happiness, Job, So Good They Can't Ignore you, social entrepreneurship, Startups

The Happiness Project: ” Happiness Is A Choice” (Vol I)

I heard this talk at the INK Conference last week, and it really just changed my life.  I was actually in the makeup room with Aisha backstage (and now I’m kicking myself because I wish I had talked to her then, but of course I was super lame and too busy trying to practice my own talk).  But anyway, I still got to observe her and the way she was interacting with everyone around her.  And it was just so awesome- her zest for life.  Her will to just….do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants.  So. Awesome.  (Yes, now that I’m reading this back it sounds like I’m a creepy stalker but I don’t care, she is an inspiration and I learned a lot from her that day- I hope she reads this one day and knows that).

You know how sometimes, you have to hear the right thing at the right time to give you a good kick in the pants?  I think that’s what this talk did for me (I would encourage you all to watch it).  But I think my biggest takeaway was that she gave me permission to be happy.  I know that’s strange to say, but it was almost like I thought it was illegal to just focus on how amazing my life is and how much I love it.  I felt like I needed someone to tell me, hey, everyone has great things in their life, appreciate it! And it’s ok to do that.  In fact, that’s the way it should be.  All the time.  24/7, 365 y’all.  I guess I got so influenced by all the people who are like, wow I don’t have this and jesus I just wish I had that, life’s just not fair etc etc etc I forgot that I was allowed to say no that’s dumb and not the way we should be living.

So now, I’ve taken life into my own hands and I feel like I’m focusing on being happy/doing the things I love to do.  Turns out, I’m not doing many things differently, just focusing on how grateful I am that I get to do them.

A few things on my list that I have been previously been unsure of, but now know that I am the freakish .01% that really enjoys it:

  • I want to be the best startup entrepreneur I can be.  By god, I want to build one of those elusive Unicorn companies (one of the 4 born in 2011) and I want to put in the blood sweat and tears to do it.  Our team is going to do it the good old fashioned way, by outworking everyone else out there.  Which means jesus, I’m sticking to the 4 books per month rule, and maybe bumping it up to 5. I only need so many hours of “social” time- after that, I just get antsy and think about all the startup things I could be learning (or if we’re in a group with other people, I try to strike up conversations about their job so I can learn about their startup, which doesn’t really bode well sometimes because they’re thinking man we’re not at work anymore Anu get the hint, but that’s ok, I’m gonna roll with it)
  • I also want to be me.  That sounds strange, but I gave this INK talk at the INK conference, and I did it in the way I wanted to deliver it, (I haven’t seen it yet but I didn’t shut myself in the bathroom right afterwards and angrily journal how awful it was like I did my first TEDx talk which means it was better than last time).  But honestly, it just wasn’t me.  It didn’t feel right.  I’m not that person I was projecting.  I can’t really walk around with a stick up my butt all the time.  Well maybe I can, maybe I have to, I don’t know. I still haven’t figured this one out yet, but it’s one of those things I kind of want to think about.  I probably won’t have a good answer for a while, but at least I know what I don’t want to be or do.  I think that’s a start.
  • Comedy.  Life is way to funny not to laugh, people need to do it more often.  Going back to the previous point, I didn’t have enough funny/this is so random and strange but I’m going to do it anyway sort of moments, which I’m going to work towards changing.  I think it helps that I met the most amazing people at the INK conference (my fellow INK fellows), who really made me realize- man, these are brilliant beyond brilliant people and they can look past the outer facade and take what you say at face value just because you said it.  Granted it’s the perfect world, but hey, why not just associate yourself with people you feel comfortable around?  For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like I needed to project a certain image to be taken seriously.  The only other place I feel that comfortable is with my team at work (which is great because we spend a lot of time together) but now, finally, I found people who are amazing and awesome (and also think life is way too short not to laugh).  I’m definitely capitalizing on this.

There’s probably a lot of other stuff I’m not talking about or thinking of right now, but I wanted to write it down before I forgot.

But really, here’s to being happy- by choice.

So Good They Can't Ignore you


I finally get it.  I finally get why everyone loves cooking so much, why it’s all the craze, and why, actually, I love reading about stories of people who learned how to cook and love it.  It’s about perfection.  It’s about having complete control over something in life, and, with absolute certainty, know what the outcome will be.  Now that I think about it, I feel like that was a line in Julie and Julia.  You rarely find that anywhere in this world, and when you do, you hold on to it like there is no tomorrow .  It’s the same reason I fell in love with basketball.  If I made 50 layups a day for 4 months straight, I’d perfect the layup.  Hard work was directly proportional to immediate results.  If I heat the pan to the perfect temperature, and wait for the perfect moment, my dosas will come out perfectly (yes surprise surprise my mom was sick so I was cooking food for my dad, and he wanted dosa). And if it doesn’t come out perfectly, there is a logical reason for it.  I can reduce the heat of the pan, stop being impatient, and learn to read the signs better.  It really is master-able.  Because on the third try, when I actually paid attention, my dosas weren’t bad, I must admit.

I’m not saying that I’m going to start cooking like a crazy person, quit my job, and join Le Cordon Bleu anytime soon.  And I’m also not saying I’m going to try and be a better cook (sorry folks, I optimize for nutrition, not taste).  Because I still don’t want to make time for cooking.  I realize my problem is that I try to do too many things at once. And I”m ok with that. Because while I’m making my dinner, I’m definitely trying to catch up on what’s happening with the last season of One Tree Hill, while also reading about the latest startup that Sequoia funded.  And I will continue to make BBQ gobi for the foreseeable future (because I think slightly carcinogenic food groups will boost my immunity and besides I’m not really interested in sitting there and watching it cook).

I guess what I realized is that being a bad cook is a misnomer.  You just haven’t practiced enough to be able to cook things to perfection without thinking about it.


So Good They Can't Ignore you, Uncategorized

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: The End of the Beginning

It’s been 6 months since I started the “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” kick.  I didn’t really live up to my deliverables, but I think I got exactly what I wanted out of it.  Sometimes, when you turn a quarter of a century, you figure out a thing or two about stuff.

One thing I realized about myself: I always want to win.  I don’t need to push myself even harder than I already do.  If anything, I need to push myself to take breaks (because that’s when the breakthroughs/really good ideas happen).  Another lesson I have learned over the past 6 months: vacation is IMPORTANT.  The day you get up and don’t want to go to work, that’s when you know you need a vacation.  Because right after you take a day or two off, you’re just as pumped as ever.

I have always loved reading, and I always will.  And whenever I have a problem that I don’t know a solution to, I go online, purchase a book, and read it.  And guess what: I usually come up with the answer to my problem.  (I mean, I didn’t necessarily come up with it, but the smart people who write these books sure do).  Books are my guru, and that will never change.  I always like reading to stay on top of my game.  Sometimes, other things take priority, and you don’t have a chance to read as much as you want to.  But I know that if it is humanly possible, I will make it happen.

So in conclusion, I’ve realized that I am ALWAYS trying to be so good they can’t ignore you.  I always have, and I always will be.

I also realized that I don’t necessarily want to be the best.  I just want to know that I’ve TRIED my best (two vastly different things).  I know that sounds really hippie like (and I generally don’t like hippie talk), but at the end of the day, it’s sort of true.

I’m doing the best that I can, and that makes me really happy.

So Good They Can't Ignore you

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Week 8 Wrap Up & Week 9

I finished The Kobe Code, am 60% of the way done with Venture Deals, and I added another book to the list which I finished: I Moved Your Cheese.

The Kobe Code was actually pretty good (barring the terrible English).  There were a lot of times I thought the author was just trying to take up space, but besides that it was a decent read.  I would actually say that Kobe Bryant is much more relatable than Michael Jordan.  I actually think I can do what he does.  Michael Jordan is kind of epically crazy.  But it’s good to have that too I suppose.

I Moved Your Cheese got really good reviews and it’s a quick read.  Basically, the gist of it is something like: we’re all in a maze.  First notice that you’re in a maze, then you can leave the maze.  And if you get really good at the whole zen thing, you’ll realize that the maze is all in your head.  I think I just summarized the book.  It’s interesting the way he tells it, but I”m not sure it was all that amazing and revolutionary.  But maybe I’m just biased.

Progress: I’ve actually seen myself get better and more detail oriented.  We made a 2 minute video and I was very proud of the work that I did on it.  Given the amount of time I had, I think I did a pretty good job- especially at the end when I really just wanted to be done with it.  But I made all the changes that needed to be made- despite the feeling of oh man why can’t this just be over!

Reading list:

This week, I plan on finishing (God I really hope I actually finish!) Venture Deals. It’s incredibly dense and tends to give me a headache if I’m not in exactly the right mood to read it.  I also plan on Reading this months’ Harvard Business Review, along with a book on coaching- Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basektball, Business, and Life.    I think that business and basketball are really closely related, and since basketball is something I understand, I figure if I read enough about it, I’ll learn how to apply the same principles of success to business.  I’ll probably think about that one more and write about it.  But anyway, that’s this week’s reading list

I think I’m giving up trying to program for now.  I could be doing that, but all the other things I could be doing somehow seem more important.  I could be wrong, but that’s the decision for this month.

Exercise, So Good They Can't Ignore you

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Week…Who Knows/The Jillian Michaels Theory

Apparently, I’m really not good with this whole sticking to a regimen thing.  But I’ve always known that and I’ve known it was something I have to work on.  That being, said, I think I have a few theories as to why January went off great, and February was pretty dismal.  Even in my performance at work (yes I actually score myself everyday) in January I averaged 6-7/10, and in February, it was around a 5.  Here are the variables I can think of:

1.  I just came back from vacation in January, so I was more enthused about…everything. That’s what some people say, but I don’t buy that really.

2.  In February, I never had any weekends to myself.  I was visiting family every weekend this month.  While this is great and fantastic, it is not really a time I can turn “off”.  I need some time to just..do nothing.  And reflect on stuff.  January had lots of that- whereas February was pretty much devoid of any Anu gets to recharge time.  I think this is a major reason why January was so much better than February

3.  The Jillian Michaels Theory:  This is probably going to sound ridiculous but in January, I was obsessed with Jillian Michaels workout DVDs (they are amazing by the way).  However, in February, I decided to just go to the gym instead.  I thought all I needed was exercise- but I think I was wrong.  The workout DVD made me FOCUS- because it packed an hour’s worth of blood sweat and tears in 20 minutes.  So every minute, I had to keep pushing myself.  At the gym, however, I did stuff at my own pace, and pretty much never pushed myself to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with.  I spent double the time, and got probably similar workouts/calorie burn, but the thing I was missing was FOCUS, and pushing myself- especially when I really didn’t want to keep going.

Things I want to change in March:

  • Going back to Jillian Michaels!  We’ll see if this is going to give me the results I want (focus wise)
  • Spending weekends unwinding (either with friends or doing nothing in the house which is actually ridiculously fantastic)
  • Focus on each task, each day:  Things are starting to get a little crazy, but the only way to effectively deal with it is to take each hour as it comes, each task as it comes, and each day as it comes.  And fight to make sure each minute of each day counts. If I can do that, I think March will be pretty great.

So where am I with the reading?

  • Finished Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO:   It was an OK read, but if you are short on time, I think you can skip this one.  There was one interesting chapter on personal branding (i.e. think of yourself as a brand and then think of every single action as a marketing campaign) but I think its really for more higher level CEOs (i.e. people with thousands of workers under them).
  • Half way done with The Kobe Code: 8 Principles for Success: I am liking this one.  The Jordan one was much better (and I don’t think it’s due to their difference in work ethic/style) but just that Jordan was done with his career when his book was written and Kobe is still making his (albiet its probably at the end of it).  Either way, it’s pretty good, and maybe worth reading.  It’s funny, I can almost see why Jordan achieved the success he did, and Kobe is where he’s at.  I think Jordan’s attitude was just…better.  For example, Kobe’s view view on fear.  Kobe uses fear to motivate himself, bu Jordan never even considered failing.  I like that.  Anyway, more on that later.

So this week, I should be done with Venture Deals, and the Kobe Code. I’m also going to try to do an hour of Python learning a day.  Probably when I get up in the morning, and after I work out.  Lets see if I can squeeze that in as well.

Here’s to recalibrating, and trying again!

So Good They Can't Ignore you

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Week 3 Roundup/Week 4

This week was pretty busy, and so I only got 25% of the way done with Founders at Work. But oh man. It’s pretty much rocking my world, and changing the way I think about NextDrop.  Highly highly recommend this book.  And this is all straight from the mouth of people that made it.  So who am I to argue with it?

Takeaways so far:

1.  “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.  If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” So comforting actually.

2.  “Always seek excellence: make your product better than the average person would.” I need to keep remembering this.

3.  “It’s neer been that, ever, for me.  It’s always been, “I know this can be huge, I believe it in my heart. How on Earth do we make this happen?  Why don’t other people think it’s huge yet? It’s just this complete, everyday banging your head against the wall trying to figure out how to convince other people that this thing is the biggest thing in the world.”  This is what I think, pretty much every day.  I’m glad other successful people think so too.

4.  “Recruiting is a classic example.  I don’t even hear the first “no” that somebody says.  When they say, ‘No I’m not interested,’ I think, ‘Now its a real challenge.  Now’s when the tough part begins.”  Also very comforting to know!

5. “‘We’re number 1 or number 2 by the end of the year or we don’t matter.’…How is it realistic to say that you’ll go from 17 to 1 or 2 in a year? It’s crazy, but the company rallied around it.  I’m surprised really pleasantly by the ability of people when challenged to rise to the occasion.”  I feel like this every day at work.  I set a goal, and they meet it.  And now we’re just trying to see how far we can push.

6. In a startup, you’re on this mission together.  Everyone has to feel that, and you have to hire people who are willing to believe in something they are trying to accomplish.”

This week: Continue to be inspired by other people in Founders at Work

So Good They Can't Ignore you

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Week 2 Roundup/Week 3

Finally finished the Jordan book- it was fantastic.  At the end of the day, I can’t say I want to be exactly like Michael Jordan, but here were the main things I want to adopt:

Focus:  The man broke a large task into chunks, and then just focused on doing that chunk to the best of his abilities.  That translates to essentially taking it one day at a time, and making sure you did your best on that day.

Passion:  He loved what he did.  You can’t burn out on doing what you love.  I love reminding myself of that.  It helps me work harder.

Hard Work:  He was the best because he outworked everyone, plain and simple.  There’s no substitute for hard work, and if anyone tells us otherwise, they’re full of it.

Passion+Hard Work= Greatness.

Week 3 Reading List:

Founders at Work- Stories of Startups Early Days by Jessica Livingston

I’ve heard its a good read- kind of an entrepreneur essential.

Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw (Week 1)

I have decided that I need to learn how to program in Python because that’s what the NextDrop code base is and I need to be able to understand it.  So I also bought the Udemy course on it and intend to follow it and learn Python.