The Method in Madness

This post talks about how I work, what prompts my (business) decisions, what drives me and like the title says, the method behind the madness.

Three things prompted me to write this post. 

a. When I announced Open Office Hours, Sanjay advised me to make a list of all things that I do. And on top of those, make a list of things that I complete. And it wasn't a great feeling to get sucker-punched in the gut. 

Of course, his input was valid. For, I am someone who is good with starting things but I suck at finishing. 

b. I bumped into a very old friend yesterday few days ago. She introduced me to her fiancĂ© and said, Here's Saurabh. He's an amazing guy but he is flaky. A sucker-punch second time around. And a jab. 

Again, very valid. I suck at keeping in touch. I am driven by my comfort and my whims. I often don't honor my commitments (disclaimer - personal commitments. I've met ALL work commitments, baring a handful. Its my reputation that has taken me this far (more about reputation as we go along)).

c. At work, two separate sets of incidents made me aware that I fail to inspire confidence in my people. Sucker-punch, left-jab and upper-cut. One short of KO. 

Really. I mean I could not sleep well the night I realised that people don't have faith in me. I've always thought that I am the kinds that will be in your corner if you are ever in need. No, I don't want to defend. I want to take an objective look at things. 

Lemme give context and talk about one of the incidents. 

I proposed something really radical and that meant people had to take giant leaps of faith to support the plan and the initiative. To me, its as clear as a clear sky that we have to do that. And good part is that my team agrees that we need to do it. But the team is not willing to take the leap. When I wondered why, I was told that such leaps of faith require the team to have faith in the leader. And a leader that the team knows will stick with them. And they said they don't trust me enough (not just my ability but they don't trust even the intent). 

Thing is, while I may say (to myself) that I don't leave anyone in lurch; but if there are different opinions, I need to re-look at my leadership style. I do agree that I get bored easily and I move on fast. Like they fall like sack of potatoes after a KO? And I know that I am like that child in the candy store that wants every damn thing. Of course my attention span is shorter than that of a butterfly or even a goldfish or maybe the hummingbird. I move on faster than Ali could dodge hits. Ok, I am digressing. Point is, I agree that I fail to inspire confidence in my team and that is probably because I cant seem to stick with one thing for long. 

There are more examples. But I guess I've made the point. 

Oh, and if I have to reach the 1 million (and subsequently, the 1 billion goal), I need to be able to get people to buy-in. And to get the buy-in, people I work with need to understand the method in my madness. After all humans are rational creatures and if they know why I do the things I do, they probably will see things from my perspective! 

Also, I love to don multiple hats. I love to juggle lot of things at the same time. And this is reflected in my personal life and in professional. While this is not the best way to go about things and research after research and expert after expert has pointed that you need to have extreme focus if you want success. And I don't disagree. In fact I advise people to remain focused and do one thing at a time. Just that I am made in a way that I cant focus. I tried for a bit to get focused but I realised that my output suffers when I do one thing. And, I do my best work (as rated and evaluated by me and me alone) when I do a million things at the same time! 

So I've accepted that I am going to be a scatterbrain all my life. I will be a fickle mind. I will be a Jack of all trades. And rather than being shy about it, I have accepted the way I am and I now try to maximise my output and thus the potential. 

Thing is, we get one life and I want to live it up and do it all (this probably explains my interest in multiple things). I refuse to be a mere bystander. And I obviously refuse to be a part of the rat race. 


So, in this post (after a mile-long introduction), I wish to talk about how I choose things that I work on. Or like I say, the method in my madness. I write this for my team, my partners, people I want to work with.

Ok. So every project I pick HAS to fall in one of the following buckets.
  • Reputation
  • Growth 
  • Network
  • Money
A good idea is something that falls in any of the above buckets. For example, xtyres would've helped me make money. Or for that matter, my personal blog helps me get better (as a writer at least). 

A great idea is something that is at the intersection of two buckets. Say speakers network. It would've made me money and it would've created a network of connections for me. 

And an awesome idea is that checks more than 3 boxes. For example, Open Office Hours. Apart from making money, it would do everything else. I get access to interesting people, I learn new things and I create a network! 

#note2self: May be work on only those ideas that check 2 3 or more? 

Each idea that I work on (on have tried to work on in the past), you WILL be able to trace back its origins to one of these buckets. 

I know that one big red flag is that there is no one theme or discipline to this (theme as in teaching, AI, tech, fashion, entertainment, marketing etc.). And probably that is where the problem is. More on this in a bit. 

Oh, these buckets are as of today. In the past I had few more buckets. Such as: 
  • Things that I enjoy
  • Things that give me that rush

And these buckets remain in flux. Like they say, change is the only constant. I tweak these buckets often.

For example, once I realised that rather than chasing rush, I ought to look at things from a longterm lens, I dropped the rush piece. So, I refuse to work on a project that could, say, kill me in exchange of that split-second excitement. No more fast cars for me ;P

Second example, I know that once I reach my billion, I will remove the money bucket. Because money will stop being important at that point. I will probably add the Impact bucket because I would have what it takes to create impact.

In fact, I am really tempted to add a Community bucket as the fifth variable. But I am on the fence. May be I will in a few months.

#sideNote. I am reading about OKRs from Doerr's book and I really think its a powerful goal setting and tracking system. I will revisit this post once I've created my OKRs.

There is more. But for the time being, there are these 4 things. Lemme elaborate each.

A. Reputation. 
So reputation is easy to speak about. It's the sum total of beliefs, opinions, understanding, hearsay, reviews, references etc in other people's heads, about you! 

For example, what is the first word that comes to your head when you think of me? 
Flaky, in that friend's case. 
Reliable, for Vanita. 
Contrarian, for Vivek. 
Loser, for sgMS. 
Dreamer, for rr. 
Romantic, for self. 

So my reputation is different for different people. And that to be honest is a challenge.

A great reputation is when what others think of you is largely consistent. Is in the same zone. 

In an ideal scenario, when I walk in a room, the person on the other side of the table must know that I am Saurabh and I am someone that will do what he's promised and will makes things happen. That! That is the reputation that I wish to create for myself. Someone that enables and makes things happen. And enabler of what? Ideas, dreams, things, projects, dreams, lives. Get the drift?

So, if a project nudges my reputation in the direction, I am on board.

Stay with me.

Lemme add one more dimension to reputation.
I think reputation allows you to open doors that are otherwise closed to you. Example? If a big foreign brand wants to come to India, between a Tata and a Dhoot, who would they pick? That!

If you are stuck in a different country and you see a brand from India that you know is reputed, will you consume that? Or will you consume an unknown?

And of course its a double-edged sword. A bad reputation is a larger liability than a good reputation is an asset.

Reputations as they say takes 5 decades to make and 5 seconds to break. Each project I take up, each thing I do, HAS to be a step in the 5-decade long journey. I am no Tata but I need to work hard to be there!

Third dimension to reputation.
It has another general meaning. That of someone who is trustworthy, reliable, honest, authentic, genuine etc. And while I care about these traits in general, I don't give two hoots to these when I create projects.

And why not?

Most of us have this internal bullshit meter that tells us if what we hear is worth our time. Or do we must ignore it. When I meet people, if they think I am full of shit, I will never make any inroads with them. That's the reputation that they have of me. I cant change it. And in the world full of a million opinions and a billion thoughts, why bother? Better invest time in moving on and onward. Unless...

Unless they are the people you work with, want to work with. With those people you ought to work hard, cultivate it and take it from there.

So, it is important to be cognisant of reputation. I've sucked at this but I am improving. The journey of the 5 decades starts today. I will protect my reputation as if its the Princess Peach.

To summarise, if a project moves forward my reputation as a doer and an enabler, I am onboard. 

Oh, and no, do NOT confuse reputation with fame. Fame to me is one of those things that drag you down. Really. More on this someday. 

B. Growth.
I love nothing more than the ability to learn new things and grow. If there is one thing that I can pick up in life, as a common thread that has served me well, I'd pick growth.

In fact most things that I've started are driven by this one tenet. Here is a small list of projects that I am on. 

This blog? Helps me write better. 
Office hours? Makes me aware of interesting things and people.
Podium. Teach me more about events business. 
OnWriting. Make me a better writer. 

I can give more examples. But I guess you get the drift. Learning new things is the secret sauce.

So, what is growth for me?
Growth is when I learn new things, practise a skill, make myself better, pick brains, explore etc. Anything that helps me evolve, that keeps me engaged, that helps me push my limits, my boundaries, my brains. 

Why is this important to me?
Because I am not naturally talented (or as they say, gifted) in anything! I mean I am no singer, dancer, actor, speaker, writer, painter. Neither am I blessed with looks that allows me to get by life easily. And I don't have a rich or famous lineage. And all these factors mean that if I have to have a good life (and give back and make the world a better place and make a dent etc), I need to work hard. And smart. 

Put hard and smart together and you automatically become someone that is like an information (or knowledge, if you will) sponge. You work hard to learn things. You use smartness to figure out the bits to persist with and what bits to let go. And you find your way around life. 

I can give examples. 

a, I am not a naturally gifted writer. But I think with constant practise (been writing this blog for 14 years now), I have been able to reach a point where what I write can open doors.

And I know doors open! I have made umpteen friends thanks to this blog. The book happened because of the blog and the book is like a visiting card for me. 

b, My bills are paid by C4E. And no, I don't have any formal education in the events business. It just that I learnt things while I was at Gravity. I mean when I joined them way back in 2010, I could either choose to remain in the limbo, do my job and get back home. Or I could learn everything about the business. I did the latter and along with a host of other factors, the hunger to learn has helped me create a business that pays my bills! 

Staying with C4E, my biggest challenge is to grow the business. I don't know how to do it. And I will learn what it takes to crack new business. May be in 5 years, I will look back at 2018 and I'd say that because I learnt how to create new business opportunities back in 2018, I could do all I've wanted to! 

Thing is, if I stop learning or stop growing, I'd better die and not waste resources. Life may be meaningless (a friend recently compared life with Sisyphus climb up the hill) but I think the meaning lies in being in the present and helping others.

Bottomline. If a project promises to make me better, I am on board. Tell me of the new things that I will learn. Tell me of the doors that the thing would open! 

PS: You may argue that you learn more and more about one thing only and grow so much in that one discipline that you are THE expert for that (thanks @oddtazz for the idea). Its such a great idea! Just that its not for me. Remember I said that I am the Jack of all trades? I don't want to be the master.

Of course it has served well to others. Prof. Bakshi is an example. He put consistent time and effort on mastering the art of value investing and today, he is a worldwide authority. Something that has allowed him to create immense wealth. And impact. And he continues to inspires others (near and far). That's an amazing life to have. But...

But, its not for me.

Hello, Jack!

To summarise, if by doing a project I get to grow, learn more, #bebetter, I am in! 

C. Network
Network has few definitions.

Network means knowing people well enough that they are willing to back you up, stand by you, become your advocates. This ensures that doors open for you, opportunities present themselves to you, your reputation grows, you make money, you get closer to impact etc.

Example? If Rahul Yadav wants to start a new company, he can find a million investors to back him up. And he can get together a team that he wants!

Network also means reducing the degrees of separation from 6. To, say, 3. Why would you want to do this? So that you can act with speed. After all closer you are to the decision maker, better it is for you! Rather than wasting time on needless formalities and bureaucracy, you focus on getting things done.

Example. If I want to make movies, the ability to find a way to reach an Amitabh Bachchan goes up by a million if I am renowned author. Balki?

Network also means meaningful connections with people that may or may not result in direct business. But something that allows you to grow (see B above). Something that allows you to unwind after a hard day!

Example. If I knew the heads of marketing for large consumer companies, I could pick more insights and ideas and that would allow me to find more revenue streams from C4E.

Network also means the ability to connect dots and make things happen. You have an idea? You need a designer? A marketer? A coder? Lemme put all these together and get things done for you. That. Network. Powerful. Enable. Get things done.

Example. I've been struggling to find an alternate revenue stream for myself. If I could connect with more people and get them to do things for me, I could be faster. And I could actually ship!

Now that the definitions are out of the way, lemme get into the specifics.

So, one of those things that I am sore about in life is my inability to forge deep connections that typically help you get ahead (not just in terms of business but in terms of personal growth). I suck at it so bad that even a banyan tree can beat me in the race. Gary is faster than me! The other day I was lamenting that if I were to die tomorrow, the only two people I would to know about it are my sis and VG.

However, whatever little I have, has came to me because I had people helping me. Without expecting anything in exchange. The standing on shoulders of giants maxim is truer in my case than anyone else's.

Oh and like other things in the Universe, Pareto works here. I can trace back all good things in my life to just about 5 people.

Now imagine that instead of 5 people who care for me, I had about 150 (do read about Dunbar's), my life would probably be infinite times better.

Probably yes! You know? The law of numbers, probability and luck? That!

So, greater, stronger, better the network, better for you!

My favorite example?
One of the clients of one of my previous employers is a family business (worth at least a billion dollars). Their heir is about 19 and lives in London. And goes to school with the Prince of an African Kingdom and an upcoming actor who's already got a few hits under his belt. Imagine the network (and thus influence and reach) in the next 15 years when he's my current age! Add onto the fact that he has a billion-dollar pedestal that he's standing on already!

This also reminds me of one of the projects that I created but couldn't take it to fruition. I called it the Mastermind Group. The idea was to get 10 super smart people in a room and spend time bouncing around ideas. And the 10 people that we choose as part of the group had to have the potential of being one of the most 100 influential people in the world in 20 years! It was a fucking audacious vision. To see it to fruition, we had to be incredibly smart, persistent, lucky and all that.

And you know, I was ok if they threw me out of the group. The intent was to learn as much as I could in whatever time I got to spend with them.

And we failed. In terms of the lifecycle, the project was incomplete. Abandoned. But I did make a few friends and they remain the most trusted advisors till date!

You see an example of how trying to create network allows me to get lucky? Aim for the moon and land in the stars?

Of course I could not choose my parents either (ovarian lottery and all that). And I could not choose my network when I was younger. Heck I did not know that I ought to choose my network! If I knew, I would've done it.

But now, now that I know, I am conscious about what I do. I try and create a network with interesting people. Or with people that I think can be interesting. Bird in hand. And in the bush!

Of course this is constrained by understanding of life and people and all that. You will probably have a different lens and a different method to evaluate things. Point is, there is no denying the importance of the network.

Oh, you know Chris Sacca? He's a product of genius and network. Closer home, I think Zishaan is pure network. You get the drift?

Of course I need to know how to cultivate the network. End of the day everything is a transaction and is selfish (think about it - you help others because you either get something back or it makes you happy or you are merely discharging your duties). So, network is as hard work as anything else is! I suck at it but I am learning. Do share tips and advice :)

Oh, sticking to advice, here's some unsolicited advice. You need to start creating a network. Now. You spent the last 5 minutes reading this. That's 5 minutes where you did not work towards creating your network. It's that important! Why am I writing this? Because I want me team, my partners, my friends, supporters to know what they're getting into when they choose to work with me. And I am writing this for other interesting people that may want to talk to me. And thus, trying to help my network!

So, to summarise, if a project allows me to know more interesting people, I am in. Even if its failed, doomed from the start, I am willing to invest my time, energy and resources to get to know more people. After all, people create magic!

D. Money
Of course.

If I said I am not driven by money, I'd be lying. I know money can't buy happiness but not having money can make you unhappy. Plus money allows you to live in comfort AND work in comfort. And on top of everything, the important bit is that money allows to make bets that can take you closer to your life goals!

And why is money important to me?
In absence of any rational or measurable metric, I believe that the amount of money I make is the direct reflection of the impact I am having with your work.

I mean think of the top 5 people who's made a dent in the world. And then figure out the amount of money they've made. Do you see a relationship? 

Oh, and please don't give me names like Mother Teresa etc. She probably made the ding in her own way but did she did it with just altruism? She needed the money and a lot of people would've supported her. Even the greats like Leonardo and Picasso and all that needed patrons. No?

I don't want to waste more bits and bytes on importance of money. Let's just assume its important.

So, if there are projects where I can make money, I want in. Unlike VCs, I don't look for 10x returns on all my investments. Ideally, some of them have to return 10x, some of course would go bust. But a majority has to just break even. That's it.

#note2self. Is this one of the reasons my projects go bust? Because there is no financial viability to those? Need to think.


So yeah! This is method in madness. Like I said, this is the broad framework and not the specifics. I know that these do not belong to a theme per se. I know that scatterbrains have infinitely tiny odds of success. But this is it!

Hope you understand me a tad better. You may or may not agree with these but these are the heuristics that work for me and unless I see some very compelling evidence, I am not sure I want to change.

Finally, this could be is a selfish way to look at things. But that's ok. I am not taking anything that is not rightfully mine. I am choosing to live my life in a certain way and I am ok if I miss out on a few things. That is what makes life worth living. No? 

In the end,
At the cost of being repetitive, these are the things that drive me and make me want to do things. You may or may not agree with these. But this is the best I can do to explain my thoughts and deeds. If you are in alignment, lets come together and do some crazy shit. There are mountains to climb, money wealth to be made, and people to be inspired and impacted. And time is short. Lets do this!

Why else are we here?

While I wrote what makes me pick things, I want to write about what makes me drop ideas / projects mid way. What makes me "bored" and lose interest.

A long post will happen at some point in time, but right now, here is a bulleted list.
  • I get bored. And when do I get bored? When I start sensing that none of those 4 is happening. Give me constant excitement and I am your slave. 
  • The project reaches a point where I know I've hit the roadblock and unless I get a large external stimulus, it wont move ahead. I know I cant give up like that. I do try to get that shot in the arm. If I need more resources than what I can gather, I leave it to explore new things. I know its unfair (to the idea, more than the people) but such is life. Old has to make way for the new!
  • The project reaches a point where its not a challenge anymore. Like for example, I've always been fascinated by a Rubik's. The day I realised that solving it requires you to merely practise 7 odd movements, I lost interest. And yes, I did learn those 7 steps. 
  • People I work with lose interest. I am the kinds to feed and survive on the energy of others. So the partners that I work with, if they lose interest and are reluctant to play the role that we decided they'd play, I tend to lose it. And since I am too "gentle" and too "human" in how I deal and I avoid "conflict", I let things slack. But lately, I've realized that every time I've been rude, things have moved fast! So I need to think on this. #note2self. 
  • And finally, if during the course of the project, the reasons that I started it for changes, I drop it. For example, the opportunity is no longer around, we are too late to make money or impact etc. etc. 
  • Oh, one more thing. I used to a perfectionist and that made me abandon a lot of things. Now I believe in shipping. Or as MM says, done is better than perfect! So this should get fixed. 

Oh and having said all these things, things that I need to work hard on are
  • People skills 
  • Persistence 
  • Finishing

And finally, here are a few things for you to think on.
  • Whatever you do, does that help you grow as an individual? 
  • What would you epitaph say when you die? 
  • What is the first word that you think people have for you? Is the word consistent? In the same zone?

That's about it. Thank you for the patience. You've just read 4800 words!

If you read this till the end, do let me know what you think and how can I improve. Oh, and the coffee / beer is on me.

PS: Thanks to SG2 for the inputs on this post. She said that maybe this could be positioned as a guideline of the values and systems that defines me and makes me tick. Because if you share values, other things fall in place. So this could be the set of values that I define myself with and if you do too, we can potentially create a long-lasting and effective partnership.

Introducing Open Office Hours with SG

Credits: Canva

So, Open Office Hours with SG essentially means that I will spend my free time (which is increasingly rare these days) working with young artists, entrepreneurs, students and others. On problems that YOU need help with. And if nothing else, listening to things that you may wish to talk about.

In one line, think of a me as a coach. Of course unlike coaches that have no skin in the game, I will put mine on the line.

Here are some details.

What are you doing?
I will spend 1-hour chunks with people who need a bouncing board or an advisor.

I can talk about host of things. An incomplete list include advertising, badly formatted documents, blogging, branding, communication, consumer behaviour, design thinking (not design), entertainment, events, marketing, music, growth (not growth hacking), life, philosophy, purpose, poker, relationships, travel, writing and other things.

I know its a long list. Trust me, there is nothing as cool as being able to see things from multidisciplinary lens.

Who am I? What makes you think that you can dole out advice?I am Saurabh. I run C4 Events (a corporate events agency) and AWSL (a strategy and marketing consulting agency). More about my work is at my LinkedIn.

I have a MBA from MDI, Gurgaon (class of 2006). This means that I have been working for 12 years now. My work has taken me to more than 20 countries and I have worked on some of the biggest brands in the world.

Apart from this, I am an author and a blogger. I enjoy playing poker and pool. And the three things that I will do before Jan 1, 2026 are: Climb the Mt. Everest, create a personal networth of USD 1 bn and impact a billion lives.

Oh and I am on this constant pursuit to be better. Read this post.

What makes me believe that I can give advice?
Nothing. But I want to. You know what they say? The teacher appears when the student is ready. Are you ready?

Why am I doing this?
Few reasons.

a. Working with young people helps me become better. This is thus a selfish endeavour. In fact to become a better marketer, I need to continue to practise my skills. And working on your marketing or growth problems will help me grow. Plus the sheer variety of problems that I will get to work on and the kind of people I will get to see will be an experience in itself.

b. I wish to give back. Thing is, when I was growing up, I was super lucky to have access to a lot of people that helped me without expecting anything in return. This is an attempt to emulate them and help others.

c. Like Steve Jobs said, old must give way to the new, this is my attempt to help the new usher in faster.

How does this work?
Most weekends, I have spare time that I can either spend watching the next season of Narcos or I could sit with young ones that could do with some counsel.

How much does this cost?

Serious. This is an experiment. Lets see if I get any takers. There are no hidden costs. Promise.

How do you book my time?
Fill in this form and I will be in touch.

More details?
More about me is at Linkedin or Twitter. The best way to reach out to me is on twitter.

Questions? Thoughts? Inputs? Comments?
I am on twitter at @saurabh.


First published on C4E blog.

QnA with self.

So, on May 07, I went for a walk and I was like on the top of the fucking world. Its been three, four days since I went. Not that I dont want to. I really want to. There is all the intent in the world. What is lacking is the ability. Despite putting multiple alarms and all that, I am unable to wake up on time.

Why not? Is waking up hard? Arent you a morning person? 
Thing is waking up has never been a problem for me - I can get by with very little sleep. May be its the age. That its tougher to wake up after you've had a night out.

And why would you have a night out when you are committed to fitness! 
Because there are things to be done that are often tough to do during the day!

And what are those things? 
Meeting people. I anyway dont meet people that dont add anything to my life. But there are people that I really care for and in case they want to meet, I have to do my bit. And unlike me they don't really have control over their time and thus they can only meet post work.

Plus as I grow the business, I have to meet more people - hoping to learn new things, find contacts, explore things that I am not in the know of etc etc. And when you meet someone for the first time, thanks to our societal conditioning, we dont really "impose" our whims on others. While you are your authentic self, you try to meet at a common ground and establish a rapport. Its a transaction and its tough.

Ok three things. You have control over your time? Whats authenticity? Grow business? 
Control over time as in that most days I can choose what I want to work on that day. Of course there are client meetings and things to do and places to be. In most cases I can choose these. I've built my life like that. And of course I've been terribly lucky! You know I dont have that strict 9 to 5 kind of a schedule (while I impose one on myself - I like the discipline) that most others have.

Grow business. You dint know? I am committed to be a dollar millionaire by end of FY18-19. Also I think this is the first time I am articulating this. Have around 10 months to make it happen. Lets see. Do wish me luck.

And authenticity?  If there is one business jargon I can make myself understand and use more and more, it is authenticity. It essentially is a combination of your personality, consistency and your deeds. For example, if I say that I love criticism and when someone criticises me, I balk, I am NOT being authentic. You get the drift?

Wow. Thats nice. All the best! Coming back. To running. You sound like yet another AFC - lot of talk, no action. Whats the plan? 
Well, the plan is to show up. Try everyday till I succeed. The plan is to do 21 days on the trot. Right now, the longest streak is about 3 days. Need to take it up to 21 And then I think I'll be sorted.

And no, 21 days is NOT habit forming. The real number I think is 66. I mean the jury is out there. I want to take the tough road. 66 it is. 666 for all I care. Right now, I want to do three weeks. And then may be more.

Ok. Good luck with it. Can I ask you for another favor? 

How about writing? You know, since I know you well, you sort of enjoy writing. You like the process. And you know that writing helps you connect with more people and makes an impact and a difference and all that. 
Ok, I know what you are saying. I will try. Thing is, its about prioritising and saying no. I want to get rich. Its that simple. So, anything that helps me make money, I want to do that and anything that stops me from that, I want to skip. I dont think writing allows me to make money.

Doesnt it? Writing opens doors and gives you access to people. And people are what get things done! 
Dont get me started on people. I know I've been lucky but I dont have what it takes to forge deep relationships. Ok I am ranting. Next question.

Fair. And while you are chasing money, what about an enriched life? I mean you could have all the money in the world but if you dont have anyone to share it with, what's the point? 
Dude! You dont know me. Remember that unlike the creative ones that come naturally talented, I am the odd one out. I do NOT have a single skill that can be monetised. And neither do I have access to anyone that help me monetise their talent (and allow me to make money in the process).

So, this means that I need to work hard, hustle and do more than anyone else.

I can choose an enriched life. Or I can choose a life of riches. No points for guessing the one I am picking.

Uh ok. If you insist.
No man. I mean it. The world we live in, there is no meaning if you dont have a life of abundance. Of course poor people are happy and they are content with a life of constraints. I just have one question for them. Whatever they are doing, will they not do it better, faster, easier and all that if they had more money?

Money does not buy you happiness but it enables you to do things that give you happiness.

A simple case in point is my control over my time. I can control over large part of my time and I can thus do a lot of things that a lot of my people cant do. Extrapolate this. If I could control every living second, imagine the impact I could have! Imagine the, what is the word you used? Enriched? Imagine how enriched would that life be when you have things in abundance!

Ok. To be honest, I think I've lost you there. And since I am your alter ego, you need to know that I've lost interest. I need to move on. Before I go, can you promise to write everyday? Even if its crap. Can you just publish? PLEASE?
Arey yaar!

Ok I will try. Promise. And I promise that I will go run!


Thank you! 
Thank you!

On running

Today I went for a run walk (here's the numbers if you are curious). What prompted me to run? A visit to Cottonworld.
Huh? What? 
Arey I've been on Keto for some time now and I think that I'v lost weight. That means I need to buy clothes. And I went to Cottonworld to get some. And thats when I got the rude shock. Despite all the suppression of craving for dal makhani and all, I still measure the same. 36 fucking inches. And thats when it hit me. I need to exercise.
Wait. I cant exercise. Hernia. I can run but. And thus, the run. 
Walk. Walk.
Mr. Garg. Walk. 
Right. Walk. So I went for a walk. Here are some reflections from the walk.

A. Walking is boring. Especially if you are in your building complex. Or on the treadmill. And I cant run on the road (strays and all). Fuck you, dog lovers.

The point is, I need to find entertainment when I walk. I've tried podcasts but despite all the great conversations, I get bored. Bored. Not tired. So I need to fix that. By finding a companion. Could be music, could be podcast, could be a person. Or could be just an end goal. Need to figure that.

B. I have this weird thing where I cant seem to do that whole warmup, stretching routine. I put my shoes, kiss the track and break into a stride. That simple. I cant warm up or stretch or pace myself. If I do any of that, I run far less that what I can run when I just fire away. I know this is not cool. You need to condition yourself and all that.

Also, I cant take breaks. I mean I can run as much as I can in one go. I cant do this thing where I run for sometime, take a break, walk for a bit and then go back to running. I cant. I need to be able to just dash! The moment I stop, the momentum is gone. And I cant do anything after that.

So if I have to get to my marathon, I need to get this fixed. How? Anyone?

C. Mindgames. Like everyone says, running is mind games. And I need someone to give me company. I've tried Striders and other such communities. I am not sure they work for me. I will probably find a coach to get me started and then do it by myself.

I am participating in this 2019in2018. It worked for a few days but the lack of interaction with other runners made me lose sight. Plus, the carrot of mere social acceptance did not cut it.

D. Misc. I read on this blog that while running, you need to find a rhythm so that the whole process of running is broken into small chunks of moments. Each moment is like a self-contained unit. And you need to focus so sharp and so much on each unit that all you've left with is that unit. So rather worrying about the 42 KM run, you worry about 84 chunks of 500 meters each. You get the drift?

E. Literature on running. There are these books that come heavily recommended. All you need to do is follow them and you could probably run the marathon without fail. I need to get on that.

Then there are these running books that have been written by prominent authors. Each extolling the virtues of running. Case in point? Murakami. Point? Running is such a fascinating subject that allows you to explore your inner self. I know I am not making sense here. 

Thats it. Enough for the time being. And no, now that I have spoken about running ranted about my attempts to fail at running, time to get some work done!


So I am bak from Dubai and thus, back to the grind. This means that I am back to work. There is that one post that I need to make where I'd probably summarise my Dubai stint. Yeah. Ok. No one wants to read musings of a random old man about his time in a hotel. But then, when I write, I am not writing for the junta party. You know?

Anyhow. So I am back. Its time to get up on that treadmill and go start running. Literally and figuratively. Watch this space. 

The Itch. Dubai 2018, Day 12 and 13

The unthinkable has happened. I did not write yesterday.

That means that 10ish day streak I was on has been broken. Ok, let me not be harsh on myself and get on with the post. I'll just combine the two days. Big deal.

The theme for the day is reflection on the trip. I came here on the 12th (I think). Today is 26th. So I should be on 15th post. Ok, I did not post for the 12th. And this post technically is a reflection on the day gone by. So, 12 is ok. So its been 14 days and I have 2 more days to go.

More than anything else, I have a confession to make. I want to go back (home?). Enough of this sitting around. And thinking. And mental masturbation.

I am NOT made for thinking. I am a doer. The kinds that shoots from the hip. The one that acts first and then thinks.

So, while the trip has been worth it and interesting and I will do this again and again (at least twice every year, if not once a quarter), I think I am done. I am rearing for action. The kinds that makes me so busy that it does not allow me to think. I need have to go back. May be this is what recharging the batteries is all about? Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I just want to go back and get moving with things.

The point is, BRING IT ON, Universe!

Saurabh Garg
26 April 2018

P.S.: This does not really classify as a post per se. Too small for that. But then thats all I had to say. And I havent done anything substantial in the last couple of days. I've just been meeting people and they've been talking about various opportunities that are available in this region. And they've been talking about issues with the region.  

The list of things that I was supposed to do while in Dubai remains unfinished. Not because I did not have time or place. But because I did not work. Simple. I will work on them once am back. I at least know how to work better. I did learn the act of focus (for 2-3 days) when I switched off mobile data (its that simple). By nature I am fickle and have the attention of a Gold Fish and thus need to shut all the external stimuli. #note2self! 

P.P.S.: Next time I go for a holiday break like this, I will live (and work) at a Roam. I dont know if they are expensive but I know that I would love to have things managed for me. 

P.P.P.S.: Oh the one thing that I've loved about this place is all the cosmopolitan exposure that this place gives you. I need to write on this. May be tomorrow. Till then, over and out.

P.P.P.P.S.: Now that I've been jobless for a bit, I do not understand the ones that do nothing and just sit around. It must be such a terrible way to live life? Any first hand experiences? 

Untitled. Dubai 2018, Day 11

Back again. For a change, I dont have much to write about. You see, for a change I was busy working. And means I did not have time to observe things Or think of things. The kind of life that I love. If you take away work from my life, I dont know what I'd do :(

Anyhow, the day was pretty ok. I got one HUGE thing ticked off my to-think list. I mean its still WIP but I have made considerable progress on it. If that clicks, the trip would've paid for itself. Wish me luck! 

The other thing I need to capture is that I ate a large lunch! That meant I was feeling bloated for a few hours. Need to listen to my body lot more. I did compensate by not eating a big dinner. And because I was this irregular, I ended up eating some toast and jam late night. I sinned. Twice over. A, I ate carbs. And B, I ate em at night. Not cool at all.

I think I am beginning to get into a rhythm with eating less and abstaining from eating things that dont add up. I just need to augment this with more water and some exercise. As a next step, I need to read more on longevity and make changes in my environment that help me reach my fitness and health goals (and what are those? Live healthy till I am atleast 120. And why would you want to live that long short? Well, I can write a book on it! Lets drop it for the time being). 

Continuing with the food thread, among other things that I discovered on this trip, two things will probably top the list. A, roasted almonds. And B, peanut butter. Since I am trying Keto and IF at the same time (failing at Keto, blame it on Dubai), I am trying to cut all carbs from my system. This means that I am left with proteins and fats and peanut butter is a great option. And I am loving the taste. And the convenience. Remember I kept saying I'd pop a pill if it gave me my nutrition? Well this is it! Pill. In the shape of almonds and peanut butter. Damn this is making me hungry as I write this. 

And what do I love about them? Among other things, the crunch! See, I've always loved crunch. Look at my addiction to Papad (I refuse to call it Papadum - the fuck is that? Its Papad!).

So yeah. This is about it for Day 11. Onward to 12.

Saurabh Garg
23 April 2018

Back of inane-ness. Dubai 2018, Day 10

So, the day.

I would've slept for like 8 hours yesterday. And when I woke up, I was not really fresh and all that but was groggy. I think the ideal hours for me is probably 6. I need to discover this. #note2self: find out the optimal sleep thing. 

Thanks to the whack in the head while I was writing post for day 9, I finished reading Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing. I am glad that I read this book. If you are a writer, you HAVE to read the book. I know that I will add this to my like of Superbooks and will go back to it again and again. Next book that I am going to read is Murakami on running. I've read this earlier but I think I will revisit this.


So, today I want to talk about the kindness of pseudo-strangers. Pseudo-strangers because while there is common thread, common background, I dont really know them.

Since I've come here, apart from not working, I've tried to keep myself busy by meeting people that I've known from previous life (MDI etc.). And I am surprised at the reception I've got. Each person I've met has been kind. They gave me their time, their homes and most importantly, their respect. Something that I am not used to - considering I am not really a big deal and all I do is events.

I think living in a different country does that you. You are so far from home that any thread, anything that connects you back to your roots, you welcome that. Each person I met had a connection to me - MDI, friends of friends etc.

#note2self: How about a business that takes advantage of this pining for home? 

Lemme talk about one person in specific. The dude am living with here. We grew up together in a lower-middle class part of Delhi. And he is a Punjabi that went to shadiest schools possible. Not because his parents couldnt afford the school but because he wasnt the kinds to study - so why waste money? Fast forward to 2018. Today, he manages a business in Dubai that has about 20 full-time employees. And has some 250 clients - most of them firangs. Lemme recap. A Punjabi from Delhi can manage firangs and employees from 5 nationalities.

And how's he able to do this? He got thrown into the deep end of the pool - Dubai in this case - and came out on top. When was the last time I threw myself into a deep pool? While he was in India, he was one of those resourceful, hardworking and funny kinds. In India, he lived in comfort, with his parents. At Dubai, he's had to figure out things for himself. And that figuring out probably made the man he's become. Dubai has been his coming of age.

I know for a fact that I need to come of age. I need to grow up. And I cant seem to find a way to do so. Do I need a jolt like that? Will it make sense to change countries? Change career? P.S.: This is the third trigger that I can remember (first one was Jan Chipchase's newsletter, second is all these friends that are moving to Canada / Australia etc.).

May be I will. If things dont work out by end of this year, I promise I will.

Adding this to my Asana (link here). And is this how seeds are planted in your head? You think of something. You write it down. And you start thinking about it. Letting it simmer in your head. Till the raw ingredients turn into this gravy that you can resist? And to a point where you are so consumed by the idea that you cant think of anything but that. That idea. 

The other thing that I realised while I am here is that entropy is such a strong phenomenon. Ok, wait. Entropy for me does not mean the thermodynamics one. But the one where it means "a gradual decline into disorder."

My interpretation is that if left to itself, most systems will reduce themselves into ashes. They will move towards the path of least resistance and stop striving. Most people will not want to work. They will become sloths. Easier way to explain? A man will do whatever it takes to NOT think about things. Find excuses - AC is not working, my head hurts, there is a monster under my bed, I am menstruating (dont kill me for this - I know of women who work harder when they are in obvious distress), I hurt my foot, I am sleepy, tired, my parents need me etc.

The same person, in same breath, with all the issues plaguing his existence will be happy to switch on Netflix and chug onto some beer. No? I bet my ass they will.

You see deep work is hard. Wait. Deep thinking is harder. And to find examples of people shunning this deep thinking work, I dont have to go far. I am a living testimony. I am supposed to think hard about how to position C4E as a business. And I am doing anything but that. I am trying to not think and I am filling my time with blogs, books, ideas, thoughts and mental masturbation.

Just struck me. I somehow have all the time in the world. I mean I have this bed that I wake up from. I get ready in about 20 minutes. There is no breakfast (trying IF) and then I walk to the local Starbucks (20 minutes walk) and by 8:30 I am on my computer. Working. Or pretending to work. Or whatever. I am done by 1. I go back. Sleep for an hour. Restart work at 2. And then I am done by 7ish. And then I have time to go for walks, gym etc (which I dont do). There is no one trying to get your attention. There is hardly any pesky meetings that will take forever to conduct. You are by yourself. If I had the talents of a solopreneur, I promise I would have moved to fucking Thane and probably beyond - air would've been cleaner, life would be slower and I'd get lot more done. Maybe I should. It wont be that bad (if I can get maker-manager going).

The point is, if things are managed for you (making bed, cleaning etc), you can be lot more productive. Maybe once I am go back, I need to put this in motion? Spend money to manage things so that I have all the time for myself?

Also, the maker-manager thing brings another thought to head. For context, maker-manager (thanks Paul Graham) says that you divide your week into working days (where you create things) and meeting days (where you manage others, do meetings etc). My addition to this is that you keep a tab on every chunk of 10 mins (probably learned this from Tim Urban). And you get anal about how you spend it. Every minute that you are up, you ought to spend on things that move you ahead. And you need to be ruthless about things that dont add up, or push you ahead.

Which essentially makes life boring, predictable and well, drab. I mean is this how life is supposed to be? This mechanical? I am not sure if all those businessmen (Neeraj Kanwar comes to mind) live drab lives. I am not sure all those filmstars have boring lives. Or may I dont see the grind that they go through to be able to enjoy life? Maybe we just see a fraction of a fraction of their life (when they are dressed well and are hobnobbing with other celebrities or posting those fabulous pics on Instagram)?

And assuming you slog it out over the next 5 years, make that billion dollars. Then what? I mean you'd probably be conditioned into thinking about work and work only. If you had all that money and all that clout what would you do?

I have an answer! Use that to try and change the world. Enable other people. Make lives better. And if not better, happier for sure. How? By being that jester!


Brings me to the last piece for the day. Guess who's the easiest person to fool? The one who's not as well read as you? The one who's a simpleton? The one cant speak well?

Nah. The person easiest to fool is yourself. Dont know who said this but as I grow up, I am realising how true this is! I've been fooling myself for sure. For way too long. Into thinking that I am working hard. But maybe I am not. Maybe I am merely pushing paper? Need to think Mr. Garg. 6 5 days to go. And as they say, if not now, when?


Oh, I said yesterday that I am done with Coke. Yet I had 2. And as I write this, I am on to the third one. Sigh. Is there a way out? Help me!!

Saurabh Garg
23 April 2018

P.S.: These posts are sounding lot more like meditations

Hah, you wish! 
Of course! Like Marcus, I am on this quest to learn more things all the time. AND improve myself! Not just in one chosen vocation. But as an individual. 

And why do you want to do that?
Well, remember what Joker said? I am like that dog thats chasing a car. He just loves the chase. He wont know what to do with it, if he catches is. So, I am merely chasing a better me. I dont know what I'd do once am there. May be I will once I reach there? 

The day when it started to come together. Dubai 2018, Day 09

So finally I got a good solid day of work done. Yay to that.

I walked some, I thought some, I wrote some and I did catch up on that cat nap as well!

Perfect! Save for meditation and reading.

I ate well, I think (I had almonds and peanut butter for lunch and egg curry for dinner - closet to keto. If not keto, low carb for sure). I slept at 11 and I woke up at 7. 8 hours of sleep (which I think is way too much for me - considering how groggy I am since morning).

And how did all this happen? I switched off the mobile data (I kept the radio on - so people could call / sms me). And since no one calls anyone anymore, I had no access to anything that could distract me!

Brings me to the revelation of the day... 

The Mobile Phone Dependence 
Lemme give context. When the phone data was off, I was trying to engross myself in work and failing at it. I was restless af. Side note. Do read about this fascinating study on Marshmallows (as Indians, we probably dont know what this is).

I couldn't focus, couldn't concentrate and was super restless as if something important's been taken away from me! I dont know how the fishes feels when you take em out of water (apparently the fishes are, well, dying to get back into the water!). I was dying to switch on the data and get back to the world where I had a thousand WA groups and messages vying for attention. Damn right I was.

You see, the phone was in my arms reach. Around me, I could see and hear people busy on their respective phones. And my phone on the other hand was a dud device. I mean the radio was on and I could've called whoever I wanted to. Or whoever wanted to speak to me could call me. But I dint want to call up one single person (I did make phone calls back home and to a couple of more people). Neither did I have anyone calling me. So lesson - you are not as important as you think. Life moves on. You are not wanted by anyone. 

I am sure you've experienced the same. When we are on the planes. You know when you are forced to switch off the phone? But the thing is, when on a plane you know that you are on a flight and the phones cant work in the flights and all that. Plus you know that once you touchdown, the phones will be back online. And you will be back online.

But this was unlike the plane. My phone was working. Just that the data wasnt. I knew all it would take is a flick of a button. It was tough 3 hours. Excruciating. Was tough to endure. But hey, I dint die. You know that already. Dont you? Lesson? You I can survive without constant connectivity and next time I take a break, I need to have radio silence!

So, I think I am going to observe a day of data silence every week. Of course I will still have SMS and I will have access to phone calls. But all the things that trigger the dopamine will no longer be active. Lets see if I can do it. Sundays could be a good idea. And that is the day when I could get some writing done? Ok stop day dreaming. 

P.S.: As I write this, its day 2 of switching off the data on my phone. And tbh, I am itching to go online and check on my whatsapp and twitter and instagram and all those apps. Thankfully I dont use Facebook much, so thats a relief. 

On Coke 
The other thing, I think I am done with the idea and concept of Coke. Or Diet Coke.

I realised that I dont really love the taste. Its just that I love to sip on to something all the time and I am not really fond of tasteless things (water). I dont like the taste of tea and I hate the milk in coffee. Plus lemon is probably the worst thing EVER invented! So, the only thing I was left with, to consume, was the Coke!

I need to find an alternative. Flavoured water wont cut it - its way too many crabs and sugar for someone who wants to transform his life into a healthier and fitter version of self. Alternatives anyone?

On reading and meditation 
As the trip is nearing the end (not really nearing but there are less days to go compared to days I've been here), if I were to do an objective analysis, the trip hasnt had the best outcome. I mean I did think about things and it was interesting to live in a new country without an agenda (no tourism, no soaking in the culture or the sights etc etc). Just that I had specific things that I wanted to achieve while I was here. I wanted to get fitter (eat better, meditate, run / jog etc.), inculcate better habits (re-start reading, writing etc). I had to decide on where life was gonna go from here on (like I said, all is good but nothing is amazing; journey is good, rewards are good but not great) and how do make this life a great adventure. The list of things to do, on my Asana ran into 14 pages. I kid you not. 

And I've made very little progress on most things. Of course there is time left. There is one whole week and things have started to fall in place since yesterday. I can probably hustle up and work harder and get to those things in place. None of them require a build up, like fitness does or like reading does. I mean I cant do a million crunches and get those abs. I can on the other hand sit for long hours and say, craft that personal mission statement that I've wanted to. You may argue that if I sit for long, my efficiency and thought process will go for a toss etc. Overruled, as a judge would say. The thing that I havent worked on and I think I should've was, meditation. And reading.

Meditation. The idea was that I had to build up a practise while I was here. The same practise could've continued and made me a calmer, better person. But I dint do shit about it.

Note2Self 2: Meditation probably takes about 20 mins. Why cant you do this today? Its just 11 AM and maybe you can do this before you start the next session, once you are back at the hotel?

Reading. I carried a few books with me when I came here (Bradbury, Murakami on writing and running, Checklist Manifesto, Longevity Diet, Creativity Inc and more). I did read some chapters of Bradbury but that was that.

I can decide today that I am going to read 100 pages everyday, at about 2 mins per page, I will need just about 3 hours to do this. Can I do this, I am sure. Will I do this? I dont know.

So there. To sum things, its been an interesting ride. Just that I need to pull up my socks as I come to the fag end. I know that once am back home, I am facing the same drudgery and predictable life. And a life where I have my people and my things.

Epiphany: I've shunned people all my life and what's making me call India home? People! Need to think more, Mr. Garg. 

So yeah, that's about it for the day. See you guys tomorrow.

Note2Self: I could've done all this and probably more while I was back home. I dint have to spend time and money on this.

Saurabh Garg
22 April 2018

The inane 2. Dubai 2018, Day 08

Few things happened yesterday. No, none of them was special. They were inane again. This word inane is a repeating theme. Need to work on this. So, I had a day very similar to one yesterday. I ate, I slept, I did some work. I met friends. And I slept again.

So, another inane day. Which is ok. I am not here chasing excitement.

However a few things need to be mentioned.

A friend sent me this (the image on the left. Hope it loads). This is a screenshot from a post on this blog.

I need to clarify. To her. To others. And to myself!

When I use "full-time help, a girlfriend or an EA" in the same sentence, I do not mean to demean any of those. Each has a function and a role to play.

A help means someone who is paid to look after me. And I use help s a gender-neutral word.

A girlfriend means someone who is invested in my success and eggs me on and makes me better and is a partner in this amazing thing called life. Someone who stands by me when I rise up and is there to cradle me when I fall down. Someone who understands that I dont have the luxury of weekends (I am on a mission after all). And someone who'd love when I can steal time and ask her out for a tea in the middle of the night.

A girlfriend is NOT a help. And that does not make anyone small.

An EA means someone who controls how I spend my time when I work. No, this does not mean a glorified help. This means that an EA is someone who accelerates my work. More about the role of an EA is here.

These three were used in the same sentence because I feel the void of these three profiles in my life. And no, I am not trying to have just one person fill that in. So, yeah, I did not want to hurt anyone's sensibilities. I am not the one to be derogatory about others (except when they dont work - irrespective of their age, gender, race, color, sexual orientation etc).

I want to blame it on my limited capability with the English language. But I think apologies are in order. I am sorry. Sincerely am.

I saw this Will Smith video today while walking to a Starbucks. And he talks about his experience with Sky Diving. Where? In Dubai! Wow! If thats not a sign, what is? Also in the talk he talks about conquering your fear. The lesson am taking from this is that I need to do things that scare me. He says, "forget security, live for experience."

The start I think is accepting the things that I am scared of. And then probably conquering them? Anyhow here's a list of top few things that I am scared of.

  • Rejection
  • Poverty
  • Old age 
  • Stray dogs (because I got bit by one and since then I havent found a way to get hospitable to the creature. In fact I dont goto places that have dogs. I find the animal unpredictable and irrational and I have no way to control the behavior. Or the outcome. Much like kids. Yeah I am not too found of em either)
  • Medical science (everytime I go to a hospital, I am fucked in the head)
This is ofcourse an incomplete list. Need to make a more exhaustive list. #note2Self - upload the list here

At Starbucks, I found money. Second time on this trip (first). Wow! Hope this is a sign. I really want to be fooled by randomness into believing that I am getting rich. After all, beliefs breed thoughts, that turn into work and then into action and they eventually manifest as reality!

Today on, I am switching off data on my phone. That means am trying to get closer to radio silence (where I dont have access to social networks etc). The plan was to not have access to data while I was on this trip. I couldnt do much about it as I needed connectivity and phones in Dubai are super expensive. So to save money, I had to get a simcard!

So I failed. And how. Not cool Mr. Garg. 

I have enough of fun and frolic and all that over the last few days. Now, till I go back to India, I shall observe a radio silence (may be use it once a day to catch up on important things). So, moment I hit the publish button, I will switch off data. If you want to reach me, you know how to. Try not to. Just a week more to go. Help me please :)

The hernia I think is back. The balls hurt as I walk for long hours. I need to go see a doc once I am back in India. That means I need to stop whatever forced walking that I was indulging in. Running is of course out of question. In fact I noticed the pain when I had just finished the first run. The only variables that had changed were that I had gone running. And I've been erratic with my diet (I am on and off Keto, eating a lot of fat and less carbs in general). Dont think the diet is to blame. May be because I am drinking less water? I am not sure. I need to go see a doc once am back in Mumbai.

I have restarted with Evernote. I dont know why. It just looked like a better way to manage notes than than the notes app and Google Docs. While I can link and use great search from Google, somehow, Evernote is a far better experience. Lets see how long does this last.


So yeah! Thats about for the day. Hope you have a good day. Hope I have a good day. Its just 8 AM here. Apart from changing the hotel and going shopping (for friends and family), dont have anything on the agenda.

Saurabh Garg
21 April 2018

P.S.: In the posts that I've written, I talk about the previous day and I put the date of the day gone by. Not cool. So today on, changing it.

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?