The #book2 Brouhaha

Book2 is now officially overdue by 3 years. Three years. In three years you can make 4 babies. In three years you complete college in India. Three years is the time a typical startup needs to break even and start throwing money back at you. Three years is more than a 1000 days. Its 5% of an average human's productive life. Three years...

Wait. The point is that book2 is delayed. To an extent that no one knows that I am an author. Fuck no one, I have a hard time telling myself that I am one. Anyhow attention spans are like shorter than that of a hummingbird. Who cares if you wrote a book. And this is not the first project that I havent been able to find time for, even if this is the closet to my heart.

I was thinking about it last night and I thought Ill make a list of reasons why I cant seem to get this going. Here goes.

A. No time
Writing is not my first gig. Its not even my second. I mean I do write a lot everyday -- presentations, emails, short notes, scribbles and all that. But all of that is for work. There is no writing for recreation. And there is hardly any writing for the book. And the worse part? I dont miss it. I mean there was a time when I would be itchy if I dint write for an hour everyday. Those days are gone.

Right now, its just a battle to rush from one thing to another. In the process, I think I have stopped enjoying little things that make up life.

B. No muse
They say a writer needs a muse to write. I am not sure what was the muse when I did #tnks. Ok wait. A muse is defined as "a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist." So last time I may have had someone. I dont remember. This time, I dont have any. I even got sgMS to agree to marrying me if I could complete the book by end of the year. And that too doesnt seem to be exciting enough.

Maybe I need to talk to the lady I am interested in right now to not talk to me if I dont write a 1000 words a day. Or may be I need to go find someone who is as into writing as I want to be. I dont know what would it take. Ideas?

C. Too much work
Two things here. Work required on writing a book. And effort and time spent on work that gives me the money to afford the lifestyle I lead.

Writing a book may come easy to a lot of people (I know people who "win" NaNoWriMo by writing 50K words in 30 days). To me, it does. I know I can write fast but I am not sure if the kind of things I write can happen in 30 days. I want to research, think, get into conversations (with my characters), leave tons of Easter Eggs (Lol. Why would I do that when not a single reader of #tnks came back to me and told me that they loved how intelligently I buried those little gems throughout the book.). 

So, writing is serious work. And sustained work for long durations (on a daily basis), over a year or so. Do I want that kind of grind? Like I know I never want to be in an operation theatre again, do I want to g through the tribulations that writing a book entail?

Thing is, I am not the one to shy away from hard work but I am the kinds that needs everything perfect. The temperature of the AC, the chair, the table, a working Internet connection and so on and so forth. And the kind of life I live, its often to get all variables in place. And when I do get these variables in place, there's just too much work that needs my urgent attention that I cant concentrate on moving the story ahead.

That brings me to work that I am engaged in. Like I said in A above, I am at a stage in life where I dont have financial stability. I live month to month and the month I dont work hard in, I am forced to cut my expenses. So its a constant battle between daal-roti and hobbies. And while I am a big advocate of sex and cash theory, I am not sure I can live up to what I preach.

D. No money
If I had a rich wife, I would quit everything and sit on a desk all day and write. Well, I think I will. I am not sure. But I know that a big big impediment to my writing output is the fact that I need to work slog hard for making the ends meet.

E. No inspiration
Apart from a muse that doesnt let you rest, there's this dying need inside of you to tell that story. I dont have a story like that. I mean I know I have an interesting plot for book2. I mean who would not want to read a fast-paced narrative about a gang of notorious bandits (where no one trusts another) coming together to hunt for a treasure that was lost when Portuguese finally left Goa?

But... the damn but. But is the story compelling enough that it makes me leave everything and keeps me focused on telling the story?

F. Support structure
I am lucky that I have so many people around me that continue to egg me on all the time. In no order, the constant badgering and reminders happen from Anusha, Nikita, Purav, Sachin, Vivek and others. Like last night, on twitter, Sachin sent this.
Thing is, if despite having so many people who want me to write and do well and all that, I cant write, can I? May be by not working on the book, I am letting them down. Could this be a big enough fear that I actually write?

Or maybe I need to apologize to them and quit and move on. And bury the dream of reaching a million people to a time when I have made the money and have little more time on my hands to write?

May I need to quit on this? Or may be not.

G. Commercial success
While you write for yourself and you want to express yourself, I sincerely believe that no endeavour deserves attention if there's no commercial angle to it. You may not do it for money. But you need to ensure that your work inspires people enough that they are willing to give you their time and money and attention. And you as an artist need to work hard to earn the time and money and attention. You need to make it worth the investment by your patrons. Its a loop. You see it?

If #tnks would have been a runaway success, I probably would have had the money to not worry about work and write. I would have created a "platform" of sorts that would've allowed me to chase writing as a career. It would have convinced me and people around me (not that I seek their validation) that I can actually support myself (and my family) through what I write. It would have pushed me to stand on that success and do more.

Since that did not happen, may be the MBA in me is doing a longish cost-benefit analysis and preventing me from investing time on writing? May be I am too rational to be an artist? May be I am not too delusional?

H. Others 
Apart from the list of things above, things that I did not consider while writing this are:

  • Writer's block. I am not sure that I suffer from it. I can wake up from sleep and start writing. And I can pick up from where I left. 
  • Ability to find a publisher. I am reasonably sure that Sachin at Grapevine will back me up. If not him, I can do a self-publish. 
  • My limited grasp on the English language. I can always find editors to help me out. 
  • My ability to hold interest. I think what I write makes sense and people can more or less finish what I write. 
Bas. Cant write more. That's about it. I probably need a whack on the head. That nose job that I got done was supposed to be it. But guess not!

Over and out! 

P.S.: Funny. After this such a long rant, I still dont know if I want to write. Like they say, bakchodi karwa lo bas

Introducing #tumseNaHoPaaega

So, this is going to a long, whiny, cribby post where I am going to talk about work. Which, if you follow this blog, you would know that I hardly do (I crib often but I talk of work rarely). And now that I am gonna talk about it, I am going to pour my heart out. I will be a whiny old man and I will crib like I do it for a living. Also, I started writing this post yesterday, did not have it in me to end it then -- got too depressing. And no, I dont need any consolation. 

P.S.: This post is in three parts. 

Part 1
Today, I lost this pitch that I knew I was going to win. Team and I had poured our hearts into it. We had worked hard. I even visualized how that would it look like when I am actually gonna go it, as they preached in The Secret. You know, if there is one thing that I was ever sure of, it was that I was going to win it! It was like a done deal.

Just that it dint happen.

Most times I am not the kinds to cry about the times I lose. This time, I cant stop the fucking tears (literal tears, it still doesn't hurt enough I guess that I bleed my eyes out) The pitch was super important for a lot of reasons. To start with, it was the first time we actually had a shot at doing something substantial after almost a year of failed attempts at generating new business. Plus it would have been such a big piece of business that it would have meant a runway for almost 3 months. 3 may sound small to you. But to me, at the scale and level that I operate, each day is a battle. Plus it would give me the confidence that I could be an outsider and do well. Plus this time I had a friend who could tell me where I was fucking up and where to correct the damn course. And despite her help, if I cant win a pitch, I dont think I can ever win one.

Not winning it also means that I let down myself, my investors, team, vendors, friends, believers and a host of other people (in that order).

The funny thing is, there is no rational reason for not getting the project. It just dint click. Like you know, at times you plug on something and it just doesn't start?

Of course I can console myself by saying that I, we did everything that we could and there are things that you cant control. Well, that talk is for losers. The fact of the matter is that on the day shit was supposed to go down the wire, we were not good enough. And I am told that being great, good enough or shoddy is directly correlated to your inherent talent, amount of hard work you put in, the hustle and that bitch called luck. Luck. Well, it confuses me. There are times when she sleeps with me and gives me the best orgasm ever. And there are times when I do all I can to woo her and she wont even look up at me.

Coming back, probably we werent good enough. And that is non-negotiable. Thing is, for me, work is personal. The two, personal and professional dont exist in silos. To me there are no boundaries. I exist to work. My purpose is to create great work. Try at least if not deliver greatness. If I am awake, I am working. If I am not working, I am thinking about work. If I am not thinking about work, I am asleep. And if I am not asleep and not working, I am dead. It is that simple.

There are two places that I can go from here. Down the valley of despair. I could hide myself in a cold dark room and not come out of it for months. Or I could take lessons and move on and come out stronger, better and all that. I think I'll the middle path. Start by crying and coming out on the other side.

Lets see. Thanks for tolerating the post.

Wait. You think the damn post is over? It is not. Because I was busy with an event while I was writing it. And something just happened that made the hole bigger and I will have no other option but to jump in.

Part 2
So, I am at a project venue. And I am a small part of a big team that is working to pull this project off. And the team has fucked up big time. And as always, I am trying to sort the muck that has been forced upon me. And I dont like it. I want to do things my way. Do less work but do good work.

More than not liking things, at the event, there was a big big goof up under my watch. Because of something that I was not responsible for. Of course, it was a team effort and if someone from my team has failed, I am responsible for that. I had to go and apologize to my team, clients and myself.

Dont want to get into details but you can read more at...

Right now, I feel like shit. So shitty that I dont know what to do or who to talk about. I want to bury myself in a pile of quilts in a cold, dark room with no communication to the outside world. Update. I did that. After I checked out of the event venue, I got into the next hotel and did that. 

Part 3 
And this is where I announce the launch of a new hashtag on my blog. #tumseNaHoPaaega. It will evolve as a collection of things and places and opportunities where I've fucked up. All those posts will be tagged #tumseNaHoPaaega and will be accompanied by the following image.

Why? Because this one dialogue says more than what an entire book can! For the uninitiated this is from this movie called Gangs of Wasseypur and if you need context, see this.

Over and out!

Update (in case you care). I slept off for the most part of the day after and I am ok now. Ok enough to be little ok and write this post. But not ok enough to let go. I will prevail. Wait and watch.

Notes. The other things that I thought about and wanted to include in this post, but could not, are... 
  • You are alone.
  • Show business is unlike any other. There is so much excitement and there is so much hard work and it just takes one small incident to fuck up things. 
  • Confidence is at an all-fucking-time low man. Need something, someone to help me get out of this. I dont know what.

Notes from trip to Bangalore

I am starting a new thing today. Dont know if this is new, I may have done this in the past as well. But what the heck. Here it is.

So I went to Bangalore last weekend. I had one piece of agenda. Meet a couple of people who I wanted to invest with (and before you ask me, it is not a big investment. Less than 5 lakhs).

Apart from one meeting scheduled with them, I had left my plan open. I had 48 hours in Bangalore and here is what I did there.

In no order.

1. Met a fan-turned-friend-turned-crush-turned-friend. Have met her on few more occasions before this and unlike others who you meet once in a while and lose touch, have stayed in contact with this one. More than anything else, she is one of those few people who believe in me. I know come hell or high water, she will stand by me. Thank you, D.

2. Met the guys I was supposed to invest with. Two dudes, both older than I, run the startup. A great mix of technical competence and business acumen. And since both are older that me, they are wiser and more experienced than me.

So I spent large part of a day with them. And while I was with them, I realised a few amazing things. Here is a list of top three takeaways.
  • While they have the vision, they suck at explaining that vision. Someone has to work with them to craft the vision. And why is important? Because most early hires and investors and customers will buy into that vision. So, they need someone to handhold them with that. 
  • Founders are a different breed. They are clear about the mission they are on. And even if they are wrong, they dont accept inputs and advice on the face value. Either you have to have reputation to change their opinion or you bring in some anecdotes that make sense to them. Or you present some data. In my case I figured something else - I threw them a chain of logic (like A follows B, B follows C and so on and so forth and they seemed to understand). 
  • Its a long long term game that most founders are in. Some get lucky to reach their destination fast. But most sort of fall along the way. The idea is to create enduring value and make wealth along the way. 
#note2self: I need to meet more founders and get into more intimate discussions and write more. Why? Helps me get clarity. And allows me to create content that helps others. 

3. Met a friend / classmate / distant cousin for breakfast. We went to this place that's been themed as a bicycle cafe. Ok place. Slow service. And while they took forever to get our breakfast, I did some digging and found that its co-owned by TI Cycles. It reeked of an idea that someone like me could've cooked up and served to a rich person on a platter.

#note2self. I was thinking, if I decide that I dont want to work on events, there's nothing else that I can do. Scary. No? More on this in some other blogpost someday. 

4. Met another fan turned friend. This one is like the first one. Will stand by me through thick and thin. I wish I could spend more time with her. Thank you, A/T. If you are reading this, so sorry for making you wait. I will come back to Bangalore soon and spend more time with you. Promise. 

5. Met a friend who runs a fairly well-funded and a "visible" startup. At the same meeting, met another acquaintance that runs a startup in the events space. Talked to them about variety of things, including gossip on other startups, how to leave your mark (after you are gone), the future (retirement plans), aspirations and what not. Super engaging conversations. The kinds that make you high even without any whiskey or something. Plus talking to the events dude made me realise that its still Day 1 for events as a business. And if that is indeed the case, its such an amazing time to be around! 

6. Met friends from MDI for dinner / drinks. As always, super conversations. Played pool with a stranger and he beat me like I were a kid. And he played with just one hand most of the time.

#note2self. Become at least a pro-am level player so that I get to win most games that I get to play when I am chilling out. I mean what are the odds that I will bump into Bata at a club in Mumbai?

7. Met Shom. I can write an entire book on the two odd hours I spent with Shom. He is as cool, as extreme, as great, as super as they come. He can write, sing, play guitar, paint, code, think of business ideas, do startups, roll a perfect one, compose and what not. He is literally the Mike Ross that I want!

He is amazing and little quirky and little all over the place -- he is exactly like me when I was his age. I HAVE to get him to work with me. Dont know how. If you are reading this, Shom, please, lets do this!

Apart from that I did things like sleeping at the airports, spending a fortune on numerous cab drives within Bangalore and splurging money on things as frivolous as donuts, lounges and airport showers.

But then it was a great break from the daily rigmarole. I need to take these breaks more often. And for that I need more opportunities to engage with smart brains. #note2self. Create more opportunities. 

Over and out.

P.S.: Thanks to VG for instigating me to write. I dont know what I'd do without him. 
P.P.S: While I was editing this, I realised that random people (that are not related to you by blood or proximity) have had such a huge role to play in my life that its not funny. Thank you, Universe. 
P.P.P.S.: Not happy with how this post has come out. May be I will improve as I go along. Feedback? 

Untitled. Nov 2017

There is no context. There is nothing that I want to talk about. All I want to do, is to write.

Thing is, its been some time (last I wrote, it was Oct 9) that I've written. On this blog. Or elsewhere. Not that I am Gulzar Saab or something that words flow moment I fire up my laptop. You know, writing is such a big part of me that I cant survive without it.

Last few days have been messed up -- lots happening on personal front, work front, ambition front and all other fronts that you can imagine. And because it was messed up, things that keep me going (like writing and music and people and travel) did not get any attention. With this, I am trying to get back on track.

To be honest, I am not sure what to talk about. I can talk about what has wrecked havoc in my life but that could get too personal to talk on a public forum. I can talk about issues at work but who wants to listen to a grown up man rant about office politics and his failure to lead a business? I can talk about how I started with personal coaching (I now have a coach - three cheers to that) and the first lesson that I took from that. If you are curious, the lesson is that I need to stop pimping my poverty. More on this some other day. Moving on, I can talk about Suits and the fact that Harvey and Mike are yet another duo in line with my previous post. I can talk about my experience from last few sessions at EMDI.

Or I can talk about relationship gyaan that I was giving to a friend yesterday? Yeah that sounds cool. I know I am not qualified per se (I am not the most successful at love and I dont really have any deep, meaningful relationships with either friends or family) but I think talking about it, writing about it will help me get clarity. After all thats how I stumble on my best ideas - by holding conversations and by writing about em. Here's it!

So, I told her, there are three kinds of love.

A. Love at first sight kind of love.
You meet a girl. You love the way she talks, you love her brains, you love her looks, you love the way she dresses, you love her confidence. Or a combination there of. You fall for her. And if you are lucky, she'll love you back.

Most popular media paddles this kind of love. Often you are opposites. You are the prince charming and you fall for the goofiest girl in the school. You are a cop and you fall in love with a gangster. You are a famous actress and you fancy a simpleton. Etc etc.

And then, you guys slug it out. You set in for the grind over the rest of your lives (assuming that love lasts a lifetime). You see brains get sharper, beauty fade away, personality change and all that. And you either adapt to it, grow with it. Or you get disappointed. Either way, the thing that you got together changes.

I know I am biased. Stay with me. Please. I will come back.

B. The rational love.
You make a list of things that you want your partner to have. Certain intelligence, certain level of bank balance. Certain level of maturity. Some level of beauty. Etc etc. And once you have a checklist, you look for people that, say, tick off at least 8 of those 10 things. You make a shortlist of those people. And then you tell all of them that.

Whoever accepts the proposal (either they love your sense of organisation or they love your looks or something), you start communicating with them and tell your reasons to try and "create" love. And then the two of you work hard to make things work. You work like hell. Put in real hard work.

Keywords are rationality, checklists, communication and hard work. You reduce a thing like love to a business problem. I know its boring and all the mush and serendipity and unpredictability and excitement and all those things go missing once you do this. This love is unlike any love that you have seen in films or books or other things. But then think for a minute about all those people who create those things that have given you the very idea of love. They didn't just "fall" in love and whiled away their lives. They created a piece that inspired you. That piece required work. It was creation. Not revelry.

Again, let me park this here. I will come back to this. Promise.

C. The blind love.
For some irrational reason, you fall so hard for a person that you are willing to ignore all the shortcomings that the other person has.

If you are lucky, the recipient of your love will give you some shreds back but thats about it. You cant expect that love to fulfil you. I dont even know if that qualifies as love. I actually dont believe in this kind of love. But I know this one exists. I have friends who swear by their partners and lovers despite their obvious issues.

You want it, choose at peril.


So, now that I have defined the three kinds, I think you need to pick the kind of love you want to subscribe to.

For me, someone who believes in rationality and wants some bit of magic, I think the best thing to happen would be Type A. But then I am not the kinds to be able to attract the opposite gender. Plus I dont have such a large circle of friends that I create opportunities to bump into a magical woman. I also know that I dont hang out too often at cool places to create happy accidents. So I will have to "settle" for Type B.

Now, dont get me wrong about the settling down. It is not inferior. In fact its the purest form of companionship. Its something that you have worked hard on. Its something that you cant blame external factors on. If it works out, you get to take the credit. If it fails, you gotta blame yourself. There is just you that is responsible for it.

Such love makes you better. Such love helps you grow. Both of you works hard and help each other along the way.

Lemme connect to the higher purpose of life (and to those two threads that I have left hanging). We are not here to paddle paper or sell sugared water. Our purpose here is to create. And inspire others in the process. What if you get the love of your life to help you create more? What if your love pushes you to do more, do better? The love helps you grow. And with each shred of growth, the bond gets stronger. With each new day you actually create things that are meaningful. And how did you do that? With love! Love becomes that catalyst, the magic potion. Your unfair advantage!

Makes sense now?

What do you think? Whats your take on love? Tell me about it!

P.S.: For people like who have limited talent, limited brains, the only key to success is putting in the hours. Long and strenuous. I am told hard work eats talent for breakfast. I am yet to see it happen. But I am willing to give it a shot. So, even for matters of heart, I think hard work is better than serendipity any 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?