Quarterly Update – JFM 2021

The quarterly update for JFM of 2021. I talk about things I did, I missed, lessons I learnt and plans for the next quarter.

This is a letter that I send to some of my mentors, friends, clients, and others that have shown a disproportionate interest in my life. Since I am embracing living in public, here is the unedited letter for everyone to see, read, consume, comment on, etc.

In case you don’t want to read this longish letter, an abridged version is here.

Hello! Hello!

So, you may remember me from conversations that we’ve had over the years (or recently, in some cases). This is my periodic update to people like you that have shown an active interest in my life. Even though brevity is not my cup of tea, I will still try to make this email as short as I can. Here we go…

I am not sure how it’s been for you, but for me, JFM 2021 has been a turnaround compared to how 2020 was.

For starters, I am generally more hopeful about life and things. This has happened because I was lucky to have landed a couple of projects that are paying me well, making me learn new things and connecting with new people. Yay!

Further, I am a little more grounded. Physically (thanks to COVID) and metaphorically (thanks to all that’s in my head).

Finally, I am very very happy that my loved ones and I are safe in these uncertain times. I do have a few friends that get infected but most of those are doing ok. Phew! Hope you guys are good as well. Please stay safe, stay indoors and stay cool!

So, coming to the report for Q1, here we go…

A. Wins / Achievements

  1. As we speak, I am on a 119-day streak of writing every day. I have not missed a single day! You can check out some of the posts here. Knowing myself, this is probably my biggest achievement of the last quarter.
  2. I now ‘live in public’. It translates into my intention of getting my thoughts, actions, and reality in sync. See some posts here. This was one of my goals for the year. I am embracing it and I count that as a win. Must write a longer post on this sometime.
  3. AD, the team and I took The Podium into another unchartered territory with events and masterclasses. In the event, we invite some established founders / investors as jury and give aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their startups to them. The idea is not to get them to a funding round per – if that happens, great. But the larger intention is to give the participants feedback on what they are up to. The next one is on the 24th of April. Lemme know if you want to attend. This is important to me as it takes me a step closer to being a VC.
  4. I am now live on Youtube. This is the first time ever that I have appeared on the Internet. This allows me to now chase more opportunities on Youtube. Let’s see where it goes.
  5. On the work front, I continue to work as a brand planner for a digital agency. I also picked an additional project to help market a cloud-computing tool. Both these are ongoing engagements and I think I need one more project and I’ll be sorted. Help me find this additional project? Other things like Podium, PPP, TRS remain on the back burner for me to be honest. I need daal roti right now.

B. Losses / Shortcomings

As against the planned goals for 2021 (listed here), here is what I have missed…

  1. No action on #book2. I think I am fooling myself that I want to write a book. If I wanted to, I would do something about it. I mean I have been writing morning pages for 100+ days and I ensure that they get written. But the book, I don’t even get started! I don’t know why. There’s something in me that makes me want to not let go of this. And then there’s something that makes me want to not even get started.
  2. I had planned to do a project a month. We are in April and I don’t have a single project to talk about. May be I will ship one of those this month. Or may be a quarter. Let’s see.
  3. I have yet to take any action on fitness so far. I am not walking, I am perpetually tired. I am not eating right. I don’t know what to do about this.

Apart from these, here are the things that I could’ve done better.

  1. I still have a hard time saying no to things. A lot of my actions are still guided by emotions (I am far from becoming a robot). I need to be this. Don’t ask me why. I just think that you need to be attached to the outcome, rather than actions.
  2. I remain a fool and a sucker for approval from people and I continue to be taken for a ride!
  3. I am still unable to close windows. Read more about it here.
  4. I wanted to start the Marketing Connect Podcast Season 2 but I haven’t been able to. I had to prioritize and focus on work that gives me revenue and a stronger shot at connections. More on this in a bit.
  5. I was unable to find a place in Goa. Rather, I am back in Mumbai. Stuck here to be close to opportunities, reliable Internet, and well, people! The time I spent in Goa between December and March was great fun. Even though the world is moving to Goa and is happily working from there, I haven’t been able to. The simple reason is that I refuse to live in a “city” like Panjim / Porvorim. And the phone / internet remains unreliable at non-cities like Anjuna / Vagator. And I need reliable, fast access to communication for work I do. I wrote this long post on my Goa experience. Of course, I will have a leg in that place. Let’s see when and how.

C. New projects that I am excited about? What do I plan to do in the next 3 months?

As always, I am that kid in the candy store and I keep looking for things to work on. Here are some old / new toys that I am incredibly excited about. Maybe these could be the things that I will ship in AMJ!

  1. The SoG Book. I want to bind some of my best letters into a book that I share with people. For some reason, a finished product delivers a better impact than an ongoing one.
  2. The Investor Thesis podcast. Along with the marketing podcast, I am now working on the investor’s one. I want to learn more about how to make investment decisions as I move beyond what I already know. If you know any VCs, do connect me, please.
  3. The Killer Boogie routine. See this. I am told you can master this in 20 days. I am giving myself a quarter.

Apart from these three large things, I also will also work on the following…

  1. The SoG Grant. The idea is to support creators with a no-strings-attached, microgrant for a project of their choice. More here.
  2. Get active on doing video. All this while I did not want to be on the Internet But I realize that with time, I cannot avoid that. So, why not embrace it? And thus, I will get active on video. Just that the world has had enough and more gyaan on youtube. Who needs yet another person paddling common sense on Youtube? Plus, the production quality is already through the roof – better cameras, tight scripts, slick editing, gaming of algorithms, and all those hidden tricks of the Internet! I don’t think I stand a chance. But that’s the fun. No? Let’s see though how it pans out.
  3. Oh, I may also raise about 5 crores from friends and family to create a micro VC fund to support aspiring entrepreneurs with angel rounds. I am doing this with a couple of friends. In case you have money that you are ok to lose in order to support other entrepreneurs, please do let me know.

D. What help do I need on?

So, apart from the things that I talked about above, there are indeed a few things that I need help on. Here’s a list.

  1. Connect me with the biggest hustler you know of. You know, someone who’s out there seeking work, delivering work, making connections, doing things that are out of their league.
  2. Help me get “meaningful” work and keep me away from a Naukri! In the past, I have worked on events, brand strategy, digital marketing, product, and more. I know this sounds scattered but I do have the requisite expertise and demonstrable experience. Do help me find gigs (freelance please) with businesses that are doing interesting and impactful things. I want to stay away from the run-of-the-mill stuff, please. 

E. Finally, what can I help you with?

If there is anything that I can help you with, please do let me know. I am very handy with marketing, content, the Internet, and more. Plus, I am told I am very resourceful ;). Please DO ASK!

***

So, this is about from the update. Thank you so much for reading this. And your patronage and attention. Means a lot! 

Thank You!
Saurabh Garg
Andheri, Mumbai
10 April 2021

PS: Should you want to give me anonymous feedback on this email (or anything else under the sun), please use https://forms.gle/28bVP8DYz2WGdHdp8. And yes, I LOVE not-so-kind, brutal, and honest feedback.

Here are previous updates.
2021 – Annual Goals
2020 – Annual GoalsJanFeb-MarApr-MayJun-Jul-Aug
2019 – AugSepOctNovDec

Tweets vs Blogposts

Even when we are in 2020, why do I prefer blogging over tweets? As a creator, as a learner and as someone that wants to grow!

Hola! 

If you are a longtime reader of this blog (or blogs in general), you would know how blogging as a hobby has been sort of replaced by things like Instagram, tweets, and so on and so forth. Both in general and for me. And how blogging is now a lot more “content marketing” where companies pay peanuts to desk monkeys to churn out words that trap those search engine spiders logs. And how the “content” that is created does not really do anything good to any reader, even if they may want to read about that topic. And how there is so much content that it’s impossible to filter noise and signal; assuming you know what is signal for you! And how long-form writing by non-writers is dying a slow death? 

It’s sad that so many people sharing so many deeply personal anecdotes with so many strangers is all gone. I mean it’s now moved to Twitter and Instagram and all that. But I am not sure how many people are blessed with the talent to push their thoughts in mere 280 characters (or maybe 2200 for Insta). I, at least cant. Not that gifted. May be if I work hard on writing, I may learn the art of brevity? 

And this is why I have kept the blog alive. And this is why I love the idea of writing letters (come, be my pen pal?). And this is why I like the idea of journaling, diary entries, notes, etc. 

The thing is, a blog allows me to push my unfiltered thoughts, things I am thinking on, things I am working on, things I seek opinion on. And put those somewhere on the world wild web. For others to see and respond to and allow me to think better.

I miss those times when I’d be brimming with ideas about the blog posts that I’d want to write. I’d have a draft folder thicker than all the 7-8 Harry Potter books combined. And I’d look forward to publishing posts and wait with bated breath for that one rare comment that I would get once in a month or two. It was another level of exhilaration. Something that the Twitter generation would never know – after all, tweets are far faster to engage with 🙂

Anyhow. 

So, today, I am thinking about where do I want my content to go (this is what I’d do with my blog – write write write till I get tired; vomit out all my ideas, thoughts here; and since the blog is in the public domain, I’d try harder to put forth better arguments; and by the time I was done writing, I’d have some sort of clarity). Here is my attempt to think with my words. 

And, with that, here we go. In no order… 

1. Individual as a Media Company

In the times to come, unless you are a media company (even as an individual), you’d lose out. As a business, as an individual, as even a rock or a vegetable. Stories, media, content would help you stay relevant. 

You thus have to think like a media company and churn out content that is valuable and interesting and all that. 

2. 1000 True Fans

The entire idea of 1000 True Fans would be far far more relevant in the times to come. Creators (a word I used when I applied for Gumroad’s gig for customer service) would live lives that they want and will rely on patrons to support them with micro-transactions, micro-donations. And with time, you would see more and more people go down the creator route. We are already seeing the likes of Patreon, Onlyfans, etc allowing people to create economically sustainable lives. 

3. Writing

As someone who likes to straddle multiple things and at some point in time make an impact for a billion people, I need to be very very good with words. After all, words do move mountains. And these words will open doors for me, allow me to know more people, satiate my curiosity, and so on and so forth. 

In one word, my words will give me access. And thus I need to get more active and more aggressive with this! 

4. Text vs Pictures vs Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. So, to improve the output by a 1000×1000, I need to pivot to doing videos at some point. Not sure though when.

PS: Thanks, Annkur for the nudge. Do tell me what would you want to see on a video from me. 

5. One, single, unified home for content

Right now, my content is scattered at multiple places – my own website, medium, blog, Mailchimp, tiny letter, substack, and more. And with each passing day, these platforms are only going to grow and more platforms would come in. And thus the content will scatter even more. 

And as a result, my patrons (and the ones I want to get access to) would probably not find what they are looking for! 

So I need to find a solution to this. May be I will use the website to showcase the best work and one blog destination to dump these thoughts? I don’t know yet. 

6. Tracks that people want to read about

Continuing with the scatteredness, it is no secret that I am a scatterbrain. My writing, output, and other things are spread too thin. I talk about marketing, entertainment, content, podcasts, entrepreneurship, writing, habits, notes, poker, and a million other things. 

And thus there is no way I can give a consistent experience to readers that are interested in just one genre. I mean if you are a filmmaker, you may want to read what I had to write about The Trial of the Chicago 7 but why would you read about how I refuse to have a kitchen at my home? Or that walking barefoot is the thing you need to practice but living in a city like Mumbai, it’s literally impossible! 

So once I know what and how and where all I am writing, there has to be a way for people to identify “tracks” they want to consume and they must be able to go down that path easily. For example, when you are subscribing to newsletters on those large websites, you have an option of subscribing to certain sections (kind of content) and receive updates from only that section, that track. I will have to implement that! 

7. Twitter

Lemme talk about Twitter. The thing that got me down this path! 

The thing with the tweet is, even though there is a permalink of the tweet per se, to me, a tweet looks and feels ephemeral. It is something that’s hanging in the air. I’d love to change it and have a more solid, permanent, tangible link. Like a URL to a website. A website feels a lot more solid to me. Oh, by the way, the public URLs that I host on my own website on? They are tough to pull off – I keep trashing my website every now and then and I start from scratch! I need to fix this. 

Plus, while most of my greatest connections have come via Twitter, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s the primary destination where I create content. It can at best be a distribution platform. And heck, it’s a powerful destination! No? 

8. Writing to pay your bills

Making money and pivoting to being a writer! This is a big one. And this is what I am most conflicted about. 

The thing is, I’d love to be on substack or Patreon or something because I like the idea of monetizing my audience, my true fans. Even though I do NOT write with the intention of making money off my writing, I have been told by at least one person (thanks, Krishna!) that he is happy to pay me for what I write. Apparently, it adds value to his life. And that to me is music. 

For two reasons. A, I add value. The reason I even write in the first place. And B, people find it valuable enough to pay! 

So, if I can get 1000 people like Krishna, I’ll be free from the rigmarole of holding onto a steady job! And I can potentially take a step in the direction where I won’t have to work for others. And spend my life like a dog chasing cards – in random pursuits, where the chase itself is a reward! 

Of course, once I start seeking money for what I write, I need to not get sucked into this honeytrap and go down the desk-monkey route. 

The other thing that I am sure of is that I do not want to “profiteer” by sharing things I know. Whatever little I know, I know those because I have had generous people who were kind to me and shared things with me without expecting anything in return. And it is not right for me to profiteer when I myself haven’t paid for those! So that!

A big part of me thus does not want to charge at all. May be I’ll accept donations? I can ask people to donate whatever they deem is ok. But then, while I go with the pay what you go model, do I want to guilt-trip people into paying? Dunno. 

And if and when I do go the monetization path (in whatever shape or format), I need to decide how do I do it. With Patreon? Substack? Stripe? Ideally, I’d love to have a button or something (may be stripe connection to WordPress) on my own website. Let’s see. 

Sigh! You see the conflict? 

9. Accountability.

This is a big one. Right now, I write things as and when I feel like. There is no structure, no predictable cadence, no topic, no accountability. But once I decide that I want to be a writer for hire, I would have to be a lot more accountable. Someone said it right that a predictable routine is one of the secrets behind a free, wild, flowing, interesting life – the kind that gives you experiences that you long for. And the experiences that can shape you into a better man! 

So, I need to probably pull them socks up and get to a routine. For what I write, even if it’s across genres and all that. No?

***

So yeah, these things. 

What started as a rant, a comparison between tweets and blog posts has become a tome that I am not sure who would read. 

I will decide over the next few days and I will of course keep you guys posted. Till then, it’s over and out!