Doing the right thing

20 Feb
2018

What’s the best question to determine moral courage in an individual, during a professional interview?

Tell me of a time you fired someone because that was the right thing to do for the company

It’s fancy to suggest that one should always do the right thing.

However, calling something right means that there is a “wrong” instantly created in the universe.

Firing an individual because it’s the right thing to do for the company, is possibly wrong for the person being fired.

And if you can show that you dealt well with it, I can show you the intersection of empathy and decisiveness.

Build vs buy

15 Feb
2018

Build:

We should build the capability of doing this in house. It’s core to us and we have the expertise to build it.

Buy:

This is important to us but we either don’t have the expertise to build it or the time to invest in it. We will be faster or better getting it done from outside

There is a third, more frequently taken path as well

Attempt:

We should do this on our own. Because, you know, we could!

You have no choice. You either build the absolute expertise to do it in house or you get the expert to do it.

Attempts don’t win markets.

Choice 1

Nothing that I at an individual level makes any difference. I could save animals, nature, not lie or steal or kill or harm – and yet the world remain the same. So fuck it – I will live life the way I want to. My way! Nothing else matters.

Choice 2

Everything that I do at an individual level matters. If I say no to plastic, leather, non veg food – it matters. If I am a nice kind hearted person – it matters. It makes me feel happy about myself, it gives me a sense of pride. And hence, I will do it – even if it means discomfort at times.

Choice 3

Nothing that I do at an individual level matters, unless I get a lot of people to do the same thing. Make the same choices. And hence I will build a tribe, a community, that’s represents our choices. Because together we can make a difference.

Choice 4

It’s really really hard to change people’s behavior. It’s best to change the entire landscape. Design the new way. Not optimize the current way.

Choice 1: the observer

Choice 2: the doer

Choice 3: the leader

Choice 4: the inventor

Guess which of these choices does the world need more of?

Guess which ones are dominant right now?

Let myself down

23 Jan
2018

You work really hard.

And at some point that work stops becoming a process, a way of life, an approach.

Instead, it attaches itself to a goal.

A goal in your head, created by your expectations.

And then you don’t hit the goal.

Suddenly, while you should have met that moment with the reality of it, you end up meeting the moment with the expectation of how you would have liked it to be.

And at that moment, you fail yourself.

You let yourself down.

Reality generates action. Expectations generates reaction.

Had a late night discussion within the senior management, on the principles of annual bonus.

In question were people who join between Jan – Mar every year and are not eligible for the annual appraisal or bonus, in April.

When they do go through the process the following year, should they be compensated for 12 months, or for 15 months (assuming they joined in January).

Market practice apparently suggests paying on a 12month basis. The clock resets every April.

Logic tells me paying on a 15 month basis. The individual has worked for that period.

Finally we decided to go with 15 months – it seemed logical and fair.

Fuck the market practice.

Do what’s right!

The other day, at an office party, a colleague asked me

“All through this fund raising process, when things were not going our way, how did you remain so patient?”

Inside of me, I was like, “patient? Me?”

I am nothing like patience.

Yes, I am calm on the outside. Tolerant.

But inside, I am fucking impatient.

Here is something that I am though

Perseverant

Determined to achieve my target and continue to sign up on the process.

Show up every day, irrespective of how bad it is.

And if i feel like quitting today, I tell myself, let’s it tomorrow! And I say that tomorrow as well.

Patience is a virtue. But it’s inaction. It’s enduring pain. It’s tolerance.

Perseverance is action. It’s determination. It’s continuing despite everything.

What would you much rather be, if you only be one?

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Truth

12 Jan
2018

Imagine you meet someone for the first time and get talking

“So where did you do your MBA from?”, you ask.

“Gujarat”

“Wtf! Who does their MBA from gujarat. This guy looked smart to me!”, you think to yourself.

“Oh ok. Where from in Gujarat?”, you ask.

“IIM Ahmedabad”

:)

While this scenario is fictitious, it represents our life in a weird way.

The guy stated a fact. IIM Ahmedabad is indeed in gujarat.

But the truth you established from that fact, was driven by your biases, your perception.

And until you clarified, that truth would reside in you, as a fact.

The truth is merely a reflection of your beliefs, values and experiences.

It is unique to you

It’s your view

And it’s not an absolute

The truth is not a fact

It’s a feeling

You were supposed to get something done

And you couldn’t

So you would come up with that elegant savior of all times

An excuse

As if, the excuse is good enough

Since you have an excuse, you are seemingly pardoned from the crime of not doing the job

Now go back to a normal day – and consciously count the number of excuses you throw at people, including yourself

To not do what you are supposed to do

To not eat right

To not work out.

To not binge watch.

To not get angry.

To not slacken.

To not be ungrateful.

To not blame others.

And ask yourself –

at what point did I allow my excuses to become bigger than my goals?

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Regret

5 Jan
2018

Don’t regret what eventually happened or didnt

Regret what you did or didn’t to make it happen

 

Don’t regret that you didn’t make it

Regret that you didn’t even try

Imagine

You, a male, are shouting at your wife/girlfriend in the middle of the market. Almost getting physically abusive.
An observer, draws the courage to come up to you and says, “you do know you should be respectful towards women?”
At that moment, it strikes you that this person is right.
You are being a jerk. When you know you shouldn’t.
It isnt the right thing to do
You take this person’s advice – apologize to your wife/girlfriend for your behavior and promise to sort it out through meaningful mature dialogue

And you move on

Let me add a twist

What if, somehow, moments before this person approached you, to show you the mirror, you got to know that he is a convicted rapist, who has served his sentence.

Most likely, your reaction then, to his statement would be
“Well, that a bit rich coming from you, jackass!”

Now take this rather unlikely situation and see how this happens EVERYDAY to all of us

When we dismiss someone’s feedback, feedback that we know is true, just because we also know that the giver is guilty of committing the same crime?

As if the crime didn’t happen

“Don’t commit fraud”
“Well, what about when you committed it?

“Spend more time with your loved ones”
“Why dont you start by doing it first?”

“Why dont you quit your job if you are so miserable?”
“How come you are still at your job?”

“I dont think you should do this”
“How come you didn’t feel the same when you did this?”

The source of true feedback, doesn’t make the feedback irrelevant
Stop shooting the messenger! 

Success

3 Jan
2018

Most of us think of success as relative.

Am I more successful than him?

Does she have more fame than me?

What do I need to do to become wealthier than him?

Success isn’t relative

Achievement is

And we confuse success with achievement

Success is absolute – what you feel within. It has only one measurement – the one defined by you.

Last year, I started the practice of reflecting on the year from a content perspective and sharing my Top 10 Books, Videos, Articles and Blogposts from the year (Click here for the 2016 list)

The exercise helped me a lot – because it mandated going back to all the key content pieces and find the top ones – in the process helping you refresh your memory (and more importantly emotions) when you encountered them

Presenting the 2017 List for my Top 10 Books, Videos and Articles and Blogposts

All of this content was consumed in 2017. They could be (and most likely are) from an earlier year

 

Books

Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

One of the best books for me, of 2017. Matched with my introduction to meditation, I am certain this book will be a game changer for me, when I look back.

Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Fucking brilliant! Loved it so so much. Mark Manson is a brilliant writer and I am so glad he wrote this book.

Existentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less

If you are fed up with the overindulgence of everything in life, this book is a must read. Loved several aspects about it – things that I dont do well in life. Now I know :)

Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

The book title may as well been Grit: The story of warikoo :)
Loved this one. Angela Duckworth is magic

The art of thinking clearly: Better thinking, Better decisions

(Almost) Book of the year for me – because I picked this up when I needed something like this the most. Brilliant book on what drives our minds and thus our decisions

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Something I have spent a lot of time in the past years wondering – and the book comes close to helping me understand it better. A great read

Originals: How non-conformists change the world

One of those books that I had to read again – to make sure I had read it. And loved it yet again

Tools of Titans

THE book of the year. Cannot recommend this enough. Great book, great gift, great book to re-read, great life lessons. And oh – did I mention – THE book of the year

Total Recall

WHAT a book! WHAT a life! Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography – didnt match Shoe Dog, but came close on several fronts

Genghis Khan and making of the modern world

Genghis Khan’s reputation precedes him. This book looks at him objectively – and is a great read especially if you care about world history

Bonus: Kashmir: History, Politics, Representation

My kashmir roots someone took shape this year. Read more about it than I ever have. Starting to care.
And this book helped a lot. Brilliant compilation of 11 essays

 

Videos

If 2016 was the year of video for me, 2017 stamped that! TV has completely gone (we dont have a connection anymore) and everything is Youtube, Netflix, and Amazon (in that order).
And – Oh – I dont watch any series. Only one-time watch content

Mandy Harvey: Deaf Singer on America’s Got Talent
Broke down when I saw this. There is so much awesomeness in this world :)

Us Rah Par
Coke Studio Season 10 (Pakistan Version) came out – and didnt disappoint. This one peaked it for me, with Muntazir as a close second

Gerua/Kabira Cover Medley
This was stunning. LOVED the composition, the singing and everything about it. Just made me very happy :)

Dont give up, Dont give in
2017 was a sad year, when it comes to respect, acceptance, tolerance. And this video made it for the best representation of my feelings. MUST WATCH

Interview interrupted by children
Everyone has seen this. And even if you have several times – this possibly cannot bring in a smile again. Go ahead :)

Ping Pong Domino Shot
I am a sucker for domino effect videos – and this one took the first prize. Awesome piece

Darci Lynn America’s Got Talent Final
She is such a rockstar – and performs effortlessly. If you havent seen Darci Lynn, you havent witnessed talent in person

Jim Carey: What it all means
Jim Carey has gone through massive transformation and this video has him share his learning from the journey he has undertaken. Pretty solid

Imposter Syndrome: Mike Cannon-Brookes
Mike is the cofounder of Atlassian and this TEDx talk felt as if it was my talk.

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
Tim Ferris’s powerful TED talk (and his book – Tools of Titan and Tribe of Mentors) makes him my sought after digital guru. And he makes so much sense in this talk

 

Articles

Am not going to describe them – instead strongly encourage you to read all of them

Role of the CEO – you have one job

The strange way that being good hurts your willpower

Practicing the subtle art of detachment

Difference between open-minded and close-minded people

Difference between amateurs and professionals

Its never too early to fire

Execution is a people problem, not a strategy problem

The 2 mental shifts that highly successful people make

Lets stop calling them “soft skills”

Extraordinary results are disproportionately created by fewer actions

 

Blogposts

Thanks ISRO for showing me the middle finger

Why “pick your brains” is the worst email pickup ever

The one word that will annoy people and make you smarter

The worst motivational quote ever

Whats the first slide of your pitch deck?

It doesnt matter what you know

A wise man once said

Play your own game

The saddest thing about technology

Grass spoilt it all for us

 

 

Student A and Student B give an entrance exam

Student A scores 93%

Student B scores 96%

The cutoff of the exam is 98%

Who do you think will feel worse at not making it?

Most of us will say Student B

When “technically” both should feel worse equally

Both didn’t make it

But Student B will feel “if only I had worked just a little bit more – I might have cleared it. What if?”

Now what if the cutoff was not shared with either

Now who would feel more regret?

Perhaps this time – it will be equal

This fascinates me

One’s regret increases if they are made aware of how close they were to the finish line

The distance between where you are and where you wanted to be – is inversely correlated to your regret

Closer the distance by which you missed it – more is the regret

Regret seems to have levels to it. Should it be so?

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9.58

Rings a bell?

Let me give you a hint

9.58 seconds

Now it does, doesn’t it?

The world record for the 100m sprint

Held by?

Usain Bolt

Know Usain Bolt?

Of course.

Who doesn’t?

Let’s extend the quiz, shall we?

10.3

No?

10.3 seconds?

Still no?

Anil Kumar Prakash

Maybe?

Anil holds the Indian record for the fastest 100m sprint

At 10.3 seconds

Take a second to let this settle in

The difference been Usain Bolt and Anil Kumar Prakash is 0.8 seconds

Less than a second

Less

Than

A

Second

!!

The difference between glory and a missed attempt at it, isn’t that huge after all.

And yet, it remains the toughest bridge to cross

As the world becomes more and more comfortable, it isn’t becoming any easier to succeed.

The standards of success remain brutal

It doesn’t matter what you say, people will understand it in their context, through their lens, colored by their biases, driven by their experiences

That could lead to the false conclusion – “why does it even matter what I say?”

Or

the better conclusion

“Instead of saying what I want to say, can I attempt to be understood?”

The words don’t matter

The intent does

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We learn the most when we least expect the lesson

Somehow the jerk, the surprise leaves an impression that’s hard to erase, ignore or forget.

The beauty though – is that by the same measure one can’t plan for such lesson

They just happen

Maybe that’s what they call experience

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Institute or course?

18 Dec
2017

One of my personal favorite questions during an interview is

What do you think matters more – the institute from where you story or the course that you study?

Over years, there is an emerging pattern. Individuals performing external facing roles (sales, marketing etc) invariably say the institute name matters more. While internal facing roles say the course

Might be easy to explain. A good institute name can take you far in life. Present a socially desirable image of yourself

A course might find it hard to achieve this

Here, is hands down the best response I received in all these years

The institute matters more to me. Because that determines the peer group I will be studying with. And while the best course will simply allow for the best content to pass through, the best institute will allow for the best learning to happen, irrespective of the course.

I felt this was a powerful way of looking at things.

The course you study doesn’t determine your education. Your surrounding does.

Congratulating an entrepreneur on raising funds is like congratulating a chef on buying vegetables

It’s a milestone well passed

But not a journey that’s yet over

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Smart or wise?

4 Dec
2017

You are smart enough to predict what will happen

But are you wise enough to know how to react, when it does happen?

You are amazing

27 Nov
2017

You are amazing
because
you read my mind, you comfort me, you say exactly what I WANTED to hear at that moment

or

You are amazing because
you speak your mind, you direct me to the truth, you say exactly what I NEEDED to hear at that moment

Its easy to find people amazing if they agree with you
Instead
Find people that care enough to help you find a better you

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