roots

How does it matter if someone puts me in a bucket based on my place of birth or upbringing? I was talking to my friend the other day, and he was telling me how in this trade you are looked upon differently if you are not from the metros.

My head is still spinning. Should I give up my roots because of how others stereotype?

Divide

India has one of the youngest world population. Our education system is leapfrogging. The society stereotype has forced everyone aspires to become the next software engineer. Many new-age startups have gone steps further selling parents how their kids can become the next Nadella or Pichai by coding at an early age. Aspirational middle-class parents are falling for it.

It was the IT boom in the ’90s that made most of us realize that apart from a government job or farming, there are other career options. The sleepy city of Bangalore or the export hub of Chennai turned into IT cities. Our countries’ wealth and sharpest minds moved to these limited hubs. While most tier2-3 cities got dry, these places turned into a cosmopolitan. Overnight the likes of Noida and Gurgaon came up hoasting the best of the best multibillion enterprises. It made locals very rich, and most are still reaping its benefits as landlords et al.

We have been seeing COVID forcing the way IT industry works, a lot many folks have returned back to thier hometown. Many cities like Jaipur, Bhopal, Ranchi, Jodhpur, Kochi have lit up. Will this result in empowering these cities and starting a new breed of entrepreneurship? Or will India stay divided between a few cosmopolitan metros and old gloomy cities where dreams are written and erased every day?

Fermentation

I was watching Sandor Katz: The Art of Fermentation lecture. It was an eye-opener for me. I remember how grandma was very particular about leftover curd to make more curd from it.

Fermentation is more of a magic than science. We have made bacteria the villain. They are part of us humans residing in guts and has an impact on our brain. We let microorganisms feast be it milk, meat, or vegetable.

There is little fermentation in our daily food consumption: beer, kombucha, cheese, curd, kimchi, Salami, pickle, and Sauerkraut.

My wishlist would be to learn some of this magic we call: Fermentation. 🙂

Reading

We are living in a hyper-connected world. We are always connected, occupied and and short of time. I keep hearing from friends that podcast and audiobooks have replaced their book-reading habits. I have not found replacing book reading with audiobooks. It should not matter how many books you have read for the badge, but the learning that you could apply in real life.

When you are reading, it is more than going through the content. It is more about visualizing, imagining, walking with the author, finding yourself as one of the characters. It requires time, breaks, and thinking.

Finding time to be with yourself is the most difficult virtue of the modern world, absolute attention being the next. The constant buzz, reminders, notifications around us are making us forget this oldest method of seeking knowledge.

people skills

I have been in this startup ecosystem for over a decade now in multiple hats. There is a pattern that I have noticed: you need to be a people’s person before anything else. I have also seen people be it a VC, founder, or an analyst at a fund progressing well in their career with this virtue.

There are numerous scenarios where mutual help has been a win-win for both sides. People whom you help, they help you back. They want to see you succeed. They go at any length to see you do good.

Think in terms of winning heart, winning deals will be the byproduct. The no-asshole policy makes the organization a better place. The industry is too small, and everyone knows everybody else.

Hold your anger and put yourself in the shoe of others. Your subordinates need your pep talk. They will learn everything from virtue to vice from you. So be very careful.

Our life is not about being right or proving others wrong.

Attributes of a negotiator

These are some of the important attributes of a successful negotiator:

  • Patience
  • Communication skills
  • Flexibility
  • Tact
  •  Open-Mindedness
  • Subject knowledge 
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Physical stamina
  • Self-confidence
  • Decisiveness
  • Creativity
  • Willingness to listen
  • Self-control
  • Long-range outlook
  • Persistence
  • Sensitivity to interests and needs of others

Form the excerpts of The Global Negotiator

anger

How many lives lost because of anger?
How many relationships came to a halt because of anger?
How many negotiations faltered because of anger?

Why do we get angry? Is it our obsession, wanting, or ego? Or is it about being right, running show in my way?

Nero, emperor of Rome, burnt the entire city. He was a maniac and full of anger. He punished his teacher Seneca, the stoic philosopher.

In our own lives, many times, I have said few things or took actions that later on ended being regretful? I have many on my list. I should have been calmer, not indulged in emotional outbursts. These days I am more aware of myself and, anger is mostly in check. I prepare myself well before a tough conversation and try not to respond immediately in a heated argument or replying to instant texts. A WhatsApp message sent with all the anger cannot be reverted once read by the receiver. The same applies to the Email.

Anger is one of the ugliest vices in us humans, we have to work on fixing it as soon we realize about it. It will make us a better person and we will be at peace with ourselves.

communication

I am halfway through the book: The Global Negotiator where the author speaks about communication categories based upon purpose. 

These are:

  1. Phatic: This type of communication consists of the preliminary discussions that are intended to build a binding personal relationship. It helps in creating a personal bond before coming to the negotiation table.
  2. Informational: The sharing of information is the most obvious purpose of communication. 
  3. Persuasive: This type of communication happens when one person desires to persuade another. 
  4. Cathartic: The purpose of this type of communication is the release of emotions. The need to share emotions with another person relates to both positive and negative emotions. 

listening

The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen to more and talk the less. –Zeno, Stoic Philosopher

Listening is a virtue very few have been able to master. I am working towards it. I should master it before my death, hopefully. 

Listening helps in gathering information to the best: A mentoring session, customer meeting, or team discussion. It helps in understanding the other well. It helps with precise information gathering and not missing out on any aspects.

I have been advised with some techniques in improving my listening skills, sharing it here:

  1. Listen patiently until the counterpart has finished speaking. Do not interrupt. 
  2. Avoid distractions while the conversation is going on. Snooze your cellphone.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t be judgemental or show disapproval either verbally or non-verbally while the other person is speaking.
  4. Focus on the message transmitted and not the words used.
  5. Ask open-ended questions. That allows participants to respond in an elaborated manner. 
  6. Take notes of key points.
  7. Focus your attention in the present, the conversation. Do not compare the part or build castles for the future.

winning

Winning runs in our adrenaline. Be it sports, politics, spelling bee, or business: winning at all cost is the mantra. It is part and parcel of every culture. With time, capitalism only added more fuel to it.

Is there any side effect of this teaching? Or this what we have to feed our kids, help them? Is there no way where everyone wins? Why do we have to pick sides?

Are we running on an invisible treadmill after birth or chasing the mirage called winning? Is this winning mindset turning our civilization into a dumpster, creating blocs and groups?