Notes from reading: Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

I got to know about Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance book via my friend Prateek on Facebook. He suggested that I should read this book since I been reading a lot of Philosophy all this while.

Just the spoiler, the book is not entirely about motorcycle maintenance instead an account of author’s motorcycle trip from Minnesota to California with his young son Chris, a philosophical meditation on the concept of Quality, and the story of a man pursued by the ghost of his former self. The book is written by Robert Pirsig , who passed away recently at age of 88.

These are some of my kindle notes from the book: 

  1. The world exists as a conflict and tension of opposites.
  2. Man is the measure of all things.
  3. A good student seeks knowledge fairly and impartially.
  4. According to Socrates both rhetoric and cooking are branches of pandering – pimping – because they appeal to the emotions rather than true knowledge.
  5. If you want to be happy just change your mind.
  6. The passions are characterized as the destroyer of understanding, and Phaedrus (auther) wonders if this is where the condemnation of the passions so deeply buried in Western thought got its start.
  7. Some say the good is found in happiness, but how do we know what happiness is? And how can happiness be defined? Happiness and good are not objective terms.
  8. I survive mainly by pleasing others. You do that to get out. To get out you figure out what they want you to say and then you say it with as much skill and originality as possible and then, if they’re convinced, you get out.
  9. When a shepherd goes to kill a wolf, and takes his dog to see the sport, he should take care to avoid mistakes.  The dog has certain relationships to the wolf the shepherd may have forgotten.
  10. The mythos (myth) that says the forms of this world are real but the Quality of this world is unreal, that is insane.
  11. There are worse things than hiding in the shadows.
  12. Goals must be scaled down in importance and immediate goals must be scaled up.
  13. Impatience is best handled by allowing an indefinite time for the job, particularly new jobs that require unfamiliar techniques; by doubling the allotted time when circumstances force time planning; and by scaling down the scope of what you want to do.
  14. Impatience is the first reaction against a setback and can soon turn to anger if you’re not careful.
  15. My favorite cure for boredom is sleep. It’s very easy to get to sleep when bored and very hard to get bored after a long rest. My next favorite is coffee.
  16. When you make the mistakes yourself, you at least get the benefit of some education.
  17. Boredom  is the opposite of anxiety and commonly goes with ego problems. Boredom means you’re off the Quality track.
  18. If your values are rigid you can’t really learn new facts.
  19. The facts do not exist until value has created them.
  20. The birth of a new fact is always a wonderful thing to experience.
  21. When false information makes you look good, you’re likely to believe it.
  22. Your ego isolates you from the Quality reality.
  23. You’re so sure you’ll do everything wrong you’re afraid to do anything at all.
  24. You can reduce your anxiety somewhat by facing the fact that there isn’t a mechanic alive who doesn’t louse up a job once in a while.
  25. Information that fixes one model can sometimes wreck another.
  26. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts.
  27. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.
  28. When one isn’t dominated by feelings of separateness from what he’s working on, then one can be said to ‘care’ about what he’s doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one’s doing. When one has this feeling then he also sees the inverse side of caring, Quality itself.
  29. Peace of mind is a prerequisite for a perception of that Quality which is beyond romantic Quality and classic Quality and which unites the two, and which must accompany the work as it proceeds.
  30. This inner peace of mind occurs on three levels of understanding:Physical quietness, Mental quietness and Value quietness  . Physical quietness seems the easiest to achieve, although there are levels and levels of this too, as attested by the ability of Hindu mystics to live buried alive for many days. Mental quietness, in which one has no wandering thoughts at all, seems more difficult, but can be achieved. But value quietness, in which one has no wandering desires at all but simply performs the acts of his life without desire, that seems the hardest.
  31. The past cannot remember the past. The future can’t generate the future. The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.
  32. The passions, the emotions, the affective domain of man’s consciousness, are a part of nature’s order too.
  33. Your mind gets stuck when you’re trying to do too many things at once.
  34. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristics of Quality.
  35. When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event.
  36. People differ about Quality, not because Quality is different, but because people are different in terms of experience
  37. The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.
  38. The reason people see Quality differently, he said, is because they come to it with different sets of analogues.
  39. when the world is seen not as a duality of mind and matter but as a trinity of quality, mind, and matter, then the art of motorcycle maintenance and other arts take on a dimension of meaning they never had.
  40. Changes aren’t always peaceful.
  41. People disagreed with Quality because some just used their immediate emotions whereas others applied their overall knowledge.
  42. If everyone knows what quality is, why is there such a disagreement about it?
  43. Don’t base your decisions on romantic surface appeal without considering classical underlying form.
  44. In today’s world, ideas that are incompatible with scientific knowledge don’t get off the ground.
  45. When you are trained to despise ‘just what you like’ then, of course, you become a much more obedient servant of others – a good slave.
  46. The competence of a speaker has no relevance to the truth of what he says
  47. When you learn not to do ‘just what you like’ then the System loves you.
  48. A real understanding of Quality captures the System, tames it, and puts it to work for one’s own personal use, while leaving one completely free to fulfill his inner destiny. Quality is just the focal point around which a lot of intellectual furniture is getting rearranged. If Quality exists in the object, then you must explain just why scientific instruments are unable to detect it.
  49. Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster.
  50. ‘Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognized by a nonthinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined.’

Notes from reading: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

This week I picked up The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin. I was fascinated with a single fact that how can someone be so talented. Like  Benjamin Franklin  was a Writer, Inventor,  Philosopher, Negotiation and last not the least one of the forefathers of  American Independence. Fun fact thought, he was born British.

I am going to add about the 13 virtues as Benjamin Franklin calls it, a daily todo practice which made him so focussed & successful in managing his time.

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i. e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Daily Schedule of Benjamin Franklin
Daily Schedule of Benjamin Franklin
The checklist with Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues.
The checklist with Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues.

Notes from reading: Brain Maker, The Power of Gut Microbes

Last week I picked up Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life  by David Perlmutter.

After reading 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness (blog note), this book was like a mirror. I have no idea who copied whom or was it even a copy.

The only new things this book had was the mention of how Wheat is affecting our microbiome and a chapter dedicated on preparation of probiotic food.

These are some of the Kindle notes from the book:

  1. The neurons in the gut are so innumerable that many scientists are now calling the totality of them “the second brain.”
  2. Your gut makes more serotonin — the master happiness molecule — than the brain in your head does.
  3. An overactive immune system can lead to such complications as allergies; in a severe case, it can react so wildly that it leads to anaphylactic shock — an extreme reaction that can be deadly.
  4. The gut bacteria help keep the immune system vigilant but not in full defense mode.
  5. New science is also revealing that bad bacteria can change how we perceive pain; indeed, people with an unhealthy microbiome may be more sensitive to pain.
  6. The two most common groups of organisms in the gut, representing more than 90 percent of the bacterial population in the colon, are Firmicutes (pronounced fir-MIH-cue-tees) and Bacteroidetes (pronounced BAC-teer-OY-deh-tees).
  7. Researchers have discovered that obese people have elevated levels of Firmicutes in their gut flora, compared to lean people, who are dominated more by Bacteroidetes.
  8. What’s more, we’ve just learned that higher levels of Firmicutes actually turn on genes that increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.
  9. One particularly fascinating study performed by a team of researchers in 2010 revealed that when they used gene sequencing to profile bacterial types from mothers and their newborn babies, they found that infants born vaginally obtained bacterial colonies resembling their own mothers’ vaginal microbiome, dominated by beneficial Lactobacillus, whereas babies born via C-section acquired colonies similar to those found on the skin’s surface, dominated by an abundance of the potentially harmful Staphylococcus.
  10. The point is that transmission of microbes from one generation to the next is a fundamental process of life.
  11. Factors such as antibiotics and other medications, chlorinated water, certain foods, and even stress all play a part in determining the diversity and balance of the gut bacteria and, therefore, the set-point of inflammation.
  12. Not only do gut microbes influence the environment in your body, but they contribute to that environment by producing certain chemicals that affect the health of the brain and entire nervous system.
  13. According to the World Health Organization, depression will displace heart disease in terms of cost of caring for patients by the year 2020.
  14. What’s going on in the gut determines, to some degree, what happens in the brain.
  15. High-fructose corn syrup now represents 42 percent of all caloric sweeteners, which could be a factor in our soaring rates of depression and even dementia.
  16. Drugs to treat autoimmune disease, such as steroids, can also tinker with the balance of gut bacteria as well as change the functionality of the immune system.
  17. If antibiotics come into the picture, they will degrade the microbiome and further facilitate the inflammatory process.
  18. New research shows that our gut bacteria don’t just aid in digestion, as you likely realize by now. They play a critical role in our metabolism, and this relates directly to whether we lose or gain weight.
  19. Women who get the flu during pregnancy double their risk of giving birth to a child with autism.
  20. Diet has the dominant role in shaping gut microbiota, and changing key populations may transform healthy gut microbiota into a disease inducing entity.
  21. High-fructose corn syrup and crystalline fructose disrupt liver metabolism, which, along with excess glucose, spikes blood-sugar levels and exhausts the pancreas.
  22.  The human body cannot digest artificial sweeteners, which is why they have no calories.
  23.  Correlations have also been found between those who use artificial sweeteners and those who weigh more and have higher fasting blood sugar, a condition we know leads to many negative health effects.
  24. Antibiotics are also used extensively in agriculture and farming, and this is contributing to the problem of resistance. They are used to treat infection as well as to make animals grow larger and mature earlier.
  25. the U.S. leads the way in terms of antibiotic use in meat produced.
  26. 2011, U.S. drug makers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock, the largest amount yet recorded, representing 80 percent of all antibiotics sales that year.
  27. Coronary artery disease, a leading cause of heart attacks, may have more to do with inflammation than with high cholesterol.

Notes from reading: 10% Human

I picked 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness  by  Alanna Collen.  The book has details about how our guts are getting affected by our food habits, medicines we are taking. It also lists how our microbiome helps us in curing us from many disease.

Book covers about:

  1. Side effects of  antibiotics on our guts,
  2. How our eating habits are making us sick aka rise of Leaky guts.
  3. How excessive use is antibiotics to grow bigger chicken & producing more milk is making us sick.
  4. How fibre has almost disappeared from our meal & its adverse affect on our guts.
  5. How guts are responsible for our mental well being.
  6. Affect of C-section on new born baby.
  7. Advantage of breast feeding over bottle-milk feeding.
  8.  How faecal transplant is going mainstream in growing microbiome.

These are some notes from my Kindle:

  1. Gastrointestinal symptoms are surprisingly common in people with mental health and neurological conditions, though they are usually seen as unimportant compared with the altered behaviour.
  2. Gut microbes did not just alter physical health, but mental health as well.
  3. The source of autism lay in the gut.
  4. When any other organ breaks down, we look for external causes, but when the brain – the mind! – misbehaves, we assume it’s the fault of the individual, their parents or their lifestyle.
  5. I find myself thinking about my meal choices in terms of what my microbes would be grateful for, and my mental and physical health as markers of my worthiness as a host to them.
  6. It seems paradoxical – surely antibiotics are there to treat infections, not cause them. But although a course of antibiotics might cure one infection, they may also leave us open to others. In a study of 85,000 patients, those taking long-term antibiotics for the treatment of acne were more than twice as likely to suffer colds and other upper respiratory tract infections as acne patients who weren’t on antibiotics. Those who had been given antibiotics before the age of two – a startling 74 per cent of them – were on average nearly twice as likely to have developed asthma by the time they were eight.
  7. The more courses of antibiotics the children received, the more likely they were to develop asthma, eczema and hay fever.
  8. The idea of a leaky gut leading to chronic inflammation and kick-starting both physical and mental health problems is an exciting one for medical science.  A balanced and healthy microbiota seems to act as a gatekeeping force reinforcing the integrity of the gut and protecting the sanctity of the body.
  9. We all know that smoking and drinking put us at risk of developing cancer, but far less well-known is that we are significantly more likely to get cancer if we are overweight.
  10. In the late 1940s, scientists in the US had made the accidental discovery that giving chickens antibiotics boosted their growth by as much as 50 per cent.  Production gains of this magnitude for the cost of, well, chicken feed, were spectacular. Ever since, so-called subtherapeutic antibiotic therapy has been an essential part of farming.
  11. It turns out that 93 per cent of children with autism had ear infections before they turned two, compared with 57 per cent of children without the condition. As I mentioned, no doctor wants to leave a childhood ear infection alone, lest it stops a toddler from learning to speak, or leads to something nasty such as rheumatic fever. So they turn to antibiotics – better safe than sorry. The link between more ear infections and more antibiotics bears up. An epidemiological study showed that kids with autism tend to have been given three times more antibiotics than those without it. Those getting antibiotics under the age of eighteen months appear to be at the greatest.
  12. Poor diet is responsible for the majority of deaths in the developed world, be it from heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.
  13. Getting your microbiota from your mum is common, even among non-mammals.
  14. As toddlers, children born by C-section are more likely to develop allergies.  C-section babies are also more likely to be diagnosed autistic. People with obsessive–compulsive disorder are twice as likely to have been born by C-section.
  15. Oligosaccharides are now known to be instrumental in encouraging the right species of microbes to bloom in the seedling gut microbiota of a baby. Babies fed breast-milk have microbiotas dominated by lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Unlike the human body, bifidobacteria make enzymes that can use oligosaccharides as their sole food source. As a waste product, they produce the all-important short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) – butyrate, acetate and propionate, plus a fourth SCFA that’s particularly valuable in babies: lactate (also known as lactic acid). These feed the cells.
  16. The aid of the vagina’s lactic acid bacteria and breast-milk’s oligosaccharides, appears to be important in protecting babies from infection, and priming their young immune systems.
  17. the consequences of a natural birth, and extended, exclusive breast-feeding, the more empowered we will be to give both ourselves and our children the best chance of lives of health and happiness.
  18. Poor nutrition? No problem – your microbes will help you to synthesise missing vitamins. Eating barbecued meat? Not to worry – your microbes will detoxify the charred bits. Changing hormones? That’s fine – your microbes will adapt.
  19. A faecal transplant is not too different from a probiotic: the idea of both is to deliver beneficial microbes to the gut. One usually goes in at the top and the other at the bottom, and one is usually cultured in a lab whereas the other is cultured in the ideal environment of another person’s gut. It’s only a matter of time before the two concepts converge. With a well-designed capsule that delivers its contents to exactly the right location in the gut, the same community of faecal microbes that make up the solution used in a faecal transplant can fill a capsule that is swallowed with a glass of water.


Notes from reading: Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

I was recommended reading “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts from a friend of mine. She insisted that I should read other philosophers as well apart from J Krishnamurti.

These are some my notes from kindle.

  1. It should be clear that eternal life is the realization that the present is the only reality, and that past and future can be distinguished from it in a conventional sense alone.
  2. Nothing is really more inhuman than human relations based on morals.
  3. So long as there is the motive to become something, so long as the mind believes in the possibility of escape from what it is at this moment, there can be no freedom.
  4. The worst part of pain is expecting it and trying to get away from it when it has come.
  5. Choices are usually decisions motivated by pleasure and pain, and the divided mind acts with the sole purpose of getting “I” into pleasure and out of pain.
  6. Death is the epitome of the truth that in each moment we are thrust into the unknown.
  7. The feeling that we stand face-to-face with the world, cut off and set apart, has the greatest influence on thought and action.
  8. We learn nothing of very much importance when it can be explained entirely in terms of past experience.
  9. It is open to all of us in so far as “the mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
  10. Seeing that there is no escape from the pain, the mind yields to it, absorbs it, and becomes conscious of just pain without any “I” feeling it or resisting it.
  11. To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot.
  12. The mind has just the same powers, for it has give and can absorb shocks like water or a cushion.
  13. One has to make the experiment to understand that it brings into play altogether new powers of adaptation to life, of literally absorbing pain and insecurity.
  14. You see that calling it “fear” tells you little or nothing about it, for the comparison and the naming is based, not on past experience, but on memory.
  15. Memory never captures the essence, the present intensity, the concrete reality of an experience.
  16. Sorrow can only be compared with the memory of joy, which is not at all the same thing as joy itself.
  17. Had we never known joy, it would be impossible to identify sorrow as sorrow.
  18. To understand joy or fear, you must be wholly and undividedly aware of it.
  19. To understand that there is no security is far more than to agree with the theory that all things change, more even than to observe the transitoriness of life.
  20. The capacity of the brain to foresee the future has much to do with the fear of death.
  21. Human desire tends to be insatiable. We are so anxious for pleasure that we can never get enough of it.
  22. We have been taught to neglect, despise, and violate our bodies, and to put all faith in our brains.
  23. To be passing is to live; to remain and continue is to die.
  24. We fall in love with people and possessions only to be tortured by anxiety for them.
  25. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.
  26. The present cannot be lived happily unless the past has been “cleared up” and the future is bright with promise.
  27. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?
  28. Human beings appear to be happy just so long as they have a future to which they can look forward—whether it be a “good time” tomorrow or an everlasting life beyond the grave.
  29. Tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.”

After reading this I realized Alan Watts saying all things what I have read in J Krishnamurti.

Notes from reading: On Love and Loneliness by J Krishnamurti

Continuing with my quest of reading more on J Krishnamurti  I picked up On Love and Loneliness.  It is his series of discourse recorded as a book.

These are some of my kindle notes:

  1. Love comes into being when the mind is naturally quiet, not made quiet, when it sees the false as false and the true as true.
  2. This process of usage, thinking, imagining, holding, enclosing, rejecting, is all smoke, and when the smoke is not, the flame of love is.
  3. Sensation is a process of thought, which is not love. When the mind is dominant and the thought process is important, there is no love.
  4. Sex is sensation which is created, pictured by the mind, and then the mind acts or does not act.
  5. Love that uses, exploits, and then feels sorry cannot be love, because love is not a thing of the mind.
  6. The very thought of getting away from loneliness is in itself a form of inward insufficiency.
  7. Love is not pleasure. Love is not the pursuit or the avoidance of fear. Love is not attachment. Love has no suffering.
  8. as long as a human mind is hurt and therefore insensitive, it will never know what beauty is —in the things man has made, in the line of a building, and in the mountain, in the beautiful tree.
  9. A gesture, a word, a look, is enough to hurt.
  10. Wisdom comes in the understanding of suffering and all the implications of suffering, not only the personal, but also the human suffering that man has created.
  11. ONE OF THE causes of suffering is attachment. In attachment there is fear, jealousy, anxiety, suffering.
  12. Psychologically, suffering comes through attachment—to an idea, to ideals, to opinions, to beliefs, to persons, to concepts.
  13. The world is the mirror in which you are looking that shows the operations of your own mind.
  14. Another cause of suffering is a great sense of loss, loss of prestige, loss of power, loss of so many things, and the loss of somebody whom you think you love—and there is death, the ultimate suffering.
  15. One of the major reasons for suffering is the sense of isolation, the feeling of total loneliness.
  16. To end sorrow completely is a most difficult thing to do, for sorrow is always with us in one form or another.
  17. Sorrow ends only when we face the fact of sorrow, when we understand and go beyond both the cause and the effect.
  18. Love has now almost become synonymous with sex & its expression & all that is involved in it—self-forgetfulness and so on.
  19. when the intense pleasure is sustained by thought, then there is the counteraction which is aggression, reprisal, anger, hate, born out of the feeling of not getting that pleasure which you are after, and therefore fear, which is again fairly obvious if you observe it.
  20. Love comes only when the mind is very quiet, disinterested, not self-centred.
  21. Where there is dependence, there is fear, and where there is fear, there is authority, there is no love.
  22. Self-expression and self-fulfilment is a form of pleasure; and when that pleasure is thwarted, blocked, there is fear, and out of that fear there is aggression.
  23. Most people are afraid to stand alone; they are afraid to think things out for themselves, afraid to feel deeply, to explore and discover the whole meaning of life.
  24. When there is love, there is beauty. Love and compassion with their intelligence is the endless truth.
  25. Compassion means passion for all. Compassion cannot exist, nor love, if you belong to any sect, any group, or to any organized religion.
  26. Without love, life is like a shallow pool.
  27. When there is the ending of suffering there is passion. And with the ending of suffering there is love.
  28. Anger is not different from me; I am anger. I am greed. I am frightened. I am all that. But thought says, ‘I must control, I must escape from fear’, so thought then creates the observer as different from the observed, and in that state there is conflict.
  29. The idea is not love. The idea, the word is not love. But only when you have seen the whole movement of desire, attachment, pleasure, then out of that depth of perception comes this strange flower with its extraordinary perfume.
  30. A person who is trying to eat money is always hungry.

Random Thoughts: What are we living for?

I am still reading J Krishnamurti discourse/book on Love and Loneliness. I will be posting notes soon, while reading though this book I had this question, “What are we living for?”

I sent a questionnaire to over 100 friends anonymously only 50 responded.  I have added graphs & code for same below.

Participant percentage.
Purpose for Living.     

Group A = [18 – 22 yr]
Group B = [23 – 25 yr]
Group C = [26 – 30 yr]
Group D = [30 – 35 yr]

I have no opinion on the participants with the response.

Code for these graphs with data and iPython Notebook can be found on:

On managing your team

Running a startup is not an easy job. You have to keep everyone happy from customer to team member. While some people fail at it others excel in building a successful company.

I recently read Inspired by Marty Cagan  and PPP was the take away for me from it.

If you will hire right set of people, it will result in building great culture which over all benefit the organization.  But as a Founder you need to constantly ask:

  1. Are you honest with your team?
  2. Are you giving them enough remuneration?
  3.  Are they equally excited with the vision?

If answer is yes, you are well on a successful path.

A lot many companies failed to attract right kind of talent and ended up shutting shop.  We humans crave for love and respect, nobody likes constant supervision or micro-management.  Define a simple process, be honest and let everyone in the team follow it. Keep in mind the empathy part, you as a founders are working with the team not sheep herding.

Last part comes Product, you as a founder needs to ask some tough questions.

  1. Are you solving a problem?
  2. If it was pitched to you, would you have bought it?
  3. Ease of using.
  4. Are you creating a new habit?

If you have answers for these, you are good to go.

Business advice from Ashish [my friend]

I studied my 11-12th with Ashish & have known him for over decade. We grew up together, he got married and blessed with two kids and running a successful business in Delhi. I am  here in Bangalore, trying to figure out what is next.

Wire 2017-06-23 at 21.58.31

Last week I was in Delhi all for him, because we wanted to revisit our memory of  our past solo trips.  We ended up visiting, trip to Binsar in Uttrakhand. It was tiring but fun filled 10+ hour ride from Delhi included lots of food and fun filled conversation.

Wire 2017-06-23 at 17.39.57

Ashish is born and bought up in business family so he knows art of selling. We spoke in lengths on various topics starting from when will i get married to how he started and doing in his business.

In one of the evening while we were chatting in our hotel room, he gave me  some great advice. I had my notebook next to me & so I made note of same.



I have added those here in much clearer form :

  1. Always keep selling.
  2. Sell cheap
  3. keep burn low
  4. try solving problem
  5. keep friction = 0, (users to product usage ability)
  6. give something which is dead simple to use and they don’t have to think.
  7. always look for being profitable
  8. spend money wisely
  9. price of product should be thought through well
  10. test product with close set of friends and iterate over it again and again. Once feedback loop is complete start selling.
  11. sell the basic version for cheap, start charging for advance features.
  12. customer is your cash cow, your  god so treat him with love/respect.
  13. Trust is very important, gaining it takes ages and breaking it takes few seconds. So ensure you work honestly and never loose trust.
  14. Money is money whether its coming from dad or a bank. Invest it wisely and treat it with care.

Bonus, tips while traveling for leisure on vacation.

  1. Always care about food, good food should get priority.
  2. Try finding great hotel, spend more. When you are out from your house ensure you get better level or equal comfort while being at home.

Ashish runs a hardware[home fitting & accessories] shop in Pahar Ganj, New Delhi.  If you happen to be around his shop, feel free to meet/talk to him.


Notes from reading: Inspired, How To Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan


After quitting Minio I have been spending my free time in reading & consuming lots of coffee. This book was recommended to me by Anurag Ramdasan  as I am still in process of figuring out what is next. This book is strongly recommended for product managers or folks building customer products. Do follow Marty Cagan’s official website for more of his wisdom.

These are some of my notes clipped via my Kindle :

  1. It doesn’t matter how good your engineering team is if they are not given something worthwhile to build.
  2. Do not build a product or waste your time on it if users, customers don’t need it.
  3. The job of the product manager is to discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible.
  4. Engineering is important and difficult, but user experience design is even more important, and usually more difficult.
  5. Everything starts with the people, but the process is what enables these people to consistently produce inspiring and successful products.
  6. New ideas can come from anywhere—company executives, discussions with customers, usability testing, your own product team, your sales or marketing staff, industry analysts, to name a few. But then someone needs to take a hard look at the idea and decide if it is something worth pursuing.
  7. Behind every great product you will find an individual who is responsible for the definition of that product.
  8. The root cause of wasted releases can most often be traced to poor definition of the role of the product manager in a company, and inadequate training of the people chosen for this role.
  9. The product manager has two key responsibilities: assessing product opportunities, and defining the product to be built.
  10. A good product requires a good user experience. And a good user experience requires the close collaboration of product management and user experience design.
  11. If you can’t manage to get the time to focus on those tasks which are truly important to your product, your product will fail.
  12. The product organization includes the design team, because the interaction between product management and user experience design absolutely needs to be as close as possible.
  13. Designers are most valuable very early in the process, when the product manager is working to understand the target market and come up with a solution.
  14. What problem a product is intended to solve should be the focus not the feature list and capabilities.
  15. Not every opportunity needs to be a billion-dollar market.
  16. Improving the product’s usability can significantly reduce the need for customer service staff.
  17. Software projects can be thought of as having two distinct stages: figuring out what to build (build the right product), and building it (building the product right). The first stage is dominated by product discovery, and the second stage is all about execution.
  18. If you’re more naturally the project manager type who loves getting things out the door, then you’ll need to work on your strategic thinking and discovery skills—remembering that what matters most is creating a product that your customers love.
  19. You need to identify your market and validate the opportunity with your customers.
  20. A good set of principles serves as the basis or foundation for inspiring product features.
  21. Everyone feels strongly about the product since—at some level—we all realize that companies need money to survive, money comes from customers, and customers come for the products.
  22. Constructive debate and argument is an essential ingredient to coming up with a great product.
  23. As product manager you can make a very significant impact on this process—minimizing churn and maximizing creativity and quality.
  24. Every member of the team should be able to see the goals and objectives you are using, their priority, and how you assess each option.
  25. You should be arguing about what’s most important to your target user: ease of use, speed, functionality, cost, security, privacy—this is the right argument.
  26. If you work at a company where you’re told you can’t talk to your users, my advice is to first try hard to change this policy. If that doesn’t work, dust off your resume and find a place where you can practice your craft and have a shot at creating successful products.
  27. Winning products come from the deep understanding of the user’s needs combined with an equally deep understanding of what’s just now possible.
  28. It is an extremely common mistake for a product to try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one.
  29. Testing your ideas with real users is probably the single most important activity in your job as product manager.
  30. One of the easiest ways I know of to innovate is to just watch (and listen) as actual users attempt to use your current product or a competitor’s product. Watch a few of these sessions and you’ll start to see patterns of frustration and expectation.
  31. Almost every consumer company out there today gives lip service to the user experience, but Apple means it. Usability, interaction design, visual design, industrial design, are all front and center in the company’s priorities—and it shows.

[BONUS] :A useful opportunity assessment for product managers.

  1. Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition)
  2. For whom do we solve that problem? (target market)
  3. How big is the opportunity? (market size)
  4. How will we measure success? (metrics/revenue strategy)
  5. What alternatives are out there now? (competitive landscape)
  6. Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator)
  7. Why now? (market window)
  8. How will we get this product to market? (go-to-market strategy)
  9. What factors are critical to success? (solution requirements)
  10. Given the above, what’s the recommendation? (go or no-go)