If you are a marketer, what’s your primary job? And what do you do about it?
A few days ago, one of the SoG members asked me, what’s your primary job as a marketer. At that time I would have replied with some mambo-jumbo to wiggle out of a tough conversation but now that I think about it, the question is more perplexing than I had assumed it to be. I honestly don’t have an answer. What I do have is some plausible alternatives. And I will present those to you and seek answers from you.
So, as a marketer, what’s your primary job?
Here are a few alternatives. You choose.
A. Act as the agent for the client and help them sell more. You know, by building compelling campaigns that inform the world about your client, crafting lines that nudge the fence-sitters, using design as a tool to stir emotions and sell that damn thing that the client wants to be sold.
B. Be brave. Be bold. Fan fire to ideas that shift cultures, shape narratives, and spark revolutions. Your client may not want to be a part of these narratives but you try to hide these in plain sight.
C. Use marketing as an excuse to earn a living from what you enjoy doing – writing, designing, daydreaming (aka brand planning), telling stories, and meeting people. Good work, awards, and sales is a byproduct.
D. None of the above
E. All of the above
While I wait for your answers, while writing this, my reason for being a marketer dawned on me. Lemme give a background and talk about it.
So, my love for marketing probably started when I saw that dude hit the ball out of the park on the last ball of the match and see his woman rejoice like there’s no tomorrow. The love became stronger when a simple piece of communication made me crave for Jalebis like Bablu did when Ramu Kaka talked about em. It got amplified when I saw some kids scrounging around to get their retiring headmaster a suit piece as a farewell gift. And there are many more such stories that made me want to tell stories like that.
Back then, I was naive. And even though I’ve been at it for more than 18 years now, I remain a student and I continue to marvel at pieces of communication with a gaping mouth, bated breath and nervous excitement.
Just that, the pieces that I take inspiration from have changed. The kind of things I want to put my name to has changed. While I enjoy seeing work by Cred and Ixigo and Fevicol and others, I am moved more by things like Farmers by Ram. Or Real Beauty by Dove. Or in India, by organizations like The Whole Truth and AMFI (disclaimer: I do some work for them via a client).
These are the companies and communication pieces that go beyond short-term sales goals to long-term narrative building that inspires people at large to live a better life. These pieces require long-term thinking and slow, painful execution on a day-to-day basis without losing sight of the goalpost.
No, I am not implying that we become climate-warriors, tree-huggers, veganism-paddlers, equality-champions and all that. Rather, as marketers, we need to shift how people live their lives. I mean look at Nike. It’s not a shoe company. It’s an attempt to get people at large to get fitter. Each piece of communication from them inspires me to push harder at being an everyday athlete (I just coined that phrase ;)). Look at Dumb Ways To Die. It made me look left and right and then left again while crossing the roads (trams and trains and metros are still new to me)
Truth be told, a lot of these could be dismissed as tokenism and dash-washing (insert your favourite color here). A lot of these may sound irrelevant in the thumb-twaddling world full of people with tinier attention spans than hummingbirds, each hooked onto social networks proliferated by content marketers, search engines gamed by growth hackers running “marketing experiments” and more. After all, these days CAC, LTV, ROAS and such acronyms are more important. Engagement trumps brand salience. Sales is more important than your raison d’etre. And thus, marketing as a profession has been reduced to copy written by chatGPT, designs by fivers and debates around the sizes of the logos on Instagram posts.
What we’ve lost in this proliferation of this new crop of marketers is the ability to be like poets and politicians and artists and writers and revolutionaries to fan fires to ideas that shift cultures, shape narratives, spark revolutions. Think about it. Which woman woke up and said that I want a pen that writes in blue ink but is encased in a pink body (a pen company makes this product)? Which young person wants to start their day with a shower in a deodorant that smells like chocolate (we all know the deodorant company)?
On the other hand, each parent wants their child to get a car that is safer. What if the marketer could tell that parent that apart from safety, the car also offers zero emission that is well, better!
Yeah yeah, I know that this may not be a marketer’s job to build a car that runs on water. Or electricity. Or air. But it’s the marketer’s job for sure to plant the seed about eco-first cars in the minds of people. And subsequently, make people want and ask for and force car makers to make cars that offer not just safety but greener alternatives.
And that, ladies and gents, is the post for the day.
Lemme know what you think is the job of the marketer per you.
A short rant on (the lack of) work. And an attempt to fill my Saturday evening with words.
This will be a short post.
It’s 9:58 PM on Saturday evening. And I am at a Starbucks (not at a party or whatever). And I am bored. I mean I dont know what to do. In an ideal scenario, I would have been working but I dont know what to work on. Oh, work here means things I would do to earn a living. Whatever I had to do (the deliverables that I had to do for clients that pay us) is done.
Of course, I have work. But most of it is for the future and for building C4E as an org. Things that I want to do to impact tomorrow. For example, the party of 9. I can create content for that and invite people to be a part. I could even action the SoG Grant. I can think about how to bring back LFW in the 4th cohort. All these things are work for me. And I can do those. And there is more. My Asana to-do list is 100 pages long. But these are not really work per se. I dont know what to call this.
Work is what helps me earn my dal-roti. And lemme come back to it.
So, I dont have work. And I “blame” my people for it. I mean I dont know if it’s blame or a respectful celebration of their hard work and dedication. They take ownership and they deliver. I drop them into deep ends all the time and they more often than not float. And they tell me when I need to intervene and throw them a lifeline. And that’s that. The best part? Most clients are happy about how we work. And the clients dont want to see me. Or talk to me. Even if I want to proactively pick up things and intervene, I wouldn’t know what to do. Each thing that I can think of and could’ve done is being done by someone from the team. Truth be told, the results are not really what I want (I can push more, do more). But I know that I am teaching my people skills that will serve them well in the times to come when I am not around. If I were to intervene, I am sure we can make more revenue. But I have this weird fascination with long-term thinking and at the cost of short-term revenue, I am building a machinery that will continue to crank. And while that’s a rant for a different day, today, at 10:13 PM on a Saturday evening, I am bored! At this point in time, I have not one thing that I need to work on.
Thing is, getting bored is not a bad thing — in boredom lies the genesis of brilliance. But someone like me needs to work. A lot. All the time. To the point that there is nothing that I am doing but work!
I know I know. I can work on personal projects (hello, Book2!). My team has allowed me to get a lot of free time to think. They’ve freed me to explore more opportunities (that is work in itself). They’ve given me the most important gift there is – the gift of time. And I think I am not doing enough to deserve it. And I must work.
I just made the move from 400086 to 400053. This is my note on the move and my thoughts about the same.
A few days ago, I moved to Andheri West.
The decision was a long time coming. I wanted to be close to places that were full of action. Or places where I have some connections that can get me into the scene. At Ghatkopar, I was not able to even though there were Anubhab, Powai, IIT students, Mirum and more. Let’s see how it is in Andheri. To be honest, I dont have any one person that I can lean on but for some reason, I am more optimistic about being here than in other places.
Plus, there is some anecdotal evidence – In the week I moved, I saw a play at Prithvi, stumbled on an idea for a film that I could work on, met a couple of filmmakers, hung out with a colleague and more. This happened rarely at Ghatkopar. I am hoping this is a lot more here. Let’s see how this goes over the next few days.
Apart from the work and serendipity and all that, the biggest pain of this move would be that I will have to do up this house – get ACs, mattresses, furniture etc. And I hate these chores. I mean I have had to do these at most places I moved to, just that I dont want to own anything or get attached to anything. Minimalism, you know. Plus, I haven’t done this in the last 3+ years (thanks to a fully done-up house I took up and after that, I lived in Vivek’s). And I am spoilt. Really. At V’s place, I had everything, including a 24-hour domestic help. I did not move an inch.
At this place, I am having to think about how I’d get my clothes washed, ironed etc. I have to figure out my food scene (I want to eat healthier, lesser) but I dont want the mess that a kitchen creates. I need to get the internet / AC etc installed. And there are 100 chores like that. And other things like that. At 400086, I did not even know how to dispose of the garbage. It would disappear just like that! I had things served to me on a platter. I will have to do these now.
No, none of these is unique or different or strange. Everyone does this. Most even make a sport out of this. One of my very dear friends says that this is a great romantic activity for a couple to engage in. Prak volunteered to drop everything and help me with this. However, to me, truth be told, this is a nuisance and I want to avoid it at all costs. I can’t even call Paras and ask him to fix it. Cos, well, different tastes.
The thing is, I dont like cluttered places. And yet I love comfort. I want fewer things but I want each of those to be tasteful, thoughtful and handpicked. Not just things, but the people I choose to spend time with need to be handpicked. No, I am not asking for world winners and figure skaters and trophy winners or whatever. I want people that are special and most of their ethos are in alignment with mine. Wait. I know the word. Elegance. I want each thing around me to be elegant. AK calls it Panache (read this and this; she called this vibe till a few months ago, dont be surprised if she starts calling it something else in a few days). I call it elegance. You may call it something else. But you get the drift.
Whatever you got the drift of, I want to create that at the place I live at. And even though this is a tiny space with some weird maths thrown in (in terms of design) I think this seems like a place that I can convert into one that I would like. Let’s see how it goes.
This is all I have to say at this time. More in the next few days.
Oh, for the benefit of others that need to rent houses in Mumbai, please make use of this checklist. Here we go…
Ensure that the building is not older than 10 years.
Your house can NOT face the road, how so ever tiny the road is.
The neighbours can NOT be senior citizens. I have nothing against them – my own parents are as old as they come. Just that they tend to be, well, eccentric and that could be a problem if you are young (at heart).
Do not settle for “living in the hall” trap. It is THE worst thing you can do to yourself. Even though you would pay a lot, you would still not have any personal space.
You have to have walking access to the local train stations, metro lines or rickshaw / taxi stands.
As I am growing old, I want to be living close to a major hospital. You may ignore this.
It’s ok to pay for location. If you can, the house has to be bang in the middle of where your work is going to be. Even if you have to pay a premium for that. It will ensure that you have more time to spend on your vocation (and with your family, if you plan to spend time with them)
I like walking access to Starbucks. This is my default place to hang out as I get my energy from others.
Everything else is easily findable (chemists, grocers, restaurants, domestic help, gyms etc) at most places in Mumbai.
Of course, standard disclaimers apply. I know that I write this from a place of privilege. The rent I am paying is not less for an aam aadmi. Finding a house that allows you to manage the quirks of the landlord is tougher.
Guess this is about it. I have more to say and write and share but work beckons. Oh, other posts like this are 400072 to 400050 (from 2016), mess in my head (from 2019 and this one reminded me that each time I move houses, I get fucked in this head. This time is no different. However, the fuckery is a lot less cos I got the house from a friend. And of course, I can crib about a thousand things but I think I will be ok), there and here (from 2019) and this Twitter thread.
What if you bring attitude of gratitude at work and bring gratefulness to each piece you work on?
Lemme start with some context.
From the outside, we at C4E look like a marketing, brand and communication services company. Of course, we are more but we look and feel like a service company. And truth be told, we make a lot of money from that. And this means that we lean on businesses to give us work. Work that allows us to put our skills to use, vibe (in AK’s words), monetise our skills and live a good life off that money we make.
PS: We want to not get stuck here and be out of this loop (of chasing client work, delivering on that work and then waiting for money to hit our banks) at some point. Plus, in the words of Steve, we are here to make a dent at scale. Marketing / communication / branding may not be the best way to do so. So, we want to get to a place where we do what we like to (vibe, plant bombs and make dents) and have access to patrons that allow us to live the life we want to. PS: This may be construed for FU money (which I may not agree with in this context. And why I don’t agree is a different post for a different day).
Ok, I digressed.
So, as a marketing services company and in the day and age of Dall-E, Midjourney, chatGPT, freelancer.com and all the other such things, we have to work very hard to get work. Plus, we charge a premium compared to companies our scale / size. And we work in a certain manner – we choose who we work with, we mostly work on our terms, and we are VERY big on ensuring our culture / cult is above everything else. After all, life is short and we better live it the way we want to!
This means that for each project we get, we need to bring our A Game. And while we deliver on what we commit, we at C4E MUST operate from a place of gratitude. We HAVE to be grateful that we get the opportunity to work on the business that our clients trust us with.
Contrast this with how most other professionals think and operate (at least the ones I meet). They tend to think that work is essentially a business transaction.
A client has a job to be done. They have certain expectations / budgets. You have a skill to offer. You ask for a certain price for your skill / time / experience. Each of you agrees on a fair value of the transaction.
They give work and offer money. You deliver and take money. And everyone goes home happy.
However, I don’t agree with this.
The thing is, we are in a buyer’s market. This means that the customer is indeed the King and the Queen and everything else. And they have a million options to choose from. And they now have tools to lean on and not even hire a marketing setup for support.
So, when you get work and you take it for granted and you shit on the clients (and call them dumb for wanting to increase the size of their logo, laugh at them not knowing the next cool creator, cringe at their seeking approvals from entire top leadership et al), you do them and your work and the opportunity a disservice.
What if you approach it with gratitude? And empathy. And attempt at arriving at a solution that nudges their brand and agenda forward. And you’d magically see the quality of work, interactions, and satisfaction go up!
No, this is not mystic, manifestation mumbo-jumbo and all that. This is as straightforward as it gets. You love something enough to feel grateful about it being in your life and your love for that fills you! Think of your loved ones. Isn’t your love for them rooted in gratitude? Aren’t you grateful that you have them in your life? Of course, you may not love the skill you’re able to monetise but you can for sure love the money, opportunity and freedom it gives you!
What if we apply similar thinking to our work? What if for each piece of work, you work on, you feel close to it, you feel engaged with it, and you feel it as a part of your life!
That, ladies and gents is the thought blurb for the day.
Lemme know what you think.
PS: Thanks to AK, CM, and V for the comments, thoughts and edits. Thanks to Parry, AC, Anand, Arpit, Moksha, Kushagra and others for reading and sharing inputs.
PPS: I could’ve added more nuance to this and could’ve talked about the following…
Work-life balance / work-life harmony
Live to work vs work to live
Meaning of life in the large scheme of things
Balance (I dont have a lot of things in life apart from work)
Notes, thoughts and musings after I read the Steve Jobs archive. And how I apply what I read to C4E.
So, they released the Steve Jobs archive a few days ago and I’ve spent the last few days reading it. And I have been taking notes in terms of the kind of company I want to build at C4E. We are today a communications collective. Tomorrow we could be something else. But the ethos and values and the very fabric of the company has to be in place! Of course, it will evolve but the entire evolution also needs a genesis. And thus this effort on reading and taking notes.
While the actual notes I took remain alive in the email archives of people at C4E, what I share here is a slightly redacted version. Removed names, specific incidents and all that.
This is part 1 that I read / thought / wrote on a flight to Bangkok. Have fixed typos, grammar and redacted a few things. Have added underlines, bold text and other formatting things.
Hello hello. This is your captain speaking. Lol. I was trying to sound like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 4.
This will be a long email. Bear with me. Havent written a long one in a while. So I may be rusty. And there will be multiple threads.
ONE. WHY ARE WE HERE?
Here – earth. Here – with each other. Here – at C4E.
The answer to me is clear. In my head and in my heart. We are here to ensure that we have the time of our lives. And no, not in the hedonistic revelry drunken stupor manner. But in the way we learn, grow, expand our potentials and more.
I hope this is known to each of you. If not clear already. And if any of you is here for anything but this, then you are in the wrong place and I have set the wrong expectations. So, if you are here for money, for building your resume, for a chill workplace, please revisit your decision. Sorry if I sound harsh but as we scale it will be incredibly tough to keep pace. Oh, and this is a good time to do so. I will put ourselves on a very fast-track path to growth and I will demand a lot. And of course, I will take care of all of us.
Thing is, we are a community of high-functioning individuals, each accountable to everyone else, with infinite trust in each other. “We” comes before “I”. Always. And I really think a lot about that para from Will Smith’s book that talks about his love language being the one of growth and abundance and progress and action and collective. That is exactly my love language. And since all of you are fairly young (including P and P), I’d advocate you all to have the same. Keyword is advocate. Not mandate. Cool?
Coming back to learning, growing, expanding potential and all that, this can only happen if we are one with each other. This oneness is a very vague concept. And it’s impossible to get in that space – we live in different places, our lives are different, our tastes are different and so on and so forth. But since we are one in our mission (to live the best version of our lives and not make work our cages) and vision (make a dent in the universe in our own way), there is some degree of one-ness that we can achieve. And we must try harder each day to be there. We are in what Steve described Reed College as…
I have stopped counting the number of times other people tell us that we vibe well with each other and we operate well as a team. So that’s a good place. We need to find our Mahabharata that ensures that we are financially free. And then life can be so much more enriching and beautiful.
Oh, I hope you understand what we do right now is only to make ends meet and survive? We don’t have the ambition to be just a creative services company. We can sure be a creative products company where we make our things and sell but we don’t want to rent our time to write copy and design things or project manage. It’s a matter of time before we stop what we are doing (even if it will scale in the next few months). We really need money to experiment. Fuel, you know.
Also see this…
Ok, so on the flight I read Steve Jobs book. And I cried. For two reasons.
A, The guy is brilliant and I never had the chance to see him. And I will never be like him and I will never have the impact that he’s had on the world. Second, a lot of things he talks about, well, have knowingly or unknowingly inspired me do to do things.
B, You know how each time we find something incredible about running a business, I realise that we already have something similar. This means only one thing. That we are destined to do well. If not as a business, as a team. And individually for sure.
C, He literally predicted AI!
D. Who do you work for?
Even though Steve says this..
My answer is different.
You don’t work for SG. You don’t work for C4E. You don’t work for anyone else. You only work for yourself. And that is extremely important. If you think you work for SG / C4E / Anyone else, you are wrong. You work for yourself. And thus you need to make this place, make all of us the best set of people to work with. And be around!
THREE. GROWTH SESSIONS
I want to change the format. Each alternate week, we would get a guest to talk to us about what they do. Starting next week. C, ask me about it. And we’d write a blogpost on it.
We HAVE to be a virtual California. Experimenting. Planting bombs. Open. Inviting. Creating new possibilities. Again, planting bombs.
FIVE. PEOPLE / HIRING PODCAST
Here is what I want to do.
Record a live podcast. With all of you in live audience (on Zoom). And I will invite AD to interview me on building teams. And each time I say something that you think I am faffing or we don’t do, PLEASE interrupt. C – ask everyone for their calendar. Including AD. Lets try to do this on Sunday the 23rd. I want Poo to be around as well so see timezones.
Oh, here’s Steve…
Just had regular coke on the flight. Love the taste!
You must read this exchange between Steve and Andy (Intel guy).
Funny that we face this in our lives these days. Where people want to be paid for their time and do not understand that in the long-term this shortsightedness of charging for time and expertise from friends is a bad idea.
NINE. Similarity with C4E. Bored of using caps
TEN: MISTAKES AND REGRETS
What AI is doing is what computers did. Made people do more things. You did not have to learn programming to use a comp. With AI, you don’t have to learn art.
12. ON WORK-LIFE BALANCE. I did type in caps. Lol
You know my stand on it. You don’t have to agree with it. But Steve agrees with me 😀
Also read his thoughts on why you ought to NOT have a “career”. Also see this TED talk by Larry Smith.
13. On contracts and why I don’t generally trust paperwork (but will increasingly rely on documentation)
I want you to see the highlighted part only. Rest is context.
Also see the last pars on the right hand side. “I sort of feel like I work for most of these people because they’re the ones that are doing all the brilliant work.”
Who does this sound like? 😀
14. SoG to CoG. F*@K!
From Shoulders of Giants to in Company of Giants!
This never ever occurred to me till I read this page. Its incredible. Amongst you I am in the company of giants. Each of you is a giant in your own right even if you are all but 18. The page is about a book called Company of Giants where Steve gave an interview. He never used the word Company of Giants per se in it but it sparked an epiphany and this is what I am writing on. So, two things.
1/ We’ve always imagined that we are on the shoulders of giants. This comes from my core belief that I am not a giant and I have a lot to do. But I also miss the point that I could be a giant to some for sure. You know, the ones that are yet to get as old as me. So at least I can qualify as a giant. And this is true for each of you. You may be young but you can do teach a lot of things to a lot of people and they can benefit from your experience. And that’s amazing. So, we are essentially all giants with the awareness that we can and must grow more. No?
So, we are essentially giants on the shoulders of other giants.
And no, being a giant does not mean we stop learning, we stop trying, we stop doing more things. Or doesn’t mean that we become arrogant, know it alls. We can’t be that. There is no way you know it all. Need to ensure that doesn’t change. Also see this…
What do you think is the most important part of this email? Reply to me. And only to me. I will know if you’ve tolerated this email 😉
2/ Now that I have learnt that we could be giants, we need to do more from there on. With giantdom comes giant responsibility. To remain a giant that others in your company respect. So hold yourself to a higher standard. Do more than what you would otherwise do. There is no right way to talk about more but I hope you understand.
3/ Bonus. As giants, we HAVE to be very very very very very… cant stress enough about who we allow to be in our company. We have to continue to get absolutely the best to work alongside us. We have to be that exclusive group that is incredibly tough to get in. And once someone is in, they remain for life. Even if they stop working for us. Our gatekeeping is not for work. It’s for life. And while we will have people falling through the crevices of life (see my last few tweets before take off), we need to continue to take care of them (and theirs – the people that they love). More on this some other day. But the point being, lets be choosy. There is no way we will not have absolutely the best around us.
Also, in the same chapter, I need to up my game in the threatening department. No?
Ok, that’s it! I need to turn off the laptop.
The book is still half-read. My reading speed is slow :d
Rest of the email when I take the flight from BKK to India. But in the meanwhile, do read this and think and reflect.
Love you all,
PS: Now you know why am dangerous on a plane. And what I am capable of without internet.
This is part 2 that I read / thought / wrote on a flight to Bangalore.
I thought I had sent this email once I landed in Bangalore but it never went. I opened my notes for the third part of the email and I realised I hadn’t sent it. So here it is. A lot of book is still left. Let’s see what I cover on this flight (UK866 to Bom).
Ok, captain is back. Lol. No captain. Your chaperone is back. The one that doesnt speak to Prak well. So onto the next part of the book.
15/ Steve’s Job
Steve Jobs’ job was – “number one, recruit; number two, set an overall direction; and number three, inspire and cajole and persuade.”
I think I will spend more and more time on the first one.
The second I dont know how to do.
Third I dont do at all – I am capable of and I will increasingly start doing. While I will do this for things that I control a tad more (DD and not P3), you will see me doing a lot more of this. At no point we mean that we will not retain our independence but I hope you get the drift.
He said, “It is always a team of people, and the chemistry between that team of people, that makes great results”
Well. If I said that I’ve been saying this exact thing for a long time now, will you believe me? Lol!
17/ Steve’s Values
Though this has not been articulated in as much detail and I may be wrong but this is it…
“Life is short; don’t waste it. Tell the truth. Technology should enhance human creativity. Process matters. Beauty matters. Details matter. The world we know is a human creation—and we can push it forward.”
This is Steve. I dont know what my values are TBH. Except that I like to be independent and free. I like the idea of enabling people. But I am not sure if that is my value. I think I need to action this and discover my values. Let’s see when I do that and what those values would be. You people know me from unclose. Lemme know what you think my values are.
You know, when he died, I remember clearly. It was morning our time. I was sleeping. My ex called me said if I had seen news. And I asked what happened. She said Steve had passed. And I remember I cried. F*#k as I write this, I have lump in my throat and my eyes have welled. The point is, I am emotional. Not about my family or friends or you. But about Steve. A stranger that was a monster. Cos that is what I have pegged my entire life to. And you can probably see my attempts to ape him. Attempts to be a fanboy of what he created. I dont know why am writing this but it just came.
No, I dont want people to cry when I die. And I know I will die in anonymity. Once I am old, I will fade away to some obscure jungle. I dont want no one to see me as frail and all that. My memory has to be that of a person in control. Ok digressing. Lol.
So Steve. When he died, one of the eulogies said that the greatest contribution of the man and the greatest irony is that the news of a person’s death was consumed by millions around the world on the very device he helped create. Now that’s impact. What a f**king guy!
4/ Giving a shit about?
Steven P Jobs (guess what’s P? And see a TED talk where Larry something is talking about how you’d fail to have a career like Steven P) gave a shit about Apple and he ensured that he had to do whatever he could to ensure that it does well. I give a shit about each of you here, even though I may not agree to anyone. And I hope each of you gives a shit about each other. And that means we need to ensure we do whatever it takes to help each other run our lives better.
18/ “A More Entrepreneurial Apple”
This talks about what he announced to people
So, inspired from this part. I will work on stock options for all of us. Even SJ, AK and V. I dont know the shape but we will work on this. I know you know that all of us get compensated when we have the money but I want more participation in rewards for all of you. Myra’s part remains unchanged. Whatever stock comes in, comes from my part. Will work on this.
TBH I dont like to cede control over how I run. May be that’s why we are still small and all? That I have not been able to give control?
Oh, we need “all hands on deck” for the next few months. More on this later.
19/ On deciding to not sell Apple
Steve loved to walk. I love to talk at cafes. The point is, f2f. In person. Not over camera. For starters, C, I need you in Bom. Lets accelerate.
Wait walk was not the point. The point was, he believed that despite the shit that people did, he wanted to do things. Not for people. But for what he believed. In our case we are WAAAY better. There’s nothing wrong in what we do or who we are. Just that we need to ensure that we dont get this complacent.
I hope none of you have stopped challenging me. This is also the reason why I ran that 2 question survey. I may be stubborn and have a lot of preconceived notions about things but I really enjoy the banter and questions that people ask me. I am not as patient as Steve is. Once I know someone is not getting the intent with which I am talking, I give up. That intent is the starting point. The details is something I am ok to let go. I hope I am making sense here.
Here’s a thing that I will add to my weekly review. What notion of mine was challenged by the team this week?
His entire third act is about focus. And I think I need to bring that in my life. And in the lives of all of us. Let’s see how. Any thoughts?
22/ Brand C4E
If Steven can be concerned about complacency for Apple’s brand, we HAVE to be VERY mindful.
Sorry if I am harsh but this obsessiveness over brand, especially our own, needs to be there. For clients, they are happy with good being done better than their existing standards. We need to outrank our own standards each time.
Ready Fire Aim is great. Planing bombs is excellent. But do we want to plant a bomb in our own home? Do we want to open fire in our own backyard?
23/ C4E’s core belief
He says, “But Apple is about something more than that. Apple, at the core—its core value—is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.”
What is our core belief?
I think it would be similar. That people want to live their best lives and while they do so, they want to do meaningful work. And once work has meaning, people do magic.
No it’s not as sharp as Apple’s. But we will find that out. We will craft it. But till the time we get there, we need to be obsessive about rallying as well as we can.
24/ Here’s to the crazy ones…
Here’s an experiment. I used to remember the lines verbatim. I am going to type those without seeing the lines.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The misfits. The troublemakers. The rounds pegs in square holes. The ones that have no respect for the status quo. You can laugh at them, disagree with them, vilify them or ridicule them. But there’s one thing you can never do. You can’t ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Cos the ones that are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, actually do.
And here’s the actual one.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I need to do this pronto. The forest that we remind ourselves from time to time.
I can NOT stress enough that we need design chops. We’ve been trying hard to find someone but I dont have the money to compensate. More than the money I dont have anyone that sees like the way I do. There’s V but she’s in Kol. Need someone to handhold me and help me with design. There is so much we can do if we can pull this design thingy!
Each product we make, each thing we sell has to be design first. And no, not quirky design that pleases us and our evolved sensibility but what we can share with the world that the world accepts. You know how high fashion is good and all but in the end people go to basic H&M and Zara and Bata and all. That. We may have our own quirks and likes and all but in the end there has to be a commercial angle to design.
What gap are we bridging? Apple bridged this gap…
What bridge are we building? Who are we enabling? Apple enabled following..
Remember, we are as good as our last delivery.
Ok, taking off. More later.
This is part 3 that I read / thought / wrote on a flight to Bombay.
Part 3 of the epic Steve Jobs book thingy. Before anything, question. Do you think we should make this open source? As in publish this on C4E blog? Or will it become way too self indulgent? Batao batao. Tell tell.
Ok coming to the book.
29/ Golden Age.
He says, “Our real Golden Age is being fueled by the maturing of our people.” When we get to golden age of C4E, it will be brought about by EACH of you becoming giants. I dont like words like mature etc. But growth. I hope you understand.
He also talks about more and more people coming from behind them. That’s what we need to start. While we will add more people, we need all of us to get the next generation ready. And no, not in terms of age but in terms of how well they understand who we are.
30/ On optimism
I think it’s incredibly useful to be optimistic in life. This quote reminded me of this – “One of my favorite quotes from him is where he says that optimism is the essential ingredient for innovation.”
You know, how I say, I am glass half-full person and how I say it will happen with time. All of us need to be that. Optimistic. But at the same time paranoid. Should never rest on the laurels of the past. Must always want to do more.
31/ Three things.
Steve on Bob Noyce (intel) – “His job was to, number one, recruit; number two, set an overall direction; and number three, you know, inspire and cajole and persuade.”
I think I am on to this already. I have yet to work on the direction part. I dont know how to cajole / persuade or whatever. But I think I know this mantra. I need to do better. What do you people think?
32/ Buy people lunches.
Each of you can use this ruse. You are young. Send those cold emails. Buy people lunches.
Also, as I read this chapter, I am inspired to see all that happens in SV. I think I really missed that :(. I think all of us must be at the epicentre of action. Am lucky to be at Mumbai. I have failed at making a network in Bangalore. I would kill to be 20 year old in US / San Francisco. Sigh. See this next para. I couldn’t even comprehend it! I mean it’s so deep. The entire thing about tricks being there for one-time performance and the loss of novelty. Uff. How dare they have such writing prowess and clarity? Prak help me write like that!
33/ Why Apple Stores are at places like BKC and Saket?
34/ On people and hiring.
This is THE most important distinction that we need to make when we hire. This entire page should be crammed up like you would do to a poem you love!
Also I am noticing that Steve’s thoughts in the later years are lot more “practical”. I mean see the progression from the three emails I’ve sent you ;P
35/ Management by Values.
Thing is am finding the same piece of advice over and over again. Or I am merely reading the same things over and over again. Look at this line – “He called it management by values. What that means is you find people that want the same things you want, and then just get the hell out of their way.”
I mean come on! Thank C4E. We want ethos. We want alignment on culture book. We want people that want same things like us. And then I am saying I need to get out of the way!!
36/ Why I am BIIIIIIG on even the subtle signs of creeks coming up in our culture / communication etc.
Read the following para.
For context, he talks about how a tiny word in the way management thought at Apple made Apple into a bad place from great. And he spotted it as soon as he was back. And now he’s talking about that subtlety is not really to be ignored. Plus he’s talking about alignment on why / values / rason d etie (whatever that word is).
And the matra part that got clipped in the image above – he says, “And that’s one of my mantras around Apple and Pixar: that recruiting is the most important thing that you do. Finding the right people—that’s half the battle.”
37/ Not sure of what I think of this. Opinion?
“a teacher is someone who stands with you in the dark and holds their flashlight just long enough for you to find your own flashlight.”
This is the best damn definition of teacher I have ever seen!
Remember my fascination with the sense of urgency and yet my inability to push it? I got reminded of that again with this quote – “what can be left to later, usually is — and then, alas, it’s too late.”
You will see me pushing for a lot more things to be done faster. Please be warned. And this passing of Sid Rao (even though I did not know him personally) has been hard on me. I looked upto him and he was my age.
40/ PLAN TO MEET PEOPLE
I read this and had goosebumps. This is where he’s talking about meeting his future wife. No, am not sure if he was a great husband, but this para spoke to me!
The point is, you can NOT plant to meet the people that will change your life – I did not plan to meet R, S, R Sir, any of you and yet once I met, I knew each of these would play a role in my life and I recognised and I went ahead and literally begged and did whatever I could to be in their life and be of service to them. I am sure I have missed having the clarity of mind on a lot of people. But I increasingly try to evaluate each person as one of the two – a, someone who I can give some input and may be help shape their lives and b, can that person be impactful in my life?
And when I see that my answer is yes to the above question, I put in the effort to be their friend and show them my love / affection / attention. I speak in the love language of having everyone make money together etc etc.
You know all those ABC kids that I was spending time with? Those SoG kids? I really think I could add a lot to D, S, S, A, A, N, N, V, AK etc. And each of you knows amount of effort (time, money, energy, personal equity) I put in to earn their respect etc. But I failed, except maybe with AK. Or a bit with V. The point is not my failure. The point is, I need to get more convincing in my communication. And more importantly, when I spot a giant that I could stand on the shoulder of, I need to drop everything and persuade them to start liking me. Ajeet Sir is one (C met him the other day). I do so so so so much for him. And yet he refuses to accept me. I am willing to submit to him. But no. He won’t accept me.
Similarly, each of you needs to find YOUR people that will change your life. I hope all of us can change of each of us. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go forth and find more people. And if your interactions allow you to recognise that they can change your life, PLEASE do whatever it takes to stick to them. C – A could be for you. AC – P could be for you.
41/ Why I invest in C4E / SoG / etc
I did not invest in a house, a car or anything. Heck, [REDACTED]. Why? Think and tell me.
And no, not trying to [REDACTED]. It’s a fact. Stating like a fact. And hoping for a straight answer, like you would respond to a non-emotional, rational, facts-first question.
Fun fact – I did not know that Steve wrote the Stanford speech himself. I assumed someone would’ve written for him, the way most people get their things done. And he took 6 months!! FCUK!!
42/ The missing BEST thing from the actual speech!!!
I dont know why Steve did not include this in his speech. This is THE BEST DAMN advice I’ve EVER read ANYWHERE. NOT KIDDING. READ!
LIFE AS A STORY IN THE MAKING! FUAAAK!
What makes your heart sing? F#$K!
And you know what, I am so so so so lucky that I think 18 years of my story is amazing so far. I have 10 more years to go till am 50. Am going to make the next 10 the best song that the heart knows. Come sing with me. Tell me your song. Let’s make a symphony of our song. I am sure there could be a case of Miley Spears or whatever that lady AK is fan of and Lucky Ali and Eminem and a dog barking coming together to create music!
Ok that’s about it from this flight. There is one more part coming in. I will send it this week and then we can chat. Till then, over and out.
This is part 4 that I read / thought / wrote at a Starbucks.
So, I had to get over with this. The book is almost done and needs just an hour more. And right now am parked at a Starbucks and I have time till 12. So, I thought, why not?
I do have a flight on Friday (to Goa :D) and I could have used that time. But no, too far.
This is a quote from Bill Gates about Steve Jobs when Jobs was sitting right next to him. I dont know what you see. But I see charm. And all of us need to learn that!
44/ The kind of things we want to use ourselves.
THIS IS EXACTLY what I have been trying to do with C4E. And all of you. I know modern work is broken. I don’t know if I can fix it for large sets of people. But I can fix it for myself and the ones around me. And that’s what I am onto.
I want to build a structure where I can thrive and feel free and do things that I want to. Of course, I want to make money and enjoy the richness that life has to offer. Of course, we have to work incredibly hard, harder than the average Joe and Jane and Them next door. But it has to be at my own term. With the confidence that life could be full of people where we talk to each other with respect and start and end at that.
I hope each of you sees this. And each of you wants to build this place into a kind of place that you’d like to welcome your friends and family into!
45/ Look at the future. Not past.
In hindi we say, jo beet gayi so baat gayi.
Each of us – whatever has happened in the past need to learn from that and move on. Don’t let it linger. Think what can you do next. Life is what’s happening to you now and what will happen to you in the future.
46/ Sic Transit Gloria
47/ As good as the last thing
I know I have shared this already (point 28) but I thought I will share it again. See and internalise.
48/ Shoulder of giants
These are indeed very simple words but very very deep. That’s the point of it. Things are simple. We read them at a superficial level. And then we forget about those. However, to appreciate them really well, like REALLY well, you need to be clear in the head. This is what Steve was probably going for. I cant say I understand and I get what he was on but this is very very useful to read.
49/ One more thing
I don’t know how many of you know the “one more thing” thing but read about it (here).
Let’s POKE life. We’ve done that a lot already. Can we do more? Can we change it for better? Life is a gift and our gift has come with considerable privilege. Each of us acknowledges it and knows about it. Why would we then not chase a higher-order thingy? C4E and communication and all that will happen. But can there be more? Can we all uplift self and others?
On this Thursday’s growth session, I will talk about this.
PS: These Thursday sessions are where we at C4E do an open-house conversation of sorts where we invite someone to speak about an idea / thought that is worth knowing. If you’d like an invite, please write to us at @c4ein.
Today is the last day of the financial year and as someone that has built a life surrounded by work, I think this is a time to pause and reflect on how the year gone by was. And what would I want to do in the next.
PS: This is an exercise that I would typically want to do at the end of the calendar year (and I do – I make lofty goals (see this) and then I miss those by a large margin) but since the last few months have been like a whirlwind, I just did not get the time to sit, pause, think, reflect, act. So I am merely doing this after three months!
Wait. The post is not about the year gone by. Or the plan for the future. It’s about what I plan to do right now as I let my mind wander and I type out those wanderings.
Lets see what I end up writing. I will write for exactly 45 mins. It’s 6:10 now. And I will stop at 6:55 or post that.
1/ Oil pulling is not that bad.
I recently started with it. I am not a regular but as soon as I wake up, most days I wake up, pee, rinse my mouth and pull oil. I dont know why it’s called pulling cos all you do is take a spoonful of oil and swirl it around your mouth and then spit it out.
No, it’s not as yucky as it sounds.
Plus I’ve had bad teeth (I can’t eat from the right side of my jaw – cavities) and I dont like to go to the doctor. So, I am trying these desi nuskhas.
2/ Piano Man
Billy Joel’s masterpiece continues to be the track that I really wish I had written.
3/ Personal Branding
More I talk to people, more I think I need to help people build their personal brands. Heck, I want to build mine first.
While I know the tenets (I wrote this guide to personal branding before it was even a word), the inputs, I dont know what causes someone’s brand to blow up or not. I mean I’ve been doing everything that I would recommend to others (posting consistently, adding value, picking a niche (I have stayed away from this for the longest but I am now tending towards a few things), taking help from ghostwriters and all that).
But I haven’t been able to scale mine. Not sure how I would scale it for others.
4/ Money / Financial duress
It’s payday and today is the first time when I would miss paying my people on time. I haven’t been able to because all my money is locked in some stupid project and I dont know what to do about it. I mean I will get it back sometime in May but it will make me miss the payments.
I need to find a way to get someone really cool that knows how to do magic on WordPress. I do have a friend that does my WordPress things for me but he’s no magician. He’s good. He gets things done. But he’s not someone that I could just say, “kar de” and magic happens.
In a creative business, you need to be able to write well, design well, code well (not a facebook kind of webapp but basic, simple pages) and communicate well. I think I’ve been able to achieve all these but code.
Writing I can do. I have C for that. Prak. Others. I am lucky that I can communicate fairly ok. With design, TBH, luckily I have been able to manage it with Canva, V, AK (please subscribe to her newsletter), some freelancers and others. But with code, I dont know.
Any help? Tips?
6/ Growing up
The other day I met a new friend who’s also a client. Let’s call him Z. So Z sees me at work and in life in general. And I’d like to believe that he knows me well.
The other day, he told me a few things that have literally shaken me. Lemme make a list of those. In no order.
Significant other – the world knows I dont have one significant other. I have close friends, business partners and my team. Z said that at the age of 40, it’s cool to be a vagabond and all that but as I grow old and I am no longer surrounded by people that I care for (they will have their own life eventually), I will not know what to do.
Entrepreneurship – ever since I can remember, I have wanted to blow my trumpet and row my boat (preferably a yacht and if not that, then a dinghy for sure). I think I’ve been doing that since 2014 now. Plus, freedom is the number 1 value I chase (thanks Ankesh for helping me reach this expression). Now, Z tells me that he does not see an entrepreneur in me. And I take his words seriously. He is after all a man who knows how to spot people!
Grooming – everyone knows my lack of attention and focus on how I dress and how I look. I remain unkept. I refuse to wear shoes. I am bad to a point that security often doesn’t let me into my own building complex! Z is of the opinion that I must be better.
He called me, “The most unorganised organised person in the world” and I think I agree. I need to remove this un-organization from life.
The point is, in his eyes, at the age of 40, I am a failure. And while I may feel like that deep inside but I may not want to agree. I have been able to reach a point in life where I find enough work and money to survive. I am at a place where I choose how I spend my days. And while it may not be creating a far-reaching impact anywhere, I think I am at a great place in my head.
I have 6 calendars that I manage on a day-to-day basis. And I am unable to manage all of those. There is no app that I can do a two-way sync with. Especially when they are on different platforms (Gsuite and Microsoft Teams). Any tips for that?
I really really really really really… infinite times want to do and experience something that scales. To a billion people at least. If not more. You know, think Facebook. 4 BILLION people use it. Think Paytm. Almost a billion users. Think mobile phones. 4 billion. Modi. 1.4 billion. SRK. More than 1.4 billion. I can go on!
I have to have to have to think of something like that. I have no clue what it’s going to be. But I need to find something. I have been in this stage since I was a child. This discovery. I need to find a problem statement and move on.
And no, I dont want to do this because I will make money while I do that. I want to do this to be able to experience what it is like to manage that many people with that kind of width and move an entire company in one direction. I want to chase that experience of uncertainty, I want to know what it is like to lose sleep over lives of so many people. I want to know the bliss that you probably get once you’ve made that dent!
Come on, universe! Can you NOT see my desperation? And hunger? And the pain at the inability to do this? 🙁
Oh, its 6:55 and I think I’ve run out of steam. Plus I need to get ready and get going. More later. Dunno when.
A braindump on how I think about life and work and what I am building at C4E.
Here’s a brain dump on how I think about C4E and who we are and what we do and where we want to be.
This is a brain dump.
This is how I think today. Now. 22 Mar. 19:51 PM.
Could change / evolve with time.
Not seen by anyone else yet.
So, among other things, I want to establish C4E as  a great business to  do great business with.
And a  collective of businesses, each with the same ethos, each a part of the cult, each tapping into the same resource pool. Each with an intent to be larger than C4E!
So three things.
 Great business – C4E has the greatest people.
 Do great business with – C4E does great work, if not the greatest.
 A collective.
Lemme talk about each of these.
Before I take up these things, have to repeat what Naval Ravikant says: “Play long-term games with long-term people.”
We MUST be long-term people for each other at C4E. And for our clients. And we MUST play long-term games.
 Great business – is one that is made of great PEOPLE.
Where people trust, value, and respect each other. Where each person is treated like a person. And not like an object / a thing / OHR ID. The #culture must speak for itself.
At C4E each person MUST chase their respective bliss. Each with an opportunity to do great work in a safe space. Each paid as much as they’d like to be. Or enough to afford the lifestyle of the top 1%. Each with the freedom to work how they want, when they want, on what they want.
Each is a part owner. Each with their skin in the game. Each with ability to live their life the way they want to. Or as we call this in our culture book, each with the ability to choose their own adventure.
At C4E, each person must tap-dance to “work” each day. Each person must “want” to work harder than anyone else. Not because they are expected to. But because they want to. And of course, work smart. More importantly, each has a lot of fun while they work.
So, people first. ALWAYS.
If people at C4E are engaged, they are in the zone, they are inspired to do great things, we as a business would do well. Even if the times are hard and projects are tough.
You know #c4eCult
 Do great business with.
This is simple. We at C4E HAVE to a great business to work with (if not the greatest). While this great / greatness is tough to measure, I believe that a good metric could be…
number of heated conversations
While we may not be good / best / brilliant at what we do, HAVE to be the MOST relentless, resourceful, flexible, polite, honest, straightforward, hardworking, smart-working, jugaadu team.
PS: EACH word here has been used after a LOT of thought (which is unlike me).
And while we do all of the above, we HAVE to be the team that stands by clients through thick or thin. You know, like, friends in need. We want to be around our clients come hell or high water. Our clients often find us standing two steps behind. If not next to them.
We are your wartime consigliere. We are the ones that you can lean on. We will hold your flag high. We will give it all we have. In the words of Will Smith, we are not afraid to die on the treadmill. We will NOT be outworked. Especially when you need us.
PS: we are VERY VERY selective about whom we work with. Even though we are small and it’s tough to survive on a day-to-day basis, we are sure about not saying yes to anyone whom we dont get the right vibes from!
So that. Happy people. Better work. It’s that simple.
 A collective.
I am VERY very sure about this. C4E may look like a marketing / communications agency right now, we are MUCH MUCH more than that. We are like a group of superheroes. A collective of people with the grandest brains, unbridled ambition and keeda to do more.
Always buzzing with energy, ideas and all that. Always willing to fire before we take aim. Always wanting to do more.
Each person at C4E HAS to be special. Each has to build a thriving business with C4E as its incubator. Each must use C4E as a sandbox. Each must take energy from each other and catapult each other higher than what each could individually do!
Right now, some of these that I can talk about are Purple Pencil Project, The Red Sparrow, The Podium, Decoding Draupadi, Titan CS, LHV and others. Right now, C4E is bigger than the sum of these. Some day, each of these HAS to be bigger than the whole of C4E. See this tweet by Elon Musk.
C4E has to be a great business to do great business with. And we are a group of tightly-knit, exceptional people, giving our best shot at solving tough problems. And while we do that, we are trying to chase our respective bliss!
If you think you want to be a part of this, come join us! We are really good people to work with!
There were 9 people at the table and on it, we had a filmmaker, a standup performer, a literary editor and a few marketers. And people there ages between 19 and 45. And the conversations were rich, deep and meaningful. We talked about great pieces of work, creating things, creative blocks and other such things. We gave each other feedback about various things that we were stumbling with. And each conversation was passionate, polite, respectful and full of laughter.
At that table, I realised that I need to be on more such tables where each person is carefully handpicked and comes over to listen and to share and to meet others and all that.
This table, to me, is similar to those Salons of the yesteryears where interesting people gathered in the company of other interesting people and helped each other grow their network and knowledge. You know, helped each other stand on each other’s shoulder and see farther.
This is also similar to the concept of Mastermind Group by Napolean Hill where a group of people draw from the knowledge and experience of others.
I can find similarities with social clubs, networking groups, alumni groups, religious affiliations and more. The point remains that you’d do better in the company of other people. In fact, like they say, if you are the most intelligent person in the room, you need to find a new room. This is your opportunity to be in a room where you have more interesting and intelligent people than you.
So, I hereby propose that I will host a brunch for 9 people on Sunday the 9th of April in Mumbai (somewhere in BKC / Bandra). Each of these 9 (8 apart from me) would be handpicked. And then if this goes well, I will do this every month.
And this is your invitation to join the party!
What happens there?
You and 8 other handpicked people gather around and spend 2-3 hours.
For the 2-3 hours you spend with each other, expect to hear stories from others about their lives, the moments that shaped them into who they are, the challenges that perplex them, and the questions they need answers to. And the same for you!
Think of this as a curated networking opportunity. You could be 18. Or you could be 81. You are welcome!
Oh, and 9 becuase I think the best conversations happen in small groups (of about 5 to be honest) and I want to see two groups getting created.
What is this not?
Here’s a list…
This is not a dating service.
This is not an activist club.
This is not a place to host politically charged conversations. Apart from politics and religion, any conversation is a fair game.
This is not a place to solicit business or investments. If something comes out of your meeting with people and you enjoy chatting with one or more, you, at your risk may engage with them even after lunch is over.
This is not a coaching class. Just like Fight Club, if you are at the party, you better contribute.
Why am I doing this?
I may be 40 but I need to learn more, do more, grow more. This is my attempt at creating luck. I want to be around interesting people!
How would I select people?
To be honest, for the first one, I think I’d have to drag people. If by any stroke of luck, I can get more than 6 requests to join, I will pick the ones that I find the most interesting!
I will also try to pick people from different disciplines so that we have a wide range of people to connect with.
Oh, as I end this, I am reminded of this quote by Jack Kerouac. He says,
the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
This is my attempt to surround myself with the mad ones. If you are one, or if you know one, do let share this with them!
See you on the 9th April 2023 dont know when 🙁 Over and out!
Notes and lessons from a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Matt Mochary.
I saw this podcast where Tim Ferriss spoke to Matt Mochary about coaching and all that. I thought it was brilliant and I thought that the wider world must consume these. While I heard the talk, I took notes (as always) and here they are.
Before you read, here are some disclaimers…
These notes are my attempt to distil learnings into short sentences / lessons
The transmission loss (in their narrative and my understanding) must be attributed to me
The notes are coloured by my personal experiences and biases.
For the unfiltered notes, please see this thread I wrote while I heard the podcast.
Most people operate from fear and anger. And often the root of all fear / anger is your ego.
If you can eliminate fear and anger from your life, you could become more effective. Think of the last time you were not happy (or even ineffective). You can trace back the unhappiness to either fear or anger.
The base of everything we do (love / business / one-time transactions) has to be trust.
Nothing else. No contracts. No paperwork.
Plain old trust.
You will get taken for a ride but think of those instances as the tax you need to pay to build a life of more abundance and more growth.
As you go along, try and make your reputation and word so strong that people dont even think about asking you to sign a paper. Think of how you talk to your spouse or best friend. That!
The beauty is this behaviour compounds. Once you become someone that people can trust, you will attract more people that would want to trust you and most of them will also operate from the lens of trusting you. Collectively, like a spiral goes up (thanks to Gokul from CynLr for this concept of the spiral), everyone collectively becomes better.
As your stature becomes bigger in the public eye, you’d attract a lot of people with a lot of ulterior motives.
Contrast this with lesson 2 and you need to find a middle ground and a filtering system that detects behaviours from the other party
Start to think a lot more in terms of likelihoods (odds / percentages etc). This doesn’t come across as natural to people even though they know about it.
What are the odds that a certain deal will convert? What are the odds that the next flight you take will crash? What are the odds that your business partner of today will remain a partner tomorrow?
And then work to maximise these odds
I still do it. But need to amp it up.
Lesson 5. Most Important.
Convert conversations into action items.
Create a bias for action.
And this means you need to write down action items. Put deadlines. And do.
And the cost of not doing must be you letting yourself down in the eyes of someone that you dont want to! Your parent, spouse, best friend, team, clients etc.
This is one of those things that MOST entrepreneurs lack. They dont add an action item. At least I dont. This is one change that I will bring in.
Accountability beats elaborate planning all the time. Enough said.
You get angry or you are in pain when some personal boundary gets crossed.
You need to understand those boundaries and then communicate to self first and then to others.
When you talk to yourself, try and unravel – what boundary was crossed. And then when you talk to others, tell them that they’ve crossed a personal boundary.
Will make you more effective.
Work becomes better / easier in the physical presence of others. MM pays people to just sit on a couch and read magazines while he works.
While this talk of remote and async work is great, there are people that may need an office environment.
On a personal level, as someone whose boundaries in terms of work and personal life blur a lot, I can vouch for this. On multiple levels.
a, I <3 offices! b, I <3 coffee shops to work. c, I love seeing others around me working on their dreams as I work on mine.
In fact, this works for others as well.
On the writing cohort that I run (#lfwc3), @adisave came up with the idea of #rozwrite where we log in with cameras on, and mics off and do our own writing. The ones that participate get a lot of writing done!
No wonder. We are after all social creatures.
At any company, it’s a human you are optimising your work for!
Think of any business. They are in the end optimising for a human being. Could be customers / investors / employees / even the head of state! Even in your personal life, you are optimising for yourself!
Once this is internalised, decision-making changes. And so does the trajectory of your work!
Lesson 9. Second most important.
Separate decisions from implementation.
Remember how they say that you suffer more in imagination than in reality? That!
MM talks about how you fire someone. You are dreading the decision to fire because the implementation of that (the conversation with who you are going to fire) will be tough. Similarly, when you want to get fit, the decision to get fit is an easy one to take. You delay it because you are dreading those sweaty gym sessions and abstinence from your favourite food!
This coupled with converting conversations into actions should see you getting a lot more done!
People have three pillars in life – the home they live at, their most significant relationship and their job.
If any of these three gets impacted, it creates a big trauma.
As a leader, your job is to help your people prevent these traumas. Often you would be able to control just one of the three. But can you expand your influence in other areas as well?
Lesson 11. Important.
Help people eliminate fear. Especially in a work setting.
Respect is great but fear is not. Your team must NOT be afraid of you.
One way to do this is to showcase to your people by setting an example through your conduct. Each time that team could be scared, you need to show to them that they dont need to. The best way to do this is by doing.
For example, you have to let go of someone. While one person is losing their job, others are also scared about theirs. So while you fire that one person, you tell that person that it’s not them that is the reason. And do whatever it takes to find that person a replacement. Treat that persona as a human and not as a number.
When you fire like that, the ones that are working with you see the humane side. They see that you have been kind and you have actually gone out of your way to get the outgoing person hired, they will not operate from a place of fear.
A good way to reflect could be by asking these questions…
Last time when you had to fire someone, how did you talk to the person you had to let go?
Last time when an irate customer yelled at you, how did you handle them?
When people dont agree with you fundamentally, how do you talk to them?
Antisell the role / company when you are hiring.
This is counter-intuitive but works.
You paint the saddest scenario to the incoming talent. And if they are still willing to work with you, you know that they are aligned with the mission! And they are not in it for free catered food or whatever.
Lesson 13. Very important.
Do energy audits.
After each interaction, try and take note if that left you energized or drained. Over time, find patterns. And then double down on things that energize you. Stop doing things that drain you.
TF talk about how he gets drained (and angry) when he has to do legal paperwork.
What about you? Does a chat with your team energize you? Or drains you? What do people tell you? Do you energise them? Or do you drain them?
Lesson 14. Very important.
Good communication is a marriage of writing and talking.
It’s imperative that each person builds the muscle to write. And then talk.
Oh, and take notes!
So when you write, you get clarity of thought. When you speak, you can add nuance. When the two tango, you create magic.
Most great speakers and influential business people run on this secret combination.
Side note. I must offer coaching sessions like note-taking, writing, thinking, building teams, and speaking. To people that want to get more effective. No, I am not an expert on any of these but this is the only way I would learn and get better. Does anyone want to pay me for this?
Must give feedback in a sync mode and in person. As much as possible. Even though you could be the best writer / speaker / manager.
It’s ok to send long emails or texts but if it’s going to be an unpleasant conversation for either of you, please do NOT escape. Ask for a time when the two of you could sit together and chat and then bring it up. Take your notes. Let the other person bring notes as well!
The secret superpower to effectiveness is to get an effective EA / CoS. No, not to get your grunt work done. But to shadow you and do things that only you can do. And give that person the freedom to run operations while you just think and use your brain.
This is similar to what Ali Abdaal calls sparring partners and what we at C4E call a chain of mentors.
A braindump of thoughts that have been clouding my head for the last few days.
So, been a while since I did a brain dump on a public platform. And today morning seemed like a good idea to do so. So, here we are.
In this post, I will talk about…
The 2 months of 2023.
Craziness with work
Coming out with work
1/ The 2 months of 2023. The ones that have gone by in a blink.
So we are in March. I didn’t even realise when this happened. I mean it was yesterday when I was thinking I will do grand things in 2023 and the calendar tells me that it’s March already. Wow!
The lesson of course is that time flies. On a day-to-day basis, there is so much that sucks you in that you dont realise where you’re headed. You know, days are long.
If I were to do a recap of how the last two months have been, I think I can not complain. I could travel (took 8 flights; was in Bangalore twice, was in Dubai, Chennai and a few more places), took my parents to a new country that they’ve been wanting to visit for a while, spent in-person time with C (who lives in a stupid city; read more about C in the monster part), got a lot of work done (acquired new clients, reinitiated work with ex-clients), paid back about 5% of the outstanding loan. And in general, have had an ok mental health streak (barring a few days). Moved forward on some projects. Slacked on a lot of those. So, life’s been good. Like I said, I can’t complain.
I need to of course get aggressive (aggressive is not the word I want to use but I guess you get the drift) about things and do more. Let’s see how that goes.
2/ Tetherless living
If you know me, you know this. But lemme recap.
I dont like the idea of owning things that end up owning me. I like the idea of having no attachments to anything material. I have no favourite foods, no favourite places to hang out, no favourite things to do and all that. I like to be free. I like to take decisions on how I am feeling at the moment. I want to believe I chase what Chris was chasing. But if I said that, I would be lying. I mean I dont know what I want and or what am chasing. But I know that I like that I dont report to no one and I control a large part of how I spend my time.
One of the tenets of this is my aversion to getting a house. Of course, it’s also a function of the lack of money but I can still get a decent enough place in a decent enough part of Mumbai for the kind of money I make. But I refuse to commit. I am happy to shack at a friend’s place. And when his place is not available, I am ok to spend money on cheap hotels and all.
Oh, and this works well in theory. And most times. But…
…there are times when I absolutely need my space, my privacy, my comfort and I dont have access to a place. This is when I get mindfucked beyond imagination. And this is when I start thinking about all the decisions I’ve made and the ones I could make and the ones I should’ve made. And all that.
No, I dont have a point. I am not trying to talk about anything specific. I am just reflecting that the last few days have been not so good and I wish I could do better.
3/ Craziness with work
For me, life is not about enjoying or experiencing it in full or travelling or spending it with loved ones or chasing happiness or leaving it better for my kids or whatever.
It is about work.
And about making meaning. Enabling others. Being the shoulder. Creating opportunities. Being of help. Moving the needle. Building bridges. Letting others fly. Chasing my curiosity. Scratching the itch.
So, I dont know how people take rests on Sundays. I can’t comprehend when people say that they need a work-life balance. I’ve probably lucky that I am sane on most days (I could be wrong though, lol).
I am also lucky that I can make enough money to pay my bills (well, most days. And the days I can’t, I have family and friends that I can lean on for a loan or two). And this despite the market and situation I am in (recessionary market, average work, hypercompetitive, old-age et al).
And I know this only happens because I am willing to outwork (thanks, Will) others. And this means I can’t rest. The good part is, I dont want to rest in the first place anyway. So, I think the stars align!
Now, with that out of the way, I HAVE to say, the last few weeks have been extremely crazy with work. Last few days, I have probably worked 19 hours a day, 7 days a week. And no, I dont want this to sound like a rant but I want to acknowledge that I am working like this (I know others may not be able to) and in case I have been harsh or unkind while I was immersed in this, I apologise.
4/ Coming out with work
Recently, for one of the brand consulting projects, I collaborated with a designer that I have immense respect for. While working, she told me that what I do is good and I should put more of my work out.
Coming from her, it was very very gratifying and I for once felt that what I do must be good!
I mean I am insecure about what I do (for multiple reasons; to be talked about on a different day) and thus I have been extremely shy about telling the world what I do. To a point that my team can’t imagine why would I not talk about these things.
But with validation coming from AS, I think I want to get active on this. I am not sure how I’d go about this but I will change this as I go along.
It’s no secret that most great things in my life have come as an outcome of my public rants on Twitter (and some from my ability to write and publish). Lately, for some reason, my interactions on Twitter have faded away. To a point that my tweets are shown to very few people.
May be their internal algo has marked me as spam. Maybe they see me as more rant than value. Maybe I don’t spew negativity (which in the words of a client is the driving force for Twitter). Whatever it is. I know that Twitter is important to me. And I want to scale it. And I will make sure that happens.
So, here’s what I will do.
As of writing this, on 3 Mar 2023, I have 4165 followers. The intention is to scale to 5K by end of this month.
I will get more active and mindful with my posts on Twitter. This means fewer shitposts. More value.
I will try and post in one niche only. For March 2023, most of my posts would be about marketing. I will use #mktg101 as the hashtag.
I will engage with larger accounts and try and get their attention and thus their followers. While most of my content will be about marketing, when I interact with others, I will be broad-based.
I will seek help because I know I can’t do anything by myself. I need to stand on the top of the shoulders of giants.
I will create a support group of sorts where I would ask those people to engage (Share, RT, Like, Fav) with my Twitter content. I know this is not the best thing to do but why not?
What else can I do?
More on this over the next few days. Of course on my Twitter handle.
That’s about it for the time being.
More braindumps as and when I am so overwhelmed that I am compelled to share.