Hello, September!

I send a monthly letter to a few people that have helped me grow in my career. This is a slightly edited version of this. If you want me to add you to this list, please do let me know.

Hello, September!
Hi!

This is Saurabh and this is the September version of my monthly emails to people who care :) In case you forgot what I wrote in August, it's archived here.

August was long and yet it flew away faster than the fastest Bullet Train that has been promised to us Indians. August was faster than you can blink. I mean I couldn't even read and respond to your emails and the month had gone by!

I will talk about what I did in August, but before anything else, thank you!

Really.
Thank you! 
For being around.
For helping me when I was in a soup.
For tolerating these emails.
Even if you don't read these, the thought that you are reading these emails keeps me going. You know, Eklavya?

So, in August, I had said I'd do the following...
a. Finish Show Bible for my second book
No, I did not do it.
I tried. I could not.
It is taking longer than I expected. I did put in the effort and yet it is far from the finish. It is taking me longer. I will work on this in September as well.

b. Lose 1 inch from my waist.
I did this one.
Yay!
Thanks to a combination of a lot of things - sleep, tracking what I eat, mindful snacking, a 3-day fast to get into the healthy habit and walking more than what I would typically walk. And a lot of effort from BR on helping me understand the importance of food.

I want to lose another inch this month. Even though I am on the road a lot this month, I am hoping to add running / brisk walk to my fitness regimen this month on. More on this in a bit.

c. The other notable things that happened in the month of August 2019 are... 
  • #tnks (my first book) got shortlisted at the South Asian Film Market at Singapore South Asian International Film Festival. Was a big deal for me. I hope it gets picked up and gets converted into a film. If it does, it will be a step closer to where I want to be as a writer. Also, when I was in Singapore, I understood how much harder and smarter I need to work to be able to reach where I want to be! I learned a lot and I was left humbled. I even wrote a short post on it. If you are curious, you may read it here.
  • Bin Bulaye, the first short-film I co-produced with a couple of people is now ready for release. This officially makes me a filmmaker that has shipped some content and marks the start of my career as a filmmaker. The next step is another short and then after a series of such steps, someday, an actual feature. Oh, for the next short, I am raising money. In case you know people who want to fund indie, short films, do connect. Please note that "investing" in a short film does not give any returns per se - so these are risky "assets" (the largest return you'd get is bragging rights). And if you want an esoteric answer, as a filmmaker (or a creative individual), you do these things and put your life and money and effort and blood and toil and everything else into the art to be able to open the eyes of people who've shut them tight. Indie films allow you to do that.
  • Launched Hop197.com. Hop197.com will chronicle the journey of a dear friend Sujoy and his wife as they attempt to become the most-traveled couple from India. So far they've been to 120+ countries. I am helping them put the website and a partner in the online piece. Let's see how it goes.
  • Gave my first paid-for talk on a stage to an audience of 100 odd people. On branding and storytelling. And oh boy, what a bad job I did there! I need to work hard on my presentation skills. I am thinking I will join some acting school or something to improve how I talk and how I conduct myself on stage. Thankfully the presentation I made at Singapore about my book was pretty cool. Phew!

So, September.
In this month, I plan to work on the following...

a. Show Bible for the second book
Been on this since August 19.
It is taking longer and from what I've seen, it will take more than just a month :(
So, even though I will gun for a finish in September, it may stretch into October. Let's see.

b. Start running
Not walking, not jogging. Running.
This means that I need to be able to 4 kilometers in 30 minutes.
I know it is not fast. But that is what I hope to do. To start with.
If I can do this, in October, I will add weights to my training regimen.

c. Get saurabhgarg.com up and running
I've always wanted to have a home for all that I do and think and play with and all that.
I've had the domain name for a while but never cared to work on a website.
In Sep, I will.
And along with the website, I will stop underselling myself and start marketing myself.
No, I don't want to go overboard but I want to be known a tad more. After all the size of opportunities you get is a function of the number of people you know! This thing about being known more has got reinforced after the trip to Singapore. In fact, I ran an experimental survey where I asked people to tell me what they think of me and this is what they had to say. Not really in the zone that I want people's perception to be about me, but it is a great starting point.

d. Do a one-month reading deep-dive into one specific topic
I plan to read about one topic in as much depth as I can. And then try to put a blog post about it. For example, can I read A LOT about whatever Warren Buffet has said (and see all his videos) and then catalog them into a nice note that can be a primer for others? Much like what Tim Urban is attempting about "everything". Or what Julian did for writing, muscle, and growth. And of course, I will continue to read about a wide range of things, apart from this one thing. I just need to find a subject. If not Warren, then maybe I'd read about crypto. Or about what Jeff has said? What do you think will be in demand in times to come?

e. Work towards creating a business that takes me beyond India
The intent is to go global and have reduced dependency on the motherland for my survival and growth.

And why would I do that? Long story. I'd write a post about it someday.

But help me. I can straddle between digital marketing, events, and strategic marketing. If you know of opportunities, would love to pitch in. And apart from that, please do tell me what other things could be done that take me beyond the borders. I've been meeting people and I have some ideas but I need more help.

That's it. That's how September is going to be. And no, these are not too many things.

So that’s about it.
Thanks again for your patience.
And all the help.

Hope you have a good day and a good month ahead.
Please do let me know if I could be of any service to you.

Gratitude and Respect,

-

Saurabh Garg
@saurabh
Send me anonymous feedback
Updates from previous months - 0819

PS: I understand that you may not want me to clog your mailbox. Some of you probably wouldn't even remember me! So, PLEASE do tell me if you do NOT want to get these once-a-month emails. I promise to not get offended. I’d understand.

PPS: The intention of this email is not to seek work or connections or something from you. If I need em, I will ask for those things directly. What I seek is continued patronage and an active interest in my life, my career, my ambitions et al. That is it.

PPPS: You may use https://forms.gle/28bVP8DYz2WGdHdp8 to give me anonymous feedback on this email. Or anything else under the sun. I will read EACH input and work on it! Promise! Last month I got this long, not-so-kind input and I have started to act on it.

PPPPS: Oh, and do share content (books, texts, links, videos et al) that you consumed that you loved. That you thought were brilliant. That you would revisit over and over again. That you think I MUST read if I want to become better! May be on email. May be on Whatsapp (click here to message me).

***

Previous updates: Aug 2019
All posts here.

On writing (from my newsletter)...

Wrote this in today's edition of my daily-ish newsletter. Subscribe here. Thought it deserved a wider subscription. 

What I write, to be honest has nothing to do with my book or the film. Neither it inspires any of my readers to do anything extraordinary. But to me, writing is about writing for the sake of writing. You know, getting some words on paper (or keystrokes on a laptop) is like the best thing that can ever happen to me. I mean, I can't paint. I don't have the ability to hold attention. I am not well-read (ok, I read a lot but I haven't read deeply about things - you know, have merely scratched the surface). I cant doodle. I am not funny. I have two left feet (so dance is out). I am the greatest bathroom singer to have ever walked the Mother Earth and thus I must never sing outside. The guitar and the Uke are rotting in some corners in the house. Bicycling is not my thing. Clubs are boring. I'd love to take photographs but requires way too much patience. Video games were a thing when I was younger - now, I don't have the reflexes. I would watch TV when I had more time but with attention spans getting shorter and time becoming increasingly rare, I tend to pick other things to invest my time on. 

So, I am left with writing as the thing to find an escape. And to find inspiration. And to try and get to salvation. Of course, I am yet to reach a point where I can say that I am good writer, the point, ladies and gents, is, writing is what makes me happy and makes me forget the fuckeries and vagaries of the world around me. And you know what, I am grateful about it. I just need to do a lot more of it!

<end>

Originally posted in today's edition of my daily-ish newsletter. Subscribe here

Saurabh Garg - Personal Brand

This is an excerpt from the daily newsletter that I send out to some friends. More about the newsletter is here.

Please read this and tell me what you think. 
The next thing that I want to share (and more than share, write and thus get clarity in my head) is my personal brand.

For starters, twitter. 
So, twitter is the largest, strongest, baddest, bestest connection I have to the outside world (I remain an introvert at most other places). And on Twitter, I would often post whatever comes in my head, even if those things are embarrassing and cringe-inducing. You know, I was being authentic (I am like that IRL). Which was great to a point in time. But I feel that authenticity is making me a tad more human that what I hope to be and is thus preventing me from making business connections. And to be honest, right now, I need business connections more than anything else at this point in life.

Ergo, fixing twitter. Step 1 towards fixing personal brand.

Last night, I split my twitter usage in three. Yes, three. I am not for small measures ;)

@saurabh - where I'll mostly talk about work. Try to create connections that can take me far. I will talk about my writing, marketing consulting assignments, events and all the projects that I am a part of. The idea will be to use the platform to showcase work, create more opportunities and meet more people that can help me grow.

@altsaurabh - this is where I would move what I was doing with @saurabh. Put things that I want friends and family to see.

@altsg - this remains the way it was. A backup account that I use when I am super-fucked in the head. 
And yes, I take myself very seriously ;P

I know I should not - I have been warned by enough people in as many words (including that longish comment). But I don't know how else to live. I am a reflection of my work. And my work consumes all of me. I don't have a personal life, heck, I don't want one. I don't enjoy anything else but this grind. There is nothing else that I am passionate about. There is nothing that I think I will ever do in life but think about the next. You know, divinely discontent. Each thing I do -- from writing to fitness to hopes to live long and more -- is an input for things that I can work on.

I know my definition of life and work is kind of warped. I don't know what is work-life balance. I don't even want to know. And the range of things that I work on is pretty wide but it is what it is.

Assuming that is the border you have to work in, if you are willing to help, do see my LinkedIn profile and my website and please do tell me if all these are in sync and make sense to you.

That's about it I guess for the time being.

See you guys tomorrow!

On drives!

Wrote this yesterday on my newsletter. Subscribe here

Hello!
I continue to fail. Sigh!
But I continue to not give up either. Yay!

That's' how the life of an artist typically is. At least mine is.
Lot of action. Lot of lulls.
Lot of work. Lot of waiting.
Lot of inspiration. Lot of dark periods.

So anyway. Coming back. A Saturday. How's it going for you guys? Yesterday, I slept at 8 PM and I thought I would wake up at 4 AM and get all the pending things done. But then I woke at 1:55. Then I woke up at 4:01 and finally at 7 ish. No, no remorse for sleeping in for 11 hours. I have this drive today (if it happens) where I would be up for some time.

Drives.

One of those things that I am a BIG BIG fan of. If I had all the money in the world, apart from playing poker and teaching, I would own a few good cars (and some bad ones as well) and spend a lot of time on the road. And no, I would not get attached to these cars (I am perfectly ok to drive the car to a far off destination, flying back to my place and then letting a driver bring the car back).

I have no clue what is it about the road and driving that I like. I think it is that feeling of escape from the routine that is so enticing. Maybe it is the chase of the unknown - you know, how us humans have always wanted to push boundaries and unravel the mysteries? Or maybe it is that feeling of control that you get when you are behind a steering wheel. You know, that fake sense of being in control that motivates all those dictators and egomaniacal people?

I think I will never know what it is about these drives. But I do know that these are getting increasingly rare. And because they are getting tougher and tougher to make, I am craving for them a lot more. To a point that I do not leave a single opportunity to go on these. Just that I hope it never reaches a point that because of all the craving, I just give up on em. You know what I am saying?

See, that's the thing with most cravings. They follow a graph.
You experience a new thing.
You get excited about it.
Then you want it more.
You get a lot of it.
You get used to it.
And then when you stop getting it, you get withdrawal symptoms.
And then you do whatever it takes to get that kick.
And then after a point, you can no longer afford to do whatever.
And then either you kill yourself. Or you give up.

In my case, I give up on things. And on people. And on situations. And wants. Probably explains why I am the way I am. Ok enough of revealing my dark sides.

So, the drive is what I am looking forward to this weekend. What about you? What is it that you are working on that is not letting you sleep?

First posted on my newsletter. I try to send one email every day. Subscribe here

Update - August 2019 - Saurabh Garg

I sent this letter to a few people that have helped me grow in my career. I plan to send this every month. If you want me to add you in this list, please do let me know (please send me your email address - you have it with you). I plan to send one letter a month. 

Please tolerate the formatting - I composed this on Google Docs, sent it on Gmail and now posting on blogger. And even though all three are Google products, there is zero interoperability in terms of fonts etc.

Update for Aug 2019

Hi! Good morning!

I am Saurabh Garg.
Of course, you know me!

You are one of the 30 or so people getting this email. And you are getting this because…

A.
You know me from one of the places I’ve been at - MDI, GE, CLA, Gravity, Social Wavelength (aka Mirum now), VISCOMM, C4E, The Nidhi Kapoor Story and at airport lounges, community tables at Starbucks outlets, Twitter threads, and other similar places.

Yeah, I’ve been around a lot.

And because I have been around a lot, I have a lot of experiences and opinions and ideas and thoughts and expectations and ambitions and energy and more ands and lot more ands. You know, the kid in the candy store?

So, I know you. More importantly, you know me (you may not remember me though - if you don't, I don't blame you - I’ve largely flown under the radar). And thus this email.

B.
Newton apparently said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”.

Newton never named those giants, but I know who those giants for me are.
You are.
Yes, you!

Each of you has helped me shape my personality and helped me reach where I am. At various times, you have taken an active interest in my career and without your generosity or your shoulder, I kid you not, I wouldn't be here.

Whatever little I’ve done in life is because you allowed me to stand on your shoulders. And no, I don't mean it as a humblebrag. I’ve done very little and I have a really really long way to go - and I promise I will reach there!

From where I stand, I see a lot of hits.
Thank you to each of you for making those hits happen.
Can't stop thanking you!

And even more misses.
And I know I could've done a lot more with the kind of opportunities, time and access I had. If I could not reach where I was supposed to, I am solely responsible for the miss. And oh boy, I only know how many misses I’ve had! I could write a book on those and it would run longer than the Bible!

So, thank you for your shoulder. I feel I owe a regular update to you. And thus this email.

C.
I read this Harvard Medical School study (link, story, TED Talk) that postulates that healthy relationships are key to a long and happy life.

And the age I am at, not young enough and not old enough, I am beginning to think a lot about these things.
Of course, I continue to think about making that dent in the world.

And while thinking about it, it dawned on me that each of you is important to me.
After all, you’ve given me your attention and mindshare.
And backed me up.
And gave me a long leash.
And allowed me to experiment and make mistakes. And grow.
And helped me to develop the ability to master my time (most months, I can get by without worrying about going to an office on a daily basis; few months I need to beg. But that’s ok).
And shaped my personality (all the opinions, ideas, thoughts, experiences, expectations, ambitions, value systems that I spoke about earlier? All of those have happened because of your patronage).

While I continue to wander, in search of that ever-elusive new new thing, that shiny new toy, I realized that I need to work on nurturing existing relationships.

And what better relationship to nurture than that I have (/ had in the past) with you?
You were a teacher / employer / mentor / partner / colleague and lot more and you made me who I am!

And thus this email.

D.
This weird epiphany happened that most of the misses I talk about in B above are a result of two things and two things only.
1, I am / was not a finisher (I am working VERY hard on it and early signs are encouraging).
2, I thought as a “creator” all I must focus on is to create. Even though I am a marketing consultant (to brands, companies, individuals and everything else in between), I never thought about marketing myself. You know, build a personal brand! I even tweeted about this.

So, need to fix these.

Like I said, I am working hard to fix 1.
I pick fewer projects, I have measurable objectives (thanks John Doerr’s OKRs - blog, book) and I have clear deadlines. The number of things that are left unfinished has reduced considerably. I can now proudly dole out the most important advice that Steve Jobs ever did - ‘Real Artists Ship!’

The 2, marketing myself, remains a challenge.
This letter is an attempt in the direction.
And thus this email.

So, clubbing A, B, C and D…
So, like I said, I am sending this to about 30 people that have helped me over time.
So, why this email?
So, what if…
So...

Ok, I so got carried away.

So, well, the agenda is threefold. Lemme use bullets.
I clearly love em!

1. Seek your help as an advisor
I said I am making great progress on the ability to finish things. And I need to accelerate that ability. In the sense that I want to finish EACH project that I take up. By making a commitment to you and holding myself accountable to you (I do NOT want to disappoint you ever), I will increase the odds of me not missing the goal!

This is not peculiar to me but is a universal thing - many research studies postulate that when you make yourself accountable to people you don't want to disappoint, the odds of success go up manyfold!

The other way to look at is to consider yourself as a board member on a company called Saurabh Garg’s Life. I am accountable to you, even though I may not have access to you. You know how Eklavya built a statue of Guru Drona and taught himself and held himself accountable? And became so good that he was better than Drona’s best student, Arjun? That!

So, at the risk of jumping the gun, here’s my first promise to the board.
In the month of Aug 2019, I will…
a. Finish the Show Bible for Book 2.
Yes, I am still working on my second book. And unlike the first one, this time, I am writing the entire story beforehand. In the form of a show bible (what is a show bible?).
b. Lose 1 inch from my waist.
I will do this by focussing on the diet, working out and generally working on my fitness. I met a friend yesterday to take tips on this and he told me that number 1 tool you need to get fit is to get great sleep. So, I will fix that as well.

I will write in September and update you on how I do on those goals. If I get stuck, I will ask you for help! If you have something that can help me work on these two, please do point out.

2. Learn from you!
Thing is, I consider myself a sponge. I love to know more. And I love to know about all sorts of things. And I love it even more when all those things make a connection in my head. You know, when I see the dots connect. And I sincerely think that this ability to use a large information set (howsoever shallow it may be, Feynman will hate me - here’s why) and use inputs from multiple disciplines will be a necessary skill to succeed in the times to come! Jacks will rule the world soon!

When I was with you, I was on this steep learning curve that kept me on my toes. And I loved it! Plus, you are among the most learned, evolved, intelligent people I know.

So, can I request you to please share content (books, texts, links, videos et al) that you loved? That you thought were brilliant? That you would revisit over and over again? That you think I MUST read if I want to become better! May be on email. May be on Whatsapp (click to message me)? Or on email?

3. Give back…
If I could be useful to you in anything you are working on, I would love to volunteer.
No, I don't want anything in return. I really want to help. I want to do good work. I want to be of use to you.

Thing is, I sincerely believe in the concept of Guru Dakshina.
Lemme get back to. Eklavya. Guru Drona asked Eklavya for his thumb as Guru Dakshina (here's why). And as an archer, you can't do anything without your thumb. A regular person would have probably said no. Eklavya did not bat an eyelid before he chopped his thumb and placed it at the Guru’s feet.

You’ve are and have been a Guru to me and I owe you. I don't have a thumb to offer. But anything that you think could be useful to you, I will be very happy to offer! I am pretty nifty with marketing, events, digital, branding, writing, storytelling, content, brainstorming, big-picture thinking, etc. And I have a fairly large risk appetite. You will probably know this if you remember me.

Please do tell me if I could be of use to you.

***

Phew!

So, yeah this is it.

I plan to send similar emails every month, once a month. I know this one is long (1800 words or so). Promise that the next one will be shorter, crisper (not CRISPR) and more concise. I don't know the difference between these words. They just sounded nice together!

So that’s about it.
Thanks again for your patience.
And all the help.

Hope you have a good day and a good month ahead. Please do let me know if I could be of any service to you.

Gratitude and Respect,
Saurabh Garg
+91-9819981337
saurabhgarg.com, @saurabh
Send me anonymous feedback

PS: I understand that you may not want me to clog your mailbox. Some of you probably wouldn't even remember me! So, PLEASE do tell me if you don't want to get these once-a-month emails. I promise to not get offended. I’d understand.

PPS: The intention of this email is not to seek work or connections or something from you. If I need em, I will ask for those things directly. What I seek is continued patronage and an active interest in my life, my career, my ambitions et al. That is it.

PPS: You may use https://forms.gle/28bVP8DYz2WGdHdp8 to give me anonymous feedback on this email. Or anything else under the sun. I will read EACH input and work on it! Promise!

Three things that tell me that life's amazing!

You know how life is amazing?
No?
Lemme give not one, not two, but three examples!

One. 
I told Parijat a few days ago that I want to speak to a large gathering and be good at it. And develop that skill. He mentioned that the only way to do it is to get more face stage time. And like most advice that Parijat gives, it made sense.

So, from then on, I am on a lookout for opportunities to speak on large, public forums.

And somehow Universe conspired and made it happen.

I am going to speak to a group of 120 people about communication and branding.

Now, it is not exactly what I want to talk to the world about but it is a start. And the two other speakers that will speak on the same date to the same audience from the same stage are FAR FAR better than I. And thus, the opportunity is thrilling and scary at the same time. And yes, I am getting paid for it!

So, yay!

Two. 
I've been wanting to make public art for a long long time. And I am keen on establishing myself as an artist. Even though my "art" skills are non-existent and even though I try and write every day, my words are barely passable. And thus, the idea of a being an "artist" has remained a distant dream.

Till I saw this opportunity to exhibit at a museum. See Affordable Art Fest.com. These guys are new and are willing to give an aspiring artist a chance. And a chance is all I want.

The moment I saw it, I knew what I was going to send there. If you are curious, this. I need to work on it and polish it a lot for it to be even considered. After all, these days, every person with a camera is a photographer! 

Of course, I am yet to be selected and all that. But it did inspire me to think more about the "art" and the "artist" in me.

So, yay again!

Three. 
Recently, while thinking about my brand and reputation, I realized that I need to give my words a longer flight. And one of the ideas that I considered was to somehow get into the business of writing songs  I thought if I could make music and put that out, it would be awesome. And this is when I met this singer-writer-composer who is EXACTLY in the same zone as I - Indian, Sufi, Ghazal and similar.

Of course, I got talking to him and found him really affable. One thing led to another and he ended up asking me if I could write some songs that he could compose and sing. And I was like, "Woah dude! this is what I wanted!"

No, I haven't composed any songs. But the opportunity to do so is here.

So, yay yet again!

***

So you see, life does throw opportunities your way.
And it is amazing.
All you need to do is, give luck a chance :)

The Girl In Red Shorts

So, most days, I leave from home at around 645. Some days I am early and some, late. But it is around this time. The idea is that there's no traffic on the road and I like reaching early and getting a head start. Against who, I am not sure. 

Why would I leave home in the first place? Early or late? Cos I cant work at home. If I had my way, I would leave home at 3:45 and reach at 4:15 and get going with things that are supposed to be done. You know, more things get done in the morning. Don't you? 

What is open at that hour? Starbucks close to my place opens at 7 AM. The office is 24 x 7 access, though there's no AC. Which is ok these days. So, there is someplace to park my ass, get the Internet and get some work done.

Ok, I am digressing.

Coming back. When I leave at around 6:45, I see all these young people trying to get fitter - some are pumping iron, some are doing yoga and a lot of them are running around. I also see older folks that are pretending to work out and whiling away time. You know, in life. And then there are those walkers, employed with the sole purpose of getting the dogs to poop at places where no one can spot em. I also see those scrappy young men cleaning cars. And I see sleepy-eyed guards that often do double shifts. Everyone is part of the scenery.

The only person that catches my eye in all this melee is this girl that is running like her life depends on it.

And no, she's not the only one running there. People of all ages, shapes, genders, and sizes run. And they run with varying speeds. And with different emotions. Some are calm. Come are huffing and puffing. Some are enthused about the act of running. The scenery I talked about? Each person is part of the scenery. You see them and you ignore them. They are like furniture that you don't even know you ignored. They are there. To fill the stage for the main hero to come in and perform. Like those filler acts that open for the headliner?

And who is the headliner? The girl I talked about. The girl in Red Shorts. The one that is running like her life depends on it.

For starters, I have this thing for red. The color of C4E. The color of excitement. The color of energy, strength, passion, Coke, blood, danger and lipsticks.

Plus, when she runs, it is a sight to behold. It is an epitome of the beauty of the human body in motion. Don't confuse her for those fashion models that just look great. This woman is in motion. In action. When she's running, she's pushing herself. And her physical limits. It is a spectacle to watch.

Thing is, when she's running, all you see on her face is this determination for the next stride. You can see that she is trying hard and pushing herself. Unlike a lot of other people that run, she is not smiling. She is not relaxed. She is not taking is easy. She is at it. Hardcore man. You know that this running is taking considerable effort for her. And she is putting in the effort required. Which a lot of people will not. They would give up. Heck, I would give up!

I am of course at a respectful distance and not make her uncomfortable with the staring. But for as long she is in the line of sight, she does not stop running man! I wish I could run like her. I don't know her name but I do know that theGirlIn Red Shorts is my inspiration. If she can, I can. In fact, if I had the balls to talk to random women, I would walk up to her and ask her to be my trainer.

Irrespective, I need to get back to running (for the umpteenth time). This entire idea of someone running, struggling at it and yet not giving up is an alien concept. I HAVE to be like her. Right now, I get excited about something, I do it for a few days and then I give up. I need to have consistency in what I do. And in when I do and how I do.

Maybe the Girl in Red Shorts is the inspiration?

Regards,
The guy in black short shorts who does not run at all.

Read other #TheGirlIn stories here.

Thank you, Pradeep (11)

Post 11 of #sg100peopleToThank. More about this series is here. I started this in April and then as things got busy, I sort of forgot about it. Until I was cleaning Asana and saw that I had decided I will write 100 thank you letters. And here I am! 

Thank you, Pradeep!

So, Pradeep Daniel. I don't even know how to describe him as. Before I try to talk about him, lemme give context. At a point in time, I used to work with this events agency as the client servicing / strategy person and Pradeep was the head of the creative team. As two senior resources of the company, we often had to work closely on various projects. And like all other colleagues that work closely, we've shared some great times. And not so great times. 

Of course, Pradeep moved on. And then I did. And there was no reason to stay in touch but like those old warhorses that gather together to relive their battles, Pradeep and I meet often (about once in two years when I am in the same city as he) and talk about the times gone by. 

So, now that you know who he is, lemme try and describe him. Try is the keyword. He is one of his kind. I know this is a cliche and the writer in him would cringe at this. The supervisor in him will ridicule me and ask me to rework the copy and the friend in him will encourage me to think harder. He is not just a senior. He is a friend. To everyone that knows him. 

This still does not do justice to who Pradeep is. Lemme try harder. Maybe Pradeep is someone who could write so well that his email could move you to tears? I remember reading one of his emails when he wanted leave. I distinctly remember wanting to be his driver and drop him to his hotel with my own very hands. In fact, I would look forward to reading his emails - even if they were for work. They were pieces of art. If I were him, I would put those emails on an exhibition. If nothing else, I would publish a book. 

Of course, he is more than a writer. Lemme try harder, as he would say. 

Maybe Pradeep is that original multitasker who taught me that I need to be able to write copy, make my own artworks, get the damn thing printed, ensure that prints have come out alright and follow up with the Production team till those are put up at the event venue! Maybe it is the time that I spent with Pradeep that has made me chase this multitaskness! May be secretly I hate him for being so good that all my life I've chased his benchmarks! 

Maybe he is someone who taught me that I ought to enjoy those long rides home from work (I lived some 50 KMs away from the office. Pradeep, another 10 or so beyond that). In fact, Pradeep made those rides fun (the drive otherwise is way too long, too drab, too monotonous and too tiring). If not for Pradeep, I think I would've quit Gravity long before I eventually quit. 

Maybe he is someone who had the balls to stand up to two super-smart, super-opinionated, super-intelligent people that he reported to. You know that unstoppable force hitting an immovable object? Pradeep was that force. Suvi and Anna were that object. You can not imagine the intensity of that explosion.  And of course, on the way back home, he would glow in the, well, afterglow. And I would catch some radiation. And, well, radiate. 

Maybe he is a magician under the garb of a human being - he has answers to all the life's questions and mysteries. May be is Calvin and he is pulling a fast on us by posting Calvin posts on his Instagram feed all day long. Maybe he is the hero we all need (but do not deserve). 

You get the drift. That's Pradeep Daniel for you. Thank you, Pradeep. For being you. 

Oh, and I have a confession to make. I am guilty of often overlooking the contributions made by Pradeep because there was Suvi around. Each is different. Each is important. But as it happens often, the polite one tends to fly under the radar. Like Pradeep did. I know this is too late and too little. But I have to put this on paper. Pradeep, thank you! 

Till we meet next, Daniel San!

Love,
SG

Others posts in this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Post Travel Post-Mortem

Hello! So, I was traveling the day before and yesterday. And while that is a good thing (travel always is), what sucked was that this entire thing about Deep Work that am trying to implement in life? It took a back seat. I could not spend time on thinking, I could not write, I could not fill in my trackers, I had no clue what was happening with work. The worst was that the momentum that I had going for last 4-5 days is gone.

As I started the day, I DID check social media while I was on the pot. I did not meditate. I had no clue what I was supposed to do during the day. And I did things that were not allocated on the calendar. And of course, I am distracted AF. In fact, as I write this, I started at 0900 but its 0936 and I've done a million other things but wrote here.

I need to find a way to not slot things when I am traveling. And I need to find a way to get back to work once I am back.

Plus, I think this philosophy of Deep Work that requires you to take regular breaks to recuperate, I don't that would work with me. I have this need to keep busy and be all over the place. And because I know the importance of taking breaks, I will probably do 2-3 days of digital detox. In the sense, I will not work at all on a computer at all. And I will use that time to read, think, eat well, sleep, meditate and generally do nothing.

Of course, the challenge will be to get back to work after that break. Let's see how I do that.

Oh, and I write this, I am listening to Wakhra Swag on loop. Try it. It is addictive AF.

With that, it's over and out. See you guys soon.

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? 

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?