I talk about Arjuna and Drona and I talk about how I need to tame my wants of being one and train myself to be another.
You know of Arjuna. And Drona too. Probably the most famous guru-disciple pair in the world. The two were made for each other. The guru would not yeild. The disciple would not give up. The guru wanted nothing but complete submission and dedication. The disciple couldnt see anything but the eye of the bird. The guru wanted nothing but respcet. The disciple captured the kingdom of Drupada to salvage the guru’s respect.
Like most characters from the Mahabharata, both Arjuna and Drona have multiple personalities, are often open to interpretation and deeply flawed.
Look at Arjuna, arguably the greatest warrior of his time. On one side he’s a good son, an obedient brother, and a doting father. And on the other he’s taken shortcuts, partidipated in killing of his clan (even if it was for the greater good (what even is greater good?), including his very guru) and stayed silient when Draupadi had to go through the humiliation.
Drona had his share of flaws as well. The most famous is the episode with Eklavya. As a guru, you ought to be impartial and yet for Arjuna, Drona asked for Eklavya’s thumb. Some versions of Mahabharata claim that Drona did not like anyone but his own son and all that happened (Arjuna coming on top et al) was an accident.
I’d never know the truth but I do know that Arjuna was indeed a great warrior and Drona, a great guru.
And this is what my post for the day is about. Arjuna and Drona.
Lemme shift topics.
The thing is, each person here belives they are special and they deserve the best and they will conquer the world and live a life of riches. Even the most average people consider themselves special (hello Dunning Kruger). In modern parenting, we hard-code into our kids that they are special. They may very well be. But then by definition, there can only be one Sachin, one Ranveer, one Shohei, one Serena, one Arujna, one conquerer of worlds, who’s kirti traverses the tribhvuan.
I was no different. I have lived all my life believing that I am special. But as I turn 41, I realise that I may not be as special. If I am, I dont see it. I mean I live the most ordinary life for a 41-year-old. Heck, its not even ordinary. I am in deep debt, I dont have a family of my own (I belong to my parent’s family), I dont know what am supposed to do in life (this post is an attempt to find an answer) and I dont have a path that if I walked on for a few more years would take me to salvation. Whatever salvation is. I mean I dont know what Arjuna did after the war was over. Such a waste of talent to have won the war and then nothing from there on. I get it that he was like a warrior in the garden and his mere presence kept peace in the region.
I was digressing. The point is, each person lives their lives assuming they are special and they prepare for, they wait for greatness. All their lives are spent working towards that moment of truth when the greatness would be unveiled. And there are many – from each child in India preparing for a shot at cricket glory to each person in the bylanes of Aram Nagar acting and dancing hoping to make it big on the silverscreen to each student at engineering colleges across the country wanting to do a startup that would become a unicorn eventually to more such places where the odds of wild success are tiny and rewards for even mild success are grand.
Like I said, I am no different. At least from the time I realised I was a good coder at at obscure college in Delhi university, I have believed that I am special. I am sure I would’ve felt great even before that (thanks to my genes and me going to nondescript schools and all). And I have lived as if I am a big deal and I’ve never sweat on the small stuff. And I think it has served me well. I have taken the tougher road and I have even had to beg, borrow and steal to be able to survive. All in the hopes that some day it will all make sense and the end would justify the means.
But lately I am having second thoughts about things. May be this is what mid-life crisis is all about (here are my other pieces about this). You see your friends and acquaintances and everyone else doing well and you start to compare and you dont know what to do. And since I know that time and life is a one-way street, I know I can’t do much about my failures as a talent.
But what I can do for sure is, become a Drona. To potential Arjunas. You know, something like Richard to Serena and Venus (see this), Mahavir to Geeta and Babita (see this), Ramkant to Sachin, Maggie to Roger and JP (see this). Yeah, yeah I am inspired a lot by films. No wonder, filmmaking is a not-so-secret desire.
Of course the skills and talent I need to be able to be a Drona and do this vary widely from what I have prepared all my life for. And that’s a journey I need to go on. I dont know what is that path. I dont know how to prepare for it. I dont know what I need to undo in my personality. I just know that I have to do it. I owe this much to me. And to universe that has made me who I am.
While I do this, I need to be careful. I need to not become Vikramaditya. I need to try and not fall (this is probably going to be the most difficult thing ever). I need to get over with the guilt of being yet another in the long queue of “those who can, do; those who can’t teach”. And I know I will never be the person in arena and thus I need to build empathy.
Lemme take a break reproduce the text about the arena – this is a very powerful piece and you better read.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who lets refinement to develop in to fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a work day world.
I need to accept my failure to be the Arjuna and pivot to being a Drona. And I need to become better at being a teacher, a mentor and someone that young ones entrust. I need to learn how to detach. I need to be able to be a better Drona and not get attached to the people I work with. I can not live vicariously. I can not create these young ones into what I couldnt become.
And most importantly, I need to find young ones that are willing to be my guinea pigs and submit their lives to me.
A life lesson, some ways to be a better child and discovering freedom.
TW: Talks of life, death, aging parents, and all that.
On my last trip to Delhi, I met a senior from MDI (let’s call him A) and we got talking about aging parents, time, regrets, closure, and all that.
He and I faced the same dilemma – on one side both of us wanted to be good children to our respective parents who are aging fast; and on the other, both of us wanted to chase our respective bliss (family and career in his case; more travels, money, and dreams in mine). And both of us wanted both things at the same time.
A simple solution could have been to co-live with parents – like families in India have lived for centuries. But the vagaries of modern life, the stubbornness of old age, and the enthusiasm of infinite ambition make it tough.
I mean, at least in my case, I can NOT live in the same city and thus not in the same house as my parents. My work, my life, and my ambitions are in Mumbai (and inshallah, at some point in the near future, out of India). My parent’s whole life is concentrated around a 500-m road, a park, an army of domestic helps that they manage, and neighbors they’ve lived with for more than 35 years now. The only time they leave this geofence is to visit doctors. They go on travels once or twice a year, for about two days, and are content with that.
A’s parents are home-bound as well and they live in a small town about 150 KMs away from him. One of his parents is bedridden and needs 24-hour assistance. His parents also are geofenced to their neighborhood and the townsfolk that they lived with all their lives. ce In my case, this distance is about 1400 KMs. A’s work requires him to be in a city and the parents can’t leave their row house and the familiarity of the town to move, even if they want to be with their kids.
When I met him, he was exasperated at the prospect of staying away. I had a more morose emotion. I was disappointed, sad, and full of guilt that I was not being a good son. I mean I want my parents to be with me. And I want them to be comfortable. At the place I am in in my life, I don’t have enough to get them even a room of their own in Mumbai. Plus I will move out of India soon (I don’t know how to do this with my aging parents needing constant medical supervision). At these times, I think that I should’ve done a Naukri long ago and with time I would have made enough to have a house that my parents would have converted into a home.
In that conversation A made a very pertinent point. I don’t recall the exact words he used but here is my articulation of that. He said that we need to be mindful ALL THE TIME that EACH interaction with our parents could be the last one.
When I first heard this, something snapped in me. While I can see my parents growing old and fading, the reality of them not being around me never occurred to me. I know it’s inevitable and I am a hyper-realist, I should’ve thought of it and planned for it. It reminded me of this post by Tim Urban about the time of life. I had read it a few years ago but the chat with A reminded me of it all over again.
So, A further said that since life is so unpredictable and so fragile, you never know what will hit you when, and often you may be left with things unspoken, unsaid, unexpressed. He then said that each time you speak with your folks, you need to get closure on each conversation, however small, tiny, or insignificant it may be.
Again this closure thought had never occurred to me. Like all things in life, I assumed that it was an ongoing relationship that would stretch to infinity. No, I am not dumb and I am aware of the shortness of life (and the importance of the sense of urgency) but it never dawned on me to get closure on simple conversations. Reminds me of my thing with “closing windows” when I sleep. Reminds me of the frailty of human thought and emotion in the wake of uncertainty.
In fact, most relationships go sour when this closure is absent from them. It could be as simple as saying sorry for the time you snapped. Or could be as large as being at the bedside when someone passes away. Even when someone is leaving the city, the action of dropping at the airport and checking in once they have reached is a closure of that “transaction”. I have famously shied away from these. To the point that I find excuses to not be around when someone has to go. I can’t say goodbyes, even when I know that they are going to a better place. And of course, there have been times when I was denied the opportunity to say goodbye. It still inches often. I regret that I could not. For example, when Poo left, I wanted to hug her tight at the airport but I couldn’t do that. Fucking Samaaj and all that. Not just with friends like Poo, each romantic relationship I’ve had since the beginning of time, I have not got closure. And at least in two of those, I did not offer closure. With my conscious as my only alibi, I know that I tried in both cases but I could not. I needed to try harder. Now, it’s going to be too little too late. I mean how do you tell someone you loved with all your head and heart that the neverending, forever love couldn’t stand the test of time and withered away? How do you tell someone you shared a room, a house with that you don’t feel as special about them as you did once upon a time? How do you tell them that you don’t feel loved when you are around them?
Anyhow. Rant. Again. Arrghh. Need to be better. Coming back. To A and our conundrum.
So, in an ideal scenario, both A and I wanted to be able to chase our bliss while keeping our families together (in A’s case he’s got a wife and two kids and then A’s wife’s parents and all that). If the two things (bliss and family) could intersect and coexist, nothing like it. But they clearly aren’t.
So there are a few options that we seem to have…
A/ Give up on bliss and go family first A decision that millions of people make every day. And there’s nothing wrong with it.
Come to think of it, at the end of the day, all of us are dead and life has no meaning per se. We are all just space dust floating around without a destination or a reason. Don’t want to get started on the raison d’etre narrative. Will take another million words.
B/ Find a way to chase bliss while you are near them. So, in my case, rather than being in Mumbai (or out of India), build a life in Gurgaon / NOIDA, etc.
This seems plausible but I am not sure if I want to do this. I don’t like the weather (winters I love but am not okay with heat). I don’t like the lack of professionalism. I don’t have the flexibility or the freedom that Mumbai offers me.
Wait. I think all my decisions in life boil down to this one trait – freedom. I don’t know why though. As a child or a young adult, I have always had the freedom to do more and thus I don’t understand what demon am I running away from. Or what goal am I chasing. I mean, in each thing I do, I seek freedom – not wearing shoes, not submitting to a calendar, not conforming to a dress code, not sitting on the window seat in a plane (cos I want to escape from the aisle fast), not wanting to not drive while I am not in a car. I can list a thousand quirks that make me and I am sure I can trace all those back to my want of freedom.
C/ Accept the inability to be a good son and drop that and chase bliss. Even if I am unsuccessful at it.
I mean I am 40 41 and I still need to scrounge around to make ends meet). Thanks to the people that work with me, I am able to earn some money but if I look at my life and my work independently, I think I can do more. LOT more. I was destined to change the world. Right now, I am having trouble changing the wifi network on my phone.
No, I do not write this from a negative lens or from a place of self-pity. Neither do I expect any slack from anyone. I am very very grateful for my life and how I’ve been lucky. I mean I write this on an expensive laptop tethered to an expensive phone that has two high-speed internet connections, sitting at a premium cafe in probably the most expensive neighborhood in a country that is not home. And I am here for no reason. How many people have this? Few! So, I am ok.
Just that I am aware of the gap between my potential and my reality. And the opportunity that fate has given me. If I don’t bridge this, it would be unfair. Of course, life itself isn’t fair but we all try. No?
The only open window would be that in chase of grandeur, I would have neglected my parents. And that’s not a good thing.
D/ Find a compromise. What I am doing right now is a compromise. I travel to Delhi as much as I can. And I continue to try and build a life that I like. I am not doing any of these things well but at least I am trying and doing as much as I can.
Like most things in like, you become a reflection of what you tried and what you left behind.
No. I am not clear on which of the four paths I need to take. When I wrote this, I was leaning towards B and C. When I read this again before publishing, I thought D was the best. So, I don’t know. Let’s see what I end up doing. Stay tuned to find out what I did ;P
Okay, this became a long rant. If you’ve made it till here and you want one takeaway from this 2000-word piece, let it be this – our lives are fragile, and unpredictable and we need to aim for closure in each interaction we have, especially with our loved ones.
The year started like yesterday! I mean I can’t even recall where did all this time go. All I have is this blurry vision of things and experiences and all that. Lemme see what I remember without any aids. And I will write about these in the order they come to me when I think about the year gone by.
We cracked a few clients for C4E. And we are growing. In case you are looking for a great place to work, consider us. See this form. Now to do more things with C4E and move in more zones.
Poo went to get herself a better life. I miss her but I am happy that she’s doing what she’s been trying to do for a long long time.
I was in BKK for a trip that was supposed to be 2 weeks long but I had to cut it short to 3 days. I have another 2-week trip coming up. I am hoping to not cancel that.
I got a new rental house in Mumbai. While I was transitioning between these houses, I lived in shitty hotels. I continue to not like the idea of living with friends or relatives.
I decided to take C4E in a high-performing, high-gear mode and I failed at it. I did not push my people more. I could’ve. I tried. But the moment I made some changes, I could see the cracks. I pulled back. But we need to become stronger.
I was in Delhi for a few days and I realised that my parents are getting old and they are fading fast. This is as polite and respectful as I can be about their age. So that. And since I have been thinking about this post from Tim Urban anyway, this visit was a stark reminder of the frailty and impermanence of life. The worst part is that you fade away. I think that’s a bad way to go – on one side, you can say your goodbyes and get closures and all that. On the other, you see former strong people as weak and frail. I dont know what’s more damning. Anyhow.
These are the things I recall. Lemme check my notes and see what else happened in this year that is worth capturing.
So, I checked my notes and I realised that I had remembered the key events. I would have wanted to change the order of how I remembered but that’s okay.
So this is how the year has been. Fairly ordinary. No large impacts. But then, it’s ok. As long as I’ve been able to manage to stay sane and engaged.
That’s it for the day. I am off to my annual break in less than two weeks. While I am there, I will try to eat better, write and think about life. Let’s see what the rest of the month holds for me.
So, one of the things I run is called the SoG (short for Shoulders of Giants) where I find young, bright people and then throw them with other young, bright people and then do things that make them friends with each other. In most cases, these people realise that they are smart and thus they make the effort to become friends. If not that, at least they develop mutual respect for each other. I throw ideas at them and then I get out of their way. To the point that I dont even bother with what they do or how they do it.
Of course, I do this with an ulterior motive. I want to not die a boring old man and surrounding myself with young people helps me learn more and do more. Plus I take their help in my work at C4E – you know, market research, ideation, concept testing, vox pops, cultural appropriation, new ideas and whatnot.
It has sort of become a symbiotic relationship where young people are challenged and they grow faster than they would. And I (and C4E) get access to ideas that we would otherwise miss. We help each other grow. Think Escher‘s Drawing Hands.
So I know this works. Helping each other grow. Do more. Etc.
And I have seen enough proof of this in action. I have seen how these kids change after they’ve spent a few months with each other. They blossom. It’s like a finishing school. They see the vastness of the sea. They find their way home and they start walking on the long road. They build their respective tribes. They anyway have access to the Internet and this SoG thingy becomes their gateway to people, places, and opportunities. I can write more but I hope you get the point.
For me, I’ve seen how attached I get to them as people – to the point that I get emotionally invested in their lives and success. As if they are my blood and my offspring. May be it’s my age (of 40) where biology is amplifying my fatherly instincts and making me want to protect and provide.
I am digressing. Coming back.
So, what I do at SoG works to the point that I’ve decided to make this my life’s work. While I will make money from C4E or whatever, I will spend a disproportionately large chunk of my time, social clout, energy, money and everything I have on pushing this program. Each thing I have would be spent on building this program up. Each connection I have will be requested to help me amplify these people. You will see me talk about this more and more. To a point, it would become my single largest communication imperative, ahead of even the work I do.
I dont believe in an afterlife or the epitaph (even though I have joked a lot about it) but if there’s one thing that I want to be known for, it is this. The person who gave big shoulders to young people (and in return took their shoulders to stand atop). The two groups (young people and C4E) help each other out and each spiral up!
However, the thing is, I run it like an ad-hoc program right now. Over the last 5 years, I have worked with 40 kids (if not more) from the ages of 15 to 23 and I have some sense of what works. I also have a sense of what doesn’t. I know why some kids drop midway. I know why some kids are unable to make friends. I know why some And I want to make it better. I want to put a structure to it. I want to write a 78-page plan that each person has to follow once they get into SoG. I want the plan to be a powerful template that each young person could follow to become a grand-slam success. I want it to be like a sure-shot road to success.
I know, I know that am merely thinking wishfully. The kind of thing I want to create and the kind of aukaat I have, they are two very different things. But then, if I don’t take shots out of my aukaat, why am I even here?
Over the next few days, I will work on it and like most things, build this in public. If you have any thoughts, any ideas, or any specific things that I can do to make this program better, please do let me know!
A session of freewriting where I rant about things that are at the top of my head. Specially about writing, people and more.
I haven’t written in a while. Except for PowerPoint presentations, emails and occasional tweets. Heck, I am not even writing stinkers to my beloved. At least with those I would get the creativeness out of the way. I’ve forgotten the joy that I felt when I wrote. I miss it. Each time I said a smart thing or created an amazing alliteration or planted an easter egg (or a 💣) or shuffled a word or two to make the text look better, I would love the feeling and I would clap at myself. You know, how Chris did for himself?
Most times I wrote in the past, I would write about inane things that no one else in the world would care about. It could be about places I’ve been to, things I did or even my love for Diet Coke (which I haven’t had in more than 3 months). See this.
Often I would write about things clouding my head. I will get into freewriting and then before publishing, redact a few things (and copy-paste those onto Roam or whatever notetaking app I was using at the time). I would take all the topics that I am thinking about and then write a note about each. Often the act of writing would give me some clarity. I am the kind that thinks while talking or writing. I can’t deep-think in my head. These freewriting sessions have given me a lot of clarity on a lot of things that I have been struggling to find an answer to. May be that’s what I’d do today?
So, I like the idea of a project-first life. The day-to-day rigmarole is not for me. A project life is where you are immersed in a project with your 100%. While you are on it, you dont have the time to think of anything else. It’s like flying a plane or operating a medical emergency. At a time, you can fly one plane (or operate on one person) and while you do that, you need to be there with your 100% attention. And you get a break after you are done with that project and you get onto the next one. This is because I spent my formative years as an event manager. I would do high-intensity corporate events and would have no time to think or work or read or distract myself with things, I would do the event and then come back to the next one. And in the middle, get ample breaks to recuperate, think, dream, chase hobbies etc.
In fact, I think, life as an event manager was good. I want to get back to it. ISTG I do. But I am not sure how. There is no way I’d get to make a billion dollars with it. And at this time there’s nothing else I want more than a billion dollars. In cash or equivalents. Not in valuation.
So that. Come to think of it, what I do right now (communication / marketing etc) doesn’t give me a shot at a billion either. Truth be told, my current occupation happened because of COVID-19. I was lucky that I could speak well and understood marketing. I was lucky that I had access to people that gave me work. I was lucky that I could create opportunities. I was lucky that people agreed to work with me and help me build C4E. I am lucky that these people now care for C4E and do it more than I do; to the point that I am no longer required.
All of this happened as an outcome of lucky accidents. Nothing was deliberate. I flowed with time. And that served me ok to the point that we are a good business with good people and ok work.
And this is what makes me think – if I could be deliberate with things and move things in a certain manner, we would probably be a great business with great people and great work. And that’s what I need to move towards.
The other day, Sonali told me something cool. She said the number one writing advice that Neil Gaiman gives to others is, “finish things”.
And that I think is what ails me. Not just with writing but with everything. I am great at ideating, thinking, staring. I am able to put in the resources needed to get things off the ground. But I lose interest soon after and I move on to the next one. Aditya Sir diagnosed it and told me that once I solve a problem in my head, I assume that I have solved it – without putting pen to paper or without making the actual effort to solve it. Which is so true! I mean I dont see the sense in solving it once I know how to solve it. The entire idea is to challenge your brains. And will. And may be the ability to finish? Lol!
The thing is, if I were to die tomorrow, the epitaph would say, “Here lies a man who started a thousand projects but didn’t finish even a single one”. Maybe I need someone to execute ideas. Right now, I have partners who work with me on ideas and that is great (someone co-owns those ideas along with me and allows me to co-parent and help do better with the idea) but I think we need an execution team. A set of people that know what Like a SWAT team that just goes and executes. Long ago I knew of a billionaire who had a team whose only job was to execute things – from planning his birthday party to setting up multi-million dollar manufacturing plants to fixing things that typically look impossible to outsiders.
So as a writer, I need to finish more things. Book 2, short film, 90-90-1, 1000 x 1000 – there are at least a hundred writing projects that I can work on but I don’t. No, the ink has not dried. No, the fun I had with writing hasn’t stopped fun-ning.
And as an entrepreneur, get a crack team of sorts to get those things done. The question is, why would the crack team work with me? What can I offer them? I am not the mad genius that attracts others. I am not that bad boy man that the world finds enamouring. I dont have the charisma that moves the mountains. I dont have the panache that gets young people to want to drop everything and follow you off the cliff! I am just another middle-aged man, past his prime, wanting to change the world. So that’s what I need to think about. Any ideas?
The sum total of whatever I’ve written above is two things – shipping and people. And while I may be okay with the second one, I need action on the first one. And that, ladies and gents is my thing for the day – the quart of writing, projects-first work, an execution team and people.
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.