Who is at helm in a Start up?

Few days ago the news about top level shifts, followed by some top-level exits, in ‘the’ most prominent Indian startup captured headlines when the founders were stripped off of their CXO titles and their responsibilities were reduced to mere placeholder-roles akin to rubber stamps. They were replaced by an administrator appointed by the investors.

The founders still held the majority shares, including veto shares, their respective chairs at the board of directors and the right to vote. And that made many believe that they still held power & control.

The whistle blower troll circle, often referred to as the Startup L. Jackson(s) of India had this information at least a month ahead of its announcement. They kept on hinting towards the upcoming tsunami of layoffs, cost cuts and massive reorganizations. The keenest of the observers started making speculations.

But there was certain class of objectors who chose to turn deaf to all these noises. I had a spat with one such objector over the fact “who still holds the power here“.

 

A naive animal in an animal farm believes the breeder feeds them & hence will never kill them. This happens to people too. Or should we call them sheeple?

The Ship

Consider a startup as a ship, that left the pier with a limited supply of food & water & a mini livestock aboard (no, not Noah’s arc) and has to complete a 90-days’ journey across the Atlantic (no, not Niña, Pinta nor Santa María). Midway the ship hits a rock (no, not the Titanic). The captain’s damage assessment team did a survey and kept their assessment confidential to prevent undesirable panic among the sea-men. But they did not have to ability to prevent actions by individuals onboard.

Some could sense the threat, some couldn’t, and some decided to wait while some chose to believe that the threat was nonexistent.

The Rats

When a ship is about to sink, rats jump off the deck first and per the code of conduct, the ship’s captain is always the last.

It’s not bad to follow your survival instincts. It’s not bad to be a rat or follow one. Saving one’s life should be one’s top priority. There is no reward that can compensate loss of life. Better be a rat & survive than an audacious man on deck to die later miserably.

Proactive Rats

Some rats are wiser than the others, those who read the signs early & observe the symptoms, match the patterns and take action in right time. They are the pre-crastinators.

One among many such signs, one is M&A. At 31:48, Guy explains when a VC firm acknowledges your company as a loser company (say loser A) in their portfolio, they arrange your acquisition by another loser company B in their portfolio to save face.

Procrastinating Rats

Some rats are procrastinators. They are hesitant about jumping off. This hesitation may not be inherent to them. It might just occurs to them because of the the market situations. I mean, what would they do if they left the ship & boarded another which sank immediately after their arrival?

Now, you might complain – that’s totally hypothetical, stop cooking up stories. Well, ebay was shut 2 months ago and they’re recruiting & on boarding people until a week before they pulled the shutter.

So, these hesitant rats choose to take action when the moment finally arrives. They still manage to survive the situation because they remain prepared & well equipped to handle it.

The sheep and the suicidal lemmings

So, this startup had lost its first batch of rats who ran away elsewhere to save themselves from the big tide. But now it was left with the brain-dead lemmings, and the docile & gullible lot  – the sheep.

The lemmings have no ability to think. They just follow the one before them. The possibility of their survival depends entirely on their leader.

The sheep can foresee some danger approaching them. But instead of dealing with they, they decide to bury their heads in the sand & believe that nobody’s going to hurt them.

I’ll definitely appreciate if that’s self-confidence induced audacity.

But if that’s ignorance induced ostrich syndrome, then this needs to be stopped. Choosing to remain in a constant state of denial while overlooking the facts and the phenomena is a blatant insult to one’s conscience, that their emotions overpowered their ability to reason,  that they have shut their eyes and pretending that nobody’s watching them, that they can  no longer distinguish what’s reality and what’s delusion.

The start up laid off several of its staff including their head of products in June-July citing the obvious reasons – performance. Some employees took action and fled for security.

The startup is laying off some from its leadership team.

The threat is imminent. Of course, correlation may not imply causation always. But during the moments of crisis, being a bit pessimistic can be good. Your intuitions may not be accurate enough to help you out in need.

The problem with intuition is that people only remember when their intuition was right–truth be told, their intuition was probably wrong as often as right.

Guy Kawasaki, Art of Recruitment

When the news came, it captured the attention many. Budding entrepreneurs, graduates, engineers, buyers, sellers, economists and even the consumer base in India who had developed an emotional connection with the brand – everyone was curious what was going wrong. All of a sudden, the poster boys of Indian startups became the example of the biggest losers.

But it’s even more surprising to see that there are still people who believe that the तारणहार (Taranhar) will save them from the apocalypse. Good luck to them!

Guy Kawasaki: The Top 10 Mistakes of Entrepreneurs

Long back while dreaming about creating my own startup, I was reading, watching & stuffing myself with information from all sources and I happened to come across a brilliant talk by Guy Kawasaki where he explains the top ten mistakes by entrepreneurs, and at 23:30

Many many entrepreneurs believe as long as they and their buddies own 51% of the company they are in control of the company …

… but the truth is the moment you take outside money you have lost control of the company.

It never comes down to a vote 51 to 49.

This is not the US senate.

The moment you take external investment you’ve already sold your company to the highest bidder. You no longer remain the owner, but become a salaried (or non-salaried) employee of the company who has a mandate to meet the numbers & deliver on the promises.

The rights to vote, the seats at the board, or the percentage of ownership become irrelevant.

So who is at helm?

Can’t help you if you’re still unable to decide for yourself.

 

When I’m on Modafinil vs when I’m not on Modafinil

When I’m on Modafinil

  • I should prepare the strategy for creating great designs
  • I should organize mood boards, and should focus on creating themes and UI kits rather than jumping into design
  • I should investigate why t-engine is faster than vanilla nginx
  • I should find out if anyone else logged into my digital ocean VPS as the root user or not
  • I must find out the optimal way to isolate webpack from node to reduce the compile time
  • I must learn Kannada
  • I’ve heard people who learnt multiple languages had greater IQ
  • P V Narasimha Rao must have been great. He sent Vajpayee as a delegate to represent India once. That’s damn awesome.
  • There should be IQ level indicator in Facebook. You should ignore (or prevented from) engaging in comment-wars with people of lower IQs. I must create a chrome plugin that determines someone’s IQ and warns.

When I’m not on Modafinil

  • I should rather be at home. I focus better at home
  • The chirpy team next to me is very noisy & seems jobless. I can’t work in an environment like this.
  • I need coffee.
  • Enough for the day. Too noisy here. I should rather go home and sleep to get rid of the noise in my head.
  • It’s Wednesday. Because the noise levels are at peak.
  • I don’t know how to file IT returns yet. How’ll I manage a family?
  • The problem with open floor office designs is – you’ve no privacy. Joel Spolsky was right. Nobody wants to work in facebook because of their acre wide open floor office.
  • I need espresso. Double black eye.
  • Why people are so optimistic about their political leader and too cynical about who question the authority in this nation?
  • I’ve no cash. How’ll I manage a family?

Being Grown Up

There was an old story about two wolves – good wolf and bad wolf and the one you feed more, becomes stronger with time & the other, weaker. The wolves represent our – desires, temptations, habits, behavior i.e. everything about our nature that’s private, intimate to us and has the capacity to drive us into an insane pursuit.

 

There used to be a time when I had a desire to live life untamed. I used to get tempted and buy things, despite those not being a necessity and later regret buying them. I’d take more food on the plate than I could consume and regret throwing food away. Sometime I’d eat more than I could digest and later regret. I would drink often despite knowing tomorrow it’s gonna give hangovers and headache & hamper my productivity. I would smoke even more despite knowing it’s killing me slowly. I had addictions to even more nefarious elements of life too. Laziness, Procrastination were ruling me. Then, these cumulative regrets crossed that thin line, where I decided – it was enough. It’s my body, it’s my mind & I’m more than a slave to my desires.

 

We’ve a lot of anxieties in us. The existential angst that we relieve by few hours of shopping, or dining out, or travelling. It doesn’t fix the problem. It makes us escape from them momentarily. We have preferences, likes and dislikes. Our desires, our temptations, our sense of good and bad – these are what we are composed of. Therefore, we normally believe that desires are good too and suppressing desires is wrongful. If desires are suppressed by will, we call it sacrifice and if suppressed by circumstances or society we call it’s oppression. But desires harm us too. They often lead us to seek instant gratification and procrastinate what’s important for us and we have to suffer panic attack when we run out of time. The unintended results make us regret.

 

I’ve a vision of what I want to be and I must dictate the rules and act in a manner that favors my vision and not what the instant gratification monkey tells me to do. It takes a lot of effort to beat the inner demons of desire. Growing up, I’ve realized, being grown up is about taking command of your actions, it’s about delaying gratification for maximal results, it’s about resisting bias, it’s about resisting temptations, resisting procrastination, consciously and constantly, without fail, it’s about being strong and not being a slave to the desires.

It’s our constant conscious practice which finally makes its way to the subconscious i.e. our superego and that’s what makes us incorruptible.

 

Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the resistance to it.
Mark Twain

similar links:

Woes of social media: Tinder

CID has been running successfully in India since 19 years, yes, today i.e 30th April, it’s exactly 19 years since their pilot episode.

There was an episode where CID was investigating a serial murder case -they suspect a kidney racket behind these. They revisit the victims’ houses to reexamine for any clues left behind, interrogate witnesses & people they knew. They find nothing to link these victims, except a gift mug with a Zodiac sign. Although, a mug may not emerge as an incriminating evidence, they still try to trace where those mugs were purchased from & who bought them. They find all were bought from the same shop, and the buyer being a coupe, one of them would be anyone from the victims, and the other was a girl.

They hunt the girl down. But, she doesn’t seem to have any records of past criminal activity. They realise the story doesn’t end with the girl. There is a racket involved in it.

CID decides to let go Inspector Daya as an under cover officer. Daya assumes his new role, as a gym buff and tries to woo the girl, who happens to frequent the same gym. Daya & the girl start dating. CID still keeps observing every activity. All of a sudden, on one of the dates, in a pub, the girl sedates Daya. A crashing fainting Daya is helped by 4 other unidentified men, hanging around the same pub, to be taken into his car. But then, they take him into an ambulance, which doubles as a moving operation theatre.

Thankfully, CID intervenes in time & rescues Daya & arrests more people and surgeons involved in the racket.

Now, I leave it to the reader’s imagination.

Suppose, Daya were not a police officer & it were you instead. You happen to find this girl on tinder and you happen to go on several more dates with her until you start to trust her. Then, on a fateful day you’re sedated & then the next thing the world knows that your body organs were stolen and you died.

People are often conservative and feel shy about sharing anything, especially if it were a fresh-new blind date on tinder. This story is could be exaggeration. I’d say it’s just a figment of my imagination. But then, can we overlook the possibilities of this ever happening?

We have seen hook ups, break ups, prostitution,  wild tinder profiles, social experiments on people swiping-right on murders, people playing too dangerously, and even deaths.

It’s time.

Fitness tips: Healthy Food vs Unhealthy Food

We’ve talked enough on these. It’s about time we’ve seen people whining about fat and calories in their foods and talk about eating salads, sprouts and stupid health drinks.

I’d say that’s total bullsh*t.

When you go and workout, you burn calories. You still need more calories to withstand those burns and keep walking until the next day. You need all that fat & cholesterol for your testosterones, proteins for your muscles to grow and repair.

Human body is an intelligent machine and it’s receptive. If you feed it more energy than it requires, it stores them. Your objective is to take in all that calorie and burn that all the next day during your workout.

People with a sedentary lifestyle will complain about how little time they had. I be like – Really? Is that your excuse not to workout.

Let me tell you something. I took a 300 push up challenge last day & guess what 20 push ups and 5 pull ups take 2 minutes altogether. That’s lesser than the time it’d take you to brew your coffee. And, it safely burns your daily average calorie intake.

That said, there are precautions you’ve to take like – raw foods may contain bacteria, stale food is a strict no no. If you’re allergic to something, then don’t eat that.

In my case eating oily foods before workout resulted in heartburns, so I totally avoid it & recommend not going for that before workouts. But after workouts, you name it & I eat it.

Recently we saw articles about processed foods like bacon could cause cancer. So, if you don’t like to eat fast food or processed food, then go the natural way – you have milk, yoghurt, peanuts, cream, eggs, rice, pulses and what not.

So, the conclusion – Food is important for your body. Don’t classify it as healthy or unhealthy. And,

Da fuq you say, there is no such thing as unhealthy food. It’s not the food, it’s your lifestyle choices which are unhealthy.

Bonus video:

स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता (SWAYAMEVA MRUGENDRATA)

What does स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता, SWAYAMEVA MRUGENDRATA mean?

You may see it going along with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh(HSS)’s emblem

hss
Courtesy: HSS Websites & their G+ page

And often below the logo/emblem of every Saraswati Sishu/Vidya Mandir where a young boy is seen playing with his hand in the mouth of an adult (male) lion.

svm
Courtesy: orissadiary.com
Courtesy: saraswatividyamandir.in
Courtesy: saraswatividyamandir.in

The statement has a truly inspirational meaning to it.

Swayam(स्वयम) stands for self.

Mruga/Mriga (मृग) stands for deer. However, in this context, it stands for all the animals of the forest.

Indra(इन्द्र), although the namesake suggests the king/leader of all devasit can also refer to the king or the master in general.

So, as perceived, in the context of the forest, a Mrugendra (मृगेन्द्र) stands for the king of all animals of the forest i.e. the lion.

The official meaning of the statement is as follows:

There is no official coronation ceremony (rajyabhishekha) held to crown the lion as the king of the forest. It becomes king by its own attributes and might.

When applied in the context of humans, it basically is about leadership. One doesn’t need any official recognition or ceremony to be identified as a leader. One needs to  enhance his/her personality, build up strength/courage, strong enough to fight or match-the-might of the strongest – to become the leader.

In a detailed article about  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its ideals, Pragya Tiwari writes:

The Sangh’s real strength comes from its founder Dr Hedgewar’s diktat of Swayameva Mrugendrata – find within yourself the strength of the lion.

The same text goes with the emblem of the Saraswati Sishu/Vidya Mandir & fraternity of such schools.

The logo shows a courageous boy playing, or possibly fighting with a lion which represents the courage of the boy that parallels with the king of the forest i.e. the lion.

It asks every soul in this universe to find the strength, the lion, within and encourages to become leaders by virtue of their own might.

Pillow Fight Pranks – they can restore your faith in humanity

A stranger out of nowhere throws a pillow at another unwary stranger, they just happen to catch it out of their reflexes, and before they could  comprehend anything, they’re bashed with the pillow. In an act of defense, they fight back, of course with a pillow. And fun ensues.

It just happened to me that one day that one of my x-colleagues shared a gif on facebook – a pillow fight gif. That post totally made my day. Instantly, I felt how cheerfully these folks are fighting with each other, that’s just so cute.

And, I couldn’t resist, and created myself a youtube playlist of these videos. I insist you watch all of them – the more you watch, the funnier & lovelier it gets.

Eating Raw Eggs (slightly non-hardcore way)

Caution: Raw eggs may contain bacteria e.g. salmonella, which may cause dysentery or diarrhea. And do not try this if you’re allergic to eggs.

I’ve been gymming since past few weeks. Protein supplements are costly and therefore, I went with natural regular food based protein intake.

IMO eggs are the cheapest source of protein, next to peanuts. Unlike peanuts, they carry lesser calories, and decent amount of fat. And, Fat & Cholesterol are necessary for testosterone. People usually cook eggs either by boiling or frying them. But high temperatures can destroy protein. Therefore, eating raw eggs is more beneficial than eating cooked ones (more).

So, here is how I do it

Steps

  • Break 1 raw egg into a bowl
  • Add a teaspoon of custard powder and stir well
  • Make sure the powder mixes well
  • Break two more raw eggs into the mix
  • Add a tablespoon of sugar (you may add less if you prefer to)
  • Optional – Add a pinch of salt (and, this is a matter of taste, you can
  • Stir well, you can use a mixer if you prefer

Now, it’s ready. Gulp it.