really do.

2. For me, work has always been on a computer. I cant fathom what work could get done without a computer. The ball does NOT move unless its marked on a to-do list. And for work, since I have always been on strategy side, most output is measured on Powerpoint presentations and Excel sheets. I dont do any REAL work per se. May be thats why I failed with 5x5. In fact as I gear up for xT, I need to be able to learn how to work without a computer as a lot of work would be on the ground.

3. Why do I write this blog? Its like an echo chamber. Where I talk to myself. I could be doing this in between the pages of a notepad. Or on a secret folder buried deep into a laptop. But I like the idea of making thoughts public. I love the concept of serendipity. Someone could read this and connect with me for something unrelated. Life is anyway a huge punt. Why not keep enough and more doors and windows and crevices and nooks open? Let new things come in and then grab them by the...

Oh, I write this on insistence of Vivek. He is probably the only reader that I have left. But then who cares about the readers - I write foe the sake of writing. Writing helps me clear my head. Writing helps Vivek stay unbored. And those are more than enough reason to continue to write.

Thats it for the day. Catch you tomorrow. Or may be not. If I am forced to work on Windows machine!

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?