22 life lessons from 2022

A list of 22 life lessons that I learned in 2022. In 2023, I hope to leverage some of these to ensure that I do better.

So my fetish for making lists does not seem to be stopping. Here is another. And this time, I have 22 life lessons that 2022 has taught me.

In no order, let’s go and dive into the list of life lessons…

1/ The world does NOT owe you anything. While you need to keep the faith and keep trying, you need to know that you will HAVE to work hard.

2/ The world is a mere reflection of your true self. Depending on how you are, the world is an incredibly kind place. Or an unkind place. If you are kind, the world will be kind. If you are unkind, the world will be that. If you feel that the world doesn’t care for you, and leaves you lonely and miserable, in all probability it is you who’s not caring for others, who’s leaving others lonely.

3/ People are lazy. People typically will revert to mean to their general level of laziness. You know, entropy.

4/ People are incredible. While there are lazy people, some are incredibly good! And your job is to identify those people.

5/ Ethos is everything. This year I picked up a project that paid me ok but made me work closely with people that had very different ethos from mine. If I were a mere contractor delivering things to them against a predecided structure, I would have done well. But I was expected to do more and I failed. So, when working on long-term, fluid projects, always check for alignment of ethos.

6/ Sunk Cost Fallacy is a real thing. I am still unable to come to terms with this. I need to work on this #in2023.

7/ Show people the vastness of the sea. If you manage a team, the whole drumming up and showing them the vastness of the sea works wonders. The team at C4E is a testimony.

8/ Start writing. For writing opens doors that you did not even know existed. Thanks to my writing, I could meet two dollar-billionaires this year (one IRL and one online). And another that manages a fund of more than a billion.

9/ Youth will surprise you. Even though am a big believer in “if youth knew and if age could”, my interactions with numerous 20-something-year-olds have left me spellbound. Each has surprised me beyond belief and I know the world is in better hands.

The old ones that dismiss these young ones as frivolous, inexperienced, unaware, are in for a rude shock. Even Steve famously said

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. Yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life.

It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. 

Steve Jobs, link

10/ There are wartime people and peacetime people. You need to understand who is who and surround yourself with the right ones. This is inspired by Ben Horowitz‘s Wartime CEO and Peacetime CEO riff. Read it here. See it here.

Also, this life lesson is probably the most important as it will allow you to not choose the wrong shoulder to lean on when you need to lean. I made the mistake of considering a good friend as a wartime one but then he was clearly a peacetime one and because I relied on him, it caused me a lot of pain.

11/ Your heroes WILL fall. So rather than blind adulation of your heroes (aka Hero worship), learn the art of abstracting the Heros from their heroics. What you find enthralling in a Hero could merely be the act.

12/ The life of constant hustle is NOT for everyone. If you are someone that believes that you are not “feeling” it while you grind away, it’s okay to go back to a 9-to-5 and enjoy a stable salary.

On the other hand, I need to not judge people for the lack of it.

13/ The ability to design has to be the SINGLE most important skill that a person can acquire in this day and age. This may sound counter-intuitive when there are apparent high-value skills like coding, writing (copywriting), coaching, speaking, sales, presenting et al.

Thing is, the world we live in will increasingly become more and more “visual”. Text will become commonplace and tools like chatGPT would make it easier. No code will make it easy to do pilots. Sales team would be easy to hire in remote locations. But the ability to doodle well enough to communicate an idea would remain in short supply. And it will become the single largest differentiating factor.

I wish I was not 40. If I wasn’t, I would drop everything and learn how to do basic design. And no, what you do on Canva is NOT design.

14/ The iPhone 14 Pro’s screen is NOT unscratchable. Sigh!

15/ Remote work is a farce. Nothing replaces a handshake. Or a pat on the back.

In fact, you need to live at the very epicentre of activity for the profession of your choosing.

You may argue that there are people that have found freedom of location and are travelling. They are exceptions, edge cases. And most of us aren’t that. So, to maximise the odds of success, satisfaction, life expectancy, opportunities and all that, we need to live at the epicentre. If you want to do a startup, be in Bangalore. If you want to make films, Mumbai. A chef? Paris. Dont have the money to make the move? Hustle!

16/ Live music is the best form of music.

17/ Ready, Fire, Aim is the best DAMN strategy to get things done. Most great things that happened to me in 2022 happened as an outcome of this. In fact, if there was one life lesson that I would want you to take away from this list, it would be this.

Lemme repeat.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

18/ Mimetic Theory is a great place to start if you want to understand people. Even though a lot hasn’t been said about it outside the startup circles, it is probably the single most important thing you can learn if you want to understand what moves the world.

While mimesis has been discussed a lot in philosophy, from whatever little I’ve read, I like what Girard has to say about it. I may be merely recommending him because he reaffirms my worldview. Nonetheless, this is a brilliant video if you want a primer.

19/ Your body can be trained to do whatever you want to. This year I was able to do a 40+ hour fast without putting in any specific training / preparation. I want to be able to do a 12-day fast at some point in time in my life. Let’s see when.

20/ People that are not in your boat will never be able to empathise with you. You are the only man in the arena and you are there by yourself. So when you share things with others, even if they are your best friends, they will not be able to relate to the pain you are going thru.

In 2022, I’ve learnt that a good way to get over the disappointment of your close one’s inability to get your grief is to journal. In private.

21/ Action speaks louder than words. Nothing new in this. Found this truer in 2022. With friends, clients, team, strangers and everyone else.

22/ This too shall pass. Each of my list starts and ends with this. Good times dont last. Bad times dont last.

And this brings me to the end of the list. Of 22 life lessons that 2022 taught me. Of course, I learnt these the hard way. The intent of capturing these here is to save you the pain and the grief. How benevolent, Mr Garg!

What are some lessons you learnt in 2022 that you’d like to share widely?

PS: Like I said in the beginning, I love making lists. Other lists that I have published here are…

  1. Guide to freelancing career in 2023
  2. 40 things I want to do in my 40s
  3. In 2027

PPS: Here’s a few disclaimers…

  1. These come from the personal experiences that I gathered over the last year.
  2. Some of these may have been with me for a while but they sort of solidified over the last year.
  3. I have obfuscated some facts and events for obvious reasons.

I failed.

A note on how I failed Viny (C4E’s CCO) and myself by not being able to ship a printable draft of book2.

Towards the end of Ocotber (or may be early Novemeber), I made a promise to Viny (and myself) that I would have a printable first draft of book2 (of at least 80K words) by end of Nov 30, 2022.

Today is the 29th. And I dont have that.

I failed.

Even though a lot was riding on it. Lot was Viny’s complete loyalty and the first right to get her to work with me once she passes out of college. I can’t stress enough how much I need someone like her around me at C4E. And yet, I failed.

This post is an attempt at reflecting on what I did to create an environment around me that would ensure that I dont fail. I will talk about habits I stacked to ensure that I dont fail. Of course all these are meaningless – after all, I failed! Maybe lessons for the next time?

Here we go…

Four things.

A/ I was off Social Media.
Like really.
I removed all apps from my phone and the only time I would check twitter / linkedin etc was to check on something for work. I was even able to reduce my screentime to about 4 hours a day. This meant I had more time than I could’ve ever asked for.

B/ I was travelling.
Wait.
This is an excuse.
People that travel write books all the time. Look at them travel bloggers. They are literally on the road all the time and yet they are firehoses of content. I did travel but it does not mean I couldn’t write. All I had to do was write 3K words a day. Which, btw, is NOT a big deal for me.

In fact, truth be told, I “found” 75K words for book2 written over various drafts. I compiled all those into Scrivener and I could’ve “cheated” to write the balance 5K and declare the draft ready. I mean the very thought is making me puke. Why would I cheat? Especially to my own people?

The point is, I could not write.

3/ I was snafu’d at work.
True there’s a lot going on with work. I am struggling. And I am thriving. And I am somewhere in the middle. As a small business owner / manager, you are always somewhere in the middle of these three. As a small business owner you have to try to do multiple things while paying your people fair and square. As a small business owner time is not a commodity that you can control.

The point is, I should’ve known these before I made the promise. So, this one doesn’t hold. This is an excuse.

4/ I controlled my “desires”.
Lol. Sounds fancy.
Lemme talk about it with little more rationality. So, most of November, I did not have coffee. Or coke. Or any random snacks that I keep munching on all the time. I wanted complete abstinence from anything and everything that may distract me. I managed to stay away for a large part to be honest. But it did not help concentrate.

What could I have done different?

A, I could’ve been a tad more pragmatic. I could have taken a long time hozion to work on the draft. Instead of a month, may be two, three. Or whatever. Just that pragmatism is not my cup of tea.

B, I could have made and followed a routine that’s non-negotiable. That I would sit at a Starbucks everyday at 7 AM and do nothing but write for 2 hours. I know that I am extremely good at this (getting up early and reaching a starbucks and sitting with my laptop open). There is nothing that stops me from this. I guess I got lazy 🙁

C, I could have found a writing buddy to write this with. In my experience, it always helps. If not that, I could’ve found an accountability partner if nothing else. Again, I did have Viny to reach out. But for some reason, I was unable to get her help.

D, I could have reminded that age old adage – Real Artists Ship. In fact, if there is one takeaway that I want from this, it would be this. While writing this, I made this wallpaper that I would use on my desktop. Till I get another slap on my face next time. PS: Other things that have made to my desktop wallpapers are Mememto Mori and This Too Shall Pass. Will make these wallpapers as well.

Guess this is about it. I know I failed. And it’s not a good feeling to have.

And, in the end, Viny, I am sorry. I let you down. I’ll try harder. If you want to give me another chance. Do lemme know.

The MDI Gurgaon Impact on Saurabh Garg’s life

So, I met a couple of friends from MDI for dinner over the weekend. While bantering, one of them said that the time at MDI was not the best phase of her life.

To me, this came as a shocker. For multiple reasons.

For starters, I couldn’t relate to what she said. I mean at least for me, I sincerely believe that the most glorious period of my life was at MDI. I had a ball while I was there. My worldview expanded. I found the teachers that I never had before MDI. I made friends that hopefully would last me a lifetime. I learnt that I was capable of more. The ambitious young boy in me turned into a man that wanted to win the world (yet to do so, tbh).

In fact, the best things in my life came from MDI. Every milestone in my life can be traced back to an event, a thing at MDI.

Here are some. My first real job came from MDI (campus placement of course). The job that changed my life (made me travel the world) came to me because of the MDI alumni network (Suvi, Gravity). The only book I wrote happened because the publisher is from MDI. My first short film (as a producer) could happen because a friend from MDI connected me with the director (Anshul). Heck, my company is called C4E and the name came from the game I played at all hours at MDI (Counter-Strike). The house I live in (and dont pay the rent of) is of a friend I made at MDI. The top 5 3 people I will call when in trouble are from MDI. My agony aunt (and mentor and client and all that) is from MDI. The work I do, a lot of it comes to me because of connections I made at MDI. A couple of business partners (most notably the Podium) came from MDI. The investment vehicle I want to create is with friends from MDI. I went to the Everest Base Camp only because a friend from MDI egged me on and lead me there. The only child I am emotionally close to is an MDI friend’s daughter (who painfully is growing fast and discovering her own world, which I may or may not be a part of).

I can continue to write about other insignificant things but I can not ignore the MDI connection. The impact that MDI Gurgoan has had on my life is immeasurable. If not for MDI, I would be a far different person (not sure if I would have been worse or better) but you simply can’t take away MDI from my life.

While I do understand that she may not feel as strongly for MDI as she has a lot going for her – professional success, a family of her own, holidays and all that. In comparison, I have built a single thing that is larger than the MDI stamp on my CV. If I were to die tomorrow, my epitaph would be painfully empty and the historians would find nothing on my CV that’s worth talking about. But a diploma from MDI. And that speaks a lot. And probably this explains the stark difference in our (her and mine) perspectives towards MDI.

I do understand that she may be talking about the two years that we spent on campus. Even on that count, on a day-to-day basis, living at the MDI hostel was among the best of times. We did not have the comforts that we seek, especially at the age of 40, but we did have hope. We had camaraderie. Not one day was drab!

And no, I am not dissing all the things I’ve had or done. Just that none of those has had an impact closer to what MDI has had on me. And I suspect a lot of others.

So yeah. That’s it.

When my friend told me that MDI wasn’t the best time for her, I was surprised. I simply assumed that everyone from MDI would rate their time at MDI as the grandest and largest.

And with that, over and out!

Perils of being the Creatures of Comfort

A rant on what comfort does to perennial hustlers. And how creatures of comfort are often unable to do what they’re destined to.

Hola! Ranting after a while. Let’s see how it goes.

I started writing this from the hall of a 2.5 BHK house in which I live. It’s a very comfortable place and now that I have lived here for a few days, I know that this is not a good place to be at (or the situation to be in). The rest of the post is about why it’s a bad idea to be in a comfortable place. Especially for people like me.

The thing with a comfortable place is that it gives you the solace you need after a long, hard day of work. But it also makes you lazy for no reason at all. Here are my thoughts on it. And no, not in any order.

A. You tend to get lazy.
You tend to get complacent. You tend to stop hustling. You tend to start to live a comfortable life and then you start questioning the entire idea of even trying to work hard. Leave alone actual hard work. And this is the start of the downfall.

B. This life of comfort is addictive.
Like cocaine. Sugar. Carbs. AC. Monthly Salary.

C. You know entropy?
That happens. Left to yourself, you degrade to a state of non-functioning. And once you are not functioning, you stop moving. Once you’ve stopped, there is inertia and there is a problem in starting. You catch rust. Worse, you start to atrophy.

All these together contribute to making you a weak man. And anyway, someone said these golden words – “easy times create weak men”.

That!

D. There is no opportunity for riyaaz.
And riyaaz as well all know is the stone on which altars of the grandest churches are built atop. In fact, if you dont do riyaaz, you could be the greatest talent in the world with the best damn gift by the lord himself and yet you would be unable to perform when the time comes to do so.

The comfortable places hold you in deep clutches and dont want you to step out of it.

E. The cloistered cocoon.
When you are in a comfortable cocoon, you stop looking outside the walls that you are cloistered into. You stop looking for opportunities. And life just passes by you when you are admiring the pretty pictures that you put up on your walls to create this comfortable cocoon. You know, ivory tower? You have the grandest views of the most lavish expanses that us humans have created. While in theory, you could enjoy those, you are no longer that. You are the man trapped in the matrix. You are not in the arena. You have not lived. You have not fulfilled your destiny.

F. The death of Sisyphus.
When you are comfortable, the Sisyphus in you is no longer pushing the boulder up the mountain. He’s being a couch potato, staring at the boulder. And Imagine the time when he could be back on the mountain and is toiling with it. Imagine a Tom without a Jerry to chase. Imagine a Batman without a Joker. Imagine a Hero without an adversary. The damn joy that you get from your very existence is sucked away.

So that.
That’s the rant.
About comfort and the creatures that are on the fast and slippery road downhill.

Oh, as I end this, I have some disclaimers to make.

  1. The definition of comfort is different for different people. One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold.
  2. These are my thoughts and not my employer’s
  3. What applies to me may not apply to you. So please read with caution and standard disclaimers.
  4. Good to be back to writing. I missed these rants!
  5. I know this is not the best of my writing. But now that I am back at these longish pieces, I hope to continue with these.

PS: Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/saurabh.

40 things for the 40s

A list of 40 things that I would like to do in my 40s.

So, I am turning turned 40 this year and here is a list of things that I will do in my 40s.

By this age, I was supposed to be financially free and contribute to making a dent in this world. I am of course very very far from any of those goals that I had for myself, I do believe that I have a deeper appreciation for life and work and other things. And in this decade, since I am not sure if I am getting closer to dent, I will for sure do things that I have always wanted to!

And thus, here is a list of things that I will do in the next decade. In no order (but bifurcated into sections)…

PS: I know some of the following are goals, some are systems, some are one-time activities and some are all.

Health

  1. Eat better. This is not a tangible or measurable goal but I want to make a conscious effort. So I will use shortcuts. I will eat natural, organic, and unprocessed food. I will eat fewer carbs. I will not eat anything that may not be edible at room temperature (no ice-creams). I will be mindful of what and how I eat.
  2. Fix Hernia. Get operated upon if required. 
  3. Run 10 full marathons. Each in under 5 hours.
  4. Do the Killer Boogie in 3 mins.
  5. Get 6-pack abs.
  6. Take a shot at Everest. My deadline to do this is Jan 1, 2026. Also, after I went to the base camp last year, I am on the fence about even trying. But let’s see. And if not Everest, do a serious amateur hike every year. The experience is very very humbling and one must do treks often.
  7. Make sleep a priority. As I grow older, I am unable to function if I haven’t had good sleep the previous night. I will be 8 hours in bed without devices. No screen. Not even TV. 8 might be overkill. The point is, I dont want to be tired when I wake up. And if that means I need to say no to work and say no to money opportunities, I will say no. Sleep will become a priority.

Family / Friends / Relationships 

  1. Make parents a priority. Move them to the same city as I. I know I plan to be a nomad per se and it may not pan out but I will try.  
  2. Make parents travel to one new place EVERY year. And do this in relative comfort and luxury. I mean I may not be able to fly them in business class but I will not put them in a bad taxi. And thus I need money. For the money, I dont have an upper limit per se but it has to be at least 5 lakhs a year. And most important, accompany them as much as possible.
  3. Find love. I am not sure if I am capable of being loved – I am way too rational when it comes to real life (and a dreamer on the other end when it comes to work). And I say this with all sincerity. 

Work

  1. Stop active work. This means I will not be responsible for day-to-day operations.
  2. Teach a full-time course.
  3. Prevent my mornings from others at all costs. See this.
  4. Become very very active with #BrandSG. To a point that before I walk into a room, people know who I am. As part of this, I will make a brand manifesto that will have tenets that are dear to me (say, Zubaan Ki Keemat).
  5. I will NOT rent my time! Thanks, Naval!

Money / Wealth 

  1. I will become financially free. This means that I will have enough that I dont need to worry about money and yet I can support everyone around me. You know, “Saain itna dijiye, jaame kutumb samaay, main bhookha naa rahoon, sadhu na bhookha jaaye“. Some people call it FU Money (I mean not really, but the same zone). Right now, the number is 10 crores. Each year that I dont get to this, I will add 25% inflation. And once I get to it, from there on, become a billionaire. And then the richest man in the world. I know that this pursuit of THE richest may not bear fruit. But I want to try. And get there. 
  2. Get a membership at MCA. I challenge that I’ve been on since 2019.

Yeah! That’s all I want. Not more. Not less.

Impact / Contribution / Spirituality 

  1. Teach writing to 100 people a year. And in 10 years, 1000 people.
  2. Get mentioned in thank you of 100 books. Right now, the number is 2 or 3.
  3. Get mentioned in the Oscar acceptance speech 100 times. Right now, the most thanked person at the Oscars is Spielberg (some 42 times).
  4. Expand SoG network (and alumni) into a million young people. Right now, we are in the low two digits. I have no clue how to do this. But I want to make this my life’s work. 
  5. Build SoG Grant into a gateway for young people to explore their interests. And expand the network of recipients to a thousand people!
  6. Build LHV into a substantial venture investment vehicle.
  7. Take C4E or one of our ideas to a point where our impact reaches a few million people. So far we are in the hundreds. PS: I like how I talk about C4E as a collective already. #win
  8. Each year, do at least 10 days of no-connection to existing people kind of trip (Vipassana, gumnaam sheher me anjaan insaan, treks etc.) 
  9. Become a pillar of support to people around me. This will happen if I am able to do all the ones I’ve listed above.

Hobbies

  1. Play a musical instrument on a stage with more than 1000 people in the audience. I got myself a Uke. VG gifted me a guitar long ago. Krishna got me a Uke as well. So despite all these divine interventions, I’ve not been able to get to it. Let’s see what happens this time.
  2. Travel to 100+ countries. So far I’ve done 40 odd. This seems like an easy one to do!
  3. Move to a different country and live there for a few years. This I want to do within the next 2 years. #in2025 
  4. Publish at least 3 books. Lol!
  5. Make 1 feature film. This one looks the most plausible.
  6. Get a WSOP bracelet.

Social

  1. Get to know 10 billionaires on a first-name basis. Right now I know none.
  2. Be more active on social media and chase vanity metrics. 100K on Twitter, 100K on Instagram and 100K on YT. Or any other platform that is large at the time.

Misc

  1. Get consistent. Do EVERYthing I say I will do. This will be HARD!
  2. Move to an iPad and quit using a laptop. This should be easy!
  3. Ensure that people that have put their faith in me get closer to their life goals. This is what I want to live for!
  4. Release 100 Youtube videos where I am talking to random people that I want to talk to. So, for example, I should release a YT conversation with my favourite musician.

So that!

And as I end this, here are some footnotes…

  1. This is NOT a comprehensive list. As of 24 Sep, these are 38. I need to figure out 2 more.
  2. This is an add-on to my #lifeGoals lists. They are here (bucket list, wish list, lifeGoals).
  3. More notes are on this Doc. I will try and update the progress there.
  4. This post has been inspired by this.
  5. And, as always, open to inputs, feedback, thoughts and more! You know where to reach me.

Thank you!
And wish me luck!

[Rant] Action. Inaction. Keeping at it.

A quick note about life, sleep, Kabir, meaning, action and inaction.

I dont know what to write. I just feel like writing. So, I am going to randomly type and see what I end up creating.

Also, this has come out as a rant. You may not want to read this.

I started writing this at 9 PM last night. While thinking about what to write, I dozed off. I think it is because I hadn’t slept well the previous night. At the age I am at, I need my 8 hours of sleep at night. And I need 2 hours during the day. I think this is one of those side effects of age that I need to probably undo.

Anyhow. So, I am at the airport, waiting for a flight to go to Mumbai. From Delhi. Since August of last year, I have been spending time between Delhi and other places. However, my work, my heart, my soul is in Mumbai. Or maybe Goa. Or maybe at airports. But definitely not in Delhi. Even though Delhi is home, Delhi is where I grew up and I am still unable to take Delhi out of me. I mean the way I am sitting sprawling at a chair in the waiting area, I could only be from Delhi!

While in Mumbai, among other things, I hope to meet a few people. The top of that list is V, my agony aunt, mentor, friend, and I dont know what all. She has been a pillar of support since I can remember (actually since 2009). I wish I had more access to her. But then the good part is that I meet her after long gaps and she can point to me if I have changed – you know, put weight, got better with thinking, or if I am taking action.

Talking about action, here is a video (about inaction) that I just saw and it gave me goosebumps! You HAVE to see this. Here…

I think with each passing day I am getting clearer about how I want to spend my life. I am unable to articulate it well but it would be something like…

1. Do great things. You know, climb Mt. Everest, chase a billion dollars etc.

2. While doing those things, live with the highest level of integrity, action, kindness, gratitude, ambition, effort and more.

3. When I think I have reached a place where what I’ve done is inspiring for the world at large, go inspire others to chase their respective bliss. Whatever that may be.

So that.

Of course, along the way, I will have to figure out work (that pays me enough, allows me to pay my team enough, contribute to causes, like the Kabir‘s life and all that), deliver consistently (if we are not consistent, what are we even?) and keep at it. I mean some days are hard. H A R D. You are left questioning the very why of your existence. And you are this close to giving up that it’s a miracle that you are even breathing the next instant.

I think I am lucky that somehow I have not fallen down the Rabbit’s hole of inaction. Probably I have surrounded myself with people and media that move me and push me. And I have chosen to cut off from people that ask me to take it easy. And thus I am able to even get out of the bed!

Ok, I am getting ranty.

Moving on.

The point of this piece was, well, nothing. I just felt like writing. And I started this piece last night. And now that I had the time (as I waited for the flight), I thought I will finish writing it!

With this, over and out.

See you guys next time!

First published here.

In 2027

I future gaze and predict what I would’ve done by 2027. No, I am not giving a date. Just the year 2027.

Hola!

After I wrote the last post, the same lady that inspired me to write the last one, asked me to write another one. This time, gazing at the crystal ball and imaging what the next 5 years could be like. And what I would want them to be. So here, is an attempt at that.

Of course, this is like a wish list and I want to get to each of these things. As always, I am aiming very very high and I know I would miss these. But even I miss these, I would do better than what I am doing right now!

By 2027, I would have done the following for sure. These are my life goals, you know.

  1. Made an attempt to the summit. Hopefully, successfully.
  2. Made a billion dollars and used that money to inspire others.
  3. Fall in love. And live-in with that person. I would still be child-less (except M). Unless my partner wants one. Most probably I would not be living in India.
  4. Some of my kids would be millionaires and billionaires. If not all. This is the single most important goal that I want to chase in the next 5 years.

In terms of smaller, more tangible goals, here are the things that I would have achieved. I would’ve (in order of what I “want” right now)…

  1. Released at least one film (at least) that I would have written or produced or both.
  2. Been 30″ by waist at least once.
  3. Made it on the bestsellers list. Hopefully with book2, if not with book3 or 4 or whatever.
  4. Learnt how to become a human flag.
  5. Reached the final table of WSOP. Hopefully I would’ve got the bracelet.
  6. Bought a house. No, I dont think its a great investment. Just that I need a place to dump all the memories.
  7. Travelled to 50. My count as of today is some 40. I am not the one to do all countries. But there are a few that I want to travel to. For example, South America, Japan etc.

So that.

What about you?
What are your 2027 goals? You know, in 5 years?
Can I play some role in helping you reach those goals?

PS: I will use this post as a running one to talk about changes / achievements / failures and all that.

2017 vs 2022

A quick note on thoughts triggered by a tweet from a stranger. I end up comparing my 2022 with my 2017. Read on!

So, a few days ago, this tweet caught my eye!

V asked, “If you could press a button and wake up exactly where you were 5 years ago – losing everything that happened to you in the last 5 years, including the knowledge you gained – would you do it?”

While the poll format was easy to react to, the question triggered a lot of thoughts and I thought I will record a SoloCast on this. Or at the very least, write about it. I am not sure I have the time to record, edit, publish one but I can try and steal some minutes from a busy day to write about this.

And here we go!

PS: For the sake of this post, I will assume that COVID-19 did not happen. And that means I will not consider the second-order effects of getting caught in the pandemic.

So we are in 2022 and if I could go back 5 years, we would be in 2017. At that time I would have been 34-35. An age when all is not lost (you are still “far” from the old age of 40). And an age where you are still hopeful. And an age where what you’ve learned in the last three decades of your life seems usable. And an age that doesn’t come across as an outlier for a dreamer. And an age where my dreams of making a dent seemed plausible. And an age where the world had still not woken up to the wonders of decentralised “asset” classes like BTC (it was still breaching 10K).

When I evaluate life, I find that the constructs we have tend to fall short. There is no “model” of sorts that I can lean on to get an objective view. This chart below is the best I think in terms of helping get a grasp of things.

This chart is a simple one really. It makes you rate one area of your life on a scale of 10 and helps you make a spider chart of your life. And since a spider chart is very very visual, you get a good sense of how and where your life is stacked!

Ok. Lemme talk about each spoke. And talk about how it was in 2017, how it is now (in 2022) and if I would like to turn back time.

Let’s go!

A. Health. I would have been 35. That means I would have more time to get my Hernia fixed. I would probably have better teeth. I was still not bald. I think I was thinner as well. Plus I had the exuberance of youth. So that is nice. Healthwise, I think, I was far better off as a 35-year old!

Today I am frail at best. I am fat to a point that I dont like myself. I have shaved my head (which is not cool – you need to keep shaving all the time and that sucks).

So, in terms of health, I was better off in 2017 for sure.

B. Wealth. I dont recall (I did not keep a tab) but back then I would have had more than what I would have needed. I would have been living at Wadhwa (that means I was paying top dollar for a rental house) and would’ve had more modern comforts than I have had since.

Today I don’t have a house. I live with my parents as of today (come March I will have a rental house but today I dont have one).

So, in terms of money, I was better off in 2017.

C. FnF. I was living next door to M. And my sis and I were sharing a house. So that means I was in a good place with FnF.

Today while I live with my parents, I am neither emotionally nor spiritually connected to my family. Sad but that’s how it is.

So, again, 2017 was better.

D. Playtime. Oh, I played pool often with VG. I would meet friends around Powai. I would hang out with friends on their birthdays, I was definitely a lot less awkward than what I am right now.

So 2017 definitely was a better time!

E. Relationships. I think (not sure though) I was with a woman and I was fairly happy while I was with her. I was holidaying at fancy hotels, spending quality time, getting to know her, and in general having a good time. My friends adored her. I was loved by her people. Everything was nice.

Right now, I am in a complicated mess. Like a lot of people my age and my generation. So 2017 was better.

F. Career. In terms of tangibles, in 2017, I would have spent all of 2 years with C4E. I would have been in the hopeful stage where C4E seemed like the best idea since the beginning of time or sliced bread.

Today, 5 years on, C4E is probably the strongest we have been but we are nowhere close to where I wanted to take it. Agreed COVID played spoilsport but there are tons of businesses that mushroomed in the last 3 years. And mine is not one of those. So, I have sort of failed on this.

And thus, 2017 was better!

G. Personal Space. Since I lived in a fairly large house (it was a three-bedroom one), I had all the space. I was on the 24th floor. I had a hall which could fit in two houses! I was a master of my whims and I could do the house the way I want to (minimal etc).

Today I dont have a place to call my own. No, I’ve never owned a house per se but even a rental house is no longer around. And thus.

H. Contribution. I am not sure but I dont think I would have started investing in TRS, PPP or other ideas. However, I would definitely been the kind to give, support, share, mentor, even if I did not have enough. I refuse to believe that the way I live my life right now has happened overnight.

Today though my contribution is huge. In fact, if there is one facet that has worked REALLY well in the last 5 years, it is this ability to contribute to the success and peace and happiness and careers of a lot of people. Of course, the individuals had to work hard and all that, but I can say for sure that the trajectory of their lives is better because I was a part.

So, on this one, 2022 is better!


So, all in all, 2017 was definitely better compared to 2022. I can only hope 2027 is better as well. The funny thing though is that when I saw this tweet for the first time, I instinctively knew that 2017 would’ve been better. And now that I have done the analysis, I am appalled and amazed and how quick and how accurate my gut was!

Ok enough of gloating. Time to sleep. Over and out!

Untitled 12 Feb 2022

Random rant from a day when I am kind of mind-effed. If there is a word like that.

Trigger Warning. Please read ahead if and only if you can tolerate rant about life and death.

So I haven’t published anything on my blog in a while. I have had the reasons to and things to, but I did not. I dont know why. I am feeling chatty rn and I think I will try and do a brain dump, ideas vomit and all that.

These are no order. I am typing randomly.

ONE

So today I met this friend who recently lost a parent. I am socially inept and I dont know what to do what to talk what to say and what to not say in these situations. People moving on is messy. People going for good is another matter. I mean when someone moves out of your life (and it’s not new to me – I’ve had enough people walk out on, keep me on the edge, use me and all that), you know that you did all you could to keep them around (or should I say, hang around them as they did their thing) and there is that lingering hope that they’d come back. You know, hope being the best of thing and all that?

But when someone goes for good, I dont even know how people reconcile. I have been lucky that I haven’t had to face anyone leaving me for good. And that means that even though I am 40, I dont understand how to say goodbyes. My understanding of life has remained superficial at best. I have lived it at the surface level and I haven’t gone into any depths whatsoever. Wait. Why do you need these depths? Anyway, life is meaningless. No? Maybe, in the grand scheme of things. But to people that lose their loved ones, the ones that dont get closure, the ones that dont find a solution or an answer, maybe there is some purpose after all!

Thing is, I often tell people that are facing such life-altering events that I understand what they go thru, I even get by most times as I can fake well. But then once I’ve done that, I get mindfucked to a point that I dont know what to do!

The reasons for this mindfuckery are simple. Lemme try and write about those here.

A, I am amazed at the strength shown by these people. I dont think I would have it in me to face the world once I lose something, someone close.

B, When I fake, I tend to lose my energy. I never believed in this but as I grow older, I am seeing that things take away my energy (faking things, pushy people, unclean places, etc) and after a bout of exposure to these draining activities, I feel a massive drop in my mood. You know, mood swings? That! And how! So that!

C, I am a little scared that someday I will have to face things. You know, see a loved one go. Say goodbye for the last time. Probably not even say goodbye. Plus the biggest fear. What if I am the one that has to depart? No, I am not scared of death per se. Just that I am scared that I would not achieve what I always thought I was capable of. What I made people around me believe that I was capable of. If I die without fulfilling my destiny, it would be very very unfortunate. So that.

Ok that was about the mood-swing, mind-fuckery-inducing thing that happened. Onto the next thing that I have been thinking about.

TWO

In the last few days, I have had a million signs that I need to get my ass moving and work on #book2! I will talk about those here and the triggers I’ve been having in my head!

a. I am working on this short film that I am convinced that it works. And when I talk about it to people close to me, they come back to me with a retort that I need to consume content before I decide to make it. I mean, why? And because I dont look at things from the experience of other people, how does that mean I cant create my version of things?

I think the answer is, if I had created something that I could show off, that probably would’ve ensured that these questions about my knowledge are not asked! The world we live in gives more importance and

b. I was talking to another friend about another movie. While I said all the reviews are bad, she said, it’s easy to diss and impossible to create. And I was again left speechless. I spoke from the knowledge that the reviews gave me. Not from the lens of a creator! Again, I was reminded that it’s painful to be not a creator, in a world that celebrates creators even if what they create is crap. And yes, I am part of that word.

And I agree with Anton about critics! See this.

Anton Ego on Critics.

c. The visit today made me realise the shortness of life and my repeated attempts and failures. I thus need to move my backside. Pronto.

d. I am now surrounded by a few people that are writing like mad! On a day to day basis. And I owe it to them to write. I thus need to find a way to not disappoint them. So I must write. If not for myself, then for others.

e. Then, this uncalled for, unprompted tweet by another author made me realise that having some piece of work out there enables you to make new connections that you did not even know existed.

So yeah!

These two large things. I had to sort of vomit the thoughts out before I slept. And here it is. Lemme know what you think.

Over and out.

Dear Mohan,

An open letter to Mohan Bhargava, of Charanpur. Thanking him for being him. And inspiring me along the way.

Dear Mohan,

It’s been a few years now since I’ve come to know you. Our interactions started simple. You were yet another person whose story I would listen to, get awed by and then eventually forget. After all, there is way too much media that people my age consume.

But then there are a few stories that make a home in your subconscious. Even if you don’t want them to.

Your story, Mohan, is one of those. With time, I am forgetting the specifics, blame old age. But the broad strokes of who you are, what you stand for and what you mean have remained with me. In fact, I’d say it’s great that I am forgetting things. The parts that have remained with me are the ones that are probably the most important. Probably the ones that I relate to the most. Probably are the ones that I want to retain!

You know, when I was young, just out of business school, most of my thoughts, ideas and conversations were aimed at doing something large, something great, something out of the ordinary. Something that can make a dent. Something that makes me a lot of money. Something that can make lives better. Something that can inspire others. I knew I had the talent. I knew of my potential. And yet I didn’t do anything. I was often filled with rage about my inability to go beyond from where I was. While I did have the naive confidence that would’ve made me take a shot at the impossible, I missed the nudge, the push, the inspiration to ignite the spark that would turn into a wildfire.

I realise it now, while these thoughts, words, dreams were great, I missed the most important ingredient. Action.

Mohan, action is what sets you apart.

You took action. A large one at that. You quit the American dream at the pinnacle of your career. To come back to Charanpur and screw a light bulb. You were among the stars. Literally. And you were shining bright. Yet you bailed out. To try and crank a water turbine. And seek the glory under that feeble, dim sliver of the faint light of a simple bulb!

You dreamt the impossible. You acted on it. And delivered. And while you did that, you gave an entire village hope to rally behind you.

Like I said earlier, I have forgotten large parts of your story, your background, your life. And the parts I have retained are probably the ones that I want to. I can’t seem to forget your simple ways, your non-conformity and your attitude. And your actions. And your impact.

Mohan, you continue to inspire me to date.
And you mean a million things to me.
If not more. 

You to me, Mohan, are about…
– hope that I would come of age someday, even if I am 40 and past my prime.
– knowing that I am drifting and knowing that it’s ok to drift.
– and keeping faith that the drifting will end someday! Again, if I am past the age where you can contribute meaningfully.

You are also about…
– inspiring me to dream the impossible
– showing that it’s ok to lust for the impossible
– putting in motion the wheel that takes you closer to impossible
– and teaching how to move others to move their respective immovable and do the impossible.

You know, Mohan, you do this to me each time I think about you. You take me away from reality. And into this dreamy world where I start believing that I could be Mohan.

And no, I am not alone. You do this to countless others. You’ve planted the thought that there is life beyond a successful career. That you have a responsibility towards your elders that you discard behind as you pursue “success”. That you need to step out of your comfort zone, your cocoon, the palace of illusions you create around you. And dive headfirst into the world that may not offer you a grand pedestal that you’ve always wanted to stand on top of.

You are not just an inspiration. But a reference point. And a conversation starter. And a North Star that I look up to, often, to find my way each time I digress. Damn, you, Mohan! 

With a tiny bulb, Mohan, you’ve literally changed lives. And inspired people like me to work towards changing the world. To take life head-on. And become someone who does. And not just dreams.

Phw!

Guess this is about it.

Wish me luck and stay by my side. As I try and do things that you would approve of. And as I try to discover myself. And become me. And become Mohan.

And finally, thank you. For being who you are.

Saurabh Garg
20 Dec 2021
Mumbai, India


Notes

  1. An unedited first draft of this post is here.
  2. Other pieces that I’ve written about Mohan and Swades over the years are here and here.