As I Turn 30. Some Things I (Almost) Didn’t Learn

When I first read this awesome post by Rand Fishkin on his life learnings, I thought I should write one too. My immediate next thought was, may be I don’t need to write about my learnings. I haven’t learnt enough.

I just turned 30. Sometime in the past few months I realised that there are things I have learnt in this life so far and those are the exact things that I strive to live up to each day. Here are some of my learnings that still continue to challenge me … Read More

Fear & Greed

A friend recently made me aware that a lot of our small and big life decisions are driven by fear and/or greed. Here is my attempt to capture how this plays out in real life, moment by moment. I write this post at 2AM on a terrace as another friend (let’s call him Mr X) sitting next to me watches.

I never write a blog post when someone is watching. Fear.

I don’t plan to sleep on the terrace today, because – Mosquitoes? Rain? Fear.

I want to listen to Mr X telling me about yesterday’s revenues. Greed & Fear.

I want to listen to what my colleagues are talking about near the gate. Because – Fear of missing out.

I don’t want to answer questions from Mr X. Because – Fear. Fear of revealing things before time.

Mr X wants to know if I am “high”. Because – Fear. (Because curiosity too ;))

  • PS: He just admitted it

Mr X wants to know if I own this piece of writing. Because? Reminds me if I will fear losing the copyright to it (or It will be revealed to the world before time) if he clicks a photo of it as I am typing this. Fear.

  • PS: He did click a photo.

Mr X wants to play a board game at 2AM in the morning and I am not okay for the same on terrace. Because wind. Because fear of losing the cards. Fear.

Now can you separate all these fears into two parts? Authentic and inauthentic? Mosquito may be a real danger or losing cards to the wind. But large part of what we are driven by is inauthentic. Get Present To It. Acknowledge It. And don’t be driven by it. 

PS: More on greed some other day. 

Jugaad & Growing Up With Constraints

Silicon Valley

One of the observations that I made during my stay in Silicon Valley was the absence of Jugaad. Jugaad is a relative term, fellow entrepreneurs in US work hard and do well with bootstrapping just like we do. But the reason I say absence of Jugaad is because the magnitude of Jugaad I have grown up with in India is far higher.

From what I saw people in US follow the protocol (be it business, a line at the bus stand or crossing the railway tracks), they pour a lot of effort in small things. This shows when they are designing a product, launching their ventures or even when setting up their homes. We like to push out things in a hurry, not listen to any wisdom that increases the workload and look for safety hooks. It seems as if we are hard wired differently.

The more I think about it, it is so much cultural. Me and a few more of my entrepreneur roommates (during incubation in Silicon Valley) grew up back in India with little or no luxury. Almost all of us started working In our teens and while today we choose to do a startup and talk of passion, let’s be honest – all of us started working for we needed to either support our families, education or at least not be a liability on them.

I remember a couple of us talking about how Friday evening brings such cheer on the streets of Mountain View. People out in big numbers, long lines outside Ice-cream shop on Castro Street (oh and you can’t imagine the clubs) and hardly anyone works over the weekend (even the startup junta). My roomie was mildly upset that he doesn’t think of his existence in India in the same way. Neither of us would really think of going to a club back in India and can hardly think of life from an angle which would say ‘how can this be more fun?’. That’s when it occurred to me that so many of us back in India have only worried about survival. Survival = Luxury here.

Even after being educated basic existence here is tough. Read More

Barometer of Love

The only thing I have learned about love is that saying it means little on its own. The ones I love should feel they are loved and that’s what counts. So I rarely use the word love, but if the ones I really care for feel loved, my words are worth it.

 

The Victims Curse

I have been thinking about this for several years now and finally attempting to capture a tricky thought.

We are often a victim in our own story. Several times in life we get cornered into a situation where we feel helpless and we consider ourselves as the victim. It has happened with me at school, college, work, with friends, family … basically everywhere. At the same time I have seen so many of my friends being bogged down by this feeling of being a victim. And knowing how real that feeling is, I always fall short of telling them – GIVE IT UP.

It is easy and a very weak choice to think of a situation from a point of view that ‘I am a victim <insert your sorrow tale here>’.

Holding on to that pain and considering yourself a Victim has a payback. A sympathy value that you give yourself, a reason to not take responsibility for what happened. That’s the Victims Curse. It is only an excuse for living life in a certain way. A seemingly easier way. Over time our memories fade, we reconstruct what happened and only consolidate our position as a Victim.

Do you really want to carry that baggage?

I would also make my first public recommendation for Landmark Education. If you are serious about your life and its impact on this world, you should consider Landmark. Feel free to contact me if you wish to explore Landmark Education. 

PS: Thanks to @arpiit for introducing me and also once pointing out this Curse.

Figuring Trust

The genius that I think I am, I once defined Attitude problem. Several years later, it still reads so well to me. Been there so many times since. Here is what I had written:

A while back I sat down to analyze what really is this Attitude problem. And I have an answer to it today: When you Trust someone, you expect a lot of it in return as well. If you don’t see that coming your way … you develop this wall of unanswered questions, concealing your depression, complaints and sorrows. That’s attitude problem.

 Another bit I had come across was this:

well basically if any one’s ever called you a ***** than you need to check yourself, i believe that when someone has an attitude problem usually the person who has it also has a problem with trusting others and actually paying close attention to what they’re trying to say, people get offended if they think you dont care and are not paying close attention to them it’s a big nice metaphorical slap in the face.

However today I feel like revisiting the Trust Matrix. A much simpler way to look at it would be with Integrity. If your words and actions match, trust exists. If your words and actions don’t match, trust fades. 

Of course, the more technical formula exists. I don’t care about it as much anymore. 

Intuition

Intuition – The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning

I have for long talked about relying heavily on the first opinion formed about a person. Intuition plays a large role for me in choosing whom I am friends (or friendly) with. It is hard to think of a case where my Intuition failed me in warning about a bad deal. But that’s not what I am talking about today.

A sudden realization yesterday was the flip side of this intuition. While I may decide for myself on whom I want to be friends with, do business with or anything else for that matter; the other side of the equation is something I cannot control. I can be certain about not being friends with someone or do business with a given entity. However, when I choose otherwise, I can’t guarantee if the other person would reciprocate.

It is a no brainer, yet it took years to realise this. My Intuition doesn’t necessarily mean that something will work, there are factors that go beyond my control and I would accept when it doesn’t go my way. Regardless, I won’t stop believing in my Intuition.

This can be considered an update to ‘I Made A Choice’

Maine Bola Tha

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” – Henry Ford

One of the most ridiculous and irritating argument I have heard time and again around me is “Maine Bola Tha”. Sounds much like someone predicted the end of the world and it came true. And this applies to so many things, be it politics, cricket, family, relations or business. The part that I am focussing on today is business.

Most startups fail and things hardly ever go as predicted. You are almost always short on resources and what defines success is choosing what not to do and when. So if you think you are a leader / entrepreneur, better learn to take the bitter pill and get out of the ‘Maine Bola Tha’ club. Humans need gratification, appreciation and admiration. Seek it. But not for things you thought, but for things you did.

If you think it through, you would have done it, provided it appeared as a must do. You didn’t do it, you didn’t make it happen.

The race wasn’t won by the ones who predicted what would happen, it was won by the ones who put their money behind that prediction.

To win you need to do. So shut up and start working. Anyways, nobody cares.

Update: A good read on this topic by Seth Godin – When to speak up

Human Beings, Newton’s Law Of Motion & Balance

For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. When Newton stated this law of motion, he probably was thinking less about Human behavior. But it still speaks a lot about humans.

Read it again, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Don’t we do the same as humans? Take the example of a kid who wants to play and his mother who wants him to study. The more the kid is notorious, the more the mother would get strict. Both striving for a balance.

As humans we tend to pull towards a point of balance. The point of balance though, isn’t defined. It is a gray area that resides somewhere in between. The more away the other person from your picture of what is right, the more you would pull towards the other side.

humans, tussle and more by annkur

Child and Mother duo is probably an easy but poor example in this case. I would let that be the first one for simplicity, but for the ones asking, here is another. How about a coach and player. The coach’s objective is to extract the best from the player, but the player may or may not be aware of what is missing in his game. The coach would obviously make the player work to get inside the gray area. Similarly the tussle for balance is very much existent in organizations as well.

Aren’t there specific people in your contacts whom you would call a number of times to remind for a very small thing? Why would you need to give them so many reminders? It is the same tussle that I described between the child /mother or a coach /player.

Let’s talk a bit more about the tussle.  Read More

The 1-10-50 Rule

Over the past few months a very important side of startup life has been discovered by me. For me and a number of folks around me the journey gets a boost from an Inspirational talk, either in person or YouTube. Yes, the billionaires speaking (or say any large entrepreneur) does give us a push, but the rule I want to put forward for a startup is: 1-10-50 (One Ten Fifty…)

If you are a 1 person company, the best advice and help you will get is from a person running a 10 person company. If you are a 10 person company, your best advice would come from a 50 people company. Go talk to them.