Untitled – 13 April 2024

A short note to help clear my head and get out of a funk.

It’s no secret that my life revolves around work.

It’s no secret that I dont have anything going for me in life apart from work.

If I were to look at the wheel of life (I filled it in 10 minutes ago), my life is, well, not lifing.

See the image below.

The Wheel of Life for Saurabh Garg on 13 April 2024

Now for context, compare it with what it was in 2018.

Do you see the change?

And this not-lifing has been a lot more visible of late. At least to me.

There have been far too many days with no action, with a lot of conduct unbecoming a C4E member, with a lot of mistakes by myself and the people around me, with a lot of random events that you dont otherwise expect a Saurabh Garg to be a part of. And with many more.

And the worst part is, I dont have control over any of those. And when I dont have an illusion of control (see footnote 1) over my life, I get in a funk. Right now, all the spokes of life are not spoking. Each is in disarray. And I dont know what to do about it. Worse is I dont know who to share things with. No, I dont need a life partner. I dont need a business partner. I dont even need a stranger that I can chat with to get the load off my head (FN 2). I just dont have anyone to share this with. Except this blog.

Thing is, for a large part of my work life I’ve operated as the man with the hammer of “if it’s a problem, go find a solution”.

I am used to looking at each thing as a problem and then working hard to find a solution to that problem. I know that life is unfair and you often get dealt a raw hand. When I am the one on the receiving end, I dont cry about it (see FN 3). I may rant about it but I dont lose my shit. And this solution-first mindset has been helpful. To a point that I’ve often survived. Vanita calls me a survivor. I would like to call myself a cockroach – I never die. I mean I will die at some point in time physically but I will not die before my actual death.

But this time, I am unable to find a solution. I dont know what to do. I dont know what to do anything on.

In terms of a 2×2 (am learning this from Hemant), here’s one…

Please excuse my handwriting.

So, if I struggling with a problem that has a known solution, I can easily solve for it. If it’s an unknown problem with a known solution, that is insight/epiphany etc.

If it’s a known problem with an unknown solution, I will have to be innovative about it. But if it’s an unknown problem and the solution is unknown as well, I dunno what to do.

And that is my problem at this time. I dont know what is wrong. And I don’t know what to do about it. I am doing all the things that I would generally do in the regular course of life. And because these are regular life things, they’re optimised. And thus there shouldn’t be any problems at all. But there are. And I dont know where are they stemming from. Wait. I don’t even know what the problem is. If I had known, I would’ve fixed it. It just that life isn’t living!

Ok, I am going in loops. I dont have an answer. I dont know when I’d find one. So that. Lemme end this misery and the misery of a post. With a track that I often listen to when am in funks like this one…

Over and out.

And no, no pity-party calls please.

Footnotes

  1. The keyword is – illusion. No one knows what life holds for you. No one can have control over it. However you can have an illusion of control – you know, you could say you can manage your time the way you want to. You can meet the kind of people you want to. Et al. So I have this illusion of control over life.
  2. I use this blog as my partner and I share my life with it. Unlike people who typically have one person for dumping all facets of their life, I have different people for different things. For work, I lean on Poo. For fam things, it’s either my sis or VG. For health, it’s Ashi. For others, there are people.
  3. When I was younger, I used to crib a lot, and rant a lot. To the point that people would not even talk to me. I’ve worked hard to fix that!

Untitled – 4/5 Mar

A long rant. Please ignore if you get triggered easily.

Feel like talking to someone. Have no one. And thus this blog. I started writing this last night at Starbucks. And then I got interrupted. And then I slept. And then I feel in that weird loosie thingy. I hate to be unwell. Anyhow. Let’s dive in.

1/ No Pity Party

After you read this (whoever you are), please do not reach out and text me. I will talk about a few things that may seem to be like a call for help. This is not one.

2/ Music

I was at the beach today (on the 4th). I dont know why but I somehow remembered these lines, “aise bhole ban kar hai baithe, jaise koi baat nahi“.

I tried my best to hum these like a human being must. But I was unable to. I sounded like a cat screeching a steel plate. That to be honest is not important. Important is that I realised that I love this song. And since I’ve been listening to this track on a loop.

Here. Listen in.

The other day I told someone that if there’s one thing I’d like to change about myself, it would be my inability to sing well. I would love to learn. Not sure if I have the time. So that.

3/ Friends turning into strangers

Lately, yet another very very very close friend has turned into a stranger. This one hurts a lot cos with this one I had imagined that I would be with till my time comes and I walk into the jungle. It clearly wasn’t meant to be.

Like all other times, I’ve taken my lessons and moved on. The biggest one of those is to not get attached. And lean on Epictetus and Aurelius at these times.

To be honest, I don’t know why I am unable to keep my friendships for long. I do all that you need to do to nurture friendships – often giving in more than I must. And yet at the end of the day, I find myself by myself. I can never forget COVID-19. Not one friend stood by me. If not for the steadfast support of my parents and the kindness of strangers, I wouldn’t know what I would do. I probably wouldn’t be here.

Each time a friend walks away, I console myself that the world has about 8 billion strangers and if I’ve survived for so long, I would stay afloat for a few more years. And all I need is a few more. I am old.

Plus each time I start feeling bad about not having enough friends, I start to look around for folks that I could be a stranger and a shoulder to. The satisfaction that I get out of helping others who are often left with no other option is unparalleled. I think that’s what my raison d etre is – offer a shoulder.

No, I am not depressed. Or even sad. I am merely recording my emotions. And in public. I would not add a judgment to the emotion. Guruji taught us that. I must go for another 10-day session. Maybe in September. Let’s see.

4/ Work

A lot is up at work. Like a LOT. In caps and bold. I can’t even begin to list it here. Ok, lemme try. I mean why would I bring it up if I dont want to talk about it. Here’s a list.

A. Hiring – I need to get some many folks at C4E. And I can’t find them. Here are the reasons – there are in order…

  • my inability to pay a lot of money (fuck you, startups) – I can only pay so much and everyone wants to be paid the moon and a Mercedes. I wish I had the ability to pay.
  • my ability to “teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”. The work we do may sound small on a day-to-day basis but how we do it and where we want to be is a large large thing. And I am unable to communicate and thus I am unable to rally people to be around me.
  • lack of culture fit – we are big on culture and it is really tough to find people that fit into our scheme of things and we fit into their scheme of things. Unless we fit like hand and glove, we don’t want. I’ve made hiring mistakes in the past. And I dont want to make those again. So I often go slow on this.
  • work ethics mismatch – most people in this day and age do not want to work hard anymore. Most. Hard. And I respect their choice. Just that I dont think I can do what I want to do around people that are not willing to work hard. I know that I am average. And that means I need to work hard. And if I have people that dont work harder than me, I will have some discord with them at some point. And that means I need to find people who are willing to work hard. If not harder than me, then as much. And such people are rare. At least they are rare in my network.
  • ambiguity – we are very non-conventional. And that means that whoever wants to be around us needs to live in the ambiguous structure that we are. And this is something that not a lot of people are comfortable with. So that.

There are more reasons. But I hope you get the drift.

B. Growth – I am of firm belief that stasis is death. And that means we need to grow. And we need to grow like I want us to grow – in a sustainable manner, in a controlled manner (not like cancer), in a manner that allows each of us to thrive, go beyond our abilities, learn, get better etc etc. And I am finding that expecting such a growth is tough. So that.

Tough because we are construed as slow. We are construed as non-aggresive. We are constured as easy going. Perception. Sigh.

This also means that I need to amplify my efforts with BD. And I suck at that. I simply do not know how to get new business. I dont call people on the phone.

C. Services – Right now we offer social media marketing, content, brand strategy and other allied services. All these are services. And that means there’s no objective metric to evaluate what we’ve done. And this means that my people are often thinking about work even after work hours. And I dont like this. And I want to change this. And I dont know how to.

D. Higher value work – I want to move to a place like Singapore or Dubai where am able to charge more per hour. And I dont know how to do that.

So yeah, these. There are more things that I worry a lot about. Let’s see where I find a solution.

5/ Challenge of Consistency

I’ve known this for a while that I am designed for a life where I work on short, high-intesity projects that require short bursts of work. Short could be up to 3 months. Anything longer, I know I am not the right person. Thankfully at work, we now have people who thrive on doing the same thing over and over again and we are ok. If not for them, I would have been a ruin by now.

Even on other things like health, I can get started but I lose track often. Funnily am very disciplined and I would have bet a lot of money that a disciplined person is consistent. But I am not. I can say no to alcohol, cigarettes and other such sinful temptations. But I dont know why I give up when it comes to health. Wait. Health is the next bullet point. Lemme talk about consistency in general. I started yoga and I stopped after a few days. I started writing everyday but I stopped. I quit coke and then I got back to it. I did not touch coffee for a while and then I got back to it. I even fold my bedsheets and make my bed each day as soon as I wake up!

Thing is, I tell the world and all my kids that to get to something, you need to lose something. If I want to get fitter, I need to lose this inconsistency. If I want to be a published author, I need to lose the procrastination habit.

Naval says that you need to judge a fitness trainer by their own physique. If I want to be an inspirational business person, I have to be more effective and I have to be better. I even know my why — live till 120 at least, help others around me, go further — and yet I am unable to get consistent. I dont know what to do about. Get a coach?

At work, thankfully I have a team that works on day to day things. And I am eliminating things that need me everyday. So that should be ok, I hope!

6/ Health

The last few weeks have been tough. They continue to be. When I thought I was ok (last evening), I got an upset stomach yet again. The ankle has been acting up lately, to a point that I cant even walk properly. The lower back is fucked – this I know can get fixed if I fix my posture. The hernia has flared up. NAFLD is visible all of my neck, elbows, ankles, waist and all that. The finger remains broken. Anyhow.

The point is to not describe my car-wreck of a body. The point is, I am probably at a point in life where I am staring at a one-way door to ruin. If I dont start acting now, I will not be able to live thrive for long.

And I know that for health, all I need to do is eat right, do some workout and sleep well. I sleep well to be honest. If I can find a solution to food, I will be ok. Just that with all the travel I am unable to. All my life I have avoided getting a cook (cos the mess that food makes) but I am now willing to hire one. I have started to ask around for that. Let’s see when I find a solution.

I think this is it.

Oh, one more thing…

Like I said in the beginning, if you read this, I dont want any sympathy or whatever. I am over most of the things listed here in. I had to let out of my system and I am ok now that I have written here.

More later!

The February Hits (and Misses)

A few things that I am not happy about and helpless about. Mostly a rant. Read at peril.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you would have noticed two not-so-happy posts back to back. Today I have a few things to talk about that may not be happy either.

Read on.

One. Whatsapp.

For some random reason, yesterday I got logged out of WA and I haven’t been able to log in since. I’ve read all support things, mailed Meta, and tried all hacks – including deleting, installing, taking the sim out, switching devices etc etc. And yet nothing works. I dont know what to do.

While I find an answer, am mindfucked that all my work has come to a stop. I can NOT even tell people that I am not available. I can NOT access links / files. My effervescent notes are stuck in the limbo. Thank God I moved to Apple Notes and Roam last time my data got wiped.

Oh, that reminds me, this is the second time I have lost access to my WA account. Last time around I was angry and pissed that I lost all chats and photos and all that. This time, I am ok with that. Just that my work lives on WA and I feel handicapped and helpless. I wish I had the power to know someone like Mark and get him to rest my account from the server.

So am mindeffed cos my work is pending. And I dont know what to do about it.

Two. Asking People to Leave.

This is the first time since I started working that I will have to ask people to leave on my own. And it’s not a nice feeling at all. I’ve always believed in building the village and the collective and this is anything but that.

In the past people have moved away from me while working – some at their own accord, some I’ve had to ask to leave. In one instance, there was this misunderstanding that I couldn’t solve and we had to part ways. In any case, it was never about my inability to pay.

This time, it is. Despite me doing ok with work and money, I am unable to pay for the people that I’ve hired. No, it’s not about overstaffing – just that at C4E, we hire for projects and once a project ends, we need to part ways. So that. In most cases I’ve been ok to let go of people once project ends.

This time, I feel bad cos I’ve worked really closely with these people for almost a year and I’ve come to like them as my own. Plus each of these is hardworking, dedicated and committed. And am having to let go of these folks cos of money. Double damn.

I keep getting these shockers but I am unable to do anything about these. I dont know when I’d wake up. Funny that I wrote a few days only that I dont know when this bubble would get burst.

So I am sad that I have to take this call. And I dont know what to do about this.

Three. Work. Future.

All I do in life is work. And since we are close to starting the next financial year, I was planning for what I would do in the next year and how I would go 10X from where I am right now.

While doing that, I realised that unless I do something large and drastic, the way we’ve been going, we are staring at ruin. Not that we are not good, just that the world is changing very fast and there’s way too much unpredictability around us. Surviving itself is a problem. And I am thinking of 10X-ing from here. So that.

Plus, I’ve never had to plan things – I was always at a tiny scale and things would come to me easily. Now we are larger than I’ve ever been (while we remain tiny in the grand scheme of things) and this means that the ship needs to be a lot more stable. And I am finding it hard to imagine how to do that.

I know I will do ok. I know we will do ok. But I need to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I would’ve if not for my gut. Read the next point.

Four. Gut.

Remember I said that my guts are apparently made of steel?

Well, they aren’t gutting.

It’s been more than 10 days now and I am still running between my desk and the loo. If I show some strength and resolve and go to a Starbucks or a meeting, I run back home faster than PT Usha!

And each time I get to the loo, the walk back is more laboursome and tiring. And I am left thinking if I should even make an attempt to get up the next time. And then I think I’d just stop eating. Let me spew out everything that I have in me. I’ve done almost 3 days of fasting in the past. There’s no reason I can’t do this time. May be starting tonight. Let’s see.

Oh, I refuse to go see a doc. I am hoping I will be better in a few days. been 10. Should take another there or four. Let’s see.

To be honest I am ok with it. Just that work is suffering. Same as the WhatsApp snafu. I dont think of anything more than that lol. I really need to get a life. Any tips?

Five. My failure to be a good shishya.

One of THE most important mentors I have ever had seems to be angry at me. To the point that he’s not even keen on talking to me. I know I’ve fucked up. And I’ve said sorry. And I will never ever repeat the mistake. But I think I’ve broken the relationship to a point that it’s beyond repair.

Like a mature adult, I went to him to apologise face to face. But I dont think it’s working out. So that. Like a mirror, it’s broken. I can put it together but I will always see a crack 🙁

So that. It was important enough to capture here on the blog.


So yeah. These five things.

The whole of 2024 and February specifically seems to be jinxed at so many levels. I need to find a way to fix this. Any pandits around?

A secret. A confession. And a solution.

A longish note after a few hard days at work.

TW: I talk about dark days of my life as an entrepreneur. I talk about things that may be construed as triggering, depressing and of mental health challenges. PLEAES PLEASE PLEASE do not read if these things affect you.

.

..

….

…..

…..

Here’s a secret.
If you want to derail me and my life, all you need to do is talk to me in an impolite, rude or condescending tone. 

Let’s park this. I will come back to this.

Now, another secret.
More like a confession really.
The last few days at work haven’t been the best. Dont think people who work with me or know me apart from work would’ve spotted it. Or may be they would’ve. I don’t know. The point is, all I do is work. My life starts and ends with work. I wake up, work, eat, work, nowadays try to catch the sunset (see this reel that I posted today), work, sleep and repeat. 

What I do may not be meaningful in the grand scheme of things but it gives meaning to my life. It probably helps anchor the lives of a few other people as well (but I am not sure). So when I don’t have great days, it affects me and my raison d être and I don’t know what to do about it. Most people have a family to go back to. I have a Rubik’s Cube. That too I crammed the solution to and I have since forgotten. So, all I end up doing is closeting my emotions on my echochamber (on my Roam) or writing cryptic posts on my blog (or twitter) or eating crap (Dal Makhani mmmm).

This time, today, I choose to do none of these. I am going to put it out. On my blog. Here. After all, I chose to live in public and live more authentic this year. 

So that.

Now, why’s that I haven’t had great days at work? 
Simple. Go back to the line I opened this piece with. 
“…talk to me in an impolite, rude or condescending tone.”

In the last week, almost EACH of my clients has spoken to me (or my team) in a tone that’s not the best or polite. And today yesterday, a friend who’s also a client spoke to me like never before. That was probably the last straw that made me think this much and all.

Of course, he can’t be wrong, he’s almost never wrong. He knows more than me and all that. And as a result, things in my head have spiralled down an abyss. You know, like Alice fell down that Rabbit hole?

And I know that I am not bouncing back to my A game anytime soon. I take time. Of course, I will fake it and the world will continue to see me functioning as I do on other days – reliable, high-functioning, in a hurry, high on energy, dreamy-eyed, lost and other such things. As I write this, its 8:30 AM, I am at a Starbucks 20 KMs away from home, sitting on a table facing the wall with my back as straight as I can stretch to. Someone looking at me would see a old man going at it!

To be able to find my groove, I would need to find peace over the next few days. Not inner. Am ok on that front. But the outer one. Like you know, get my space. Since the last relationship went sour, I’ve become this loner who likes to have his space and his freedom.

So, I don’t know how I’d find my outer peace.

I would also want to get a closure on the reason for this. I mean would could’ve gone so wrong at so many places that we have so much trass from all sides? I am unable to understand why do these people, all from different industries, and different parts of the country chose to speak with us like that. Nothing is broken at any of these clients. We may not deliver award-winning work but we are reliable as fuck. Plus, we at C4E work really hard to ensure that we deliver more value than what we promise, often at our cost. You know, underpromise and overdeliver. To each of my clients.

And this has been hardwired in the heads and hearts of each person that agrees to work with C4E. That we would overdeliver come what may. Money is never important. We could lose money on projects (I’ve often done that). I would beg, borrow, and steal to keep the kitchen going. I’ve done that in the past. I would do it again if I had to. I’ve kept my team lean. I dont pay them as much as I want to. All to preserve sanity and not go beyond our aukaat (while taking shots beyond that). 

Wait. Before I digress. So, the funny part is, ALL our clients know this. Each of them. And they see it. And yet they tend to talk to us in a tone unwelcome, uncalled for and unneeded. I know they dont know that am soy and snowflake and easily hurt and their simple act of trying to push me to do more would derail me. I think I am still ok but I can’t imagine how my team feels!

But then, why be impolite? Why be condescending? Why be rude?

Maybe, a large part of this sadness and disappointment is my expectation from life and people itself. Maybe I am too simplistic (and wrong) in believing that people don’t have egos. Maybe people at the core are bitchy and mean for no reason. Maybe people love playing power games. Maybe people like to just poke with harmony and see what comes out of it. What if Joker was right all this while? PS: Even if they are wired differently, I will continue to chart my path. If I had to go live in a village where costs are low, I would. I would retire in Goa or in the hills where at least I can breathe free!

The other part could be that my approach to life could be unsettling for the world at large and they can’t understand it. I am trying to build a utopian world where everyone is kind to each other, everyone is engaged, everyone is chasing meaning (and not vanity goals), everyone sees magical possibilities. Where its one for all and all for one. Where I exist because we exist. But maybe everyone is hardwired into creating kalesh for kalesh’s sake? PS: Dont think this is the case though. I know people are really really good. I really believe that people do create magic.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days now and I am at my wit’s end. So, I kinda give up on trying to find the reason or answer. All I know is that I will chase my utopia till I can. 

Truth be told, I am often flexible on morals. I like the idea of doing whatever it takes to build a life I want to live. No, I am not talking about doing illegal things. But I am ok to bend a few rules if I have to. As long as I am not taking away from someone more deserving. I sometimes feel I were a tad evil – I would’ve done so much better! If I could sell my soul, I would probably be rich enough already to pay myself well and pay my people well. But then I get back to my thought about trying to build a long-term, sustainable, boring business that everyone tapdances to work on an everyday basis. 

The other part is these lingering thoughts about the challenges of running a service business in the market that we are in. We work hard to make other people’s dreams come true and in exchange, we get to make just enough to be happy about. Some days we make more than what we need but most days we merely get by. Luckily we are at a good place – on any given day, most of our clients are great companies, folks and all. They pay us ok money. We are challenged enough. All is well. But then when there are days like the last few and especially yesterday, I start questioning what we do.

The last bit is, maybe this is the trigger to push harder on my attempts to build a business that does not rely on just a few people or companies. Maybe build something that has hundreds of customers spread across geographies. Maybe I need to rethink how I work and slowly move on to a product business or something. I don’t know yet. My head’s in a soup. You can see. Lol.

Anyhow. Long rant is over. The point is, when someone speaks to me in a tone or a manner that is not kind or polite, in my head, all hell breaks loose. I spiral down and this is where I am at right now.

Of course, I will be back. I am strong like that. Vanita calls me a survivor. I survived COVID-19. I survived people cheating on me. I have survived so far. And I shall. Maybe i’d get a tee that says, “I am a survivor” :D. Lol!

Ok, more later. Thanks for reading (if you did). And yes, all is well. My back is still straight. I am still surrounded by a team that will move the mountains for me and for our clients. And we would continue to give our heart, head and soul for the work we do.

Oh, if you are reading this and you want to hire a great team to work with you – look us up 🙂

Untitled – 28 Jan 2024

Brain dump at a 7 AM on a Saturday morning.

When you open WordPress editor to start writing, they share a prompt – what’s on your mind.

I think I needed this trigger.

So, what’s on my mind?

One-line answer – A lot!

Lemme elaborate. Like most times, I will make a list. Here are the things that I am thinking about and these are making me anxious and unhappy and all that. And yes, these are in an order – these came to my head as I started to think about things! 

What if the run that I am on doesn’t continue in the next year? 
For context, in this year I have scaled C4E (revenue, profits, clients, people) at least 2X compared to last year. While our base is extremely small (we are still a Micro enterprise as per GoI definitions) but to me, it is big. 

So what if this dream run doesn’t continue?

Ok, I am not the one to affect me, normally. I believe this too shall pass. I know we are in a good place. We have a good mix of long-term clients and short-term projects. Team is stable, engaged, passionate and active. And while they are atamnirbhar, as the oldest member of the team, I feel responsible for them. And that’s the challenge. What if I am unable to pay for them?

How do I scale? 
Now that I have seen a good year, the ambitious man in me seems to have started to stir. And this means I need to do more and at scale. And this means I need to work harder. Just that I don’t know which direction to work hard in! I mean we offer communication services to people and there are a million other companies that do this. And they do it cheaper and better. Why would the client choose me? Why would I use my time to build this? Did I learn all I learnt to just offer communication services? No, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. Different people have different battles and a communication agency is not mine. Not at this time at least. Maybe in the future. Never say never. So, coming back to the scale question, I need to work on that. And that is what keeps me up at night.

The chase of cool things. 
If you know me at all, you would know that I love shiny toys more than anything else. I’d rather spend my life in chase and not in actual deep, building of things. My joy is in zero to 1 and not in 1 to 100. This is something that Aditya Sir made me realize long ago! And the world we live in has a million shiny things to be honest and I have access to none of those. So, I am mindfucked about not having access to those cool things. I know that there’s no end to this. And I know better to not make that a pain point!

How do I build distribution? 
I’ve realized that everything in life boils down to one thing and one thing only – distribution. Once you have that, you can touch the sky and reach the moon and all that. Today I have pathetic distribution and reach. I may have 1000 followers on twitter but I don’t have an impactful reach and I need to build that. When I say impactful, I mean I should be able to reach people that matter. And they must know who I am. 

On the internet, people agree that there are a few ways to reach there – 

  • a, create polarizing content in polarizing categories (religion, celebrity, sports), 
  • b, showcase your talent as a person of talent (humor, acting, opinions, wit etc), 
  • c, identify a niche for yourself and create consistently on that, and finally, 
  • d, spend money! 

Now, I don’t have any of these 4. Plus I refuse to be siloed into one category – I am a free bird (lol). And thus the mindfuck. 

How do I ship more things? 
The other question I keep asking is, how do I ship more. I agree that all the things that I have mentioned above need a tiny element of luck but this one, the one on shipping, is pure hard work. No luck. Once I ship, things may not work out or things may bomb or things may be substandard quality. But I know that shipping is single-handedly a thing that I can control! So that.

Maybe once I start shipping things, I will feel good? After all it’s been AGES since I’ve shipped something by myself! 

So that! 

Oh and thanks to this brain dump, now I know that since shipping contributes this much to my happiness, I need to probably amp up my shipping game! 

DN Nagar vs Ghatkopar

A collection of notes and thoughts about living in two very different houses in the same city. Read on.

I am one of those rare lucky ones who have access to two houses in Mumbai. One I rent (let’s call it A) and the other, I take care of for a friend (let’s call it B). While I spend most of my time around A, I often go back to B. This is a collection of notes and thoughts about living in these two houses in the same city.

Read on.

Lemme talk of A first. The one at DN Nagar

A is a 1BHK, on the 4th floor in a building that is older than my parents. The building is more precarious than a flaky croissant and if you look at it, you’d peg it to crumble down like those Digestive biscuits do when you bite into those. And since this is an old standalone building, there is no fancy razzmatazz, no security, needlessly nosy neighbours. Plus it’s bang on top of a busy road and the Metro line and thus noisy at all hours.

The good part is that the house was newly renovated and I am the first occupant. So, it’s super clean – the way I like it. The owners are nice people and they gave me flowers and paintings when I moved in. I’ve been here 3-4 months now and I have yet to hear them complain or interfere. One time there was some leakage and the owners were so apologetic that I felt bad!

The best part is the location. The metro station is 100 steps away (I have counted). Starbucks is 600 meters (and I still take a rick to get there). And all the other paraphernalia that you seek from a “location” (like a hospital, grocery stores, schools, gyms etc etc). A lot of people from the film fraternity are around and thus I can meet more people. So it’s nice.

To make the good and best better, I’ve done it the way I’ve wanted to. You know, minimal. In the bedroom, apart from an eclectic collection of almirahs that I inherited from the owner, I have just a mattress and a rented AC. In the hall, I have some assorted pieces of furniture (including a sewing machine!) that came with the house. So, it’s one of the emptiest houses (not the emptiest though – at Chilralekha, all I had was a mattress, almirah, writing table and nothing else) that I’ve lived in and I love it! And whatever little I have here, I am not emotionally attached to any of that and I am ok to discard or acquire as and when they come. So that.

I have built a nice pad for myself. Just that it’s not good or big or nice enough to host anyone. You know how people are ashamed of their poverty? That!

Coming to B. The one at Ghatkopar

This is as fancy as they come. The rent of this house is more than what I make in a month. The average car in this complex is a luxury sedan and people have a couple of spare cars for grocery shopping. The complex is nice and there are rules that are funny to me – you can’t get repairs done that would make noise (but they would play Garba songs are deafening volume late in the night), the domestic help “staff” can only use service elevator (but once they are in your house, they have unfettered access to even your kitchen and bedroom). And to top, there is three-layer security, neighbours are a mix of old money and nouveau riche, and things are as pretentious as they come in such a place.

There is no way I can afford to live here. I mean I have lived in this complex in the past but that was when the rents were manageable and I had predictable income. B, the house in question is a close friend’s. He lives abroad and he has entrusted me with his house as a caretaker. And to be honest, I do more than just take care – I live here, I host dinners here, I work from here and I get guests to chill and talk and all that. Something that I would never do at A. Each person who comes here says good things about the place. They are fascinated by the grandeur and space and how well it’s been done. The interiors are a sight to behold. The view from out of the house is full of nice things. See this, this and this.

The house is full of modern, top-of-the-line gadgets and they’re maintained by official servicing setups (read expensive) and all the cables and wires and plumbing and even dustbins are hidden from plain sight. You can mistake the place for a hotel room where all you see is nice things and all the ugliness is buried deep under multiple layers of shiny walnut panels, satin, thick carpets and white gloves.

There are good things only (apart from the obnoxious things I mentioned above). A shopping mall is across the road, the hospital is about 10 mins away (in Powai) and there is easy access to trains et al. Just that LBS Marg could get choked at office hours and for me, most days I can avoid that. So, all is well.

And I use it as my own house. And I am grateful that I have that!

The trouble is, I am unable to relate to people that live here. All of them are in a bubble, an echochamber that they refuse to get out of. They are in a cocoon (ironically, their clubhouse is called that :D) where they are blind to things happening in and around them. Conversations are tone-deaf and the privilege reeks through in each morsel of chatter that comes out of there. And which is fine, to be honest. I am like that at some level myself (this piece itself is tone-deaf and I have been a judgy bitch). But people here have their heads up their backsides to a point that it’s weird. I remember one of the people here once said that they should get a skywalk made to the mall so that they don’t have to cross the road. And if there was no Metro getting made across the road, they would’ve got it!

Ok, wait. The point is not people here or my inability to relate to conversations of fancy rich people.

The point is, yesterday, I came to B after more than a month and I have to say, I loved it!

The quiet luxury, the abundant personal space, the muted lights of the house, and the “service” of the staff were something that I could get used to! Just that I don’t have the money or resources to do so. Each time I am here, I want to keep coming back to this place (there’s a LOT of pseudo-niceness around) and I want to work harder to belong and create opportunities for myself and others so that my entire village can live here (if not at better places).

So that.

Chalo, over and out.

PS: After I published this, I realised that this reads like a rant and I know better than to publish such things. But then I had written and I didn’t want it to go waste 😀

Untitled – 27 Sep 2023

An untitled rant on what’s been up with me.

Today’s one of those days that I haven’t had in a long time. And I shouldn’t be. I mean I am in a different country, on a leisure trip, visiting a friend (and his daughter, aka heir to my assets), sitting at a comfortable cafe, sipping onto a 300 Peso iced-tea (terrible TBH), away from all the rigmarole of life in Mumbai. And yet I have had a terrible terrible day. There’s nothing that has changed from yesterday. I woke up without an alarm. I had a healthy-ish breakfast of dry fruits, an apple, and some more fruits. I walked to the cafe that I work out of. Saw Lecture 9. Got a few things done. Went back home. Ate home-cooked delicious food. Slept after that. Back at the cafe. So, in theory, all’s ok.

Maybe it’s the aftermath of old age. I turned 41 and I don’t think I’ve done even 4 things to justify my existence. Maybe it’s my general need to be by myself (while I have taken enough time for myself on this trip, I had planned for 100% seclusion and I was unable to). Maybe it’s my ability to do things that I had wanted to do on this “break” – eat better, swim, walk, write, learn, etc.

Whatever. I am not feeling it today. And I dont know how to fix it. If I were in Mumbai, I would have ordered some random food – dal, Maggi, samosa-pao, or whatever and then would’ve slept while seeing FIR or Taarak Mehta. I know none of these is healthy for me but I would’ve. I can still do all these but remember, I am trying to be better?

So that.

Anyhow. Lemme write some random updates. In no order.

1/ AGI is here and I am still trying to make ends meet. I think this could be the root of all my problems. That I don’t have access to great things happening in the world around me. I am merely sitting by the side of the road while the world solves engineering, intellectual, scientific, philosophical, and all such problems.

2/ A new challenge. I will start it on Oct 1. I will work towards doing 100 push-ups per day. I will start on Oct 1. I will do as many push-ups as I can. And then each day I will do one more push-up than the previous day. Some days I will not be able to add that last straw on the camel’s back. And that’s ok. But I will add one more push-up. Till I reach a point when I can do 100 push-ups. This would easily take me more than 100 days but I shall try.

3/ I’ve been tripping onto this song since I first heard it. I would’ve heard this a hundred times already, if not more.

4/ I have been away from social media and it’s not bad. I mean I’ve been checking Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn but I have not engaged with anyone or seen what people tag me for. I am merely using that to distract myself.

And I think I can continue to be that. Just that I need it for work. So maybe I will make new accounts where I only talk shop and delete all personal ones? Or do people want authenticity? I am not sure. Let’s see where the vibes would take me.

Ok, what else to write? Not sure. I can pick this up tomorrow morning and write again. But I don’t want to wait till tomorrow to publish. Maybe I’ll write a continuation post to this post tomorrow if I am up to it.

Whatever it is. Time shall tell. For the time being, time to shut this and go to sleep. Over and out.

What the heck is C4E?

A braindump on how I think about life and work and what I am building at C4E.

Here’s a brain dump on how I think about C4E and who we are and what we do and where we want to be.

Disclaimers. 

  • This is a brain dump. 
  • This is how I think today. Now. 22 Mar. 19:51 PM.
  • Could change / evolve with time.
  • Not seen by anyone else yet. 

So, among other things, I want to establish C4E as [1] a great business to [2] do great business with.

And a [3] collective of businesses, each with the same ethos, each a part of the cult, each tapping into the same resource pool. Each with an intent to be larger than C4E!

So three things. 

  • [1] Great business – C4E has the greatest people.
  • [2] Do great business with – C4E does great work, if not the greatest.
  • [3] A collective. 

Lemme talk about each of these.

Wait. 

Before I take up these things, have to repeat what Naval Ravikant says: “Play long-term games with long-term people.”

We MUST be long-term people for each other at C4E. And for our clients. And we MUST play long-term games.

Coming back…

[1] Great business – is one that is made of great PEOPLE.

Where people trust, value, and respect each other. Where each person is treated like a person. And not like an object / a thing / OHR ID. The #culture must speak for itself.

At C4E each person MUST chase their respective bliss. Each with an opportunity to do great work in a safe space. Each paid as much as they’d like to be. Or enough to afford the lifestyle of the top 1%. Each with the freedom to work how they want, when they want, on what they want.

Each is a part owner. Each with their skin in the game. Each with ability to live their life the way they want to. Or as we call this in our culture book, each with the ability to choose their own adventure.

At C4E, each person must tap-dance to “work” each day. Each person must “want” to work harder than anyone else. Not because they are expected to. But because they want to. And of course, work smart. More importantly, each has a lot of fun while they work.

So, people first. ALWAYS. 

If people at C4E are engaged, they are in the zone, they are inspired to do great things, we as a business would do well. Even if the times are hard and projects are tough. 

You know #c4eCult 

[2] Do great business with. 

This is simple. We at C4E HAVE to a great business to work with (if not the greatest). While this great / greatness is tough to measure, I believe that a good metric could be…

  • repeat clients
  • referrals 
  • number of heated conversations

While we may not be good / best / brilliant at what we do, HAVE to be the MOST relentless, resourceful, flexible, polite, honest, straightforward, hardworking, smart-working, jugaadu team. 

PS: EACH word here has been used after a LOT of thought (which is unlike me).

And while we do all of the above, we HAVE to be the team that stands by clients through thick or thin. You know, like, friends in need. We want to be around our clients come hell or high water. Our clients often find us standing two steps behind. If not next to them.

We are your wartime consigliere. We are the ones that you can lean on. We will hold your flag high. We will give it all we have. In the words of Will Smith, we are not afraid to die on the treadmill. We will NOT be outworked. Especially when you need us.

PS: we are VERY VERY selective about whom we work with. Even though we are small and it’s tough to survive on a day-to-day basis, we are sure about not saying yes to anyone whom we dont get the right vibes from!

So that. 
Happy people. 
Better work.
It’s that simple.

[3] A collective. 

I am VERY very sure about this. C4E may look like a marketing / communications agency right now, we are MUCH MUCH more than that. We are like a group of superheroes. A collective of people with the grandest brains, unbridled ambition and keeda to do more.

Always buzzing with energy, ideas and all that. Always willing to fire before we take aim. Always wanting to do more. 

Each person at C4E HAS to be special. Each has to build a thriving business with C4E as its incubator. Each must use C4E as a sandbox. Each must take energy from each other and catapult each other higher than what each could individually do!

Right now, some of these that I can talk about are Purple Pencil Project, The Red Sparrow, The Podium, Decoding Draupadi, Titan CS, LHV and others. Right now, C4E is bigger than the sum of these. Some day, each of these HAS to be bigger than the whole of C4E. See this tweet by Elon Musk.

So that.

Recapping… 

C4E has to be a great business to do great business with. And we are a group of tightly-knit, exceptional people, giving our best shot at solving tough problems. And while we do that, we are trying to chase our respective bliss!

If you think you want to be a part of this, come join us! We are really good people to work with!

Really.

Perils of being the Creatures of Comfort

A rant on what comfort does to perennial hustlers. And how creatures of comfort are often unable to do what they’re destined to.

Hola! Ranting after a while. Let’s see how it goes.

I started writing this from the hall of a 2.5 BHK house in which I live. It’s a very comfortable place and now that I have lived here for a few days, I know that this is not a good place to be at (or the situation to be in). The rest of the post is about why it’s a bad idea to be in a comfortable place. Especially for people like me.

The thing with a comfortable place is that it gives you the solace you need after a long, hard day of work. But it also makes you lazy for no reason at all. Here are my thoughts on it. And no, not in any order.

A. You tend to get lazy.
You tend to get complacent. You tend to stop hustling. You tend to start to live a comfortable life and then you start questioning the entire idea of even trying to work hard. Leave alone actual hard work. And this is the start of the downfall.

B. This life of comfort is addictive.
Like cocaine. Sugar. Carbs. AC. Monthly Salary.

C. You know entropy?
That happens. Left to yourself, you degrade to a state of non-functioning. And once you are not functioning, you stop moving. Once you’ve stopped, there is inertia and there is a problem in starting. You catch rust. Worse, you start to atrophy.

All these together contribute to making you a weak man. And anyway, someone said these golden words – “easy times create weak men”.

That!

D. There is no opportunity for riyaaz.
And riyaaz as well all know is the stone on which altars of the grandest churches are built atop. In fact, if you dont do riyaaz, you could be the greatest talent in the world with the best damn gift by the lord himself and yet you would be unable to perform when the time comes to do so.

The comfortable places hold you in deep clutches and dont want you to step out of it.

E. The cloistered cocoon.
When you are in a comfortable cocoon, you stop looking outside the walls that you are cloistered into. You stop looking for opportunities. And life just passes by you when you are admiring the pretty pictures that you put up on your walls to create this comfortable cocoon. You know, ivory tower? You have the grandest views of the most lavish expanses that us humans have created. While in theory, you could enjoy those, you are no longer that. You are the man trapped in the matrix. You are not in the arena. You have not lived. You have not fulfilled your destiny.

F. The death of Sisyphus.
When you are comfortable, the Sisyphus in you is no longer pushing the boulder up the mountain. He’s being a couch potato, staring at the boulder. And Imagine the time when he could be back on the mountain and is toiling with it. Imagine a Tom without a Jerry to chase. Imagine a Batman without a Joker. Imagine a Hero without an adversary. The damn joy that you get from your very existence is sucked away.

So that.
That’s the rant.
About comfort and the creatures that are on the fast and slippery road downhill.

Oh, as I end this, I have some disclaimers to make.

  1. The definition of comfort is different for different people. One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold.
  2. These are my thoughts and not my employer’s
  3. What applies to me may not apply to you. So please read with caution and standard disclaimers.
  4. Good to be back to writing. I missed these rants!
  5. I know this is not the best of my writing. But now that I am back at these longish pieces, I hope to continue with these.

PS: Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/saurabh.

[Rant] Action. Inaction. Keeping at it.

A quick note about life, sleep, Kabir, meaning, action and inaction.

I dont know what to write. I just feel like writing. So, I am going to randomly type and see what I end up creating.

Also, this has come out as a rant. You may not want to read this.

I started writing this at 9 PM last night. While thinking about what to write, I dozed off. I think it is because I hadn’t slept well the previous night. At the age I am at, I need my 8 hours of sleep at night. And I need 2 hours during the day. I think this is one of those side effects of age that I need to probably undo.

Anyhow. So, I am at the airport, waiting for a flight to go to Mumbai. From Delhi. Since August of last year, I have been spending time between Delhi and other places. However, my work, my heart, my soul is in Mumbai. Or maybe Goa. Or maybe at airports. But definitely not in Delhi. Even though Delhi is home, Delhi is where I grew up and I am still unable to take Delhi out of me. I mean the way I am sitting sprawling at a chair in the waiting area, I could only be from Delhi!

While in Mumbai, among other things, I hope to meet a few people. The top of that list is V, my agony aunt, mentor, friend, and I dont know what all. She has been a pillar of support since I can remember (actually since 2009). I wish I had more access to her. But then the good part is that I meet her after long gaps and she can point to me if I have changed – you know, put weight, got better with thinking, or if I am taking action.

Talking about action, here is a video (about inaction) that I just saw and it gave me goosebumps! You HAVE to see this. Here…

I think with each passing day I am getting clearer about how I want to spend my life. I am unable to articulate it well but it would be something like…

1. Do great things. You know, climb Mt. Everest, chase a billion dollars etc.

2. While doing those things, live with the highest level of integrity, action, kindness, gratitude, ambition, effort and more.

3. When I think I have reached a place where what I’ve done is inspiring for the world at large, go inspire others to chase their respective bliss. Whatever that may be.

So that.

Of course, along the way, I will have to figure out work (that pays me enough, allows me to pay my team enough, contribute to causes, like the Kabir‘s life and all that), deliver consistently (if we are not consistent, what are we even?) and keep at it. I mean some days are hard. H A R D. You are left questioning the very why of your existence. And you are this close to giving up that it’s a miracle that you are even breathing the next instant.

I think I am lucky that somehow I have not fallen down the Rabbit’s hole of inaction. Probably I have surrounded myself with people and media that move me and push me. And I have chosen to cut off from people that ask me to take it easy. And thus I am able to even get out of the bed!

Ok, I am getting ranty.

Moving on.

The point of this piece was, well, nothing. I just felt like writing. And I started this piece last night. And now that I had the time (as I waited for the flight), I thought I will finish writing it!

With this, over and out.

See you guys next time!

First published here.