Lessons from Anurag Kashyap's Journey in Bollywood

Thanks to Vijesh, I saw this talk where Anurag Kashyap talks about his journey in Bollywood. There are tons of lessons in there. I think you must check it out. This blog post is a list of lessons that I am taking away from it.



Here's a list.
  • Once you know what you want to do in life (that's where I think half the battle is), identify places where people who can help you find work on what you want to work on hang out. Spend time there. Offer them your services for free. Till a point, you become so important that you start getting the work you wanted. Aka, hustle. He says that he worked at Prithvi Cafe because that is where all the film-wallahs would hang out. And once he was there, he started to work for free, as a writer. Because he could write fast and did not ask for credit or money, he started getting work. And with time, he became important.
  • Always be available. Continuation from the first point. 
  • No one owes you anything. If you want it, you better go work for it. Just because you want it, the world will NOT serve it to you on a platter. He gives an example of how people goto him and tell him that they want to make movies and he asks them, "who's stopping you?"
  • He says that each choice has a consequence. And you have to know that you will have to live with and deal with those consequences. 
  • Every time he would see resentment from people around him, he would move out from that clique. 
  • Do things. And not just crib. Do not blame others. Do not abuse others. Don't just cry that things are wrong. 
  • Jugaad. How do you understand people and appeal to their desires deep down and get things done. He gives an example of how he got a digital camera for free by offering a role to the person who controlled the camera. 
  • When you believe in something, you HAVE to stand up for it and fight for it. You HAVE to take responsibilities. This is my biggest takeaway. 
  • Persistence is probably one of the most undervalued traits! Of course, you have to know what you really really stand for in life. And once you know what you believe in, you HAVE to persist with things!
  • When you fail, you don't crib or moan. You go back to the drawing board and restart. As he said, the world does not owe you anything! 
That's about it. Do tell me what you take away from his talk. Over and out! 

PS: This was first written for subscribers of my letters, SoGv2. More about em is here

Hello, themes!

Good afternoon!

So, as I write this, I have just spent one hour of almost uninterrupted time on book2 and trust me, it was HARD. For someone like me (who has an attention span of a Goldfish). It sucked to not reach out for the phone every 1 second. But I am happy that I could do an hour on #book2. Today was the second day when I could work on it. If I go at this rate, I will probably have the bible ready in a month or so (that is what I am hoping to achieve). And why? Because a talent agent has asked me to write the bible - it apparently interests them enough to go pitch to some production houses. Yay to that! 

Like I've been saying, the ability to write (and remain unfazed with negative feedback) has been the largest thing to me. These letters and my blog is ok - these are consumed by friends and family and thus I get immense support. But what I write in my books is for the world at large. And the world at large is anything but kind. I mean the world is kind as well. But there are enough and more that would not cut you slack. But then, those people expand my universe and get me ahead. So, it is worth the grind.

So yeah.

What else? Yeah... apart from this two-day streak of working on #book2, yesterday was a special day. I saw my name on a screen for the first time yesterday, as a producer. Of a short film. The only other thing that I've done before this is helping a musician friend with this music video.

No, can't say much about the short film at this point in time, there are a lot of open ends. But we should be able to talk about it in less than a month. Hope it happens sooner. Can't wait! It is a step in the direction of where I want to move with the theme of storytelling. And been wanting to move for a while.

Theme. Themes.

I think I have finally found a universal word to describe the method in my madness. I like knowing about many things and I love to talk to many people and I want to learn as much about things as I can. There is so so much that I want to do, stand for, push, etc. But I never had the word to describe those things. And often I would get trapped in my own head. And of course, no one would understand what am doing, let alone what am hoping to achieve. I was dancing to a song that no one else could hear.

Not anymore. I have the words to express what I am hoping to do. I call it themes.

Themes.

So, some themes that I have in life are...
  1. Storytelling / Entertainment 
  2. Relationships / People 
  3. Long-term thinking / Compounding 
  4. Longevity 
  5. Abundance / Wealth 
  6. Enabling 
  7. Ambition
  8. Give back / Pay it forward 
Of course, this is an indicative list. There has to be more. There is. And then, once I have a largish set of themes to work with, I will reduce these themes to less than 5.

The list remains WIP. Like I said, with time I will refine these in a manner that they'd make more sense to me (and to the world). The point is that each thing I do must fall under a certain theme.
  • Write books? The theme of storytelling, entertainment.
  • Travel? The theme of exploration.
  • Mt. Everest? The theme of adventure, ambition, inspiration. 
  • Teaching? The theme of giving back.
Think of these as tags. Each thing I do can now fit under a particular "theme" and with time, I will refine these.

Makes sense?

What are some of the themes that you relate to? What can I help you with?

Originally written as a letter to some friends on SoGv2. 

The randomness of success

Remember, yesterday, I talked about the guy that I met that made me think hard? Well, that hard thinking is still happening! In the sense that what he said, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. There are a million threads going all over the place but the one that I keep coming back to, again and again, and again and again and again is the one where he asked me about my heroes and their success. He said, what if the heroes that I look up to (people like Steve, Bill, Elon, Jeff, Paul, Raj, Suvi, Rajesh and others) were not really driven by hard work but by randomness. What if they just got lucky and there is no formula that you can take from their success to apply to your life and get successful.

Now, this is a very new idea to me. I mean am aware of the concept of fooled by randomness and the coin-flipping concept outlined in the Superinvestors of Graham and Doddsville. But I never applied that to the success of people that I look up to. I always thought they were ahead of the curve because they were doing something right. And I've believed that I can reverse engineer their success and create this magic potion that can help me find success.

But this very thought that the heroes that I look up to could be because of sheer luck, it is not cool. In the sense, I want to believe that success is achievable and there is a path that I can walk to reach the end goal. I am not getting in this debate between goals, path, destinations, etc. Hope you get the drift when I say that you can tread a certain path to reach the end goal. 

I tried hard to give evidence against the assertion. I said that if success is random, then how is that some people can get successful at multiple ventures. And before I could wait for a reply from the guy, it dawned on to me that just the law of large numbers can explain people who have multiple successes and people who have nothing. It IS all randomness!

The idea that success is random also sort of questions the very existence of this idea called Saurabh Garg. I mean the inking that I have in terms of what I want to do with life is around enabling others to live their best life and that means I need to help them get successful. But, if I can't decode success and thus I can't enable it, why am I even alive?

The day that was - 11 Jul 2019

Yo. I have nothing special to report. Except that, today was one of those eye-opening days. I met this guy who made me think about the very reason why I am alive! I always thought I had the answer but I did not :(

I mean I know I want to enable a billion people to do better. By setting an example (you know, do tough things like climbing the Mt. Everest, making a billion dollars, etc). And then by connecting them with others that I know could help them. I just don't know how to do that at scale! 

So, he gave me this brilliant framework to think on. And that means I will have to work hard, think hard and probably get hurt as I uncover those patterns that have made me who I am. Task's been cut out for me. Tough thing.

Apart from that one meeting, I did some work, walked almost 13K steps (not that I did not want to - blame it on Mumbai traffic), ate like a pig (need to fix this), published a letter, wrote this post and getting ready to call it a day. Oh, now, when I end the day, inspired by Deep Work, I shut down the laptop and do not even think about things.

So, all in all, a pretty ok day. I just hope that I get to sleep well.

Until tomorrow, over and out!

Day 3.

Today is day 3 of publishing three days on the trot on my blog. The one I wrote the day before, there was an agenda to it. The one I wrote yesterday, there was no agenda. Today, I have one. To take the streak to 3. In absence of anything meaningful on my hands and absence of ideas that I can work on to make meaning, this is the least I can do.

As I write this, I have not checked my email in the last 18 hours or so and no the world has not come crashing down. I will check emails right after this post is done. I have spent less than 10 minutes on Twitter + Instagram combined. I feel I am missing out on a lot. But so far nothing has been taken away from me. Guess once I miss on a big opportunity because I was not around to respond to messages. But then, like they say, if there's something that is important enough for you to know, it will find a way to reach you. So, let's see. I have stayed away from Whatsapp as well. Unless absolutely necessary.

Thing is, I am trying to implement Deep Work philosophy in life.

It is tough - this concentration without the distractions that I am used to. So far its been a few hours and I am yet to see any tangible positive results. If I can do this for a month or so, I will probably see the impact. Let's see how that goes. I just need to get enough writing and enough exercise done. Once that happens, life would be ok I guess - other pieces are good (family, relationships, friends, etc). Money continues to remain a challenge. Let's see when that gets resolved. 

The thing with Deep Work is that it asks you to allocate distraction free chunks of time on things. Like this piece. I allocated 30 minutes to write this piece. I am in the 17th minute and I don't know what else to write. I have to persist for 13 more minutes and write whatever comes in my head. Ok, 10ish. I will need 3 minutes to edit, spell-check, etc.

The biggest takeaway that I had from this book was the importance of winding down. I knew about it but I would never exercise it. Now is the time to do it. Yesterday I did not work as I was about to sleep. I did not start work immediately as I woke up today. Of course, work is light these days and thus I have the luxury. Let's see how the next few days (as I get busier) go.

Ok, I am at the 23rd minute and I can't write anymore. Will edit and publish this.

And that's about it for the time being. There is nothing else to write. I will, however, write a few more words today on SoG 1KWAD piece. In case you want to receive those in your mailbox, please let me know.

Chalo, over and out.

PS: As I was editing this, I realized that there are so many forward-looking statements in this piece! Such has life been - forward-looking. Saving up sex for old age. Etc.

PPS: Why would I force myself to implement Deep Work? Because I realized that life is short, you are alone and we waste so much time that it's not funny. And, this quote...

Dr. Peterson says, "if for 10 years you dint avoid doing what you knew you needed to do, what would you be like?"
My next ten years started on Jul 1, 2019. I am 10 days in and if I can't write every day, why am I even trying? There is so much comfort in taking up an easy job!

Till tomorrow...

9 things about Saurabh Garg

I just felt like publishing something on the blog. And because I had nothing else, here are 9 random things that you did not have to know and I did not have to publish but here I am.

1. I am writing this on a MacBook Air. I bought the machine a couple of years ago and I don't know how much I have typed on this but the keys A, S, D, E, and C are faded to a point that I mistakes when I type sentences like this that require these letters.

2. I am a big fan of talk shows, the kinds David Letterman can pull off. In fact, I love Shekhar Sumar for his Movers and Shakers (that used to air on TV when I was a kid). I want to at some point in time, create such a show. The motivation is to learn from these amazing people (guests) and then do what...? I don't know. But I do know that I love when I am meeting these interesting people and learning from them. At some point in time, I need to figure that shit out.

3. The biggest thing that I suck at is consistency. I have tried a million times to do things on a regular basis and I have failed. This 9 random things today is an attempt in the direction. I will try and post something for the next 100 days (yes, yes, you've heard this before - I have taken up these multiple challenges and failed at most of those). But I can't stop trying. You know.

4. As we speak, I am interested in a few things that may or may not be of interest to you (like most of this post). The topmost of that list is this thing called Personal Knowledge Management. The idea is that you know so many people and so many things and so many ideas - there has to be a place to catalog those together.

Other things that I am interested in are - ways to break larger goals into tiny things that you can track (for example, if I want to grow my business, I need new clients and the way to track could be to see how many cold calls I send). Get the drift?

5. As I write, I am watching Khosla Ka Ghosla - it is one of the best movies that I've ever seen. You have to see it. If you haven't.

6. Mumbai right now is reporting the best weather of the year. It is raining cats and dogs and it is lovely. Just that the roads are jacked because of the metro and roads. But it's lovely. You need to experience the city in the monsoons if you wish to experience Mumbai.

7. I am on #7 and I don't know what else to write. I did not know it could be this tough. Ok, my favorite food these days is Indian - you know Dal and Parantha, etc. If I had my way, I would just eat that. But them carbs suck. Wish someone could invent Indian food without carbs.

8. I own some 8 pair of shoes and I wear none. Actually, I don't know if it's 8. But there must be that many. Will count some day.

9. Last. Phew. I was such a pain. The last thing. I am working on my website for the last few days. And I am stuck on it. It has to be like an online place where I catalog my ideas, thoughts and other things that I wish to stand for. Or take a stand on. You know, this blog for example. You know where am going?

Phew!

So, 9 things. If you are reading this, do tell me 9 things about you. Would be lovely to know :)

Over and out.

Rant - 8 Jul 2019

Ranty post ahead. Talks of things that may not be polite or nice or good. Read at peril. 

So, few things happened in the last few days that have pushed me to the edge, if there is an edge. No, I did not want to jump over something. Just that it was stifling, for the want of a better word. You know, how life could be unfair? If the last few days is any indication, life IS unfair. And is probably meaningless. So so many things happened that left me listless. Lemme talk of each of those in short. 

A, A friend is going through a bad breakup. The girl is clinically unwell and seeing a doctor. The guy is ok but his parents are unwell and is at hospitals all day long. I am one of their common friends and I thus know both sides of the story. And its a stalemate - it is not going anywhere, both of them know about it but hoping to not accept it. I wish I could fix it. Two great people. In pain. For no rhyme or reason. 

B, Someone I knew about and had exchanged a few tweets with passed away. No, I did not know the guy. I knew of him. Just that he was everything that I’ve ever wanted to be - nice guy, chasing fitness, restauranteur, helpful (he would help everyone that needed help), married to the love of his life, hustler, stood up for times when he was wrong, celebrated awards that his restaurant would get and so on and so forth. Because I knew of him on Twitter, while he and his life are familiar, he was still a stranger to me. And despite that, when he passed away, it came as a shock to me. He was young and he was a great guy. And you know, bad things aren't supposed to happen to great people. But it did. Life is fucking unpredictable, unfair and terribly short! Wish I could undo it!

C, Work hasn’t been great lately. I am working on this project that I really want to do well and despite all my attempts, I am failing at it. To a point that I am doubting my abilities. I anyway suck at BD and when I can't seem to deliver on a project, I get jacked in my head. My work is really really important to me and it sucks when I suck at it. And it sucks all the more that I don't know how to fix it :(

D, Something happened with this group of friends (no, can't talk about it here - this is reserved for sgEchoChamber) that made me realize that I do not have any close friends. I am just a convenient acquaintance to most people I call a friend. And the stupid part is that I've molded my entire life hoping to be of use to people I call friends! 

E, I've been unwell for far too long. And there's a different thing every goddamn time. Like this recent trip to Delhi (more about it in a bit), every time I’d sit in a cab, I'd feel pukish. Every time I’d eat something oily, I’d want to die. And this was coming on the back of that week when I feel sick. So, that's not been cool either. 

F, the only thing that was working out was the letters that I would send and the connections I made from those. Those too sort of stopped once I was in Delhi. Blame it on travel and general fuckery of the mind. 

Lemme talk about Delhi. So I had this meeting on a Tuesday and I decided to stay back the week. And I did. Met old friends and acquaintances. Jammed with them - it helped because they don't see me on a day to day basis, they could see things from an emotionally detached space. And thus, got tons of ideas. Which was a great thing to get some much-needed distraction! 

I also realized that I probably will never be the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Heck, I won’t be Paul Graham ever. Leave him aside. I won’t even be an Indian Internet Entrepreneur that impacts things at scale. And it's not a great feeling to realize that you will not be what you thought knew you were all your life! 

So yeah. These and other such things kept me awake. Pushed me to the edge. 

And while I was thinking about things and writing this, I realized that I ought to be so thankful about my life. And about all the opportunities that come my way. And now that I am trying to get out of the slumber, I think I will have to be faster and lot on point. 

Guess these are the rude shocks that I needed to be able to make my life better and larger and all that? No? 

How I Work - 2019 edition

This is the 2019 version of a How I Work post that I wrote in 2016. Wrote this as an email to a colleague who liked the system I used. 


I often get asked how do I do all the things I do. My reply is almost always the same - I dont do a lot. I just pretend. But even with that, I have a system. In this post, I will try to talk about the system that I use. 

The system is made of a few philosophical ideas and some tools. Here is a list of the two.

Tools 
So, this is a list of tools that I increasingly use to rely on things.

1. The Brain
www.thebrain.com (freemium)

What does this tool do?
This tool mimics how the human brain thinks and make connections.

What do I use this tool for?
I use this to dump EVERYTHING I have in my head. Each night I narrate a voice note to my EA. He then transcribes the notes and puts on the brain in threads that he thinks is relevant. Once I open it, in case I find a thread that is not in the right place, I do it. This reinforces things in my head as well.

Brain does not have the ability to store longer notes and thus those go in Evernote / Google Drive.

2. Airtable
www.airtable.com (freemium)

What does this tool do?
This is like excel sheet but on steroids. The key difference is that on excel, all data is numbers and on this, each row / column could have different data types (numbers, images, links, tables etc).

What do I use this tool for?
I use this for CRM. Each meeting I have, each call I make is logged into this. Again, I make voice notes and send to my EA. He transcribes and enters the details in this. For CRM, this piece will be useful for you to set this up.

Other tools for CRM
Apart from these, the other tools that you could try and experiment with are:
  • Notion - notion.so - a better notepad.
  • Monday.com - a team / task management tool
  • Hubspot - gold standard in how the world manages its CRM

3. Asana
www.asana.com (freemium)

What does this tool do? What do I use this tool for?
This is a task manager. For each thing I am working on, I divide it into tasks. And then I get my EA to put those tasks in this. Each task has a person who's directly responsible for it, a deadline, a priority and an impact area (what does that task help me achieve - money? connections? brand?).

This is my lifeline. If this stops working, I'll die.
You may want to try Trello, Wunderlist etc. All these are task managers essentially and allow you to log what you work on.


4. Miro
www.miro.com (freemium)

What does this tool do?
This is a virtual whiteboard. You can pin things, make notes, link to stuff and others.

What do I use this tool for?
This is where I chart and plot where I want to be in life.

***

Philosophy
All these are dependent on a few things...
  • Google as login. Its SUPER easy to save files, move them around with logins and all that if I use Google as the backend. Of course I have concerns on the privacy piece but I am not as important to be hacked.
  • Device / location independence - I want to be able to access these things from anywhere in the world, on any device, as long as I have internet. So, all is on the cloud.
  • Ownership of time - I own my time. I value my freedom and time more than anything else.
  • Trial and Error - these things are very personal and you will have to try multiple iterations and variations before you find a system that works for you.
  • People. I have a team of 2 to manage my life. One is my EA - the most important piece. I am super lucky to have found someone young that I trust and can mould into the way I work. I don't know how long he'd stay with me but I will try and ensure that when he moves out, I have a replacement in place. The other is a BA - a business analyst that does all my homework. I just got him onboard and I am experimenting to see how it works out. The guy does not manage my time per se but saves me time by doing research etc. Think of it as an outsourced brain.
  • Brains are meant for thinking and NOT for storing. The day I realised this, I "outsourced" all the remembering to The Brain and to my EA. Now, when I need info, I use the tools to retrieve and in case tools fail, I call the EA and that guy's job is to remember anyway! Saves me brainpower.

That's about it. Shortish post. 

Like I said, this is the 2019 version of the post that I wrote in 2016. My methodology and madness has remained the same - the tools have evolved (from excel to Airtable etc.).

Hope these help. In case any of you wants me to set these up for you, please do let me know. I am one email away :)

P2P Lending Policy

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digressing again. Coming back. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

But... but... it's changing now. 

Thanks to my Mastermind group. 

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

That's it! 
Simple idea.

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

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

Saurabh Garg
17 May 2019

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

The SM Detox - Apr-May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Suvi!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did not know I was gonna be so wrong. 

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

And he had me at Samosa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, thank you, Suvi.
For everything. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Suvi!
Love you to bits. 

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

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

Regards,
SG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Vijesh!

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

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

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

Thank you, Vijesh for being the North Star.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any guesses what I chose? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wish you all the best :)

With all respect,
Saurabh Garg

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

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

Thank you, Ashish!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for all the mindspace, help and inputs.

Wish you all the best :)

With all respect,
Saurabh Garg
Class of 2006

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

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

Hello, Serendipitous Adventures in Mumbai.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Hemant!

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

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

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

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

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

Others posts in this series: 12345, 6 

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

Thank you, RaJ!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others posts in this series: 1234, 5

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

Thank you, Rana Sir!

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

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

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

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

Ok, I am digressing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And tears welled in my eyes when that happened. 

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

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

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

Others posts in this series: 1234

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

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

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

Thank you, Tim!

Post 4 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here.

Thank you, Tim Ferriss!
Of course, you know who Tim is. Apart from the 4-hour series (work, body, chef and I don't know what all), he is more famous for his blog and podcast. I don't know when I first heard about him but I do know that I was amazed at his ability to get past the gatekeepers and get access to some of the busiest and most difficult to reach people in the world. And not just access, he had and continues to have a ringside seat as these people do wonders. He is an early investor in companies like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Evernote, and Uber and others. To be able to put money there, you don't need access to just capital but to deals when they are being structured and even thought of. 

This insider access is what I crave the most. And not because I want to be famous. But because I believe it allows you to grow as an individual. And why would you want to grow? To be able to serve! The way Tim is. With his blog, podcast and other appearances. 

While I've never met Tim, I have an Eklavyasque relationship with him. I never had access to his time but I do have access to what he's taught. And from a distance. That's the beauty of the Internet. It allows you to literally reach anyone, anytime and on any device. You no longer have to go through the grind to reach these teachers. In fact, Tim's work reduces friction all the more. And that is what I would want to do as well. The SoG series attempts to do just that (educate, inform, spark a debate/conversation and other things).

With the remote access that I had to Tim, I have been able to learn so much about so many things. Definitely more than all the schools, colleges and other places that I have been to. You know, if I were in my 20s right now, I would spend all my time chasing content on Tim's blog. And touch nothing else. That body of work itself will allow me to get ahead. And fast. Tim has done the hard work on extracting the greatest lessons from the greatest lives already. 

Thanks to him, his life and his work, I know that what I aspire to do (make a billion dollars and inspire a billion people to do better) is not impossible. Of course its tough af but what fun will it be if it weren't tough ;P 

 I will do a Tim Ferriss with my career. I mean I love talking to people. I love listening to their stories. I love to tell these stories in my own language and I love to add whatever colour I can add on top. Someday (soon, hopefully in 2019), I will start talking to inspiring, amazing people that Tim has been able to talk to. And tell their stories from my lens! Wish me luck :) 

And, for the umpteenth time, thank you, Tim! 

Oh, random trivia. Tim is one of those few people who's website comes up higher than their Wikipedia page on Google! 

Others posts in this series: 1, 2, 3

Thank you, Ashima

Post 3 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here

Thank you, Ashima!
I went to MDI with Ashima. Among all the 150 odd people that were in the batch, Ashima was one of those that ignored my ignorance and tolerated me. And continues to tolerate me after all these years. And even though it's been almost 14 years, she remains my shrink, my doctor, my advisor, my bounding board and my fitness consultant. Every time I have a thing that requires me to goto a doc, I just call Ashi (that's what I call her) and get help. And it works every time. I think, in one line, I can say that she's an integral part of my support system! 

What makes Ashi amazing is that she is one of those few people that had the guts to take the tougher path (I wish I could write more about this - this is a public platform) and choose her fitness, her life over everything else. 

I don't really have too many words (I wish I could write more) but I do have mad respect for what she stands for and what she does for me. Ashima has taught me what amounts to being friends. She has been like a rock that has stood by me through thick and thin. And for that, and for more that I cant write about here, Thank you, Ashi. 

Others posts in this series: 1, 2

Thank you, Harshit

I started a new project yesterday. Each day, I plan to write a post acknowledging people that have helped me become who I am. This idea has been inspired by Shatrujeet's series, a100peopletothank. This is post 2 in the series. My series has the tag #sg100peopleToThank.

Thank you, Harshit. 
I first met Harshit (Instagram) some 3-4 years ago (I don't recall how we connected but I do remember it was about a startup he was planning) at Starbucks, Powai (where else?). When we met, I am not sure if I were impressed by him but I did realise that he has this, unbound, ambition. I do remember that I tried to poach him. But he did not fall into my glibness and he said no. 

We lost touch for a while and then out of the blues, he asked me to meet him. 

Of course, I never say no to meeting new people (as long as meet me in a 3 KM radius of where I live). He volunteered to come to the office and we sat and talked and talked. Yet again, I did not think much of him. 

Among other things, in this meeting, he talked to me about his admiration for Shahrukh Khan. And anyone that loves SRK is automatically a blood relative! Harshit went so far as to narrate word-to-word SRK's now famous speech (video, text) where he equates poverty with failure. SRK said, "I equated poverty with failure. I just didn’t want to be poor." I take inspiration from this piece. And so does Harshit! And we could've left that meeting on this shared fandom obsession for SRK, but no.

While parting, Harshit asked me about things that I needed help on. I told him that I needed someone to do tech for an idea I was working on at the time and I needed someone to help me with growing business at C4E

And without expecting anything in return, he connected me to Abhinav (who has now become a close collaborator on most projects). And he helped me meet a few potential clients (I could not convert any - not his problem).

As things moved along, we started meeting frequently and I realised that he is one heck of a conversationalist! To a point that I started sharing my deepest secrets with him. And instead of making fun of me or something, he started to offer help. He started to badger me to do more. And like a great pupil, I would continue to ignore. He became this persistent voice at the back of my head that would not leave me alone if I did not deliver! 

Then one day he called and said that he wants to throw me (and some others) a challenge to do 100 pushups over the next 30 days. I said I can't do anything to do with fitness and I volunteered that I'd rather write 1000 words a day. He agreed and asked me to write a 1000 words and post them on a public forum.

Even though I accepted the challenge, I kept dilly-dallying. And he did not stop her badgering and pushing me. I hated him from the bottom of my heart. And I felt miserable about not being able to work. Here is one snippet from my notes about a meeting with him... 

This is from my notes. I started writing the SoG series from the 27th of Oct, right after this note! Guess I've had enough of Harshit and Krishna chasing me!

Eventually, I gave in and I started to write a 1000 words a day. Those words took shape of Shoulders of Giants (#SoG), a series of letters to select friends where I would share whatever I learnt in the day gone by. 

I sent the first letter on the 27th of Oct 2018 (a copy is located here). Since then I have written a few (archived here). Oh, I can't write about SoG and not write about Krishna. While Harshit gave me the push, it was Krishna that helped me give shape to the thoughts and idea behind the letters. More on these some other time. 

As I end this, I HAVE to say that the thing that I relate most to him, and what I've learnt from him, and what I respect him for is perseverance. He has this maaaaad perseverance of an obsessive, maniacal person. If he sets his eyes onto something, he gets it. Case in point? His Crossfit training. Since he moved to Lucknow, he is doing whatever it takes to become super fit and compete in the Crossfit games. He wakes up before 4:30 (which is inhuman), goes to the gym and sends one inspiring quote EVERY day! Every day! An archive is on his Instagram feed. That's some consistency and commitment. If I had that kind of commitment, I would reach my lifeGoals faster and sooner!

Oh, and Harshit is a clear example of a connection that I would've never made if I did not go out of my way and told the Universe that I wanted to meet more people. And it wouldn't happen if Harshit wasn't the same! Apart from being a friend, Harshit is superconnector (has connected me to some really interesting people) and a believer in me. 

Lesson for me? And others? Go out, meet more people. And while you are at it, see this TED talk that talks about what makes a good life. Like they say, it helps to hustle :) 

In the end, thank you, Harshit. For inspiring me to push myself harder. And specifically for nudging me to create SoG. I sincerely wish you were in Mumbai. I would've loved to spend more time with him. Maybe sometime in future. I remain hopeful :)

Others posts in this series: April 1

Thank you, Shatrujeet!

I am starting a new project today. Each day, for the next 100 days, I will write a post acknowledging people that have helped me become who I am. I got inspired by Shatrujeet's series, a100peopletothank

So, the first one is, N Shatrujeet! Who else?

I first met Shatru (I call him that) when I was at Creativeland (CLA). This is 2008 or 9. Don't remember the exact year. While I was part of the planning function, he was there to develop some original content for some division at CLA (I don't recall the specifics). My interactions with him were limited, but for some reason, I knew that he is among the more interesting ones there. I had this instant liking for him. Or maybe because he was the only other person in the office that was not fancy?

So at work, while we kept to our respective teams and reporting managers (he sat at a different area, I had my things to work on), we would often hang out together. Often, not frequent.

Mid of 2009, I moved on from CLA. So did he (dunno when).

Years later when I was with Gravity, Shatru had partnered with Gaurrav Dhar (who was also at CLA briefly, though my interactions were very limited) to work on some content ideas. For one of the projects, he needed someone with expertise in event management. He got in touch with me and we did work on some really interesting ideas.

Apart from what we were working on, this was the time when I think Shatru was writing The Karachi Deception (writing, not published mind you). And this was the first time ever when I realised what writing a book could entail. He would often talk about the progress on the story and the challenges he was facing with it. I even got to read a preview copy (my claim to fame till date)!

Those interactions with Shatru probably watered the seed that was planted in my head since I was a kid! If #tnks has happened, it is because I was fortunate to have spent time with Shatru.

So, thank you, Shatru. For all that you've taught me while we were working together. And now, as life has become increasingly busy for both you and me, from a distance. Case in point? I read that you've now reached a point where you can do a plank for 5 minutes. Which is tough but manageable with time, grit, patience and practise.

But you know what is tougher? Quitting smoking! You've quit smoking. Shatru, it's the biggest change you've made. Biggest and tallest than them Sequoia trees! You loved your smokes so much that even now I can't picture you without one. I mean I do NOT have a single memory of you where you aren't holding onto a cigarette. You loved them like I love the tap-tap that the keyboard makes when I am writing something. And yet you quit. And I am so so proud and stoked. And I am inspired.

Shatru, if you can quit smoking and do those planks, I can too.

Inspired by you (and others), this April onwards, I will make my health my priority. I will stop with the Coke. And I will carry my protein shakes and almonds and others. I will not put anything in my system that fucks with it. Really. As I write this, it's almost the end of the but. But you'd be glad to know, I started today!

In the end, Thank you, Shatru! For teaching me how to tell great stories. And for inspiring me to become better with each passing day. You are a mentor, a guru and on top of everything else, a friend, Shatru.

Good luck with Vikram and all other adventures you concoct.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

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

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