The Monday Diary

So its been about 10 days since I published something here. And its been about 20 days since I made a meaningful post. And the "silence" is deafening. So much so that I want to scream at the top of my lungs.

Anyhow. Fuck the poetic shite.

So I have been thinking about the next book for last few days. Thing is, every once in a while someone asks me about the next one and I dont have an answer. Plus I am often at airports (like I was at one yesterday and spotted Sachin's), malls and other such places and I invariably drift towards a book shop and when I see shelves and shelves of books, stacked end up high and people leafing through them and all that, I give in to the weakness and start to pine for the rare, vain and frivolous notion of seeing my name on the bestseller list. While #tnks received generally good reviews, it did not put me on any list. Except it allowed me to tick off a thing from my bucket list.

I really need to give this a shot. I remember I had promised myself that I will write 5 books before I hang my boots pencils. And I've done just one. Need to do more. 4 more at least.

Lemme take a diversion. To avoid some heartburn. To something that's been occupying my head lately. C4E. The day AND night job. Something that I know can make me money wealth. Something that is right at the intersection of all things that I love. Something that I think believe is my life's purpose.

While what we do is supposed to entertain the world and all that, most days are drab. Not drab as in they are drab for bank-tellers (with all due respect) but drab as things take time to move. And there is movement after days, if not months.

Today was one such day. I got early drafts of a website that we are working on. And I was amazed at the range of emotions that came up when I saw just a computer image of the website. Mind you. Just a photo. Its not a website. Its not a MVP. It does not work at all. And its months away from any revenue or impact. But its a step in the direction.

And not just that one website, I saw a few more things come to fruition. I got the first set of prints for the Art Project (where we wish to empower other artists) in my hand. And they look gorgeous. The short film that I had to work on  came out. And they look gorgeous btw. The short film seems to be on track. Little-by-little, step-by-step, brick-by-brick, things that I have envisioned seem to be coming to life. And all these on shoestring budget and just a handful of people. If someone could give me a lever large enough, I could fucking move the Earth! But then, why would someone fund me? They would do it for the money and I cant promise any returns. Hello, reality!

Time for a diversion yet again. The point is, it was a good day. Need to have more of these. The only sad part is that I did not create anything new. If I could change that, I can continue to live the rest of my life exactly like this.

Until next time, over and out.

This close...

If I've ever come close to giving up on the dreams of making it big and working towards the bigness, this is it.

I am this close, as close as it gets to giving up. So much so that I want to pack my bags and leave. To a place where no one knows me and I dont know anyone. Just pack the damn bags and head to a new place, to a new life and restart the goddamn life. Agreed that at 35 I am too old to do this kinda shit but I don't see a way out. I mean don't even see that light at the end of the tunnel.

I know no one else imposed this life on me. I chose this for myself. I made this life. Whatever I have, whatever I dont, all of it is a direct outcome of choices I've made. I can of course cry that I did not get the opportunities that others got. I can whine about the non-existent silver spoon in my mouth. But will the rant matter? No!

All I know is that this is not the life I signed up for (but I probably deserved earned). I need to find the reset button. Or may be, the giveup button. Whatever it is. Need to find it. And hit it.

Work with hands!

One of the things that I had decided I will do #in2018 is to work with my hands. That means I will take up carpentering, painting, guitar, calligraphy, card-tricks or anything of that sort that makes me use my hands. Hands. Fingers.

One may argue that typing is also using hands. Its easy to type and even though you use qwerty and not Dvorak*, its fascinating to see your fingers do the dance on the keyboard. But then writing is for writing. Not for hitting two birds with one stone. You know what am saying?

So, as I think about this, there are few reasons for trying to work with hands. Here's a list.

A. I love action. This essentially means that I need to be able to fidget with something all the time. No no. Not fidgeting with a spinner or a cube. That's just plain consumerism. But fidgeting with something that adds up**.

B. I cant even twist or roll a pen in my hands (you know that thing that a lot of engineers do?). I need to learn that! Or something like that. Why? Why not? Its such a cool thing to do!

C. Finally, its a new skill. I think the day I stop learning is the day I will die. And while I do learn on the job, I do learn with each thing I do, I need to add new things to my repertoire.

I remember a few years back, each month I learnt a new thing (how to solve a Rubik's, remember a randomly shuffled deck of cards, juggle three balls etc). May be I need to bring that theme back? No, none of these will enable me to make a living but these will expand faculties that I don't use right now.


Ok. So I have established that I will use my hands, what would I pick?

There's guitar. That I've tried my hands on since I was in the 9th standard. And I've failed at. Since I was in the 9th standard. Lets just say I don't have what it takes to learn it. Or maybe, I'll pick it up and apply the 20-hour principle? Or may be, I'd do Khartal (that I ordered yesterday).

What do you recommend?

Oh, one more thing. In the end, ladies and gents, the question for you is, what new skill are you acquiring this year?

* I saw a video summary of a book on how to learn any skill in 20 hours. The author changed his keyboard from the start qwerty to a more efficient Dvorak in 20 hours. I don't want to. Because the kind of work I do requires me to work on multiple computers, often in crunch situations. So I want to keep that faculty intact. 

The point is that I can learn a new skill in 20 hours. Why not experiment it on a skill that I requires me to work with my hands? 

**Adding-up has been a consistent theme that has reoccurred in my thoughts last few days. What is adding up? Imagine you were making a pyramid. Every brick you lay makes the wall longer, stronger, higher. Each brick, howsoever small it may be becomes an integral part of the larger wall. Over time, with each insignificant brick, you achieve something large. Think compounding. 

*** Constant learning is the thing that probably gives us the edge. Need to think more on this. Need to talk more on this. 

Writing Off!

Alert. This is a ranty post. Why am I writing this? Because I dont know what else to do about this. I want HAVE to talk about this to someone and get the load off my head. Ideally, talk with a life partner or a business partner. I dont have either. I mean I do have business partners but none of them have any place for emotions in their heads. I also have a few friends and mentors that can lend a patient ear but I am not sure if they understand the battle I go though on a daily basis. Neither do I know if they understand what I am upto in life. I could vent out on the Facebook and twitter but I am not sure what purpose will that serve in all the cacophony around. For that matter, I am not sure what purpose will this blog serve. Once I publish, I will probably forget. But thats the point I guess. To vent out and move on. Here goes. 

So, this stint of working for myself, I started in the Feb of 2015. As I write this, I complete three years of being on my own. And its been one helluva ride. There have been one or two ups and a lot of downs. Its definitely been a great learning experience. Truth be told, I am not really doing that great (compared to how Id be doing if I were working for someone else) but as I think back, I dont think theres anything else that I would have done. There are no regrets, if I may.

However, if I had an option to go back, I would undo a lot of things. Things like never working for someone without taking an advance.

And thats what the rant is about. Stay with me.

In the last three years I must have worked on 20 large projects and about 10 clients (both big and small). And out of those there are 3 clients and 3 large projects that I did NOT get paid for. And I am talking about serious money. About 11 lakhs. In sunk cost and opportunity cost. It may not look like a lot of money to you guys, but to me, its big. Big as in B I G.

The point of this post is to tell myself that I ought to write those off. And write an open letter of sorts to people who get work done and do not pay.

So, here I am. Officially and finally, writing the payment off. I dont really want to name the companies (or the people). Neither do I want to talk about the circumstances which lead to me not getting paid. But there is this thing that I do want to put forth.

Thing is, I am someone who doesnt really have an easily monetizable skill. I am NOT a designer, coder, photographer, fashion blogger, singer, drummer, rich heiress, son of businessman, baker, chef, make-up artiste or anything like that. These people are blessed in the sense that they can make a living whenever they choose and wherever they choose.

Neither am I a career professional who's spent years in a certain industry (or a discipline) with large companies and thus has a CV that can get a super cushy job. Most of my friends from MDI fall in this category.

What I am is a hustler. What is a hustler? You dont know? Stop reading right now. Close the browser. Leave.

People like me, the hustlers, are often the Jacks of all trades. We are aggregators have no marketable skill and often have to fake what we do. We rely on services of others, often working with make-shift teams and arrangements, trying to deliver a great product (or a service) that makes the customer choose us over other more "established" businesses. If I may use a better word, people like me have to hustle and hustle hard to make the ends meet.

And why? For ofcourse the independence. And to make ends meet while hoping that things we do, work on, they add up. Add up bit is important. What do I mean by adding up? That someday all the work we've done, all that we've been through gives us enough name, clout, attention, contacts, relationships, ideas that we can go make that dent in the universe.

So yeah. As long as you get work that adds up, work that continues to pay you and keep the engine going, all is well.

Till the time a client fucks up on the money that is promised to you.

After all, every rupee earned is a tiny step towards that dent. And every rupee lost is a roadblock. When a client decides to not pay, for whatever reasons, they put a roadblock on the path to my progress. In fact I'd say I am dragged back 10 steps - after all, to take up a project I had to let go of other opportunities. No? The other opportunities could mean working on a different project. Could mean that that book I've always wanted to write will have to take the back seat. Why? To earn bread!

In fact, by not paying you dont just put a dent in an individuals meticulous plan for life. But you are an impediment to the whole notion of Karma itself. When you dont pay, you stop, you pull back people like me from realizing their life goals.

You know, the most important commodity is time. And when I invest time... Wait. I dont "invest" time. I "exchange" my time with a client's money. And in this implicit contract, once I have done my part of the deal, I expect and its probably fair for them to hold up their part. And pay up.

But often, they dont. And when that happen that sucks. You are way too small to fight and argue and you'd rather move on. Its just sad.

What makes it worse is that people like me do not belong to the entitled class. We are not big corporations for sure. Neither do we have bankers or VCs on our side to look out for what we work on. More often than not, its an individual like me, trying to hustle hard. To do things, add up and make that dent in the universe.

The simple act of momentarily selfishness by a client stops the wheel of life. And thats not a cool thing to do. No?

So, dear big companies, rich men and other such people, next time you get someone like me to do something, please PLEASE PLEASE pay up! For you its probably loose change. But for someone like me, it could be a shot at a better life.

Thank you!

P.S.: Here's a pledge. I WILL always pay once I have agreed on a number. Even if you take me for a ride, you dont deliver, you do shoddy work, you dont meet expectations, I am willing to understand and give you that extra chance. After all if people like me will not pay it forward, who will? 

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?