Being unique

18 Nov

I am not blessed with super normal skills
No super high intelligence
No family wealth
I am average, at best

And I recognized this very early in life. And figured that the way to outperform others is to make myself unique
Not the best

Do several things at the same time
At a pace that others can’t match
Taking risks that others are scared to take
Reacting to failure as if it was always part of the plan
Not caring what the world thinks of me or my plans

If you are the best – someday someone else will be
If you are unique – you are the only one

I chose to be unique
As against being the best
I am the only Ankur Warikoo in the world

burns the least amount of calories
requires virtually no effort
is easy to do
everyone can do it
can happen anywhere anytime
is the most obvious response when you are tired

And yet – we have moved forward as a species because we chose not to just sit.

Don’t sit on your decisions.
The most dangerous people you will meet in your life are those who wish to sit and change nothing.

I have always wondered – how is it that people spend so much time shopping for 1 product? Wandering from shop to shop – bargaining – sampling – trying.
Simple answer is likely – they don’t know what they want
20% time spent on the shopping specs
80% time spent on trying to find the best – the best price, the best product, the best design, the best specs!

Turn the ratios
And stop when you first find what you wanted

Now apply this logic to life…
Co founders
Business associates

Trying to better what you wanted – is accepting you didn’t know what you want!

When I can’t deliver on something I create an explanation for it.
As if the explanation is equal to the delivery I was meant to make.
It’s not!

As an entrepreneur my only job in the world is to create an environment as free of excuses as possible. All the tools, the right product, the right compensation, the right colleagues, the autonomy, the happiness.
Suddenly – there are no excuses to hide behind.

Success doesn’t need excuse as a companion.

I feel is the Gym.
Everyone’s intentions become undeniably obvious within minutes.

Those that perform are the ones unaware that others are looking.

Pretty reflective of what life is all about. Isn’t it!

In the book “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel points to a fascinating question he asks during interviews
“What’s a strong personal belief that very few people in the world agree with you on?”

It’s a brilliant question. One that each one of us should answer for ourself – and in a moment we will know so much more about who we are.

This weekend to went to see the Taj Mahal. I have seen it before – but each time I see it I am in awe of the audacity of the dream that translated into this structure. The scale and magnitude of the belief.

And during a conversation I realized – the greatest things in the world were driven by individuals with a belief that no one believed in.

Find that belief
To find out what drives you

Ankur warikoo believes that he should do multiple things at the same time because he is blessed with the ability to manage them. Doing one thing at a time is such a waste of his life.

How can I help you?

10 Nov

Whenever you step into a conversation with someone – prepare the answer for this question.

You don’t want to not know what to ask!
It’s not always that you get asked this.

Always know what you need
To get things done

Met someone interesting yesterday. And during the conversation I realized – I hate secrecy and I hate holding back information. It creates an artificial sense of power.

The minute I open up all the information – I am exposing myself.
I am ahead not because I know something you don’t.
I am ahead because I have had to add more value than you have. I have had to work harder.

And that’s when an organization truly moves forward.

Question on Quora

Before achieving anything (like a job, relationship, projects, etc.) I am too excited about it. I will give it 100%, but after getting it, I lose interest in it. What should I do?


You are thinking that everything just has 1 start and 1 stop.

What if everything had multiple starts and NO stop!

Break down the “problem” into smaller pieces – each of which requiring a different effort, a different approach and a different mindset.
For instance, in a relationship – there is
Getting to know about her childhood
Her Family
Her interests
The first movie
The first dinner
The first kiss
How does she react to Roadies
Does she like ice cream
Whats scares her the most
What makes her most happy
etc etc etc

And then each item becomes a project – a task that is as exciting as was the previous one.

The follow-on question then is – how do you maintain the excitement when the activiting is repeating itself. How can the 30th dinner be as exciting as the 1st one.
Innovate! Make that a project too. Think of a new format – a new cuisine – a new venue – a new Groupon deal :)

When I look back at my life – I realize that the things I lost interest in were the things I thought I would continue doing for the rest of my life without the ability to break them down into exciting projects.

Find a start a day!

What are you selling?

31 Oct

Are you selling what you have made?

Or have you made what you should be selling?

Always the easiest question to answer…

…the hardest to ask.


3 things happened, to converge to this post








Zero to One isnt a life story. In true Peter Thiel Style – its prescriptive in portions and preachy in part. I was hoping to know about him as an individual than know about his views as an authority on technology.

Hard Thing About Hard Things – was a true life journey. It could very well have been Ben’s autobiography (and it is indeed). He just spoke about what he did. What he felt. What he spoke.

But the beauty was how his life story seemed relevant to me (and am sure to several million others). Even though his life journey is unique – something only 1 in millions would experience.

Thats the power of a personal story.

What I did through my Quora posts – is share my life.

What I do when I speak to folks in colleges, or on the phone – is share my experiences.

Not offer advise, definitely not try to offer mentorship or guidance. And the response I receive is humbling to say the least. Numerous people have written – sharing how it motivated them, drove them to think, to question and eventually to act! The email above being a perfect case in example

Never shy away from sharing your story.

Its your story – but it helps people drafts theirs

In ways that you cannot control or even imagine


And here is a story I can hear over and over and over again… (Episode 1 and Episode 2)



Faith like a child

19 Sep

Intelligence isn’t
Hard work isn’t too
Resilience doesn’t always
Perseverance is almost natural or not

But guess what’s contagious….


And if used with the right words, for the right cause in front of the right people
It can do the unthinkable

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing to the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
With faith like a child

– Jars of Clay

Lonely at the top?

6 Sep

I still remember the call with the Groupon UK CEO, just as I had been named the India CEO
The call was brief. Congratulations, a few pieces of advice and an ending remark
“Call me whenever you feel like. It’s lonely at the top”

I didn’t make much of the last remark. Because I never thought it would be true for me. And it still isn’t.
I love my colleagues, speak to them everyday on things beyond work, have vacationed with them. And share a wonderful chemistry.

But what I crave for – is to hear from my customers and employees.
Honest, unfiltered feedback.

I get 100+ emails everyday from customers and reply to each of them. Mostly are to solve their problems. Very few are sharing ideas, experiences, their life. I love receiving those. Have made a few friends as well.

I get 5-10 emails a week from employees. Mostly offering terrific ideas. But in a 240+ group, it’s lonely not to get more.

I feel loneliness at a different level.
It’s driven by knowing the fact that people are perhaps intimidated to reach me because of my fancy title. That they feel it’s not worth my time. Or I won’t respond

And then I read this today

It’s beautifully summarized as follows
Too many people are afraid to write. Do it some time and see what happens. Just ask: What’s the worst thing that can happen? And: What’s the best thing?

The top is lonely. And scary.
Make it less so for me! :)

Keep walking

25 Aug

You are climbing a mountain. An area of surreal natural beauty – green, thick, intervened by waterfalls.

You can’t believe your eyes. You pull out the camera, focus and click what you think is the best shot you will get.

You climb further up. Not surprisingly, the view has got better. It’s wider, it’s nature spreading her arms. It’s more magnificent than the one before.

Even though you thought the one before was the best view you have ever had.

That’s life.
The journey will throw you in situations that you think are the best possible so far. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best possible.
Keep walking
The best views are always from the top.

When I ran the marathon in December 2013, I was left with a weird question in my head.

Leading up to the day of the Marathon, I had never really run a full 21kms. The maximum I had was 14kms – 5 days before the marathon day.

And as a newcomer, you are given 3 hours to complete the 21km stretch. Thats 7kmph – brisk walking I’d say!

Was it possible that I didnt prepare for the marathon at all, but would have still ran the 21kms on the day?

The math (7kmph == brisk walking) suggested yes! This realization was unsettling. And as I love doing, I asked myself a tough question

So what is it that I can do, for which I will have to prepare each and every day. I cant cheat the system by suddenly “running” on a decided day, if I hadnt prepared for it for every day before it!



January 2014

The marathon training has done some good. From 85kgs I had come down to 79Kgs. However, the days post the marathon were spent in celebrating the success. And I was back to 82!

I needed to exercise

and I needed a diet plan

Basically I needed a trainer.

And it was Ajay Singh again (Groupon colleague and the same guy who shared the video that changed me!)

On 17th Jan, he shared the diet plan that would lead me to the healthiest phase of my life

6:30am: 2 bananas + 10 almonds

7-8am: Workout

8:30am: Protein Shake + Oatmeal + Apple

11:30am: 2 tbsp Lemon Juice + Veg Salad (Olive Oil Dressing) + 1 Green Tea

130pm: 2 bowls of boiled Kidney Beans + 2 carrots + 2 borwn bread toast with peanut butter

400pm: Handful of nuts + Green Tea

700pm: Protein Shake + Roasted Veggied + 1 bowl of boiled chick peas

900pm: Green Tea

Drink 8 bottles of water everyday

No sugar at all


And then he added a clear piece of instruction

Dont eat anything that is packed, processed, canned or on someone else’s plate! 


February 2014

I measured my body fat percentage on the 1st of Feb = 26%. Your abs shows when body fat reaches sub-10% levels!

Basically – I had to burn my fat.

One way was to not consume it – which is something that the diet plan ensured.

The other way to get into an intense fat-burning exercise regime – Weight Training

Weight training builds your muscles. And when you strain your muscles you body spents energy the entire day trying to recover from the “shock”. Cardio, on the other hand, stops burning fat the minute you stop doing it!

Ajay gave me the schedule – one body part a day

Monday: Chest

Tuesday: Shoulders

Wednesday: Back

Thursday: Abs

Friday: Arms

Saturday: Legs

and so it started – the race to the abs!


March 2014

BF had reduced to 18%

The abs could be felt if I dug my fingers into my stomach. But that wasnt the point

I weighed 78kgs


April 2014

This was a month I lost! Was travelling almost all of it – and wasnt able to work out.

Surprisingly, the unregimented diet that I was on during this month, didnt increase my weight or body fat. Testimony to the muscle-burns-fat logic.

It was working!


May 2014

BF reached 15% – it was getting harder to burn more.

“Concentrate on your legs. Thats the biggest muscle in the body – and can sustain the most pain. There are only two modes when you are doing legs – vomit or faint!”, advised Ajay, in his true style

That month, I lifted 100kgs on my legs!


June 2014

My personal deadline for the abs. BF had reached 12% and the first 2 packs were showing. The rest 4 were buried under what seemed like irritating-hard-to-dissolve stomach fat.

Aparently it was water, and not fat! It was time to reduce the water flab around your lower abs.


June 23 2014

I weighed 72kgs – an incredible 14kgs below my highest

Body fat had reached 10%

I stopped all salt in my diet (salt absorbs water). And reduced water content to 1 bottle a day

The first day was tasteless. The next day I called Ruchi to ask why she had added salt to my lunch.

She replied that she hadnt!

Brain >> Senses!


July 7 2014

I finalized the photographer for a shoot.

Yes – I was planning to have it all this while. Life doesnt give you too many opportunities to get shot in 6packs!


July 12 2014

Day before the shoot


Body Fat: 8.3%

No salt for the past 2.5 weeks

Abs showing


July 13 2014

Day of the shoot. Went to Ajay’s gym for “pumping” – spent an insane 2 hours out of my wits!

Sharad (colleague who got the shoot organized) and Ajay were there during the shoot. Absolutely weird and amazing experience. I realized I suck in front of the camera, am too concious and I cant carry looks that are not me!


When the photographs finally came in – I couldnt believe my own eyes. I was looking at a body that didnt feel like mine. It was a healthy body – a confident one! And one that had been an absolute pleasure to build.

I sent a text thanking Ajay for all his help. His reply was fascinating.

The best part about bodybuilding is that it is not a team effort. It is just YOU. You cant blame anyone for your failure so no one gets the credits for your victory. 

What I told you all through is something easily available on the Internet and I have shared it with several others. You have to believe and know for a fact that it is only you who decides what happens to it now.

The power of knowing that you alone control this – is a powerful one.

Because its really the same with everything else as well.


Here I am – from an era before

5043_10151798200652224_1184266539_n 38182_449489569135_596810_n












And here I am today

F59A5229  final

F59A5241  final





Lessons I learnt from this phase

  • Being healthy is fascinating. There is no bigger rush!
  • Your body is amazingly adaptable. You give is less but enriched food – it readjusts. You give it no salt – it readjusts. You kill it everyday by forcing its muscles – it recuperates even faster
  • I now realize why working on your body is perhaps the most disciplined act ever. It requires commitment at a very different level. No excuses, no cheat days, no team. And no one else to feel as happy at the end of it!
  • Brain >> Senses

Amen to a life life this, forever!



Updates (based on feedback)

  • Body Fat is measured through an instrument called the Body Composition Analyzer (BCA). Here is what it looks like
  • I dont drink, so cutting down on alcohol is not applicable to me. However, for the diet to work, it is necessary to reduce alcohol and preferably remove it all together.
  • Here is the 6-pack abs workout regime I followed

Day 1: Chest












Day 2: Shoulders













Day 3: Abs

  1. Leg Raises – 20 – 15 – 12 – 10 – 8 – 8 – 8 – 8  (30 seconds rest) – LINK to the technique
  2. Hanging Leg Raises – 10 – 10 – 10 (30 seconds rest) – LINK to the technique
  3. Wood Chopper – 15 – 15 -15 each side (30 seconds rest) – LINK to the technique
  4. Crunches – 15 – 15 – 15 (30 seconds rest) – LINK to the technique
  5. Side Crunches – 15 – 15 – 15 (each side) – LINK to the technique(starts at 5:59)
  6. Side Bends – 15 – 15 -15 (each side) – Link to the technique (starts at 0:55)

Day 4: Back












Day 5: Arms






















Day 6: Legs




It’s been a while since I have spoken to Oliver Samwer. But I track him closely. If I were 13 I would call it a man-crush

Here is a guy who has probably told himself – I want to be the most powerful and aggressive guy in the Internet space. Not for money (he has plenty, I assume), or fame (he doesn’t even give interviews easily) or glory (his business model will always have more cynics than believers).
But for the sake of building things – faster than anybody else. And better, in most cases.
For the sake of creating a massive global footprint which a lot of companies would fear to ever discuss.

He chose to tell himself – I will not do just one thing in my life. Because I don’t want to live just once.

I use Oli as a proxy for how I wish to (and have) lived my life. Doing just one thing is such a waste. I have 87,600 hours for the next 10 years. So why not do 8 things for 10,000 each!

Master of a skill.
Jack of all trades that use that skill.

The hardest thing

3 Jul

Being a foodie and not a morning person, I thought getting 6pack abs will be the hardest thing I will ever do in life

And the first month it indeed was
Not a moment after that

The hardest thing is telling your brain that’s it’s not hard at all!

Something about cities fascinates me. Captures identity that goes beyond people.

These are shots from Singapore.




18 Jun

I love emotions.

Especially when thats the only language spoken by brands

No hard sell

No features

No specs

No price

No promise

Just pure emotions

In a way – they sell our own story to us!



Ankur Warikoo

17 Jun