A lifeOf ambition 

Of labor

Not just physical but emotional

Of no regrets

Of time as the biggest weapon you have

Of will the only four letter word
And at the end of the long hard day

When you look up

Not for inspiration 

Not in desperation 

But just to acknowledge the power of your will

The world is forced to say

You deserve more 

The worst of you

26 Aug
2015

A new project

A new relationship

A new market

A new business

A vibrant economy

A growing customer base

A new place

A world of newness

And you are at your best. Your best mood. Your best face. Your best approach. Your best methods. Your best of everything. 

The world loves you. 

It is easy to. You haven’t given them any reason not to. Everything is going for you, and you make it visible to the world. 

My favorite question in an interview then is: what’s the worst thing about you? 

I want to see the worst of you. 

The moment you want to be rude. When you want to show the middle finger. When you want to be vindictive. 

The moment you go into a shell. The shoulders slump. When you want nothing to do with the world. 

Or when you cry in the corner. And come out smiling. Hiding your fears, for the love of making this work. The belief that this too shall pass.
The worst of you, is the best way to get to love you. Or not. 

The tech CEO 

24 Aug
2015

I often wondered, what is it that distinguishes the best tech CEOs from the not so good ones. 

And someone gave me a glimpse last week. 

The best tech CEOs always know the product 5 years out. 

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not the next sprint. Or 10 such sprints. 

It’s 5 years out. 

A time so far out that everything we know of technology today would make the problem almost impossible to solve, if it were to be solved today. 

But they operate on the belief that it can be and will be solved, by the time they get there. 

And they guard that dream. Share it as if sipping wine. Offering a sneak only to chosen ones. And those conversations end up being fascinating. 

Suddenly, the ones being offered the future, are lifted above their daily rut. Their schedule. Their salary. Their current and next plan. All material around them. 

Or they mock the audacity of the plan. They can’t believe the earth is round. 

You either die living the future. Or live long enough to poison the present. 

1. The treadmill test

The treadmill is a fascinating device. You walk on it, jog, run, run as fast as you can. Burn energy. Start panting.

But you don’t move an inch forward. You are where you were right when you started.

As an entrepreneur, chose what you pursue wisely. An idea where hard work and passion moves you forward. To a point where you require lesser energy to move the same distance.

As against, realizing further down the road that you are spending energy that doesn’t make you move ahead.

Fail the treadmill test

2. The Today Test

I spoke about it earlier. Solve problems that are going to be bigger problems tomorrow, not lesser.

Too much time is wasted optimizing for the present, when the same present clearly shows a declining trend.

Building a business around SMS. Really? You think SMS will last tomorrow?

Building an Uber for shipping products? Nice. When was the last time you shipped something to someone? Is it likelier to be a bigger use case tomorrow or is it just today?

Fail the today test

3. The Ostrich Test

I meet entrepreneurs that are clearly working on the wrong idea. And they know it. But they aren’t doing anything about it. You know why.

“Because I have already spent so much time on this”

That is being an Ostrich. With your head in the sand, you are assuming the reality is not staring at you. Time is the biggest sunk cost of life. You should know when to stop, as much as you know when to begin.

Fail the Ostrich Test

4. The Funding Test

It is fashionable to be funded. The press, the facebook likes, the fancy office, the coolness of Economic Times covering you. It is all sexy

It is not. It shouldn’t be.

You didn’t start the business to get funded. You started it to build one. And along the way you just thought its would be super cool to build it on someone else’s money and to not care about profitability. Not care about running an actual business.

Funding doesn’t bring business. It is the other way round. Surprise surprise

Fail the funding test

5. The Company Test

Most entrepreneurs end up building a company. Here is what a company has – it has rules, it has hierarchy, it has restrictions, it has attrition, it has free food as a hook, it has mediocre talent. And it has a founder that still sleeps peacefully at night.

Build an institution instead – a place where people love to come to work. They feel challenged. Beyond a point, they dont realize nor care how much money they earn. They are in it because there is a larger cause they are working for. And the day that cause doesnt exist, they leave. Which is a good sign. Because when people stay despite mediocre conditions, you have successful built a company. Not an instition

Fail the company test

 

One of my favorite interview question is “what is the worst thing about you?”

It is uncanny how many times I have heard the response, “I am a perfectionist. I fret if things are not done the right way.”

No you are not. Because here is what most people mean to say – “I fret if things are not done my way.”

There is nothing such as a perfectionist. Instead, such individuals are accuracy seekers. Fervent truth seekers. They will make sure things are beautiful and they function accurately. Not perfectly. Accurately. 

The iPhone wasn’t the perfect phone. It still isn’t. 

It’s an accurate phone. Accurate lines. Accurate design. Accurate experience. 

Don’t seek perfection. That is elusive

Seek accuracy. And ship fast. 

You deserve more 

19 Aug
2015

The past weekend led a bunch of us to realize that we are always surrounded by people that are always working hard. Never stopping. Never believing that it’s over. Never saying I quit. 

And when we meet them, life forces us to say “you deserve more” 

These 3 words are powerful. They represent faith, belief, blessing, honesty – all rolled in one. 

These 3 words come without initiation. The other side rarely agrees. It’s their karma, they say. And that’s what makes the statement even more powerful. 

Compare this to “I deserve more”. That smells of entitlement, at times narcissism, almost always blind belief. 

Makes the world kneel in front of you

Make it say “you deserve more” 

Teach me

8 Aug
2015

Teach me
When you utter these 2 words, several things happen in tandem
You accept you don’t know
You accept you are willing to learn
You acknowledge the opposite person for what they know
You are ready to submit yourself

It’s unfortunate that most people end up using am entirely opposite term instead
Show me

Remain a student

Aug 5th

6 Aug
2015

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to this. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of an organization, long suppressed, finds utterance.

A celebrity’s life

31 Jul
2015

I have always maintained this. The day one acquires leadership role in an organization, the individual doesn’t have a private life anymore.
Even outside of work.

What you say
How you said it
To whom you said it
When
Where
Why
Everything is measured
Everything

And your conduct, the morals you stand for, the standard you set, defines your leadership.
Not your performance

Sense of entitlement

30 Jul
2015

As a country, we are used to being served. There have always been people around us, giving us what we want.
Maids
Helpers
Petrol pulp attendants
The kirana store that delivers, on credit

And that’s given us a false sense of entitlement
My admission is the responsibility of the government
My job is the responsibility of the school
My growth is the responsibility of the company

Guess what.
It’s not.

The sooner we realize that our life is our own responsibility, the faster we will get on our way to having a memorable life.

We are all we need

There is something magical about leaving for work early
Little traffic around
You get to see the journey in a different light, observe the signals, realize how wide the road actually is
You don’t brake often
You don’t accelerate unnecessarily
You optimize for your fuel
The stress is invisible, there is no reason for it

This is incidentally the same impact waking up early has
On your mind

Don’t let the alarm clock start your day
You do it for yourself

We grew up without money. Ma and Papa worked all their life and couldn’t make enough to save. Yet they gave us the best life they could. We went to top schools. Had a fulfilling childhood.
But I grew up looking at my parents having a life of struggle. Of unfulfilled desires.
A life where they had to trade one desire for another.
And almost always they traded their own for ours.

So I grew up hating money. It seemed to be the source of our misery. The only thing missing.

Here is the deal about hating money.
Rarely do we realize when it converts into submission. When money makes us it’s slave.
We think we are winning against it.
When it’s quite the opposite.

I learnt early on, not to respect money
Instead dismiss it, respectfully
It’s like oxygen. You need it. But you rarely stop to feel it’s presence.
You just have it.
Or you don’t

Opportunity cost is a concept meant for business. Not for human actions.
For human actions we always best the full cost. Not the incremental one.

It’s not just one more abuse
Or one more one night stand
One more act of bribery
One more act of fraud
One more act of cheating

It’s all of them put together. Because the most recent one is as grave as the first one.

Your reputation today is a reflection of what you did this morning!
Yesterday doesn’t matter

Hans Zimmer

20 Jul
2015

Do you know of him?
I didn’t till about 6 months back.

And then I realized
I have known him for a long time. For a really long time.
Because he has composed music for almost all the movies I have ever loved.

At times, you don’t have to be visible to create an impact.
Almost always, the impact thus created, is more ever lasting!

Ahead of the race

5 Jul
2015

When driving, you have two ways of staying ahead

By blocking the road for the one behind

Which is when you change lanes often, you change speeds often, you brake often, you shift gears often. Your mind is driven by the one behind. Not the road.

And occassionally you ignore some other car coming up from behind, that you werent prepared for.

OR

Or by being the fastest on the road

It doesnt matter who’s behind you. Its you who defines the race. And the goal

 

How are you ahead of the race?

 

Email this morning

Hello Ankur, rather Hello Ankur Sir..
I recently checked some pics posted by my college Indian Institute of Foreign Trade & saw CEO Groupon delivering a guest lecture. AND it turned out to be you
Pheww…To be frank i never bothered to check out your professional profile and  was talking to you like a friend who needed some advice on a weight loss regime.. Am sort of embarrassed & at the same time humbled by your modesty Sir.
Thanks a lot for replying to all those queries and I sincerely hope we would be able to stay in touch.
Why bother showing off, when humility can get you such long lasting respect, for virtually no hard work?

Opportunities. Nothing more. Just that.
Opportunities.

A career is what you make of it.
Or not

Don’t expect anyone else but you to plan your career.

Answer by Ankur Warikoo:

Because I did!
Failed JEE twice.
Infact thrice – didn't even make it through the entrance test for Masters.

And I think I have done just fine.
Have an awesome family, an unbelievably fun job, super smart colleagues, friends that care for me.
And a life worthy of responding to this question!

Why should I live after flunking the JEE on my second attempt?

I am going to take a contrarian view here and say – worse than no data is multiple sources of the same data.

Therein you have killed all objectivity that the data was meant to bring. It’s now subjective. And worse still you don’t know what it favors. Suddenly everyone is showing their version of the data point, to prove their assumptions. To get data to speak your language. And to confess.

If you torture it enough, even data will succumb

I grew up containing my emotions. It wasn’t for you to share or express what you felt towards them. It was expected that the opposite person would understand your emotions.

By age I have become wiser. It’s perhaps the most important gift I have given myself. I have lowered my emotional guard.

The next time you feel anything towards anyone. Do yourself a favor and let them know. Don’t think of what they will think of you.

I love you
I miss you
I couldn’t have done it without you
I don’t know this
You are so awesome
You amaze me
You make me jealous
You inspire me
You make me feel weak
Thank you

Find your kryptonite. Only then you will be superman!

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