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.
Anyday!

The hardest thing

3 Jul
2014

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.

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Emotions

18 Jun
2014

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
2014

What is risk?

13 Jun
2014

Jumping off bridges is considered too risky. Yet some people do it for fun.
Quitting your job is considered too risky. Yet some people have achieved success because of it.
Taking a loan is considered too risky. Yet some people have created wealth by taking smart loans.

What you define as risk may not be risky for someone else.
The definiton of risk is determined by you. its not an absolute

Do ahead and define risk
in a way that doesn’t scare you!

Time > Money

13 Jun
2014

20 years back I would travel 50km one way and spend an entire day to save Rs. 100 in textbooks and notebooks

15 years back I would stand in line for 2 hours to get a monthly pass made for my bus travel

10 years back I would spend an hour everyday cooking food to save money on eating out

5 years back I would visit 3 shops to get the best price on the laptop

Today
I buy my music on iTunes
I call for bids when I want to buy something
I would much rather pay people to get work done and free up my time

The above may seem as a sign of prosperity. Disguised within it is actually an increasing value for one’s time.

So many people despite growing in life haven’t increased the value of their own time. They take pride in placing the same constant value.
Society calls it being earthy.
They confuse it with humbleness.

If your time doesn’t have an increasing value – you are not creating value. You are merely redistributing it. Because you are “wasting” your time on something that will create much lesser value than it could otherwise.

Place a value to your time. And take it onto yourself to keep increasing it.

Change your league

9 Jun
2014

Almost always our goals in life are outcomes
The house you always wanted
The car you desire
The trip you wish to go on
The startup funding
The 6 pack abs

Outcomes don’t happen on their own. Outcomes require an input variable.

How about changing your goals to the input variables – the process that will almost conclusively decide the outcome?
Saving to invest every month, and where
Reaching out to an investor every week
Working out everyday

And then – change your league.
Think of the impossible input variable. The uncomfortable one. The hard one. The one you are scared of. The one you always wished you could do but haven’t done till date

Saving even before you spend a penny
Reaching out to investors in the valley
Working out everyday and completely changing your diet

Because someone somewhere said something – which will always hold true!

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Safe sucks

8 Jun
2014

If you have always had enough money in your bank
If the car seat plastic is still on
If you have never ran to catch a bus
If you have never quit a job because you hated it
If you have never spoken to a big crowd
If you check all doors after you have shut down your car
If you have never danced in public
If you never gone on a vacation alone
If you have never challenged the status quo
If you chose company name over work profile
If you have posted anonymous

Then you have played safe
And nothing great was ever achieved by playing safe. You can’t win by playing safe. You stop living!

Safe sucks!

It’s big enough!

4 Jun
2014

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KMQr5m7ENmQ
Move straight to 4:46

I would want to see this everyday of my life. And remind myself that the vision I work towards is always going to be orders of magnitude bigger than the tasks I conduct today.

Don’t question your days. Don’t size the vision
It’s big enough!

And I am so glad Seth Godin agrees

“Will I get in?” is not nearly as good a question as, “Is it worth trying?”

It’s so easy to talk ourselves into failure before it even shows up

Fortune India 40 Under 40 List!

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This month has been particular generous on me.
Won the Promising Entrepreneur of 2013, awarded by Enterprise Asia
Got listed as part of the India’s 25 Hottest Young Executives (under 40) by Business Today

IIT Delhi student, at the entrepreneurship club speaker series.

Ofcourse yes! How else would I get invited to the entrepreneurship club!
:)

Who is an entrepreneur? Someone who starts on his own? Someone who owns sizable equity? The founder?

Well, technically yes. And technically, I wasn’t meant to run the marathon either. So fuck technical.

Here is my definition. Let’s see how it works
Anyone whose job is to work on systems already laid out by someone else – is not an entrepreneur. That’s managing.
The ones that build systems, challenge status quo, innovate and change things in order to always make them better and efficient – those are entrepreneurs

The first 100 odd people at Facebook are entrepreneurs.
Jonathan Ive is an entrepreneur
And so is Arvind Kejriwal

In Feb 2012, I was ordered to “stop walking” in 2 weeks flat. A pain in my hips had been diagnosed as AVascular Necrosis (or AVN) - a freak thing to happen considering that most of the causes for AVN did not apply to me.

The doctors suggested treating it right away, through a process called Core Decompression – there would be a hole drilled in the hip bone, and a living bone chip from the thigh would be implanted. The natural healing of the bone would take 18-24 months.

I was to be on the bed for 3 months post-surgery. And on crutches or walking support for 5 more months.

Jan 2013

In a reply to a Quora question, I realized that this experience taught me a lot. Largely around how the world’s reaction to your circumstances are determined by your own perception of the same circumstance. As if you could project your views onto others, and get them to react in a certain way.

Feb 2013

I love flights – especially when travelling alone. It gives me a lot of thinking time. And it was once such flight back to Delhi, when I told myself – this journey has been fascinating. But what could I possibly tell myself to convince myself that its over. Tell life that I have won.

How could I tell life that I have gone beyond the crutches, that it gave me?

By running?

Mar 2013

The thought stuck. But it was a scary one.

I hadnt had any physical activity for months now. I was fat and inflexible.

I hated running (still do!)

And I hated waking up early in the morning. So not a morning person

Lastly, the idea of challenging myself had to be big. It couldnt be some random running. It had to be big.

And so – as the thought consumed me even further – I decided – I would run the Delhi Half Marathon – 21kms. And I would have to complete it in 3 hours, for it to mean anything.

I had decided to run 21kms under 3 hours, after a surgery that rendered me “unwalkable” for 6 months! 

April 2013

I joined a gym. And started training. It was DIFFICULT!

I couldn’t run for more than a minute, without feeling the need to stop

My leg hurt, really bad

My body was stiff! I was fat (86kgs)! And waking up at 6 was the worst feeling ever!

I think back then, the Marathon was just a dream.

May 2013

Ajay Singh, a Groupon colleague I admire and respect, shared this video over Facebook

2 things caught me:

Perseverence

and…

“You guys find a fear – that fear will either create you or destroy you. I love fear – because behind every fear is a person you want to be. fear is self imposed, meaning it doesnt exist. You create it, you can destroy it too. Its an intangible”

(2:32 in the video)

This video changed me! 

I have seen this video EVERYDAY since then – either on my way to work, or on the pot, or on the treadmill (just listening to it) – but everyday since then.

September 2013

The months gone by had been hard. Waking up at 5.45 everyday for 5-6 days a week was hard. Lifting weights was hard. Running without stopping was hard. If there was anything that kept me going, it was this video that kept shouting at me – “behind every fear is a person you wish to be”

In Sep, I ran my 1st 5km in one go. Took me almost an hour. Super slow. But a big feat mentally. I was getting there.

October 2013

Finished 7kms in an hour. Was down to 80kgs from 86kgs

November 2013

Finished 12kms in 1.5hrs

The marathon was scheduled for 15th Dec, 2013

Dec 10, 2013

Ran 14kms. decided not to run any further for the remaining 5 days.

I had NEVER run beyond 14kms in this entire period. Ever!

Dec 15th, 2013

Started the marathon at 8am (Group E – the group that had never ran a marathon before). Completed the first 5 kmI much faster than I thought. The music helped, fellow runners helped, the weather helped.

Some memorable moments on the way, that almost seemed unbelievable a few months back

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By this time I knew I would make it. I was sure that I would complete the 21kms.

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The distance I had run till so far. Anything beyond this point was a new achievement for me.

and finally the winning moment!

A selfie with the medal

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2:36:15 hrs for 21 kms, at an average of 8.07kmph

Fascinating 12 months…

I am never going to run another marathon again. I hate running

But I beat life to it! :)

Marathon Certificate

Here is me with my partner-in-crime (Ruchi decided to run the 6km Delhi Run and finished in sub 45mins)

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Update:

Sometime back, TEDx KMC was kind enough to invite me for a talk on this post. Here is the recorded version of the same

It seems to me…

10 Dec
2013

This will be a lesson. A lesson that took a lot of effort for me to learn, but once I did I realized its power.

This is a lesson on Feedback – giving and receiving.

It has been a fascinating experience for me. It started in an “organized” fashion once I started Executive Coaching. I realized its an art and science at the same time. The realization that its science – was pretty startling. And in the time between then and now, the realization has turned itself in a fascinating belief!

there is feedback

and then there is judgement

and then there is a request

And all three are different. Though considered the same by almost everyone, including me before the realization.

Feedback is about yourself – the one who gives it. Its NOT about who you are giving it you. Hence the tone of feedback always has to start with you

“It seems to me…”

“I feel…”

“I think…”

“I thought…”

Feedback is about perception. Not necessarily fact or truth. Its like saying “I feel cold” – which may be a totally different thing for someone from Antarctica!

What feedback is almost always confused with, is judgement

“What you did was wrong…”

“You are not understanding…”

“You need to work more…”

In such cases, the speaker is casting a decision on the actions. Rarely helps, as one can imagine.

 

What is also “unique” about feedback is that it is NOT meant to initiate change. Its just feedback – your perception of how things are. If you wish the opposite person to change, do not give feedback, instead make a request. But here is the twist. You making a request isnt reason enough for it to happen. What is needed back is commitment.

How many times have I written an email saying – I need this asap. And then when it came after 3 hours, I was like “why did it take so long”. 2 things happened here

Our definition of asap didnt match

I didnt convert my request into a commitment – based on clearly laid out objectives

 

So let me rephrase

I will need this by 5pm today. Do you think thats possible? 

I will either get a yes or a no! But I know what to do when I get either of the responses.

 

While I know I am a convert, I have also grown less and less respectful towards people who are not receptive to feedback. Turn defensive or start explaining themselves. I think its partly because I used to do so earlier and never liked doing it.

fascinating lesson, especially when you are managing people…

Fuck you, Delhi!

21 Nov
2013

22 years
College topper
Super smart
Hardworking
Fun to be with
Always smiling

Female

In sales
In Delhi
Has to meet merchants
Has to convince them of Groupon

Female

Advances made at her
Inappropriate Touching
Porn pics sent
Sleep with me and I will sign the contract

Female!

Fuck you Delhi! Fuck you
If you think you can bulldoze a career into oblivion, fuck you!
If you think you can act like a predator and it won’t come back at you, fuck you!
If you think why does the same happen to your sister and wife, fuck you!
If you think you can make her feel cheap, fuck you!
If you think she will give up, fuck you!
If you think she is scared of you, fuck you!

If you think you will win, FUCK YOU!

I am ashamed to be part of this city.
So should be everyone.

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Let’s for a second ignore the jaw-dropping retweets.
What’s with the favorites. What are people thinking

“Oh what was that brand someone had mentioned, which had bad customer service.
Umm – let me check twitter favorites
Aaah – Range Rover!
Phew!
Glad I checked before buying.
I just love this feature on twitter!”

People are weird. Occasionally.

I grew up dreaming of becoming an astrophysicist. That dream consumed me. I loved everything about the universe and the physics of it.
And then, over a year – while I was in my PhD program (and top of my class, with a 100% scholarship) I realized this wasn’t something I will be good at – something I wouldn’t enjoy!

This was almost 10 years of preparation I am talking about. Faced with the realization that it wasn’t to be!

I left all that – to come back to India – in search of what next to do. With no idea at all of what that would be.

It wasn’t easy – but was the right thing to do. I didn’t know of any other way at that time.
The past 10 years didn’t matter anymore.

“But I have already spent so much time on this. How can I leave it all together?”

The most dangerous statement in the world, I would argue.

It ignores signals, it ignores trends, it ignores advise and it ignores the truth most often.

Time, in my opinion, is the biggest sunk cost of all. It doesn’t matter what you have been doing. It doesn’t matter how much of time has gone into it.

The day you realize you have to change – that’s it – you have to change.

Your past can never determine your future. It definitely cannot dictate how your future has to be!
The past has no salvage value
The future is for you to salvage

The Tomorrow Test

4 Oct
2013

The past 2 weeks have been unusually busy. Preparing for Q4, some key initiatives.

And speaking to a stream of entrepreneurs that came my way. 6 of them, to be precise.

All but 1 failed the Tomorrow Test.

Somewhere in the past 6 years, it become clear to me that any new idea has to answer a critical question.
“Is the problem you are trying to solve – likely to be a bigger problem or a lesser problem tomorrow”

This single question ideally should define whether this idea is even worth your time. And if it is – what does it do to your product, your market and your business model.

Hidden between the lines of this stunning question – is the part where most people stumble. Articulating the problem one wishes to solve. Surprisingly – or maybe not – that’s the hardest part. And the first step for you to answer the part about the future.

So you are out to build a service that accurately determines people’s residence address. Awesome!
Do you expect maps to get better at solving this problem or worse off?
Ummmm

So you are building a portal for students that wants deals less than Rs100. Awesome!
Do you expect the share of such students reducing (and the rest going for “better deals”) or increasing?
Ummmm

So you wish to build an app that syncs with your car and provides all information you need. Awesome!
Are cars more likely or less likely to have this information inbuilt, tomorrow?
Ummmmm

Bet on tomorrow. Take the test today!

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