You get up in the morning
You have the check boxes ready – your schedule, your tasks, people, email, coffee.
Or you don’t – it’s a day you will figure as you go along, but then that too is part of the plan. No plan is your plan.
Almost makes it sound predictable. Not the outcome, but the way you wish to live the day.
There is a certain desire to predict the day.
How about you let go of that feeling?
Do something you have never done before. Outside of your comfort zone. Outside of the predictability.
Don’t let your need for predictability take away the surprise out of today. Surprise yourself. Today.
Intelligent people find it hard to say no, when asked for a solution to a problem
Intelligent people think that if something takes “just a little time” it should be done right away
Intelligent people think handling urgency is helpful
Intelligent people are addicted to instant gratification (and acknowledgement)
Intelligent people are always flexible with their plans. I am accommodating, they say.
Intelligent people are cursed.
By their own intelligence.
Those who are not, are called smart
Smart people recognize that the work they are doing right now is for a reason.
It may not have an output in 2 days, but if their postpone it to pick something else, they will delay the future.
Smart people know the difference between urgent and important
Smart people are not flexible with their plans. Only with their thoughts.
And that’s why you find intelligence in abundance
And smartness rarely
My road to office is a pretty smooth one. Takes me around 35 mins to reach and it’s a fairly uninterrupted ride.
Occasionally, we get stuck. Maybe a truck broke down, or someone hit someone else.
At that point, when we are in a jam, it doesn’t matter whether you car can do 0-60 in 3 seconds, it doesn’t matter how much fuel you have, it doesn’t matter how expensive your car is and it doesn’t matter when you left and how far you have to go.
Instead, other strange things seem to take over
– the music you are listening to
– the company you have
– the patience you have
– what you tell yourself
When stuck in life, the things that brought you to that point might not be the things that get you out of the jam.
I have red-green color blindness. Which means, when you see the image below you see a number. And I don’t see anything
No pattern at all. Just dots
And it’s perfect.
My world is not perfect. It’s incomplete. It’s perhaps even inadequate. How would I even know.
Yes, I can make do with what I have and still rule the world. But the fact doesn’t change of what my world really is.
And the sooner I realize this fact and accept it, the better I will be at dealing with it.
Imperfections are like humans. They need recognition. And acknowledgment.
Mathematicians and physicists are trained to always identify the boundaries and operating constraints, while solving a problem.
And yet, the best ones perhaps didn’t pay any heed to those boundaries.
They started from first principles.
The minute you start your problem with identifying the boundary, you have closed some doors. Closed some perspective. Perhaps closed your mind too.
“We only have this much money”
“We don’t have more than these people”
“This technology doesn’t exist”
“No one has done this before”
“We have never done this before”
The best solutions never defined the starting boundaries.
They didn’t even acknowledge their existence.
You toss a coin. There is a 50% chance it will land as tails. But it doesn’t. Heads it is.
You toss again. Heads again
And heads again
And heads again
And heads again
With 5 heads in a row, when you toss the coin the 6th time, guess what’s the likelihood of tails landing up?
Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is insanity (Einstein)
It’s also probability (Warikoo)
And probability only changes when you change something material.
The next time you are working really hard, hoping that the work itself will influence probability, ask yourself – what did you change from what you used to do?
If nothing – go back and change the probability.
One always wonders – what makes people successful.
Several other powerful words
To me, it’s a lot simpler.
Those who are successful BELIEVE that they are worthy of that success.
ISB taught me a lot. But I don’t remember much of the classes.
Michigan State changed my life. And I aced the exams too. Wouldn’t be able to reproduce anything from the classes today, if I had to.
Same for Delhi university.
The best learning has come from what’s happened outside of the class. While I was living life.
The best learning has come when no one was teaching.
Instead when I was listening. Observing. Not with the intent to reply. Rather with the intent to learn.
It’s not what they teach you that matters.
It’s what you learn instead.
At the gym, You don’t burn out mentally. Because you always burn out physically.
It’s opposite at work.
Ironically, the side that’s still not burnt out, is the one that can get the other side out of its state.
At the gym – it’s your mental state that can get you of the physical burn out.
At work – it’s your physical state that does the same for your mental burn out.
Don’t sit – stand and walk.
Don’t take the elevator – climb up.
Don’t type. Write
Don’t eat shit.
Smile. Jump. Play. Focus!
Energy grows where focus flows.
I took a solo trip this weekend. The first planned one in my life.
Intent was to be around things that I wanted to do but couldn’t find the opportunity to. And to gather my thoughts around them.
I watched TED videos, saw Ship of Theseus again, read a whole bunch, wrote even more.
And in one such conversation with myself, I started speaking out what is it that I truly want to achieve in life. Why do I get up every morning. What drives me.
And as I thought about it and spoke about it, I realized I was crying. Involuntarily.
And I didn’t stop. Crying. Or talking. Or thinking.
And all three continued.
And then I remembered this video
And I was suddenly at peace. Knowing that my emotions were my strength. Not my weakness.
It’s been 10 years since I graduated from ISB. and there are days I still miss it. It was such a happy phase.
I miss my DU days too. Getting to know Ruchi and getting to know my own self. It was such a happy phase.
Consulting was so much fun. Smart people. Great work. It was such a happy phase.
The trip we just took was so awesome. Reading. Talking. Walking. It was such a happy phase.
Every time we remember the past and call it happy, we somewhere tell ourselves it can’t come back.
What can’t come back is the situation.
The feeling always can.
Happiness isn’t a phase. It’s a feeling.
I am always taking decisions. That’s what I love to do. Take decisions.
And that takes brain space.
And I would like to believe that it’s not unlimited. It has great potential, but it has a limit.
And if it does – my job then becomes to free my brain space of as many useless decisions.
There is a reason Mark Zuckerberg wears the same tee everyday.
And it’s the same reason why habits help us. It becomes natural, freeing up brain space. Think driving. It’s natural now. Wasn’t when I started – when I used to see everything around me.
The other trick and a harder one – stick to the truth.
Truth stays, so you just have to fetch it.
Truth doesn’t require a decision to be made. Lies do!
I am a founder. Also the CEO
A multi tasker by nature. A problem solver
Am always in a hurry. Am paranoid about losing.
If there is something important, then it better start now and finish today. Perhaps tomorrow.
Because of this I throw myself into virtually all problems out there that need a fix. With an impatience.
And that’s fucked up.
I become part of the problem.
When I take on the onus to solve it, I cannot objectively assess it. Or hold someone accountable for its success. I take that on myself. And see myself defending it – “at least I picked it up. It was lying there for days with no one bothered.”
As a founder, especially of a 100+ people startup, you have got to dissociate yourself from the task. And focus on the outcome.
Don’t become part of the problem
Guess the biggest reason why managers do not have a regular 1:1 session with their direct reports?
They do not like uncomfortable conversations.
Everything else is an excuse. Disguised as something else. But pointing to the same reason above eventually.
Here is a trick that has helped me navigate through this
Before such conversations, ask yourself this question and respond honestly
“Do I want this person to win? Or lose?”
If you genuinely want the person to win, you will have a very different conversation. Right from its content to its tone to its impact.
And if you want the person to lose, don’t fuck around. Any conversation you have will force to always find faults. They can try as hard as they might.
“Why do I have to tell him to be there when there is a release. He should know it for himself. He should care”
Do you want him to win or lose?
“I need this in the next 2 hours and I don’t care how you do it”
Do you want him to win or lose?
“You are not hitting your numbers. And if this continues I will have to fire you”
Do you want him to win or lose?
“How could you not think of this? It’s so obvious”
Do you want him to win or lose?
Good managers are always looking for ways to make their team members win.
I am the head of the family.
My job is to protect the family from all evil.
To ward them off the bad news.
To make their lives comfortable. And happy. And peaceful.
It is my job to fight the evil. The bad news. The threats
This is the family leadership style. The option I exercised all this while. And it dawns upon me that this option doesn’t drive engagement. Even motivation.
The army leadership option is that of sharing the threat.
We are (going to be) fucked. Here is why. And I need your help. Failure is not an option.
You are likely to lose some people in this process.
But the ones that will save you will be far more critical to your success than the one who continue delivering their best assuming it’s peacetime.
Don’t assume people do not want to face the threat. They might surprise you.
I get up everyday at 6am to get my son, Vidur, ready for school. He is 5 and loves going to school.
In true Kashmiri style, I slide my hand in his tee and run his back (we call it “fush” in Kashmiri). Then I whisper good morning in his ear. He responds back. I ask him the same question everyday, “ache se soye? (Did you sleep well?)”. And he always responds in the affirmative.
I place him on the pot. He then brushes. I then shower him. Dress him up. Comb his hair. Shoes. A little bit of deo. And then we head out to the bus stop.
We are always late. Always. The bus is already there waiting for us.
Because he takes so long getting up. What should take 5 mins takes 15-20mins.
The other day I came really late from work. And was mentally tired. Knew I won’t be able to get up. Asked Ruchi to get him ready instead.
At 6am she asks him to get up. He doesn’t respond. We tries thrice with not much movement. Then she says “if you don’t get up now, I will not allow you to go to school today”
That shakes him up. He gets up. Does everything by himself.
They reach the bus stop at least 5-7 mins in advance.
When we started nearbuy 7 months back, I had imagined building a certain kind of organization. An institution where people would love to come to work, and in the hours they would spend here they would give their absolute best.
Without being asked. Or threatened. Or forced.
That’s what every talk, every book, every research told me.
People work for the larger cause.
People do not like living in fear. They abhor insecurity.
People value appreciation. And acknowledgement.
Every single colleague of mine, when I asked what they like about working with nearbuy, stating the dreaded words “awesome culture”.
I use the words dreaded, because it seemed they equated comfort with culture – “I love it here. It’s so comfortable. It’s a great culture”.
What I wanted instead was – “this organization gives us so much in the name of comfort. I don’t deserve it. I have to get up everyday and run the best 24 hours of my day to deserve it. Every single day.”
During one of the lunches with my colleagues I was asked – what is the one thing you are always thinking?
“I am always thinking – what drives people to give their best? One side tells me – opportunities and autonomy. Another side tells me – threat”
I do not know the answer.
I just shudder to think that Vidur will grow up believing that threatening is the only way to get work done.
And that’s a scary world.
Something is broken. Let’s fix the issue. We will analyze ‘the why’ tomorrow
Waking up is hard. Let’s sleep today. Will work out tomorrow
This conversation will be hard. Let me be nice today and give the true feedback tomorrow
The truth is too hard to accept. Let me close my eyes today and wake up tomorrow.
This isn’t working out. But let me stay. It will fix itself tomorrow.
I am not going anywhere with this. But it pays for my bills. Will take the plunge tomorrow
The more you solve for the present, the farther the future becomes
I smoke only 5 cigs everyday
I drink only on weekends
I check my phone during meetings only if it’s really important
I clear all my emails by the weekend
I eat desserts only on weekends
I leave work everyday at 6pm
Here is what discipline is not
It’s not merely a routine
It’s not managing an exception
It’s not about 90% restraint and 10% indulgence
Discipline is showing up every single day. And doing the right thing every single day.
And to know that whenever you slip, you go back to where you started from. Not where you left.
Discipline is not an option.
It’s a compulsion
The Front row for a live event is always more engaged
They reflect what you want them to
Question then is,
how many of such front rows do you have?
What’s being heard by the back row?
How many of the back row will move to the front row the next time you talk?