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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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,
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!