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. 


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?