Over the weekend we sent a special email to the early adopters of the nearbuy mobile app
It entitled them to Rs 300 of credit once they upgraded to the new version of the app. Because they have given us the best feedback so far.
It was a thank you gesture. From us
One of those users copied the sexy part of that email. And pasted it on an affiliate forum. Craftfully omitting the conditions or the fact that this was for a limited audience.
The forum went viral.
We got 5000+ downloads
And 33 one-star ratings
in a day
The brickbat was all about how they didn’t receive the 300 credit on downloading the app.
It wasn’t meant for first downloads
It wasn’t meant for the forum
It wasn’t meant for the world
Let’s replay this
Someone made a false promise on your behalf
Without asking you
And when the promise wasn’t delivered, the world went against you
Reminds you of something?
Each day, we meet people. People we influence. People we leave some impression upon.
They, without knowing us, spread these impressions around. Unknowingly make promises on our behalf.
And the world, when it meets you, isn’t a blank slate. It is already clouded by these promises. It is not trying to figure who you are. It is trying to figure if you are what they think you are.
And at that stage, you have got to ask yourself
Will I be me?
Or will I do what they want?
Every morning we wake up with a feeling. A certain emotion.
Somehow the emotion controls our day. The rest of the day becomes captive to that thought you started it with.
Hence, the world tells you – wake up with the right feeling. Go to bed feeling the right things. That sets the tone for your day.
That’s foolish. It is like expecting one to always be happy. And to have happy thoughts always. And to not allow any other emotion to enter.
Instead, think of how you can control your emotion. How you can change it.
Now suddenly it doesn’t matter what you wake up with. You can always reset it to what you want.
Here is the deal about controlling your emotions. It begins by not reacting to it.
Ironically, the best way to deal with a negative emotion is to not acknowledge it and work on it.
Rather dismiss it.
Stop reacting to every emotion you feel. As if by magic, the world around you will change.
The Power Law of Investing as a concept is quite simple.
And quite powerful.
It states that in investing, your best returning investment will almost always give you supernormal returns, exceeding the combined returns from the rest of your portfolio.
The 2nd best will be higher than the sum of the remaining.
So on and so forth.
Each week I spend an hour welcoming the new members to the nearbuy (formerly groupon) fanily.
And I leave them with this precise message.
Rather a question
“In today’s world, even if you left everything to fate and just existed, you would end up being 5/10/20X of who you are today.
Think of how you can be 100X of who you are today
How much will you multiply yourself?”
Here is the deal about multiplying 100X – you don’t know what will get you there.
No one does
People who do are the ones who are constantly on the hunt.
Who are constantly searching for the thing they are super normally good at.
Who are constantly working on themselves. Invest time. And don’t ever get comfortable.
They don’t know how good they can get.
So they never stop!
It’s a lot like investing
Happiness is a good feeling
It charges us
It makes us confident
It is the goal for almost everything we do
And it’s source can be multiple things – money, love, appreciation, victory.
And we end up searching for happiness.
All our lives
In our our doings
When instead, the search should be for peace
Because peace is what contains you
Peace is what stays with you
Peace is what you gift yourself
Especially when happiness eludes you
There is a certain magic about being calm. And every single day I tell myself – if I remain at peace with myself, with my work, with my world – I can conquer it.
I don’t have to crave to be happy. That’s not in my control. That is not the reason for my peace.
Sukh hai alag (happiness is different)
Aur chain alag hai (and so is peace)
Par jo yeh dekhe woh nain alag hai (the eyes that realize this are different too)
Chain to hai apna (peace is within)
Sukh hai paraye (happiness comes from outside)
– Sapnon se bharein naina (luck by chance)
This isn’t what I wanted
Why didn’t you work hard
Why didn’t you work longer
Couldn’t you be more rigorous
This is wrong
You are wrong
You have let me down. I trusted you
Guess which of the two is the easy path?
Guess which of the two is the right path?
Don’t tell people they are wrong. They know that.
Instead tell them how you didn’t expect them to be wrong.
And tomorrow they won’t be anymore!
Growth can hide a lot of things
Negative Unit economics
High customer acquisition costs
No time for 1:1
No product market fit
No time for family
No time for your health
But there is one thing growth cannot hide
You cannot lie on stage. The audience will always know it is within your heart.
The six of us were in office till 4am this morning
Abusing each other
And it felt like magic. I woke up at 730, with 3 hours of sleep, and somehow unreasonably fresh.
Nothing beats the feeling of having done more in 24 hours than the day expected you to!
Here is the deal about a genius
They are unpredictable
They are not driven by any logic, rather an unexplained spark in their head
They can’t predict the future. Not can they plan for it.
Instead they can simply change the future. Or give you the perpetual hope that one day they will.
Genius is dangerous!
What’s not dangerous is an artist. Someone who creates art.
Someone who follows a pattern. Not rules. But themselves. And a pattern. Even if eccentric you know what to expect. They don’t make people believe that their levels are unattainable. Instead they portray that if worked hard enough anyone can become them.
They die taking the world forward.
While it’s easy to fall in love with a genius, hunt for artists in life.
Damn, it’s Monday again
They must think I am stupid
They must think I am ugly
Why don’t they call me often
Why don’t they talk to me properly
How do I impress them
How do I become better than them
Who should I please next
Whose life should I live
How about yours?
Each time we live our life on someone else’s terms, we are submitting ourselves to someone who is most likely doing the same thing to his own life.
You either live you life on your own terms or find someone who is doing so and then live life on theirs.
Ever noticed the bee in the room.
Trying to get out. Banging it’s head against the clear window. Doing so repeatedly with no success. But not giving up.
She can see the world outside. She can see her goal. Her end point. But is shocked at how difficult it is to get past this hurdle. It’s clear. Why can’t I pass through?
She doesn’t realize that the door next to the window is wide open. For her to fly out.
The window, as large as it is, seems to be her entire world. The door isn’t even in the frame of reference.
The bee is us.
The window is the world we were given
The door is the world we could have created for ourselves
How many of us attempt to change the world that was given to us?
Everyday we read news and hear stories about people that die on the streets of india.
Most of them are under the influence of alcohol when the accident happened.
we feel sorry.
And we think we are above this.
We know when to stop. We are in control. We know the roads. We know ourselves.
This won’t happen to us.
Until one day, when it does!
This morning someone died on the streets of Bangalore.
He was 27
He was intoxicated. Driving without a helmet.
He was from nearbuy
His parents, from Jharkhand, were told last night that their son wouldn’t survive. Right now they are on their way to Bangalore. They have no fucking idea that their son has died.
Their son is gone.
In a moment, their entire life has changed. For the worse. It will be the same again. They will live a life of regret, of pain, of unbelievable sorrow and extreme helplessness.
They didn’t sign up for this shit. No one signs up for this shit.
The next time you say
Just one more drink
Just one more drag
Just one more km to drive in this state
Just one more mistake
Remember that you will end up saying the full price of that incremental mistake. The full price.
And you will leave behind a world that has no choice but to live on your behalf.
Our entire world is about pegging ourselves to the slowest ones. The ones who destroy it for everyone else.
I drive at 40kmph because someone decided it would be fun to drive at 100kmph and couldn’t handle it.
I drink post 25 years because someone decided it would be fun to drink at 20 and couldn’t handle it.
I need clear car windows because someone decided it would be fun to have dark tints and then fuck around with laws!
The individuals who are the “slowest” define the pace and direction for all of us.
And that’s true of companies as well.
“Let’s slow down and build our base” is just another way of saying “let’s slow down because I am not ready”.
Startups, instead, pick the slowest one up. And start running again.
It may be slower than the fastest one before.
But it’s way faster than the slowest one.
Peg yourself to the fastest one.
Think of 2 things you need to do, to become better at your work
Don’t scroll down. Think of them first
Those who thought of 3 or more are entrepreneurs
A lifeOf ambition
Not just physical but emotional
Of no regrets
Of time as the biggest weapon you have
Of will the only four letter word
And at the end of the long hard day
When you look up
Not for inspiration
Not in desperation
But just to acknowledge the power of your will
The world is forced to say
You deserve more
A new project
A new relationship
A new market
A new business
A vibrant economy
A growing customer base
A new place
A world of newness
And you are at your best. Your best mood. Your best face. Your best approach. Your best methods. Your best of everything.
The world loves you.
It is easy to. You haven’t given them any reason not to. Everything is going for you, and you make it visible to the world.
My favorite question in an interview then is: what’s the worst thing about you?
I want to see the worst of you.
The moment you want to be rude. When you want to show the middle finger. When you want to be vindictive.
The moment you go into a shell. The shoulders slump. When you want nothing to do with the world.
Or when you cry in the corner. And come out smiling. Hiding your fears, for the love of making this work. The belief that this too shall pass.
The worst of you, is the best way to get to love you. Or not.
I often wondered, what is it that distinguishes the best tech CEOs from the not so good ones.
And someone gave me a glimpse last week.
The best tech CEOs always know the product 5 years out.
Not today. Not tomorrow. Not the next sprint. Or 10 such sprints.
It’s 5 years out.
A time so far out that everything we know of technology today would make the problem almost impossible to solve, if it were to be solved today.
But they operate on the belief that it can be and will be solved, by the time they get there.
And they guard that dream. Share it as if sipping wine. Offering a sneak only to chosen ones. And those conversations end up being fascinating.
Suddenly, the ones being offered the future, are lifted above their daily rut. Their schedule. Their salary. Their current and next plan. All material around them.
Or they mock the audacity of the plan. They can’t believe the earth is round.
You either die living the future. Or live long enough to poison the present.
1. The treadmill test
The treadmill is a fascinating device. You walk on it, jog, run, run as fast as you can. Burn energy. Start panting.
But you don’t move an inch forward. You are where you were right when you started.
As an entrepreneur, chose what you pursue wisely. An idea where hard work and passion moves you forward. To a point where you require lesser energy to move the same distance.
As against, realizing further down the road that you are spending energy that doesn’t make you move ahead.
Fail the treadmill test
2. The Today Test
I spoke about it earlier. Solve problems that are going to be bigger problems tomorrow, not lesser.
Too much time is wasted optimizing for the present, when the same present clearly shows a declining trend.
Building a business around SMS. Really? You think SMS will last tomorrow?
Building an Uber for shipping products? Nice. When was the last time you shipped something to someone? Is it likelier to be a bigger use case tomorrow or is it just today?
Fail the today test
3. The Ostrich Test
I meet entrepreneurs that are clearly working on the wrong idea. And they know it. But they aren’t doing anything about it. You know why.
“Because I have already spent so much time on this”
That is being an Ostrich. With your head in the sand, you are assuming the reality is not staring at you. Time is the biggest sunk cost of life. You should know when to stop, as much as you know when to begin.
Fail the Ostrich Test
4. The Funding Test
It is fashionable to be funded. The press, the facebook likes, the fancy office, the coolness of Economic Times covering you. It is all sexy
It is not. It shouldn’t be.
You didn’t start the business to get funded. You started it to build one. And along the way you just thought its would be super cool to build it on someone else’s money and to not care about profitability. Not care about running an actual business.
Funding doesn’t bring business. It is the other way round. Surprise surprise
Fail the funding test
5. The Company Test
Most entrepreneurs end up building a company. Here is what a company has – it has rules, it has hierarchy, it has restrictions, it has attrition, it has free food as a hook, it has mediocre talent. And it has a founder that still sleeps peacefully at night.
Build an institution instead – a place where people love to come to work. They feel challenged. Beyond a point, they dont realize nor care how much money they earn. They are in it because there is a larger cause they are working for. And the day that cause doesnt exist, they leave. Which is a good sign. Because when people stay despite mediocre conditions, you have successful built a company. Not an instition
Fail the company test
One of my favorite interview question is “what is the worst thing about you?”
It is uncanny how many times I have heard the response, “I am a perfectionist. I fret if things are not done the right way.”
No you are not. Because here is what most people mean to say – “I fret if things are not done my way.”
There is nothing such as a perfectionist. Instead, such individuals are accuracy seekers. Fervent truth seekers. They will make sure things are beautiful and they function accurately. Not perfectly. Accurately.
The iPhone wasn’t the perfect phone. It still isn’t.
It’s an accurate phone. Accurate lines. Accurate design. Accurate experience.
Don’t seek perfection. That is elusive
Seek accuracy. And ship fast.
The past weekend led a bunch of us to realize that we are always surrounded by people that are always working hard. Never stopping. Never believing that it’s over. Never saying I quit.
And when we meet them, life forces us to say “you deserve more”
These 3 words are powerful. They represent faith, belief, blessing, honesty – all rolled in one.
These 3 words come without initiation. The other side rarely agrees. It’s their karma, they say. And that’s what makes the statement even more powerful.
Compare this to “I deserve more”. That smells of entitlement, at times narcissism, almost always blind belief.
Makes the world kneel in front of you
Make it say “you deserve more”
When you utter these 2 words, several things happen in tandem
You accept you don’t know
You accept you are willing to learn
You acknowledge the opposite person for what they know
You are ready to submit yourself
It’s unfortunate that most people end up using am entirely opposite term instead
Remain a student