For the past 10+ years I have managed engineering teams of various sizes, tech stacks and capabilities. No matter which team I am working with, building it out and expanding has always been a function that has excited and scared me at the same time. From the face of it hiring for tech positions seems fairly straight forward. You filter out candidates by years of experience in relevant technologies, throw a few tech questions and them and choose the ones who answer most of them. Easy! Nope. I started my stint as an engineering manager doing exactly this only and oh how I have been burned. It is very easy to fall into the trap that is this process’s simplicity if one is not careful. The biggest mistake I, as a lot of managers also do, made was judging the candidates in isolation. Judge them only on the basis of their skills and knowledge and speed at which they solved a problem without giving much thought to how they go about doing it. This, I tell you, is a mistake and the worst thing is that it takes a lot of time before you realize where it went wrong. Read more »
“Freelancer” is a truly magical world. The moment you add it to any profession that whole world becomes immediately profitable to everyone involved. I have seen startups looking for kickass rockstar coding ninja freelancers with at least 5+ years of experience at the super attractive compensation of 20k per month and exposure (how can you forget that!!). The moment someone adds “freelancer” to their profession it seems all their bills start paying themselves on their own which is why it would make sense for them to charge not based on their experience and calibre but the standard “freelancer” rates. The best thing is that people want to build their entire startups, and the eventual business empires, with the help of these cost-effective freelancers and hard-working dedicated go-getter interns. I implore you to just open any local startup community or group page on Facebook and you will find all these awesome promoters eagerly looking for these magical freelancers to come and build their product at..lets calculate. Lets take the highest number I have ever seen offered to a freelance developer 20k. Taking 20 working days a month with 8 hours a day it comes to (20000/20x8) = Rs 125 per hour. I am pretty sure the momo vendor on the road makes a lot more than that. I do not mean to imply anything but I am just putting this statistic out there. I wonder how many successful startups are built by the efforts of these kickass rockstar coding ninja freelancer. Also growth hackers.
Note: If you are a “freelancer” providing your services at the rates mentioned above, do consider the momo stall idea. I know for a fact that the ROI is there and is easily scalable. Read more »
I apologise in advance for this morbid thought. Imagine you get in an accident. It could be anything. A hit and run, a mugging gone wrong or just plain bad luck. There you are lying on the road, covered in your own blood, unconscious, helpless. Maybe your luck has not totally run out and some one spots you. They want to help you. They have called the police and/or the ambulance for you. They want to inform your family and friends. Maybe you still have your phone with you. They take it out and try to find the contacts. But its locked. It is asking for a pin code. Now your loved ones will only be informed once the authorities come and do a reverse check on your identification documents or licence plate.
What purpose did lock solve? Do you really have data on your phone more valuable than your own life. I don’t think so. Read more »
Tis the time for resolutions. The new year is just round the corner and like every year we all have our resolutions in our minds. This is an age old practice which has been engrained in us ever since we were little. Our resolutions might have changed with time but our excellent habit of not following them to the end remains a constant. One resolution that becomes kind of constant for people my age which we make every year to abandon in the very first week is “_Get Fit_”. This resolution is most commonly phrased as “_I will fix my eating habits and start working out_”. Most of these people stay enthusiastic for at max a week. Although in this one week they will accomplish a lot of things. They will see what a day that starts at 6am looks like in Delhi winter and what a lettuce tastes like. Now the best and easiest part of the “fitness process” is preparing for it. Which means buying new workout gear, water bottle and a membership at a swanky gym. For most resolutioners gym sign up is well begun and well begun is half done. I will be pulling stats out of my ass but 95% of these people will stop going to the gym within a fortnight. If this year too you are planning to resolve to get fit and are thinking about getting a gym membership/fancy equipment, I have a few pointers for you which I am sure will help you make an informed decision. Read more »
The first and the most important thing I will say is that the following text has not been written by me. I found this little gem on a reddit post posted by /u/photonasty. I feel that this is something many of us know, inherently, but do not realise until someone puts it to us in the form of words.
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Last Saturday I was at a mall in South Delhi with my beautiful wife. We were in one of he apparel shops where she was checking out some cure cloths and I was wandering around doing the husband thing which would be to feign interest in the said cloths. At one point I realised that a few set of eyes were constantly following me. I saw that for some reason I was the centre for attention for 2 girls. Now I have a beard. Not a stubble a full grown-ass beard which is worthy of attention from all friends and foes alike. I am used to it. After some time one of the girls covertly (she tried but i saw) took a few pictures of mine. I noticed but IDWAF so I moved on. At the time of checking out one of the girls was within an earshot and was speaking to someone. As it turns out apparently I looked like that some someone and he was being duly informed that his doppelgänger has been spotted (she actually used the word duplicate but ugh..) and she will share the pics shortly. Now that the story was clear to me I still did not have any fucks to give so I moved along with wifey to the next stop. Later that evening as we were having dinner and discussing the incident we had a major realisation. What if it was the other way around? I, a male, would have been caught taking pics of some female secretly. I can easily imagine the viral videos shared on social media with heading like “_Two girls were out shopping happily, you would be shocked to see what this pervert did_” or “_These brave girls caught a perv secretly taking their pics. What happened next will surprise you_”. You all would have shared the video praising their heroics and cursing my mere existence. But what about my sensational headline? Now you can say I could have confronted them but even you know the outcome that would have brought. Nothing would have come out of it rather they would have turned it on me for falsely accusing and harassing them. Because women empowerment. It is a strange and scary realisation that I being a male have absolutely no rights when it comes to privacy and harassment.
For what it is worth it is not new for me that people tell me that I look like someone they know. Some 2 weeks back I was out with a friend when 2 guys came to me and told me that i looked like one of their friends and if they could take a picture. I happily obliged and posed for them. I would have done the same for these girls as well if they had only asked. After all who would not want to be photographed by 2 girls in front of his wife :) Read more »
An idea is the most potent as well as the most convoluted thing in the world. A simple looking idea could turn out to be a major hassle of life and an extremely complex seeming one can be as easy as the process of breathing itself. They distract us, excite us, entice us and haunt us to sleeplessness. Yet we all consider them to be a good thing. And why not? It’s the ideas that get us out of sticky situations. If not because of ideas we would not have had so many amazing inventions and discoveries around us. Yet despite all the “goodness” about the ideas one should be careful about/with them. If an idea is the one thing that started the journey to success, it will take one rogue idea only to derail you from the right path. It is natural to get excited whenever you get a new idea and the sudden urge to try it, test it and implement could be unstoppable but it is important that you weigh the idea in the broader prospect of things and with long-term implications in mind. It is very easy for young entrepreneurs to get distracted by new ideas and waste their time and energy in chasing them jeopardizing the effort they have already put in their startup. It’s not uncommon to see new entrepreneurs running after new ideas like new marketing initiatives and adding new feature to the product totally disregarding the existing bugs or issues or drawbacks in the product that are already there. People tend to start building new shiny features when the old ones are still not working properly. They start chasing new marketing mediums even before they have properly used the conventional ones. They start chasing startup communities and VC meetups even when the product is half-baked just because that is the “cool” thing to do. It is true that entrepreneurship starts with an idea but an idea is all it takes to kill it as well. You have to see through the options and weight them based on your standing and direction. Optimization only comes after completion. You cannot optimize something that is not even there.
Don’t let your ideas kill your greatest idea. Read more »
It is hard not to be impressed by a body builder. They the healthiest, most attractive and hardworking group of individuals you will find. But beyond these external features there is much more to body building and the individuals pursuing it. There is a whole different lifestyle and ethos of living from which we all, entrepreneurs and other, can learn so much and make our lives much better. I am sharing a few things that I feel we call should definitely learn from body builders
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- Quantifiable goals – whether it is gaining muscles or losing weight a body builder always sets quantifiable goals and works around them. He knows exactly how many kilos he has to lose and then only he starts the activities. Even if it is as trivial as 6 he knows how many abs he wants. He will constantly log and monitor his stats and check for deviations. I am a firm believer of “What cannot be measured cannot be managed” and I feel that quantification as much as possible should be done.
- Impeccable planning – If you are serious about your body and you have defined your goals you will have to have a proper and detailed plan of action to achieve those goals. You will define the daily routine and diet in granular details to the last bite and last rep. An experienced body builder will also accommodate some scope of adjustment based on the intermediate observations and deviations but those still are planned. Anything that is meticulously planned is bound to succeed.
- Religiously follow routine – you cannot get a good body if you do not follow your plan religiously. Body builders are very particular about their diet, the quantities and the timings as well as their workout plan. They will workout in the exact same order and on exact same time as it is mentioned in the plan. This kind of commitment is something that we all can do with. Planning is easy, its only words. The real metal lies in the execution and consistency.
- Push yourself to the limit – if you want to have a great physique we not only have to get out of our comfort zones but also push ourself into that painful zone where the body is almost about to yield and one more rep is just not possible. And yet a dedicated body builder will do 2 more reps. He knows that it is these 2 reps that count. As entrepreneurs we do push our self to the limit at times but far too rarely. But beyond the limit is where the heavens lie. As they say in the gym – pain is just weakness leaving the body.
- Importance of rest – You will not get a good body if you workout 24 hours a day. When you workout your muscles break and then get reformed when you are resting (crude explanation). So the real muscle-building takes place when you are actually resting. All body builders know that and just like their workout are very particular about their rest. They know the importance of a good nights sleep and the importance of that 1 break in their schedule. They do all this to avoid fatigue and stress. In our lives it is called burnout. No one wants to burn out.
- Meritocracy – A gym is almost always a meritocratic society. Everyone has to earn their place and respect by showing their metal. Fellow body builders will only accept you and respect you if they see you pushing yourself. Else you are just one of those distractions hogging the treadmill posting “At da Gym” on Facebook. In my last post I wrote about entrepreneurs being far too kind and accommodating towards fellow entrepreneurs even when they have not earned it.
If you follow some startup communities or have a social circle which has many entrepreneurs almost every day you will be exposed to new and fresh products or services or apps that beg for your feedback and support. It could approach you directly or could be as simple as a Facebook post or tweet introducing a new “idea” and asking for feedback. Now it is not possible that you are positive about absolutely everything. Yes you can find positive things about the product/idea but that everything that you will come across will be good reflects poorly on your choices/thinking more than it does on the ideas that you see every day. Even then most of us do not share the negative feedback. Even if you feel that the idea is “stupid” (I know it is a harsh term but I will be lying if I say that this has never come in my mind when seeing a new startup) you will most likely not say it for the fear of being labeled a closed-minded pessimistic naysayer. Even when you can clearly see the poor build quality, extremely bad choice of technology and design and even platform, not a word is said to the fellow entrepreneur other than congratulating him and wishing him luck. It happens every day when I see such posts where fellow entrepreneurs, even the seasoned kind, will praise the lefts and rights of the product or if nothing the entrepreneurial spirit of the person completely neglecting the elephant sized problem that they identified within the first 5 seconds of seeing the product. Is the fear of being called a negative guy that big that you do not point out that appalling font that the developer entrepreneur has used?
I have taken a lot of flak a lot of times for giving the most direct and cruel feedback without any sugar-coating or even a single word of praise. Most of the new entrepreneurs thank me but it is easy to figure out which ones are pissed with my lone critical comment in the deluge of praises and good wishes. And yet I continue to do so. For I know that by not doing this I will be doing a disservice to my fellow friend who will never even know what he did wrong. If I give him validation just because he seeks it and I don’t want to “sound rude” would mean robbing him of the opportunity of improving himself. But most importantly I do this because I want this done to me. I like to claim that I am where I am because I made mistakes and then took lessons from those mistakes. The process of finding these areas of improvement becomes even more efficient if you point out my mistakes as soon as you see them. Read more »
As I was driving over to meet a friend this Saturday, crisscrossing between the moderate traffic of a weekend, i came upon a realization. Driving, as a skill, is much more than just the ability or independence to transport ourselves from one place to another. There are a lot of lessons learning to drive or driving regularly can teach us what we can use in almost all aspects of our lives. I am convinced to the extent that I feel that absolutely all entrepreneurs (and everyone else must too) must definitely learn to drive.
Everything is scary at the beginning - Learning to drive is scary. At least for most of us. We all are scared that we might hit something or damage the car or something bad might happen. But eventually we learn, practice and master the skill of driving and soon we are driving in dense Delhi traffic. This applies to all the new things in life. You don’t know if it is actually difficult unless you try it, unless you take the leap. Read more »