Good Workout Decisions: Throwing Numbers Out The Window

It’s been 18 days of working out, 3 days since I threw numbers out the window, and today, I finally had a workout breakthrough.  I realized as I was walking home that man, my posture is significantly better than it was a few weeks ago.  And you KNOW when you have good posture (which is very few moments in your life, if you’re anything like me).  And I was like…man.  I feel really really good about this.  And I thought some more, and I realized at work I sit up straight in my chair because…I JUST WANT TO.  It’s so bizarre.  But it’s true.

And of course, all habit theory tells you that you need some sort of hook in order to keep the habit going.  You need something visible that’s important to you, like an early win, to help you keep doing the habit you’re trying to build.  And today, that moment came.  For me, it’s posture.  It’s something I would have never thought would be something that changed so significantly so fast, but man.  I’m totally digging it.

A few personal realizations:

  • Daily 30 minute workouts: Improves posture/build muscle
  • Eating differently: Reduces weight
  • Meditation/breathing: Calms my mind
  • Sleep: There’s no point in living if I don’t get enough sleep. Seriously.

So for now, all I’m trying to do is exercise daily (improve my posture/build muscle), meditate (calm my mind), and sleep (because I can’t survive without it).  And I think I’m doing decently at those things.

The whole eating differently is another can of worms and I am SO not equipped to tackle that yet.  But I guess that’s ok.  As long as I know I’m not trying to change that yet, and I’m not beating myself up over it then I think it’s fine.

I think I’ll tackle that beast next quarter.

(And in case you were wondering, yes, I think of my life in fiscal cycles).

Workout Vanity Metrics

For the first time in my life (or at least as long as I can remember), I can finally sympathize with every woman who hates her body.  It’s this insane nagging at the back of my head that won’t go away.  And it’s incredibly unproductive.

But after two weeks of observation, I think I can finally pinpoint why.  In the startup world there’s these things called Vanity Metrics.  In regular people terms, they are numbers that you think you should be caring about, but really you’re missing the point. because they sort of don’t matter  I have decided that until you’ve really figured out your routine, weight/body fat percentage are vanity metrics.  Because looking at them daily does way more harm than good.

So as of today, I’m throwing out the quants.  Let me rephrase that.  I’m not looking at it every day.  Mostly because, like in any business, you have to figure out what metrics you want to hit and what are best for your business.  If your business is like a lot of other businesses out there, then it is more straightforward.  Look at another company that’s successful, see what numbers they are hitting, and try to emulate.  The problem with bodies and people is that no two people are the same. WE CANNOT DO THAT IN THIS CONTEXT.  And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.  Even at NextDrop, we’ve been trying to do that, and it makes no sense because we’re not like most companies.  You just have to drive growth, and you have to figure out what drives growth for you. And then once you’ve figured it out, you try to accelerate it.

And the whole point of growth accounting is to create systems that make sense for you.  We’re doing that at NextDrop now, and for me personally I need to do that for my physical health.  And for me, right now, the quants are just not helping.  I think I need to focus more on how I feel about things.  Mostly because…it makes the most sense to me right now.  I can’t explain it but…I think it’s the right thing to do.

That’s about it.  Checking back in a month or two to see how things are.

15 Lbs Later…

Through working at a startup, I realized that the result doesn’t really matter if you don’t know how you got there and why it works.  I’ve always been decent re: size and weight, but I’ve never known how or why.  So I decided to conduct an experiment.  The first phase of the experiment is done.  The first phase is breaking it down to first principles.  Which means eat whatever you want when you want it, and don’t force any exercise.  Actually in my case (for other reasons), I had to actively hold myself back from exercising (so limiting it to 1-2 times per week at most).

The result is as you’d expect.  I’ve gained 15 pounds.  But I think I’ve gained more insight about myself than I ever knew.  Which is where the next phase begins: testing out these hypothesis to see how to get to the ideal version of myself.  And more importantly, figure out a routine/lifestyle that I really love to keep it there.

Learnings:

  • I love exercising every day, in some way, shape or form because it helps energy move through my body.  We are physical beings and doing some form of physical activity honors that fact.
  • I use exercise to avoid my life.  Every time I’d go to the gym, I’d forget about my problems and I’d feel good.  But my problems never went away, they just accumulated and made it that much harder to deal with later.
  • I have an absolutely atrocious relationship with food.  Deep down, I think the more food I eat, the more weight I will gain, and I will hate life.  As a result, I don’t eat enough, and when I don’t eat, I don’t sleep.  Add a little bit of stress and you have the trifecta of awful right there.

 

New things I do:

  • I’ve been reading a lot of new age buddhist philosophy and it’s been helping me adopt better life coping mechanisms.  I try to face problems and unpleasant emotions head on, no matter how awful they are.  I’m not the best at it, but I’m learning.
  • I try and eat as much as I can, and not as much as I think I calorically need. This results in a lot of takeout ordering, but man I’m getting so much more/better sleep its insane.  I can’t go back now that I’ve discovered the joys of a good night’s rest.
  • I’m actually starting to enjoy food.  WHO KNEW.  It comes and goes but sometimes I can now tell between food that I really really like and food that I don’t like as much.  I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s huge progress for me.

 

Phase II:

  • Now I get to bring back exercise! I’m so stoked.  I’m trying out doing 30 minutes a day through this app, daily burn.  I’m only on day 3, but I already love it.  I’ve never had a problem being motivated to go to the gym (i.e. I think I’m in the minority) but so far it’s working for me.
  • I want to decouple daily exercise from hobbies that I enjoy. For example, I used to couple yoga and my daily exercise but I think…I want to try and keep those separate.  It’s an added bonus that I have hobbies that keep me active but I don’t want to rely on that for my daily exercise.  I don’t know if that makes sense but…I think separating the two is important.  Daily exercise you can do anywhere, anytime. But yoga/other active hobbies (at least right now) I can’t.
  • When I exercise, I actually chose to eat more and better food.  It’s weird endorphins that get released after a workout, and maybe I’m an alien, but after a good workout I feel like my body is so clean, I don’t want clutter it with junk, I want to cook something.  Unfortunately that only lasts for about 30 minutes, so I’m figuring out how to keep this urge going but lets see.
  • I don’t know how I’m going to handle the food thing.  Because I’m a terrible cook, and I know I need to change the way I eat.  I think it’s going to have to be something about actually learning to enjoy food.  I started, and now I need to continue.  I know, I’m super weird, I’m probably the only one that has this problem but…yes.  This is the area I need the most help with.  Lets see.  Still figuring out what to do.

 

It’s a work in progress, but… I’m pretty excited.  Because once I figure this out for myself, I hope I’ll have a routine and lifestyle set for the next couple of years.  Which makes me pretty happy.

Life Is Stranger Than Fiction

2016 will be, I am almost positive, my strangest year of life to date.  I read somewhere, I think Mindy Kaling said it, that life is much more unique and complex than what stories we can capture and share in day to day media.  I think that’s really true.  Media likes to capture the normal curve, but what about the outliers? What if your entire life is an outlier? OR.  What if the world is coming around and making a new normal? What if you just think you are an outlier when really, everyone is in the same boat as you?  It’s like when people ask which class Americans belong to, and invariably everyone thinks they’re in the middle class.  When really, that’s statistically impossible.  But everyone just likes to think so.

I don’t know what the point of that digression was.  The statistic anomalies of what we think of as normal? I don’t know.  Anyway, back to 2016 being the strangest year of life to date.  Mostly because I am finally embracing change.  And just going with it.  I know people may think wow Anu, don’t you love change? The truth is, I kind of hate it.  I hate when something you got used to gets yanked away from you and you just have to cry and mourn over the loss of something beautiful that you once had.  But a wise friend pointed out this is the reason that Hindu’s have a God of destruction.  Because destruction leads to rebirth and rebuilding.  The circle of life. Change is change is change. I used to resist it like no other. Now I’m practicing Radical Acceptance (yes another book I just finished which I think is fantastic, highly recommend it).

I can’t even tell you where I will be two days from now and that used to scare the crap out of me.  But I’m learning that change is all right as long as you know where your center is, or where home is.  Home is where the heart is.  I thought that was a terrible expression, because Jesus, my heart is inside me how does that make sense at all? But now I think I’m finally understanding what that all means.  We have enough.  Life gives us enough.  At all times in our lives, we have everything we need. Right inside. Home is what you make of it. For me, I’ve realized that the global hello is a cup of tea or coffee.  Every culture and/or region has a variation of it and I love it.  Inexplicably adore it.  Be it Bangalore, Delhi, Paris, Abu Dhabi, London, Istanbul, San Francisco, you have it.  So for me, that’s my new comfort.  A cup of coffee or tea that says hey Anu.  It’s all right. Take a deep breath.  You have everything you need right here. Everything is going to be ok.

That’s how I’m feeling about life right about now.

The Year of Change: 2016

I still haven’t convinced myself that we can’t achieve perfection, to be honest.  Unfortunately.  Every day I wake up and realize I can’t be perfect.  You can’t be perfect. The world can’t be perfect.  Actually it’s worse because I get anxious at my inability to reach perfection, subconscious wreaking havoc everywhere.  And then I breathe and realize I have ridiculous expectations and I’m asking for a unicorn (which I still do quite frequently, along with the email fairy).

I hate that life is messy, but it is. But I think that out of the chaos we create something beautiful.  It’s usually only beautiful in hindsight.  Except that rare breed of people that can appreciate the day for the day, the moment for the moment, and realize that THIS IS LIFE.  It’s not yesterday, it’s not tomorrow, it’s RIGHT NOW.  I’m still wrapping my head around that concept, it’s so insane to me.  To me life was always the future.  What I would be next year, what I’d do tomorrow, where I would be in 5 years.  What’s that saying? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans? Something like that.

If you imagine life as a dynamically changing equation, where every day new variables enter and you have to re-optimize given the new data, how is it possible to know where you’re going next week, let alone 5 years from now?  That scares the hell out of me.  But it’s true.  Even in my own life.  God damn you data.

We also like to lie to ourselves. A lot. At least I do.  I’m so good at it, bonafide liarface.  (That is the technical term for it, btw).  One of our advisors had this great phrase.  In God we trust.  For everything else there’s data.  I think collecting data is useful, it’s also useless sometimes.  The trick is to know when and what context to use it in.  I find out a lot about myself looking at the data points in my life.  Which contradicts what I believe about myself, turns out.  That’s also crazy.  But coming to terms with that too.

The truth is I don’t know.  Something about being here now, observing who you really are, and letting that guide the direction of your life.  Also dealing with the fear and uncertainty of the unknown.  Staring it right in the face and saying yes I see you.  I will invite you to tea, you scary beast you.

That’s what I’m thinking about life right now.

Happy Holidays

I Traded Basketball for #Startups

If I had to pick two things in college that prepared me for running a startup it would be failing a lot through engineering, and second, the inordinate amount of time I spent playing pickup basketball.

I started as an underdog, no friends, no credibility, and nobody that really wanted to play with me.  It took about two years of just straight up: practice, rejection, practice, trying again, failing, practice, trying again, small success, big failure, practice, build some credibility, fail again, rinse and repeat to be somewhat ok.

After 4 years I finally made it to the A/B court.  At Cal, there are 3 courts A, B, C (A being the best, C being the worst).  The politics are complicated, but basically, I worked my way to a decent place in the basketball pecking order.  4 years at least enabled me to fake it in the somewhat higher levels of basketball-dom.

But then I left. And I never really played basketball that intensely again.

Which is where I think I am now with the startup world.  Same story, and 4 years later I am finally at the decent levels of startup-dom.  But right at this moment, I’m coming out of a bad championship game: the game was tied, I was open, I took a shot, and I missed.  We lost.  Everyone was pissed. At themselves, at me too. I was most pissed of all.  So many things I could have done differently.  Our team could have done differently.  How many open layups did our team miss?  How many times did we fail to box out?  How many times did the other team penetrate our defense and score some easy shots?  How many second chance points did we give away? How many ways could we have won?  A lot.  And it plays over and over and over in your head.  All the ways we could have won.

But really, now the only thing to do is go over the game tape with the team.  And see how you can prepare for the upcoming season.  It’s a hard loss.  But it’s not the end.  Not yet at least.

So you double down on the basics.  Play one on one with people way better than you who will give you any time possible, so when they brutally beat you, you’ll learn and get better (i.e your advisors that can be dicks, but their advice is really good and makes you better).  But also shoot around with people who are really experienced and can give you pointers on the nuances of the game (i.e. your more seasoned advisors who may not tell you the harsh realities of day to day, but they give you really good operational advice to implement and are there to support you emotionally because they’ve been around the block a few times) and anyone in between really.  Anyone who’ll either play pickup with you, shoot around with you, or anything basketball related really.  Because you learn from everyone, and you take what you can get.  Absorb it like a sponge.  And while you push yourself to get better,  you realize you have to push everyone else on your team to be better too.  That is absolutely your job.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, your friends/family that you either bitch about the game with, commiserate with,  or perhaps even bail you out when you’re in a tough spot.  That’s key.  The mental piece of the game. That’s something you never had before that helps you get to the next level.

Physical and mental union is how you up your game.  And you have to up your game.

Because the next time around, who knows how forgiving life will be.

From The Ashes Rises the Phoenix #Startup

The biggest mistakes that you make as an entrepreneur have a 6 month-1 year lag time. These usually aren’t lean startup product related mistakes (because pivoting is easy there), or even business model mistakes (because again, easy to pivot).  These mistakes usually involve finance, compliance, bad hiring decisions, or more commonly, a combination of all of the above.  I think this is why so many startups fail.  Because the deadliest mistakes take the longest to catch up to you, and usually it’s stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know (because if you did know, you would have done it differently, right?)  And once they do catch up to you, they just punch you in the face and knock you out.  And usually do a really good job.  Because it feels like everything is going to shit and everything is crumbling right before your eyes and right when you deal with one thing something else pops up.  When it rains, it pours, right?

Which is why I think sometimes you have to watch everything burn down to rebuild anew.  Again, why growing a startup is so hard.  Because you have to watch it burn.  Literally watching pieces burn before your eyes, pieces that are dear to your heart but you know that it can’t go on.  It can’t be there in this new phase.  You have to let it die.  Because you know that while you watch it burn, there’s only a few pieces you can save.  Let me rephrase that.  There’s only a few pieces you know you SHOULD save.  It’s that philosophical question that you hated: If you could only save 5 people in the world, who would they be?  And the hardest question you have to answer is why.  Why would you save them?  (Note: Now the answer cannot just be, because I feel like it).

There’s a lot of death.  There’s a lot of destruction.

But we all know that sometimes things have to die in order for a new order to be born.

And that is the goddamn harsh truth about trying to grow a startup.

Every Day Is Terrifying #Startup

So I’ve realized that when describing the entrepreneurial journey, “exhilarating” is the sanitized version of “effing terrifying”.  All those “successful” entrepreneurs who are looking back on life thinking, oh yeah, it was so cute back then- remember “the struggle”?  Le sigh, the good old days.  Well I call bullshit.  Ok let me rephrase that.  I am 90% positive I will say the same thing when I look back on this growth phase (until I re-read these entries and remember, oh yeah, that was some sucky ish going on there)  because I can see where they are coming from.  Every day is terrifying but not in the ways it used to be terrifying.  It used to be nauseous terrifying – i.e. I get up every morning with pseudo morning sickness (minus the benefits of birthing an actual child into the world after it all), wondering if we will be alive in 3 months.  Basically it was hmmm…so….do I need to be getting another job or something?

And now it’s not nauseous terrifying, it’s more like…can’t breathe and painful terrifying.  Sort of like being in labour, with all the pain and anguish and screaming and jesus christ just get it over with already that it entails (again without the benefits of birthing an actual child into this world).  You know it’s worth it in the end, you know that you can do it, you know you’ve got it, but GOD DAMN is it painful.

On a completely unrelated side note, is it weird that all my analogies have now become related to birthing children?  But wow it works so well.  Morning sickness, labour, then..BIRTH.

But back to the being in labour phase.  Because we all love that mental image.  BUT IT IS SO APT.  It’s just SO MUCH PAIN.  And doing and saying things that…the second it comes out of your mouth you think…oh god.  Lets take that back.  I’ve had to apologize to employees recently for getting upset at things and being rude in ways I never was before (or ever really thought I would be).  BUT THIS PHASE BRINGS IT OUT IN YOU.

The other thing you do a lot in this phase is rely on your support network to get you through.  That’s clutch.  Otherwise it’s just a lot of pain and nobody to help you through.  Isn’t that why there’s always someone holding the pregnant woman’s hand during the screaming and crying while they sit there saying don’t worry it’ll be ok bits? (I don’t know if that’s just a Grey’s Anatomy thing, but I’m going with it because it works here and it supports my theory and I’m all about that right now with this elaborate analogy thing).  Your support system.  Hold them close.  Check.

ANYway.  Yes.  It’s all painful.  And terrible.  And growth-ifying.  Why do we all do it you ask? I don’t know. It’s the same thing I ask mothers after they just spend a bazillion hours in ridiculous amounts of pain.  And most of them (well, most of them that have children over the age of 6 at least) say it was totally and completely worth it (I think it takes a few years to look back with that warm motherly glow).

So here’s to lots of pain, and hoping to get through it all in one piece (and not kill anyone in the process).

 

 

 

Hip Hop Is My Past- Fusion Is My Future #Startup

I’ve always loved a good narrative.  Listening to stories I’ve never heard before from people that need to tell them.  If you really listen hard, hip hop is about overcoming struggle to achieve something in life.  I’ve always felt like the underdog and I always felt like I had something to prove.  I love it, and I always draw inspiration from it.  Especially when things get tough.  It’s gritty, there’s hustle, and the struggle is beautiful

But hip hop is one piece of me.  Now that it’s been 4 years, it’s time to up the game.  To truly be great, you can’t just master the hustle.  Incorporating more layers, and mastering other art forms is the name of the game.

I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but I do know that the future is fusion.  Drawing inspiration from as many things, places, and people as possible.  Learning is the key, and incorporating into new habits is how you make it to the top.

The Meaning Of Life: Part I

I like the idea that the only thing real in the world is love.  It’s the only thing that makes sense I think- I was discussing this with my cousin, and that’s sort of what he was insinuating, I believe. At least that happiness and meaning are sometimes mutually exclusive (and sometimes not), and that priorities may change over time (and sometimes not).  You may be at a time in your life when you want to be doing something you love for work, and there may be a point in your life when that’s not actually what you’re prioritizing anymore.

I also like this concept that time is meaningless- a manmade construct used by humans to measure life.  I think it was a mixture of Stephen Hawking, and Anita Moorjani that helped me buy into this theory.

But if only love is real, and time doesn’t exist, then maybe the whole point is to maximize the life you have to love as deeply and fully as possible.  In all types of ways, shapes and forms.  Sometimes that may take the form of work.  Maybe it’s starting a family. Or art. Or pets. Or a loved one. Or travel. Or…I don’t even know.  There are so many things.

But maybe I was looking at this whole life thing all wrong.  Maybe the whole point, the absolute point, is to find, and give, as much love as possible.  In whatever way we can, and whatever form that takes in the stage of life we’re in.

Maybe it’s really as simple as that.