Does This Make Me Look Fat? (And Other Highly Irrational Questions I Ask)

Do you ever see yourself do something and you’re like…nooo….not that thing…WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT THING?! DON’T DO IT DON’T DO IT…and then it’s just too late and the train wreck which is your life is in progress.  Ok not all your life.  Just situations where you are acting incredibly irrationally.  Like when you break down in tears because…YOU CAN’T DO THE LAUNDRY (and lets be real, by “do” the laundry, it’s pick up the phone to use the app to call someone to pick up your clothes- this is Bangalore people who with the internet does anything themselves these days?)

It’s not even a nervous breakdown because…well…that card was already played. (And you’ve kind of felt that sort of stress before and this doesn’t feel like that).  It’s more like…holy shit.  THIS IS HOW I AM.  I do and say and act incredibly irrationally. A MAJORITY OF THE TIME.  Ok ok ok maybe not a majority of the time.  But way more times than you’d like. In your head you’re like…bordering on the genius and clarity of thought of a modern Indian Nassim Taleb…and then you watch yourself….completely eat shit.  Just…faceplant.  Metaphorically speaking.  (I mean, literally speaking too sometimes- less often now which is nice).

The Art of Thinking Clearly is more like the art of …. Jesus Christ this is really really hard who does this anyway, and is there an Evernote shortcut for this? And…my brain is really really tired can I just cry and/or yell? Because that’s waaaay easier.  No wonder it’s the weapon of choice for kids everywhere.  Question: If you are trying to do this “Adulting” thing, can you do the whole yelling and crying arbitrarily? Is that allowed? Or is it more…only if it’s socially acceptable and proper?  Like only if your house is on fire it’s ok, and not ok if you want to randomly yell at a rock on the road because…just because? Follow Up Question: Is randomly crying while you wear sunglasses in the back of an Uber allowed? Like you’re kind of heave sobbing while he is driving and he can like…kind of see you in the rear view mirror but you’re also wearing sunglasses so he thinks maybe that’s just the way you breathe and he’s caught in between wtf should I do is she dying do I need to go to the hospital and…maybe if I just ignore her she’ll stop?

Maybe this is why people use drugs.

DAMN YOU DRUGS AND YOUR SOLUTIONS FOR WORLD PROBLEMS.

(This post does not formally endorse or NOT endorse drugs.  But if you are a child and are reading this, say no to drugs.  Smoking kills.  But wait a minute- if you’re a child, are you even allowed on the internet? Actually, I think you have way bigger problems than drugs if you’re a child and reading this.  Oh god.  Kids and the internet.  Horrifying.)

Accepting Where I Am In Life

I hate that word. Accepting.  Acceptance. Ugh.  Why do I need to accept anything? Why can’t I just go on being stubborn and just make everything the way I think it should be in my head? Tried that.  Turns out, that’s not the greatest idea.  Well, that’s not true.  I think it’s important to keep that vision of the world in your head, but at the same time be real about how and when and what it’s going to be like getting there.  The being real part is where the acceptance comes in, I think.  Also, it helps to not go insane.  Like beating yourself up over not being perfect yet.  Ok let me rephrase that.  Beating yourself up over not doing as good as you could be doing.  That’s also quite false.  What could I be doing? Lots of things.  Am I better than where I was a year ago? Oh yeah. Most definitely.

So what was I doing a year ago? I don’t know. Oh wait…I write a BLOG. That shit is DOCUMENTED.

  • NextDrop had died.  And I was figuring out what the fuck I was going to do with my life.
  • I was in London! Judging a Unilever entrepreneurship competition (ironic since my company was doing quite shit- the irony was not lost on me).
  • I was in the process of redoing my life from scratch.
  • Basically having a life meltdown.

SO taking more stock of my life as it is today. I am still 29 and I turn 30 in a few weeks. This is what my life looks like:

Resolutions:

  • I have decided that I’m going to give it my all in business.  That’s going to be my thing. I’m going to be an entrepreneur in the water sector.  As my first business.  And then I’m going to have more businesses.  Maybe at the same time.  Maybe at different times. I don’t know.  But I love the rush.  It’s fun.
  • I have decided that I am going to see the people I love as often as I can
  • I am going to spend the rest of my life with my man best friend boyfriend, Sumit.
  • I am not going to waste life being stressed out and unhappy and unjoyful.  I’m going to take that stick up my butt and shove it somewhere else (hopefully in the recycle bin).
  • I am going to be grateful for what I have because man I have a LOT.
  • I am not going to ignore problems- I am going to face them head on.  That’s what got me into this hot mess in the first place.
  • I am going to be a kinder and more compassionate person, especially to myself.  And then everyone else around me.

The reality

  • I am super broke.  Broke to the point where my parents just bought me a new computer because they are super nice and felt really bad for me.
  • I am very judgmental.  I mostly judge myself, but because of this I also judge other people.  It’s a very un fun place to be.
  • I swing between truly believing I can do this, to oh god I’m bat-shit crazy.   I’m hoping I can even out to a place of more sustained confidence.

The other reality:

  • I have amazing friends and family and I have a lot of love and support in my life. Some of my friends and family are so nice and they know I’m super broke and they pay for things.  Not because I ask, but just because they are amazing, generous people.  I am really motivated to work my butt off and do the same for them.  I need to stop letting shame and pride get in the way.  I was judging myself for being almost 30 and not having my shit together.  But you know what? What if I just flipped it and was just grateful for having some amazingly generous and kind people in my life? And be incredibly and deeply grateful.  And work towards showing that same sort of…grace….I think that’s the right word…back one day.  That’s the goal

So that’s where I’m at.  A broke, almost 30 year old with big dreams and a lot to be grateful for in life.

So This One Time When I Went On A Slow Carb Diet (For 7 hours)

Yes. That’s the longest I could last. I think it doesn’t help that I don’t eat meat or eggs.  Kind of makes ingesting protein really hard.  But there’s a bigger issue at hand here.  I think every woman, from Twiggy to Priyanka Chopra, has had (at some point in life) body issues.  I think any woman that says they never had is a liarface and I never want to speak to them again.  Unless they are some sort of Zen Buddhist enlightened monk or something.  Then it’s fine.  But for the rest of us mortals. UGH. BODY ISSUES. UGH.

I think for the longest time I just ignored them.  And by ignored them I pretended everything was fine but then I would exercise like crazy and eat practically nothing.  I was an awesome size 4 this is true.  But then those headaches were a bitch.  I’m just saying.  Not doing that again.

Also I think this idea of “healthy” is such crap.  What does that mean anyway? If you go to the guy at Golds Gym he’ll tell you that 18% bodyfat is obese so you being your 25% bodyfat self has no hope (Yes, this happened when I was in college and I basically yelled at him and asked for his education credentials and said douchey things like Google is smarter than you what am I paying you for).  If I go to the doctor, they say everything is fine.

 

BUT I DON”T FEEL FINE PEOPLE.  This is the problem.  At least I know how I feel. And I don’t feel fine.  I feel lazy and lethargic and I used to get up in the morning ready to go but now I”m like…ugh.  UGH.  Le sigh.

And also, I HATE CLOTHES SHOPPING.  Because what are you supposed to buy? Are you supposed to buy things that fit you RIGHT now? Because I mean, I hope I don’t stay like this for hundreds of years, but at the same time who knows how long this will be so….what. Do I just drop a few hundred dollars to buy the clothes that fit me now? Should I just buy baggy clothes that can fit me at any size? Should I just put off buying clothes at all until the day I feel happy with all of this?

Can I just say – side note.  Indian clothes are great because most of them use drawstrings so it doesn’t matter what your waist size is, THE SAME PANTS WILL FIT THEY ARE AMAZING.

Ok back to my rant about clothing.  Le sigh. I’m tired of ranting too. I think I have to go back and figure out…how to reconsile the fact that this is my body and I”m not getting another one, and it’s actually not so bad, but I need to know how to service it and do all the scheduled maintenance and stuff on it.  It did not come with an instruction manual. That would have made things a lot easier.

Dear God. In your next iteration of humans, can you insert an RFID chip that basically serves as an instruction manual for service and maintenance on this body that we inhabit? That would be super helpful. K. Thanks.

 

 

 

All Right All Right- I’m Mostly Doing It Because It’s Fun.

I was talking to a friend of mine and he’s like umm.. Anu.  Really? You think this is the easiest way to make money? And what is up with your obsession about money?

Good questions.  I actually have no good reason for my obsession with these things other than I think they are fun to think about.  It’s crazy how little I know about something that literally makes the world go round.  I want to think about making money because it’s interesting and useful.  I also think it’s interesting to put constraints on ways you are going to make money. I want to only make money in ways I find interesting.

So at the end of the day, I’m actually actually not doing any of this for the sake of money.  Because if that was what I was optimizing for, I would be doing so many different things.

I’m really just doing it…to see if I can.  And that’s pretty fun.  Pushing your own boundaries.

Experiments And Projects for 2017: Updates

Turns out, I actually don’t like all my projects this year (she said as Feb is halfway over…)

It’s ok. I’m not really the person to care about changing things in the middle.  I’ll be more clear about what I want to do this year.

Project Self Made Millionaire: This is currently underway.  I totally read a book on this (updates in a future post) and I have a plan of action.

Project Athlete: I decided I’m chucking this.  I actually don’t care too much about it this year.  I felt like I should care about it, but upon reflection, I really don’t. I don’t really care enough to count calories, which is pretty much what it’ll take to make this happen ( I think, after the research/interviews conducted).  I think I’ll definitely take it up at some point in time, but not 2017.  For now, I’m just going to eat decently, and try to exercise but not die of exhaustion.

Project Helping People is now changed to Project Meeting People.  I’m just trying to meet as many people as I can, both professionally and personally.  I’d also really like to dig deeper with each person I meet, and record these events.  Thinking about them makes me happy and I want to just keep meeting more interesting people doing really cool things.

New Project: Learn Hindi.  I just realized how utterly useless I am in any sort of Indian language.  For various reasons I thought I would start with Hindi, and then once I gain more confidence that yes, I can actually learn a language, I can move on to other languages.  But Hindi is the language of the year.

Anyway, those are the updates.

This Video Is Blowing My Mind

Ok exaggeration, but I feel like I resonate with so many things in this video that I do- I didn’t even realize it was a terrible phenomenon!

My friend sent me this video by Simon Sinek about millenials in the workplace.  I think I’m right on the border but it seems like nobody can agree on what the cutoff is.  The Atlantic says it’s people born between between 1982 and 2004 and I have no reason to disagree with the Atlantic so lets go with that.  Anyway, I think I fit because a lot of the things they talk about hold true for me.

I definitely have this idealized version of what I want to do in the world.  Sometimes I think it’s pretty entitled, but I’m not sure where to draw the line between entitled and I Have  A Dream, Martin Luther King style.

I think it has to do with what needs to happen to make your dream happen.  I think it’s basically…are you living in reality? I think the things I have a hard time with, and the thing a lot of people have a hard time with (and by a lot, the data points I have gathered include two friends I spoke to yesterday in San Francisco, so yes now they are representative of ” a lot of people”) but it has to do with the fact some good things in life take time.  We were discussing that yesterday.  Somehow, though it sounds logical, in practice, I don’t think we take the time to acknowledge that.

I’ve learned that the hard way too I think.  Lots of failures- and a lot of failure has to do with my own ideas on how long things will take.  I really like this article that the same friend sent me a few months ago, which addresses this point.  Good things are painful, and awful, but at the end of the day, rewarding.

I have come to the conclusion that MOST good things in life take time. And by time, I don’t mean days, or weeks or even months.  I think they take YEARS.

So now new questions arise: In this new timescape, how do you prioritize?  Especially since we don’t have to do everything at once, and also, since sometimes you can start with small steps on one thing and bigger steps on another thing, how do you make sure you’re covering your bases?

I tried a few methods other people have but it just feels overwhelming. Le sigh.  Maybe I need to experiment more.

Debunking Myths About Passion- By An Accidental Entrepreneur #startup

My friend gave me this idea for this blog post. Which may or may not also be the talk I’m giving tomorrow to those college kids. But this was the thing that I wish I knew before, that I wish someone had told me about so I wouldn’t have felt like such a fraud all these years.

Here goes.

Back in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  If you asked me Freshman year, I would have said…I want to be a great engineer.  If you asked me sophomore year, I would have said…I want to do something really useful for the world.  If you asked me junior year, I would have said….I want to do…something.  And if you asked me senior year, I would have said..I WILL TAKE ANY JOB SOMEONE WANTS TO GIVE ME PLEASE GOD HIRE ME. (Turns out, nobody really wanted to).  If you read articles about NextDrop, you’ll never really hear anything about some great epiphany I had, my come to Jesus moment where I figured out that this was the problem I have been so incredibly passionate about and this is how we are going to solve it and this is what I want to do for the rest of my entire life.  I know the reporters REALLY wanted that story, because lets face it, that’s a really great story.  But that would be a lie.  The truth is, NextDrop fell into my lap by accident.  It wasn’t even my idea. My friend, Emily, was in this class in grad school and they came up with this idea to send people a text message an hour before water would come so people don’t have to wait for water.  And they had some money to do a pilot and they all had jobs that summer (read: I was the only loser kid who was not hired).  So I said…cool.  That sounds interesting.  And I went and ran the pilot.  And it seemed ok.  And then I realized I didn’t want to be in school anymore so I graduated early and got a job with literally the only person who would give me a job (my dad’s sisters, friend’s cousins best friend- something like that).  He was running a startup and he needed someone to do lots of odds and end things.  Like make sure buttons work on the analytics, and go make runs to buy pencils and staplers.  It was a job, and I was getting paid, so I said..hell yeah.  I’m making money finally! Someone wants to hire me! Hurrah! And then very quickly, I realized I was terrible at this job. And I was probably going to be fired anyway.  Around the same time, it was also becoming clear that the pilot I ran, called NextDrop, had some potential but would die if I didn’t take it over.  So due to the fact that I was probably going to be fired anyway, and it seemed like a cool thing to do, I decided to quit my job and move to India to try and make this thing work.  I had no grand master plans or anything. I didn’t even know what a P&L statement was for the longest time (I had to frantically Google the shit out of all those business terms).  And somehow, we didn’t die.

But all the while, people seemed to think that I was a person with a mission- I was driven to make this change in the world and I would stop at nothing to make this happen.  And I saw all these other people around me and they seemed to be knowing what they were doing- they were on a mission damnit! But if I was honest with myself, I knew that if this water thing hadn’t come around and my friend gave me the same opportunity with…helping teach kids English. Or Coaching basketball. Or maybe something about reducing incidence of Diabetes, I would have taken it.  It didn’t have to do with water at all.  It just had to do with the fact that I felt useful. I was doing something useful in the world.

But I felt like such a fraud.  When Forbes put me on some social entrepreneur list, I felt even worse.  Here I was, knowing that deep down, I would pretty much do anything that was useful, it just so happened I was in this water space and we hadn’t died (yet).  I constantly questioned myself.  Am I really cut out for this? I’m not like all those other people who have so much direction and confidence. I FEEL LIKE SUCH A FAKE ALL THE TIME WTF LIFE.  But I kept going, despite my brain telling me all these things about how I did not belong here.  I wasn’t truly passionate like those other people who make a difference in the world. It was only a matter of time before the world called me out on my bullshit.

And then one day, I realized that NextDrop really did have to die.  NextDrop as we knew it at least.  It was one of the most painful realizations of my life.  After 5 years, we had to put this chapter to an end.  This realization came about a year ago.  And it shook me to the core.  This is when I had to start asking the really tough questions to myself.  Ok Anu, NOW what do you want to do with your life.

I will be super honest, this is what I was thinking. I gave it a shot. But now it’s time to do what all normal people do and get a steady job and get married and have a couple kids.  That actually sounds really really nice right now.  My parents would LOVE that. My family would finally be happy. I can stop fighting this thing called societal expectations.  That takes a ton of effort, AND FOR WHAT. I’m almost 30, broke, and have been doing something in this random space for the last 5 years.  And then I’m thinking- see.  Maybe I’m not cut out for this. If I was truly passionate about what I was doing, I wouldn’t even CONSIDER these options.  Maybe that’s a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this at all.  I NEED TO STOP BEING A FRAUD GOSH ANU.

I can’t explain what exactly happened, but during this process in which I was trying to just be super real with myself and who I am, I started listening to podcasts and interviews with people that I really admired.  Tons and tons of them- as many as I could get my hands on.  And I suddenly realized something: THEY FELT JUST THE SAME AS I DO! The interview that really changed my life was one with Cal Newport, and his theory that follow your passion is the worst advice to give anyone.  He said that once you start getting good at something, it automatically becomes your passion.  And it started to make a lot of sense.

And that’s when I looked at my life trajectory in a new way.  What if passion isn’t something that I’m born with, but through random events, I happen to get really good at? Why is that such a bad thing? It doesn’t make for sexy headlines, but at the end of the day, it still makes me happy. I know more about the water sector than most people do at this point, and I actually enjoy learning more about it.  I can tell you stories about how government contracts are done, how the water mafia works, and how India gets water. I find most things in this world fascinating, but what if passion is just the decision to focus your attention on mastering one topic? I’ve been running a company in India for the past 5 years and I’ve made every mistake in the book.  If I try it again, how can I not be better at it? And if I’m very honest with myself, I enjoy so many things about running my own company.  I love the freedom it gives me.  I love the fact that no two days are the same.  And I love the fact that I have control over my own destiny.  It’s scary when you realize that sometimes it doesn’t work out.  History is never written by the losers- nobody talks about that bit.  And hey, if you lose, why would you want to advertise that? There’s a very very real chance that I will try again, and it will still not work out.  But that’s the chance and risk I”m willing to take.

So I’m here today, as one of those losers who usually don’t get to write history or talk about the losses, who still choses to try again.  I am convinced that you aren’t born with passion necessarily, but after you keep working at something that you find brings value to the world, you learn to love it. And you learn to be passionate about it.

We are actually in the process of shutting down our first company, NextDrop. And starting a new one.  Called NextDrop.  It’s still in the water space, and my business partner and I are taking all the learnings from our first company together and applying it to this new one.  We’re now trying to focus on water data.  We want to monitor the worlds water data to prevent a global water crisis.  The way we want to do that is through the internet of things revolution. Using connected sensor devices to reduce the amount of water we use in commercial, industrial and residential complexes.  Our goal is to cut consumption by 20%.

Do I have any idea if we will succeed? Absolutely no clue.  But sometimes that isn’t the point.  Do I want to get paid to continue the thing that I find interesting and useful to the world now? Hell yeah I do.  And maybe, just maybe that’s enough.  Enough for me to get up in the morning with a smile on my face saying yes. I can do this. I want to do this. This is so awesome.  Not every day, of course.  But as long as the good days outweigh the bad ones, I think I’m still winning.

Thanks so much.

 

NextDrop As I Knew It Is Dead #Startup

The company is not dead, just everything about it is changing.  I know logically it’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that it’s still not painful and sad.

It’s painful because it’s the end of an era.  It was beautiful in it’s own way.  I got almost $1M and 4 years to figure out how the business/startup world works.  I understand why it’s really really hard to have lower middle and lower income paying consumers and the only people who have really done it well are the likes of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.  I understand why the water situation is as messed up as it is and only getting worse.  I understand why governments work the way they do (or don’t).  And the thing that kills me is that I’ve finally realized that I can’t solve every single one of these problems.  There are too many to solve at once.  You have to pick one.  And unfortunately some of them I am just not the best person to solve.  Some of them would be smarter to wait for other people to solve.  And I hate that.  I hate when I can’t solve all the problems that I see.  I feel like I am letting the world down.

 

But there’s another critical thing I realized.  It’s that there are other passionate people in this world trying to solve problems too.  Different problems from me.  And I need to rely on them to solve those problems.  We need to work as a team to make the world a better place.  I want to meet them, and tell them what they are doing is amazing.  I’ve started, and I want to get better at that.

But most importantly, I want to pick the one thing that we at NextDrop can do really really really well. One really important problem we are going to solve and do a kick ass job at it.  Build an amazing product that make billions of people around the world really really happy and bring together the brightest minds to make that improbability the most probable future for our planet.

And that’s all I really have to say about that.

For now at least.

I Get Knocked Down (And I Get Knocked Down Again) #startup

That cliche/adage 2 steps forward, 1 step back is so true.  Except in the startup world, it’s more 2 steps forward, 5 steps back.  And then you make a lateral move 3 spaces, so that you’re in a different spot than you were last week. Same level, but at least a different spot.

I think that’s what a startup is about. It’s about how many punches can you withstand.  Literally that’s it.  I think of a boxing match (mostly from the 3 movies I’ve watched about it which clearly makes me the expert).  But it always seems to be the underdog just needs to keep waiting, defending, taking the punches, and just make sure not to get KO’d.  And then they need to keep their strength to make their move.  Defend, defend, defend, offensive (powerful).  So it’s like 5 steps back for every 1 powerful step forward.

I feel like that’s what it is right now.  Holding the ground, planning the next move while the punches keep hitting you.

I suppose that’s where you get the term keep your eye on the prize.  Because that’s the only thing keeping you from falling all the way over.

Failure #Startup

Failure in the startup world is nothing short of the most intense and mortifying pain on the planet.  Because it’s the murder of your ego.  My ego used to be the size of Texas and Alaska combined.  I was pretty sure I was the hottest thing since sliced bread.  Except I was really good at pretending I didn’t think so because lord, that’s not ok to let on.  And when problems start happening, you hope you can just buy yourself enough time to figure out how to fix it.  But the solutions you are thinking of are quick fixes because the one thing that you have to do is the one thing you can’t do.  It’s admit defeat.  It’s pulling the breaks and saying holy shit this isn’t working. We need to change ASAP.  That is scary. Because what if your whole company goes under?  That’s not allowed. We just need more time.  We’ll figure it out.  That’s what real startups do right? But the catch is, you’re in the rut and you’re not thinking radically different.  So nothing significant happens, so nothing real gets fixed.  And then the problems prolong and the problems get bigger and people get angrier and situations get worse.  

I think this is how most startups die.

I have no idea why the universe let us survive, but death was right there, I was staring it in the face, it haunted me at night, it tortured me during the day. I still feel it breathing down my neck, but I think that’s ok.  It helps keep all of this real, and reminds me of the transient nature of life (or startups).  

I have new commitments and priorities now.  It doesn’t matter what the consequences are, but I need to trust my gut and do what, deep down, I know what needs to be done.  We need to surround ourselves with advisors that tell us the harsh truths about life and startups.  We need to surround ourselves with people that push us to be better, and think about life in interesting and different ways.  And most importantly, we need to commit to take care of ourselves.  Because without that, we won’t hear that voice deep down, saying that thing that needs to be said, that you really don’t want to hear.  And most importantly, have the courage to act on it.  

I don’t think people understand just how tiring that is. Having the courage to do the right thing. So. Goddamn. Tiring. 

But you do it. Because what you really want to do, all you really wanted to do, was build a different tomorrow. And most of the time, between the HR paperwork, the investor pitches, and the accounts cleanup, you forget that’s why you really did this in the first place.  

I think the only way to survive is remember why you are doing this. And even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least try to feel the warmth of the rays of hope, underneath all the heaps and heaps of shit that’s currently burying your reality.