Last year I began drafting a theme for the year 2011. I called it ‘Being my own superhero‘. Although I did work on those lines and achieve quite a bit, the post remained a draft all year. Here’s a snippet:
I really can’t make sense of what’s going on in life. Sometimes I feel I’m being overly optimistic about things – like the sole warrior fighting all odds. Are will & determination enough to survive tough times? Can & should one person bring about change in so many people? make them realize things? help them think right? I really don’t know. But I’m going to try. Because if I don’t, someday I might curse myself for having lost a chance to make things better for myself & those around. So I’m taking this chance to be a super-hero – my own super-hero. That’s the theme for 2011. And I will try to have one each new year to set a direction to life. Cheers!
This year I thought I’ll publish it in time. But before everything else, here’s wishing you & your family a very happy, prosperous & healthy new year. But here’s what is going to really make it a ‘new year’:
Its New Year. Welcome it with a new vision, ambition & persona. Stop worrying about things that don’t matter. Respect & love people selflessly. Don’t do things that make you feel sorry. Then its a Happy New Year! Cheers
Yeah, I know its been quite some time since I wrote. Difficult time that made me look 20 years older. Naah, don’t get at my hair. Never mind. Things are better now. But some things haven’t changed. Traffic sucks with an average car buyer spending 7.5 lakhs (39% up since ’06), while we’re speculating the ill-effects of the Nano. Markets are volatile, gold is more valuable than ever. While the house buyer is speculative in the pretense of builders, BMC & the government fighting each other, property rates are only going north. Terrorism is testing our patience & resilience, while Kasab celebrates his birthday in a country that’s at the behest of robbers & killers. What are we doing? Creating circles on Google Plus, letting potholes break our spine, and gathering papers to file IT returns (btw, filling thru Sahaj takes less than 15 minutes & rupees) So here we are justifying while our assets are being killed & burnt in the name of tax.
But what are assets? Things that can make us happy & sad. Things in which we invest time, money & energy for a better future. Things we won’t let go easily. Gold, stock, property for example. But don’t you think assets cover people, promises? And as someone rightly argued, your own body (as a plant)? People & promises that have the power to make you smile, and reinforce confidence to audaciously embrace challenges. And so is your body, Continue reading Do we kill our assets?→
Strange! Why would I share the reciepe for failure? This is not a failure blog. We’re all born to suceed, its our birth right (Indians love this phrase, don’t we). But as I’ve said before, sometimes its more important to know what you don’t want or shouldn’t be doing, than what you should. I’ve spent the last few days studying how people fail, or call for their doom. They follow what I call the ‘recipe of failure’. These are things that guarantee failure – in ways that may not always be sensed/realized, but things that create long term damage that cannot be compensated by a few benevolent acts. Here 7 things to avoid at all costs:
1. Playing the blame card, always
If you get into a habit of blaming someone or the other for everything that happens in your life, you’re doomed! Trust me, there’s no softer way to put this. You can’t pull-off your entire life scapegoating & harassing others just to feel marginally better for your own irresponsible acts. And neither does that mean you blame yourself for everything, learn to deal with situations. If you work hard, you can get-away with blaming for good & still feel good about your mistakes & failures.
2. Deferring/Avoiding introspection
Sometimes we defer introspection in the fear of reconciling a wrong doing with the conscience. It takes great will to look into your faults or accept criticism, but its the only way to make yourself better for you & others around. Learn to accept criticism.
3. Acting fearless
Yea, everyone wants to be dauntless & reckless. But somewhere you need to fear someone: yourself, God, someone. This is the only check on your actions, and you must stand up to them – right or wrong – in a genuine way that leaves scope for improvement (and not just to show-off your bollocks; and ladies, whatever your counterpart of that is)
4. Lack of Patience
Everything takes time, and when they say ‘everything happens for good’ there is a certain logic to it. If something bad happens, then something good is surely going to happen to keep the natural balance. When it happens, you will feel that its the good that happened out of the bad. Yea, life kinda fools you, but its not too bad either. What you should remember is not to give up any virtue and allow negativity to set in. Because when you, the “goodness” counter is reset, and have to start fresh.
5. Pathological Distrust & Negativity
Quite a few people begin by distrusting people, some never do. This is what Ivan & me had coined few years back. Pathological distrust: what bosses or a company Continue reading Recipe for Failure→
To be very honest, I don’t see a reason why someone should stray away from innovation. Thinking ‘New’ keeps your idea muscle toned for tough challenges. But here’s 3 reasons why you should innovate all the time: not just on the professional front, but also in relationships. After all, as LinkedIn says, relationships matter.
1. Not all ideas from the past scale
There could have been some things that worked very well for you in the past. But everything changes with time, ideas get stale, and they won’t always scale to match the situation – if at all they still work. A 20 picture photo album might have made for a lovely Valentine’s day, but that does not mean that a 200-slide story board – full of pictures and promises – can save a relationship. You have to think fresh! Eat Subway if it takes that 🙂
2. Not all ideas click (plan for failure)
I once had to put some things together in a paper bag (like the McDonalds carry bag – sorry can’t think outside food), and snail mail it. I had to attach a note, and trying to be creative, I decided to use the inside of the bag. So, I cut the edges of the bag to make it one long sheet of paper (kinda rotulus), wrote the message on it (in black so it would be noticed) and stitched it back with tape. Outcome? It hit the trash can – unnoticed. I failed to deliver the message. Don’t be shy of failure, the world today is chasing failure, and the Tata’s are even giving out awards for failing. But make sure you have enough alternatives to compensate for the failure, without really having to start over.
Make yourself a promise: I will always have 5 alternate ideas or planned for 5 un-happy scenarios (what does not fall on the happy path) before executing an idea
3. Competition is catching up fast
Need I say more?
Innovate or perish. Sharpen your axe. Work out your idea muscle. Have coffee, or Subway, or whatever helps you think. Do something special for that special one: be it your better half or your project/product. It’s up to you to save it!
Marginalia: If you are planning to make them coffee, remember that if you make a heart with Hershey’s on it, it will sink. Instead, try rangoli (sprinkling) with coffee powder.
Share/Tweet: @prasadgupte: 3 reasons you should keep innovating, even in relationships http://bit.ly/e2uxLh
I was at the departure area at CSIA – stuffed with Hot Dogs to avoid starving on the low-cost flight. Since I can’t dose off just about anywhere, I knew that my mind would be restless & I had to keep it busy. It was a long journey followed by another leg of train travel. While looking for TTD, I spotted a book store. I don’t read books, in fact I haven’t finished anything other than the Godfather – so this was a bad bad idea! But this was my chance to walk into a book store, flaunt my (non-existent) eclectic taste of business & management books, and trade some hard-earned money for a few useless reward points. Yes, sparing those tied to retail stores, most other reward programs are useless. Moreover, StanChart charges 50 bucks to deliver what you bought out off the few hundred points you gathered after spending a fortune. I did buy Screw It, Let’s Do it & Hacking Work (feel free to borrow & make those unturned pages feel good). I hurried the transaction as my flight was boarding, and I also had to hit the loo. (No no, they don’t charge for pissing on-board, but still)
We’re digressing; so let’s skip loo details and come straight to the point. As I was walking out of the loo, I saw a family friend walk in. Roughly twice my age, I’ve known the man for years – and he’s probably known me since birth. His not being an extrovert and my being bad at small talk made it very difficult to strike a conversation. Besides, all our past interactions have been restricted to exchanging greetings. My flight was boarding and he too didn’t notice me. I moved on, boarded my flight and the rest of that is history, etched here.
I never thought about it again until a couple of days back: I was told the man is no more. He was burned to death in a serious accident – to the extent of being unidentifiable. However high the fetch time of my memory is, I couldn’t ignore the last time we had crossed each other – at the airport. That was my chance – my last chance – to talk to him & wish him well. I tried excusing myself with the ‘flight boarding’ reason & even tried remembering the (n-1)th time we had spoken, which was too far to fetch. I said sorry to myself and prayed for the man’s soul, and the family he leaves behind. That’s all that could be done now.
I’ve always believed that each day could well be the last. We should thus say good bye to loved ones, and smile when we leave our homes. I had skipped something off my own doctrine, and it could not be undone. It has started to make me edgy. So I enforced that policy (much like a network admin does): no matter who, I’m not sparing any chance to greet people or smile. I kept that when I saw a granny in the market today – I went all the way just to say Hello. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake again.
When you die, you don’t want anyone to say: he was good, but the last time he crossed me, he was too busy to notice me! Do whatever it takes to talk to people – you might never see them again. Call people again if they don’t return a call, take a train to meet someone or wait hours in the sun just to see them, or just say a hello when you see people. Kiss you spouse & children every morning, kiss them before sleeping. Take every chance to smile at people & do nice things to them, in your own little ways that affect them. Be your own super-hero. Sometimes life and people remind me of paper boats we sailed in the rains: for some time they’re in your control, but when they start drifting away – they’re gone for good. Do everything you can when you’re in control.
I hope I’m writing a new post just in time – before someone inquires my whereabouts. #exaggeration. No one cares where I am or what I’m doing; whether I’m writing or I’m not. But that’s not too bad either.
But honestly, who am I writing for? I don’t write to seek fan following or money, so numbers don’t bother me. Few read my thoughts, most of them come here to demystify jargon or sync their Thunderbird address book with LDAP or check ferry timings. But numbers are not completely discouraging: in less than 2 years (starting Jun ’09) we’ve got over 28000 hits, close to 50 unique visitors visit us each day. And that’s not too bad either.
7 months back, I went through the toughest times and life couldn’t have taught me more. I was paranoid for inspiration & motivation. I picked up Amit Gupte’s practice of wishing luck to friends and realized life is short, and my friend list is too long. It would take me over 3 yrs to wish each one of them, and more pain Continue reading But that’s not too bad either→
A word of caution: this post is not about an HR exit interview, its about life & relationships – or should I say, death & breakups. Some time back I started following James Altucher’s blog – his experiences with life, money & women are unmatched. Quite often his wife Claudia, a full-time yogi, writes on his blog. Last month she wrote about how she dealt with her mother’s suicide; the truth being that it never healed – she could never get it over. Perhaps, that’s always the case when someone leaves unexpectedly – without an alarm. The mind can’t stop questioning: what went wrong? could you have saved it? You know its not your fault, but probably you could have helped, done something differently. No matter what you do, the pain never really heals. Claudia confirms that there are options and means to deal with a suicidal feeling. But if you feel like learning anything from her experience, you don’t have to wait until you’re suicidal – apply it to other scenarios.
Go a step further, think twice before exiting someone’s life; at least part on amicable terms (as HR would suggest), and keep in touch. For once they can even helplessly accept death, but its much more tormenting for them to be ignored while you continue to exist. If you don’t like my advice, here‘s some from James, yes James Altucher – her husband (& a hedge fund manager), about diversifying your human capital portfolio: Never have your happiness dependent on a yes or no decision from one person. At the very least: diversify the people who are important enough to do that.
This week I read about Brazil wanting to amend its constitution to make happiness a right for its citizens. Having worked its way up to achieve a GDP of over $2 trillion, Brazil is now working towards having happiness on the nation’s to-do. However, it is currently struck with threatening issues such as health, education, poverty & an alarming crime rate. To ensure happiness of citizens means to work around these issues, deliver world class education & wipe out crime on their streets. In-house resources and independence in science & technology that is already existant, accompanied by a loyal travail from the government can pretty much add up to the happiness they seek.
Whenever a discussion around happiness comes up, Bhutan is what comes to my mind first. Ever since I’ve been there, I haven’t been able to neglect its focus on ‘Gross National Happiness‘ that they made part of the national propaganda in the ’70s. And the rest on GNH here is purely my opinion, based on what I heard & understood from locals. The government, backed by the monarchy, is extremely responsible when it comes to delivering quality education, health care services & dealing with crime. Almost everything they need is transported from India and we are in a way responsible for their defense. Despite of the transport costs involved in every commodity, the government subsidizes everything from fuel to cars. Perhaps, that’s the reason why everyone from commoners to monks have SUVs. Bhutan is extremely beautiful and rich in culture. Tourism is already a top 5 contributor to its $2 billion economy, but Continue reading The pursuit of happiness in developing nations→
Don’t we all go crazy for brands? We have a favorite brand for everything – from cola to cars. We even brand people around us, by keeping names that are easier to remember and fun to call out. Then why don’t we brand the greatest moments of our lives?
Consider this: you went on a date that was really great – something that made you realize the meaning of ‘awesomeness’. Then why don’t you just go ahead and call it ‘Awesomeness Redefined’? Isn’t that sweet? ‘Date’ is just used as a homophone here; you can go on to brand every notable event in your life. And this need not be the good ones only, after all people have tagged Bloody Sunday & Black Friday (who knew that such a catastrophic day could leave people eagerly waiting on streets?).
And trust me, there are notable advantages of doing this:
It will make it easier to remember that event, thereby avoiding embarrassment & tirade that follows when you miss it
When it appears on your calendar, not only will it bring you a smile but it will also help restore the excitement
Its cryptic enough to be understood by anyone other than those involved, making it ideal for things that make you hide your head in the sand
It can be used as a good reason to get away. Think about it: When you’re celebrating that date 15 years hence & have to leave kids behind, you can disguise ‘awesomeness redefined’ as being anything else: from a live music concert to a food festival to a session on ‘better parenting’. And your kids won’t really mind you going for the last one 😉
So what brands have you created yet? And take my advice, bringing in an advertising professional in your life just to help you with this is simply an overkill. However, there could be other, better reasons to do so 😀
Randy Pausch, 47 yrs old Computer Science lecturer from Carnegie Mellon University, died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. Before his death, he wrote a book ‘The last lecture” , one of the best sellers in 2007. What a legacy to leave behind. In a letter to his wife and his children, he wrote this beautiful “guide to a better life” for his wife and children to follow.
1. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
2. Don’t have negative thoughts of things you cannot control.Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
3. Don’t over do; keep your limits.
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously; no one else does.
5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
6. Dream more while you are awake.
7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
13. Smile and laugh more.
14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
15. Call your family often
16. Each day give something good to others
17. Forgive everyone for everything
18. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
19. Try to make at least three people smile each day
20. What other people think of you is none of your business
21. Your job will not take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.