At will 

17 Nov

About 16 years back I held a camera for the first timeand fell in love with it, instantly

We weren’t rich and this camera was a gift. 

Back then films rolls were how we used to take photos. 

A 36-photo roll used to cost Rs.100 and another Rs.3 to process one of them. 

So an investment of Rs.200 – not knowing which one would come out the way you want it to. 

But just the fact that I could imagine a picture, capture it in my lens, and see it convert into an image forever, was fascinating. 

And overtime I realized the biggest lesson of my life

I could change the image

At my will

By controlling how I saw it through the lens and how I captured it through the camera
Every single day, we meet people at work

And as we grow, we will meet even more

More often than not, we will have an image of them, even before we meet them

Always remember – you have the power to change that image

At your will

Watch this beautiful video and you will know what I am talking about

Don’t ever let perception come in the way of discovering people

Every interaction can be a new image

Of the very same person

beautifully composed


16 Nov

I couldn’t watch XFiles the movie when it  was released in india, because the ticket was too expensive 

But I don’t remember missing out on it. I remember loving the movie when I did watch it several months later

I didn’t travel to even one city during my masters in the US, because I had to save up for home

But I don’t remember missing out on it. I instead remember the awesome time Ruchi and I had going back to the US several years later 

I didn’t have enough money to enroll for classroom coaching for IITs

But I don’t remember missing out on it. I instead remember topping college and going to the US for my masters. 

I dont party. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. 

But I don’t remember missing out on it. I instead remember feeling awesome at the end of everyday, having accomplished things at work and anticipating love at home. 
FOMO is always instantaneous. 

It never ever helps. 

Because it does not inspire. It instead scares. 

How about converting FOMO into something else. Something that could drive, could motivate, could make us move. 

The fear of never being able to do it


12 Nov

Question to Vidur (my 4yr old): “Aap bade hoke kiske jaisa banna chahte ho?” (Who do you want to become when you grow up?)

“Apne jaisa” 

I want to become me


Life lesson 101

Michigan state university was the only university I got through, for my masters 

ISB was the only MBA school worth it’s name that I got through 

A. T. Kearney was the only consulting firm that I got through, post mba 

Rocket Internet was the only company that shortlisted me, when I quit Accentium 

The management buyout was the only option Groupon india had

It’s scary to think what would have happened if either of these things didn’t happen in my life 

I never had choices 

So I grew up giving no choices to myself 

When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it. You just have to find it. It matters not whether your chances are nine in ten or one in a thousand; your task is the same. 

Hard Thing About Hard Things 

Success is the only mother f***king option; failure is not 

Last year, during my fitness transformation exercise, my coach Ajay (who also happens to be a colleague) gave me the best gift ever

A Nike dryfit tee, size medium 

It sticks to your body. Showing all your contours. 

I called it The embarrassment tee

“Wear it everyday to the gym. Your bulges will show, that extra mass that needs to be worked upon. You should feel embarrassed” 

Because then, you have two choices

  1. Stop wearing the tee to work
  2. Work so hard on yourself that the tee now looks good on you

The easy path

The right path

When you say sorry to the customer, you wear the embarrassment tee

When you apologize on behalf of someone, you wear the embarrassment tee

When you tell employees that we fucked up, you wear the embarrassment tee

When you own up to who you really are, with your mistakes, your shortcomings, but determined to work hard to overcome them 

You wear the embarrassment tee 

And that is any day better than wearing a loose fit tee of an awesome expensive brand. 

Most people only pay attention to the final product of the successful entrepreneur
But what most don’t see is what they have overcome

You see, the biggest difference between the ones who succeed and the one who didnt
Is that they showed up everyday
They hustled everyday
They learnt new things everyday
They improved everyday
They did all of this even though they felt like quitting everyday

And eventually they became who they are

Self Doubt

2 Nov

When Facebook recently moved to their new office, Mark Z posted a video of the same. It was a walk through, of his desk, his discussion room etc.
No jazz
All content

I loved it
And remarked to my colleague that we should do the same when we start our new office
He replied “he is Mark Z. Any video of his will look good. We are not Facebook yet”

This is how most of feel. This is how most of us operate.
However, I am pretty sure that Mark Z doesn’t get up every morning thinking he is someone big. He gets up wanting to do the same things he wanted to do 10 years back. Just that the scale has changed. But never for a moment would he have thought he is any lesser.

When I was young I used to love chess. And everyone around me was better than me. But each time I used to start a game, I used to ask myself – what is it that they know that I can’t know.
Never for a moment did I used to doubt my ability to win.
And I used to fail.
Almost always
But this attitude made me learn much faster than I would have otherwise.

Every single day when you wake up
Tell yourself that there is nothing
Nothing at all
That can make you lose today
Except your own belief

Self doubt has killed more people than self confidence ever will

Add some color

29 Oct

The nearbuy team was at ISB this Tuesday, for a PrePlacement Talk. 

We decided to follow an unorthodox application process. 

  • We will not accept black and white resume. There needs to be some color added
  • When you apply, you need to name one more candidate who you think deserves the role more than you

We are told this has created quite some activity on campus. 

Do I need to add color in spirit, or actually add some real color?

Does it need to be creative or colorful? 

Does font color qualify as color?

Will I be rejected if it isn’t colorful enough? 

The campus resume template was a comfort zone. They knew what they had to do. And it was easy to establish that you fit in. 

And we broke the template. We changed the format. 

And when formats are broken it makes people anxious. Or makes them work harder. 

Or both. 

Irrespective, the output is magically different from what would have been the case. It will reflect emotional labor. 

The world doesn’t need one more format. 

It needs one more rebel. 

When things are not going as per plan the easiest thing to do is to gain control. To review everything. To approve everything. To become the system through which everything has to flow.

If this process worked in the new world, things would never go wrong.

How about doing exactly the opposite.
Let go
Things are not going as per plan, but I trust you to fix them. I am there should you need my help. And I happy to sit with you every now and then to act as the sounding board.
Let’s make it happen

Control a person
And they will slacken when you are not around
Give them the autonomy to take their own decisions
And they just might become you

Who am I?

23 Oct

Peter Thiel mentions his favorite interview question in “Zero to One”

What is that one belief you have that very few people agree with you on? 

Here is my response, Peter

The best way to become great at something, is to do multiple things at the same time, all the time. 

It goes against the concept of specialization. 

Well, if you think about it, it goes against the concept of almost everything we all have been told, as part of our education and training. 

Here is my rationale to this belief

  • No one in the world knows what they are good at. What is their true calling
  • We supposedly are meant to find this elusive thing, to have a shot at being successful 
  • And once we find it, just spend hours and hours pursuing it. Mastering the art
  • However,
  • What if there was something else better out there, that you didn’t even discover, or
  • What if delving into something else, even if to explore and not master, would have helped you master the original skill

If I look back at my life, I have been so many fascinating things 

  • An astrophysicist 
  • A statistician 
  • A photographer 
  • A consultant 
  • An entrepreneur 
  • A public speaker 
  • A fitness convert
  • A singer
  • A DJ
  • A product manager, recently
  • An HR professional too recently
  • A multi country manager 
  • A writer 
  • And am sure something else too that I am forgetting 

But the thing that I am best is, is none of these. I think I am good at connecting with people. That’s where I find peace, that’s where I draw my strength from. 

And all of the above roles have helped me exponentially in doing so. In ways I couldn’t have even imagined. And still can’t. But I know they helped. 

And that makes the multidisciplinary path fascinating. 

It’s amazing how many people begin to slow down discovering new things, as they grow old. When it should be exactly the other way round. 

Come to think of it, there is a reason why the best intellectuals the world has seen, from Newton to Archimedes to Leonardo were all so many things in one. 

Come to think of it, the people you look up to, are so many things in one. 

Ask yourself “who am I”

And hope that you don’t have a single answer

At nearbuy, as we grow super fast (we have gone from 260 folks 3 months back to 540 people today), the need for communicating and ensuring consistency of our value system and beliefs hasn’t be higher before.

I can spend time speaking and engaging folks, and I will continue doing so. But something has to act as a constant reminder.
So we launched the “Little Book Of Big Things” – a visual compilation of what we stand for. What we should stand for.

Here is a glance








Your first reaction 

15 Oct

How you feel and how you react to this feeling is often different, and misunderstood to be the same 

You feel hurt but your reaction is that it anger

You feel scared but your reaction is that of control 

You feel happy but your reaction is that of tears

Only the mentally strong can control what they feel. And that’s fine. It isn’t such a bad thing to feel whatever is it that you feel. 

Here is what is bad, though. 

Reacting the way you react. 

Do yourself a favor and chose NOT TO react the way your heart is suggesting you to react. Pause and chose another reaction instead. 

Surprisingly, the second reaction, even if worse off, never impacts negatively as much as the first instant reaction. 

Our first reaction to things, especially when we feel negative, are almost always wrong! Just wrong. 

First reaction is the worst reaction 

At the AllHands call last Friday, I got asked this question

A few confessions to make, while I answer this. 

By personality, I am a paranoid person. 

I bite my nails. All the time.  

I hate losing. 

I get scared imagining that someone out there might be working harder than me and I am not doing enough. 

I worry all the time of whether I am taking the easy path. 

I worry that I will be wrong, if I don’t invest in myself. 

So I am emotionally very hard on myself. I feel like my heart is always full of emotions. Of things I want to say. Of moments I could cry for. Of just wanting to work so hard that even life bows down. 

So the hardest part about being a CEO is to feel the moral responsibility of 540+ people every single day. 

I feel responsible for them. For their safety, for their happiness at work, for their career opportunities. 

I wake up every single morning with a nagging thought in my head of some incidence yesterday involving the unhappy state of an employee. Something someone wrote. Something someone felt, experienced. Which didn’t make them feel respected or loved. 

It’s this journey that is the hardest. 

It’s this feeling that is the hardest. 
The easiest thing to build is a company 

The hardest thing to build is an institution where people love to come to work

Money shouts 

12 Oct

Over the weekend, a conversation digressed over to discussing the super wealthy. A close friend heads the strategy function of one such billionaire and has seen their life up close. 

Despite being worth billions of dollars, they lead an unpretentious life. Their homes, spread over acres reflect class. Their daily routine shows how money is an output of their life. Not the outcome. 
There is also another section that believes in public display of money. Of lavish lifestyles, of making friends that only care about this side of yours. 

I have my preference over which life to lead. 

Neither is right or wrong. It is a way of life. For every warren buffet there is a Donald trump as well. 

However the distinction is clear. 

One side makes money work for them. It is part of their life but not the factor that determines it. They know they are wealthy. And it ends there. 

The other side lives for money. It is a large reason for them waking up every day. It defines them. 

And this starts defining the way they act

Money shouts. Wealth whispers. 

Over the weekend we sent a special email to the early adopters of the nearbuy mobile app 

It entitled them to Rs 300 of credit once they upgraded to the new version of the app. Because they have given us the best feedback so far. 

It was a thank you gesture. From us

One of those users copied the sexy part of that email. And pasted it on an affiliate forum. Craftfully omitting the conditions or the fact that this was for a limited audience. 

The forum went viral. 

We got 5000+ downloads 

And 33 one-star ratings 

in a day 

The brickbat was all about how they didn’t receive the 300 credit on downloading the app. 

It wasn’t meant for first downloads

It wasn’t meant for the forum 

It wasn’t meant for the world 
Let’s replay this

Someone made a false promise on your behalf

Without asking you 

And when the promise wasn’t delivered, the world went against you 
Reminds you of something? 

Each day, we meet people. People we influence. People we leave some impression upon. 

They, without knowing us, spread these impressions around. Unknowingly make promises on our behalf. 

And the world, when it meets you, isn’t a blank slate. It is already clouded by these promises. It is not trying to figure who you are. It is trying to figure if you are what they think you are. 

And at that stage, you have got to ask yourself

Will I be me? 

Or will I do what they want? 

Every morning we wake up with a feeling. A certain emotion. 

Somehow the emotion controls our day. The rest of the day becomes captive to that thought you started it with. 

Hence, the world tells you – wake up with the right feeling. Go to bed feeling the right things. That sets the tone for your day. 

That’s foolish. It is like expecting one to always be happy. And to have happy thoughts always. And to not allow any other emotion to enter. 

Instead, think of how you can control your emotion. How you can change it. 

Now suddenly it doesn’t matter what you wake up with. You can always reset it to what you want. 

Here is the deal about controlling your emotions. It begins by not reacting to it. 

Ironically, the best way to deal with a negative emotion is to not acknowledge it and work on it. 

Rather dismiss it. 

Stop reacting to every emotion you feel. As if by magic, the world around you will change. 

The Power Law of Investing as a concept is quite simple. 

And quite powerful. 

It states that in investing, your best returning investment will almost always give you supernormal returns, exceeding the combined returns from the rest of your portfolio. 

The 2nd best will be higher than the sum of the remaining. 

So on and so forth. 
Each week I spend an hour welcoming the new members to the nearbuy (formerly groupon) fanily. 

And I leave them with this precise message. 

Rather a question

“In today’s world, even if you left everything to fate and just existed, you would end up being 5/10/20X of who you are today. 

Think of how you can be 100X of who you are today

How much will you multiply yourself?”

Here is the deal about multiplying 100X – you don’t know what will get you there. 

No one does

People who do are the ones who are constantly on the hunt. 

Who are constantly searching for the thing they are super normally good at. 

Who are constantly working on themselves. Invest time. And don’t ever get comfortable. 

They don’t know how good they can get. 

So they never stop! 

It’s a lot like investing 


1 Oct

Happiness is a good feeling

It charges us

It makes us confident

It is the goal for almost everything we do

And it’s source can be multiple things – money, love, appreciation, victory. 

And we end up searching for happiness. 

All our lives 

In all our doings 
When instead, the search should be for peace

Because peace is what contains you

Peace is what stays with you 

Peace is what you gift yourself

Especially when happiness eludes you 
There is a certain magic about being calm. And every single day I tell myself – if I remain at peace with myself, with my work, with my world – I can conquer it. 

I don’t have to crave to be happy. That’s not in my control. That is not the reason for my peace. 

Sukh hai alag  (happiness is different)

Aur chain alag hai (and so is peace)

Par jo yeh dekhe woh nain alag hai (the eyes that realize this are different too)

Chain to hai apna (peace is within)

Sukh hai paraye (happiness comes from outside)

– Sapnon se bharein naina (luck by chance)

Punishment 1:

This isn’t what I wanted 

Why didn’t you work hard

Why didn’t you work longer 

Couldn’t you be more rigorous

This is wrong 

You are wrong 
Punishment 2:

You have let me down. I trusted you 
Guess which of the two is the easy path?

Guess which of the two is the right path? 
Don’t tell people they are wrong. They know that. 

Instead tell them how you didn’t expect them to be wrong. 

And tomorrow they won’t be anymore!


24 Sep

Growth can hide a lot of things 

Employee attrition 

Negative Unit economics 

Customer churn 

High customer acquisition costs

No time for 1:1

Technology debt

Unethical practices

No product market fit

No time for family

No time for your health
But there is one thing growth cannot hide

Your conscience
You cannot lie on stage. The audience will always know it is within your heart.