130121 – Morning Pages

Conversations with friends and strangers. About Ikigai, writing, life purpose, success, failure, and more. Oh, and scarcity of time!

7:22. This one should be ok (unlike the last one). I have no pressing agendas today. Just the way I like it!

I think these morning pages have found a rhythm. I talk about what I did the previous day. Pick on a thing from what I spoke about. And then try to think more about it, while I write. And then I write a para for book2. The entire thing takes me about an hour and it is enough to put me in a good mood, to be honest, even if I wake up with a shitty one. In fact, as I type this, I have a smile on my face.

So, lately, I have found comfort in music from Suits. People have made a playlist of tracks from Suits and even though I don’t understand half of those, I love em. In fact, I have been discovering new music here in Goa. Like the other day at a hotel, I heard this track called Jerusalema. Since it was playing on a shitty speaker, I thought it was in Hindi (really) and even when I put my head to it, I could not make it out. And when I Shazam-ed, I realized that it’s in one of African languages!

The other thing was that I got to meet Karl yesterday. He’s been one of those that I look up to in life. He had a couple of interesting things to say about things that I thought i had a deep understanding of.

A, Ikigai. You know, the Japanese concept that helps you find purpose? I thought I knew where I want to (which is to enable and inspire others with what I do and create opportunities for them) but when I was talking to him, I realized that I need to sharpen this. My notions are idealistic (something Rashi also tells me all the time) and are not practical at all. He said (and I agree) that no one would pay me to inspire them unless I become a motivational speaker or something. My personality is anything but that! So, need to think more about that.

B, On account planning and strategy. He said that as a planner you have to get into execution as often you get sucked into Blue Ocean thinking and you don’t know shit about how your strategy is translating into actual work. This is very similar to being a management consultant where you don’t have any skin in the game. Now, I want to be anything but that. So, next time I get a gig, I will try and be a part of actual execution and implementation as well. This is a very very important lesson for me. #sgP1.

The other unintended consequence of my chat with him was that I read that Gaurav Jani passed away last year. I did not know him at all and to be honest, his passing was more news to me than a personal setback. But he has been one of those people that I have been incredibly inspired by since I can remember. When I was young, he did something that I would have, well, killed for. He rode to Ladakh on a bike and made a film about that. All solo. I mean imagine taking shots of your bike, all by yourself. How’d you even do it? And he did all this way back in 2006 when all this was not even known, let alone be cool. Plus there was no ubiquitous Internet, phones, mounts, cameras. I cant even imagine how’d he charge batteries and all that. The dude must have been another level shit.

Lesson? Time is a bitch. You gotta do things now. Err on the side of action. #lifeTheme!

Moving on. On another work call, where I was giving my opinion on how things ought to happen, I was asked to shut cos what I said was in direct contrast to what apparently Kunal Shah, the grand-daddy of all start-ups folks in India, had said. A, if he has said what he apparently said, he needs to be taught. B, even if he said what he said, it may have worked for him but in the specific case, it would never work. You can’t use one-size-fits-all with startups. Of course, this is not about him. This is about me. The conversation hit me like a tight slap on my face that you could be the most educated, well-read, opinionated, caring person in the room but unless you have tangible success to show for, no one gives a fuck about what you have to say. Your opinions are not important. They are invalid. You are asked questions that, well, question your credibility.

No this is not the first time something like this has happened to me. But thank God it happened. I am inspired. Need these bouts often. In fact, I am so so so much inspired to create a fucking massive success that when someone asks me such questions, I can tell them that I’ve built massive shit and they are fuck off.

I know revenge and being sore is not a good emotion (#note2self – Pale Blue Dot, This Too Shall Pass, Seneca’s lessons) but I am human. And I hate when people I care for do this to me.

Anyhow. I think I am ok now. Last evening I was seething in anger. To a point that I could not operate. The world thinks that I am a loser and that’s ok. I have no complaints. But when the ones that I am close to think like that and operate from that place, I hate it. Really.

Lemme talk of something good. Spotlight is finally taking shape. We are gunning for the first edition of the event on the 30th. More here. In case you want to pitch your startup to Dr. Malpani, here.

So, today on, thanks to the kick in the butt by Karl and this nameless-faceless person that told me that am useless, I will try to be a lesser loser. I’ll try harder.

The other thing that I want to talk about this party with some strangers that I was in. The host introduced me to some people as a famous author. For some reason, I felt like an imposter. I mean, all I have is one book. That too has failed to make any dent in anyone’s life. The kinder reviews say that it’s average at best. I don’t even want to read honest or negative ones. The second book is nowhere. Been on it for like 10 years and have nothing to show for that. I hated it when I was introduced like that. Yes, please do introduce me as a creative consultant, creative producer, writer (not just of books), marketer, podcaster et al. I am ok with that. But I don’t want to be just a “famous writer”. I want to be the person that tried. Not the person that rests on laurels. That too, not well-defined.

So that’s that for the morning pages.

As I edit, I realise this has become dark and harsh and ranty. But that’s that. The smile on the face of having typed all this is still around. So that’s some comfort.

So, on to #freewriting for book2. So, for this one, I have talked Prak into giving me a prompt every day to get me started with my thinking.

Today’s prompt is…

Red. The color of love and hate. Of life and death. Blood and rivers, hellfire, and heaven song.

– Prakruti Maniar, Jan 2021

Here we go…

Red was a funny choice for the color of the gown that she wore. Even though the host had clearly mentioned that the theme for the evening is white and blue, she wore red. Red stood out. What was supposed to be a party where dreams were to be talked about, futures were to be looked at, she chose Red. The color of love and hate. Of life and death. Blood and rivers, hellfire, and heaven song. She did not choose red on purpose. She did not have a choice. This was the only gown she had that could pass off as a decent dress into the party where the invite cost her a night with that old bastard, Paul. The party has been the talk of the town for a while now and who’s who was expected to be there. Together they were going to plan the future of the sleepy state of Goa. There were talks of taking the casinos on land, thereby greatly reducing the costs for the owners. One of the proposals was to allow for new high-rise construction near the beaches. They wanted to make coal mining a priority for the state. The coast was going to get opened for large scale music festivals that would get the who’s who of the world down to Goa.

The gates were being opened for the world to make its home in Goa. And at the same time, those very gates were being shut on the faces to keep out the ones that rightfully could call Goa home. The promoters blamed the locals for their lackadaisicalness. The locals wanted to be left alone. The two sides were never going to find a common ground. And this party was an attempt in the direction. In attendance were going to be socialites

Ankit Paul had put all he had and pulled all the strings he could to make this happen. His entire fortune and the reputation that his family had earned since forever was at stake. More so, after his father passed away, his personal credibility and integrity was being questioned. No, he did care for what people thought of him. He had more skeletons in his closet than the ruler of African countries had. But he did care about his bank balance. The power he wielded. The political ambitions that he couldn’t seem to find a route to.

This party was going to change all of that. Hopefully for good. And give Paul the respect that he’s craved for since he was a child. Respect that his father never accorded him. Respect that he had to fight hard to get. Respect that made him do all the things he did. Respect that mattered to him more than life or death.

***

Damn tough! But I like how it has come out!

What do you think?

And over and out. Hope it’s a great day!

Rendezvous with Random Strangers

I talk about why I like the idea of meeting and networking with random strangers. And the tangible impact these meetings have had on me. Read on!

23:01.Today, I did not have anything to write. The head’s been blank for some reason, even though I have a lot on my mind. I think I am falling sick. It may be the change in the weather or the lack of sleep induced by all the coffee I’ve been having. I dont know what it is. May be Delhi does not suit me?

I dont know. Irrespective. I had to write. And since I did not have any ideas per se to write about, I asked AaSi and ArAg (I use initials for people and I know a million people, so am now using the first two characters to be able to make sense) about what I could write about. I got a bevy of suggestions and I like all of those. I have safely cataloged those for the next rainy day when the ideas dry up. For the time being, I am going to talk about “the experience of talking with random strangers“.

So, it’s not even funny how many strangers do I talk to. To a point that I can’t recall names or identities or the context in which I spoke to them. And yet, rather than “consolidating” the relationships with people I know, I seek out more connections. I dont know to what end. But I do. And in today’s post, I will talk about why I do that.


So, I dont know when this happened, but among other things, there are three “ideas” that have shaped me like nothing else has. Let me talk about those and try to answer this question about why do I want to meet with random people all the time.

Here we go.

A. Luck = Opportunity + Preparation.

This essentially translates into creating as many opportunities for yourself as you can and being ready when the opportunities present themselves.

And this creating opportunities means knocking on doors that you know would not open. This also means talking to people that you know dont want to talk to you. Heck, this also means shooting out of your league.

As a result, you are often left with disappointment – who wants failures after failure? If you are always aiming too high, you would miss the shots! But you know what makes it worth all the effort?

That one connection. That one door that opens just a wee bit to let you whiff the opportunity peeking. Creating that one opportunity for someone you care for.

I mean all my life, each thing that I am proud of, even though they are insignificant – my book, the content websites that I support (TRS, PPP, ImmerseGo, GP, Podium, and more), this blog, all the people that I work with – all these may have been lucky breaks but they wouldn’t happen if I weren’t taking shots at opportunities.

In some cases, I was prepared and they worked out and vice versa. Heck, some worked out when I was not prepared at all. I faked my way through those. And some did not happen when I knew those opportunities were tailor-made for me! But in toto, my life is far far better than what it could’ve been if I did not take all those shots.

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet is an opportunity. To do something new. To add a dimension to what I know. To add a perspective to my knowledge. And no, I am not objectifying people here.

B. The Cocoon.

Each of us is born in a certain lifestyle. If you are reading this, you are already privileged – you know English, you have Internet and you are safe in your respective cocoons. What else do you want?

This cocoon is a good thing and a bad thing. Because you are in your cocoon, while you are safe and hopefully comfortable, you hardly see the world on the outside. You can if you want to. But most don’t want. If you are trapped in a high-rise, you do not understand what is it to live in a slum. If you make 10,000 bucks a month kinda salary, you dont know what is it to have a million dollars at your disposal. You know, why bother?

It is similar to the prehistoric cavemen. If they were content with being in their caves and continued to be afraid of all the lighting rumbling outside, we would not know life as it is. They stepped out of the cocoon. And experienced more things. And did more.

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet gives me two things. One, a warp zone that teleports me to a different life altogether and allows me a peek into the life beyond my cocoon. And two, if that person’s life is richer than mine (not just in terms of money but in terms of access, reach, opportunities et al), I am inspired to do more with mine. To be able to expand my cocoon till it engulfs theirs. And if their lives is poorer than mine, I am inspired all the more to not fall to where they are. And most importantly, try and elevate them to at least a level similar to mine!

So far I have been unable to expand my cocoon a lot but I do know of the lives that exist beyond mine (both on the higher side and on the lower) and that makes me more human, for whatever it’s worth. And to what end this knowledge serves? I dont know. What do you think?

C. Thick and limited. Loose and infinite.

The third thing that has left an indelible impression on me is these two distinct styles of living life.

In one, you can create really thick, strong, tight connections with a handful of people. You know, the kinds that you would die for? Often the ones you grew up with. And the other is where you have no strong connections per se but a really large number of loose connections. You are the guy that knows a guy that knows a guy that could get things done.

When I started to create my world view, I was always enamoured by the idea of ‘thick friends’ and how they went on these trips together and clicked pictures in their underwear and were always hanging out as one soul, multiple bodies. And truth be told, all my life, till recently, I’ve chased this. And since I’ve not been the cooler one, I havent got it and I’ve beat myself hard about it. And I, of course, have been jealous of the ones that have such friends.

However, over time, I realised that most friendships and relationships are guided by convenience, by comfort, by rationality, by opportunity. We merely rationalise these relationships. We are rationalising animals after-all. I mean think about it.

Thought experiment. Think about all your best friends. Didnt you all goto the same college? Or grew up in the same locality? Or work together?

Now, what if your life was marginally different? Instead of growing up in building A, you grew up in the building very next door, say building B. Would you be friends with the same people? In fact, out of the top 10 people that you spend time with, if you were in a different cocoon, how many of those friendships could you recreate? Get the drift?

So, thick ones are convenient.

The loose ones, you weren’t thrown at them by a random chance. You went out and sought them. Even if you grew up in a different city, you would have still found a way to make their acquaintance. And added enough value to them to want to add value to yours.

Thus, the loose ones are planned by you. Planted by you.

And unlike with the thick ones, the social obligation to spend time with them to make the relationships thicker is absent. So your conversations can actually push things forward. You know how sports teams, armies, business project teams, film crews, seamen, come together without any thick friendships and chase and achieve greatness? And how each person is often replaceable and the entire army doesn’t just crumble because one person is a group of 5 friends slapped another!

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Well, to expand on these loose connections I have. In hopes that at some point in time in life, these would come in handy (you know, I would get lucky) and I would reach closer to my lifegoal. It’s that simple.

PS: Keyword is most. Keyword is often. I am sure true love exists. I am sure friends lay down lives for each other. But I am yet to have any of these happen to me. I’ve walked alone for a large part and while people have come and gone and helped me at various junctures in life, it’s always been the loose ones and not the seemingly thick ones. Most of my thick connections have been useless to me. The ones that were loose, the ones that I did not expect to be of any help, the ones I never thought I would reach out to, those are the ones that have been the most help.

And no, I dont mean to sound like I am cribbing or ranting. I do have a couple of people that I can goto any lengths for. I am sure there are some people that would feel the same about me. Lemme know if you do :D. I am merely stating an opinion and I am probably offending a lot of friends here.

The keyword in this part is most. Not all.


So yeah. That’s it.

I really love to meet random strangers. If you’d like to meet me, hit me up on twitter – that’s the best way to reach me!

Do let me know what you think of this.

Over and out.

The time right now is 0045 AM. Phew!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811.