Date archives "November 2015"

The Week in Review # 42: Being Grateful

I can feel time slipping by. Days turn into months at an alarming rate. I keep thinking to myself about everything that needs to be done. With my thoughts constantly racing at blistering speeds, losing track of time is normal.

Pausing to catch my breath is a rare event. When I do, emotions hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I am under the false pretence of having the ability to juggle multiple balls in the air. When in reality there are a myriad of people and circumstances who have enabled me to do what I do.

When we are constantly looking into the future, the present and past are often overlooked. The problem is that the goal post keeps on changing with time. We find ourselves on a treadmill where we deceive ourselves into thinking we are nearly where we want to be.

It is almost like being trapped in a sound proof bubble. Where the world around you is cheering you on and all we can hear are the voices in the our head. Don’t get me wrong, focus is critical if we want achieve any meaningful success in life.

However we shouldn’t forget that moments of true happiness only come to life when you are able to share it with people who you love.

Take the time today to thank the people who help you do what you do. Make it a habit and do it regularly. The quality of your life and most importantly those around you will be exponentially better.


What I am reading and watching this week

Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier My post was inspired after reading this article. It is a very thoughtful piece which talks about gratitude from multiple angles. One of my favourite quotes is included in the article which is “A man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.”

How Gratitude Has Made Me a Better Founder Even though I read this post over a year ago, it is worth to repost it today. Fits into the theme of this post and provides entrepreneurs with great advice. The founder talks about everything he is grateful for and how it has impacted him.

The Surprising Benefits of Gratitude This post references some Harvard Health research on gratitude. I enjoyed the evidence grounded research and helps put the benefits of being grateful into better perspective.

What I Learned by Keeping a Gratitude Journal for a Month This is a habit I started at the beginning of 2015. It has had a huge impact on my outlook and life. If I could give you one recommendation for a new years resolution, it would be to start keeping a gratitude journal.

Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success (Book) To learn about success we need to break down why we fail. This book was a great read and had me entertained from the beginning to the very end. It is filled with great stories which helps to de construct why some people succeed and other’s do not.

Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume (Video) This was an interesting Ted Talk. The talk is about how struggle at an early age can have large impacts on career trajectories. She uses herself as an example and walks us through how she got to where she is. Goes to show there isn’t just one path to success.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review # 41: The Importance of Feedback Loops

Failure is part of the human experience. All of us have been in situations where we have made mistakes. A person’s true character is revealed in how they deal with the mistake. The first step requires us to take responsibility. This is easy to do when the stakes are small. Our true character is revealed as the size of mistakes become larger. At this point our ego and sense of self comes into question. Admitting a mistakes takes courage. It requires one to make themselves vulnerable. We do our very best to avoid being in that position. We will re-frame the situaton or come up with excuses that seem very logical.

The problem is our world view is very different from reality. We have blinded ourselves from seeing the real picture due to the absence of a strong feedback system. In the world of enterprise software I see this quite regularly. A senior executive makes a decision to buy a large software, enter a new market or make a very senior hire. Things didn’t go as planned and now the executive needs to defend their position. Due to the executives seniority in the company most people will not challenge their world view. Eventually the mistake will become a thing of the past and everyone will move on. This example repeats itself in many industries as well as our daily lives. The unfortunate part is that no one learns from the mistake.

Imagine going to the driving range and hitting balls in complete darkness. Not knowing where each ball was going. All we know is that we are successfully hitting the ball. Compare that with the situation of being in a well lit range where we can see where each ball is going. With each stroke we can recalibrate and get closer to the target.

Running a business or our lives without a strong feedback system will rarely get us where we want to be. 

Gathering honest feedback is always a challenge. We have to be open to hear things we do not want to. Be willing to make changes and learn from our mistakes. This requires a heightened level of self awareness. All of us have the ability to build these systems around us. It starts from asking the right questions and most importantly acutely listening to the feedback we are given.



Silicon Valley Success Goes to the Fastest, Not the First This article builds upon a class that is currently being conducted at Stanford called Blitzscaling. If you are running a startup or planning on starting one, all the videos are a must watch. This article encapsulates the core of the course and is a great primer to start with.

Resist and Thrive Kickstarter recently converted to a Benefit Corporation. In this detailed post the founder of the company goes into great length why he chose to take this path. The post starts with a primer on current market trends that solely optimize for a certain financial outcome. It eventually ties into the authors decision as to why he is choosing an alternative path. The clarity of vision and the reasoning is inspiring.

Max Levchin: Daily Routines, Startup Advice, and Working with Elon Musk Max Levchin was the founder of Paypal and since has gone on to achieve great things. In this interview with product hunt he goes into detail about his routines and his life so far. Lots of great advice is provided. I personally liked his take on investing in startups where he said “Team, Team, Team, Market Patterns. Nothing else matters. :)”.

How To Launch A Product: 7 Tips To Drive Demand As entrepreneurs we are always in the process of launching new products or features. This presentation provides a great framework for your next launch.

Reed Hastings: Building an Iconic Company (Video) For the video of the week, I really enjoyed this interview with Reed Hastings. He talks about the Netflix and how they got to where they are now.

Have a great week ahead!

The Week in Review # 40: Learning to Improvise

Imagine being asked to play a game where the rules aren’t given to you upfront. The only way to win at the game is to adapt to a stream of new information. Would you want to play this game? While some people thrive on uncertainty, it paralyzes many others. The ability to improvise can dramatically improve our success in such a game. It is a life skill that will greatly benefit us regardless of whether we choose to become an entrepreneur.

Think back to the last time you were presented with a situation you didn’t know how to solve. How did you react? What were the steps you took to solve the problem at hand? Unfortunately many of us respond to such situations with erratic solutions. Constantly jumping from one to another without taking into the bigger picture.

I believe there are four steps to help become better at managing the situation above.

This first step is to understand our own response mechanisms. Through greater self awareness we help break down mental barriers that are holding us back. The goal of improvisation isn’t to come up with the correct answer. Rather it is to understand the situation and start creating an emerging solution with the data available. This is the point that our lizard brain takes over. We become paralyzed by the thought of saying or doing the wrong thing. By choosing to play it safe, we are putting ourselves at an even greater disadvantage.

Once we have better control over our emotions we can move to the next step. This requires us to put together all the information we know about the situation or problem at hand. Who the current stakeholders are? What are the desired outcomes? What resources do we currently have? The goal is to collect as much data as possible. This requires as to keep an open mind. Our lizard brain will be telling us to respond immediately. We need to learn how to quiet it and do our best to create a clear picture of the situation.

Once we have an understanding of the stake holders and environment we need to devise a plan. This is the third step in the process. The plan should be based on our current information on how we can reach our desired destination. Chances are that our initial plan will point us towards the wrong destination. This shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Our map’s purpose is to provide us the ability to take the next step forward. Without action there will be no improvisation.

This leads us to the final step in the process. We have to constantly update our map based on newly discovered information. Through iteration and constant feedback we are going to be able to course correct. The journey is not going to be easy. Many times we will want to give up when we find ourselves lost. At such moments I like to remind myself a specific quote:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust

By learning to improvise we become nimble, flexible and confident in our abilities to find a way. This will not only improve our odds as success as an entrepreneur, we will be able to live a richer and fuller life.

All Markets Are Not Created Equal Online marketplaces are the rage these days. This article provides a comprehensive overview of what it takes to succeed in this space. The article includes great advice on starting up as well. Well worth the read.

The 1% of a long-lasting career Paul Jarvis is great author and he recently started his own newsletter. His first release didn’t disappoint. The article provides straight forward and grounded advice on how to get ahead on your chosen career path.

62 Tips From Y Combinator’s Startup Instruction Manual Y-Combinator is the Harvard for startups. Having graduated companies like Dropbox and Airbnb they have proven their model. This post is an amalgamation of quotes from partners at the firm.

The Purpose-Driven Workforce Is 42 Million Strong Finding purpose behind what you do everyday is something I think about a lot. This article is based on a comprehensive report called the Workforce Purpose Index. It is filled with great insights and helps put into context this massive undergoing change.

Cockroach Mode for Startups David Cummings is a very successful entrepreneur and one who blogs very frequently. He publishes short posts regularly and I would recommend following his feed. This post talks all about the persistence needed for a startup founder to make it through the myriad of challenges.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review # 39: The Big Rocks

I dropped the ball with my blog in October. The first half of the month was spent with my cousin who recently got married! The second half was spent travelling and spending time with my family. The month was filled with great memories that will last a lifetime. This month helped put into perspective the important of prioritizing the big rocks in our lives.

As entrepreneurs we spend our time working from one big deal to the next. During this period we often forget the larger priorities in our life. The two big ones that often get overlooked are family and our health. Neglecting these in the short term has a very slight impact on our lives. However, left unattended they tend to snowball out of control. After a while we can easily find ourselves disconnected and lacking any real meaning in our lives. All the success in the world at that point means very little. I realize this advice sounds very cliché. A couple of years ago I would have rolled my eyes over such a post. I was convinced that I would have all the time in the world once I had closed that big deal. That elusive big deal however keeps on moving further and further away.

Eventually we will find ourselves at a crossroads. We can choose to continue neglecting the big rocks in the hope that one day things will miraculously change. On the other hand we can make the decision to bring change into our lives…today. It can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling a loved one. Every journey starts with a single step and re-prioritizing our life works the same way.

Treasure your family, health and your friends. These are the true riches that will give you the strength to keep moving forward. 

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms This article builds upon the theme discussed in this post. The author has pieced together advice from a great number of resources. This post is permanently bookmarked and referenced regularly.

Reconsider This article is very well written. The author runs a very successful online business that has chosen to side step the normal trajectory of raising venture capital. He makes a compelling argument about his choice and how it has impacted his life as a whole.

7 things I did to reboot my life This article is about the author’s journey of correcting his priorities. It provides some great tips for people who wanting to start on this process.

The career secret This advice was shared with me when I was starting out. If you are just getting started with your career or thinking about making a switch, this is great advice!

How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed This was an enjoyable 10 minute Ted Video. The speaker is a neurologist and takes us through the bodies reaction to stress.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!