P2P Lending Policy

Ha! This is as formal and official as I can get with a blog title...


You know how life works right?
You want things - you look at the money you have, if you find yourself short, you ask around for help. No, not banks. You go and ask for it from friends, family, fools et al.

I am no different.
I have often asked friends, families, fools and strangers for loans for work. And they've been kind enough to offer the loan and extend an infinite payback period - so that's cool.

Plus, I've been on the giving side as well.
However, most of them were not for work! 
I am digressing. I will come back to this.

So, when I take a loan, I track it on a document, get obsessed about it and can not get good sleep unless I've returned it. As we speak, I have to pay back 3 lakhs (a working capital loan that I took from a friend). Apart from this, I have some sundry payables to vendors and suppliers - these are not really loans but are regular transactions that I need for business, which is ok. Apart from these two categories, I have no debt (no EMIs etc).

I am digressing again. Coming to the point of this post. 

Like I said, most times when people ask me for money, it is not for business. It is for personal spends - someone wants to get married, someone wants to fix their car, someone wants to buy an appliance, someone wants to even buy a damn house. You know, personal spends. 

Of course, these are wants (not needs) and I can debate for hours to dissuade them from taking a loan to get access to these luxuries. You know, "we buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like”? That! I wish I could tell everyone this. But then, who I am to control how they live their life? 

But then these are friends and acquaintances and all that and thus I feel obligated to help! Leave the obligation on the side. I really want to help. That's the point of why I am alive! You know, my raison d'etre. To help. Enable. A billion people.

Digressing again. Coming back. 

So, for some reason, most of the loans that I give out to people (and these are friends and family), they don't come back. And it has reached this epidemic proportion that I must have given a mini-fortune away and there is no return in sight. And of course, it gets embarrassing to ask for that money after a point. And then I start avoiding meeting these friends. You know what am saying?

And more than the suffering I induce on myself from a financial loss, I feel sad. For I hate to see people around me struggle to manage their wants.

And I feel bad. To have been let down. Let down that people that I care for could not keep their promises.

And I feel bad to have lost trust and faith on the ones that did not return. Of course, these are micro-loans (3K, 10K, 50K et al) and I can live with the loss. I anyway realised long ago that money is merely an object and not the most important thing. Time is. 

And the worst part? It has made more difficult for subsequent "want-ers" to borrow money from me. Once bitten twice shy. Plus, because I want to help others and all that, I feel bad (and sad and even miserable) every time someone asks for money and I have to say no.

Well, to be honest, most times I don't have free cash flow. And the other times when I do have the cash flow, I can no longer bring myself to face disappointment again! 

But... but... it's changing now. 

Thanks to my Mastermind group. 

In the group, one of the ideas that we discussed was to create a small fund, call it a do-good kitty, and give money out from that fund and that fund only. If it's empty, you don't give the money. If it's full, you dole it out. And every time you give loan to someone, you tell them that they are being given money from this kitty and in case they don't return it by the promised date, they are affecting your ability to help others in need. And every time someone returns the money, you add it to back to the fund and it stays at great levels. Every time the loan is not returned, the kitty depletes. And depending on your life stage, you add to the kitty (say you get a bonus). 

That's it! 
Simple idea.

But counterintuitive to how I would operate. This is one of many tangible changes in my behaviour - thanks to time spent at the Mastermind group. Thanks, guys! You MUST get one! 

So, going forward, if you are going to ask for a loan from me, please do note the following.
  1. I do NOT give loan to strangers. So, if we don't know each other, please do NOT embarrass me by asking for a loan. 
  2. If you know me, please read this blog post (if you've reached this far, you have read!) Yay! 
  3. If I am able to give you a loan, please know that this is coming out from the small kitty that I have reserved for giving loans out. The Do-Good-Fund. 
  4. If I do give you a loan, please know that I would want to know a date by which you'd return it. There is no interest, of course. Do not embarrass me by offering to pay the interest. 
  5. If you are NOT sure of repaying (you don't have the intention or you are not sure of your ability to repay), please tell me beforehand. It will not affect my decision or judgement. But it will save both of us heartburn. At least I will be mentally prepared. 
  6. If you promise to repay and you do not, please note that you are affecting my ability to help others. And to me, that ability is MORE important than anything else in life! So, please help me! Please help me help more people. 
  7. Oh and while you are at it, do read https://seths.blog/2019/05/selling-insurance-to-your-sister/
That's about it! Good luck to all of us! May all of us live long and prosper! 

Saurabh Garg
17 May 2019

PS: Been working on this draft for well over a week. Since I came back from the break, words haven't been flowing and I can't seem to concentrate on work at all. With this post, I hope to break the jinx. 

The SM Detox - Apr-May 2019

So I had this work travel thing from 28th of April till the 8th of May and I decided that this would be a great opportunity to not use the phone / SM. Why? Two reasons.

A, because I am travelling for work, I have this excuse that I can't respond. So, I could get away from all the calls/emails etc.

B, I had to anyway do 12 sessions (one session is one weekend) of detox in this year. That means one session every month. And I am running terribly behind schedule on that. This was the perfect opportunity!

Side note. In case you are interested, this is what I hope to do in 2019

So, from that 10ish-day long period when I did not have Twitter or Instagram, here are some random observations. In no order...

1. Replacements.
The human mind is so amazing that in the absence of little Dopamine awards that I was getting I found alternatives.

Once I uninstalled twitter, FB and Instagram, I resorted to using LinkedIn as a Social Networking tool. No, I did not respond to messages from strangers but I would scroll the timeline to see what the world was up to. Which is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Good - I know what the world is up to. Bad - the jealousy pangs when you see that everyone else has all the money.

The other one I got hooked onto was Tik Tok. Really. It's sad to another level. I'll probably write about it soon.

And 2048 (I saw Mihir play it on his computer once and I am hooked). I did reach 4096 if that is any validation.

2. Bliss
I realised that in the absence of social media, I had no clue what was happening in the world around me. I don't read newspapers and I don't have access to a TV. So I was largely ignorant about what was happening in the world. Things like elections, IPL and others went by and I was not affected at all.

3. Sleep
Did I sleep well because I was a little less anxious? No, I did not. Not because I did not have SM. But because I was at an event.

4. Am I working more / better? 
No. I don't know why. I think this is that thing that says that most people would revert to being their laziest self if given an opportunity. I've been lazy past so many days. I need to fix it.

5. I am old. 
I realised that I am growing old fast. There was a time when I could stay up for hours at stretch and not get tired. Now, I was like a zombie. Even though I was not scrolling through my timeline, I was still up (for work) and that affected my health. It's been 2 days that I am back and I am still weak and groggy and all that.

6. It's tough to get back to the grind.
Really is. Really is. In the sense that, like I said, been two days, I am yet to start work! Work in the sense - writing, meetings, work etc.

7. I am sure there are more! But for the time being, this is it.

The lessons for next time?
That when I go on a digital detox, I ought to throw my phone out altogether. Sounds scary. But let's see if I can do that.

Chalo, that's it for the time being. Over an out.

PS: To be honest, this is not the best post that I've written. 
I just wanted to get back in the grind of writing every day - I am yet to restart the SoG series (haven't been able to think of the future of those letters), haven't written a post on 100 people to thank, haven't added a word on my next book even though I have someone who is helping me. Like I said, it's tough :( 

Let's see where this goes in a few days. 

Thank you, Suvi!

Post 10 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Suvi!
So, before the long post, here's a short one. If I could thank just 3 people in the whole wide world, Suvi would be one. That's the size of the impact that he's had on me and my life. 

Lemme start with how I met him. 
Way back in 2009,  I was doing this startup thing with Kunal and that wasn't going anywhere and we were down to the last few rupees in our accounts and we did not know what to do. I wrote an email to MDI alumni group (no I don't have the balls to go back and read what I wrote) and sought advice. Or maybe I was seeking gainful employment. I don't recall now. Of the few people that wrote back, Suvi was one. He said something like, "I run an events agency and the very nature of the business makes it tough to hire great people. You are from MDI, you must be great. Let's meet and see where it goes." Lemme reiterate. I don't know the exact words he used or what he intended. This is what I recall. 

Note. Suvi hadn't met me. He just assumed that I am great, just because I was from MDI. Branding. Affiliation. So, attach yourself to great brands. 

And I go to meet him. With the thought in my head, what is an event manager and who the fuck does events after passing out of MDI? And that too at Gurgaon, some 52 KMs one way from where my parents live/lived. I told myself that Suvi's been kind enough to respond to my email. Lemme go meet him and then come back. You know, formality.

Note. Always, always, always respect what others do for you. Especially if they are strangers. 

I did not know I was gonna be so wrong. 

My first memory of him is that he's in office, in this conference room, yelling on some client (I now know who that client was) about the client trying to negotiate a smaller fee for a project. I remember Suvi telling the client curtly, in Hindi, that he is a professional and he will charge a certain fee for a project to be worth his time. The client could choose to work with him. Or can go find alternative event managers. And then he hung up, turned to me and politely asked, "samosa khaega?

And he had me at Samosa.

Not a fancy salary, not a promise of a great future. But a measly Samosa. At 7 PM. In an office in one of the bylanes of Udyog Vihar in Gurgaon. 

That one Samosa led to me working for Suvi for about 4 years (till 2014 I think) and some freelance gigs post that (the last one was a year or so ago I think). In these 4 years and beyond, I have seen him at the highest highs when the event goes like clockwork and at the deepest lows when nothing seems to be working at an event! Yeah, even the masters have an off day.

And I have travelled the world (some 25 countries if not more) with him. From the sand dunes in Dubai to the top of the Whistler mountains, from posh parties at LKF to bar hopping at the walking streets all over Thailand, from the upcoming towns of India like Surat and Cochin and others to cultural capitals of the world like Paris and Budapest and others. From large hotels on the beaches of Goa to tiny rooms near the Coral Reef at Cairns. I have been so fortunate to have immersed in so many vivid experiences and learned from so many diverse cultures. And I have gained the experience that no school could ever teach me!

Note. If you are a 20-year old, go work for something that makes you travel like mad. It's the best education ever.

And I have been at the backstage with celebrities, athletes, businessmen, motivational speakers, talent agents, artists and others. And I have seen their human side. I have seen them shake at the prospect of addressing a crowd, even though their day job is to motivate people. I have seen insecurities in their otherwise stoic countenance (who uses words like these?). I have seen the idea of my heroes getting shattered. And I have found respect for people that I would typically ignore. You know, how some people are invisible?

And most importantly, I learned EVERYTHING I know about the business of events from Suvi. And because of Suvi's patronage, I've been able to create C4E and all the aspirations that I have with it (for the record, C4E will NOT end as just an event agency - we would be a full-stack entertainment company). 

So, thank you, Suvi.
For everything. 

Thank you for being that patient teacher to a kid who's always chasing the next shiny thing. I remember the times when I've fought with you for tiny things like sharing a room with an unknown crew member. And I remember the times when I let go of all emotions and let you charter the course of my career with you. As I look back, I can recall the tantrums I'd thrown. I am surprised that you didn't throw me out!

Thank you for giving me a long leash that has allowed me to wander to the end of the world and come back richer and smarter and wiser (I hope).

Thank you for taking me under your wings, even though I had no clue what the events business was and yet you allowed me to make mistakes. Mistakes like losing money for the company, getting rude with the clients and often taking risky bets. And each time, Suvi, you told me to take a lesson and move on. In fact, thanks to this learning that has been ingrained in me, I try and offer an even longer leash to people who've chosen to put their faith in me and chosen to work with me.

Note. In life, if you find a boat that is going fast and going for the greatest ocean, attach yourself to it. Do whatever it takes to be a part. 

In fact, thanks to you, Suvi (and Gravity), I have met some of the most important people in my life. I don't know how to make a list but it would include people like, in no order, Dipanker, Renu Maam, Sanjiv, Shailendra, Pradeep, Meghna, Anna, Praveen, Komal, Sonu, Tinku, Girish, Sandeep, Rishi, Piyush, Deepali, Ashu, Solo, Nikhil and so many more. At a point, I was working with about 100 people on a regular basis and I know I have missed scores of names - these were just from the top of my head. All these people started as colleagues, suppliers, clients, vendors and others. And eventually became friends. With time, most have drifted away but thank God I remain friends with a handful! But then, I cherish the time I spent with each of them and once in a while I do reminisce about the good old days! 

Thanks to Suvi, I got access to more people that were hoping to hire event managers. Vijesh met me because he wanted an event manager for an event. Shatrujeet wanted to talk to me for an event. Harshit is friends with me because he wrote into an event manager, aka me! RaJ wanted something to do with events and met me. C4E happened because Rajesh wanted someone to do a freelance event for him. There are many more doors that have opened for me because I was with Suvi.

Thanks to Gravity, I could make friends with other professionals in the events business and pick their brains.

Thanks to time at Gravity, I could teach at EMDI. Teaching is a big big theme for me in life. And if not for Gravity I wouldn't be able to take a step in the direction. I would have remained oblivious to my limitations as a teacher. And thus, try and become better!

Note: If you can, teach. Has to be among the most humbling and enriching experiences ever. 

Phew! I am tired of this note. The list of things that Gravity and Suvi did to me is literally endless. The impact that Suvi has had on me is immeasurable. 

I want to end this by saying Thank you. For everything. And for the good times and the bad. For the flowers and the brickbats.

Thank you, Suvi!
Love you to bits. 

That's about it. And a lot at the same time :).

Thank you, Suvi. I shall remain indebted to you for life. 

Regards,
SG

Others posts in this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

PS: Wrote this the morning after an event that, let's just say, wasn't my best. Thing is, I am emotionally attached to my work and every project that does not do well, I get home sad, depressed, tired, even hurt. When I realised that the project wasn't going the way it should have been, of all the people in the world, I thought of Suvi! That's the kind of impact he's had on my thinking, my life and how I work. And now that I have seen some other managers, I don't think I'd ever want to be anyone else, but Suvi's protégé. If there is a role like that :) 

Oh, and Suvi told this to Dipanker once, that after an event, once you sit in the car to go home, you must forget what happened at the event - if it were great, good for you; if it were fuckall, good for you. You need to get detached. You must leave the event behind at the venue. 

If not for this lesson, I would get drowned in the misery and fell down a rabbit hole of self-doubt!

PPS: Someone told that while these thank you notes are great, there has to be a tangible lesson, a takeaway for the reader. 
I like the idea. I have tried to insert some notes in between the text. Those are in italics and are titled "note." Do revisit those. 

Oh, and one large thing that I want you to take away from Suvi's impact on my life is that often, just a handful of people will play a disproportionately large role in shaping your life. This could be because they take an active interest in your life. Or it could be because they give you opportunities that you otherwise would not get. Or it could be the mere fact that you spent time with them and picked things as you went along.

You ought to find those people. And put your faith in those. Live is way too long for you to get attached to your ego. No one is self-made. No one has "done it by himself". Anyway, we are stuck on this Pale Blue Dot for a speck of time. Let go of aham and see the magic unfold.   

And how do you find such people? You may not be able to pinpoint who these people are but try and spot patterns - who takes an active interest in your career? Who makes you feel comfortable when you talk to them? Who gives you a disproportionately large space of their mind? Who is generous without expecting anything in return? Who is always there to help you? You know what am saying? 

Thank you, Vijesh!

Post 9 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Vijesh!
Vijesh Sharma. Yet another friend, philosopher, senior from MDI that I am very grateful to have access to.

I first met Vijesh when I was working at Gravity.
He needed someone to organise his 8th birthday party. Really. 8th. I gave him some inputs and he thought they were thoughtful and interesting. From there on started this series of interactions, that has made my life tangibly better. Each interaction has been a learning experience. And every time I speak with Vijesh, I get out of the room with tons of optimism, hope, positive energy and enthusiasm. The world looks like a great place and I want to go out and win it all!

Thank you, Vijesh for being the North Star.

One thing that I will never forget from interactions with Vijesh? 
Vijesh and I were in Dubai last year - I was on a break from life and work and Vijesh was participating in some exhibition. After a long day, we were sitting in a hotel lobby and talking about things.

As it happens often when I speak to Vijesh, the conversation moved to life purpose and all that. And he asked, what do you want to do in life? And I blurted something like, "I want to work on the cutting edge. I want to create new things that make the world a better place". I honestly don't recall what I said but it would be in this zone.

Vijesh asked me, "Where do you think these things exist?"

I said, "Not in India for sure. Maybe Silicon Valley."

Vijesh said, "I am going to make you an offer and I will make it one time only. And I will never revisit again. You can either take it or leave it." He then said, "If you have the balls, leave everything and move to the US of A today. Now. I will pay for the flight. You already have the visa. Go figure. Spend 3 months, 6 months, hustle and see where you end."

I was speechless. I tried to stutter things like rationality, parents, responsibilities and all that. I even said lemme sleep over it and take a more patient and grounded decision. Vijesh shut me up by saying that time is running out and if you can't decide where you want to be, soon, you would have lost out. He said that by thinking too much you let your gut lose to reason. And reason never ever moved the world forward!

Any guesses what I chose? 

The greatest lesson I've learnt from him?
He said the way someone treats a person (could be any person) is EXACTLY the way that person will treat you. You may be the best friend, the greatest employee, a neighbour, a stranger or whatever. And rather than looking at patterns of great behaviour and all that, look for anomalies. Look for exceptions.

Lemme give an example. Let's take this hypothetical person, Ms Ganga. You know, most days Ms Ganga is the kindest human being ever. And you know that on her bad days, Ganga tends to resort to convenient lies. And you are ok with it. There are ups and downs! And here's the lesson. You have to know that while she could be your best friend, at some point in time she would lie to you as well! To make her life convenient and easy.

You ought to try and spot patterns. Of predictable behaviour and of exceptions. You ought to know that the way the other person operates with others, is the same way s/he will operate with you.

And the other thing, become a person with zero anomalies. Your behaviour has to be so consistent, so predictable that even a stranger can vouch for it! It has to become your brand! That!

Thing is, with each interaction that I've had in life, I have seen this one tip, one lesson, one prophecy from Vijesh proving to be true time and again! Long-term partners have cheated on me. Romantic interests have swayed. And of course, there are positives. Kind people have showered me with love and affection and attention.

I don't think I can ever forget this lesson. I just hope that I become the kind of person that everyone wants to get into engagement with.

Thank you, Vijesh for this. And thank you for all the mindspace, help and inputs. And apologies for not taking up the offer of the lifetime. I hope I do reach the cutting edge, in my own way :)

Wish you all the best :)

With all respect,
Saurabh Garg

Others posts in this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

PS: Posting after a few days. Which is ok. As long as I reach at least 100 thank yous. 

Thank you, Ashish!

Post 7 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Ashish
Ashish Biswas is a filmmaker (some of his work is on Vimeo) and storyteller. And is also an MDI Gurgaon Alumni and that's how I know Ashish (he was a senior at college). And this is one of those million things that I am thankful to MDI for. If you can attend a business school, please do. The people that you meet there will add so much to your life that you would come out a changed person. 

Coming to Ashish. So, he was a year senior at MDI and thus we were on a first name basis.

Lemme narrate an incident. This goes back almost 10 years, if not more. There was this time when Amit (Sharma, a classmate from MDI) and I were in Mumbai and we were really struggling to balance our ambition and reality.

Reality - he and I were in jobs that paid ok, was ok in terms of work but it was far far from the kind of stories we wanted to tell. I don't remember where was Amit but I was either with GE or with CLA or with Gravity.

Ambition - tell stories that made ordinary people into heroes and gave the message of hope and all that.

To both of us (Amit and I), Ashish was someone who was living it up. He had quit his cushy job to "struggle" and make films. And he was the only person we knew who was doing anything that was remotely related to things we wanted to work on.

So we met him at the rooftop canteen of a post-production studio (I still remember it was at the Gold's Gym building at Pali - that time there was no Gold's Gym) and while I don't remember the specifics, I remember a thing that Ashish told me. After all these years, that thing has stayed with me till date. He said, "mehnat karega to there is no way you will not reach where you want to reach."

This is a way too polished version, to be honest. He had used some expletives that only he can muster. But you get the gist.

The funny thing is that I have heard this from parents, teachers, strangers, neighbours, their pets, random stranger on the street, books, motivational speakers and even Shahrukh Khan. But when it came from Ashish, it hit home. To a point that it has stayed with me till this date. There are times when I am sad and I don't know what to do and I want to cry and I want to walk up a mountain to scream my lungs out in despair and all that. And that's when I am reminded of this simple lesson. Fuck as I write this, I can recall what he was eating. A veg thali with some deep fried papad. Bisu, veg thali, papad. Funny how our brains work!

So yeah, thank you, Ashish, for the lesson that I have NOT forgotten till date.

Oh, the other thing that I took away from you that day (and continue to hold dear) is that you've taught me to chase my dreams by being an example that I could emulate. I have seen you through your ups and downs and highs and lows. You've held your head high when you were down. And you've kept your doors open when you are at a place of comfort. I hope when I reach where you are, I remain as humble and as helpful.

Thank you for all the mindspace, help and inputs.

Wish you all the best :)

With all respect,
Saurabh Garg
Class of 2006

Others posts in this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Housekeeping.
I don't think I can keep up with one post a day. So, I am dropping the charade of even trying. However, I do need an endpoint. So, I will endeavour to do these before I go for Vipassana (around September). I have about 170 days. Manageable? Any bets? 

Hello, Serendipitous Adventures in Mumbai.

So, I recently read this post about how to maximize serendipity. It is a fascinating read - the kinds that I wish I had written. Each word is deep, insightful and actionable. Do read the post. And please come back to this page once you’ve read.

Point 2 on this post advises you to be a connector. The author says he hosts intimate events where he invites passionate, hyper-curious individuals and they meet often for a day of action and adventure. Here’s a screen grab from the post.


This got me thinking, why not do the same in Mumbai, a place where I am located? 
And I put this on twitter
Experiment. If you are in #Mumbai and are the "curious" kinds, full of energy, want to learn new things, experiment, grow better and know more people, let's get together and we'd do something interesting. In? DM me. Limited to 8 people. 1 is me. So 7 more. #RTpls

And while I did get some people interested in the meetup, everyone asked for details. 
And thus, here are some.

What I propose. 
  1. Create a meetup group of "curious" people that love to learn "new things" and want to know more people. 
  2. We try to get people from across age groups, genders, interest areas and all that. The intent is to get a variety of opinion and thought. 
  3. We meet once a month or so (I don't know if I want to structure it rigidly). 
  4. At each meetup, we have an agenda. Say in the first meetup, all of us goto a Salsa workshop (I suck at dance - I have two left feet), followed by a brunch at some indie chef. And then end the day with a theatre or something. In the next meetup, we could go for a trek or play football or get together for clubbing. Of course, this is not defined. The itinerary gets decided by the attendees prior to the meetup. 
  5. Each activity that we do must be a group activity that is novel for most participants. For example, theatre is novel for me. And I am sure I am not alone. 
  6. If you "sign up", while you are not obligated to attend every meetup, you ought to respect time and attention for others. Once you say you are in on a certain date, please do show up :)
  7. No fees. We split the cost of the "adventure" among attendees. 
  8. I plan to do the first meetup in the next 15 days. Probably on the weekend of 20th - 21st April.

These are the things that I know as of now. 
Of course, early days. 
If you are interested in this, let's build this together?  

And truth be told, I don't know where this would go or if I would get enough people to run this experiment. And in case I do get the people, I don't know if I would be successful at running this. But then, what's the worst that could happen? 
Let's try? 
If you are in, DM me on twitter and let's take it from there. 

Oh, while I am not sure of what all we could evolve into, I am very sure of things that we will NOT be. Here's a list. 
  • We are not a dating platform. You like someone in the group, great! But please do not come with the intention of dating. There are way too many other platforms for that. 
  • We are not an opportunity to paddle MLM goodies. 
  • This is NOT business networking. This is an opportunity to meet interesting people IRL. 
That's for the time being. 
Could I cover anything else? 

One more thing. I call this Serendipitous Adventures in Mumbai. Game? 

Thank you, Hemant!

Post 7 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.
Thank you, Hemant
Hemant Gupta runs Am Conscious Labs where in his words, "he is working to find synergy in ancient wisdom and modern science and it’s relevance in the current political-economic-social spectrum." He also runs social experiments like Thank You, India and represents the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute in India.

And he is a friend, advisor, philosopher, guide, client, critic, advocate, vendor and a mentor.

 Hemant is easily one of the top five people that I would want to stay in touch with for the rest of my life.

There are a million things that I want to thank Hemant for. Here is a list, in no order.
  1. Thank you, for giving me an opportunity to work when I needed the word and the money the most. This was when you were working on FIA and you needed a product manager. 
  2. Thank you, for being around as a counsellor when I had to make tough decisions. There are way too many instances to list here. Thank you for your time and attention - two most important (and limited) assets that we humans have! 
  3. Thank you, for teaching me how to be mindful while working, while in relationships, while I am with strangers. And most importantly, when I am with myself. From things as complicated as how to enjoy that glass of water to as simple as maintaining decorum while working, your patience with me has been beyond imagination. 
  4. Thank you for pointing out my flaws in as many words. And thanks to your discourses on mindfulness, I could take your inputs with equanimity and work on those. 
  5. Thank you for your words and puns and buns and rhymes and reasons and two by twos and millions by billions and... :D 
  6. Thank you for all your daily emails. I learn a new thing each day. 
  7. Thank you for being that bouncing board on which I have shared a few hundred (if not thousands) ideas already. Thank you for all the inputs (even though I may have disagreed with you on a lot of those). And thank you so much for your belief in me and the idea of me. I promise that someday I will increase my hit rate to a number that you would be proud of. 
  8. Thank you for being my advocate and pushing my agenda at places that I would have never been able to reach by myself. Thank you for recommending me and introducing me to so many interesting people. I believe in the power of loose connections and you have been instrumental in helping me create so many of these! 
Hemant, as I end this, heartfelt thank you for all that you've done for me. I wish you the best for all your meandering and research and mission. As a soldier, I stand by you and I am available for you anytime you may need me. 

And like you like to say, blissfully, I remain. 

Others posts in this series: 12345, 6 

PS: When I started this project, I thought I would write one note every day. And did exactly that for the first 6 days. I missed writing and posting on Sunday. I don't have an excuse. I got lazy. Will try to not miss this again. Thanks for reading!

Thank you, RaJ!

Post 6 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Raj
I consider myself a destiny's child. Good things happen to me, without me asking for them. Of course, there are times when it takes time for those things to happen, but they do happen. And at times when I am totally unprepared for those. Case in point? Raj RaJ Kurup, founder of Creativeland Asia, an advertising agency.

So this is back in 2007. I had put in my papers at GE and I had no clue what to do (not that I know now but back then I was even more clueless). I had seen some great ads (this, this and this) and back then I thought making ads would be something that could be exciting. I went to a placement consultant and asked her to get me interviews with some. She got me two - one with Raj and the other with Law & Kenneth. From what I recall, both accepted me and Raj offered me more money. Plus he was cooler for sure. That chance meeting with him and the decision to join him as one of his first employees turned out to be among the best decisions of my life.

In the two years I spent with him, I learnt EVERYTHING I know about the business of communication. Each day was fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, full of learning and more. There was this constant amazement. I was on the steepest learning curve of my life. Apart from his brilliance, Raj had assembled this team of great people, each a master of their craft. Each interaction with the team at CLA was enriching. Each day I left the office a better person, richer with knowledge and more aware of the world. And I tap-danced to the office most days.

I spent exactly two years with him and I quit him to go back to Delhi and start something of my own. It's ironic that Raj was himself responsible for feeding me with all the ambition that made me want to have more than what Raj paid me and quit working for him.

Of course, with time, life moved on. But at each workplace I have been to since I have merely applied things that Raj and team taught me. Raj gave me the best foundation that I could expect to get and I merely built on top of that. Gravity allowed me to learn from practical experience. Social Wavelength added another dimension to what I knew. VISCOMM / C4E gave me, as Redbull will say, wings. But all of it started with interactions with Raj and CLA.

If not for Raj, I wouldn't be doing what I am doing right now. Life would have taken a different trajectory for sure - I don't know for good or bad.

As I end this, I think I was extremely lucky to have met Raj at a time when I needed someone to take an active interest in me and help me grow as an individual. Raj did exactly that. I am thankful and indebted to him for this. In fact, each day I try to pay it forward by trying to find some young people that I can mentor. Are you one? Lemme know and let's talk :)

Lastly, I think the greatest compliment that I can give Raj (or anyone else for that matter is), if I could turn back time, I would not quit Raj.

Thank you, Raj. Good luck with everything you do.

Others posts in this series: 1234, 5

PS: Lately Raj hasn't been in the news for the right reasons. I am not sure how to comment on it but the respect I have for his work ethic and ambition remain intact.

Thank you, Rana Sir!

Post 5 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Rana Sir!
I don't know how to introduce Rana Sir. Apart from his work, he is a mentor and a bounding board to I think at least a 100 people. I am lucky to be one of those 100. Lucky would be an understatement. There is no one else who's opinion I hold higher. 

Here's a story from my first EVER meeting with him. First ever. He did not know who I was and what I was capable of. And he definitely did not know if he'd meet me again. I met him at Oberoi Mall for a coffee or something. I was trying to get my startup to work, I had this book (which became The Nidhi Kapoor Story) and I was going through this really tough time personally and professionally. I needed a guardian to tell me that things would be alright and I just needed to continue to walk. 

And sir did exactly that. Without me telling him that I was seeking an answer like that. In fact, he was so good, such great at making conversations that it felt as if I was the only one talking. I think, in the meeting that lasted an hour or so, I would have spoken for about 58 minutes. The other 2 were Rana Sir asking me questions that I was trying to respond to. 

Ok, I am digressing.

At some point, he asked me what I was up to. This is how that thread went on...

RB: So what do you do when you are not worrying, young man (till date, he calls me a young man). 
SG: Sir, am trying to write a book!

RB: Book! Wow! What kind of book is it? 
SG: Sir, it's a Bollywood crime fiction. An actress gets murdered and there are these cops that are trying to chase the killers. 

RB: Sounds interesting. Is it done? 
SG: No sir. I am at some 35K words and I need at least 55K more to go. 

RB: And when do you plan to get those done? 
SG: Um... I am not sure. I am at that phase in the book where I am not sure if I want to work on it. I am thinking I will quit it midway and think of something else. 

RB (without missing a beat): Ok, and how much do you want to price it at? 
SG: Sir, I think 99 bucks. That's what most first time writers get for their books. 

Again, without missing a beat, he flipped his wallet out. Took a 100 rupee note, handed it to me and said, "Young man, you will finish the book and then you will get me the first copy of the book. This is the advance"

And tears welled in my eyes when that happened. 

He did this to me in our first meeting. It dawned onto me that he is special and I MUST get him to spend more time with me. And I did whatever it took to get him to give me his time. To date, I continue to hound him for his time and often he can't respond. But whenever he can, he is generous and affectionate. 

Can I also say that Rana Sir is one of those few people that has made this hard city of Mumbai a tad more tolerable? And just for that, I can't stop thanking him! And I can safely say that if not for Rana Bawa, the book would NOT have happened. And I would have been a far different person than what I am right now. 

Thank you, Rana Sir. For your time. And for your advance. And for all the support. As promised I will do whatever it takes to get to MCA, 100 crores and 120 years! 

Others posts in this series: 1234

PS: Fast forward a few months (after the first meeting with Rana Sir). I actually finished writing the book and got it published. And when I got the first preview copies, I went to his office at midnight and delivered the copy that he had ordered. 

And, here is a page from the acknowledgements part of #tnks. 

Shot from my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story (website
In life, if you meet some guy called Rana Bawa (its a very uncommon name), please get him on your side. Over and out for the day.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?