240621 – Morning Pages

Short post about lessons from a writing cohort that I am a part of. And a tiny announcement on the Aram Nagar docu.

8:09. Starbucks.

There is nothing special to report to be honest. I mean there is some updates in terms of work I am doing and projects I am involved with and all that. But they are more “work” than anything else and I try to stay away from work as much as I can. So I don’t know what to write.

Long-Form Writing Cohort

The highlight of the day has to be (thanks to my Roam for helping me review the day), the meetup of the LFW Cohort that I am a part of. Five of us made it to the session and each person had super insane updates on what they were up to. One of us has been able to monetize his writing by getting sponsors. Another’s writing is being read by a US Govt agency. There’s one who’s finished a couple of film scripts and is now ready to pitch. Then there’s me who’s wading into mediocrity with a million things and thousand projects.

However a couple of things became clear.

A. There is immense value in building a certain following on social networks. While you may engage with them a lot and it may suck time, the access you get once you have a following is insane. I have to do what it takes to build this.

I mean if it means getting fit and posting my transformation videos, I will do it! I have the discipline once I decide on something (these morning pages for example), just that I cant seem to get started (for multiple reasons – the time it takes to work out, my Hernia, my aversion to public places, inability to hire a trainer, lack of interest in an online Yoga teacher).

If not this, then hiring a cool kid to write a 1000 tweets from my handle and get known for that.

Basically, come hell of high water, I have to build a following!

B. Great things happen when you ship. Even if you ship less often. You have to work at a certain frequency and cadence but you ought to ship. And ship things others want. The world has moved from “do whatever consistently and a following would get built.”

It is now about building things, doing things that the world wants. You know, as Vivek calls it, need to find your founder-product-market fit! In simple language, what is it that you can work on that you are great at and why is it important?

I clearly need to work on this.

I mean I’ve been aware of this but never got around to work on it. And if I did, the attempts were more or less tactical. You know, to be done when I do not have other things to work on. Maybe this needs to become strategic. In the sense, put this higher up in the priority?

Let’s see.

Anyhow. So, before I move on, here’s the track for the day. The one I will play on loop as I write this. It’s Singh is King. Here…

The Aram Nagar Documentary

So, the documentary that Mudit and I are on, we’ve started to make progress with it.

Yesterday we put a call out for actors and others that know Aram Nagar to contact us. So far we haven’t got any interest per se, but let’s see where it goes. Here’s the post that we put out.

The audition call for the Aram Nagar Documentary with Mudit

In case you know someone that may fit the bill, please do reach out.

I guess this is about for the day. Apart from these two projects, there’s isnt much that I have to talk about.

Here’s the streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 193
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 105
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

PS: These posts have started to get boring. Need to find a way to bring spark back to these. Let’s see how. #note2self

281220 – Morning Pages

Today I talk about the best burger place in Goa (that I frequent often), a new project in Goa, and a few things from here and there.

719 AM.

I am up before the sun! Even though I slept late.

Yay! That’s an achievement! Now to fix the food. And add a workout. And I am sorted.

Food is also more or less sorted. I have talked Nicky (of NikcyM’s Kitchen fame) into whipping lo-carb meals for me, even though they are known for their burgers. Going by the hearsay that they are emerging as the favorite burger place of Goa – for both locals and tourists alike!

In exchange, I’ve become a handyman at his cafe.

Here’s a plug. If you like burgers, you HAVE to visit them. If you like your food served with warmth, you HAVE to visit them. If you like to eat with people that respect you for more than being just a customer, Nicky’s it is. Oh, and when you go there, say you are my friend and I promise he would extend a 10% discount.

Lemme indulge further about Nicky M’s. The first day I landed in Goa, Nupura took me to Nicky’s for a drink. At the time I was tired from a long flight and longer stay in Delhi and I was not in a chatty mood and I was not very impressed by the small, cozy seating. But once I sat down to eat, I was amazed at the flavors on my tongue. The buns and the patties are probably similar to other places but the sauces and the cooking was what probably made the burger I had special. It was just right, even for someone like who could be discerning af. I was hooked and I don’t think there’s been a day when I haven’t gone to them!

I did not know that I would become a regular. The couple that runs the place, Jui and Nicky, are so so hospitable. Not saying this because they feed me but because they genuinely care. This is how small businesses ought to be. I think I can call them friends.

Moving on.

So my first project is here. I call it Shumbur – 100 stories from Goa.

I plan to write about the 100 most interesting people I can meet that call Goa home. These may be from Goa originally or may have adopted Goa as their home but they have to be here. And they have to be adding to the state – you know, creating employment, adding value, keeping Goa on how it’s ought to be.

This may not evolve into THE most definitive list per se. But I shall try. I mean I only have access to those people that choose to respond to my DMs or follow-ups. So far I have sent these to some 10 people and not one has replied. Which is ok. I cant keep getting ignored.

This may take more than 2 years to do (even if I do one story a week, I will need two years) but I think it would be interesting.

I think more than anything else, it would help me with book2. So let’s see.

Ok. I got digressed. The laptop ran out of battery. And when I powered it up, I made the mistake of logging onto WA. That took away some time.

So the next thing I want to talk about is… I don’t know.

Damn, I lost the flow. The lesson is that always ensure that the laptop has enough juice. I am anyway hoping to get a new laptop as soon as Croma gets the M1 Air in stock. I have some points that I want to use.

Ok I know.

So lately I have been away from Twitter. In case you don’t follow me, I am @saurabh. I mean I do tweet out things but I am spending considerably lesser time on it. And I need to change that. No, I don’t want to spam the world there but I need to get active. The kind of connections you make there and the kind of access that opens us there is unparalleled. And I know I can add value and contribute and help others grow. While I grow myself. That’s how life ought to be.

So when I get active, I need to identify what I want to stand for. The thing is, for someone like me, an aspiring polymath, it is tough to get siloed into one. Plus every time I choose one thing, I fear that I will miss out on all the things that I am NOT choosing. You know, if I talk about films, I will miss out on books. If I talk of books, I will miss being a marketer. If I focus on that, I will get away from startup ideas. If I don’t proactively think of a unicorn-able idea, I would not be able to create a large impact in the world. If I don’t create a large impact, I would die unfulfilled. If I die unfulfilled, what’s the point of living this life and knowing all that I know and chasing all that I want to know?

I mean I can live like an “influencer” that lives in a bubble (I hope Daku doesn’t cringe at this) and post pictures of the mountains in the distance, the breakfast on the table, the biggini shoots, the parties, unpacking of gifts that “brands” send me and so on and so forth. That life is not bad either. Like I keep saying, being an influencer is not a bad idea. I wish I had the flair to be one! Of course, if you are Daku, you do none of the above and silently add value to your community, like he does. Or what I tried with SoG.

Ok, back at serious matters at hand.

I need to get active on Twitter. And before that, I need to identify what I want to stand for in life. The generic, all-purpose, please-all, ice-cream-like positioning won’t work.

Ideas anyone?


PS: So I have had Krishna and Prad give me feedback on all that I’ve been writing. Thanks, guys. While I don’t talk about your inputs here, I do add those to my Roam and think and plan to act on those.

PPS: Every time I publish these morning pages, I send these to a few friends on WhatsApp. In case you want to be added to the broadcast list, lemme know.

Day 2 of Morning Pages.

Day 2 of unfiltered stream of thoughts on how I spent yesterday. And whatever is cluttering my head as I plan for the day ahead.

Hello, I have this slight headache. I think it is because I did not get good sleep. I think it’s a result of the heady cocktail of too much coffee, too much coke (not Diet but regular), too many thoughts, and too little rest. But I think I will be ok. I always get ok. I just need to get going and the humdrum of the day gets me going and I tend to get back to action.

Since this is day2 of the morning pages bit, I am not sure what to write about, lemme talk about how day 1 was, things I did, things I thought about and what did I learn from it.

Board Games. I played this game called Risk yesterday with some people. While the game is fun and I am not sure I would play it again, the lesson was that you can observe a lot about people while they are playing these games.

I knew that how you conduct yourself on a Poker table tells you about how you are as a human being. You may or may not get to play Poker with everyone but you can invite even strangers for board games. And the way they play these games, you could look at serious, long-term decisions like hiring or partnering with them!

While playing the game, you realize who’s gonna cheat, who hates to lose to a point of being unethical, who all are trustworthy, who behaves when they’re being their primal self, and so on and so forth.

COVID. A very good friend got COVID. One of those people that I actually care about. I hope he recovers. He doesn’t know how he got it. And he is one of the cautious ones. I read someplace that at some point in time all of us would get it. We just need to ensure our immunity is good. So that!

Hand of God. For no reason, someone sent me some money that I could use to do something that I have been putting off for a while. Also this some money from someone to do things that I have been putting for a while vicious circle needs to stop! I don’t know the way out but it has to. More on this on EchoChamber.

Chota Hustler. This coworking space in Goa that I work from, they have this guy that’s like a car-salesman kinda hustler. You know, the ones that would goad you into taking a decision that you did not know even know you had to take. The guy’s on the phone all the time and is selling I don’t know what to I don’t know who all. I’d probably know is a few days. Also, I think I need to up the ante on people watching thingy that I so enjoy.

Workout. One of the agendas that I had for this Goa trip was to get fit. I have been here for almost a week now and all I have done is eat crap, sleep in bad posture, work (a lot – really!), and no workout. Even though on the second day here I promptly went to a Decathlon and bought a running tee, a phone holder, and whatnot. Oh, and I have been to the beach a total of 2 times even though I live a 3-minute walk from it.

The thing is, when you think that you’d live and work in Goa, life does slow down (you are not traveling for any meetings – this intra-city travel is what speeds up time I think) but that thought that you have in your head about the charming sunsets and beaches and runs and food and parties and people? Well, at least I did not see it.

I know I know, the Instagram stories narrate a different tale. A close friend and wife are in Goa as we speak and if you see his Insta stories, I kid you not, you would question your existence. Another friend is here and all her stories are all full of poets and muses and people playing guitar, dancing, bonfires, and whatnot. Then a work colleague is also here and his Instagram is full of food that’s been plate like it was a jewel. May be it was. May be people love food so much?

The other thing that is not been happening for me since I have come to Goa is that I have stopped being social on Twitter and Linkedin and all that. These have been a large part of my life and I need to figure out how to get back. I think once I solve the internet issue, I will be ok (I am staying at a mentor’s house and there’s no Internet. And the mobile phone connection that I tether to is slow af).

Oh, I have to talk about dogs. Goa has more strays than it has people. And it’s scary. And it’s unsettling. And it is not fun. I have been barked at, growled at, chased down, stared down at in anger, and whatnot. Since these are strays, I am sure these are not neutralized or something. I think I need to get a proactive Rabbies injection or something. May be I will. Assuming there is someone that actually does some work here, apart from the ones that do not belong here.

That’s the second ‘other thing’ for the post. Most small businesses here complain that the locals do not work. They can but they don’t want to. And the ones that are not from here slog their ass off! And as a result, they are in demand, and locals are left in the lurch. And why would they not be? Free markets reward efficiency! Similar to what I hear about in Mumbai. I don’t know the solution but I would like to fix this if I can. It’s a tough problem to bang your heads on. You need to know psychology, vested interests, education, behavior change, long-term thinking, identity, money, and what not.

I also narrated a character of #book2 to a few friends yesterday. They seemed to like it. This probably is the cue that I need to get started with it? May be. You know, the invisible hand!

The last thing am thinking about before I move on to the next thing for the day is, personal brand for Saurabh Garg. I have been thinking a lot about it and I need to figure it out and move on it. Do I get authentic (these posts are a step in the direction)? Do I get all serious and post only long-form articles that has helped establish people as experts in their fields. Wait, what field do I even belong to? I met another friend-mentor day before yesterday (wow, time flies!) and he asked me to define myself and I had no clue what I stood for! I could talk about all that I’ve done and all I want to but it did not make for a convincing story. Need to work on that. May be will add to the agenda of this Goa trip, for whenever it ends!

With that, its over and out.

Like I said yesterday, please ignore the typos.

And in case you are reading this and you have any thoughts / ideas about any of these things that I spoke about, please do let me know.

Over an out!

PS: Can I add some photos to these pieces? May be. May be not. Let’s see what I decide.

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! 

Personal Branding 101

9 Lessons and Tips in Personal Branding for modern knowledge workers, especially as work becomes more distributed and remote!

Personal Branding 101

Hello!

In this tome, I will talk about lessons I learned from a conversation with Ashish Kila (a friend from MDI) on personal branding. When I showed him a draft of this one, he said that this is more of Networking 101. I disagree and I think I will let you decide. 

A quick intro to Ashish Kila (AK)


AK manages Perfect Group and apart from all the fabulous work around value investing and the impact he has had on his community, he has worked really hard on his personal brand to improve his network. He has ensured that the right kind of people know him for the right kind of things. I mean talk to anyone from the world of value investing and there are odds that they would have heard about him if they aren’t friends with him already! 

So, as a practitioner and student of branding and marketing, I sat with him and tried to decode how he’s done this.

Before I launch into what he said, some disclaimers… 

  • This is based on my notes from the meeting that went like a whirlwind. AK had so much to share and I had so little speed with my scribbles and notes. So I may have missed a lot of what he said. I may have also attributed things to him that he may not have said. AK, I am sorry for this. 
  • I am presenting the conversation as a set of “lessons”. AK did not make this classification into lessons per se. 
  • These “lessons” are in a specific order – each lesson builds on the subsequent one! 

Wait.

What is a personal brand? 

If I am going to post this 2000-word tome on how to build one, I better define it. 
Your personal brand is nothing but the sum total of your reputation, the value of your word, the experiences that people have had with you, the after-taste they are left with after they meet you, the kind of work you do (quality, quantity, timeliness, etc) and more such things. 

And why is personal branding important?

Well, the information economy we live in, every opportunity that comes to you comes because of your personal brand. 

Gone are the days when people would look for the absolute best person to do a gig. Sounds counter-intuitive but clients these days would rather work with a reliable person. And not with someone they don’t know, even if that person is THE best ever. 

So, unless you are like furniture in your workplace, you will need to work on and cultivate your brand. 

And, without further ado, here are the lessons! 

1️⃣ Lesson 1.
If you are an entrepreneur just starting out, you are the face of your brand! And rather than investing in a brand for your company, work on building your personal brand and you’d notice that it would rub off onto your business! 

In AK’s case, post his MBA, he joined the business that his father started decades ago. When AK started working with his father, as the cliche goes, he was fresh out of the boat and he had to work hard to create his brand in the value investing world. And of course, with time, that has helped the brand Perfect Group. 

This is probably the biggest lesson for me. Even though I am a marketer for hire, I have remained behind a veil all my life. If I want my business to flourish, I need to be out there a lot more. After all, I am the biggest advocate of my business! I thus need to work hard on my personal brand and that means work on content and appearances (and heck, even put my photo out there).

2️⃣ Lesson 2.
Identify themes that you wish to be identified with.

Malala – Women’s rights
Bill Gates – Software, Global health
Piyush Pandey – mustache, advertising 
Ranveer Singh – irreverence
Sanjay Bakshi – value investing 

Get the drift? 

And EACH thing you do MUST be a part of that one theme. And the theme must be so simple that a 5-year old must be able to understand that. 

An easy way to think about themes is to think about the hashtags that you would want to be identified for. 

Lemme elaborate on AK. He clearly stands for three things, IMHO. Value investing, Community, and Leadership. Each thing he does – teaching, mentoring, masterclasses, tweets, blog posts, etc serves one of those themes. 

If you are someone like me that chases multiple things, pick and choose three hashtags that you could stand for!

And here is a question for you. What are your themes? 

For me, all my life, I have taken pride in being a Jack of all trades and thus have remained all over the place when it comes to my personal brand. I met a friend the other day and he said that no one knows for sure what I do! But now, after this session, it will change. I will stand for creative entrepreneurship, startups, and impact. Yes, these are fuzzy. I need to work hard on my brand. Will evolve with time. 

3️⃣ Lesson 3.
Add value. 
Each thing you do MUST add value. If you can not add value, forget about trying to build a personal brand / network.

AK is known so wide and far because he is out there helping others, connecting them, gifting them books (relevant I must add), being of use. And tangible use at that. There are enough and more armchair activists. A conversation with AK adds real value. To a point that I’d be happy to pay him. 

If you want a network / brand, you MUST add value. Around the themes that you want to be known for! 

4️⃣ Lesson 4.
Create content. 
One easy way to add value is to create content. This could be a blog post, a podcast, an interview, a well thought out tweet, or a simple link that allows your followers to derive value from.

Content is like compounding. It takes consistent effort over the long-term to see the tsunami of results. 
And like compounding, sooner you start larger the results.
Like compounding, start with a bang! Start big. Let the law of numbers work for you! You can’t expect to do tiny things if you want an enormous impact. 

Oh, and each piece of content must have a well-planned distribution strategy. It is no longer enough to just churn out valuable pieces. You need to take them to places where your audience is! 

A simple and powerful tip that AK gave me? Find a publication that has a wider reach than you. And write for them. I am on it. 

5️⃣ Lesson 5.
What you do on SM is important! 
On Social Media, most people (apart from your friends and family) follow you because they get to learn from you. And what you post adds value. 

So, each piece that you put on SM, it has to add value. And it has to be a part of the theme that you wish to be known for. 

Oh, please stay authentic. And while you are being authentic, please ensure that your content is relevant for your audience.

6️⃣ Lesson 6.
When in Rome…
What he means is that you need to tweak your content and appearance and message and conversations for the Social Media channel you are on. A tweet is different from a FB post and is different from a LinkedIn conversation. And so on and so forth. Most of us are guilty of trying to fit the same thing at all places. I commit an even greater sin – I am inactive on most channels apart from Twitter. 

So, identify the channels you want to be on.
Create things that would do well on those channels.
In a format that will get the most relevant eyeballs (most relevant; not just most).  

7️⃣ Lesson 7.
Engage engage engage! 
Identify key people in your domain.
Look at various channels that you think your target audience is on.
And engage with them.
And ensure that EACH engagement adds value.

Also, the channel could also mean things beyond the Internet. For his community work, AK has to take out hours to be present at community meetups, industry forums, and whatnot. Yes, there is life beyond the Internet. 

So, engage. At the place where your audience is! 

I do this but I am yet to see the results. I am largely on twitter and I’ve made lists of marketers that I like and respect and I try to engage with them. May be I don’t add enough value? May be I need to tweak my filters? 

8️⃣ Lesson 8.
Jo dikhta hai wo bikta hai. 
Anyone from India would know of this adage. Translated in English, means whatever is visible, will sell. 

So, get out there and seek out opportunities around your personal brand. And ensure that the word is out there.

Yes, it is time-consuming.
Yes, it’s a lot of effort.
Yes, there are hardly any tangible outcomes. 
Who said it was going to be easy? 

A Network / Personal Brand takes a lot of work to cultivate. AK has invested a lot of time and effort into it. What we see right now is an outcome of hard and consistent work that he has put in over the last so many years! 

9️⃣ Lesson 9.
Use technology to your advantage. 
AK mentioned that he uses Whatsapp broadcast lists to share relevant things with relevant people. He also mentioned that he takes copious notes on each person, each meeting. He knows where to slot who. He knows what will move who. He knows who to reach out to when he needs help with a certain thing.

It is such a simple and yet powerful idea. While I am pretty adept with tech, I think I need to learn this. 

***

To be honest, when I was meeting AK, I did not expect to learn so much about networking & personal branding from a “financial brain” but guess that’s how life is – hits you from unexpected places when you are off-guard. 

Also, AK has kindly agreed to help the readers of this letter! Please do reach out to him. He is on every platform you imagine 🙂 

Also, apart from these 9 things, some other notes that I took that I can’t seem to slot into a lesson are… 

  • Think long-term. The long term is 10 years. Not 10 days. 
  • Iterate. Tweak. Experiment. There is no formula for what works. What works for AK may not work for you. And vice versa. Some people are plain lucky. But you will have to put in serious time and effort to be able to do this. 
  • Students are your best bet when you want to get feedback on things fast. They are smarter than you (like all newer generations than you) and they have zero context. Thus they are fearless and can question the very tenets that you stand for. The lesson I am taking away is that I will approach all colleges around me and try to be their marketing SPOC and challenge my understanding of the discipline.  
  • Testimonials. Videos. AK is a big advocate of this. Even though report after report pointing that video is what people consume more than anything else, I have my reservations. I will let you decide.
  • A great rule of thumb is that assume EVERYthing you put out on SM will end up on your CV for your prospective clients / employees / partners / colleagues to see and dissect. 

So, yeah.
That’s about it.
What are some of your “tips” for building networks / personal brands?  

And like I asked you in the beginning, I think this is a piece on personal brands. AK thinks this is more apt for networking. What do you think? 


Saurabh Garg
Met AK and wrote this in Sep 2019

PS: One more thing. 
Plant seeds. 

AK did not really give out this advice but it occurred to me while I was talking to him. 
Planting seeds is to seed opportunities that have the potential to grow. 

Lemme give an example to further illustrate this. 
Even when you know that a certain conversation will not lead to your personal brand, please engage. Plant that seed. Let the world know. And then let that grow. Create opportunities. Wait till you get lucky. Law of numbers. Create chances so that serendipity strikes you. Say hello to that poor fellow who’s got the middle seat and is jealous of your window / aisle seat. 

This post, for example, has nothing to do with the themes that I wish to be known for. And yet I am putting in time (took me about 2 hours – yes I am slow) to write this. I am planting this seed. This will hopefully make me known a tad more. This will probably get a larger audience than my SM presence can ever get.

Originally posted to the subscribers of my weekly newsletter, Shoulders of Giants. Subscribe to it here