130321 – Morning Pages

Update on what’s on the top of my mind. Guess what?

6:35. Thane. Ashi and Parry’s place.

I am in Thane. At Ashima and Parry’s place. I had a meeting this side of the world and I decided to stay back. Ashima is by far the best cook chef I know and if I want to eat good food, I make the trek to Thane to get fed. That’s as far as my indulgence with food takes me. Oh, yesterday I decided that I would fast for 48 hours and reset my gut. I had forgotten that I am going to Ashi’s place. I can’t eat when am with her. Plus the weekend typically is a time when I get to meet friends and that means that I am forced to have something or the other. So it’s impossible to not eat on the weekends. I will try the gut-reset, 48-hour fast from Sunday evening onward. So that.

This is the shot from her window.


In other news, my father got the COVID vaccine. To be honest I did not want them to take the vaccine. For multiple reasons. A, the vaccine is still in the clinical trial and no one knows the long-term effect of the same. B, the shoddiness around the way it is managed in India (the announcements, production, etc) was disheartening. But when I spoke to Kunal and Ashima (the two ports of call for everything medical), both of them affirmed that we must take it. And that’s when I consented. No, my parents don’t really need my consent. They are far more intelligent and aware than I. Plus they know a lot more people and their advisors are even more learned. So that.

This is around the same time that pandemic hit us last year. I remember the biggest thing that came out of the pandemic to me was that I could attend Anjum Sir‘s session on writing. Even though it was on Zoom, I really learned a lot about the process of screenwriting. This piece on Hero’s Journey came as a result of that and the piece made me make friends with so many people!

He’s doing those again but I am unable to attend those this time as I have a lot happening and films need to take the backseat.

Which is ok. I need to consolidate how things are going. I know that all the work I am getting is a knee-jerk response to all the pent-up demand in the businesses. I just need to capitalize and deliver a great output so that these could translate into long-term gigs. I just hate that there’s just 24 hours in the day.

I am also gonna change the way I live and work. I don’t want to talk a lot about work but lately, it’s on the top of my mind these days. So here it goes. Since I am working literally all the time now, I will have to get even more particular with how I spend my time. There’s not a single minute to waste. I have to figure an office space (my productivity goes 100X when I am not working from home and Starbucks tend to get noisy for all the calls that I am supposed to be on). The thing is, a large part of my work is now attending calls (because no in-person meetings) and I often speak and make presentations. Most days I do good with those. That’s not a challenge at all.

The problem is that if there’s some background noise when I speak, it becomes tough to get the point across. There’s anyway a lag imposed by the internet. On top, there’s the speed at which I talk. So I need to find a quiet place where I can talk from.

If I could predict these meetings and other things, I could get into the Maker and Manager (by Paul Graham) zones but most of these are ad-hoc and thus it’s impossible to plan time. This is against the very principle with which I have lived my life. I want nothing more than the independence of time. The gigs that I am on, there’s some flexibility but I’d want more. Lol. When I did not have work, I wanted work. Now that I have work, I want flexibility. 😀

So that. Let’s see what I decide. Maybe I’ll just get a fancy house (now that I can afford it) and turn one of the bedrooms into a co-working space! Or get some bungalow in Aram Nagar and convert it into a cafe. Lol. Wishful thinking ka raaja! I really have hazaron khwahishen. And that, ladies and gents, is the track of the day. Here!

Track of the day?

So, as I end this post, in terms of streaks, I did all but the walking one. I had a busy day and hence I could not walk a lot. Here’s the list.

  • Morning Pages – 91
  • #aPicADay – XX (will count at some later date)
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 2
  • #noCoffee – 4
  • #noCoke – 4
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0 (adding this from today on)
  • #book2 – 0 (I REALLY need to start on this!)

That’s about it. Over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

020321 – Morning Pages

A quick post about how I dont have to write a post 😀

8:29. This is not the first thing am doing today. Work has picked up (yay!) and that means that time is at a premium now. And I have decided to push the limits and do podcasts and films and books and work!

I woke up at 6ish and went straight to my computer. And belted out a few emails, proposals, and other generic things. Then I had a longish chat with my sis. Then I bought a toothbrush, well, you know why. And then I had another work call. And another work call. And one more. Sigh. Will probably have to get up earlier.

I knew I had to talk about something but I can’t seem to pinpoint it.

I think one was that I am for some reason, ok to work from this home in Goa. Sir got Internet installed and now I don’t have to run helter-skelter. The latency and reliability are still an issue but I have internet. The other reason I think is that the place is spacious. Or maybe because this is in a quiet part of the most populous beach in India!

The other thing is that I am still on the fence about being in Mumbai or Goa. Truth be told, I am leaning more and more towards Mumbai. Simple reason is that I need to be in the middle of an ecosystem. Mumbai allows me that for sure.

What else? I cant think of anything. I think these pages are great braindumps only if you work on these in the morning.

Guess, will wrap this here and jump into the day. Over and out.

PS: I know this doesn’t amount to much. I am just glad that even if I get 300 words, I am able to write and publish. I want to keep this streak going for as long.

160221 – Morning Pages

Nothing special here. You may skip reading this one.

6:43. I slept at 2. Woke up around 15 mins ago. Not sure what all to write but a few things on the top of my head.

Its been a few days that I am in Mumbai. I ideally want life to fall into a routine of wake up -> Starbucks -> Work -> Eat -> Sleep. But it would not happen. I need to run way too many errands for way too little time that I am here for. And I want to meet quite a few people (friends, mentors, strangers etc.). This meeting with strangers has helped me find work over the years. And I need to continue to do this if I want to make my ends meet. You know, tough times call for tough decisions.

So, morning pages.

Yesterday was a long long day. I worked non-stop from 8 AM on. Till about 6. And then from 8 till 1030. Well, work was a combination of writing, editing, powerpoint-int, giving gyaan, seeking gyaan, and whatnot. After living the thug-life over the weekend, yesterday was good. Just that, when I came back home to the dump I am living in, I was incredibly sad at that. Plus, yesterday was one of those days when I did not want to come back to an empty house. No, I don’t want an object per se that wants to wait for me. But someone that I could be myself with. And allow that person to be herself. And be her home. And all that. I guess you get the drift. And no, am not crying about working hard.

Oh, I have to put this on paper. Since I was working like mad yesterday, I had way much coffee and I did not eat anything till about 5:30. The last meal was at 1 AM the previous night. So, without planning for it, I ended up eating once a day and fasting for about 16 hours. Yay for that. Let’s see if I can do the same today. I have as much packed a day as I had yesterday. Time shall tell!

Yesterday a friend asked me for tips on how to live a life of a freelancer and I realized I had no clue. What I did know is that I could find places and opportunities where I could point her to. While searching for things, I found this Twitter thread by Chuck Gopal (I love everything he does) and I think if you are thinking about going freelance, this is worth its weight in gold! Do see it.

This also made me realize that I need to act on that large idea of mine where I want to make Goa a hub for knowledge workers where they can live and work remotely from. The guide to living and working from Goa was the first step. As the next step, I want to aggregate resources, pool businesses, and invite people to work from Goa. After that I have to create an on-ground infrastructure to make this happen. I mean you may read a post and you may land in Goa. But what after that? So there’s a lot of work. Need to get going with this. #note2self

Finally, as I end this, here’s a good thing that happened. Today, I start editing / proofreading yet another book. Yay! For someone else. This is the second book I am working on. And I am getting paid for it. And this is fiction (the first one that I am still working on is biographical). I love this feeling of helping others. And this allows me to learn from what they are writing! I mean what else could I ask for in life? The only trouble is that am way too particular about things and I will probably take more time than I estimated. And I need to be able to deliver enough value that more people are keen on engaging me!

So that, I think this is about for the day! Time to get going with the day. Like I said, I have a long one!

No, nothing on #book2 today either. I think I have lost the plot with the daily notes. It sucks to not chase what fans my fire 🙁

PS: The rasa, the juice, the joy, the pleasure on these morning pages is disappearing. This has started to feel like a chore now that I do mindlessly. The amount of writing I get done is reducing by the day. I mean it requires me to think about things on the top of my head. And then write. And edit. And then publish. And all that. Of course, my writing muscle remains active. But then what? To what end? Can I make this better in some way?

So, I need a new strategy for these morning pages. Sigh. Funny the kind of questions that I trouble myself with! Chalo, over and out.

100221 – Morning Pages

Nothing significant to report, except for a rant here and there. Mostly about old age and other people’s coolness 😀

0801. I woke up 10 mins ago. I have a lot to do and then I have a train to catch. I am thinking why am I even taking the train? Why am I going to Mumbai? Apart from one or two people that I may want to meet, I don’t know what else is in store for me there. I mean Mumbai has been home for a while now and there is no way I will quit it completely – I have to do films at some point in time in life and films can not move out of Mumbai for a bit. So that.

Lemme talk about the train. I have thought that while I am on the train, I will get some writing done. The inspiration comes from my experience in the flights. Every time I have taken a flight longer than 2 hours, I have realized that since I don’t have the phone beeping on my face all the time, I think deeper and I do better work. Some of the grandest and maddest thoughts come to me when I am holed in a plane.

So, I am thinking, on this long train, can I actually try and write? And unlike the plane, the train will probably offer me some space to walk around. Assuming that seats are as plush in the train and the AC is as “controlled” and the train doesn’t sway like a pendulum. Writing in turbulence has always been a, well, crazy experience. So, let’s see if I can get some writing done. If I can, this could become a great #lifehack where I take these long-distance trains to get the writing done. I have put my headphones, my Jio phone, my battery back, and every other device on charge. I want all the juice, you know. Let’s see how it goes. Will report tomorrow.

In other things, yesterday, I had a meeting at 11 PM yesterday and by the time it started, I was yawing like mad even though the person I met was among the most interesting ones ever. He must have hated the meeting. But to be honest, I had a blast of a time. It was after a while that I met someone who’s a combination of writing, emerging tech, hustle, global audience and much more. Need to be like him. And yeah, like all the cool people, he’s younger than me! Being old sucks. Really. For both reasons – no energy to do things after a certain hour and far fewer opportunities in front of you. Sigh!

What else. I don’t know what else to write. Oh yes, time. So, work has been picking up (yay!) but yet to be substantial enough to start paying the bills (damn!). The time is thus increasingly at a premium. So yesterday, I promised myself that I will wrap morning pages in 30 minutes or less. Including what I write for book2. Today, I have another idea. How about I play this track everyday and start and stop morning pages with it? This is about 23 mins long and I’ve heard it so many times that I remember every beat, every up and down from here! If nothing else, this will help me get into the groove easy. Let’s see. I played it some 15 minutes after I started writing and let’s see if I can finish this with the track. So today’s would be about 38 minutes. Which is ok I guess. Here is the track for your listening pleasure…

So yeah, that’s about it, I guess. I have 8 minutes on the track. Lemme try to write some for #book2. Here we go…

How could she take the plunge? How could she take the easy way out? Wasn’t she the kind to fight things out? She finally understood what Nidhi would have gone through to do things she did. Your back is against the wall so bad that you are left without a choice. But then Nidhi acted. Rujuta was merely reacting. Just because she’s been so unlucky in love so often, how can she let those rocks below smash her bones to pieces? How could she become a feast for the fishes? How could she let the sea engulf whatever was left of her after the rock and fishes had their way with her?

Ok, the words are not flowing. Publishing with just one para. Apologies 🙁

Morning Pages – 201220

In today’s morning pages, I talk about how I miss my routine and a Starbucks outlet as I start getting comfortable in Goa.

Hello Morning Pages!

I slept late last night. About 3 if I am not wrong. And as I write this, its not even 9. I am back to those ways where I would sleep and wake up at ungodly hours and I would be perpetually devoid of sleep and I would have unhealthy food and drinks to make up for the loss in cognition caused by all this erratic sleeping. It sucks. And I need to get out of this.

I think the best way to snap out of this is to get back into a routine. I am probably the biggest creature of routine ever. I do my best work once I know where I am supposed to be at certain times. I am a Type A creature where I want to have control over things. I don’t like depending on others. When the lockdown happened, I was reasonably sure that I would be able to get the book out, write like a MoFo, get fit and I don’t know what. I could not do a single thing. While it’s my laziness to blame, the deeper reason, I think, is the lack of routine.

Of course, I could have created a routine while I was locked down. In fact, it would have been the easiest – there was nothing to disturb me, you know. But I could not. and I think a large reason is that I did not have anywhere to go to. Ok, lemme park this here. Let’s call this A.

So, the point is, I need to get back into a routine. Of course the routine I had in Mumbai and the one I had in Delhi and the one I will try and create in Goa are all going to be different. But that’s ok. As long as there is a predictable routine I follow, all’s cool.

As I think about this, this disruption in routine has been caused by two things – lack of Internet and, believe it or not, lack of Starbucks. Lemme park this as well. Let’s call this B.

While writing this, I realized that I have now been away from Mumbai for almost 45 days. Do I miss Mumbai? I am not sure. But I do miss a few things – My routine for starters. And then, Starbucks. And the sight of others rushing around all the time, at all the places to God knows where. And of course. M.

Lemme talk about each.

M. Not that I meet her every day. Heck, I don’t meet her even once a month and when I do so, I am with her, its with a million people around and for like 10 seconds. Of course, if I met her by myself, I’d get bored in 7 seconds. She’d get bored in 3. Anyhow. Rant. Point is, I miss the thought that I can call S / V and hop over to their house to see her putter around. Now I can’t.

The other thing that I miss? The other lady love of my life. Siren!

What is it that I miss about her and her home? Lemme try and put it on paper. So while a Starbucks outlet is different on different days (Baristas change, people change, the mood of the day changes), it remains the same. Here’s how. The “ritual” they’ve created that you use to order coffee is the same. The regular “kind of” patrons that go to each outlet remains the same (Powai has Startups, Bandra has rich kids, BKC has bankers, Lokhandwala has aspiring actors, Infiniti has writers, etc). Even though each outlet has a different decor and layout, the place is familiar with the brown and green, and grey colors. The people that work there are different but the experience they offer (the way they greet, the way they talk, the way they conduct) remains the same. I don’t know how they train people but they are probably the best set of people in the hospitality business that I have come across. No, the hotels don’t stand a chance. Hotels are fake. More on this some other day. Just realised. Such a powerful message on building experience-led brands. Can go as a post on Marketing Connect / Linkedin. May be.

So yeah. Routine. And coming back to A and B, the thing is, I need to have a routine if I want to do my best work. I need to “step out” from where I sleep at. And I need to get to a place that offers me things in just the right manner (wifi, table, and chairs, yellow lights, ambient music, others hustling hard, etc). I need a cafe, a co-working space, a Starbucks, if you will.

I know this sounds like an extravagent and irratioanl quirk of someone who is probably away from reality and is merely pounding on the keyabord to put some point across. May be. May be not. But I guess that’s all we are. Our quirks. Our whims.


Day 6. 161220

On day 6 of my daily morning pages, I write about how poker could be a career for me. And how it may not be! And ofcourse I rant a bit!

16th December. More than half of December is gone. Also, 10 days since I’ve moved to Goa. Probably the longest I have been away from Delhi or Mumbai without any work / agenda. I do have a sense of how this is going (not good, to save you suspense) and I do know how to fix this (get a better Internet connection, fix a schedule, a public space that has 24×7 access, etc) and I will if I know that this is where my base is going to be. PS: I miss this 24X7 bit more than I miss anything else in the world, btw.

But as I write this, at 6:23 AM in the morning and funnily, work and base are not the first things on my mind. I am increasingly thinking about ideas and I am itching to start executing one. I wish I was paid to think of ideas.

I think it’s an outcome of people finding out that am in Goa and then assuming that I am working on my next book (which is based in Goa) and asking me the same question. In fact, at least three people asked me about the book just yesterday (Daku, Kamat, and Aka). High time I get going. If only I can find the time. I think I will have to make time (and not find the time), if I need to get the book out.

Like I said, I don’t have thoughts about any one particular project but about something. Something that I can do and kickstart. It’s been a few months since I did something new. I guess this is what happens when you get bored and the ennui induced by the day to day living makes you restless.

So yeah. That. Apart from this, I don’t know what to write. The heads got a million thoughts but I don’t know what to write. I want to quit this post here but JC says you need to write three pages (or 30 minutes in my world), I will write till it’s 7 AM.

Let’s see what’s been clouding my head. I have to deliver a few presentations today. Each will take me 2-3 hours to deliver. So that. I need to finish editing a book. That will take a few more hours. I may get to play poker in the evening. Not sure though. Poker needs at least 5 players and it’s often tough to find people that like that game like I do, even though I am lousy at it.

In fact, poker could be a thing that I can talk about. Poker is probably as perfect a game as they have invented. There is luck, there is skill. Even with lousy cards, with some skill (bluffing, reading people et al), you can do well. I think Poker could be my sustainable vocation. Just that the learning curve is steep and I need to put in some 10000 hours (or play a million hands) to build a mental repository. It is much like chess. You build a repository and you can play from experience. The difference is that chess is more or less a finite game where each move can eventually lead to a certain conclusion (and thus computers have beaten humans), poker is not.

Poker requires patience. It requires a bankroll (that you can build up with time. Random trivia – I have a record of more or less every poker game I have played since 2012 and numbers tell me that I not a good player).

Poker is excitement. The adrenaline that you get after you win a tough hand? Wow. The validation of getting out of a tough spot? That. The feeling of achievement after you have won? Yes! Tangible results? Of course!

It has everything that I want.

Sense of achievement. After all the results are tangible. With books, films, they are not. You are left guessing about what you’ve written.

Ability to travel the world (COVID-19 withstanding). There are probably as many casinos as there are rich, touristy destinations.

Opportunity to meet interesting people (most poker players have interesting lives, the kinds that make interesting stories).

Better with age. Rather than sports like Tennis and Chess, you get better with time (till a point, of course).

There are a few things missing as well. Here’s a list.

No impact. Even if I become a Kid Poker, I wouldn’t be able to make an impact. May be I will if I go the Chamath or Jason way.

No scale. It’s a solitary game. How do I create a community? How do I do things at scale?

No physical effort. Apart from being able to sit at the chair for long.

I am sure there are more things that I can write on both how poker has everything I want and what is missing. But the point is, it sounds like a thing that I could easily do for a living! Just that I need to make a commitment and then not move from it for 3 years.

Wish I had the means to do so! Damn them means. Have chased means all my life and I am losing the race and I can see that. And I can’t find a way out. If not for friends and family, I wouldn’t know what to do. This Goa trip has been made possible only because Rajesh was kind to give me his house. Nupura was kind to chaperone me. My parents were kind to not frown on my decision to stay away. My sis was kind to fund the last few months (and probably a few more). If not for all this kindness, I wouldn’t know where I’d be.

So yeah. That.

Oh, the thing for the day? Rather than lamenting about lack of means, I am grateful for the abundance of this kindness. Lol, I sound like a Buddhist monk but heck yeah! That’s how it is! That’s that! I am grateful that I can make my fingers dance on this keyboard and express myself. To the void. Or to the world at large. Or may be, to myself!

With this, over and out!

Mumbai life. In Delhi.

What is a typical day for me like when I am in Mumbai? And how did I try to ape that on this trip to Delhi?

My life in Mumbai is fairly simple boring. I wake up at whatever time. Wait till it’s 6:45. Get ready in 15 minutes. Out of the house by 7. And at the nearest Starbucks at 7:15. Lately, the one I goto (the new one under Versova Metro Station) opens at 8. So I’ve moved all those times by an hour. I get myself a green tea and from 7:15 till about 11 or 12, I am at Starbucks. On my computer. Some days I work, some days I plan to take over the world. Some days I just, well, surf.

By this time, I am kinda hungry. So, I grab either a sandwich or step out of Starbucks to eat something at some eatery. Preferably something South Indian. I then go back where I live. While time with something that’s been open at my end. And then catch a cat nap. Wake up at around 3 PM and then go back to Starbucks, repeat what I’ve done in the morning. And then stay till it’s 11 PM (when they shut their stores). Go back and sleep.

Been on this routine since these cafes opened up. I know I am being stupid and putting myself at risk but I’ve had enough of the four walls and I have to feed off the energy of other people. Oh, there are some days when I deviate from this routine when I have to meet some people or run some errands. But more or less that’s the routine I follow. This will change once I go back to Mumbai, will take up an office space. And no, I can’t work from where I live.

Since I came to Delhi for this break, while I have been on the road a lot, for work, I have essentially been holed up at home. And I HATE it. I am anything but a home-rat (if there’s a term like that). To a point that I cant work at all. Ideas dont come in. Words dont flow. Genreral lethargy takes over. I am sure this is evident in the posts of the last few days. Things that I can normally do in less than 5 minutes, at home, take me an hour to do. If I can do em.

So today, I did what I would do in Mumbai. The most accessible Starbucks to me (about 14 KMs away) opens at 9. I was out of my house by 8:20 and by 8:55, I was outside. When it opened, I was the first customer. And got myself an Americano. Yeah, I am back on coffee (see this post). I was there till about 2. I got more work done in these 4-5 hours than I did in the last week!

Then I walked to and ate at Naivedyam (a South Indian joint). Took a cab to go meet an ex-boss. Jammed on ideas for an hour. And then now, back home, where I am writing this post struggling to get the right words to express. Nah, I cant work from home 🙁

If not for time spent in commute and the general curtness of people I met today (Baristas, cabbies, etc), I could have very well been in Mumbai! And you know what? I loved it! Just that I wish I lived closer to a Starbucks!

With this, over and out!

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

The Freelancer Gig Economy Mismatch

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

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

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

I don’t know yet.

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

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

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

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

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

As a freelancer…

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

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

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

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

As someone who’s hire freelancers…

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

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

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

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

So, what is common to two?

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

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

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

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

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

Plus the biggest challenge?

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

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

So, here’s the idea!

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

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

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

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

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

Over and out.

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

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