Untitled / 11 Feb 2018

One of those posts where I ramble without an agenda. While I decided that I will do these on sgEchoChamber, I am doing this here because I want to maximise the odds of serendipity. How? Topic for a different post. This one, read at your peril. 

Last night two few days back, I wrote this open letter to Steve Jobs. While I havent been ridiculed by anyone for it, yet, while I was thinking about it, when I re-read it, I was like, the fuck dude. I want whatever you are tripping on! Maal must be so good. No?

Thing is, I need to know that life does not work like that. You know that song? The Bittersweet Symphony? You know what it says? "You're slave to money and then you die." That. All you do is try to make ends meet. Everything else is an illusion. Sooner I get that in my head, better it is.

I may want to change the world and make a dent and impact lives and inspire people and all that but fact of the matter is, at this day, I am nothing but an epitome of mediocrity. For the 35 years that I've been here, what is that one thing that I can be super-proud of? Nothing!

I am not successful by any metric -- societal (dont have a family, dont own a house, dont own a car, bank balance runs in low 5-figures, both my companies are small tiny etc), personal (I am unhealthy, get frequent mood swings, have less friends than fingers on my hands etc), evolutionary (dont plan to procreate, I am short, bald etc). All I am is a middle-aged man trapped among voices in my head that bounce around and get louder by the day. The kinds that makes people delusional. Delusional. Thats the word that defines me.

Wait. I may not be that either. The ones that are delusional actually have blind faith in their capabilities and they actually do great things. I dont. I am waddling in mediocrity. And the worst part is that I feel helpless about it. I want to change things but I cant. I am stuck! I think I need more resources - time, talent, people etc. How do I get those? May be if I had money to put in?

Money, Mr. Garg, cant be the root! There has to be more.

I mean I dont know. There are people who start from scratch and zero money and do amazing things. Most startup guys are in this category. They are driven and they keep at it till they make money. Then I know of people who are paupers and somehow get married to rich heiresses and then build their empire on top of the largess that they get from the family (of course they are good and know what to do with that money). Then there are people who get lucky (seated next to a big dude in the plane, etc). And there are people that inherit legacies and then they work hard to make em larger. And finally, there are people like Saul, who build churches atop rocks create empires on top of crimes. Well, not crime as in crime but something that the society would frown upon!

Irrespective of the route they take, people do amazing things. So amazing that the world takes a note. And their work impacts people around them. And in most cases, people away from them. Here's a slide that I use when I speak to prospective hires, investors, partners and others (P.S. this is an always WIP deck and hence this is a WIP slide).


EACH one has had impact on more than just their immediate circle. Hope you get the drift. Drift reminds me that am drifting.

Coming back.

The point is, this post is full of self-doubt and self-flagellation and all that. Which is ok I think. Once in a while I need to be grounded as well. Like someone once told me, "dar mujhe sachet rakhta hai" (fear keeps me aware). Posts like these allow me aware. And make me take a break and reflect and think.

Hopefully, someday, the clouds will part and sun will shine through. And as they say, someday all this will make sense. May be it will not. May be it will remain one of those unfinished things that I will take to my grave? May be I will get to it in 2881 days? Who knows.

What I know is, I ought to keep walking.

Dear Steve,

A friend asked me, "if you were to write to Elon Musk about your aspirations and ambitions and what you want to do in life, how would you?"

This blogpost is in response to that. But before that, few caveats.
  • I will NOT write to Elon. Rather, I would email Steve. Thing is, the outcome and vision and purpose-driven approach of Elon is fascinating and exciting. But Steve, the legend, is what is inspiring. I love the fact that he was a hustler (compared to an Elon that is a tinkerer). 
  • I'd assume that ambition is personal, more tangible. And aspiration is little more altruist. Read more here
So, here's the letter. 

Dear Steve,

Thank you.

For being who you were are. And being an inspiration that makes me want to do more and make that dent. Or ding. Or whatever.

It is you who taught me that our actions must create consequences. Consequences that are larger than self. Larger than our imagination.

It's by following you (and your actions and your words) over the years that I have understood my limitations. And I have found ways and means to overcome those limitations. I still suck at getting things done but I am getting there. All thanks to you.

Thanks to you, I know that the only thing that limits us, is our imagination. You taught me how to think big. You taught me to take tiny steps and keep at it till you reach there. You showed me the power of setting lofty goals and challenging what we thought was possible. Thank you, Steve.

Steve, I write to you to seek a favour. Will you please indulge me? I want to talk about what my aspirations are. And I want to talk about my ambitions and what I want to do in life.

Steve, when I look at the world around me, I see so much potential getting wasted in frivolous things. Things that dont add up. Things that dont add value. Things that dont create. Lemme give you an example. Today, I was coming back from work in a train and I saw a young couple arguing about a mobile game. And they were stuck on the game for the 20 minutes it took the train to reach my destination. And they werent happy. What if they could use that time to learn a new thing (by seeing a TED talk, or by reading a book or by watching a tutorial or something). Or at least debate about how they's plan their finances!

The world would be such a better place if that happened.

You know that's what I want to work on. Make people more aware about our limited time here. You talked about in your Stanford address. I was lucky to have seen it. Someone needs to talk to them as well. And inspire them to do more with their time. Of course someone may argue that its all pointless (we die, our kids die, our kids's kids and the world will eventually come to an end and all that we stand for, all that we create will amount to nothing) but I know that while we are alive, when people are creating, they are lost in the work. They get in the flow and the flow is the closest that it comes to Nirvana. The little things that make life miserable cease to exist when you are creating. Reminds you to Carl's Pale Blue Dot.

Life suddenly starts looking so much better. No?

This, Steve, is my aspiration. This is what I really want to do. Its fuzzy AF. The fuzziest thing that I've ever thought about. But I believe that there's merit. 

And what is my ambition?

I want to push limits.

Physical, mental, emotional. And at other levels that us humans can experience.

I know that I am not sorted in the head. There are times when I am elated that I am jumping with joy for no reason and there are times when I so sad that I just want to sleep. But Steve, most days when I wake up, the world does look like a great, inspiring place. Life looks like a "journey" that is worth taking. There are so many people doing so many things that you thought humans were incapable of. Look at Elon. Wait. Look at Wright Brothers or whoever made the first aircraft. They allowed us to fly. Look at Elon. He will not rest till he has colonised Mars!

While I want to push limits, Steve, I know that I am a drifter. I've never had the clarity in terms of where I want to end up. I also know that I dont have one specific talent that I can dig at till I make that dent. I am a proverbial Jack of all trades and I am happy being one. Thing is, I love this drifting. I love that I can walk the surface of a lot of disciplines. I know this is best suited for someone with a lot of money. But its ok. I will make my money. Ok, I am drifting while writing the letter. Coming back. Steve I want to push limits and in the process, inspire others.

In fact, lately, I have started to realise that I get immense happiness and satisfaction and I sleep well at night when I am able to inspire others. And help others. And enable others. Enabling. Thats where the Gold is. Thats what I want to do. Enable.

Now enabling is too broad. If I were to put enabling in a box, I'd say I want to enable a billion people to live better lives.

Billion people. 
Better Lives. 

And how do I define better? Well, better means that if they are poor, I enable them to live in relative comfort and happiness. If they are unhappy, I put on the red ball on my nose and dance for them. If they need access to opportunities, I want to give them that. If they need  inspiration to do more, I want to inspire them.

I want to be the thing, the jester, the platform that enables people to be better. I hope you get the drift. 

One of the ways in which I can do this, is by doing amazing things and by doing em so well that I inspire people. To do more. To #bebetter. And to #livebetter, and #workbetter.

So, my second aspiration, if I may have more than one, is to make the world a better place. And do it by enabling people to be better versions of themselves. And while I become the enabler, my life (where I achieve a set of seemingly super-tough goals -- each goal must push human limits, such as, make a billion dollars, run a marathon in less than 4 hours, live till 120 and more) and my actions and my conduct become a source of inspiration. Just like your life was, Steve.

Thats about it I guess. Phew.

Thanks for reading.

Your's Faithfully,
Saurabh Garg

The Urban Nomads

So, yesterday day before few days ago at a cruise ship in HCMC, we were doing an event for the Indian offices for a UK based company. And one of the acts was a Filipino band that had two singers, one of them a Cuban.

Picture this. Retro English pop. In Vietnam. Arranged by a French woman who works for a company owned by an American. Artists from Cuba and Philippines. For guests from India and UK.

I dont even know how many countries is that. But I do know one thing. The mobility and opportunities that you have if you are an artist and are talented!

Thing is, I think that talent allows you to live wherever you wish to. And that is such a fascinating life to have!!

You know what am saying? You can choose a country you wish to live in. If you are talented enough, you can make enough to pay for your bills, and then some more. You can make friends that are not just accidental. You can chase your craft. You can hone it while you earn your bread by performing. You can see sex and cash in action. You know, you happen to things, rather than things happening to you!

Lemme park the talent bit for a while and drift.

***

There is this thing called the Urban Nomad. Its essentially refers to people that live in urban locales and yet are not tethered to a particular location. These people dont own anything that ties them down to one place (immovable assets, large families, a job that requires you to goto office everyday etc etc). You are free to move across borders and all that. And these people are skilled in one particular discipline that is in demand across borders (painters, photographers etc) and thus they can fend for themselves. Oh, and modern world is introducing lot more professions that allow you to become an urban nomad. Think of those bloggers, language tutors, Yoga instructors, chefs, entertainers and more.

And why am I talking about this? Because I have had this fascination with being an urban nomad and at various times in life I have thought of multiple ways in which I could become one. At different points in time, I have considered becoming a designer, a coder, a photographer, a writer, a yoga instructor, an English language teacher and / or more (assuming I can be all of these).

But then I've, sort of, held back myself for three reasons.

A, I know I am way too good to be cast in just one mould (and at the same time, not that good that I am in top 1%ile of any). This means that its in my karma to be never satisfied. I will run from one thing to another and my life will be defined by "chase" rather than "destination."

B. I've wanted / still want a luxurious life for myself. Ok, not luxurious but abundant life. Where I dont have to think for 5 months (or wait for a stupid cashback scheme) to buy an iPhone X (PS: RG gifted me one and I couldn't say no. Thank you, sir). Where I know I can travel business class without any fear (of poverty) or guilt (of splurging when my parents dont even travel in the plane). Where I know I have provided for enough to discharge my duties as a son and a brother and a friend. Where I know that if I were to take off, people would be happy and will not miss me. There is more. But I am sure you get the drift.

C. I dont want to live as someone who came, saw, enjoyed and left. My epitaph has to mean something. I want to give back. I want to pay it forward. I want to make an impact. And that can not happen if I an urban nomad, drifting from one place to another and one opportunity to another.

So yeah. I have wanted to travel the world and see the sights and soak in the experiences and meet new people and taste the different flavours that the world has to offer and talk to new people and learn all I could and all that. But then I've held back.

***

Coming back. This That evening at the boat where I saw that Cuban lady, the painful memories of the time when I wanted to move out of the country came back rushing to me. To the extent that my heart actually started aching. And ache as in ache. Like I had to sit down and sip on a glass of water.

But then, I realised that am not talented enough to chase nomadic life. Neither am I someone who has what it takes to hold onto a stable job that can pay me well enough to provide for my family. And I am miles away from the impact. So, I cant. And I need to accept it and put this on the list of things that I could not do (other things include play Cricket for India).

Also, I am reminded of this wonderful post by one of the giants that I stand on the shoulders of, Jan Chipchase. He recently wrote about moving to a new place, a new country. He says if you stop learning, you become obsolete and the best way to continue to learn is to move to a place that challenges you and makes you learn. And he says that the hardest part is making the decision.

For me, I think thats where it is. The #lifeGoal.

I want to be a nomad. I want to explore the world. Learn new things and make the fucking dent. But then, how do I...  leave my family behind? run away from my "responsibilities"? do this at this ripe old age of 35? Etc.

Any ideas?

Oh, I believe that I am one of those birds that hates to be caged!

From Shawhank

P.S.: One of the ways in which I can do this is by becoming a famous author. That allows me to make an impact (I will have an audience), travel (to talk about my book, on book tours etc) and provide for my responsibilities (royalty etc). But then odds of getting successful as an author as tiny as me hitting a royal flush on my first hand at the WSOP ME (whenever I get to it). 

On failing. And getting back up.

As the first month of 2018 is officially over, here's a time to look back. Without trying to link back to posts and give evidence of promises, here is a list of things that I failed (and won) at, #in2018.

In no order,

A. I decided to take up the 2019in2018 challenge. Was on it for a few days in the beginning of the year but with time I lost the plot.

I want to end the year at 30" and its going to take superhuman effort from here on. A large part of it will be diet. And a smaller part (not so small) will be working out. I had thought that I will start with daily walks, easing into jogs and then eventually a run. Ending in an attempt at HM. But January has been disappointing. Lets see whats in store for Feb.

B. A few people I know IRL went and came back from JLF. And their twitter feeds tell me that as someone who's interested in the writing scene, I ought to be there. To be honest, not sure if I want to be on the stage at all the litfests around the world but would love to have an opportunity to be at a place where my books are sold.

No, I dont want fame. I merely want to tell stories, create time to write and of course make money. I am ok if my books get published under a pseudonym and all I get is royalties. Actually, thats an idea there. Need to think more.

Back to the point. I want to get the second book out. And I want to get #BetterYou out this year. Both are stuck. Because I dont have time to work on em. And why do I not have the time? Because I am stuck in the rut :(.

Ok. Cribbing.

Point is, need to get back to writing.

C. I wanted to work on my waning mental faculty. For the same, I wanted to start with these app-based games that apparently train the brain. And, I've been able to more or less do this!

Yay!

So, a win. Phew.

Been playing on Peak and havent missed too many days. And there's a marked improvement in my scores. May be I am getting used to the games that Peak makes me play. May be I am actually improving. Irrespective. A win. Something that is needed to create habits (you know, the trigger, action, reward triad?)

D. I had started posting a pic a day on my instagram last year.  It went well for a few days and then I lost the plot. All those things that they say that make habits if you do something for 21 days? Yawn.

I need to restart it. For two reasons. One, it allowed me to stay curious about the world around me. And, two, it made me a better photographer and a storyteller. Every pic I uploaded, I would think about what the pic meant to me and I would be forced to pen my thoughts bout em.

Did you follow the thread? You want to tell me what you liked about it most?

Just realised that I still have issues with means or meant. Present tense, past tense and all other tenses. Need to fix em. Where do I start? 

E. I dont know if I have spoken about this earlier but I've been tracking each day of my life since (well, most days) 23 May 2017. I started with a daily log of work and all and with time I have expanded it and most days I track 32 variables. Starting 26 Jan 2018, I have started tracking what I eat. And since day before I've started tracking some 20 other tiny things on Nomie (inspired by Thej). I dont know what would I do with all the data but I like the feeling that I will be able to look back at a random date and see what I was upto.

For example, on 12 Aug 2017 (I promise I cooked up this date to give you a case in point), I did the following...

  • Was in Delhi for an event at Andaz (which is an awesome hotel)
  • Met Vanita, Kunal, Ankit 
  • Spoke to Jinal and Parry about things that they are working on 
You get the drift? 

So, net net, its a win. It keeps me grounded. Keeps me going. Gives me a semblance of stability in a world that is in perpetual chaos. 

F. I started maintaining a daily journal at the beginning of the year. Again, after the first week  I havent been able to do much about it. Will restart it. I think I got stuck with it because I did not know to write on it. Do you maintain one? What do you write on it? 

G. I have not played pool in 2 months I think. Before I did that big project at Bangalore last year, I was getting in 2-3 sessions a week. I need to find a way to spend more time around home. May be on the Maker days? Start with a session of squash / yoga, shoot some pool, write and create. Thrice a week. Lol. Wishful thinking, Mr. Garg. 

H. As I write this, I am in HCMC, trying to put together an event for a client. And since I've been here, I havent done any of those "daily" things that I am supposed to do (Peak, photos on insta, writing, daily journal etc). I realised that its tough to do anything when you are on the road. Immense respect to the ones who are on the road and get things done. How?

Oh, and I carried a pair of running shoes with me on this trip, hoping I will go for a run each day. Lol, high hopes. 

***

So, yeah, that was January of 2018. Not exactly what I wanted it to be. I remain cognisant and aware. Lets buck up in February and beyond. 

PS: While writing this post I realised that the marathon, lit fest and others are all "properties" owned by event companies. Why can't I be the one to create something like this? #note2self and to Team @ C4E

Hello, iPhone

I dont know if you noticed that I moved to an Android phone sometime last year. The objective was two fold. A, I wanted a phone with a longer battery life. This means that iPhone was not gonna cut it. And B, I wanted to be more efficient by not wasting time on social media (twitter, insta etc). And I dint want to just mute notifications but also remove the access to these apps that are big time-syncs.

So, been on Android past few weeks and while I am getting used to the shenanigans of an Android fast, I am going back to an iPhone. Why?

A, Aesthetics. An iPhone offers a far better experience. In terms of navigation, reading, phone features and others. Ofcourse Android allows for a deeper integration with Google Suite (I literally run my life on Google) but I am willing to give it up for usability. And there's a lesson there. Form over function. Lol. In the real life you ought to have a balance of two. More on this some other day, in some other blogpost.

B, Battery. I use a MI Phone as my Android device. When I got it, the battery would outlast the iPhone's. But now, after like 3 months of usage, the battery performance is worse than than of an iPhone. And no, I dont have the heart to invest in a better Android phone for a longer battery life.

So, back to the iPhone and back to being tethered to a battery pack!

C, Privacy. I am told that Apple offers better privacy and protection against data theft, hackers and all that. Not sure. I mean who would want to hack into my life? I gave it up when I queued up to get the Aadhar enrolment done.

P.S.: At this point, lemme take backup of my blog, lest some hacker gets offended. Done.

D, Self-moderation. I want to try self-moderation rather than enforcing abstinence from distractions. I have traditionally sucked at this. But I want to try and see how this goes.

Thats about it. Nothing more, nothing less. Guess its a thing I want to do for some reason and rather than having all the rational answers, I am merely rationalising. And thats' the thing to learn from this post - rational vs rationalising.

P.S.: My average blogpost runs into1000+ words. This one is like 500 words and something seems off. No?
P.P.S.: And no, this is not part of any of the themes that I had said I will write about. So, this goes under #miscBetter. 

Help me help people around me...

Among other things that I have planned to do #in2018, I am gonna work on a non-fiction. The idea is to create something that helps the world, allows me to reach more people and achieve financial independence. A win-win-win. Yes there IS a thing like that.

The starting point of all the above, is a non-fiction book. And for the same, I am looking for a research and writing assistant to help me! 


What is the book about?
Cant give too many specifics for the time being (because I dont have them to be honest; all of it is WIP). But when it does come out, it will be stocked in either the self-improvement or business & management category at bookstores across the world (not just India). In fact, the first month together will be spent on shortlisting the theme, idea etc. 


What I need from you? What "skills" am I looking for? 
  • Understanding of business. If you have studied marketing, journalism, business reporting, you will be an ideal person to work with.
  • Understanding of behavioural sciences. All self-improvement books are essentially about behaviour, decision making and mental models. 
  • Ability to conduct online research, do background research on people, connect dots (like investigative journalists do) and other similar things that will help us make sense of all the data that we gather. 
  • Inquisitiveness and innate curiosity about the world around us. What makes people do things they do? Why do companies fail? What makes an underdog beat a Goliath against all odds? 
  • Handle large quantity of data. This "data" would be things like interviews (that we conduct), research (to back up these interviews), original text (that we write), media (that we will have to consume to work on the book), scratch notes, snippets, thoughts and other things. 
  • Great command over English language. This means that you are a grammar nazi, you know how to fix a badly written piece of text and you can spot a badly written piece of text from a mile. This is probably the most important bit as my command over language is questionable. 
  • Some sense of humor. Please. There's just too many serious people around and we can do with some easy going people. 
  • You would have read a few business, non-fiction and self-improvement books. This means you understand the structure of such books. You also know what is faff and what actually adds value. 
  • Most importantly, you REALLY want to work on a non-fiction in the self-improvement genre. 


You must... 
  • be is in your mid-twenties. I am sure of this unless you are an anomaly. 
  • be willing to work 2-3 hours EACH day. No Sundays or weekends. I dont believe in that thing called the work-life balance. My work is my life. I live to work. I work to be able to make lives of people better, if not make a dent in the universe. 
  • live in Mumbai. You will work from your home / college / office etc. And you will have to meet me once a week for 2-3 hours. 
  • have access to a computer and Internet. 
  • know Google suite really well (drive, docs, keep, calendar etc.). 


And the most important of them all. What's in it for you? 
  • Stipend. I can pay upto Rs. 5K per month. For the duration that we work together. I estimate this to be a 6-month long engagement. If 5k a month is too less for you, I promise that I will give you all the royalty I make for the first 5 years. No conditions. Serious about this. 
  • Credits in the book. As an assistant for sure. And in case you and I click, may be as a co-author. How cool will it be to have written and published a book in your name? 
  • Learning. The book will help people become better (yes, you are staring at a man who wants to be yet another self-improvement and personal productivity guru). And while the ambition is to write a book that helps people, the very process of writing the book will help you as well. Plus I am a great mentor. I am. Trust me! 

In short, I am looking at a Superman / Superwoman. To push me to do well. And make the world a better place. I know I cant do this alone. And I need help. Are you the one? 

P.S.: Found any typos in this post? 

Fork in the road

So, Yogi Berra apparently said, "when you come to a fork in the road, take it."


Here's a fork.

Starting today, I am moving my personal rants to a closed blog. No access to it ever. Its like an echoChamber.

This makes the number of blogs I (try to) maintain upto 523321842. Of course apart from this one and the one I maintain for C4E, most remain dormant. I will work on those at some point in time.

For the time being, to know more about the fork, please refer to this short QnA I did with, well, myself!

So what happens to the War of Words? 
It stays! Stays the way it is. Except posts where I get super critical about myself. Those go on my personal blog.

I will not post things related to work here. Those things go on C4E blog. Or may be on S101. Or I dont know where. But not here. This has been and shall remain a place where I park my personal thoughts (dude, all thoughts ARE personal). Fuck all the jazz about building personal brands and all that. This is me. And thats how it will be.

Oh, some posts will go on multiple blogs. But this blog will become a repository of EVERY post that I write. Except the ones that I write for myself, for the echoChamber.


Why this segregation?
As I grow up in life (lol), I am beginning to realise my raison d'etre (though I cant pronounce the word yet, damn French or whatever language is) -- a billion lives, a billion dollars and The Everest. And to do that, I need to be able to get access to people, ideas, opportunities and other things that will enable me to fulfill the purpose.

And that wont happen if I am known as someone who's super critical about things.

Thing is, I think, to do large things, you need a tinge of irrationality, the blind faith in your ability and a big dollop of hope. Not a pragmatic, critical, type A personality - which I think I am. So I need to get out of the mould. And to do that I will have to do some lot of things that I havent done in the past. Such as be conscious of the signals that I send out. No, I dont mean that I will stop being who I am (last few days, have got so many lessons on authenticity that I would be a fool to get away from it). But that means that I will consciously chase things rather than letting them happen to me. And if that means changing how the blog sounds like, I will do it. This year, by hook or by crook, I have to make it big. And I am on my way.

Ok I am digressing. Next question please.


You must be nuts, dude.
You dint know that already?

Actually, more than nuts, I think I am like Louis. And this blog, is like Norma - a consistent echo-chamber that has been around since I think I have started thinking.


Coming back, what about your fans? The ones who read this blog religiously? 
Lol! You gotta be kidding me! Fans hote hain #bhairoxx ke. Humare to readers hai. Wo bhi ek-do. And they'd understand. Any more questions?


How will the shape of this blog change as we go along? 
I dont know that. I gave it a cursory glance and tried to read it like a stranger would. Here's what I think of WoW as a stranger.
First thing is that most posts are long by the snacky-listicles standards that we are used to seeing on the Internet. Boring for most people who spend time online. Assuming that someone does stumble upon something they do want to read, to people who dont know the author, all the posts would remain meaningless. Each posts requires way too much context before someone could make sense. Even if you have "fans" from the book, dont think they'd be keen on reading what you rant about. Agreed there are posts about how you're trying to improve and all that. But then, as a stranger, am I interested? Dont know. 
Also, side note. Most blogs tend to have a theme - say technology, writing, design, marketing et al. This blog has no theme. Its a potpourri of things that the blogger is interested in. I will never bookmark because the interests are so varied that its tough to track. Plus none of the posts is deep. I mean the dude is clearly not an expert on any topic that he writes on. So, why would I read it? 

Ok. So, if I need to chase the ambitions, I need to try and talk to people who's push me ahead on the path of those ambitions. That means I will have to talk about impacting people and inspiring them (essentially about making better decisions, pushing thyself, learning new things, identifying the limitations, failure, life, making the world a better place, et al), money (work, opportunities, ideas etc. P.S: Of course I will not get into specifics. Those will go on work blog. Here, I will talk about lessons am taking home, the mistakes am making and pitfalls that I am getting stuck in) and the Everest (fitness, the journey, baby steps that am taking towards it etc.).

I will need to create deep, meaningful content that has to be contextual to the themes that I am chasing. For example, if I want to write about brands, I need to make it so relevant, so interesting that marketers actually want to read it! Makes sense.

May be the blog needs to get three distinct headers. Say, wow.in/inspire, wow.in/work, wow.in/everest. And each talks about a certain thing. Whoever is interested in whatever section can choose to read that section alone and then come back to it. Or not. Depending on how they like it.
a

Wait. Where do things like poker, travel, short stories et al go? 
Ummm... they could go under personal?


Lol! that's where you started. No? 
Ok. They could go under inspire. And the content could be lessons I learn from various incidents that prompted me to write that particular post.

For stuff like short stories and other projects that I announce regularly, may be I do need to create a section called misc. or something that I can dump everything in. And with time, try and reduce the amount of content I create for the misc bucket.


Yes yes. Makes sense. Carry on.
That's it dude. Nothing else to carry on with. Lets just do it. So 4 sections or themes as we go along. Be Better (inspired by well, inspire), Work Better (inspired by work), Live Better (inspired by Everest) and Misc. You'd probably notice em on the sidebar (for the time being till I figure out the new design etc).


All the best! 
Thank you, it was a pleasure. Oh, if you are reading this, any thoughts? Inputs? Please?


P.S.: Love this echochamber!

In 2017. I...

Inspired by Sanjukta Basu's year in review, here is mine. PS.: I don't have the balls to be as open and as strong as her. So I will talk about things that I comfortable talking about. This means that this will be a superficial post. The real SG is still behind a veil. And anyway I did not do a lot this year and there are hardly any achievements that I can think. So dunno what I'll talk about! 

Also, to be able to do this, I will have to review posts on this blog, go through my twitter stream, see my FB updates and refer to my emails. Yeah I am that forgetful. 

Jan.
  • Started with euphoria about the new year and how I'll achieve the impossible in 2017. Of course I did nothing of sort. I merely cribbed about how miserable I was. I talked about how I was #foreverAlone and how I ought to do something about it.
P.S.: Cribbing is something I need to stop this year. I think I did work on it last year. I will never know. I will have to find out from others. And I need to stop the self-deprecating humor that I enjoy so much. Like I said, I need to remove all negativity from life. 

Feb.
  • I tried to start Modern Love. Failed miserably at it. Trying to start again. In case you can help me, do read this.

Mar.
  • Took at few sessions at IMS for the interview / GD training modules. Loved it! I think most of my happiness comes when I am giving gyaan. Now, I know giving gyaan will not take me places but I love it when I talk, when I know I AM making a difference. Is there a lesson there?

Apr.
  • I read this post by KK and I realised that life is short and need to jack up the efforts. Thought on things and made a life change. Read my post here. It has made me start keeping track of time and life. As of today, I have 2919 days to go. P.S.: Nothing has happened on the effort front it to be honest but I am little more organized and I am more productive for sure. Need to do more of this #in2018. 
  • Actioned xTyres. Till date its not live. Sigh.
  • Got a new logo for onWriting.in. I love it! You?

May.
  • Started the #100HappyDays after I got inspired by this talk by a colleague. I lasted 40 days. I will take it up soon. May be from Feb 1? Who's in?  

Jun.
  • Won our first award at C4E. Not that I care (may I do if I am talking about it here) but it does help get some mileage. Need to reach a point with work that we dont need awards to get mileage. 
  • Took a holiday to Goa. My first where I stayed at a 5-star. Went with friends that I made at MDI - people that I can die for! 

Jul.
  • Started the Saturday Breakfast Thing. Again, did not take it to a point where it could matter. Did one session and no-one else wanted to be a part of it. Do I want to do this again? May be. Will think during the year. 
  • Bought myself a TV (twitterblogpost). Next tangible thing I'd get will be a car. Or a house. Lets see. 

Aug.
  • Asked a designer friend to work with me. She rejected me outright by saying that I am an average Joe and she does not work with average Joes. Took it to heart and been trying to be not an average since. And not really doing a great job. Will need to pull socks. 

Sep.
  • Recorded the first ever video podcast. Was in front of the camera for the first time EVER. Got out of my comfort zone. Dint like it but it was cool. Need to do more things this year that take me out of the comfort zone. 
  • Quit Diet Coke. This time on insistence of a client. A first for me. As I write this, I havent had one since Sep. Will start this year. No that I enjoy the taste. Just that I dont like to refrain from it without a reason. I know that it fucks health and its a reason in itself but come on! 
  • Got my first ever evasive surgery done. My fears about hospitals, they came true. Hospitals ARE the worst places in the world. Especially the Indian ones. I promised myself that I will never ever see the inside of an emergency room again. Will work on health this year. 
  • Also, took at loan to work on a project. Yet to pay it back. Hope to pay it this year. 

Oct.
  • Made attempts to get active as a startup advisor. Starting working with 2 companies. Nothing came out of it. Need to ramp up efforts on the front. 
  • Hired my first full-time employee for AWSL.
  • Took sessions at EMDI. Loved em. Like I loved sessions at IMS. Need to teach more often. 
  • Relationship shite. Lesser said the better. 

Nov.
  • Went to the Mumbai edition of the MDI alumni meet. Realised my insignificance. Realised that I am unable to make deep relationships. Realised that I am laughing stock for a lot of people. But does that affect me? At times, yes. Most times, no. 
  • Lost a super important pitch. To the point that I lost my sleep. And its important to record here because if I can lose that pitch, I can not win any other! Need to work on pitching bit this year. 
  • 3 years since #tnks first came out. Where the F is #book2, Mr. Garg?  
  • Got a life coach. Did a session but could not continue. Maybe will do in this year. Dont really see any benefit but will try it again for sure. 

Dec.
  • Passed in a blur (was busy with a major project). Enjoyed every bit of it. But had to lose a lot of things to ensure that the project went well. Sad part? Cant talk to anyone about it. 
  • Started #aPicADay on Insta. Checkout my feed here. Been 37 days on the trot. Lets see how long I last. I plan to do it till the day I die. I know. High hopes ;)
  • Took 50th flight in the year. My first one ever was in 2005 I think (from MDI. Or was it 2004?) Since then I've religiously kept every boarding pass. To date, flying is a big deal. 

Phew! What a year. Lol. WTF a year is more like it.

That's about it. Sam said it right when he said that "days are long but decades are short." And anyhow, I am a believer in the hedonic treadmill. So I think I am overall ok. I mean I did work a lot, made some money, got some clients, made some contacts and all that. But it was pretty insignificant. Lets see what 2018 has in store.

Over and out.

P.S.: in2018, I will...

#in2018, I will

This is my yearly post on things that I hope to achieve in the impending year. Most times I miss most goals but I still like the rigor of making lists. Plus once I have a list, it keeps me on track.



Here is the list of things that I will do #in2018.

Oh when I make this list, I consider the following.
  • Each bit on the list has to take me closer to my lifeGoals - a billion dollars (M), Mt. Everest (H), a billion lives (I). 
  • The list includes things that are tough enough that I have to work hard. And must be within reach. For example, while I may want to play cricket for India, I can not. I could on the other hand play Poker. Or Pool. Its not same as cricket but it is still a sport. 
  • Themes for the year. This year, the themes are health (stop doing anything that stops you from living to 120 - eating, travel, air, stress etc) and action (which should be a theme every year IMHO). And other smaller themes are positivity (get away from people / things / incidents etc that drag you down), challenges (need to get out of the comfort zone - need to do things that I've never done so far) and plant seeds for the long-term. 

So, #in2018, I will do the following. 

In no order,

[Work / M]
  • Make C4E amongst the best live entertainment businesses in the country. And subsequently, in the world. More about C4E is at https://medium.com/c4-entertainment. This has been on my radar since 2017. We made a few strides #in2017 but we suck at getting new business. Thats something that I need to fix this year. And I will.
  • Evolve AWSL into a brand consulting business. In 2017 I lost the plot with AWSL but I will get it back on track. 
  • Create a third revenue stream. When I say third, the first two are C4E and AWSL. In that order. Been trying to get a third stream for a few years now. Haven't been able to do a thing about it. This year. 

[Health / H]
  • Be 30" in girth. I am 36" as we speak. #in2017 I hoped to be 32. But I am still 36ish. In fact I've been wanting to be fit for a long long time. And even though I've wanted, I am unable to do anything about it. I need to figure out how. 
  • Finish a half-marathon in 2 hours. I cant even run jog for 3 minutes on the trot as we speak. One of the things I am doing is to ensure that I intake less calories and walk for 45 minutes at least each day. One goalpost will be 5K in 30 mins.
  • Be able to do an unaided Shirshasana for 3 minutes. This essentially means that I need to get back to doing yoga. And doing a headstand would require enough rigor and practise to ensure that I am attending classes everyday. Plus, now that my nose is fixed, I should be able to start with yoga.

[Personal]
  • Final table a poker tourney that has more than 50 entrants. Again, this is a thing that I've had since 2017. And I played very less poker in 2017. I need to work on this. In fact, between poker, pool and may be guitar, I could find all recreation I need after a long day at work. 
  • Compete in an amateur pool tournament. I know I cant hit a ball straight but I enjoy the game. I love the challenge and more often than not, you can control the element of luck. So may be its something that I can work on.
  • Buy a car. I have to. Been wanting to buy for ever since I can remember. This year I have to. 
  • Travel to 5 new countries. I got a third passport booklet (as planned #in2017) and I now need to get 5 new stamps on it. If all goes well, I may get to travel to Cambodia this year. Need 4 more countries. May be I'll drive through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos route? 
  • Make more friends that inspire me. Work on relationships that make me better. Thing is, most "friendships" happen because you and friends share a common interest and are at the same place at the same time. Most times, apart from the common interest, you dont get to evaluate the personality of people. And over time you learn to live with the goods and bads in the personality of your friends. As a result you end up with people who stand by you when you need them but they do nothing to improve you as an individual. While that's not a bad place to be at, its not the optimal use of the opportunity we have. I believe we are better off surrounding ourselves with people who may not back us up when we need them but push us when we need pushing. Makes sense? For example, you are a woman in India and you like writing and your parents instead want you to get married because "log kya kahenge?. Fuck them! Rather run away with a bastard that pushes you to write. Fuck the societal norms imposed on you. If your family drags you down, move on. If your spouse does not support you, move out. Ok, I am getting judgmental and preachy. Coming back. This year, I want to create more meaningful relationships where I get to grow. I want to be make friends with people who help me and push me to do better (and be a friend like that - if you are with me, I WILL push you to do more, do better). I will cut off ties with (have cut a lot already) people and relationships where I am dragged down. I need friends that support me in my pursuit of grand plans. When I say I dont want to do dinners because I want to sleep early to be able to wake up and write, I want my friends to understand. Get the drift? Or you need a blogpost for this?  

[Writing / I]
  • Complete #book2 and get it ready for publishing. Book 2 is late by 4 years. And I have had so many people ask me about it and I am sick of giving vague answers. I will do it this year. Also, I need to remind myself that books are tangible thing that you've "create"ed. You dont want to die a consumer. You know what I am saying? 
  • Make onWriting.in a key player in the Indian publishing business. I haven't been able to give time to it. Need to pull up socks. 
  • [20 Jan 2018] Write 202 blogposts on this blog. 

[Moon Shots]
These are the things that are way too tough and big for me to achieve in one year. Plus each will require superhuman effort. Enough to take you to moon!
  • Empty my Asana dashboard each month. This will require super-human effort. I will have to get things done. Which to me is tougher than climbing the Everest! 
  • Ship one "project" each month. A project is an idea, a thing, a piece of output that is part of my interest area but is something that I know will not make commercial sense. May be it does eventually. But not at the stage of initiation. For example, onwriting.in. 
  • [H] Work towards The Everest
  • [I] Find out ways to impact a billion lives. Make a list. I am not sure if I can do this in this year but nothing prevents me from trying. Or at least making a list. Oh, I love lists. 
  • [M] Get to Rs. 5 crore in bank. Last year I wanted to end the year with a crore. I ended with about Rs. 3 lakhs. Sucks that 35 years of your life amounts to all of Rs. 3 lakhs. I mean if I were to die tomorrow, all my family would get is Rs. 3 lakhs. Funny no? So, rather than trying to get 1 crore again, up the ante. Get 5 crores. Shoot for the fucking moon, baby. How? I dont know. Will find a way. Or as they say, beg, borrow, steal. But then I am not someone who can beg or borrow or steal... 
  • [I] Make TUAP a must-listen podcast for entrepreneurs. More about it is at www.tuap.in. P.S.: This is a project. 
  • Meet one of my heroes (Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Chris Sacca, Tim Ferriss, Jason Calacanis, SRK, Lucky Ali, Prof. Sanjay Bakshi, Priyanka Chopra, Will Smith, Rabbi Shergill, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and so many others). Lets see who all do I get to meet. May be the pi.co clone (that I've been planning for a few months) helps me reach there? P.S.: Another project.

[Daily Habits]
#in2017, I did this interesting thing. I picked a few "actions" and I performed those everyday. At least I tried to. These are essentially tiny tasks that do not take a lot of time. And over time, these add up.

For example, like this guys explains in his TEDx talk, he would do two pushups everytime he peed (and he increased the number to, I think, 8 pushups everytime he peed). It did not amount to much when he did those but the collective benefit of doing 20 odd pushups a day helped him get in shape. Its such a powerful idea - that small things can bring about tsunami of change. I was first introduced to this by Hemant but then along the way he and I lost the plot. Anyhow.

So, here's a list of things I started to do everyday #in2017 and I hope to continue #in2018. And a list of things that I hope to start to do everyday #in2018.
  • Post a pic a day on Instagram everyday. I started this 35 days ago and I am so proud to say that in the last 35 days I've missed it just twice. This happened when I met Anusha on one of my trips to Bangalore and she challenged me to post a pic each day. 
  • Play Peak and Elevate each day. As we speak I am on 3 weeks unbroken streak with both. I am this close to buying em. Lets see. This happened when I realized that I can no longer remember a lot of things that I could. I, well, Googled and I realized that either I am not focused, or under stress, or am in premature stages of those brain diseases that affect us humans. I hate old age and the reason I hate it is the it leaves people incapable. I never want to be that. And hence these games. Honestly, I am not sure these games help but I like to know that I am doing something about my memory loss.
  • Use The Brain. Been using it for over a month now. Related to point above, I want to retain all that I have in my head. I want to use a tool. Nothing like The Brain. I dont see the advantages as yet but once I do, I will probably buy it. 
  • Maintain a daily journal of sorts. Been writing one since May 23. It started with this. My journal is on Google Drive (on the sheet that I use to track my life - goals, ambitions, hits and misses and other things). I want to jack this up by writing using a pen and paper. Helps me catalog my thoughts. 
  • Write every day. Last few months, I've been terribly busy and haven't been able to write much. This year I plan to write everyday. Even if its like 500 words. #in2017, I tried multiple times but I failed. This time I will not.  
  • Walk for 45 minutes. Or do a session of Yoga. Again, I made multiple attempts to walk / run everyday but I failed. This time I will not. One of the things I did was to try and walk home from work (about 10 KM) and it was fun. The only fuck up was the road. Mumbai is not the place where you can walk. I need to find an alternative to walking. Lets see.
  • Rather than reading, listen to a podcast everyday. I realized this after I heard this podcast where Naval talks to Shane about his life. And among other things it changed the way I think about books. While there is a merit in learning by reading, to me, at the stage of life I am in, I am not sure reading books is anymore as efficient a tool (reading blogposts is!). More on this some other day. And I did listen to a lot of podcasts. I can club this with walk everyday. 45 minutes is enough to feed your brain with new things. Need to do more of this in the year. 
  • Ensure that I get in at least 2 maker days every week. Read more on maker day and manager day hereI promised myself that #in2017 I will have 3 maker days per week but I dont think I had 3 maker days in the entire year! I need HAVE to do this in2018. Thing is, the day we realise that we are better off as creators (makers) and not consumers, the world becomes a better place. We are no longer worried about opinions of people but we are about putting our head down and getting back to our work. You know what I am saying? May be more on this in one of the blogposts this year. 
  • Everything I say must carry weight and must have gravitas. That means I cant talk frivolous. That also means that I need to improve the way I talk (self-deprecating humor, exaggeration and other innuendos). In fact thats the word of the year 2017 for me. Vanita talked to me about this #in2017. I need to ensure that I live the word. Or as Rajesh Sir says, zubaan ki keemat honi chahiye. 
  • Keep a tab of all my expenses. I was doing it till I moved to Android. I will start it again. Today on. Also, while editing this, I realised that I no longer consider saving or spending less as important enough to include in this list. Which is a good thing. I've either internalised being thrifty. Or I have come to peace with myself that I am happy with misery? Dont know. 
Phew. This is a long list. To do everyday. 

Even if I remove the walking for 45 minutes and yoga bit, other things will require about 2 hours (at the least). And the best time to do these things, if you ask me is the morning. Because its impossible during the day. And if you try to do this at the end of the day, you never know how exhausted you are. And I know I am not a superhuman that I will keep emotions at bay and get things done after a day at work. So, may be I need to start earlier. Good thing is that I am anyway a morning person. In fact as we speak, I am at a Starbucks. Since 725 (and its 1040 right now) - I can get 2-3 hours of good work done in the morning, before the world wakes up. That, could be my unfair advantage.  

So all I need to do is get up at 4 AM. And get to work. Just that no Starbucks is open then ;)


[Misc]
Dont know what categories to put these in. These are good to have, not MUST have. And this implies, others are MUST have.
  • [H] Attend a 10-day Vipassana session. Wanted to do this #in2017 but could not. 2018 looks like a perfect time. May be as soon as Feb. 
  • Teach at a business school. #in2017, I did teach at an events diploma college. But I need to up the game and teach kids that already know lot more than I. It would get me out of my comfort zone. Read on themes for the year above. 
  • [H] Stand while working on a computer. That means I need to invest in a standing desk and a great pair of footwear. Oh that reminds me that may be in2018, I will finally get around to wearing shoes and getting dressed well. After all if I have to make money, I need to be presentable. No? Plus dressing up is so out of my comfort zone that I am willing to jump off an airplane!
*** 

That's all. Look a lot but it ain't not too much if I remain focused and act on things. 'If' and 'Act' are the key operatives here.

What are your goals? Do you have a list? Lets work together and make this the best year of our lives?

Thanks for reading. Feedback? Inputs? Help?

Saurabh Garg
1 Jan 2018
Mumbai

P.S.: For the record, here are similar posts from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

P.P.S.: #in2017 I wrote 41 posts. This year I will write more than 202 posts (number of posts I wrote in2008). This is #1.

Book 2. Zinda Hai.

For a millionth time, today I started working on #book2. Its been pending for a long time and while nothing has changed, there have been a few triggers.

Here's a list.

a. A friend thought that I am suicidal and sent me a copy of The Myth of Sisyphus.

I am not sure if I am / was suicidal or not but after I read the first 3 pages I felt that life was absurd and I ought to end it. Also, I recently moved to an Android phone (which is a suicide in itself) and I have spent last three hours searching for the Blue Whale.

But since a friend gifted the book and I had to respect the 250 bucks he spent on it, I went online and saw this video (that summarized the book in 7 minutes and took me closer to suicide). The video talked about how we must find pleasure in misery and why its absurd to even think of suicide. It did talk of more things but I am sure if I could comprehend it. So, left it at that.

Here's a tip. Avoid the fucking book at all costs. And if you want to read a book that prevents from you committing suicide, do read Reasons to Stay Alive. I read it when I was not suicidal and it was one of the best reads ever.

But then coming back to the context, book2, somewhere while I was either reading the book or watching the video, I felt that I ought to write. Ergo.


b. I read this piece on BBC where they try and postulate who will be remembered after a 1000 years after they are gone.

Thing is, I've never known if I want fame or whatever but I would love to be known 1000 years after I am gone. And the article says that either I need to become a famous villain or die a famous death. I cant control how I'd die but I can create a villain that is more villainous than anyone ever alive? Et tu, Brute?

And to be able to create a Brutus, a Joker, I need to write!


c. Pochu Prasad. Poch was my roommate at MDI. It was his daughter's birthday recently and when I messaged him after 3 years (thinking that its a good pretext to text long lost friends on their kids' birthdays), the first thing he asked was, "when's the next book coming out."

After I abused him and all that it left me thinking. That my identity is now of someone who's written a book. And while I am not a one-hit wonder (book was NOT a hit), may be there's something there!


d. Parijat sent me this.


This is screenshot of Syd's book and it reminded me that writing is my personal responsibility. And its high time I worked on it. I can cry about lack of a silver spoon us my ass but I do have a tiny gift with whatever I write. I ought to use it. No?


e. A discussion with a colleague reminded me that I am insignificant and for 35 years of my life, I have shit to show for. More than anything else, I am offended by it and I take it as a personal insult. And I will damn prove the dude wrong. I will achieve something large in my life. Of course I will continue to chase my ambition of climbing the Mt. Everest, impacting a billion lives and making a billion dollars in the process. But I will do well with my writing. You guys wait and watch. Ego makes you do funny things man.

So yeah. That's about it. More on this later. Right now I have a book to write. And you may want to order the first one here.

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?