Faith like a child

19 Sep
2014

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

But guess what’s contagious….

Passion!
Belief!
Faith!

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
2014

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

http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/09/tips-for-cold-emailing-intimidatingly-powerful-people/

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
2014

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!

6 PACK ABS! 

 

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

69.4kgs

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

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And here I am today

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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!

DO EPIC SHIT!

 

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

1-Chest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Shoulders

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

3-Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5: Arms

4a-Arms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4b-Arms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6: Legs

5-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.
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…

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