090621 – Morning Pages

A longish post about how I spent the day yesterday, things I did and how I felt as I went about them.

8:29. Was up a few minutes ago. Made my bed, opened the windows, got some water, and switched on the computer. And here I am. I will try to write this one without switching context. Let’s see how I fare. I will keep a tab of interruptions and what triggered that.

Yesterday was interesting for a lot of reasons. Lemme recap and then I will write more. So for starters, I went to Starbucks and spent almost half a day there. More on this in a bit. Then I came back and ate (once in the day! yay!). Remember the keyboard I wrote about? I found it! Wedged next to the bookshelf! Then I worked and worked and worked and worked till about 10. And then I slept. While sleeping, I felt like a machine that started in the morning, worked till the day ended, and then shut down. The joy felt missing. I mean the joy is in work itself, to be honest, and I enjoy most things I do. But as I was trying to get sleep (around 11), I wished there was more. May be this is the loneliness that they talk about that people my age suffer from? You know, the ones that don’t have a significant other? I won’t know.

Moving to specifics.

Starbucks. So I went to the Starbucks I go to often. I got myself a Venti Americano and settled into the spot that I used to sit at. In the first 10 minutes while I was there, I realized it was going to be a good good day. In the sense that I will get a lot done. I will be in the zone. I will do better things.

And I did. I felt the spring in my step. I made difficult calls. I was on a literal roll!

Now that I know this and it has dawned onto me this well, I think wherever I go, I will have to find a place like Starbucks to work from. I will invest in a place (as in pay a fee or something). May be a WeWork. It would become a large variable when I choose the place where I want to be. When in Goa, even Clay was not plush enough for my taste. Felix probably was. Just that phone / Internet wouldn’t work there. Plus those places are not built for virtual calls.

Oh, and I will start calling this the ‘Starbucks Effect on Work’. Related is Coffee Effect on Sleep. Like I couldn’t fall asleep easily last night when I tried. And then I woke during the night. Guess that’s all the coffee in me playing a spoilsport.

Next up. Now that I am fully vaccinated and all that, I plan to be in Delhi for a few days towards the end of Jun. I know my work would get affected while I am there – I won’t have the space to work from and I would have to live in a small house with my parents. But I think my parents deserve a break and work can wait. No, they’ve not told me that they want me to live with them. It’s just that I want to. Most times, I make more than 6 trips to Delhi a year. This time around, it’s been tough. I remember I was in Delhi in March of last year. And then around Diwali. It’s been more than 7 months and I think I owe them one. So that.

In other news, I saw that Vikramaditya Motwane Sir is doing a session where he would listen to pitches from aspiring authors. I think I will participate in that and try my luck. In case you are a filmmaker and reading this by mistake, do see this. In fact, thanks to TRS sessions, I have come to love what he’s as a person. I am lucky that I get some behind-the-scenes time with him and thus I know that he’s probably one of the best-meaning filmmakers that I know of. I must must make friends with him. If only wishes had wings!

Finally, the thing that I want to write about is WWDC21. Apple’s flagship event for developers. While I did not catch the event per se but the buzz made me stop and see what all they presented. And it’s amazing how they do it. They make seemingly simple things sound so grand that you are left in awe. I think there are a lot of lessons in there for me as a person, for brands, and for businesses. I mean see the below two videos and tell me you are not impressed!

Day 1 recap
Day 2 recap

Damn Steve! What a brilliant organization you created! I am in perpetual awe of you.

Ok, the other person that I want to talk about who I am in awe of? Jeff Bezos! He announced that he’s going to space. In a rocket that one of his companies designed. Along with his brother. I mean WTF! The most epic example of eating your own shit! A part of me is amazed at his dareness. Another part is scared. What if something happens? I mean the odds are pretty high! We lost Steve randomly. Dont think I want to lose Jeff. Or Bill. Or Warren for that.

I know I know I am trying to abstain from Hero Worship but these are the men that actually show others (and more importantly me) that there’s more to life than Ram Mandir! I sincerely wish I end up like that – where my conduct and my life and my work inspires others.

But wait. What about the epic laziness that I am ingrained with? Lemme give an example. Last night, once I was done with all the work and wailing in my loneliness (that I wrote about above), I realized that I don’t have water. And I drink a lot of water. Like a lot. Some 10 liters a day. I am not exaggerating. So I needed water. And I did have a 20-liter jar that I just had to open and pour into a dispenser. And what did I do? Ordered 4 1-liter bottles of water. Such a waste of money and plastic. Only to save me the discomfort of pouring water into a dispenser. Lol!

Ok. After this 10,000 kilometers of a rant, coming to the real thing that I am thinking a lot about. My angel investing syndicate that I am doing with Akash and Anubhab. We call it Long Haul Ventures (LHV).

The thesis there is simple. We want to be long-term partners for young founders that often find themselves alone. You know the ones that aren’t from an IIT-IIM etc. The ones that dont really have a pedigree to gather interest for the bets they are making. The ones that often find themselves alone and in a corner. I don’t want to call them underdogs. Idea is to give them a shoulder to stand on!

It’s been my life’s mission to enable others to do more. LHV is yet another step in that direction. This time, in a little more structured manner. With people who are smarter than me (both share initials – AG and AG). And of course, for the super long-term. Most of the work I will do on LHV will reap fruits after 5-10 years. But I am committed. With my time, money, energy, and even reputation.

So, while there are a few long-term goals we are chasing, I do have a short-term objective to meet as well. I am helping close the first deal by helping a startup raise capital.

And I am learning that it’s tough as fuck! Tougher than raising money for your own startup. For your startup, the friends and family that invest in? They are backing you and your passion and your dreams. Here, they are backing a stranger’s dream and all they have is your word!

Each person you ask for money (and support the startup) has a million questions about you and your thesis and all that. The questions are deep and pointed (as they must be) and they make you feel naked. You have to bare your heart and soul. Some of these questions are so tough that you don’t know what to say. But you need to do it. Right? Yeah!

So that. It’s a new thing and I know it’s a long, hard road I am on. Let’s see how long can I tread on it.

Guess that’s about it. It’s 9:24. A little less than an hour.
And 1400 words! Wow!
Maybe I had a lot to write.
Or may be I did not switch context a lot.
Oh, I kept a list. Here…

  1. Music (needed something to play in the background)
  2. Whatsapp (had to ask a few friends about a trip before I goto Delhi)
  3. Someone at the door

Well done, Mr. Garg.
You deserve a break! Go call your Pavlovian response mechanism to go berserk.

You, dear reader, deserve a break as well.
Go, live your best life.

PS: Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 178
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 1. Did not plan to. It just happened.
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 90
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

PPS: And here’s what Hemingway has to say about this piece…

Not bad!

220521 – Life and Death

A short post about my understanding of life and death. No, it’s not very rosy.

7:10 AM
Yesterday was weird. For some reason, I could not function. I was on the computer since the morning but I could not function at all. I was like a zombie. I was not thinking, not reacting, not doing. I was on a computer On one side, I am chilling with the two kids I adore more than anything else in life. And on another, someone close in the extended family passed away. I have known him to be a funny, respectful, and full of life person. I think I’ve even gone on holidays with him as a kid – you know when you’d pack yourself into a big car and would go in large groups to hill stations? That. While there is some sort of sadness over the passing of the said relative, I am more or less. To a point that apart from that momentary thought about him and how he looked and who all do I know from the family, I had no feeling of loss. To be honest, I’ve felt a far more personal loss at the passing of celebrities that I did not know of. Heck, I was disturbed by days when I heard about the passing of Steve Jobs. Even the scandals about Jeff and Bill. I was more fucked in the head when one of my colleagues passed away and even when one of my poker buddies passed away (even though I hadn’t heard from him in years).

I am not sure if I should be ashamed of this indifference towards someone who was close. Or I should be proud of my indifference towards someone who was close. I don’t know. I just know that death is messy and I am severely unequipped to handle the emotions that it invokes. To me, despite COVID, death has remained an academic thing. That happens to others, in books, and in popular media. This time I have lost people that are close and that I have spoken to and shared meals with and all that. And yet I remain emotionless. May be such is life. Such is the world. May be Steve was right all along. He said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

#note2self. See Steve Jobs’ video. Here…

So that.

Moving on.

Today’s Saturday. And that means a lot of distractions won’t be around. Plus I have been slacking for some days now. I will probably pull my socks and get more things done. I will also try and work out from a friend’s place to prevent myself from plopping myself on a bed. I am sick and tired of working from home. I need a change in scenery for sure. I miss going to an office, I miss the energy of others. I can’t wait for a Starbucks to open. I can’t wait for the lockdown to go away. The way things are stacked in Mumbai, I think we would be out of the lockdown by the first week of June. I am so so so looking forward to it.

Guess this is it. There’s more to write but I will take a pause and do some Surya Namaskars. Been a few days.

Here’s the streak…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 160
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 3
  • #noCoke – 72
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

PS: Today on, I will try and title the post with what’s on my mind.

The ‘Rule of Three’ in Writing

In this 30-seconds-to-read post, I talk about ‘The Rule of Three’ in Writing. A simple tool that you can use to become far better at writing!

Here’s a question to get you started.

What is common to the following? 

Roti, Kapda and Makaan
Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram
Blood, Sweat, and Toil
Aap, Main aur Bagpiper 
Mind, Body, Soul
I, Me, Myself
Dharti, Paatal, Aakash
Etc. etc. etc.

Three things. 

All these are in triads. In threes. As part of one message.

This is typically used in writing (see this) and other similar disciplines (comedy, performing arts, etc) and the law finds application at multiple places.

You know three lives that you got when you played Super Mario? Contra? Or most other computer games? 
Three meals of the day? 
Three steps to success? 
Three wishes that you could make from the genie? 

There is so many places where you see it. It is like the Golden Ratio. They are applied at places that you often fail to see. In fact, these “laws” are used by master communicators to influence conversations and moods. Reminds me of that famous talk by Steve Jobs at Stanford where he talks about some stories from his life. See it here…

Steve Jobs at Stanford

Can you guess how many stories does he talk about? Lemme know in comments.

You have three guesses. You know, three strikes. 

In fact, most stories, folklores, and even films follow the three-act structure. The Hero’s Journey (the universal storytelling structure) is about three parts – go into an adventure, win a decisive battle, and come back. I am sure if someone were to dissect more great narratives, they’d spot these laws being used at multiple places in those texts! 

So, the lesson for you and I while we write?

Next time you have to talk to someone, try by saying that you have three things to talk about. And then like a numbered list, say, first.. this; second that and third, whatever. 

You would see that the audience pays a little more attention. Try it.

Next time when you have to write, try to write in threes. You can use this to write stories, essays, films, books, IELTS applications, blog, content, and whatnot.

Like this entire post is in threes. Just that this is the second thing of the third section. What about the third one? Guess?

301220 – Morning Pages

Rant about how the world is being unfair to me. And how I would publish on a ‘Work With Me’ manifesto. You can ignore if you want to.

7:49 AM.

I was up at 530. And then I dozed off again. And then I woke up at again at 6. And then dozed off at 630. And then woke at 730 again. And just when I was about to sleep again, I decided that I need to get my butt moving. Took me two hours but here I am.

The year is coming to a close in a day and I am still to do my 2021 lists. Maybe I will spend the rest of the day with those. Let’s see.

So, I met with a friend from MDI yesterday (GK). This was the first time I was meeting with him, after MDI. And a lot has changed since then. It was tough to hold a conversation with him for the time I spent with him but it was compassionable and it felt easy. Guess that’s what cults do to you. Reinforces my belief that education at pedigreed schools and colleges is imperative.

I told him what all have I been up to lately. Asked him about his trip. Realised that he’s been spending time with dance. Told him that I want to pick up dancing as it will help my social skills. Our chats ranged from Jordon Peterson to Future of Humanity to Startups to Careers to MDI to common friends, food, and a lot more. I even narrated the outline of book2 and he seems to have liked it!

He talked about his belief that you could only be exceptional at 2-3 things in life and for multipotentialites like me, the real pain is to quit doing all the other thousand things that you know you are good at! May be that is the pain that I need to go thru to become great?

Oh, while parting, he sent me this…

Greatest lesson ever!

The other thing at the top of my head is that for some reason, the game (the world) and the players (aka people) in the game are not being kind to me. More so, I feel they are out there to take undue advantage. I have many examples but let me talk of two that are affecting me so much that I am, well, fucked in the head.

A, am trying to make a short film to learn the craft. And to of course pay a tribute to the track that I have come to love so much (Ankur Tewari’s Dil Haare). No, AT has not commissioned. He doesn’t even know this. I. am merely going. touse the track as backing audio. I don’t plan to release it except put it on youtube.

So, now, I have a limited understanding of the camera and I have been trying to meet people to seek help on it. And everyone that I talk to seems to be asking for a ridiculous amount of money. Even though I sound like an n00b when it comes to films, I am a co-producer with 2 short films now and I think I know what it takes / costs. And yet I am being taken for a ride. And the worst is that I can see that they are taking me for a ride. And I am telling them that I can see what they are doing and yet they are insistent! Funny No?

I am not expecting them to work for free. I am not taking away credit from them. All I am expecting is that they are reasonable. And yet they are not being.

B, The other is at the podcast thing. Without getting into specifics, people that I thought were nice and reasonable and easy to work with are acting funny. And I don’t like it. And I made it clear in as many words that I did not like it. And yet I am being disrespected. I mean all I have earned in life is a bit of respect (that too went down the drain when I had to take on debt to pay bills) and if something questions that, I don’t know what to do.

I was angry af but then I saw Pale Blue Dot and Steve’s video and I was ok.

But I would make some changes in the way I work. I’ll come to it in a bit but before that, I think the world needs to learn humility and kindness and niceness. The world needs to learn that they are not in a one-time, winner-takes-all game. Life is long and you are known by the reputation that you build. What matters is what people talk about you when you are not in the room!

Anyhow. So the changes.

Here is a list.

  1. Paperwork. I was one of those that would trust a handshake when I went into a business or work transactions. Now, I will ensure that everything I do will have a paper trail with everything in black and while. I need to spend time with contracts, terms, entry clauses, exit clauses, etc. I don’t like the idea of doing this and I thought I could change the way I worked. But no longer.
  2. Work With Me’ Manifesto. Because I like working with multiple people on multiple projects, I need to write a ‘Work With Me’ Manifesto that I would mandate everyone to read and understand and internalize. I would add parts about trust, kindness, respect, long-term thinking, etc in that. Will even make it public and publish it on the blog for everyone to read and comment and make it watertight. Each new project that I get onto, the first email that I exchange, would have this. #sgtodo
  3. Live in Public. I have been talking about it last few days. I need to accelerate it. You think blockchain will solve all the trust deficit that we have? Nah. Living in Public will. Each time I get into a contract with someone, even though it may sound premature, I would make it public and post on the blog and on Twitter (the two places that I trust more than God).

That’s about it I guess for the time being.

While writing, I realised. I am still not cool btw 🙁

Moving on.

Had an interesting epiphany yesterday while I was waiting for GK to arrive. I realized that since I started writing these morning pages, I have not been writing at all. Plus these morning pages are like journals where I merely talk to myself. I am not creating content that I normally would. the ones where I want others to read, consume, think, bring about a change in their lives, give me feedback on, etc. Need to change that in 2021. Maybe bring back SoG?

Talking of change, the other thing that I would change in 2021 is that I would work very hard on creating a brand for myself.

This is something that I think about every year but hardly work on – I am way too introverted and shy to do this. Plus I think what is that I have achieved to be able to tom-tom myself? Isn’t the world already full of too many cluster-fucks, self-congratulatory messages, neverending stories of pathos, societies of mutual admiration, and more?

Why do I want to add to that noise?

I don’t know yet but what I do know is that I need to be out there if I want opportunities to come to me. And more importantly to people that I know of. And I need a brand for that. And that brand needs to stand atop one thing that encapsulates it all. May be marketing. May be side projects. May be Goa. I don’t know.

But brand SG has to get elevated in 2021.

And finally, before I end this, Sonali’s digital art is now online here! Yay! Please head over there and see if you like it and if you do, please consider spreading the word, and still better, buying!

With this, over and out!

291220 – Morning Pages

604 AM

I have had a sleepless night. After quite a while.

Why?

Well, multiple factors. Missed deadlines at work. Passion projects seemed to be going sideways. Personal life seems to be going off track. People clearly don’t like and I’ve built my life being a likable person and in general, being helpful and all. A friend turned client called me at 11 to complain about a colleague turned parter. A friend working on a startup seems to be struggling and I cant seem to help him at all. And there is a lot more!

I guess life happened!

And so much more.

Like I tweeted yesterday, what a day!

It was so bad that I ended up loading on carbs like a mad man. All the lo-carb thingy that I was on since the last few days have gone for a toss. I would love to talk about what happened and why it happened and how it happened and if I was at fault. But writing about it and ranting about it would not help. I actually don’t know what would help. I guess this too shall pass. #note2self – write about these on #sgEchoChamber.

So, anyhow.

There were some silver linings as well. I have a few interns from SP Jain working with me to market the Marketing Connect Podcast and I had a session with them where I gave them gyaan. I realized yet again that I love talking to young people. Need to scale it somehow.

Plus, I was working out from Clay and towards the evening, I took time to see the sun go down at the Anjuna beach. It was mesmerizing. Doing nothing and watching the sun hide behind the waves. And since it was less crowded than the Baga where I normally hang out at, it was lovely. I must make it a practice to see it go down every day. There was this colleague at a point in time – Guru. He worked out of Goa and he would insist that we need to go watch it. Yesterday I saw that he meant. It was his birthday a few days ago and I must drop him a line, wishing him and thanking him for the tip. But then, he thought I was a nutcase and he may or may not read my email. Heck, his email address that I have may no longer be valid.

Anyhow, here are some pics for you to enjoy. I am proud of how these have come out. One of these has been edited.

I think I have the talent for photography and I must pursue it. What do you think?

Damn I wish I had more lives!

Apart from this, I am not sure I can write a lot, to be honest. The head is still reeling from all the fuckery that happened yesterday. Of course, I am to blame for all of it. I need to mend my ways. If nothing else, I need to become so unbreakable that even though things so sideways, I need to not get riled up and eat like a man coming out of famine. I have to be stronger. Lol, self-talk!

It’s still 630. And less than the requisite 30 minutes of writing. Lemme carry on.

Oh yeah. One of my old employers and the man who taught me most of what I know called me after ages. He wanted some tiny help. Did that for him. I realised that I would do whatever it takes for his approval. In fact I am realising that if you dont take people from your past into your future, it is not the greatest feeling. While the novelty of a new relationship is exciting, the ease of doing things with the old is something that makes work happen faster!

Talking of fast, life in Goa is making me realize the importance of fast, high-speed internet. There are a million things that you take for granted when you are in the commercial capital of the world. Fast internet is one of those. The entire last night when I was rolling around in the bed, I realized that I couldn’t even distract myself by watching a mindless film because I did not have internet. I couldn’t work because a simple Keyword Planner tool on Google would not open up. This piece is being typed on my blog that is using an internet connection of my mobile phone that is hanging at the edge of the building I live at and I am perched up so that I could be in the range.

I can talk about slowness if I have to but I think I am not the one designed for it. I understand the concept philosophically but I don’t believe in it. Yes, there are things that need slowness to happen. But then that’s that. We can NOT extrapolate those things to everything else, like a lot of people do. Life has to be in the fast lane. I mean it is very very unpredictable. And is random at best. You are like a blip on the radar and you may just go poof randomly. I’ve lost someone important this year. And I know at least two friends that have lost a parent. I lost a classmate from MDI. She was my age. No, I did not know her at all. Even at MDI, I would have spoken to her probably once in all of two times and never ever since. But when I heard about her, I was zapped.

To be honest, I have nothing against the concept of death. I even believe in it. The problem is in the suddenness, the unpredictability, the waste of an opportunity that people and talent have when they die. I mean we lost Rahat Saab this year. Imagine the words he would write, the fires he would ignite in our minds, the impact he would have had if he were around!

I mean we could have an earthquake and all this planning of the future that never seems to be arriving could be rendered meaningless! If there is one thing that I am learning from the day yesterday, it is that life is fucking short. And slowness has no place in it.

You ought to act.

Now.

There’s no time like now. No place like here.

Err on the side of action.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

Steve Jobs has famously said, “your time is limited”. It is my screensaver.

The wallpaper on my phone is Memento Mori. It is the memento that I carry along. Must get one real-life, physical one.

Do not wait for perfection. This is a lesson that a 73-year old man once gave me. And trust me, this man HAS seen the world!

Do so much, so often that the trail you blaze leaves others in awe and makes them inspired to do more in life!

With that motivational pep-talk to self, I hope I would get over the fuck-all-ness of the day yesterday. Time to get going and act.

Over and out!