Is perhaps the only rule of fund raising as well
“Don’t waste your time with explanations. People want to hear what they want to hear”
And that means – prepare for what works for them. Not what works for you.
On second thoughts – this is the first and only rule for life.
Last evening, at a team dinner, a much loved colleague remarked
“We don’t have assholes in the founding team”
He didn’t mean assholes. Instead, he was using it interchangeably with attributes such as taskmaster, autocratic, “shut the fuck up and get this done” DNA.
I felt at peace within, when I heard this. Because over this year I have come to peace with the fact that I am not this guy, will never be, and won’t allow the culture at nearbuy to exhibit this ever.
Early this year, I wouldn’t have been. I may have even agreed.
I was consuming content at a crazy pace and almost everything was telling me that the best founders in the world – the Elon musk, the zuckerberg, the jobs, the Jan koums – are all “assholes”.
That’s how the media projected them. No bullshit, taskmaster, abusing, “why the fuck are you wasting my time” – mercenaries in every sense.
It was after I studied them deeper, read between the lines and dissociated the media interpretation from my observation, that I realized they exhibit behavior similar to how I think
If something is required by tomorrow evening, don’t ask for it to be done today.
Don’t let your bad planning become the reason to fuck someone’s planning
Don’t make things bigger than what they are. Always project the truth. Not the exaggerated version.
Seek the truth, because that’s the only absolute. Don’t seek opinions. Or views. Or judgement.
And don’t stop until you find it. The team then aligns itself around the truth and not around the happiness or pleasure or an individual.
Give people the freedom to think and approach you with no hesitation
Encourage people to challenge established norms, within or outside
Push them to find the simplest way to complex problems.
Push them to take risks. And don’t reprimand if it fails. No one sets out to fail.
You can be disrespectful towards the situation, the circumstance, the moment. But never the person.
“Fuck this shit” is different from “fuck you”
Mediocrity is not an absolute. And this isn’t easy to digest.
People aren’t mediocre. They appear to be so in certain circumstances. And if those circumstances are the prominent ones in your world, then they will always look to be mediocre. In some other circumstance, they may shine.
Let go of them. Don’t persist with them. You will rarely win.
The easiest thing to build today is a company.
The hardest thing is to build an institution where people love to come to work.
Asshole founders don’t create institutions. They merely start and run companies.
I was told of a WhatsApp group last evening by a colleague
Upon getting added to the group, you can send in a request for an Uber ride, identifying the pick and drop.
Someone will respond with a quote less than the price Uber quotes.
You transfer that amount through PayTM to that number.
The Uber is booked, driver/cab details are shared with you.
And the world lives happily ever after.
Now if you were Uber, you might be livid. Someone’s fucking with you. Gaming the system. Exploiting loopholes. Let’s go get them.
If you were Uber, you would engage. Enter their world and understand them. Clearly a bunch of folks have multiple free rides that they sell for lesser. How did they land up on them? Is there a pattern? Something I can learn for the future?
No one gets up in the morning saying I will fuck someone over today.
But if they do, it’s because they saw something that you chose to ignore. Or worse still dismiss.
Open your ears to the ones who fuck around with you, and you might have less of them.
Million dollar home
Million (or billions) in funding
Facebook and instagram shares
Success – in the form we all have been trained to believe exists.
Success – that we all work towards. Crave for.
A misplaced definition of what the world chose for you and me.
Do you sleep well at night?
Does your body feel healthy?
Does your brain feel trained? Used?
Does your conscience feel right?
Do you dance, sing, smile when alone?
Do you feel like waking up every morning, wanting to know yourself better
Does your charm make people give way to you without you asking
Can you maintain eye contact
Can you listen, even to the man in the mirror
Can you outwork anyone, anyway, without knowing if you will succeed or not?
Does your meaning seem worth it? To you?
Are you successful within?
At 22, I was a shy, low on confidence, single track mind, under exposed to the world guy.
Nothing to write home about.
So when I meet a 22 year old confident kid, who knows the world, who understands the power of story telling, who knows their own self and their place in the world, I cannot help but fall in love.
When I interview a fresher, I admire that some of them know so much for their age and are focused, curious, hungry and ambitious.
It will be unfair for me to compare them with those who have had time.
Just as it would be unfair if you were to compare yourself with an achiever and feel shitty about yourself. That achiever has most likely been at this for longer than you have.
It’s not what you know today, that makes you awesome or not.
It’s who you can be tomorrow, should you continue on the path you are on.
Today we are all a fact. Tomorrow we can also be a dream.
I always take the front seat when in a cab. Besides being more convenient, it is also respectful. Never understood the deal about sitting behind.
Today though I was terrified.
Because the seat belt wasn’t working.
All through the ride, I found myself reaching out to the belt, subconsciously. I felt naked. Incomplete. Scared.
And I remembered the day, when seat belts were made mandatory in Delhi.
People revolted, ironically, against a law that was meant to save their life.
They found hacks. Loose belts, fake belts, putting it on only when they saw a cop.
Today, there is massive compliance. An entire generation has now grown up in the seat belt world, as a default!
I am hopeful of a time when people will be terrified to use cash
I am hopeful of a time when people will be terrified to drive a car
I am hopeful of a time when people will be terrified to remain on earth
And all of these will require dramatic steps. There is no “getting used to them over time” mode.
Humans don’t like change. Best way to bring about change is to bring it in a single cut. Today.
During a match or race, this is such a valid question.
During a debate or a conversation though, no other question can be worse off.
When stepping into a debate, the intention is to discuss, put your point across and listen. Perhaps refine your view, or establish it even further in your head.
More importantly, it gives food for thought for those on the fence. The half informed, the ones still deciding, the reluctant, the evaluating crowd.
Don’t try to convince the other side that you are right.
Don’t try to win conversations
Try to have one instead
You lose your memory. But science has advanced. The reconstruction device can selectively gather your memory from someone else and upload it to yours. But it can only do so for 5 people.
Their memories about you
Uploaded onto your brain
To reconstruct yourself
Who will those 5 people be?
What is it that they know about you that’s so precious?
How did they come to know of it all?
How often do you go back into those memories yourself?
Why are those memories important?
Why are you spending time gathering others?
Will this process be able to reconstruct a better you, than you today?
A happier you?
Isn’t it surprisingly how the sum of these 5 parts seems better than the whole?
Isn’t it strange that despite this fact we still end up creating a different whole.
A lesser whole.
When we start thinking of people not as a judge rather as a mirror, is when we reconstruct our best self.
I am a big fan of anonymity.
It works. No one can deny it.
And no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care, no matter how much you listen – radical honesty isn’t easy to come through.
Invite anonymous questions for the town hall
Have an anonymous feedback form for your work
Call in for anonymous suggestions on how to grow
And anonymous ratings for your colleagues
At all times keep your ears open.
Belonging doesn’t establish itself by putting names to emotions. Rather the belief that one’s emotions will be heard.
Stick to your decisions
It’s terrible advice, in my opinion, in these times.
The platform that we are all standing on today, is changing.
The only religion then, worthy of standing by, is the belief that you took the best possible decision in the circumstance that you were in, with the data that you were aware of.
That doesn’t qualify this decision to be the best one going forward.
It has an expiry date. And that expiry date could be now.
In the present, our decisions seem like facts
When the only fact is, that looking back all our decisions were merely opinions.
And opinions could change. Should change.
Don’t fall in love with your decisions
I am scared
Not because I have witnessed the result of the decisions
Not because I know exactly how much it will take
Not because I have failed before and know what it feels like
Rather I have heard how it sounds
I have been told what failure is like
I have seen it from a distance. Not happen to me. But to others
And that isn’t a good feeling
We wouldn’t believe most things unless we see it for ourselves
Yet, we conveniently imagine failure of others as ours
Are you scared because you have SEEN yourself as a loser? Or you have simply IMAGINED yourself as one?
Only 5% create noise
Only 5% create ruckus
Only 5% break the law
Only 5% are brutal, unsympathetic, cruel and don’t care
They don’t necessarily win in the end, or get their way. And even if they do, it’s short lived and gives a false impression of victory.
But they alter the path
They force the 95% to take notice
They force the 95% to work harder
They force the 95% to think beyond the normal,the obvious
And that’s why, even though the noise makers are not ideal, they are necessary.
Next time you see one
Make sure you are not one of them
Make sure you don’t become them
Make sure you see beyond them, to see how they can help alter the path for the good.
Alter your path, for the good.
Misalignment of incentives: happens 20% of the cases
The conflicting parties are not aligned towards the same goals. One has been told to increase sales at all costs. One has been told to reduce costs whatever it takes.
Managers are almost always to be blamed.
Leadership is the root cause here. Rather poor communication architecture within the leadership.
Doesn’t care about alignment: happens 5% of the cases
This guy is someone you should fire. They are optimizing for their life. Their goals. They don’t care about anything else. You know such people, don’t you? We met one in The Dark Knight as well.
People come up with solutions. Not problems: happens 75% of the time
I call it “The Curse of Intelligence”
Intelligent people have been trained to solve. To fix things. And to not stop until fixed.
So the moment they encounter a problem, they begin to think of solutions. Mostly half baked, I would argue. Considering it’s coming from an individual without any collective discussion or reasoning.
And it’s the solution that’s proposed. Not the problem to be fixed.
Suddenly, the discussion is focusing itself on the solution. And whether the solution should be implemented. And arguments are ensuing on the worthiness of the solution. No one is asking “what is it that we are trying to solve here?”
The problem is not the focus. Its the solution
Classic – outcome vs output.
“Let’s put banners all across the site because” – solution
“I want new merchants to get visibility so that they have a shot at selling” – problem
“We need more money for marketing” – solution
“We are not retaining enough customers we are acquiring” – problem
“I need a raise” – solution
“I am getting married and my expenses are set to increase” – problem
“I want to quit” – solution
“I am not challenged by my work” – problem
Do yourself a favor the next time.
Walk in with the problem.
Make the effort to describe it well.
Make the effort to identify the grief it is causing.
Make the effort to pick the metric to track
And let the solution be discussed. Not proposed.
Fall in love with the problem. Not the solution.
Why hasn’t it been done already?
Unless one does not go through the logical and emotional journey of discovering this answer, you are almost always destined to regret going down this path without the diligence it deserved.
There are 3 possible responses to this question
The sharpest, most successful brains will tell you to not care two fucks about the world when starting up. Let your passion be your force.
The same brains would have spent countless hours figuring why the world is the way it is. And how, what they are doing, is going to change the way the world is.
Don’t be around people that bring you down
Don’t be around people that make you feel useless
Don’t be around people that look for reasons to point your mistakes
Don’t be around people that do not know how to respect people below them
Don’t be around people that don’t say sorry
Don’t be around people that don’t respond when you say sorry
Don’t be around people that say “I told you so”
Don’t be around people that mock your decisions when they don’t pan out well
Don’t be around people that consider your success as “you got lucky”
Don’t be around people that show you down in a crowd
Don’t be around people that aren’t happy when you are
Don’t be around people that don’t believe in you
Don’t be around people that believe in you only when you succeed
Don’t be around such people just because you can’t be with yourself
Don’t be such people yourself
Here is the deal about wild bets.
They are wild for a reason.
If one knew what were to happen, they wouldn’t be wild anymore. They wouldn’t even be a bet.
So stop attaching a probability of success to them. Don’t try to tame them.
By the same measure, lack of conviction instantly kills any possibility of success.
Wild bets thrive on irrational belief. Don’t doubt them. Keep them wild.
I missed my connecting flight from Amsterdam to Delhi because the Seattle Amsterdam flight was delayed.
The next one was after 16 hours
I was given meal coupons and a fake apology.
I chose not to accept it. Asked for a 24hr visa instead to step out.
It was 7pm when I got the visa. My flight was at 6am.
I was dead tired. My mind told me to crash at a hotel. I chose to walk the streets of Amsterdam, clicking.
Went straight to the airport. My camera some 350 photos heavy.
Jet Airways morning flight to Mumbai. Sleep was the easy option. I chose to read the inflight magazine instead.
Came across a photo contest that asked for pictures of Amsterdam. I have never reacted to these. But the images from that Amsterdam night had remained in my head. I chose to take a camera shot of the contest page.
Was clearing my phone images. Came across the contest page image. Chose not to ignore it any further and submitted 2 of my favorite pics from that night.
Jet Airways wrote in. I had won first prize.
And understood life yet again
Your choices are not driven by the result you want
Rather, you are the result of the choices you make
In the past 4 months, nearbuy has built merchant tech that has never been built before in India, and I would argue perhaps the world.
And I have spent the last month on the road showcasing this tech and gathering feedback. Investors, customers, merchants.
The response is usually that of astonishment and amazement.
“This is so cool”
“Is this even possible”
“When is this launching”
“Why are you giving it away for free. I will pay for it”
I also know, this tech is so bold and audacious, it might never work!
But it’s cool.
And people get it intuitively.
In the past 4 months we have also built out a notification tool (called Sonar, which I think is a great name).
Sonar is intelligent to know what notification to send to whom and when. And smart to know when it shouldn’t.
In less than 2 months, it accounts for 30% of our mobile app business.
But it’s boring. It’s detailed. It’s unsexy. It’s lines of code and hours of work. It isn’t visual.
But it works!
Being cool will always draw the crowds
Being boring will get the work done
You have to be both
At the same time
All the time!
What leads to procrastination?
Most social responses will center around laziness. The inertia to not move. The need to remain status quo.
Most internal reflections will discover that it’s the world’s judgement of the output that scares people.
If I do this now, it won’t change my image, as against doing it later.
I have to do this now, else my image will change. No choice.
Fear has led to more procrastination than laziness ever will