What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail

What a fucked up quote! 

It’s impossible to not fail. 

Not everything that you make will have the world submit itself and hail you as their king. 

Not every product you make will be loved 

Not every test you take will have you score the highest or succeed

Not every person you love will love you back equally 

Not every step you take will always be in the right direction 

It’s utterly foolish, almost irresponsible to suggest this 

Because here is the deal 

We don’t fear failing 

We fear people 

We fear their reactions 

And we fear how we will feel once we witness those reactions 

We fear shame

We fear ego

We fear being banished

We fear being laughed at 

We fear not getting another chance to win

What would you attempt to do if you knew no one would react if you failed 


Being a manager is hard work. 

Seriously hard work. 

You have to manage your team, achieve goals, manage expectations, communicate bad news, spend time on hiring, retaining, motivating, firing. 

It is seriously hard work

Yet somehow, everyone wishes to become one. 

There is something appealing about being a manager. Being called a manager. 

And with being a manager comes higher responsibility. 

A bigger team to manage

A bigger area to control

More decision making powers

More influence

A bigger span of influence 

And everyday, I see people seeking this influence. 

Asking for more and more responsibility

For bigger teams 

For more control

Rarely, do I find people asking for more accountability 

Make me accountable for a bigger goal

Make me accountable for a larger purpose 

Make me accountable for higher target 

Make me accountable for the development of my team and my own learning 

The next time you ask for a raise or a promotion, ask yourself why didn’t you instead ask for a higher target instead? 

Managers seek more and more responsibility for themselves. Leaders demand more and more accountability for themselves 

Our lives are shaped up by our perspective. 

Our childhood memories

Our value system 

Our friends and family 

Our experiences 

Our conversations 

Our media 

Our governments

Over time, all these help establish the perspective. The frame of reference against which we see ourselves everyday. 

And we come to accept it as our own. 

To the point where our path to success has been verified by only one person out there 

Ourselves! 

Suddenly, the biggest threat to our success becomes the perspective of other people 

How do they see the world differently. The very same world. 

We don’t want to change our path to success. We don’t want to mix it up. What if it messes up the chances. What if it’s rejected by my mind. What if it isn’t what I agree with? 

And yet, time and again, people who have opened up their minds to wider perspectives, are the ones we admire and adore. 

Don’t let anyone else define success or failure for you. But hear them define it for themselves. That might influence your definition. 

When to advertise? 

12 Jun
2017

Most advertising is about “launches”

Here is our new product 

We have raised funding 

This is what we are going to do 

This is who we are

This is what the future looks like 

Time and money worth Billions of dollars is invested, everyday for such advertising speak 

There is another form of advertising, far cheaper and far more effective. 

The one that happens once the job is done. 

The one which isn’t about what you are going to do, rather what you have achieved. 

Ironically, such advertisement is most often not sponsored by you. It’s crowdfunded. 

We did it > We will do it 

Let the outcome of your actions become your advertisement, instead of the initiation of your actions. 

In response to a question on Quora, I recalled 3 things that I learnt in my first ever job

While the first one was almost an instant realization, the second and third were formed over years and has taken time to transform from a hypothesis to a theorem 

It’s been over 13 years, and it still holds true

If you do what everyone else is doing, you will end up being what everyone else is. To rise above everyone, you have to do things differently

Your manager has a far bigger role to play in your learning than the leadership

Your leadership has a far bigger role to play in the culture of the company than your manager

One of my favorite interview questions is “do you like starting things or finishing things?”

Almost 80% people like to start things. Shouldn’t come as a surprise though. 

Finishing is much harder. 

Finishing that project requires a lot more than starting it 

Driving a conclusion requires a lot more than initiating the discussion meeting 

Making the product work requires a lot more than starting to code the product

Building an organization where people love to come to work requires a lot more than hiring people 

Starting projects is what people do a lot more than completing them 

But thoughts work very differently 

Thinking never truly finishes. And hence, it’s the beginning that’s the hardest. 

Taking the first step to imagine, to listen, to comprehend, to think – is super super hard 

Once you have imagined or reimagined a thought – converting it into action is a unique path you will define, sooner than later (repeat – starting a task is easier than finishing it) 

The key then is – to start a thought 

I have been given some very valuable, gracious feedback on how this blog is a thought starter. 

They think it’s because I am experienced and am living through these emotions before most. 

I know it’s a thought starter because I keep it simple. 

The goal is NOT to define the path, not to be a self help book, but to plant thoughts and ideas. 

To just write in simple language what I thought of a certain situation in my life. 

No fancy words, no complex models, no fancy theorems, no patents filed! 

I am no intellectual. And I don’t pretend to be one. 

But when I read super insightful material written in a manner that only a few people can comprehend, I wish even the intellectuals didnt think of themselves as one. 

Ironically, our need to maintain our intellectual status ends up alienating the same people we wish to change

You get up every morning 

You show up

You slog it out 

You do the right things

You work really really hard

Don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t beg, don’t lie

Here is the honest truth – people don’t care

The world doesn’t owe you it’s time just because you do the right thing the right way

The world owes you it’s time only because you have made it worth it for them 

Back in the Stone Age, the basic instinct was to survive. From animals, nature, any possible danger. 

Our brains were constantly working. Doing an almost great job of telling us when we need to watch out. 

I am assuming this single trait allowed us to survive through billions of years and “evolve” 

“Unfortunately” the brain has evolved much better than we might have expected.

It still works well to remind us of the danger ahead. What might hurt us. 

But the nature of that danger has changed. It’s not physical as much as it is emotional. It’s not arrows and spears and stones as much as it is words and feelings. 

The brain, everyday, is telling us not to do things that will be dangerous for us

Don’t ask that question. The world will make you feel stupid 

Don’t quit that job. You will lose social reputation 

Don’t wake up. Sleep will give you the needed rest

Don’t say you love her. It will make you vulnerable 

Don’t take that unpopular decision. People will not like you anymore. 

Overtime, dangers to mankind have reduced considerably. We are not threatened by extinction everyday nor do we think we might not return home at the end of the day. 

However overtime, our feelings that the brain manifests as danger, have taken over our actions.

What hasn’t changed though is – who in the tribe wins. 

The one that wins over the danger

And the danger today is our brain telling us to get comfortable. 

Nothing changes your life in 30 seconds 

Don’t fall for the trap, the easy diet, the short cut, the motivational video, the click bait, the pretty face, the higher pay. 

What will it take to be successful?

It will take everything! 

Email from a colleague that’s moving on 


I am an eternal optimist. People who know me well call me the irrational optimist. 

It’s my belief that the future is always beautiful. Tomorrow is always better than today. 

The operating word I chose to describe the future is better

It will be bigger. It will bring in more gratification. It will make you a more aware, a more experienced individual. It will bring peace, a sense of accomplshement or achievement. 

Unfortunately, most of us use the wrong operating word to describe the future. 

Easier 

Tomorrow will be easier than today 

Come to think of it – we have been raised this. 

Study tomorrow so that tomorrow is better (easier, is what they were hinting towards) 

Finish your education before so that you can depend on it tomorrow (education will make the future easier) 

Work hard in your 20s and 30s so that 40s are better (easier again) 

Instead, how about realizing the only truth of life 

Tomorrow is not going to be easier. It will be better, at best. 

And if that’s the case, the right question to ask is not if you are excited about the future. 

Instead,

Are you prepared for the future? 

Drop the debt 

15 May
2017

Debt is largely a misunderstood financial instrument, especially at a consumer level. Somehow taking debt is not considered being financial prudent. While there is enough literature to suggest that debt can be a fantastic lever for growth, if managed well. 

Reason it carries a bad reputation is because of all the horror stories when the debt cannot be serviced. You can lose everything you had, because the debt providers have the first right to your property. 

But the normal world, where debt is serviced well everyday and individuals gain from this debt, largely goes unnoticed. Because hey, it’s the normal. 

There is another kind of debt servicing that rarely talked about. And I consider sheer evil. 

Emotional debt

Debt that we take on our head. Either by choice, or artificially planted. 

There is a fancy name for that too. Emotional blackmail. 

It’s debt, at the end of it. 

Because you tell yourself, irrespective of my situation and my need, I need to service this debt first. 

I cannot leave this job, because I had promised my boss I will stay

I cannot go back to work, because I had promised my kids I would be around 

I cannot take this decision, because it will betray the trust you have in me

I have to tell you how much I love you, and care for you, before I express my love for anything else

I have to fulfill my destiny here, before I fulfill it somewhere else 

Emotional debt is an intangible. It doesn’t exist. We created it. And we allowed it to grow. Because we don’t pay for it everyday. We accumulate interest for that one day when we will repay back the debt in all. 

And this fucks up our judgement. 

Here is what helps

Treating emotional debt as financial debt 

Take it only when you need it 

Pay it in monthly installments

Emotional debt has killed more people than financial debt ever will. 

Right before the gym entrance this morning, I am greeted by a guy I have seen several times working out. 

“The gym is closed”

“Really?” 

Of course the question was a rhetoric. I wasn’t going to believe him. I went up to the door. And indeed, there was a closed sign hanging on the door. 

I pushed the door open

Looked inside

There were folks working out 

I didn’t say anything to anyone. And started to work out. 

A minute later, the “gym is closed” guy enters. And remarks, “stupid people. Why did they put the closed sign on the door, when it was open?”

“To determine whether you would take the world’s declaration as the truth. Or go and find it yourself”, I told myself. 

“Next time, open the door. Irrespective of what it says” – I told him. 

“And I am not talking just gym doors”

This place, this morning, had taught me yet another life lesson. 

As the founder of a pro-consumer tech startup, the right thing to say is “customer is the king”.

The right thing to say is that we are “customer obsessed”

The right thing to say is that “the customer is always right”

Just that – the customer isn’t always right. The customer is always optimizing for their gains. And that can lead them to be petty, to be dishonest, to be unreasonable.

At nearbuy, we make a lot of mistakes. And the nature of our business, where the delivery of the service is not in our control but in the merchant’s control, makes these mistakes more vivid.

And everyday, we work really really hard to fix these problems. Through tech, through working with the merchants, through processes.

We are able to resolve most customer concerns. Some of them happen instantly. Some take time. At no point are these shoved under the “I don’t care about this” carpet.

Sadly (and perhaps understandably) some customers don’t care about any of this.

 

Yesterday, I had a rather disturbing conversation with a customer. A senior employee at a large MNC. Regular buyer.

He found our customer service “disgraceful” because we refused to give him a 25-30% additional discount on his bulk purchase. He has uninstalled the nearbuy app and vowed to encourage others to do so as well.

“I am really sorry to lose you as a customer”, is all that I could say.

Another customer yesterday claimed that our Buy1, Get1 offer on Sunday brunch was misleading because it was sold for Rs. 19. She felt that for Rs.19 she would get 2 brunches.

We should have absolutely don’t a better job of the words we chose to describe the offer. But to imagine that you would get 2 brunches worth 1200 each, by paying 19 bucks? And then to call the customer service manipulative, when we tried to explain the situation?

Guess what – had the customer raised the issue to make us aware and not raise an alarm, we would have most certainly made the purchase for her, on our expense. Because we like people who genuinely wish to help us get better.

And then I see this on Quora


The response is one thing. The 16k upvotes is  what’s most disturbing.

There is a section of society that endorses this dishonesty. That calls it smart. That calls it “fuck you, business. I only care about my money”

It’s these same set of customers who have tragically seen themselves or their friends and family go through layoffs and shutdowns because of the recent conditions in the market.

 

The customer today is more powerful than ever before.
You can voice your opinion and make organizations respond to your needs.
You can bring companies down.
You can make them win.

And that makes the role of the customer a very responsible one.

We need your money.
And promise to work really hard to give you value in return.

But more than ever before, we need you to be fair.
To demand what you ought to, not what you want to.

Please don’t make us fake customer service. 

I rarely talk about the future. Because it’s my imagination that I will try and impose on someone else, without having given them the basis for imagining it. 

However, day before, I found myself doing so. Talking about the future. How I imagined nearbuy to be 2-3 years from now. 

It sounded like science fiction. It sounded crazy. It sounded impossible. Unimaginable. 

Except, 

It’s none of that. It’s going to happen. 

Not because I have dreamt of it. Not because I have a misplaced sense of self belief. 

It’s going to happen with or without nearbuy

Because it’s not MY future. 

It’s THE future! 

We are always overestimating the awesomeness that’s going to happen in a year. And always underestimating what’s going to happen in 5 years

The future, by definition, is meant to be ridiculous 

I tend to think a lot. More than I should. And starting this year, I wanted to change that. 

The human ability to imagine, sets us apart, in both good ways and bad. While it’s allowed us to created the world that we live in today, where the environment isn’t creating our world but we are creating the environment around us to live in, our imagination on a more regular basis plays havoc with our focus. 

Our thinking, our excessive thinking, leads to pressure. To expectations. To imagine results. To imagine success or failure. 

While our ability to focus, was meant to be above all of this. 

Meditation has taught me an important lesson. 

Being aware of your feelings, your emotions – is not the same as thinking about them. 

The ability to focus on something, is the ability to not imagine anything around the past or future moment. 

Simply be aware

Focus doesn’t know pressure. 

Pressure is what we create to give an illusion that focus alone can’t help us win. When ironically, focus is the loneliest action we can adopt. 

…and yet someone would have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, the pain, the joys, the emotional ups and downs. 

…someone would have said, “I don’t even know what Rome is. I am just in love with the process.”

Long term quality results require long term quality focus. 

No short term reactions. 

No drama. 

And it’s so critical to remember to enjoy and appreciate the process, the journey. 

You are going to spend far more time on the actual journey than in the brief moments of triumph at the end. 

…is the same as that to the ISB Class of 2019, 2020, 2021

…was the same as that to all the previous classes

1. Do not feel entitled. The world doesn’t owe you anything 

ISB is a trap. The good quality professors, the air conditioned campus, the house keeeping, the catered food, the speedy wifi, the placement cell. 

Everything is a trap. To make you feel entitled. 

And if you fall into the trap that ISB owes you these things because you have a paid a certain amount to be there – you will only feel resentment and frustration. 

Instead, focus on yourself. What do you need to do to win. What are you great at? Where will that be valued? How can you become better? More disciplined? Sharper in your communication? 

Focus on what you have and how you can change your world through it. 

Not on what you expect the world to give you because of who you are. 

2. Don’t let anyone else define your success or failure 

The definition of success or failure is a horrible, crowd-sourced, spam! 

Getting into consulting is success. A 20L job is success. Deans list is success. Extracurricular is success. And the opposites are failure 

Says who? 

The median voice of 950+ students, most of whom have no fucking idea what they wish to do in life

You see how disastrous this spam is? Because it only reaches straight to our minds, it plays with our minds. Leads us to believe that we are gods or inadequate. That we are worth it or not. 

Define your own success. Let it be grades, or learning. Let it be money or work life balance. Let it be corporate or entrepreneurship. Let it be classroom or outside. 

Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing. No one. 

Have a great year. 

May you find your true self this year 

We have been taught to mind our Ps and Qs, since we were kids. 

Say please. Say thank you. 

And we have mostly done a great job of adhering to it. Well, mostly 

However, notice how our thank you are almost always trigger-based 

Someone does something for us. Thank you. 

Someone brings something for us. Thank you. 

Someone helps us. Thank you. 

Someone listens to us. Thank you. 

Someone shows us the path. Thank you. 

At some point in our learning, we forgot that thank you is way more important, when there is no trigger. 

You have been there whenever I needed you. Thank you. 

You have been so helpful during this period. Thank you. 

I was thinking of the good times we have shared. Thank you. 

I have seen you and learnt so much from you. Thank you. 

I think you are such a great human. Thank you. 

Whenever you acknowledge someone or something, even your own life, without any trigger, it triggers the most under-rated virtue of all – gratitude. 

Saying thank you is manners. 

Feeling thankful is behavior. 

I saw “I am Bolt” – a documentary on Usain Bolt, this weekend. 

It’s about his journey to become the fastest man ever on earth, and to go on to win Golds in 3 consecutive Olympic Games – a feat that will remain largely unmatched for a long long time. 

Watching the documentary made me sad. 

I recognized that sports, most of them, by definition have “that” moment. 

That moment when you know you have won. 

That moment you own. It’s yours. When you breakdown, you fall to the ground or rise to the crowd. When you know it’s over. 

That moment when you win. 

Most of us will never experience that moment. Our lives are way too slow, way too gradual, perhaps even way too predictable. 

And what made me sad was no matter how hard I tried, imagining my life to comprise such moments is super hard. 

There will rarely be moments when I will have the world’s attention towards me and in that pressure I will deliver, win and will feel this rush of emotions take over. 

And in that moment of sadness, I asked myself. 

Should I be thankful instead? That I will never have such a moment. 

That life gradually happens, every single day. It’s the process, your attitude, your reactions – the journey, that happens to us. Not those moments.

And it’s a blessing it’s this way? 

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