Getting Un-Broken

After you shatter your life to billions of tiny pieces, the only thing left is to start putting it back together.  One piece at a time.  Put one foot in front of the other and try not to fall.  If you don’t fall, it’s a good day.  Sometimes you have to re-learn how to walk.  Because turns out, you weren’t really walking very well the first time around.  More like limping kind of, but you didn’t know you were even doing it.  It’s like when you’re little and you’re so excited to learn how to crawl, and you’re so proud of yourself for learning how to crawl, but then you learn about this thing called walking and you’re like wait a minute.  WTF HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL MY LIFE?! And then even if you fall when you’re walking it’s still way better than crawling? (Not that I remember what it felt like to be 2, but having observed some small children over the past few years I’m just annotating what I think is going through their heads.  Also there is no way to confirm or deny this so I’m going with the analogy).

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, right?

It’s really hard not to get really mad at yourself though.  HOW IS THIS NOT FIGURED OUT YET? Oh yeah.  Because I broke this.  On purpose.  And on accident.  A purposeful accident.  Accident because you didn’t know what the end result would be.  But on purpose because what you had before just wasn’t cutting it and you were willing to take that leap of faith to say that the next thing has to be better than what I have now.  Kind of like the (almost) first blog post. Coming full circle.  I guess that’s what gives me faith to do it again.  I did this once before.  Almost 6 years ago.  And it worked out ok.  In fact, it worked out better than I could have imagined.  Not perfect, obviously, but what’s really perfect anyway? (Except George Clooney- I think he is the exception that proves the rule, I’m just saying).

I think I just need to give myself that last push off the ledge to go for it.  6 years ago was easier because guess what.  I didn’t have anything to lose (or if I did I wasn’t really thinking about it).  Being young and dumb has its perks.  I’m still dumb and young but not dumb enough to know nothing about what I’m doing this time around and exactly what I’m giving up.  There are pros and cons to this.  I think that means it’s harder to do it this time around, but I think chances of success are also significantly higher. Mostly because if there was a mistake, I’ve probably already made it.  At least the easy ones.  I’ve made a significant number of those.

Isn’t it weird to think of your life as a bunch of mistakes that you just feel less shitty about over time? That’s slightly depressing.  I feel like there’s a more poetic and less depressing way to say this, but I can’t think of it right now.  I’m definitely not at the point where I’m looking back at this time in life and saying oh, how cute.  That was definitely needed to do X, Y, and Z and I’m so glad I did it.  I’m still at the…oh lord please don’t let all hell break loose and yes I’m really really grateful for this second chance and all but please help me fuck up less this time or at least if I do please make it feel less like I’m going to DIE and more like…a paper-cut (still painful because I’m a baby and have no pain tolerance, but you know, if I have to be in SOME kind of pain, this is preferable- can you make a note of this please, should I send it to your secretary? Maybe email? Has Google reached you yet??).  K Thanks.

Love Anu.

 

Sometimes Things Get Better

Like if you hold your breath long enough sometimes things start falling into place.  Let me rephrase that.  If you work your ass off WHILE holding your breath long enough things start falling into place.

Rewind about 2.5 weeks ago.  I realized that I just wasn’t giving work my all.  I wasn’t.  I mean, on a to do list it looked ok but if I really asked myself if I was giving life my 100%, the answer was no.  Nobody else would have been able to say that.  Only me.  Because I know myself and I know what I am capable of doing. I knew I could do more.

And I also vowed this year to just stop lying to myself about shit.  I’m tired of it.  There’s no point.  In fact, that’s probably the thing that got me in the hot mess shit hole in the first place.  I mean, if I was honest with myself and just took stock of life a few years ago (hell, lets go ALL the way back to some 3-4 years ago) things could have been different. But until time travel is invented (which I’m SO down for), all that KIND of doesn’t matter.  So new beginnings, no more self lying.  And I’ve also decided that there’s nothing wrong with saying hey Anu. Guess what.  You know you can do better than this.  Sometimes you can’t.  And I’ve been there too. But that’s not where I was 2.5 weeks ago.  And I’ve been around the block enough now to know the difference.

So that’s when I found another gear and dialed into it.  Put it in motion. And you know what? Things started moving.  People who I was trying to connect with for MONTHS randomly contacted me back.  I was figuring out how to reach out to the World Bank and guess what.  They reached out to me.

I really believe that when you, deep down, figure that you can do better, and you actually dig deep to move- the world tries to help you back.  I’m a big believer in that.  Also, it kind of doesn’t matter what the end result of all this stuff is.  Maybe nothing will work out with any of the leads we are getting.  But at the end of the day, I just FEEL better.  I FEEL like I’m living up to my potential as a human being on this planet.  I FEEL like I’m moving in the right direction.

And I’ve realized that when your life is usually a chaotic hot mess, that feeling of creative fulfillment, is sometimes enough.

The Difference Between Your First #Startup And Your Second One

I feel like I’m living that Luvs commercial: First kid, second kid.

Company Logo:

Startup #1:

$700 and 3 months later, we have a logo (which we change a year later)

Startup #2:

“Hey Devin, I think we need a company logo”

“Oh… yeah. Probably”

“Hey can we just use a glyphicon from the noun project?”

“Let me check..yeah.  We can”

$2 and 10 minutes later, we have a logo.

Company Website:

Startup #1:

$2000 and 2 months later we have a website (which we promptly change after 1 year)

Startup #2:

Code Academy Bootstrap Course: $7

Download Free Boostrap Template: Free99

$7 and 2 weeks later, we have a website.  

 

 

 

#BeastMode: Random Thoughts About Mindset

What’s the one thing that’s going to take me to the next level in my entrepreneurial career? Changing my mindset.  I need to learn to love the process.  Carol Dwek talks about this in her book, Mindset.  It’s pretty great, and the more podcasts I listen to, the more I’m convinced that’s what it takes to get me to where I want to go.

I’ve realized something interesting though.  This sort of mindset requires a lot of focus.  I also believe in the idea of deep work, Cal Newport’s catch phrase.  I think that’s where exercise comes in.  At least CrossFit.  I think if I use CrossFit training as actually a way to practice focus and discipline, I can see how that will help me be a better entrepreneur.  Because going for the sake of physical health is not really doing it for me.  I can be doing a lot of things that are not as intense as CrossFit, and not as demanding.

I have realized that greatness lies in the pushing of intellectual boundaries.  For example, right when I want to stop researching smart metering contracts, that’s when I want to push on for another hour.  That’s where the magic happens.  Because then I discover interesting things and have insights I never had before.  And that requires focus, and discipline.

So one of the habits I want to cultivate is to go to CrossFit 3 days a week.  Learn to not only be ok with the pain, but love it.  And really be present, focus, and get through that hour like a champ.  I’m going to do that for the next 3 months, see what happens.

It’s Going to Take However Long It’s Going to Take

I’m somewhat sleep deprived, and in this personal hell hole which I create for myself, I feel the world caving in on me. Ok ok I’m being dramatic, but from going to sleeping 8 hours every day to have a day or two with 5-6 hours of sleep, I’m definitely being a sleep diva.  But you know what? I like being a sleep diva. I’m going to keep being a sleep diva because god damnit I love my sleep. I feel like the world is full of sunshine and rainbows and unicorns whenever I sleep enough.  JUST BY SLEEPING.  It doesn’t even matter what happens to me. HOW AMAZING IS THAT.

Except not today. No. Today I’m trying to prioritize 50 things which is really hard for me to prioritize in my sleep deprived brain. God damn you sleep deprived brain.  I hate you. I’m kidding. I love you. Except you’re being really rude right now. You need to stop saying all these terrible things to me. BRING BACK NICE ANU BRAIN ON 8 HOURS OF SLEEEEEP.

 

Ok yes this is rambling. But getting back to the point of all of this, I realized that shit takes as long as it’s going to take. Trying to hurry something, especially something creative, is a waste of time. If I want to produce quality, it’s going to take the time it’s going to take. Period.

And no whiney sleep deprived brain is going to do anything about it.

Le sigh. Back to trying to do my personal finances, pay bills, get a presentation done, finish a website, trying to get done in time to actually go out on a Friday night and not stay at home with television and computers, and grant applications. Oh. Clean email inbox. Oh. Bank not shutting down my bank accounts for not providing proper documentation.

Yes. All going to get done.

This Is The Story Of A Girl

Does anyone remember that song? That cried a river and drowned the whole world? I don’t know why I was thinking about that, as I am sitting in a coffee shop (yes, my new office), waiting for my business partner.  I am just coming back from a meeting which my friend invited me too – it’s called BNI.  At first I was skeptical, but as I sat there I realized something profound.  I know absolutely nothing about networking.  Not just networking, I know nothing about a lot of things. Most things actually.

I think the Zen Buddhists call it the beginners mind.  But let me rephrase that.  I knew something about it, and I got by.  That was my previous incarnation.  But now that I’m entering this new phase, I need to seriously re-skill.  And this is one of the skills I want to pick up.

A few other skills: understanding marketing.  My boyfriend helped me realize that marketing is basically storytelling, to a person who really wants to hear the story. Seth Godin says a similar thing.  Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King were some of the best storytellers out there.  And they had patterns for how they tell stories.  I’m trying to study them and tell good stories. Nancy Duarte has a great TED talk on this.  

Networking is just being helpful, but in an organized way.  This BNI chapter will help with that I think.  I was in awe at their dedication to the art and craft of networking.  They are of the opinion that spending 10K hours on something, with the right guidance, produces really great stuff.  I think they’re right.

Technical competence.  I am, for the most part, technically incompetent.  At least I was 6 months ago.  I’ve been working at understanding the new world language: web programming.  That term is vague for all the people that really understand this stuff.  But I took a course on the basics of bootstrap, and I wasn’t sure how effective it was.  Until yesterday, when I realized we need to redo our website.  Now I knew there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to redo it, but I think I made progress because my business partner sent me templates, and I could pick one out and knew what we’d need to change (i.e. if it was possible to change) to fit it to our needs. That was pretty exciting.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m making my own website, but I’m also betting that there will be great GUI’s for that in the future.  I want to focus on understanding what needs to be done and sussing out feasibility. And continue being able to do more on my own.  

I am a horrific designer.  My friend recommended a book, Design of Everyday Things.  I’m hoping it will shed light on this mysterious topic.  I desperately want to be able to build better product.  Right now, I think my skills are almost non existent. I need to at least be able to contribute to some sort of idea of excellence. Right now, I don’t even know what that is.  

I am passionate about being a great entrepreneur.  I think that means that I know a little about a lot of things.  I also have to figure out the things that I’m going to know a lot about.  I am currently gravitating towards marketing, and more UI/UX stuff on product.  Mockups and the like.  Product still terrifies me, which is clearly why I need to just dig in and work at it.  I’m going to start with that book. 

Le sigh.  So much to do. 

Stuff Usually Doesn’t Work On The First Try

I think we read a lot about the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and think of ourselves as failures if the first thing we try to do doesn’t work out.  I may be generalizing, but I’ll say this- I felt like shit for a long time.  I thought I wasn’t cut out to run a business (insert a million different reasons ranging from I’m a woman to it’s not my personality to I’m not the right type of Indian).

Turns out, all of that is a lot of horseshit.  There’s a lot of things I was doing wrong. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t cut out to do this thing called running a business.  It just means I was doing a lot of things wrong. And apparently, so do most successful people.  They start out doing a lot of things wrong.  But what makes them successful is they say ok. I am going to fix all these things that I did wrong. And try again. To make it right.  It’s actually that simple.

You just have to have the courage, resilience, persistence, I’m-ok-with-taking-a-lot-of-shit-ness, to keep on going on.

So now, I can start to do a lot of things right.  I have some debt to pay back which was racked up along the way. Hazard of business I suppose. But it’ll feel super good when it is paid back. I’ll feel like an all star.

And that is the plan. Make a new business. Pay back my debt. Make some money. Change the world.

Ok, back to reading Purple Cow.  Fantastic read, by the way.

Sometimes You Just Have To Cry On The Phone To The ClearTrip Customer Support Dude #Startup

Not even to get free things either- mostly because your life is just a hot mess and that was the last straw the whole Diwali airline price tickets going up and then they took my goddamn money and they didn’t even book my ticket AND THEN THE FARE WENT UP ANOTHER 2K INR. No wait, AND THEN THEY SAID THAT I WOULD GET THAT MONEY BACK AS CLEARTRIP MONEY IN MY GODDAMN CLEARTRIP WALLET. WHO THE FUCK USES THEIR CLEARTRIP WALLET?! And then I lost it because THAT IS LITERALLY HALF THE MONEY IN MY BANK ACCOUNT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT HASN”T PAID US IN A YEAR. Bastards.

But then it turns out I heard the guy wrong. I get my money back.

But that’s not the point of this story. There is no REAL point to this story other than sometimes your life is a hot mess.  And if you run a startup, it’s almost always a hot mess.  Mostly because you never have money.

Which is really ironic because this weekend I have to give an inspiring speech to a bunch of college students about entrepreneurship.

Don’t do it kids. If you want to avoid hot messes, don’t do it. If one of your friends is like..dude…lets do this thing. I think it’ll be great. RUN THE OTHER WAY.

Kidding. I love what I do. I love what I do. I love what I do.

Yes. I will keep telling myself that.

UGH.

 

Just Show Up #Startup

I was listening to this great podcast with Lewis Howes and Sophia Amorusa and her theory is that 99% of the time, it’s just about showing up. The reason it spoke to me was because that’s how I’ve been feeling over the past few months.  I don’t exactly know what I’m supposed to be doing, and I feel bad because I don’t think I’m putting in the hours that I feel like I should be putting in (although, that figure is actually quite arbitrary and I don’t really believe I waste time but still).  The point is though, I wake up every day and I try to do something.  And over the past few months the somethings have started adding up to things that feel like progress.  Even though there’s still a long way to go, I can’t believe that just simply showing up makes this big of a difference in life.

Push Through #Startup

I think the most critical days are not the ones where you feel the best. The most game changing ones are the ones where you feel the worst.  The ones where you feel like shit and you don’t even want to get out of bed (not because you are tired, you just don’t want to face the day).  It’s not the ones you are most excited about, it’s about those days that you dread.

I was listening to this podcast interviewing John Wallace, and I liked the way he put it.  The people at the top just outwork everyone else.  It’s that plain and simple. There’s no hacks, no shortcuts, it’s good old fashioned work.

I feel like in this day and age people get contradictory messages about work.  Don’t work so hard, work smarter.  I call bullshit.  You not only have to work hard, you have to make sure you’re working hard on the right things in a smart way.

And it’s those days where you really don’t want to be doing anything that separate the people at the top from everyone else.   Are you the one who is going to push the bullshit to the side and focus on the endgame, even when you don’t want to?