The Money Plant Companionship

What if I told you that a money plant mimics the way my life moves? Would would believe it? Wait. Why should you even? Read on to find out.

Again, a day where I don’t have anything specific to write about. Well, except, this! And since there is nothing else to write about, I am going to talk about it. After all, I have committed to writing for 30 minutes every day for 30 days.

Like I said yesterday, I want to be attached to as few things as possible. And I want to own as limited things as possible. And as a result, over the next few days, I will throw / discard most of the things I own.

Of the things that I will retain is this money plant.

3

Why?

Lemme tell you the backstory.

To be honest, I don’t know when I got this plant. Or how I got this plant. Maybe someone gifted this to me? Or may be my sis left this behind when she moved back to Delhi 3 years ago. But I do know that I have retained this plant for at least 4 years now and I have moved this particular plant every time I have moved houses. And over these four years, I have seen the plant flourish and I have seen it withered down to just 2 leaves. And each time, the state of the plant has sort of mirrored the state of my life!

In fact, I think, like in the Last Leaf (a masterpiece by O Henry) the way protagonist attaches her life to the leaf on a tree, I believe my fortune is attached to the leaves on this money plant.

I am serious. I have data to prove it. Since I have started tracking, the plant has hardly had any leaves and my life has been topsy-turvy. In fact, I don’t recall when was the last when the plant really flourish. And honestly, I don’t remember when was the last time I flourished. I mean I have had a fairly decent life, but I haven’t really flourished per se.

For a large part of the past 2 months, the plant had just 2 leaves.

But as I was prepping to move on to a new one, I spotted another leaf. The third one. So, there is an improvement. And thus, I am hopeful that the new house will be luckier than the previous one. I hope the plant goes back to having many more leaves. May be this year on, it will flourish again? May be I will flourish again?

Or, may be I am merely being a fool and I am confusing causation to correlation What do you think?

This post is a part of 30 minutes every day for 30 days project. This was Day 8. Other posts are at 301031100111021103110411, 0511.

PS: Realised that the trouble with writing AND publishing every day is that I hardly get any time to edit. And thus a lot of bugs slip through. Need to find a way out. Any ideas anyone?

400102 to 400053

So, the annual ritual of changing homes just happened all over again.

This time, I moved from 400102 to 400053. The last time, I moved from there to here.

The drop happened not in just the Pincode but also in the lifestyle. From a 2 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom. From “lavish” (by Mumbai standards) to a cramped space that people in Mumbai are used to. From a newly constructed building to a tower that is probably older than me!

Like all moves in life, this one is also full of excitement, anxiousness, sadness, happiness, and most importantly, hope! And even though I have downgraded things, I remain hopeful that the tide shall turn and I will see that hockey-stick chart again. Let’s see when.

Meanwhile, since this is a post in the 30 minutes of writing every day for 30 days thing that I am doing, lemme try to write more. The announcement of the move took me less than three minutes! And lemme try to write more about the move.

So as I was getting my things moved, I realized, that each time I move, I am surprised by the number of things I own.

Why?

Well for starters, I have always believed in minimalism, and yet I have a billion things. I mean look at the pictures below! The house is anyway tiny with all these things, I hardly have any space to walk around. It’s like living in a walk-in closet! #note2self – throw things so that I can move in just a car. I dont know how I’d discard them books though 🙁

Plus, I anyway don’t buy too many things. I have one pair of denim pants. I have two pairs of shoes. No fancy accessories. And yet I have some million boxes of things.

The other thing that I am surprised at is that while I was packing, I was bereft of any emotion about the place where I lived for a year. I am, after all, quitting it for good. After things were moved out, it felt that the soul of the house was sort of stripped away. It looked like a naked body, sans any character. And yet, I felt no emotions at all. I should’ve ideally welled up. I even tried. I imagined all the good things and the bad that came along with the house. But I could not bring myself to tears.

Which is, good! The idea is to not get attached to things!

Ok, lemme pick the thread on the bit about quitting the house for good. And while I do that, how about I replace the house with a person and my occupation of the house as companionship with that person? Now, I would’ve ideally liked to stay in the house for longer (probably, till eternity) but because I could no longer afford the rent, I had to move out. Similarly, I could have people that I want to stay together with forever (say, a girlfriend) but due to some circumstances (say, differences), she and I have to move away. The million-dollar question is, when that happens, would I continue to be bereft of emotions?

Wait. Is this comparison even valid? Is this some coherence in my personality where I am afraid of attaching myself to people and things? What am I afraid of? What stops me from developing an attachment to people and / or things?

And, if not attached, am really detached? There are people I refuse to give up on, despite the unrequited connections I have with them. There are things that I refuse to throw away even though I have not touched them in ages. Is this how detachment supposed to work? Can I ever be that nomad that I have always craved to become? And if that’s what I crave for, where would I land up when I want to be home? What is that identity that I must attach myself to?

No, I don’t have answers.

And no, I don’t think of these things on a regular, typical day. And it’s funny that shifting houses is bringing these questions to the top of the head that’s got no hair and all meddled ideas!

Of course, the answers remain elusive. May be they’d come in one such shift? Till then, over and out.

This post is a part of 30 minutes everyday for 30 days project. This was Day 7. Other posts are at 30103110011102110311, 0411.

Day 6 – I don’t know what to write about…

A journal of sorts of how I spent my day on the 4th of Nov 2020.

But I will.

After all, I am on this trip where I am hoping to write every day for 30 days for 30 minutes. Today’s the 6th day. On the trot. Yay!

As the entire world awaits the outcome of the US elections with bated breath, here I am, in a corner of Mumbai, thinking about what to write about. While I do have a million things on my mind and I could write about those, there’s no one thing that’s popping in my head as a clear leader.

So, in absence of anything specific to write about, I will just do a recap of sorts for the day.

9 AM

I started my day with a meeting that got canceled. I was up all night, last night preparing for this meeting!

The spare time I had, I used that to speak to one of the people I talked about in yesterday’s post. I sort of “coached” him on productivity and gave him simple tips about how to do things better. The biggest tip I gave him was Paul Graham’s Maker Day and Manager Day. In case you don’t know about it, go read it. It’s worth its weight in gold!

10 AM

The other big thing that happened today is that a friend connected me with one of his friends and wants me to give gyaan on effective notes. Notes is another thing that happened to me just because I wrote a post about it. The post went to a lot of people and some of those implored me to “teach” them the methods. And when I did talk to them about the methods, they seemed to enjoy it!

So, a clear case of how the work you do in public has unintended consequences! The lesson for you? Do more public work!

1 PM

Next, I met a friend for a coffee (and I had green tea) and he gave me dope about, well, me!

He told me things about me that I could not see and yet everyone around me could! You know, things that you don’t know that you don’t know?

If I talk from the lens of Johari Window, he showed me my Blind Area.

It was quite a revelation. He actually pointed out things that I was clearly unaware of. And these things are deterrents, to say the least. And I need to clearly work on those. I also need to clearly work on not using the same word in three consecutive sentences.

10 PM

Lastly, I just finished a meeting with my writing group. We met via Twitter and we try to help each other with writing.

In fact, this series of posts is actually an outcome of an idea that someone threw at me in the group. No, my notes don’t have that person’s name. Good that I don’t. The kind of writing that am creating, I am so embarrassed!

1137 PM

So yeah, I think this is it for the day.

Again, this is not one of the best posts I’ve written. But I wanted to get the words out of my system. And I wanted to write for 30 minutes. I think with this summary, I’ve done both. And that means, its an over and out from me.

Take care!

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 6. Other posts are at 3010311001110211, 0311

May you live in interesting times!

A rant on how “interesting” the 5th day of ’30 minutes of writing for 30 days’ project was. Read at peril.

This is the 5th day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 11:17 PM (ended at 11:54 – well over 30) and I don’t have a lot of time (have some work) and thus I may not get 30 minutes under the belt. Plus, what I have to say is anyway not going to take much. So let’s see.

Today was an “interesting” day. For a lot of reasons. Lemme see if I can describe the reasons for interestingness in an interesting manner so as to do justice to the grandeur of this day.

A. The Helping Hand

For starters, three different people asked me to help them today.

One wanted help on writing, second on managing time, and third on reaching his life purpose. I know these three people from three different circles (one from MDI, second from Twitter, and third from work). Each lives in a different city.

And yet each of these people thought that I could help them with their respective predicaments.

While I am not sure I can help them, but I am glad to know that people have started to recognize me as someone they could reach out to when they need help. This is definitely a step in the direction of my #lifeGoal! So, yay!

B. The Good and The Bad and The Resolve

I have recently picked a few gigs where I am giving away fixed hours in exchange for money (counter-intuitive to every advice that I have ever held dear about how to get rich). And even though its not even been a month, I can clearly see why its a bad idea. And why its a good idea. Lemme elaborate.

Bad

I believe life is far larger and far meaningful than wasting time by doing things that don’t matter (to you!). Such as, wasting an entire day at an office, only to pick a laptop! And spending your night, working on a presentation that did not require any urgency per se.

Good

I had to pick these gigs cos the work that gave me the money to live a fairly good life? That has dried up (thank you, COVID. And thank you, SG for some really stupid decisions). And if I did not have these “stable” businesses wanting to hire explorers like me, we’d die hungry.

And I also appreciate that there may be people that like the idea of “stable” work that sucks their soul, in exchange for money that allows them to experience grand things in life on the weekends. Even though it is not for me, it’s not a bad tradeoff if you ask me.

So yeah, bad and good.

The resolve?

Well, I promise that I will get back to a point where I work for anyone but myself. The way things are, I don’t think that will happen before a year and each day in the year would be, well, interesting. I’d ideally love to run away from it as fast as a rat runs away from a ship that has hit an iceberg!

But I promise to myself that I would stay for at least a year (if not more). And I will use each “interesting” day to make my resolve stronger. And my hustler, harder. All in hopes that I don’t ever have to see these interesting times again.

C. The Notches

I wore denims and a formal shirt and sports shoes. My typical work attire. Or any formal occasion attire for that matter. And while I did that, I also wore a belt and I realised that I have put on so much weight that I need to add a notch on the belt.

While I should be gunning for removing notches from the belt, here I am, growing (quite literally) in the other direction. When this lockdown thingy started, I had resolved (where did I hear this word recently?) to lose weight, learn guitar, finish #book2 and I dont know what else. Of all the goals, I was fairly confident of losing weight. After all, I am not a foodie. Wait, lemme munch onto this Egg Roll that I just ordered. So, yeah, I am not a foodie and I could have lost weight but I put on weight! And I need to do something about it.

That’s it. That’s the third part. Nothing more. Nothing less. A reminder to self that I need to lose weight.

***

So yeah. This is for the post of the day. A ranty one. But at least I shipped. After all, real artists ship! Even on interesting days.

PS: If someone wishes you that “may you live in interesting times“, you now know what to do. Don’t you?

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 5. Other posts are at 301031100111, 0211

The Marketing Connect Meetups

If you are a marketer in India, here’s a networking opportunity that you can NOT miss. Come meet other marketers like you with this curated, 1v1, networking opportunity.

Lemme tell you a secret.

I am a podcast host. Really.

I am.

In fact, I am the host of The Marketing Connect Podcast where in the first season, I have spoken to some of the finest marketers in the country. Via these conversations, I try to learn from their journeys and what it takes to succeed in the day and age that we live in! I am not sure if that has helped the listeners but I have learned a lot. Just that I hate my voice and thus I have not really marketed the marketing podcast. Well, the mystery of life 😀

So, one of the reasons I started this podcast, was to meet interesting people.

My thesis was that if I wrote into seniors from the industry and asked for a meeting, they may or may not respond to me. But if I told them that I have a podcast, they would respond faster / better.

And they did!

I was able to reach marketers from more than 15 companies like Pidilite, Burger King, Eros, Magicbricks, FBB, and more. Each interaction was for good two-three hours and I could ask them questions about their lives, career trajectory, mistakes, learnings, and more. I don’t think I would’ve ever been able to get into such candid chats with people if it were not on a podcast.

Of course, the downside is that each conversation required hours and hours of prep (research on the guest, editing, and general operational things).

Ok. Wait. Lemme digress for a bit…

Hello, Lunchclub.ai

I recently got introduced to this website, lunchclub where they match me with “interesting” professionals and invite us to get into 1v1, quick, short video calls with each other. Think of speed “dating” for professional conversations.

In the last 2 weeks, I have had 3-4 calls and the quality of people I’ve met has been superb. Most of these people I met were like me – explorers, tinkerers, generalists, Jacks (and Janes) of all trades, and others of the ilk. And since these calls are 1 on 1, I could open up about things that I would probably not on a public chat.

So, it works well.

And it is quite similar to podcasting – just that the people I meet are strangers (so there is that excitement and tentativeness when I meet them) and there is no background research required (so, I need to invest less time).

This is when the light bulb went off in my head!

Hello, Marketing Connect Meetups!

So, what if I marry the podcast (that I hate to market) and some tenets from lunchclub (that I love)? And create a matchmaking opportunity for marketers?

To attend these meetups, you have to be a marketer. You could be on the client-side or the agency-side. Or you could be a freelance consultant (like me). But you have to be in the marketing space!

So, Marketing Connect Meetups is an opportunity to meet other marketers!

Sounds cool?

Here’s how this would work. Simple steps.

  1. I invite you to fill this Google Form. And no, I will NOT spam you.
  2. Once you’ve filled in, each weekend, I will curate matches (manually!!) and make introductions. I will send emails to you guys and invite you to meet each other.
  3. You guys then move me to BCC and plan and schedule a meet / call.
  4. What happens post that call? Well, up to you. May be you’d work together, maybe you’d pick brains, maybe you’d teach others something that you. are passionate about! The possibilities are endless.
  5. Give me feedback! Simple!

Simple. Right?

Oh, here are some ground rules.

  1. Safety first! Like any other matchmaking platform, we would get all sorts of people and it would be tough to filter the kind of people we’d get. So, please do stay safe. Although these meetups are planned in a professional setting and we have the Linkedin handles of each attendee, you never know.
  2. Respect trumps everything. Respect is not just about how you speak to people but also about how you conduct yourself, and how you respect the other person. For example, if you have set up a particular time for the call, you better show up on time! I hope you get the drift.

And here are some disclaimers.

  1. I am merely giving you an opportunity to meet others that you would other. Please do know that I can not control how these meetings would turn out for you.
  2. This is an experiment. I don’t know how this would pan out but I would love to have this become a way to meet new people.

In the end, I don’t know if this will work or not. Or if this will appeal to other marketers. But I do think that this “variation” of lunchclub is worth giving a shot. It is yet another itch that I want to scratch.

And here I am, with it. Lemme know what you think.

Oh, and this is part of the 30 posts in 30 days project. This was Day 4. Other posts are at 3010, 3110, 0111.

Day 3 – Spilled!

I continue to be butterfingers and spill tea on my laptop and the table that I work at!

Read about it.

As I write this, I am at a Starbucks (yeah, even with lockdown and COVID by withstanding, I have been coming to a Starbucks for a week now). I am one of those rare ones to believe that nothing would happen to me. It is 6:42 PM (published at 7:13 PM) and I am going to write for the next 30 minutes. And I do have a thing that I want to write about. Read on.

So, I am one of those people that has extremely good hand-eye coordination. so much so that I can give competition to Po, the greatest Kung-Fu master of all time. Or to those robots that seem to be snatching balls mid-air. Even Jonty Rhodes is nothing compared to me (do see this video of Jonty in action to get a sense of how good I am!).

Once I see a room with my eyes, I can walk in there with a blindfold on my eyes.

Really!

In fact I claim that once I place something on a table with my hands, I am so aware of my surroundings that I can close my eyes and reach out to things that I have placed on the table.

And yet… I have this notorious record of spilling things on my laptop. Thing is, when I write, I like to keep the laptop an arm away, stretch my hands and place my notepad, pen, tea / coffee / coke / water etc between the laptop and the edge of the table.

See this picture.

Saurabh Garg's desktop
Apologies for the bad picture quality…

Yeah yeah. I am sure you are worried that I am walking on eggshells and I am inviting disaster every time I even flinch. And I agree. But what is that life that you don’t live on the edge of?

And you know what is missing in this picture?

A cup of black tea that I was sipping onto, that I spilled on the table and the notepad and the laptop!

Sigh.

Thing is, most days I am ok with this setup. And most days I don’t spill things. But today, I did. At a crowded Starbucks and I had everyone staring at me as if I were a petulant child! Or I was Edward (Scissorhands).

So yeah, that was the achievement of the day. I had no clue that I would write about this but now that I made the mistake of spilling tea, why not make it into an opportunity and talk about it 🙂

And with this, its over and out. See you guys tomorrow!

If you like this, spread the word. Help me get an audience. I know these essays are cool :D. Older posts – 3010, 3110

Day 2 – Humans vs Robots

A tiny home-improvement decision that I think I will take as I move to a new house in the next week. Part of my 30 days of writing every day for 30 minutes project.

This is the second day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 9:09 PM (ended at 9:56 PM) and I do have this one thing that I want to talk about. Let’s see how long I take to write it.

So, in less than a week, I move to a new house. Like all the other houses that I have lived at, this one is also not mine and that means I am reluctant to acquire things that make the house a home. I mean I don’t put no pictures, no photos, no posters, nothing that resembles a place that is lived well. Even the furniture, I don’t acquire it. I don’t like the idea of material possessions (while I do have a bagful of memories – photos, postcards, tickets, hand-written trinkets and all that), I try and not attach myself to things.

There are multiple reasons for that. Lemme make a list.

A. In the past, when I did have things that I could attach myself to, every time I’d move the house, those would break and I’d get sad about em. So, to avoid disappointment, I decided against acquiring things.

B. Thing is, I like finer things (you know, expensive, made with love, limited edition, by artisans) and I have this big child ego (I either want the whole world, or nothing) and I have never had a lot of disposable money to be able to buy all the nice things. So, I trained myself to overlook these material things and not pine for those. I would of course continue to spend money to get some of these for friends. These gifts are voluntary – I can choose to get those or I could not get any at all. However, if I get addicted to better things, I would start pining for those and I know I can’t afford em. So, detach.

C. Continuing with the thread of detachment, I am trying to have minimal attachments to material things. This means I am embracing minimalism, Buddhism, Stoicism, Mary-Knodoism, Hagge-ism, and every other such -ism that tells us to be simple with our lives.

Of course, do get emotional when I have to change the house. I do not like to be around when I move. I rely on my friends and handymen to do so. Like they say, truth, is weirder than fiction 🙂

D. I saved the best for the last. I love space. And the kind of houses that we have in Mumbai, we have anything but space. Even with minimal furniture and furnishing, you sort of keep bumping into the walls all the time. So, I try and avoid stuffing the house with things!

***

So yeah, I have lived my life in a certain manner (like a robot) and I think it serves me well.

So, why this post?

Well, as I said, I am going to move to a new house in the next week. And as I get ready to make the move, I am thinking that I will change it! Thinking. Not doing it. And I will list those reasons as well here.

Let’s go.

1. I want to look at life on the other side. The side where you get emotional about things. I am after all an experience junky. To a point that I want to pack a thousand lives into this tiny one that we have. And I’d love to see things from. the perspective of the vain ones.

2. I want to assert my personality. When I had a business that was well and alive (prior to the COVID shock), I could project myself via my work. Now, I cant. So, I need to find something that allows me to. Even if it’s a simple wall in one of the rooms where I post things that are important to me.

3. I have always been a public-place person. I cant spend time at home. I feed off the energy of others and that means I love places like cafes and offices and worksites where I can see others working. Thanks to this WFH thingy, I know that I may not be able to get back to an office anytime soon (even though I have been going to a Starbucks every day for a week now). So, I need to convert the new place to resemble a bright, cheery place. That means I will have to get home those yellow lights, ambient speakers, the aroma of the coffee, and more! music systems and all that. And that means I will have to set up a few things that make my house, well, home, and start living like a human!

Robot. Human. Get the drift?

That’s it for the day.

With this, its over and out. See you guys tomorrow!

If you like this, spread the word. Help me get an audience. I know these essays are cool 😀 Older posts – 3010.

The 30-minutes a day writing habit

Come find out why am I picking a new hobby of writing everyday for at least 30 minutes.

So, I am part of this group of writers that meets once every week (on Zoom). All of us want to write long-form content (3000+ words in length) and in general, be better writers. Thus, a lot of our chats are around how to write better, how to get better ideas for writing, how to have an interesting perspective on things to be able to write about those, and so on and so forth.

We throw ideas at each other, we ask each other tough questions and more importantly, we try and help each other out when we are stuck.

On this week’s call, Shravya talked about Andy Matuschak and his routine of writing every day for 30 minutes. What he writes could be a thing as simple as a summary of the book that he’s read recently. Or it could be a part of an essay that he’s working on. Or something from his writing inbox. The output is not important. What is important is that he gets 30 minutes of writing done.

Think of it as your daily practice of workout, meditation, or even those 10000 steps! It’s such a simple idea and I think like all other things that you do as routine for a fairly long period, it would compound and give you fabulous returns.

I have myself engaged in a similar exercise at different times where I would ensure that I would write every day. I have done various avatars – from writing an SoG a day to writing 1000 words a day to even taking a picture each day and writing about it. Of course, I always slack after a few days.

But I have never been this serious about writing as I have been in the past few months. Not even when I was writing #tnks! Thing is, I have seen some crazy connections happen just because what I wrote resonated with so many people!

I realise that writing could actually lead me to things that I want in life – access to interesting people, money and more importantly, impact. Even if I am not the most flowery writer. Even if I am not the deepest, most insightful writer. And even if I what I write does not move a mole!

So, buoyed by that, here’s a promise to self.

To double down on effort I make with my writing. I will add 30 minutes of writing to my daily routine (other things there are 10 minutes of meditation, 16000 steps and 20 pullups). And I will publish each day’s work here, on this blog.

I will do this for at least 30 days, start today. Today is Day 1 and this post is today’s output 🙂

Do read what I write and do feed me back with how I could improve.

Over and out!

The Freelancer Gig Economy Mismatch

What can be done to create a better ecosystem for freelancers and freelancer gigworkers to thrive?

The post that I wrote a few days ago? I have more thoughts on it.

I realised that even if I do choose to become a full-time, freelance writer, I would continue to be associated with the marketing / communications industry in some manner. And with the startup universe. Maybe as a mere people-connector. Or maybe as a consultant, maybe as a service provider and of course as a seeker of services (often I get projects that are bigger than what I can handle by myself and I need collaborators).

I don’t know yet.

But I think this would be the new normal for other creative + knowledge workers like me. People would don multiple hats, do multiple things (things that they like) and collaborate with others that have the same sensibilities and yet different, complementary skills.

Afterall, this lockdown and pandemic has taught more people about the importance of life than anything else. And I think a lot of people would choose to work on things that matter to them!

In fact, the good one would go the freelance route for sure! They know that they can choose a location independent life and yet do meaningful work. And because they are good, they can continue to get work without hustling hard for it.

Of course this is counter-intuitive to common wisdom – everyone “knows” that tough days are coming and you need the stability of a full-time job with a large company. But I maintain that we’d see more freelancers! Let’s revisit this in a few months to see if I were right.

The trouble with going freelance is, well, too many troubles! Lemme list a few.

As a freelancer…

There is no regular, predictable supply of work. I mean, as an average gig worker (I am talking for myself), I have access to limited contacts. And once I exhaust those, I don’t know how else to seek work. Of course, if I were good, a referral engine would get built and I don’t need to seek work.

But like I said, I am average and all the people that I work for, may not refer me to more clients!

To solve this first one, I may goto platforms like Upwork, Gigster, Fiverr but from what I understand, getting the first few projects is like a nightmare. You need to be super active on the platform, pitch till you die and you would then, if all goes well, land a project! Plus, each pitch is like a project in itself – after all requirements from each gig is different. So, it is time consuming and yet there is no guarantee of returns.

This is my biggest issue – the best work happens when you do something consistently for a longtime. With the gig economy, as a creator, I don’t get to create long-term relationships and thus, long-term projects. I am always left pining for more work! Plus, most projects become a transaction and once the project is over you are out. There is no continuity, no documentation, no love that I can carry with me. I don’t know how to solve for this; apart from getting hired as an ongoing consultant!

As someone who’s hire freelancers…

I get way too many applications if I post my requirements on an open platform. I don’t have the time to sift through each application, respond to all queries. I need a gig done, often fast and I want someone reliable.

The biggest grouse that businesses have is that freelancers are unreliable. They sign-up for the project and then the project becomes a never-ending cycle of a Tom and Jerry chase!

The people I work with, in case I want to offer them another project, they may or may not be able to pick it up. After all they are masters of their destinies! So, even if I want continuity, I don’t know how to keep working with the same set of people.

Finally, most platforms that I use to find freelancers, they create such walled-gardens that I can’t even communicate with the freelancers. I mean I understand that they want transactions to happen on their website but why stifle the communication? The ratings and reviews is a big enough reward for me to search for more talent on your platform!!

So, what is common to two?

  • No trust. The default setting is that you don’t trust the other party.
  • Closed vs Open networks. AKA, WhatsApp groups – most people (both buyers and sellers) start within their respective networks and then move to open networks if the requirement remains unfulfilled. While this helps tackle the trust part, it adds friction and extends the timeline for projects.
  • Ad-hoc demand for both seeker and provider. Once a project has been completed, the seeker may not need services again for a bit. And vice versa. This breaks the continuity and long-term delivery.

These are all I can think of. I am sure there are more!

Wait. What could be a few solutions to this freelance conundrum?

The freelancer-first business life would mean that there has to be businesses that connect freelancers with gigs. There are quite a few of those right now – from an Upwork to Flexingit to a hundred more.

However, I have an issue with how they are managed. Most of these are self-serve platforms where they match gigs with workers and they take a fee off the top. The quality, reliability, contracting, and other things remain questionable. They do have escrows and dispute resolution mechanisms but there is just way too much friction on both sides. As a freelancer, I don’t know if I’ll get paid for what I worked on. As a seeker of services, I don’t know if I’d get output worth my investment.

Plus the biggest challenge?

As a company that needs to hire gig workers, I need to be on different platforms for different kinds of work. Upwork for design, marketing gigs, Gigster for tech projects, Fiverr for low value, repetitive tasks and so on and so forth. And then there are services that are not fulfilled by any platform right now (at least I am not aware of those). For example, what if I need a lawyer? Or a Company Secretary for that matter? Or a CA. What about a photographer in a small town deep in South India? Or the services of a chef for an upcoming birthday of a friend?

I can use age-old yellow books and classifieds websites (Justdial et al) but how do I ensure that these contractors actually deliver? How do I give them the confidence that I am not window shopping?

So, here’s the idea!

How about someone build the yellow pages for the times we live in, an Indiamart of sorts where, as a business, I can find service providers of ALL kinds? And the platform actually manages the entire project for me (and not just stop at matchmaking). You know, I’d love to have a shared COO of sorts for my business!

In fact, I tried implementing one iteration with a friend (Bhuvi Gupta) in a cottage-industry manner but we could not reach anywhere with it. See this post I made on Linkedin and the subsequent form we floated. Our thesis was that COVID-19 has left a lot of great agency folks jobless and they could use our networks! However, we could not make it work.

I wish there was someone who helped me solve this pain. I’d love to be on such a platform – both as a service provider and a seeker.

As of today, the only place that comes close is refrens.com. Run by a friend, Naman, they are solving this very problem. As a company that seeks a variety of things done, I can go to them and they will not only match me with people that can deliver but also manage the entire project end to end.

Super early days for them. They seem to be onto something big here! Lets see what they come up with. I hope they are reading this post and once they do so, they hire me to run their marketing (NS, are you reading?). And if not that, at least get me some gigs and find me some doers 🙂

Over and out.

PS: Keep watching this space for more posts on the future of work, personal branding, and more!

Update on 31 Oct 2020 – Fixed a typo, thanks to Ratti.

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!