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
At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to this. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of an organization, long suppressed, finds utterance.
I have always maintained this. The day one acquires leadership role in an organization, the individual doesn’t have a private life anymore.
Even outside of work.
What you say
How you said it
To whom you said it
Everything is measured
And your conduct, the morals you stand for, the standard you set, defines your leadership.
Not your performance
As a country, we are used to being served. There have always been people around us, giving us what we want.
Petrol pulp attendants
The kirana store that delivers, on credit
And that’s given us a false sense of entitlement
My admission is the responsibility of the government
My job is the responsibility of the school
My growth is the responsibility of the company
The sooner we realize that our life is our own responsibility, the faster we will get on our way to having a memorable life.
We are all we need
There is something magical about leaving for work early
Little traffic around
You get to see the journey in a different light, observe the signals, realize how wide the road actually is
You don’t brake often
You don’t accelerate unnecessarily
You optimize for your fuel
The stress is invisible, there is no reason for it
This is incidentally the same impact waking up early has
On your mind
Don’t let the alarm clock start your day
You do it for yourself
We grew up without money. Ma and Papa worked all their life and couldn’t make enough to save. Yet they gave us the best life they could. We went to top schools. Had a fulfilling childhood.
But I grew up looking at my parents having a life of struggle. Of unfulfilled desires.
A life where they had to trade one desire for another.
And almost always they traded their own for ours.
So I grew up hating money. It seemed to be the source of our misery. The only thing missing.
Here is the deal about hating money.
Rarely do we realize when it converts into submission. When money makes us it’s slave.
We think we are winning against it.
When it’s quite the opposite.
I learnt early on, not to respect money
Instead dismiss it, respectfully
It’s like oxygen. You need it. But you rarely stop to feel it’s presence.
You just have it.
Or you don’t
Opportunity cost is a concept meant for business. Not for human actions.
For human actions we always best the full cost. Not the incremental one.
It’s not just one more abuse
Or one more one night stand
One more act of bribery
One more act of fraud
One more act of cheating
It’s all of them put together. Because the most recent one is as grave as the first one.
Your reputation today is a reflection of what you did this morning!
Yesterday doesn’t matter
Do you know of him?
I didn’t till about 6 months back.
And then I realized
I have known him for a long time. For a really long time.
Because he has composed music for almost all the movies I have ever loved.
At times, you don’t have to be visible to create an impact.
Almost always, the impact thus created, is more ever lasting!
When driving, you have two ways of staying ahead
By blocking the road for the one behind
Which is when you change lanes often, you change speeds often, you brake often, you shift gears often. Your mind is driven by the one behind. Not the road.
And occassionally you ignore some other car coming up from behind, that you werent prepared for.
Or by being the fastest on the road
It doesnt matter who’s behind you. Its you who defines the race. And the goal
How are you ahead of the race?
Email this morning
Opportunities. Nothing more. Just that.
A career is what you make of it.
Don’t expect anyone else but you to plan your career.
Answer by Ankur Warikoo:
Because I did!
Failed JEE twice.
Infact thrice – didn't even make it through the entrance test for Masters.
And I think I have done just fine.
Have an awesome family, an unbelievably fun job, super smart colleagues, friends that care for me.
And a life worthy of responding to this question!
I am going to take a contrarian view here and say – worse than no data is multiple sources of the same data.
Therein you have killed all objectivity that the data was meant to bring. It’s now subjective. And worse still you don’t know what it favors. Suddenly everyone is showing their version of the data point, to prove their assumptions. To get data to speak your language. And to confess.
If you torture it enough, even data will succumb
I grew up containing my emotions. It wasn’t for you to share or express what you felt towards them. It was expected that the opposite person would understand your emotions.
By age I have become wiser. It’s perhaps the most important gift I have given myself. I have lowered my emotional guard.
The next time you feel anything towards anyone. Do yourself a favor and let them know. Don’t think of what they will think of you.
I love you
I miss you
I couldn’t have done it without you
I don’t know this
You are so awesome
You amaze me
You make me jealous
You inspire me
You make me feel weak
Find your kryptonite. Only then you will be superman!