8 Jul 2024 – Morning Pages

TW: Death

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I dont know what to write today.

But thankfully, I was reading a book yesterday and somewhere in it, it asked, “what would I stop doing if I got to know that I had 6 months to live?”

This is my post to answer that. Let’s go!

So if I had 6 months to live, I would do the following

0/ Fix my will.
I have a vague draft here. I will fix it if I could.

1/ Spend time with my parents
In terms of family, I only have my parents, my sis and a little bit of VGs. I haven’t been a good son per se and I would like to live with my parents. Just that I wouldn’t want them to see me wither away.

I think my sis is ok.

VG’s fam is a self-contained unit and I am merely imposing on them. So I will stay away. I will maybe meet them once and give the kids a happy memory to have with them, in case.

2/ I will pay back all the loans that I owe
Today I have a lot of loans on my head. I would find a way to pay that loan back. I dont know how would I make so much in 6 months. I will try and sell my organs? I dont even know where I can go to sell those. Lemme try!

In case I am unable to, I will ask VG to manage that loan for me. Maybe Poo. Not sure if either would take it upon them but I can try. If they dont, I would write an apology letter to my creditors and request them to not bug my parents.

I think that’s all I can do.

3/ I dont want to be remembered.

I dont think I have done anything interesting or large. And thus I will burn all my documents, photos etc. I would delete all my social media presence. I would wipe my drives, computers etc.

I dont know how to do this exactly but I will find out.

I would delete all of my public work – blogs (including this one), books, films etc etc. I would take my name off the films that I’ve been a part of. I would let tnks get lost in oblivion – it already is in oblivion. I would request all the YT videos to be deleted (from others that host me).

I think this is it.

I would’ve loved to have climbed Mt Everest, experienced how it is to be a billionaire, what it feels like to date a supermodel, what it feels to have lived in abject poverty, what having your own child feels like etc etc.

But as I write this, on the 8th of July, I am ok with none of these under my belt. Guess I am almost a stoic.

So that.

Chalo moving on. Let’s start the day. Oh, from today on, am going on my strictest diet regimen. I will only eat the dabba I have access to. I have deleted the food ordering app from my phone.

I do have some travel coming up (including an overnight stay for three nights in the hills), despite my not wanting to take it up. So it would be interesting. I will buy a lot of chewing gum and a lot of almonds to get by.

Over and out.

More tomorrow.

7 Jul 2024 – Morning Pages

Wrote this on the 6th Jul. Publishing it now.

Its 6 AM. I have about 30 minutes before I leave for a meeting. And here are the things that I want to write / talk about.

1/ Last few days have not been the best for my head. Money, health, relationships. Let’s just say a lot is on my mind. No, I dont need help, yet. If I do, I shall take proactive measures. I think if I fix my food, a large part of my issues would be fixed. 

1.1/ On the food, I think I will try to eat mindfully from today on. This is my perpetual struggle. I dont know why I want to eat it all. I was talking to someone about it and I realised that my insecurity from the times I have been jobless are so deep-seated in my subconscious that I want to eat it all.

2/ I missed the walk yesterday despite publicly committing to it. I could’ve but I dont know what came over me and I did not. I had the time. I had the inclination. I even made a public commitment. 

3/ 5 days without coffee. If I can manage today, it would be the 6th day. Lets see how it goes. 

4/ I am carrying only the iPad and a book as I step out today. So that’s cool. Let’s see how it goes. I am increasingly trying to go without a laptop. An iPad is a poor compromise for not having a laptop – it’s like a phone and very ineffective. But I am willing to experiment. 

5/ I can feel my age now. I can’t stay alert post 9 PM. I find it tough to wake up. I am not alert at times. Yesterday I noticed in at least 3 calls that I was unable to talk well. 

6/ Track of the day is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pHFJELNKZk. I really want to discover new music. 

7/ I’ve been trying to write a letter to a friend for more than a week now and I can’t seem to find inspiration. I plan to work on it today before my 915 meeting. 

8/ I want to get back to a standing desk routine. I have discovered that I can use a makeshift setup at home and use it. I am writing the second part of this letter from this jugaad standing desk. And I can see myself doing more of this.

9/ 730. I am now at a Starbucks. The chairs here are sucky. I think I will walk a kilometer to go to a Starbucks that has better chairs. I can’t sit here for 3 hours as I wait for a friend to arrive. The only good part is that am not carrying my laptop. So that. 

10/ 7:48. I am at the other, smaller Starbucks where the chairs are nice. 

11/ I had a chat with my folks while I was on the way here. It sucks that they continue to ask me tough questions about money even at this age. I don’t know when would I reach a point where money would stop being a bother. I know I am not prudent with money and I must be. And I will find a way to do so. But at this time, today, my folks are not happy about my money situation and it sucks. 

12/ I think that I am unable to make people around me understand how I operate and how I think. I mean I don’t know how to explain to my friends why do I want to organise even lunches with friends on a Saturday. And then at the same time, I take off for 4 days without explanation to people that I hardly know. I am unable to talk about how I am probably not suited for fancy places and I find myself at home at mid places. This concept of mid-places is also a tad unclear to explain. In my head, I know what a mid-place is. If you are reading this, you know me and you don’t know what a middle place for me is, well 😀 

13/ At #CSS04, one of the attendees told me that I need to stop with the self-deprecating humour. Yesterday I was talking to a young coder and she told me the same. Two very different people who’ve met me in very different contexts have told me the same thing. And I don’t think the two of them even talk to each other. 

Of course, I know that I revel in playing down myself but I didn’t know that it was not serving me. Now I know. I will thus make a conscious effort toward it. I am not sure if there’s a specific way to do this. But I will. May be next time you see me play down, please point it out to me and I will correct myself. 

These playing down things could be one or more of these – “I may not know it all”, “I could be wrong”, “i don’t have a lot” etc etc. 

14/ Do you think getting the subscription to YT Premium worth it? I think it’s 200 bucks a month and I lot more than that right now (I can think of three – 650 for Google One, 650 odd for Netflix, 650 for Apple Storage – and I am sure there are more). 

15/ This working on iPad is not cool. I am unable to get in the flow. Even though there are no distractions (multi-tasking sucks on iPad), I can’t think straight. May be this needs getting used to? I don’t know. I will give this a few more days before I quit. Let’s see. 

All things above this, I wrote on 6 Jul. Now, we are at 7 Jul. Here’s the notes in continuation. 

16/ I slept for 8 hours yesterday. But my recovery is still 50%. I need to journal more religiously to understand why it’s that bad. One large component would be food. That I am fixing from today on. 

I slept 8 hours on the 6th night as well but the recovery is still less than 50%. I think its the diet that I need to now work on. Let’s see.

17/ Deleting all the food ordering apps from my phone. Let’s see how we survive.

18/ I am writing this from a Blue Tokai (and not a Starbucks). BT opens at 7, SBux at 8. This one hour is important.

The only problem is that at BT, the charging ports are less (and my laptop needs to be charged (old you see)), the wifi is poor (and the mobile network is also not the best). So it is not the most optimal place to work out from. Let’s see.

I wish there was a 24/7 cafe around my house. I would have loved to work from there. I can go to the airport but it’s too far from where I live. May be on some days I will go there and work the entire day.

Let’s see what I end up doing.


So, that’s about it for the day (and yesterday).

Over and out.

3 Jul 2024 – Morning Pages

Here’s an attempt to get back to morning pages. Read, point gaps in my thinking and lemme know what I can do better.

I am back with Morning Pages. Let’s go.

I don’t know why I ordered this book. But I did. I normally don’t read a lot. But I read some pages of this book. I tend to like business books – this is anything but that and I spotted myself refusing to put the book down. 

One of the things that the book talks about is that the author’s father would be up at 530 and writing for 2 hours every day. And then he would go about his day. This is similar to the advice by Julia Cameron. And this is what Anjum Sir talks as well. Riyaz.

And I must. And I will. And why writing and why not my single largest goal? Well, because most of my work needs to move people, shift opinions, and persuade and if I am good with my words, it would become easier. Plus at this time, writing would help me get some clarity on my thoughts and open doors. Once I know what I am going to work on, I will follow Mochary’s advice on spending the first two hours of the day on key tasks.

Coming back to this habit of writing every day. There was a time when I wrote every day in the morning. After a while, I didn’t know what to write about.

Now I think I can write about work – after all that’s my biggest thing at this point. No, I will not send emails. I will not make presentations. I will write them and then shoot them out after the first 2 hours are over. I know I will get distracted when I write. And I will thus lean on the iPad to write. I am writing this on the iPad. On Google Docs. I don’t know if I will publish this. But I am writing here because I can’t open multiple tabs. I am writing here because I am not giving in to my habits of checking news, scrolling Twitter timelines, responding to emails etc. It’s 645 and I plan to do this till 730 today. I will try to wake up at 5 tomorrow and then write for 90 mins. I don’t know what I would write about, may be I will make a list and get into the habit. 

Ok, lemme talk about the habit I want to build. And the habits I want to break. 

Lemme give you a gist of my day. 

I wake up without an alarm on most days – typically between 6 and 630. I put on some music. Am listening to a rock music playlist today on my laptop (I picked the mouse to copy and paste the link – but no – no other devices shall be touched). I open my mailbox and reply to things that I think are important. On some days I open my trackers and fill those in. Some days I will open Asana. And then I would open WhatsApp – that’s where all of my work happens. I will reply to any conversations that need my attention, I would give yes or no to things and I would pick up whatever comes to my mind at that time.

Typically things that come to mind are typical tasks that need attention at work.

Here, I want to change my wake-up time to 5 AM. And then write for 90 minutes and then get some sort of yoga / workout in. Maybe I will join Cult – I will check this out today. I will also get myself a Keto meal subscription. Expensive but I will get it. 

I then putter around the house, get ready and leave for Starbucks between 745 and 815 – depending on when I had woken up.

Once at Starbucks, I’d get myself any black coffee and do more “work”. 

To be honest, I don’t work anymore. The team at C4E manages most work. I only pretend. But I want to change this too. I will start putting in the work for the following things… 

  1. SoG Network
  2. Networking 
  3. Design capability 
  4. International Expansion 
  5. Distribution 
  6. Startup idea 

While the focus is these six things, these could take the shape of emails, writing posts for LinkedIn, or connecting with folks. Let see.

May be I will edit these morning pages and put them on the blog (doing it as we speak) – after all an iPad can only do limited things. Maybe I will fill these trackers? Or maybe I will find someone else to do this and put it on WordPress and make a LinkedIn post of highlights and a thread for X – I think I will outsource this – do you know any kid who can do this for me a tiny sum? Lemme put a call out and see where this goes. 

I am trying to avoid coffee – haven’t had it for two days. Let’s see how long this lasts. Also, since I need to order something when am there, I have started to buy sparkling water. And that means I will have a lot of glass bottles around. And I will start putting flowers in those. 

Then around 12, I get bored of Starbucks and I want to go somewhere else. I either go back home (I have started to call this house home) or The Clubhouse. I order myself lunch / snack. I eat and I sleep. I really want to change this. Actually no. I will not change this. I will read if these naps are a good idea – if they are, I’ll continue. If they are not, I will quit. If naps are not good, I will stack meetings around lunch.

I put an alarm if I have important calls. In case I don’t, I leave the house and step out. I don’t have a specific destination in mind. Starbucks mostly. Some days, Infiniti Mall. Some days Blue Tokai, some days Jamjar, some days Clubhouse. Somedays random new place. I need to break this habit and find a place to go to – may be a coworking place. Maybe Clubhouse. Maybe work from home – I do have a table that I can work on. So, I don’t know. But I need to get out of this habit of whiling time. Maybe I will stack all my calls in this time. I can mould my team and most clients to accept that calls can only be done post-12. 

Post that I try and go to the beach. I want to add a habit of taking a picture each day and putting it on Instagram. Oh, I will remove Instagram from my phone and put it on the alt phone that I will not carry with me. 

And then I come back home and as a matter of habit order some kachra (I am deleting Swiggy also from my phone) and then eat it while I play chess (which I recently deleted) and watch reruns of FIR (I will quit this too). And then I while some time on Instagram and then sleep. I want to add some meditation before I sleep. My life goal is to have more meditation minutes than AK

Most days I sleep after 10:30. I want to sleep around (if I have to get up at 5). To be honest, I have it all that allows me to do so. Most times I can control my work. Most times I can push dinners to 730. And I must. 

I think if I can run this routine for a month, we should be ok. I don’t have any travel plans for the rest of the month. I need to be in Delhi for a meeting but that is towards the end of the month. So all is well there. If I can get a routine going for even 25 days, starting today, we would be ok. 

So that.

Lets see where this goes. 

Wish me luck. 

PS: Here are some gaps.

  1. I haven’t allocated time for thinking (deep thinking) here. 
  2. I am not sure if I will follow this routine. If I can do this from today till the Delhi trip, I think I would be ok. Let’s see. 
  3. Original note here that I have edited.

C4E Review – H1 2024

H1 2024 report for C4E and the business.

Hi!
6 months of 2024 are over.
And that means it’s time for a review.
Let’s go.

Also, for context, here are a couple of posts that I would use as reference points – C4E 2023-24 Annual Shareholder Report and my #in2024 letter.

I will break this report into sections. These are…

  • What is working well for us?
  • What is not working well? What are our challenges?
  • What is the plan for the rest of the year?
  • Some personal updates
  • Parting notes

Come join me for a ride.

Wait. Before we get started, here’s a postcard for you 🙂

This is from the most recent CSS (#CSS4) that happened on the 29th of June.

1/ What is working well for us at C4E?

This is my second favourite part (wait a bit for the favourite part).

So here are the things that are working well for us.

A/ We refuse to die.
To me, this is the biggest and the best thing ever. We’ve got our ups and downs but I believe that are not dying anytime soon. In fact, we are larger and hopefully stronger than ever.

B/ People seem to be happy
Most people at C4E seem to be happy.

Of course, I could be wrong since I dont get to talk to most folks on a day-to-day basis. And when I talk to clients, most clients seem to be happy with how our people conduct themselves. So the first pillar of C4E – People – is in place. They are happy. That translates into them putting in the effort for clients. Clients see that. And they shower praises. And then its a loop. So alls well.

But then I do see a challenge in making my people participate in non-work activities (such as Growth Sessions, thinking for the org, expanding our services). Apart from a few enthu cutlets, org-wide we are not really on a treadmill per se.

And in spite of that, I can safely say that my vision for the village seems to be coming to life. So that’s a BIG win.

C/ Clients
We retained our clients (though not at the money that I would have wanted to earn). We acquired new clients. And we let go of clients where money-mazaa-effort equation did not add up.

On this, allow me to elaborate. We are ok to ask for less if we have a lot of fun with work. We are however not willing to work with clients where we get paid less, we dont have fun and work is demanding beyond reason. While we are in a buyer’s market where clients get to dictate things, we continue to hold our heads high and only work on things where either we make money or we have a lot of fun. Or in rare cases, we get the benefit of the brand.

D/ Processes
As with any small business, the first chasm to cross is when you put in processes. We have started to!

While a lot of these are still not documented, we are much more structured now compared to when we started. The next step is to document these processes.

E/ Succession. Lol.
I am trying to not run C4E on a day-to-day basis. And I am almost there. The year-end review of C4E will come from the desk of Chandni. Hopefully 😀

F/ Cut losses
In the last 6 months, I’ve got out of two of my favourite projects – TRS and Podium. And the decision did not come easy. It was like letting go of a limb. Two in this case. But then I had to do it.

Of course, I continue to believe in the potential of both of these projects and I really wish I could manage them better. One ran for over 6 years. The other was for almost 4 years. I was unable to take either to profitability. More than that, in both cases, we couldn’t make decisions that would have taken us towards profitability.

I’ve learnt very very expensive lessons from both. Expensive in terms of time, money and mindspace. I will try to not repeat those as I seed DD (the only other for-profit idea that I am working actively on apart from C4E) and help Prak with PPP.

The point is, going forward, I will cut losses fast.

G/ Planted new 💣💣💣!
This means, we bought new domain names. We are now proud owners of VersovaIsHome, Decoding Duryodhan and a few more. What would each do, I am not so sure at this time. But kuch to hoga.

2/ What is not working well? What did I miss?

This is my most favourite part. Also, all misses are mine and not of the team.

A/ We remain a company that can’t pay well.
I really really want to fix this. I want to be able to pay top dollar to everyone.

B/ Cash flow is a challenge.
This has more to do with me, to be honest than anything else. I tend to bleed with experiments that don’t need our time or energy. I am investing in things that we do not need to at this time (see 1G above). I am not prudent with money at all.

And some clients have delayed our payments for structural reasons at their end (and at our scale, it is tough to sort of keep a float). I would never not pay our people because clients did not pay. So, I need to borrow. At this point, I now have more debt on me than I had at the lowest point of COVID.

So, I need to work on this. And I will do so over the next 6 months.

C/ Brand.
Our brand remains a challenge. We are still not as well known as we’d like to be. Leave the well part. We are not even known. We are far far away from the big leagues. We are unable to price our services the way we’d like to. We are unable to attract talent that seeks higher compensation.

A few months ago I decided that I would run this myself. However, I have failed at this. I will push this going forward.

C.1/ C4E Website / Creds
Our website is terrible.
Our creds are nice but I am not sure they are relevant in this day or age.

I need to work on this. We’ve made a brief but we haven’t been able to put things in motion.

However, I will push on this.

D/ No action on expansion
When we started the year I had promised that we would open up in a different geography. So far, we haven’t done anything to do that. We are very much in India. Concentrated in Mumbai.

Over the next 6 months, I will take one more shot at building our presence outside India. And I will try and sell something online. Wish me luck.

E/ One loss away from ruin
We continue to be one loss away from ruin.

We are very very leveraged as a business – we make money, we pay a randomly large chunk of that to people who work on projects (leaving C4E as an org with little and thus no savings), we move on. We don’t have a treasury per se. At some point in time, we will have to get that going.

If we lose a client, the ability to pay money to that team goes for a toss. Now that team is supporting other teams. And that goes for a toss as well. The entire business model crumbles like a House of Cards.

I need to ensure that we are not this fragile. Truth be told, I dont know how to do this. Any help?

3/ The plan for the rest of the year

So for the rest of the 6 months, need to work on a few things (as listed above). Apart from those, some others are…

A. “Corporate” Initiatives
It sounds funny to call C4E a corporate.

These include…

  • Putting in place a board of directors (would you like to nominate someone?)
  • Amping up our brand (means a new website, a new creds deck etc)
  • Acquiring new clients (see 2E)

Am sure there are more but these are the top of my head at this time.

B. One more attempt at new geography or a new business
Same as 3D. I will take one more shot at building our presence outside India. And I will try and sell something online.

So that.

4/ Personal updates

Not too much to report here (I dont think I am in the mindspace to talk about this). But here’s a list.

  1. Health is on a fast car without brakes hurling down the steepest hill you can imagine.
  2. On a personal level, I am probably at the lowest point – nothing exciting. I haven’t even been talking to my parents / sibling / friends etc. All I do is think of work and then nothing.

Nothing apart from that on the personal front.

5/ Ending notes 

As I reflect on how things have been at C4E in the last 6 months, the biggest takeaway is that the Village seems to be coming to a reality. If I had my way I would find a physical space – in Bombay or Goa or Dubai or anywhere and then build another iteration of village there.

Second, I am no longer the face of C4E and it’s now split between AK, C, Prak and others.

Third, you will notice that I haven’t talked about numbers at all. And that’s by design. We will never chase a numbers target as long as I have a say here at C4E.

Third Point One. I have also not talked about awards we won (we won none), accolades we got (many), business impact we made (we dont track – we may have to change this) or any other things that typically make the highlight of such reports. The reason is my aversion to these vanity conversations. To me, the most important thing is day to day contentment and happiness of people that have chosen to call C4E home. And there’s no way I can measure that.

Four. I would have liked to capture some lessons from the last few months. Again, I am not sure how to quantify that. So I will leave it at that.

This is it!

If you’ve read this till here, please do let me know what you think and what I can improve upon.

Over to you!

PS: I am glad I could write this. The report helps me take stock of where I am. Where C4E is. And how far are we from where we want to be and how am doing as part of the village.

PPS: Thanks to Pradeep and Prakruti for the edits.

Untitled – 27/28 Jun 2024

As always, I dont know what to write but I feel like sharing. I started writing it on the 27th but I was unable to finish it. Continuing today.

Let’s go.

1/ Money

I am close to the month’s end. And that means I have started to get jittery about money. I need to pay my people. While it is a feeling of bliss to pay people who choose to work with me, often it adds to random chaos in my head.

This time it will be especially stressful as we haven’t been paid by all the clients (and of course that shouldn’t matter to others) but I have to pay folks on time. And I am at the end of my credit line. So I dont know what to do.

Let’s see. I’ve learnt that life often finds a way. I am sure it would find this time around too.

2/ Marketer’s Responsibility

Yesterday day before I was dinnering with some friends and we were seeing music from Moosewala and Gurdas Mann and Rabbi Shergill and the likes. I lamented that the music made by these people was to push a narrative (I dont have an opinion if they were right or wrong), educate, inform and all that. My generation grew up on that. I wouldn’t know about Bilquis Bano unless I heard it in a Rabbi song. Indian Ocean back in the day made me curious about Rewa even though they didn’t talk about its significance. More recently, listening to Moosewala made me aware of Sec 295.

Compare it to what people are listening to today.

The top 10 tracks in India today include the likes of Jhumka Gira Re, O Maahi (I dont even know what this is), Sajni and more.

Nothing wrong with these.
Each must be a fascinating piece of art.
But are they stirring my soul?
Are they making me think deeper as a human?

No, I am not sure.

So that’s it.

PS: I know I am cherry-picking a few tracks to make a case – both from my time and from the time of today. And there may be musicians and artists in this day and age who are making people aware but it’s not reaching me.

Now, extrapolate this to communication and marketing.

Which was the last campaign (not just an ad) you saw that made you take note of what’s happening around us? Which piece of communication from a brand last stirred your soul into doing more? Which brand has taken a solid stand that you believe the world needs? No, I am not talking about token activism by brands around Mother’s Day, Pride Month et al.

I can think of Share The Load as a campaign that made at least me aware of how certain kinds of work have been gendered. For my life, I can’t think of any other campaign at this time.

I know that as marketers we ought to think only about selling our wares better. But we have the blessings of a marketing budget. And that’s an opportunity to push the narrative needed by the times! I believe we have a FAR larger responsibility than we imagine (of selling only our wares) and I see fewer and fewer people even thinking about things. Especially in this day and age when one smart-alec piece of communication is on-purpose designed to “go viral”. I mean look at the latest piece from Tanishq. I wish they had dug deeper.

Anyhow.

So, while I am appreciative of the great art and craft and thought used by these brands in their communication, as a marketer, I am disappointed that we are not building conversations and communication pieces that nudge the culture.

Phew.
Rant over.

3/ Fitness

I dont know why I am unable to work on my fitness. I just dont have the discipline. And I will change that from today. This is the millionth time that I have promised myself and the world that I would work on my fitness. Let’s see if I can manage.

I plan to start with some yoga. I dont know how to carve time in the morning. I dont have time during the day. And at nights I am too tired. Old age, you see. But I will find time. Maybe I will wake up super early – like at 4:30. And then get some work done before 7 AM and then do it? I don’t know. I will see. May be I will NOT travel for the next few days and then see if I am able to get a schedule in.

I will also change my diet from today. I ate Suraj Lama Momos for like 100th time last night. No, they are not that good. Just that they deliver super fast. Like in 10 mins. Faster than instamart.

I will go on a lo-carb, high-protein diet. I will try for a few days. If I can’t sustain, I will find myself a cook. So that.

4/ Baarish

Yesterday it rained. And it poured. And it was windy. And it was relentless. And I was in it. At the C4E Sunset Club. And it was fabulous. Oh, while I was in the rain, I was on a call. And I loved each minute that I was there.

I wish there were more rains and more opportunities to get wet and more ways to enjoy it. I wish I lived in a house that was near the beach so that I could go there more often. I wish the monsoon was not a two month phenomenon. I wish I have less and less places to be so that I could be at the Sunset Club, under the rains.

Bas itna hi.

5/ Action

The last night I was talking to an acquaintance. She asked me how I was. And I gave my usual answer. Here’s a screenshot from the conversation.

Let’s park this as A. I will come back to this.

Last night (while getting drenched in the rain), at the C4E Growth Session, I encouraged each person at C4E to list their values. I also tried to list my values. I’ve done this a million times but I thought I would do it again.

Here’s a list. Let’s call this B.

Now, when I marry A and B, I realise that life has become monotonous. There is no action, no movement, no fun.

I may say that I’ve become stoic (after all, I am stressed that I dont have the money to pay my people, I can be sad that I dont have a romantic partner, I could be fucked in the head about my inability to steer C4E in the way I want to and many more things). Or I may accept that I’ve become lazy and dependent on others for things. Funnily, in my life, I was never this. I was always atamnirbhar. I was always the go-getter. Always the kind to do things by myself. And if the events of the last few months are anything to go by, I need to operate from the place where I am all alone. Everyone leaves. It’s not if. It’s when.

Saw this couplet by Faraz on Instagram and I was amazed that some poets can capture emotions so well. This is EXACTLY how I feel on most days. He says,

बुझी नज़र तो करिश्मे भी रोज़ो शब के गये
के अब तलक नही पलटे हैं लोग कब के गये

करेगा कौन तेरी बेवफ़ाइयों का गिला
यही है रस्मे ज़माना तो हम भी अब के गये

मगर किसी ने हमे हमसफ़र नही जाना
ये और बात के हम साथ साथ सब के गये

अब आये हो तो यहाँ क्या है देखने के लिये
ये शहर कब से है वीरां वो लोग कब के गये

गिरफ़्ता दिल थे मगर हौसला नही हारा
गिरफ़्ता दिल हैं मगर हौसले भी अब के गये

तुम अपनी शम्ऐ-तमन्ना को रो रहे हो “फ़राज़”
इन आँधियों मे तो प्यारे चिराग सब के गये

Faraz

The couplet in bold and underline is what caught my attention the most.

So that.

Coming back.

Maybe I need to be a lot more hands-on.
Maybe I need to be a lot more particular.
Maybe I need to push myself more.

I dont know the answer.

Let’s see.

Chalo, work beckons. Enough for the day.

Untitled – 19 Jun 2024

An untitled rant about things that are clouding my head.

Morning ladies and gents. Here are the things that I want to catalogue on the 19th of Jun 2024. This is a brain dump of all that I’ve been thinking about over the last few days.

1/Rain is here in Mumbai 🙂

Love it!

I know there is muck and stink and all that but I am ok as long as I can go home and shower. I think it’s my most favourite season. While it’s still hot and muggy, the shower sort of cleans you from within. Like a shower for the soul!

If I had my way I would get wet each time it rains. Someday I would have a house with a terrace and I’d just lie down while the rain gods belt me with their amrit and prasad.

I know a lot of folks I know dont like rains and it’s ok. I also tend to not like it when the aircraft shakes likes a mixer in the monsoons. But then its a small price to pay for the gorgeousness of baarish 🙂

Here’s an exhibit.

2/ Am taking a backseat from day-to-day operations at C4E.

Something that I’ve wanted to do for long.

Not because I want to retire but because I want to be able to do more with my time. I want to expand us beyond the borders of India and build more things for the entire village. I also want to take a shot at building a unicornable idea. Right now, C4E does not look like one.

I tried to go offline and pass on the baton a few years ago and when I did that (I went to EBC) and I lost 66% of my business.

Fast forward to 2024. In C, I have identified a fairly able person. Plus I’ve trained over the last two years. And we’ve set things in motion.

We are experimenting till Sep of 2024 and then we’ll see where it goes.

I just need to figure if she would stay with me for the long haul. My experience of having people stay with me is not the greatest. And since it’s just not one person that has moved on, it has to be me at fault. So that.

Also, my insecurity with “my” people has sort of resurfaced with this decision. I thought I had made peace with people moving on. But now I know I haven’t been able to. And I dont know what to do to settle this. I dont know how people find people that would stay together for lifetimes. I dont know how to get used to see people drift away from your life. I dont understand how people you decided to build your life with are no longer in your life. There are times when I still think about all those folks that have moved on. While I need to have happy memories, I tend to get not so pleasant ones as well. And now that I have put this ball in motion, am mindfucked half the times, thinking about when (not if) when C moves. Ok, clarification (realised this while editing). It’s not about her. It’s about me and in my inability to hold people together. Plus this is a recency thing. I realised that less than a month ago that one of my super-long-term friends moved on without telling me. And I am yet to come to terms with that. So that.

Anyhow. We’d come to it when we come to it. For now, the transition is in place.

3/ Lost sight of 40 crores target.

For context, I had decided that in this financial year, I would do a topline of 40 crores. And Q1 is almost over and we are not even at 40 lakhs. I’ve lost sight of the goal 🙁

I can justify this by saying that am building the base for the next phase of growth. After all, we have processes for most things, we have documented a lot of things, there’s a transition happening at C4E. There is no need for me to be involved in large decisions. Etc etc.

But the hard cold fact remains that we are VERY VERY far from 40. Heck, the way we are going, even doing last year’s 4 looks tough!

And no, I am not worried or anything. I am putting this on record. And no, there’s no pressure on anyone from my team to do more than what they want to. Just that we need to be aware of this and then at some point act on it. And since the transition is underway, it’s C’s problem now ;P

4/ Being unhealthy.

I dont know what to do about it. Despite being a diabetic, I haven’t moved a muscle on things. I dont know what to do. Thing is, apart from this health thing, I am NOT lazy at all. And even when I see my energy waning, I am not inspired to do more. Just today I walked 1000 steps and I was puffling like I had run a marathon!

I even have my why to live and yet I am not willing to work on my how or what. As an aware, intelligent, smart and all that man, I know this is not the right thing if I have to do more in life.

But I am unable to fix it. Maybe I will pick some sport. Maybe yoga. Maybe I will finally join a gym, my hernia be damned. Or dance. I really really would like to have a chiseled physique like Jason Statham’s. Sigh.

Oh, I am munching on snacks as I write this!


And this is it. No, no intervention is needed. This is my public journal of thoughts and ideas. I am ok. As ok as I can be. Thank you for indulging me ;P

Untitled – 31 May 2024

I caught some fever last Friday.
Been a week since.
I think I have recovered now.
But here are some recollections from the time I was perpetually in my bed. And some from after I recovered. These are not recollections per se – rather pieces that I want to capture somewhere.

Let’s go…

1/ You lose weight to start with. I lost 3 KGs.

2/ In the delirium induced by fever, you remember things that you never knew you knew. Like I remembered this young girl – she used to be an intern at VISCOMM and now she’s a kick-ass, award-winning screenwriter.

I remembered a friend-ish person who passed away a few weeks ago.

I had vivid memories of spending time with my ex-girlfriend at her house.

I am working on an event in Phuket next week and I was thinking about it a lot. Update – I am no longer doing this 🙁

3/ For some reason the taste buds die. Coffee starts to taste different. The thing that typically tickles your taste buds the most (Pani Puri) fails to wake up any emotions. Even the inhaler smells different. I can empathise with people like AK who have long-COVID.

4/ Whoop showed me that my recovery was like 1%. Then it became 3%. Then it climbed up to some 40. And that’s as normal as things could get. Oh, day before, I hit 100% on sleep for the first time I think. I slept for more than 8 hours. I dont think I’ve ever needed this much sleep but since Whoop says so and I’ve now managed to hit a 100% mark, I need to rethink this.

5/ I finally downloaded Bumble. Not my ideal choice – the anxiety and sadness of not getting matches is real. But I dont know what else to do. I remain too much of an introvert to walk up to women that I find interesting. What else can I do?

6/ Had to take up some working capital loan. I am really not cool about this taking loan, getting paid, paying back loan situation. Also, see #15.

7/ Walked to the C4E Sunset Club Point yesterday after the sunset. Was better – heat was less. The water was up to the ramp. Sat on top of the rocks. Realised that the view is better from up there. While there is something in touching the sand letting the water lap up to you, the view and the winds and comfort to the backside is better on top.

8/ Decided today in the morning that I will start reading again.

Read about 20 pages of Courage To Be Disliked. I will continue to choose self-help or biographies. No more books with lessons and all that. No more fiction for sure.

9/ Thanks to Rachna, we managed to submit the screenplay to SWA Pitchfest. To me, this is a big one. This is the first time a completed screenplay has my name to it! Now to go and shop it around and see if we can get someone to want to make a film about Aakanksha.

10/ Realised that 2 months of 2024-25 are over and we at C4E haven’t moved our backside on our plans to dominate the world.

11/ Grateful that I dont have to step out in the sun this treacherous heat. I know tons of folks are out and about and are working and all that. I respect them. I really am inspired by their efforts. I wish I could be like them. But I am not. So that.

12/ Last two-three days I have started to buy a muskmelon when I go back home from Starbucks. I cut it the best I can and then I eat it. I dont know if it’s any good for me but I do like the idea of doing something with my hand. No, I cant become a cook. No, I dont want to do fancy salads. This much – tiny bit – knife through the melon is all that I want to do.

Thing is, I’ve never had any taste for fruits but I am trying to cut on fried, packaged food and the best solution is to lean onto fruits. So that.

13/ I feel like snacking today. Have had some sugary cookies already. And I am sipping onto fizzy, sugarly, synthetic ginger-ale and coffee. If only I could come to a Starbucks everyday, not order anything and sit here to work, ISTG, I could change the world!

Let’s see what I end up ordering.

14/ I paid all bills in one shot yesterday – electricity, internet, mobile phone, GAS, cabs etc etc. I felt like an adult. But wait. haven’t I been an adult for like 22 years now?

15/ I also paid all my people. Love that feeling. I dont think I will ever want a CA to do that. Even if a CA does it, I will want to press the button. The feeling of paying people is unparalleled. Also, see #6.

16/ Grammarly has screwed their free product in want of getting more people to pay. Way too many notifications and pop-ups while writing.

Ok, enough.

More over the next few days!

Untitled – May the 12th

An untitled braindump.

A lot has happened in the last few days. And I mean a lot. From health scares to awareness of lack of money to getting stabbed in the back to taking the largest shot of my life to the decision to go to the mattresses. I wish I could write about all of it on a public forum. I know no one cares about it. I know that once am gone, all this is meaningless. I know all I can do is take lessons, give those to my folks and move on. So that.

Chalo, let’s write randomly about things that I am thinking about

1/ Ankita asked me if I could bring back LFW.

On a whim, I floated a form and I am gathering interest. Here. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. On one side, I get to write more. On the other, I am not sure if I have the energy or the time to do this.

In an ideal world, I would like to not worry about money and do all these things that enable others. But then we dont live in an ideal world.

2/ I am going to the mattresses.

If you know the meaning, great. If you don’t, well you dont. I am not explaining. But at this time, I am facing the biggest challenge that C4E has ever faced, after we became what we’ve become post COVID-19.

3/ Toto’s at Bandra

I went to Toto’s last night to meet some friends. It was a very very interesting meet. Multiple reasons

a/ I went there after like 15 years. The place is as buzzing, as expensive, as good as it was back then. I would love to meet the owners and learn about their story!

b/ While I was there, I realised that the best economic decision that you can make as a professional is to marry someone and bind your economic fortune with them. You may have an open marriage, you may not be lawfully wedded but once you start living AND EARNING AND SPENDING with someone else, you get to build an economic engine that in 20 years will give you immense wealth.

If you are in your 20s, find someone that is willing to “marry” you and you together build a life. The best-case scenario is when you can live together and limit your expenses.

c/ I realised I dont like traffic at all. I spent about an hour to go meet friends. I dont see the value in all that travel to meet folks. I know that I need to have deep relationships and community and all that. But I also know that all my energy gets sucked and drained in the commute. So that.

d/ All my friends there could only chat about LV bags, business class flights, Rolexes, sculpted bodies, curly hair and I dont know what all. I couldn’t relate to any of that chatter. A few days ago I stayed with a friend and his family and again the routine humdrum was about school, holidays in Europe and all that.

To be honest, there’s nothing wrong in that. This is what life is. May be I am a fool in chasing largeness – I dont even know what largenss could be. I mean all my friends have large lives – multiple houses, multiple sources of incomes, multiple holidays, multiple kids. And here I am, on the road again taking loans to make ends meet.

Lemme digress for a bit. I had decided that I would never take another paisa of loan. But in the last 10 days, I’ve had to take money twice. And the way things are I will have to take one more tranche towards the end of the month. Which is ok – this is a working capital loan, to be honest. But I need to be prudent enough to not lean on loans.

e/ I also realised yet again that I live a very unidimensional life. This is not new. And lately, I’ve been seeing signs of this all around me. Maybe I am seeking this only?

4/ Relationships

I’ve been thinking a lot about longevity and one of the tenets (apart from the usual suspects) is – healthy relationships. Of all kinds.

I suspect when you have great relationships, the stress hormones are not active enough to kill you. And if they are, the peace and harmony from these relationships would ensure that you dont die of stress.

So, I need to work on this.

In terms of relationships, in decreasing order of priority, I think we have the following kinds – romantic partners, parents, siblings, offsprings, friends, work colleagues, community, strangers and everyone else. Oh, and the most important is the relationship with self!

In my case, I think that the romantic partner one is the most fractured. I am ok with my parents (though they live away from me). I am ok with how I am with my sis, though I would like to be closer. The closest thing to my offspring is growing up fast and getting away from me. Sad but I can’t help it. And I dont want to inhibit her flight. Friends is something I need to work on. I have lately started to get more involved with friends from school and college (and I am struggling to be honest). I think I have a great relationship with my work colleagues. I am active in the community as well (work to honest, not locality etc). And I think I am ok with strangers – I operate from a place of empathy and trust. I assume everyone is good, unless they give me a reason to believe otherwise.

So, I need to fix these.

5/ The Village

All I do, all I am building, is this thing called the C4E Village. Right now it’s not a physical space but someday it would be. While that happens, I want to ensure that it does well. And I need to find a way to sustain it. And I need to protect it despite all odds. That’s it. Just writing this here.


Oh, the track of the day is this.

Over and out. See you folks next time!

Untitled – May the 4th be with you

Unfiltered stream of thoughts from a morning on a weekend (and some more days beyond the weekend)

I mostly start my posts with, “I dont know what to write.”

And then I dump my thoughts. And then something catches my fancy. And then I take that thread from the spool and start to work on it. Right now as I write this (I dont know when I’d publish this), I am sitting on the 47th floor of a high-rise in Manila, staring down to a mostly flat country, some high-rises in the distance, a bay beyond and then the ocean. It’s making me feel a lot of things.

Some are…

1/ I would like to live in luxury.
Right now I live in a tiny 1BHK that I find great by Mumbai standards. When I step out to friends’ houses and other places where my travels take me, I realise that there’s so much more about life that I dont know about. There’s so much more that I could experience. And I want to chase that – abundance, experiences, the novelty of the unknown, the thrill of access, the joy of community, the pleasure of enabling others and more.

2/ I like my mornings.
It’s 8 AM and I am listening to music and being busy with nothing specific (I checked email, read news et al). I could rather shut this and journal. Or meditate. To be honest, this post am writing is like a journal only. Just that this is a tad filtered compared to what I would write on my Roam. May be I will get back to a pen-paper journal? I dont know if I can do that well cos I know I dont like the idea of carrying a notepad. I dont know if my handwriting anymore. Let’s see.

I am writing another part of this at 7 AM, on the 8th May. Again, loving this feeling of being by myself and writing whatever is clouding my head. This blog has really come to become my echochamber and closest confidante.

3/ Am restless.
I dont know what to do with my life. For a change am ok with money. I just need to figure out cash flow management but apart from that am ok. I am rising up Maslow’s pyramid and I am finding it tough to navigate that. I’ve been working with a coach and even that is not enough.

There’s this tussle between the want and the need.

Want of a better life. Need to maintain what I have.

Want of growing 100X. Need of paying the bills.

Want of providing better for everyone. Need of ensuring they are paid on time.

On one side, am inspired to quit it all and go back to the safe havens of a job. On the other when I see my people do what they did yesterday (on the 3rd May), I am inspired to keep the village going. It’s through adding meaning to their lives that I find meaning in mine!

Part of this and the part beyond this is being written on the 5th May. But I like the cliched title a lot and I dont want to change it 🙂

4/ I was talking to VG about things in general and he asked me 5 people that I ?talk to outside of work. I realised I had none. Each connection, each relationship, each minute of mine is spent with (or thinking about) people from work.

Overshare but each of my deep relationships has been with someone around my work. So that. Now, I dont know if this is a good thing or bad. I know already that my life is fairly unidimensional where all I think about is work and nothing else. I’ve tried to find distractions in the past, including getting addicted to cheap dopamine – TV, Cricket, Films etc but for some reason, I feel very very guilty when I am merely vegetating. I am guilty of even getting into the MAFA (Mistaking Activity For Action) trap where sitting on a computer becomes “action” for me and I justify that.

So that.

Oh, in terms of people beyond work, I try hard to meet new people at each opportunity I get. I like the idea of being well-connected. I try and build as many loose connections as I can. On my last trip to Bangalore (some days ago), even though I was there for a day, I tried to meet new folks. And I did meet some. Of course, most of those folks won’t remember me after that night but I’d like to believe that at least one of those would stay in touch and at some point be of use to the village. I use the word use with mindfulness. I dont see people as objects. Just that I want to invest each morsel of energy in building the village. The two events from the night of the 3rd May (P3 and DD) and the messages from my people and stories of strangers have reaffirmed my belief in what I am working on. Just that at this time I am neither unable to explain that to people, nor I am able to find a revenue model for that. But then I think it will come to me with time.

Coming back. I dont have anyone that I talk to out of work. This may be a bad thing. This may be a good thing. But this is how it is. Do you have a way out?

5/ Health has been a recurring theme in my conversations.
And my inability to act on that front. And I know that I can’t be consistent with anything ever. I call this my inability to run a marathon. I know I need to not hide behind this excuse and do more but I am unable to.

Once I am back in Bom (which is Tuesday), I plan to drop everything and make health my priority. I’ve made such promises in the past. To myself. And to others. And to people that I dont want to disappoint. And yet I haven’t been able to act on it. I even have a “why” to be fit – live as long and do more – and yet I am not acting on it.

As I write this, it’s Wednesday the 8th. I slept at 10ish last night and I got 7 hours. Whoop tells me that my HRV is alarmingly low. I need to find a solution for that. I need to add some workouts to my life – I will do that. On the flight back home, I made an entire list of things and changes that I would make. No, this is not the first time I’ve made such lists. But this time I hope am able to implement this. The biggest thing I would do is get a coach to help me out – if nothing else I will get into some sort of routine. I need to figure money though, to pay for one. Know any “cheap” coaches that will come home?

6/ Attention deficit is a problem.
I was trying to read a book while I was on the break and I realised that I couldn’t focus on it beyond 2 minutes. And I’ve been a voracious reader all my life. To a point that I would read 100-odd pages a day. And I would read it all – fiction, non-fiction, anything. Now, I can’t do even 100 seconds. I am so used to multitasking, solving problems, and enjoying easy dopamine hits that I am losing my ability to focus. I need to solve for this.

Also, I was telling a friend the other day that I take 2 hours to get in the flow.

I need to work on it. I can’t take that long. Since I got the Whoop, I am realising that my sleep is not optimal at all. I remember that during lockdown I tried Naval’s 60X60 challenges (60 minutes of meditation first 60 minutes of the day) and I did manage a lot of days. I think I will get back to meditation. Luckily I still journal a lot – in public and in private – and that helps. This is a journal.

So, along with health, I will fix this bit too. Attention deficit I mean. I will make this the second priority. Health being the first one. I need to design my life around it. Right now, my life is optimised for work. So that.

7/ My mornings are sacred.
I do all sorts of things in the morning – work, emails, chatter from the previous night and all that. Even the thought of using my mornings for anything that is not work, I cringe. If I get on the workout bandwagon in the mornings, all my work would suffer. I need to maybe wake up earlier than ever? If I can be up at 430, I can wrap all my work by 7ish and then I can hit the gym or whatever? But then that means I will need to sleep by 9 PM. I think I can manage 9 if I can be disciplined. But then work, socialising, et al? Ok, this is a problem that needs to be solved. I will put my head to it and do it.

8/ Coming to the end of line in life.
In electronics retail, they have this concept of End of Line where once a product hits the peak, they stop working on it. The last few pieces are sold at rock-bottom prices and crazy discounts.

I think I have reached EOL in life. This means that my age, I can only take one more shot at greatness. In the next 5 years, life as I know it would change – at a personal level, on the health front – and others. So I can only do things over the next 2. So, things need to be done today and now. And I need to run faster. And I need to push more. I sat with AK and CM yesterday and gave them this spiel – that the two of them are my best shot at greatness. I would live a grand life vicariously – through theirs. I may never become a Sachin but with these two kids, I can become Ramakant for sure. And that probably would be the highest I would reach. This is a far cry from how I’ve lived all my life. I mean I’ve known since I was a kid that am a gift and I would be the richest man in the world. Today I realise that I probably would not even be the richest in the rundown building that I have rent a tiny house. And to be honest, this acceptance of a failed life is not a good thing. But…

But we persist. We continue to dream. Against all odds. Against age. Hoping that someday we would have enough. We would have abundance. And then we would hopefully make it to at least the top 1%, if not THE top.

So that.

Ok this is it. I shall publish this or else this would become an infinitely long blogpost with no end.

More later!

Untitled – 13 April 2024

A short note to help clear my head and get out of a funk.

It’s no secret that my life revolves around work.

It’s no secret that I dont have anything going for me in life apart from work.

If I were to look at the wheel of life (I filled it in 10 minutes ago), my life is, well, not lifing.

See the image below.

The Wheel of Life for Saurabh Garg on 13 April 2024

Now for context, compare it with what it was in 2018.

Do you see the change?

And this not-lifing has been a lot more visible of late. At least to me.

There have been far too many days with no action, with a lot of conduct unbecoming a C4E member, with a lot of mistakes by myself and the people around me, with a lot of random events that you dont otherwise expect a Saurabh Garg to be a part of. And with many more.

And the worst part is, I dont have control over any of those. And when I dont have an illusion of control (see footnote 1) over my life, I get in a funk. Right now, all the spokes of life are not spoking. Each is in disarray. And I dont know what to do about it. Worse is I dont know who to share things with. No, I dont need a life partner. I dont need a business partner. I dont even need a stranger that I can chat with to get the load off my head (FN 2). I just dont have anyone to share this with. Except this blog.

Thing is, for a large part of my work life I’ve operated as the man with the hammer of “if it’s a problem, go find a solution”.

I am used to looking at each thing as a problem and then working hard to find a solution to that problem. I know that life is unfair and you often get dealt a raw hand. When I am the one on the receiving end, I dont cry about it (see FN 3). I may rant about it but I dont lose my shit. And this solution-first mindset has been helpful. To a point that I’ve often survived. Vanita calls me a survivor. I would like to call myself a cockroach – I never die. I mean I will die at some point in time physically but I will not die before my actual death.

But this time, I am unable to find a solution. I dont know what to do. I dont know what to do anything on.

In terms of a 2×2 (am learning this from Hemant), here’s one…

Please excuse my handwriting.

So, if I struggling with a problem that has a known solution, I can easily solve for it. If it’s an unknown problem with a known solution, that is insight/epiphany etc.

If it’s a known problem with an unknown solution, I will have to be innovative about it. But if it’s an unknown problem and the solution is unknown as well, I dunno what to do.

And that is my problem at this time. I dont know what is wrong. And I don’t know what to do about it. I am doing all the things that I would generally do in the regular course of life. And because these are regular life things, they’re optimised. And thus there shouldn’t be any problems at all. But there are. And I dont know where are they stemming from. Wait. I don’t even know what the problem is. If I had known, I would’ve fixed it. It just that life isn’t living!

Ok, I am going in loops. I dont have an answer. I dont know when I’d find one. So that. Lemme end this misery and the misery of a post. With a track that I often listen to when am in funks like this one…

Over and out.

And no, no pity-party calls please.

Footnotes

  1. The keyword is – illusion. No one knows what life holds for you. No one can have control over it. However you can have an illusion of control – you know, you could say you can manage your time the way you want to. You can meet the kind of people you want to. Et al. So I have this illusion of control over life.
  2. I use this blog as my partner and I share my life with it. Unlike people who typically have one person for dumping all facets of their life, I have different people for different things. For work, I lean on Poo. For fam things, it’s either my sis or VG. For health, it’s Ashi. For others, there are people.
  3. When I was younger, I used to crib a lot, and rant a lot. To the point that people would not even talk to me. I’ve worked hard to fix that!