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.

I Never Saw My Life Past 28

Not like I thought I was going to die or anything- I just…had absolutely no clue how my life was going to turn out.  It was just a black hole after 28 (literally, age 28.  Not 26, not 31, 28).  So it shouldn’t be shocking that in my 28th year of life, there has been a lot of existential crisis-ing.


I think I’ve been making a lot of decisions with my gut over the last 4 years (pretty exclusively I may add) and the rest of me is trying to catch up.  Mostly my head. Because it is exploding with conundrums and paradigm shifting…let downs really.

The harsh reality is that if you don’t create a version of yourself in your head, your subconscious will do it for you. And that subconscious will fill this version of you (or what you’re supposed to be) with ideas and paradigms that it sees around.

Meaning: I set myself up to fail and be disappointed when my brain caught up with…the real me.  Because let me tell you, I pretty much do…NOTHING I’m “supposed” to be doing.  Said another way, I’m kind of exclusively… a-typical.  And my brain has been having a really hard time computing this.  It’s just been really angry and self hating actually, to be perfectly honest.  And it sucks.  This self hating thing I mean.

I’ve literally spent the last month or so catching up with what I thought I was supposed to be and who I really am.  And most of it has been shocking and surprising (to nobody but myself I may add).

I’ve had the privilege of being able to really do whatever it is that I’ve wanted to do with my life.  And be whoever it is I want to be.  It’s funny when you do that though.  Because it takes an adjustment period when you realize…you’ve stepped over to the other side.  There’s no turning back now.  You’ve made too many choices to be able to keep your feet in both worlds- the “normal” world, and the world that you’ve created over the last 4 years for yourself.

It’s a really really really strange thing when you realize that crossed the point of no return.  Mostly because I’m not used to commitment.  Ask anyone who knew me back in college or before.  I was all over the place.  And I preferred it that way.  But now, after I’ve had time to let it sink in, I’m actually…ok with it. I’m actually excited about it.  I get to hit the reset button in life again.  I’m recreating the mental version of myself given my new trajectory in life.  This time I’m going to be proactive about it- visualizing my 30’s.

“When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be”

– Lao Tsu

I’m officially on to my next new adventure, which is an internal one, and I think spread over the next decade.  Coming into my own with the words/phrases I (now) identify with: Woman, tech, startup, maverick, joy, partnership, mother, leader, design, compassion, growth, accountability, spirituality, fun, self love, style, discipline.

Wow that’s a lot. But it’s good.  It’ s going to be good.  I’ve decided it’s going to be good.

And I feel like that’s the first step anyway.

Deciding the way it’s going to be. Or at least the way you’re going to respond to it.



Growing Up #Startup

Growing up in the startup world is one of the most emotionally painful things known to mankind.  I have come to believe.  I understand why business people are known to be hard hearted.  Because if you open your heart you’ll just cry all the time, for all the things you have to do- which is your job to do, and you have to.  I get it.

But I don’t want to be that person. That hard hearted person.  I’m not that person. So recently, I just feel a lot of pain, all the time.  Like Friday, when I found out we actually had to let people go, and it happened to be on Diwali.  DIWALI. Accidentally on Diwali.  Letting people go is never easy.  And then you found out you accidentally did it on Diwali.  I spent Friday night puking/trying to sleep it off.

Realizing you have to let co founders go? That were your friends from college, that helped build a business with you? But it’s just that the business grew and they did not keep up? How do you live with that? How do you even make that call? I mean you know on paper it’s the right decision but…seriously? Isn’t it easier to just be…numb?

Except it’s not, because I tried that, and it doesn’t work.  I mean it works, but it’s not the answer. At least not the answer for me.  The point in life is not to be numb.  The point in life is to live.

I think when you decide you never want to be that person that just doesn’t have emotion, that is numb all the time, AND you still want to grow with your startup, you basically sign up for a lot of emotional trauma.  I think the biggest skill is learning how to forgive yourself.  You are going to make mistakes, and the higher up you go, the more far reaching the consequences.  That’s a fact.  So things like this will keep happening.  All you can do is apologize to whoever you need to, note down what you messed up on, and move on.  That’s about it.  The hard thing about hard things is that they are hard for a reason and its why very few people sign up to run the show.  To be the decision maker that makes THAT call.  The tough call.  That needs to be done.  I’m getting better at knowing it’s the right thing to do.  Dealing with the consequences though, is still tough.

I think the best policy I’ve decided is honesty.  Absolute and complete honesty with everyone involved.  Because that’s the only way to do that thing that you signed up for- that vision of the world you still want to create.  Honesty sucks, but it’s the short term bad news for long term gain.  Being honest, especially with yourself (and as a result, everyone else) is one of the hardest things to do.

But I think if you can master the honesty thing, that’s what it means to grow up.

Hi My Name Is Anu And I Am Terrible At Personal Finance #startup

It’s just one of the most depressing realizations of all time.  Ok to be fair, I can think of a few more depressing realizations, but still. Me and personal finance are not the best of friends.  In general I think that’s the case, but then working at a startup when income can be erratic? Yeesh.  I’ve been looking into this but nobody really talks about founder personal finance.  I guess because most founders have buttloads of savings coming into their startup? I don’t know.  But this was basically the first job I got out of college so really, all I came with was student debt (YAY).

I am in the process of learning things, but here is what I’ve come up with.

  • The 6 month rule is scarily real y’all:  I took a look at when things started getting crazy, and I was fine until the point I planned it to be fine. But really, you need to add about 6 months of extra monthly budget to your plan (i.e. 6 months of you not getting any income).  I feel like that’s what it is in the startup world- take everything and add two quarters.
  • If you didn’t get it that month, don’t spend it (no matter how soon you think you’re getting the money):  I think that’s the harshest truth.  Live within your means, even if you know you’re getting the money at some point.  The problem is you don’t exactly know when that point may be, and the extra interest you’re going to incur by putting it on a credit card is usually not going to be worth it.  Usually.  There definitely are exceptions, as always, but now that I’ve done the whole, oh I’m good for it it’s fine, swipe it…damn this interest is piling up…oh GOD I HATE THIS INTEREST MAKE IT STOP…I’m pretty sure I’ve got it out of my system and I’m over it.  Hopefully.
  • Create a financial model, just like you do for your company:  I finally got around to making a payment schedule (so I know how much to have in my bank account on what date), projecting future expenses by category, estimating income, and getting my running balance.  Spontaneity is good, but not when it comes to spending and finance, turns out.  I just got down to doing it yesterday, and man I feel way less stressed knowing this information.  It at least, again, helps me make more informed choices.
  • Keep track of what you spend on: This one I’m..still on the fence about.  I do it, and I like it, but…the data hasn’t been incredibly revealing yet.  I think I’ll have to keep doing it for some time to really see results.
  • Know what you want to save for: I’ve found that saving for the sake of saving just doesn’t work for me.  By that I mean…if I don’t know what I’m saving it for, I just spend it. So I started planning, and creating different categories that motivate me to save.  Anything left over I can spend on what I want (i.e. clothes/shoes/eating out/whatever).  I got this strategy from Ramit Sethi’s book (which I highly recommend). I just got started with this, which means it’ll probably be tweaked.  But so far my categories include:
    • Travel
    • Gifts
    • Retirement
    • Parents retirement
    • Trading Accounts
    • Rainy Day Savings (6 months Cash)

I’ll be honest.  I feel somewhat ashamed that I haven’t figured this stuff out yet and I’m not on autopilot with most of this stuff like a boss, but…I’m not.  I think the only thing I can do is say ok Anu.  You’re not the greatest at this.  Lets work on getting better.

Yikes I have a long way to go.

Le Sigh.

There Is No Antibiotic for Stress #Startup

I realized what I’ve been getting wrong about stress: it’s not something you can get rid of once you have it – you have to make sure it never gets to that point in the first place.

I used to think that stress was something you were supposed to deal with when you felt..well, stressed.  It’s like when you get sick and take an antibiotic and you get better.  Turns out, stress isn’t exactly like that.  Usually by the time you’re sick, it’s already too late.  I mean you CAN do that (i.e. take vacations, wait until you get a super nervous breakdown before doing something…whatever) but it’s definitely not the most optimal.

So then I thought, well, maybe you’re just supposed to avoid stress.  Yeah, that just doesn’t work out well at all.  Even if you weren’t running a startup, life just throws random things at you that are completely out of our control.  So no, avoiding isn’t the answer either.

Which brings me to my realization: you have to take steps to make sure that you never FEEL stressed.  It’s like probiotics or vitamin tablets: take them every day to make sure you don’t get sick.  Prevention rather than treatment.

So what are vitamin tablets in the stress world? I think they have to do with daily habits that people cultivate. I have a strong suspicion that the most successful people also have the best stress coping habits.  They do things every day so that there is no need to feel stressed, ever.  I think that’s highly possible, if not highly probable.  I can’t speak for other fields, but at least at a startup, I think it’s doable.

How is the better question.  Here’s my list so far:

  1. Exercise is an absolutely fantastic way to help you feel energized, and more importantly, help you see the world through new eyes
  2. Meditation lately has been pretty rad, I must say.  I was a skeptic at first but I like it. I think I”m going to keep doing it.  I try to do 10 minutes every morning, but I’ll probably expand that time gradually.
  3. Eating/sleeping enough: I think it goes without saying but just in case it needs to be said, I think this one is huge.
  4. Being grateful/thankful.  I find that if we cultivate this habit, I just feel genuinely happier/joyful more often than not. I’m trying to get better at this
  5. Longer term planning: I’m reading this pretty interesting book by Bill Walsh, super successful coach of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, and I love how he talks about having  a plan for every single scenario out there.  If it can happen, he has a plan.  So during the game, he can sit back and let things happen. Yes there are a lot of calls during game time, but for the most part, he knows that he can handle whatever is thrown at his team.  I am absolutely horrendous at this, but I think if I start putting this into practice, it’ll make me a lot more confident.

Anyway, it’s an idea I’m working with. Still need to flesh it out, but I’m going to start figuring out my daily habits to help me lead a more productive and joyful life.  I’m all about that.

The Best #Startup Advice I’ve Heard In A While

Most startup advice is for seed stage companies.  We’re in this weird position where…we’ve been around for a while.  Honestly, not to say that we still can’t, but if we were going to die, it sort of would have happened by now.  (And I can remember the exact time period when I KNEW we were passing the startup valley of death, I prayed a lot during that time).  Call it god, the universe, luck, whatever, but we’re still here.

That being said, our advisor Rajiv (who has been around the block) gave us some of the most life changing advice.  He said look.  Make your company around you.  If you’re happy, the company will be happy.  Which is sort of counterintuitive right? Because what if we are greedy ass, Ferrari loving models and bottles type people who want nothing more than to make a quick buck and leave? (Ok I’ve been DYING to use that phrase since I heard it a few years ago because I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT EXISTED ITS SO WEIRD)

Side note: I have NOTHING against these people, but I feel like those are the people, that if they started a company, would have Wolf of WallStreet ish going on.  I’m just saying.

Anyway.  I realized that…he’s right.  First of all, again, we would have died by now if we were, so…there’s that.  Turns out, we’re actually pretty decent.  In fact, we’re actually pretty good at what we do.  Who knew?  So the best thing we can do is make sure we’re happy, and create a lifestyle around that.  But more importantly to me, is that it extends to EVERYONE at our company.  The best thing we can do is make sure we create a lifestyle where every single person at our company is happy.  Including us.

Recently, I feel like a new person. I go into work every day with a new appreciation for what is possible.  There’s always new challenges coming our way and now, I think the challenge has shifted to creating an office culture where everyone is stoked to be there, so that they can focus on doing what they love: creating products that make the world a better place.

It’s funny how life works out doesn’t it?

Personal Founder Flaws Manifest Themselves At The Company #Startup

It’s amazing how my personal flaws and biases manifest themselves at our company, NextDrop.  To be fair, so do my strengths, but it’s crazy how your company is pretty much a mirror of yourself (+ other co founders).

One of the things I’m absolutely horrible at is asking for help.  Lo and behold, which of our investors or advisors has heard from us recently? And usually we only go to them way later than we should.  Luckily, no major disasters have come about (yet), but really, we could be doing much better on this front.  And it would make me feel a heck of a lot better anyway, knowing we have a team that has our back (BECAUSE WE DO).  Which makes me realize, on a personal front, I need to ask for help when I need it- BECAUSE I HAVE THAT TOO.  I don’t know why, and I am still in awe that I have the friends that I have (they are so cool!), but I need to just accept that fact, show them a lot of love, know they’re going to be there for me, and use it to help me live a happier and more joyful life.  (Why don’t I do this again?)

Second: contrary to Silicon Valley lore, I think trying to be a martyr and sacrificing your personal needs for that of the company is the worst possible thing you can do. Because subconsciously, you devalue your own company.  If you’re ok with your personal needs not being met, you’ll be more likely to be ok with your company’s needs not being met by the outside world.  I’m just thinking back, and had I put my own personal needs first, I would have made better decisions for the company.  Let me take that back.  No outcome would have changed at Nextdrop, but I think the process would have been much faster and smoother.  And at a startup since time is money, that’s HUGE.

Anyway, I think the first step is realizing your blindspots.  The second thing is doing something about it.  Check on step one.  Not sure how to go about step two but…it’s on the to do list.

Why is there always so much work to do again?