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 Nidhi Kapoor Story

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