Posts in "Inspiration"

2014: A Year of Introspection

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.ABRAHAM LINCOLN

2014 was a most interesting year for me, due primarily to the fact that it started off with much introspective questioning about a lot of things in my life! Things such as, where I was in life, what I really wanted, fears about burnout and the fact that I had become a bit too comfortable in my ways. One thing I am sure of and that is…that the last thing I want to do is to lead an ordinary life! That is a trap which is all too easy to fall into once you have acquired a base set of expert skills.

I had identified a few key areas where I wanted to make definitive changes this year. They were primarily, my business, my health, taking time off and expediting and enhancing the learning curve . A year is a surprisingly long time to achieve goals if you plan correctly. Listed below are some highlights from each significant area.


Since launching IDENTIFI at the start of 2011, we have been through a significant number of changes and pivots. We had been experimenting aggressively but our most glaring problem was we did so without being close to our customers. To rectify that problem this year, I started to take on consulting projects. This allowed us to get a lot closer to our target demographic and learn at a much faster rate. It also allowed for significant revenue generation which helped expand our tech team even further this year.

Lastly, we signed on some great partners in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia which impacted the business significantly. Moving forward, this will be a growth strategy that we will be pushing further in 2015.

I am looking forward to 2015 as we continue to take on more consulting projects while refining our product portfolio and constantly learning from our customers.


As entrepreneurs we can develop extremely unhealthy lifestyle patterns. Lack of exercise, pizza and fast food fueled diets and generally, a reactive attitude towards our health. This was an area in which I needed to bring about a major change. The first change was adopting a cleaner and more healthy diet, one which cut out most complex carbohydrates and sugar. With a focus on lean meats, lots of vegetables, nuts and indulging in a lot more home cooking. My cooking skills have improved considerably this year which is something I am really proud of!


The next addition was getting into the habit of following a consistent gym plan and sticking to it. Other than disruptions due to travel, I do manage to get in a minimum of 3 days a week at the gym. To further add to this goal, I signed up for a ‘duathalon’ which consisted of 7.5km running and 18km cycling. (More on that later) Managing to bring my body fat % from 21.5% to 13.3% this year as a result was a most rewarding personal physical achievement!

The last major change was developing a morning ritual which included rising between 530am – 6am, doing 10 minutes of meditation followed by simple gratitude exercises ! This has been transformational! Not only have I managed to gain increased clarity of thought through this change of routine but it has also helped me add 2-3 hours of productive time to my day.

All of these achievements were the result of small daily changes. These small but regular changes have helped me become increasingly more mindful of each decision and has led to my enjoying compounded benefits as each day goes by.


This was a pretty major event for me in 2014. There are so many parallels between taking part in an endurance event and becoming an entrepreneur. Even a week before the event I felt as if I wasn’t ready and needed more time to train. There were times when I wanted to pull out…knowing that if I did so, nothing would change in the world. It brought home and reminded me of all the people who “want” to start their own business but never really pull the trigger. This brought home the realization in a most emphatic manner that you will never really feel you are ready until, you just go for it.

Once in the race, it is a mistake to keep up with the elite runners. You lose off too much steam too early, which comes back to bite later on. Pacing yourself is very necessary if you want to ensure you cross that finish line. You need to be clear of your goals because if you are not, you will most likely run out of steam well before ending what you started!

At the last 2km of the race, my right knee started to hurt excruciatingly. I had discovered during my training, that I overpronate, which causes excessive strain on my knees. There were many times during that last part of the run that I wanted to give up. What kept me going was the fact that fellow runners who passed me, encouraged and motivated me and even bystanders were pushing me to go that extra distance to finish what had been started! In the same fashion, when running your own business you are bound to experience similar feelings of doubt and a desire to quit. Which is why having a set of close friends and supporting family members is critical to ensuring that you make it.


Nothing however beats crossing that finish line! It’s a short fleeting feeling of exuberance for sure, but it is exhilarating! A myriad of things come rushing in as reminders of all the small and not so small things that have led you up to this moment. Makes me appreciate the quote “It’s the journey, not the destination” a lot more.

Time off

Over the last couple of years I have rarely taken time off, and it has been something that I have really wanted to do this year. Apart from several trips back home with family I took one major trip of 10 days for my birthday in Phuket….being disconnected from the internet was as much part of the holiday as the actual time! We had taken a fantastic villa with every comfort and convenience imaginable and this time-off, really gave me the much needed headspace and clarity to think through some aspects of where I was in life and where I wanted to be.


The most enjoyable part of this time-off was the time spent with family and friends. Over the last couple of years I have developed much closer relationships with both my siblings. I was not always very good at this, and it is unnerving how you can let such critical relationships slip if you do not consciously make an effort to maintain them.

In the end, these close ties are the glue that hold everything together. It’s far too easy to default into the…I am too busy mantra. This year made me a lot more conscious about these critical relationships and the fact that they are in the main, reciprocal, and grow stronger exponentially based on how much effort you put into them.

Learning & Reading

2014 was the year I read the least number of books in a long time! I subscribed to a great service called blinkist this year, however I managed to read just a book a month. This is something I am hoping to double next year. Zero to One by Peter Thiel was definitely one of my favorites reads this year.

The amount of information that hits us everyday has now reached a saturation point. With blogs, twitter feeds, newsletters, publications and books; keeping notes on key pieces of information consumed has become even more important than ever before. I want to do a lot more of this in 2015. Perhaps a a weekly round-up of the most critical and important pieces of information.

I spent a lot of time this year reading up on and about nutrition and the way our body works. It’s an absolutely fascinating topic which has in turn led me to healthier habits and practices such as juicing, proper dieting tips and the importance of aspects like sleep and keeping stress under control! In this day and age of being busy ‘all’ the time, it has led to our bodies often paying a heavy hidden price. This is something we all need to be a lot more mindful of!

My book

One of the personal goals I had set for myself, was to write a book this year. Unfortunately I chose to write it like a novel rather than a standard book. This was far more challenging than I had anticipated. I only got a couple of chapters deep! For anyone who is interested in reading them, you can access them at: Chapter 1

In 2015 I really want to complete this goal. I will now be writing this book in the standard non-fiction format. One day in the future, I hope to write another variation of the book in the novel format which I wanted to and started off doing. Hopefully, once you have written a book, the next one will become easier!

Sometimes we set ourselves goals and objectives that may not be, or seem possible as a first step. I do believe however that setting goals that are ‘big’ in their vision and achievability are important to stretch us and push us further. Pushing and stretching the boundaries of our comfort zones is the only way to ensure growth!

The year ahead

Every new day brings with it the opportunity for reflection of where we are and where we want to be. With the start of every new year, we must take stock of the year behind us and set down the bigger goals we want to work towards.

– ‘ Learning’ is going to be a big part of 2015 for myself. The vision for identifi is “We imagine a world where a large majority of individuals go home everyday fulfilled by their work, feeling that they have contributed to something larger than themselves.”, getting to that state requires a much deeper understanding of the workplace of today and it’s rapid changeability!

– Health and exercise wise I hope to get my body fat % down to the 9-10% range, the focus this year is on building lean muscle mass. I will again take part in the same duathalon this year as also work towards fixing my knee to enable to me take part in a triathalon…in 2016 hopefully!

– I am really excited about the growth of the Pakistan entrepreneurship Eco-system. It is my hope and plan to work with 2-3 startups in 2015 and help them to scale their operations.

– Taking at least 1 trip every quarter, to get off the grid is something I want to start working towards!

– Writing and sharing my thoughts more actively through this blog next year is also something I plan to work towards. The goal being to write at least once a week, even if it is only a roundup of all the interesting things I read or learn that week.

In closing, writing this blog post was important as it helped me to recount and put down some great memories of the past year as also learning myself that all the changes brought through introspection this year have paid off. If you find yourself stuck at a cross road, stop, and focus on finding your ‘why’, it may just be the most important thing you do this year!

Radical Openess

This video by Jason Silva is brilliantly made. He talks about the birth of an idea and how it evolves over time. Anyone involved in creative pursuits knows the transformative power of a single ‘idea’. The ability for it to transform as we iterate to refine it further. To create something of value where there was nothing before. This video does a great job of encapsulating these ideas into a 2 minute video masterpiece.

Inspiring Visions

I just finished watching the latest and perhaps last episode of Kevin Roses’s Foundation series. It is a series of interviews with some of the biggest internet/technology entrepreneurs. If you are starting up or in the process of building your company I would highly recommend queuing all the interviews and watching them.

The last interview was with David Morin of Path. A mobile application which is building a personal network for our closest real world connections. What I find fascinating about entrepreneurs which are going after large goals is their view of the future. The ability to paint a distant future with a great detail of clarity is what makes visions inspiring.

In this video David does a great job of this and even though he isn’t bouncing off the walls talking about how great his product is and is going to be, there is subtle passionate and authentic undertone. This undertone connects with people who share similar visions of the future and values. It makes you want to take another look at the application and see what you have been missing.

In the end it comes down to….inspiring action through authentic visions.

Living In the Moment

Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… is easy to forget about living today, in the present, in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. We wait for things to happen, to come together, because that is when we imagine we will have the opportunity to be happy. The anticipation of what the future may hold stops us from paying attention to all the little moments that are weaving our story in the moment, in the ‘now’!

But right now, these moments, are not stories. It is in this moment alone that we have the ability to slow down, acknowledge and appreciate all that is around us.


When I Turn 30….

Today, I turn 30! It feels strange and familiar all at the same time. Being a goal oriented person, there were a great many things I used to motivate myself with, most of them started with “When I turn 30….” Today, as I look back at many of the goals I had set for myself I am grateful to be able to say that I have achieved far more than I imagined in some areas as also less in others! However, achievements and goals being one aspect, the one, most important goal I did not set for myself was…

“When I turn 30, I want to be happy.”

I am so very grateful to know, understand and be thankful for the fact that when I woke up this morning…I was very happy!

The question then boils down to…How does one work towards achieving this goal of being happy, when you turn 30? This question has sparked some amazing conversations and I am putting together a short ebook about this that I hope to publish sometime in the next year.

Without leaving you hanging out there, here are some of the things that I do believe have helped me getting here:

1. Help others as much as you can. I did not get this till a couple of years ago, now, I go out of my way to help whoever reaches out to me, in whatever small way I can.

2. Treat life as an experiment. Being an entrepreneur makes this easier, because all we do is experimentations. However, this applies to everyone, learn to discover new things and experiences. This helps getting you closer to finding the “Why” in your life.

3. Do not try to make everyone happy. It is simply not possible, you will waste too much energy, dwelling on something that is not worth it, will make you feel unworthy. As a side note, have a strict “No Assholes Rule” in life. When you come across any, do your best to keep them out of your life.

4. Continue to put yourself outside your comfort zone. This could be writing a book, becoming a chef, starting a cafe or simply asking for help when you need it. Holding yourself back has far too many long term consequences.

5. Learn to smell the roses and be grateful for what you have. My mother has said this to me throughout this last decade. Often I did not follow this, but when I did, it helped me get some great perspective on so many things I seemed to be watching pass me by.

6. Choose your friends wisely. They have enormous impact on your life, if you are friends with people who are not happy with their life is; chances are neither will you be. Find friends with shared values, goals and aspirations. They will be a defining pillars in your life and success.

7. Do not forget about family. When all is said and done, they are the ones who care the most for you. Chances are when your chips are down they are the ones who will be there for you. I happen to have been blessed by an awesome family, I am very grateful for this blessing.

8. Read and learn as much as you can. Unfortunately this is something many people are just not doing anymore. Reading has helped me broaden my thinking, my ability to discuss a variety of topics, above all, it helps get the creative juices flowing.

9. When something is not working, stop doing it. This could your career, business or a relationship. The longer you put up with something that you have tried your level best to fix, the harder it is to move on to more positive and constructive paths.

10. Learn about yourself. Being self aware is where it all starts. Many of us never really look into who we are, and morph ourselves into being what we think society wants us to be. Being true to yourself is a critical step to ensure that you take the path to being happy and peaceful.

These are 10 things I have so far. Feedback would be great. If you have something you would have liked to tell yourself before you turned 30 please do share it with all of us in the comments below.

In the end, there are several people I want to thank, they are the ones who have helped me get where I am today.

My Mother: Selecting the path less traveled resulted in lots of highs and lows. Thank you for always being there and being a pillar of love and support. Love you very much. Attached is finally an article clipping about “what I do for a living“!

My Father: Thank you for all the advice and support through the years. Learning from the lessons you have learned has helped me from making many mistakes.

My Brother: I am really grateful that we have been able to develop a much stronger bond over the last decade. All your help has been awesome and I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the decade has in store for you and both of us together.

My Sister: Our regular calls have been awesome, thank you for helping me get perspective on the bigger picture and for making me laugh all the time. Love you very much!

My Grandfather: You were a role model for me growing up. Even though you left us just as I was getting started for college, there are so many things that I have learned from you that have helped me so definitively in getting to where I am today.

My Grandmother: I have the fondest memories of the times we spent together and our time here when I was in college. Even though you are not with us today, you were an unshakeable source of love and inspiration growing up. Thank you.

My Family: There are so many of people within this blessed circle who have helped me get to where I am today. I am so very grateful for all their advice, support and guidance.

Song Kwang: It has a been a pleasure working side by side with you building Hatch Media. Your dedication, commitment and drive to help the youth has been inspirational. I look forward to the next decade and taking the business forward.

Shahzaib Khan: Building IDENTIFI with you has been quite the ride so far. Your continued push for perfection, commitment and fanatical dedication to ship has been amazing to watch. Just seeing your growth in the last couple of years has been awesome. I am really looking forward to what happens next!

Friends: There are many, many people who have been instrumental in pushing me forward. The times when it was easier to give up, you were there to push me on and helped me get back on track. Thank you very much!

As I begin the next decade of my life, the goal still remains the same:

“When I turn 40, I want to be happy.”

Wishing all of you the very best! Thank you.

Lessons Learned in 2011

As the clock turned to midnight, I paused for a moment and thought to myself, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else at this moment in time…..

I am pretty certain that in time when I look back at my journey as an entrepreneur, 2011 will be a defining year. It will be an year about which I will recount hundreds of stories and incidents that shaped and lay the foundation of things to come. This year has had its share of extreme highs and scary lows. It was a year in which I definitely felt alive every single day. A year I pushed myself to go outside established comfort zones and do the best that I could in them.

In the end it all comes down to the people we work with and the vision that you are working towards. There are two people I really want to thank for making 2011 such a meaningful one at work, Shahzaib Khan & Song Kwang Lee. I have co-founded companies with both of them and I truly believe that working side by side with them has made all the difference.

The three key lessons from this year for me were:

1. Listen and review advice from mentors, ultimately do make a decision that you are most comfortable with. I need to thank Shahzaib again here for helping me to rely more on my gut and intuition for moving forward.

2. When raising money, choose your investors carefully. Avoid angels who are not active investors (min 3 investments a year). Do background checks on them before due diligence starts. (I met some truly scumbag investors this year which will make for an interesting chapter for the book I want to eventually write).

3. Avoid business ventures with family at all costs. Even though I have written about doing business with family, I broke one of my own rules and learned this lesson the hard way once again.

2012 is poised to be a great year. If you are in technology space consider yourself one of the fortunate ones who are in the right place at the right time.

I miss writing on my blog and for 2012 I plan to write one post/essay every month, a more realistic target!

For all the readers that are still subscribed to this blog, thank you very much! Wishing you all great success and happiness in 2012!

Founder Institute: I got in!

The Founder Institute is proud to announce that you have been accepted into the Fall 2010 Singapore semester. Congratulations!

This is the email I got up to this morning! I am currently over the moon! I do believe The Founder Institute represents a critical point in the journey of an entrepreneur. The guidance and mentorship from individuals who have done it all before has to be a defining experience. This has to be the fastest way to accelerate one’s own learning, break down existing assumptions and world views and recreate them with the assistance of individuals who have achieved the success that we are all in search of.

As I had written in my earlier post, I will be using this blog and my Twitter feed (Please follow me on Twitter) to provide as many tips and my own personal learning curve on this course. This will serve as a guide for individuals who are looking into entering the program in the future, as well as a place for myself for future reflection on what I will learn during the span of the next 16 weeks. With the first class starting on the 10th of October we have already been emailed our first assignments.

The first class is set to discuss our personal strengths and weakness and how we leverage and compensate for them in our business. The class also requires us to set our goals for the program, as well as what we hope to accomplish through it. Both these components are critical in one’s self evaluation and provide a basis for the path we want to pursue. Far too often careers and life paths are chosen without the knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses and no end goal is set up. Both these factors and the misguided or misdirected paths taken result in a lot of confusion about life goals. I strongly suggest that all readers take a strengths inventory test and clarify their end goals, aligning them with their desires/passion.

I look forward to sharing my journey with all my readers. If you would like specific information, please do get in touch with me and we can work out how I can help.

I would like to thank the Founder Institute for accepting my application into the program and look forward to documenting my journey in the upcoming weeks through this blog & twitter.