The Process of CarpeDiem

carpe_diem

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants

– Isaac Newton

I wanted to share the process behind Carpe Diem.

First I present you with the sources of my Curation. A ready to use excel sheet of the below can be downloaded from here. I think this data alone would compensate for your endurance of last forty-eight weeks

Technology, Product, Investors,Markets
Source Comments
http://avc.com/ Fred Wilson’s is a top investor. Daily doses of insights on investing, technology and products.
https://www.cbinsights.com/ Anand Sanwal’s fabulous stuff on Technology, Markets and Investment. If you want to know everything that is happening around technology and investing around the globe, this one news letter is sufficient
http://www.diamandis.com/blog/topic/abundance-insider Peter Diamandis excellent blog on exponential technologies. He is the author of Bold and has an excellent course around exponential entrepreneurship. It is called the A360 abundance insider. If you can afford it you should take it.
https://steveblank.com/ An excellent blog on Lean Product Development
https://algorithmia.com/ An excellent news letter for keeping yourself updated in the areas of Machine Learning, AI and Deep Learning. Visit the site and subscribe yourself to the Emergent AI news letter
https://blog.ycombinator.com/the-macro/ A must subscribe news letter for the startups from the most successful accelerator program in the world
http://1m1m.sramanamitra.com/ A no nonsense stuff about launching and growing a startup. The premium program is worth every penny. Freshdesk, now freshworks is an alumni of this program
https://www.thoughtworks.com/radar A must read quarterly for anyone remotely associated with software and product development
https://www.technologyreview.com/insider/ If you can afford it, one of the best magazines about the intersection of technology and life
Philosophy, General Life
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ Amazing daily nudgets from Seth Godin. Very different and very refreshing
https://unmistakablecreative.com/ Srini Rao’s weekly dose of insights delivered in a very compelling manner. His podcasts are also brilliant.
http://tim.blog/ Tim ferriss’s decoding the human limits of performance and other things. This blog motivated me to read about stoicism in a more formal way
jamesclear.com Well researched articles on a variety of subjects but mostly focused on achieving individual excellence from James Clear
http://www.jamesaltucher.com/ Very authentic writing style and he also has a paid subscription for insights from books that he reads. Does an excellent job curating the insights from those books
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/ Eric Barker’s Science based insights about human behavior and performance. He has recently published a book “Barking up the wrong tree” summarizing his insights from his blog and I find it to be an interesting book
http://markmanson.net/ Despite the generous use of four letter words, found his blog and writing to be very incisive
https://www.brainpickings.org/ This blog is an excellent example of how curation should be done. Extremely inspiring, thought provoking and motivating
https://medium.com/@jasonfried Founder of Basecamp and author or Re-work, writes unconventionally about building and scaling organizations
https://hbr.org/ Manages a certain degree of standard and quality and has some occasional articles that are brilliant
Sites Curated from Feedly App. The app can be downloaded from app store or play store. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devhd.feedly&hl=en
https://www.entrepreneur.com/ Magazines for entrepreneurs. Generally features motivating stuff
https://venturebeat.com/ Industry pulse on new technology areas and investments
http://boingboing.net/ A very different site about multi-cultural articles
https://www.fastcompany.com/ The founder describes it as a magazine where HBR meets oprah winfrey. One of the most impressive magazines that I continue to read
https://www.theatlantic.com/world/ World news in general
http://www.economist.com/ World news in general
https://www.wired.com/ A good site for happenings in the connected world
http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ A good site for teaching aide
https://www.ted.com/ Needs no introduction
https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/ A very different take on many things
https://medium.com/ A 5$ per month subscription gives you access to the best of the writers around the world. Mostly well written stuff
PODCASTS. Download the podcast app of your choice and search the following channels  Pocketcast is one of the app . The link for android is as given below
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.shiftyjelly.pocketcasts&hl=en
Unmistakable Creative Candid and Insightful conversations with a variety of people
The Minimalists A podcast focused on why less is more. Very insightful
a16z podcast Podcast on latest in technology from Andersson Horowittz and team
The REBOOT PODCAST A podcast that focuses on Radical Self-Inquiry
The PITCH A podcast from Gimlet media about pitching to investors
The James Altucher Show Authentic conversations with a varied set of personalities
Increasing Abundance and Exponential technologies A podcast about exponential technologies
The Tim Ferriss Show In-depth conversations with people who have made lasting impact

I save all good articles obtained in the week to pocket and read later. I schedule my reading hours mostly on a Sunday evening. Typically 2 to 3 hours in a week go to reading articles saved in Pocket. Pocket is one of those extremely useful tools, and I have been using it for years now. Grammarly is another tool that I use to fix my issues with the English Language. I am not out of the woods yet, but this tool helps me to fix obvious mistakes faster.

I sit on a Wednesday night or a Thursday night around 3 – 4 hours to write two original articles. This is the toughest portion of the newsletter. I have written 96 articles over the last 48 weeks, and I find it excruciating to get some original thought on paper.

If I am not traveling during the weekend, I schedule the newsletter on a Friday evening or a Saturday Morning to avoid last minute rushes.  The Curation from other sources and assembling the newsletter takes about 90 minutes. I use goodbits as my newsletter provided. I pay them around 25 USD per month. They have good features like pulling the articles automatically from my Word press blogs and pocket repository.

On an average, it is around 6 hours of work per week to generate what I have been generating. After coding, this is one activity I get into the flow mode. For these 3 – 4 hours I am oblivious to what is happening around me.

You would argue my process is neither inspiring or intuitive, but I was never known for those skills.

My process is more mundane, but the only silver lining is I that can switch to the flow state at will for few hours in a week.

I hope this gives you enough ammunition to start a self-discovery process and bring out something that is probably kept inside you.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

 

 

Who Am I? Zunder Lekshmanan

who_am_I

A preamble.  I was asked to write an essay on the above topic for entry into this program. What do you think would have been the result? Following is the essay.

That is a trick question.

The great Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi patented this question and planted this seed in many, and I am no exception.

I do not know about others, but I have been on a witch hunt to figure that out, and I think I am destined to undergo the ludic loop of ‘Punarapi Jananam, Punarapi Maranam’ (cycle of death and birth) prescribed by Adi Sankara in his Bhaja Govindam.

But did not someone says it’s the journey that matters, not the destination?

One day I shall find out the person who said that and shall counter them with ‘How do you manage to stay clear of your monthly EMI’s’?

But why I am assuming the question as a trick question.

Any normal person would give an introduction to themselves and my introductory conversation with a stranger  would be as follows

Stranger: What is your name?

Me: Zunder

Stranger: Is it Sunder?

Me: No, it’s Zunder with a Z.

Stranger: Is it Numerology?

Me: No, my Dad kept it that way, and from where we come, we did not question Dad’s.

After that, an eerie silence follows.

My Dad also spells his name with an ‘E, ‘ and I always have to defend – “No, there are not two spelling errors.” It is intended that way.

Over the years, I have realized that I am that kind of person who anyone will have trouble talking to after a ‘Hello,’ and I have made peace with that.

My Dad also told me the reasons about both names being that way, and it had something to do with Sanskrit.

Frankly speaking, I did not give a damn. Dad knew better.

But I am always grateful to him for keeping the spelling that way.

I manage to ace all my Viva Voce’s of all my graduation and post graduation exams without understanding an iota of the subject under consideration. By the time, the external examiner got to my name; they would be tired and just give me something average. I have had no complaints with that because I am someone who believed I cleared my exams owing to my prior quid pro quo with temples in my locality.

The quid pro quo continues till date, and I have had no complaints.

For someone who could not reconcile how the top view of the cone is a circle, to get to building products that are being used by billions of people, I would have to say GOD has been merciful.

However, there comes the point in everyone’s life, where you fall victim to the question of ‘What is the point’ and I am no exception.

I quit my cushy corporate job after two decades of relentless fun, to chase my dreams. Even in my corporate job, I stayed away from the pack and stuck around because of the people around me. I stayed a one company man and survived five management changes!. In IT, that was unheard of, and I belong to the minority.

If one would label me as a fool by design, I could not agree more, but my defense has been ‘I lived MY life, ‘ and that is my big hidden ego showing up shamelessly.

So if someone asks the other nightmarish question of ‘What you do now,’ I smilingly say I run my start-up, which I believe is an effective euphemism for being fiscally unproductive.

Ideally, I would like to answer, I do ‘Nothing, ‘ and that is an answer which I realize is not acceptable to many including my family who otherwise have patiently endured my increasing eccentricities. Sometimes I feel, if they had a choice, they would have shown the door to me.

When I quit, I had a three-year contract with my family on they would not question me on anything and they have stuck to their bargain.  They will just at the end of every month say ‘X months’ over.

I have fourteen more months more to figure out where my next two decades of rat race would be?

Interestingly, last twenty two months, I have walked more than I have walked all my life, spent time with my two kids, more than I ever did in the first ten years of their life, happily consumed out of my wife’s earnings, and helping my mother with all the errands she needs to run the day to day affairs of the house.

The only thing I miss is the SMS that comes at the end of the month saying ‘Your Salary has been deposited,’ but even without that, I seem to be happier than ever before.

Is this happiness sustainable?

A question easier than who am I? But nevertheless have fourteen more months to figure out, and it seems to me like a tussle between the head and the heart.

Head says “Enough of your complacency. Get back and do what you should be doing”.

Heart says “Relax. Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)”.

Why is that I am inclined towards ‘The Heart’? And everyone except me, want me to follow what my Head! Says.

It seems to be more questions than answers.

Coming back, If I have to answer the trick question of

Who Am I?

I would say or rather like to say

An Obedient Son, A committed worker, A bearable husband, father, brother, and A loyal friend. However, all that is coming from me. But again did someone says life is lived well if we do not care about other’s opinion. I am searching for that person as well!

An answer closer to truth would be

“No results found.”

and if I can add it would be

‘Still Searching.’

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

PS: The result I got from the panel that evaluates submission is ‘Witty – Self Aware – Can Improve his language.”

The Path of Least Resistance

path_of_least_resistance

Why did I pick this book?

One of my biases. I like the title. Generally, I operate my life through this path. Well, that has got nothing to what the book has to offer !!

What do I like about the book?

A simple, neat and structure approach to getting creative in life.

What is one interesting idea that I learned?

Structural Tension – The discrepancy between what you want and what you currently have forms the most important structure in the creative process. Highly creative people can live with a higher degree of structural tension.

How long would it take?

2 – 3 hours

Paras or Quotes that I liked

Those who learn to know reality, without holding on to the past, are in best position to truly live with their lives. This is anything but amnesia. This is not forgetting the past, but remembering that the past is over. The past is not the present. Whether the past has been filled with loss or failure or filled with success and victory, the past is not the present. And the present is not the past.

A thousand people could praise a result you had created, but if the result did not satisfy your vision, you would not be ready to acknowledge it as complete. On the other hand, a thousand people might condemn a result you had created, yet if you saw that it satisfied your vision, you would be fully ready to say, “It is done and complete”

Only you have the authority to recognize and confirm that a creation of yours is complete

When you consider your own life, do you hope for the key to instant salvation, either through riches, fame, retirement, or death, or do you see the time you have available as a resource for what your bring into being?

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

 

A Mouse Hunt and an Impeccable Insight

mouse_hunt

If you open the newspaper, they are filled with some killings from all over the world.

I have wondered how a beautiful place like Kashmir can be eternally peaceful?

I have wondered is there an easy way for the perpetual Israel – Palestine conflict?

Why does Maoism or Naxalism persist?

All of the spiritual leaders advocate Compassion, and I see Compassion as a good formula for resolving conflicts of any kind.

However, the devilish voice inside me tells me

“What is going inside you is all idle talk. You claim to be compassionate, but when it comes to you, will you be compassionate?”

When a dog chases me during my morning walk, I just get the feeling that I should turn around and kill it, but my better sense prevails. I go for the fight or flight approach and somehow after the moment passes I wonder ‘How can I  get the thought of harming another living being,’ and I credit myself of having survived without getting harmed or harming the dog.

I answer the devil – “You are wrong.”

I have cheered myself when I have overcome a potentially explosive situation with compassion mostly with members of family and people outside. The gargantuan ego of mine swells with pride realizing my compassionate nature!

However,  this week I got a rude shock, and I was humbled more than ever.

It was, as usual, a busy morning with my wife getting the kids ready for the school and me as an involved parent, attempting to escape for my morning walk, noticed a mouse and unfortunately mentioned to my wife there is a mouse near the TV.

All hell broke loose, and I was handed the charge of the getting the mouse out of my house.

The mouse was too agile for my skills.

My wife, sensing my lethargy called my son and the security guard for reinforcements.

Three of us were in the mouse hunt now, and still, the mouse was getting the better of us.

We took a deep breath, evolved a strategy, blocked all the exit points except one and cornered the mouse. The one exit was to provide a smooth exit to the mouse out of the house.

The mouse finally gave up and was nearing the exit point. However, for some reason, it wanted to return to the house and turned its back.

I lost my patience and in one light swift blow to its neck, ended its life.

The security guard took the lifeless mouse and went away.

My son credited me with “Super Blow, Appa” and shouted, “Amma – Appa killed the mouse.”

My wife came out screaming and did not stop shouting at me. ‘Why did you kill the mouse. Your dad and my dad have never done that in the past in similar circumstances. Who asked you to kill it.’

My daughter came out and told “Appa – you could have let it go.”

My mother said, “It is ok.”

In a few minutes, I have turned from a compassionate individual to a ruthless murderer.

I have stopped defending any of my actions, but on reflection, this incident revealed a great insight about me.

As the devil inside me suspected, I am a hypocrite.

All the talk of compassion is for others.

If anything as harmless as a mouse threatens my space, I shall do anything to protect my space.

At night, at the dinner table, when the conversation returned to my surgical strike of the mouse, I was pronounced guilty 3-1, and the only word of solace came from my son. He told

“Forget it Appa, what you did falls under the category of Desperate Measures.

What do you think?

Does this make me a hypocrite?

In the end, aren’t we overly protective and possessive about our spaces?

Do we have the will for compassion, when it matters?

At least, for me, the answers to the above questions are a Yes, Yes, No

What would be your answers?

Or rather

What would you have done to the mouse?

Remember, despite being a real incident, the mouse is just symbolic. It could be anything that threatens your space!

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

Chronos and Kairos

kairos-vs-chronos

Do you manage your time?

How does your daily calendar look?

Some time back I had shared an article on why I was not as hard working as I thought to be

and my time log taken over a period of month looked something like the below

average_hours

Of the above, what is Chronos time and what is Kairos time?

According to this link, Chronos and Kairos can be defined as

“The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was Chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, Chronos was more linear and quantitative, and Kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative.”

In my interpretation, Chronos time refers to stuff that you got to do, but you may not enjoy doing. A typical example could be the endless meetings. Kairos time refers that you want to do and enjoy doing, an example could be playing with your children, taking your daily walk, or any other activity where you lose your sense of time.

It is also my hypothesis, while you may be measuring Chronos time, you may forget to measure your Kairos time. You could argue that Kairos time cannot be and should not be measured. But my argument is slightly different. If Kairos time helps you to enjoy what you do, should you not be doing more of that and unless you start measuring that, how will you do more of that?

I also agree that for each of us, Chronos and Kairos would be different, but I am willing to take a bet that we all are doing less of Kairos and more of Chronos.

Someone asked me to do you measure clock time or compass time?

An honest answer is that I have measured only clock time. I hope this classification of Chronos and Kairos will help me measure compass time as well!

Well, what are your answers?

Do you agree that you are heavily biased towards clock time?

Why don’t you do this measurement of time, classify it as Chronos and Kairos for a month and see?

Now, let me get to my afternoon power nap!

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

The Stranger in the Woods: The extraordinary story of the last true hermit

stranger_in_the_woods

Why did I pick this book?

Yet again a case of confirmation bias. Any books that has solitude, nature, hermit, monk, saint, philosophy and equivalent gets added to my reading queue !!

What do I like about the book?

I think the author does a fabulous job of Chronicling the life of a person who just vanished for twenty five years . Imagine getting something meaningful out of a person who has lived out of contact with society for twenty five years and yet the book comes as an extremely engrossing read. (Remember, I do have my biases for people who enjoy their own company!)

What is one interesting idea that I learned?

You can be away for twenty five years and still maintain absolute clarity!!

How long would it take?

4 – 5 hours

Paras or Quotes that I liked

The Tao Te Ching says that it is only through retreat rather than pursuit, through inaction rather than action, that we acquire wisdom. “Those with less become content,” says the Tao, “those with more become confused.”

“The more you realize, the more you realize there is nothing to realize,” she said. “The idea that there’s somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion.”

Silence, it appears, is not the opposite of sound. It is another world altogether, literally offering a deeper level of thought, a journey to the bedrock of the self.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “He that thinks most, will say least.” The Tao Te Ching says, “Those who know do not tell; those who tell do not know.

“Ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone,”

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

My Bucket List

bucket_list

You may wonder what my bucket list is doing here. I think a bucket list serves two purposes. It gives you a perspective of what you enjoy if you had the option of breaking away from your karmic cycle. It also gives an insight into who you are. If not anything, making it is some fun, and I hope you find some time to make it.  You will get to some obvious and not so obvious findings of yourselves.

Marathon

I intend to complete half marathon in two hours twenty minutes by this year and a full marathon within four hours by the end of next year. This is my battle with obesity, and so far obesity is having the last laugh. I am clear on this. It’s either deploy or die for this item on the list. I am not going to let the monster called obesity get better of me. Before you get me wrong, let me tell you this. The fight is not to get rid of my obesity, but I want to establish that I can be obese and still achieve these milestones!

Kanyakumari to Kashmir by Road, but an additional twist has come.

I almost did this, except that it was from Bangalore to Leh by road. Now, the unfortunate thing meeting any item on the bucket list is you do not want to stop with it. The buddies I went with to Leh are urging me to plan a drive to Singapore. They know I am a better strategist (read as armchair philsopher), and they are tireless executioners.  However, I am extremely reluctant to start this strategic planning, as all of the five who went on the road trip to Leh including me are currently enjoying our hibernation and we do not have a clue on how to raise the money for the trip. We want to complete this by 2020. I will assign a probability of 0.6 for this happening as I enjoy those long drives where you essentially live out of the vehicle in which you travel.

Be a self-sustaining entrepreneur

I started with the intention of starting an organization that can deliver lasting value in its chosen areas. I realized in the last twenty-two months that is tougher than I expected and with a statement as vague as ‘Deliver lasting value in chosen areas,’ it is even more difficult. I have not given up on myself yet, but the probability of this happening is in the range of 0.2 to 0.3

Contribute towards breaking some element of digital divide

I have been a shameless consumer and beneficiary of technological advances. It has been a persistently dormant thought in my mind, the need to give back something. I have not firmed up anything in my mind yet, but I wish to put technology to some meaningful use especially in primary and higher education. Once I firm up the idea, I think the probability of this happening is 0.8.

Complete Chadar Trek

I think this is going to be the test of ultimate endurance for me. Carrying my weight, carrying a rucksack of twenty-five kilograms, with temperatures reaching in the order of minus twenty degree Celsius and walking on ice for 70 KMS over seven days is not going to be easy for me. Especially for a heavyweight like me who demands more oxygen from the environment. However, I need to get this fear out of my mind. My likely target dates for this is either January 2018 and January 2019.  I would assign a probability of 0.8 for this. I have to get this done this by 2019 as most of the ice is going away owing to general climatic changes.

Have an article featured in ‘The Hindu’ Sunday Magazine

I have been a regular reader of Hindu Sunday Edition from my post graduation days. Some six of us used to take turns in reading The Hindu, and we would have a debate on the articles featured in the Sunday Edition. Except for the debate, reading The Hindu on a Sunday continues, and with the improved version, it takes almost 25% of my waking time on a Sunday. I have always liked the depth of research and the choice of words. However, I do realize this is going to be a herculean task for my superfluous language skills, and I will give this a probability of 0.1.

Have a book published by traditional publishing houses

As you are aware, I have self-published two books, and I have three more in the pipeline. Once in three months, Amazon credits my account with twelve rupees. That means someone bought my book. But I want to get one of the traditional publishing houses to publish my book.

The title I have in mind is ‘ Why Ordinary is Great.’

I have a fair idea of how the publishing industry works and yet again given my lack of originality; I shall assign this a probability of 0.3.

Practice a life of poverty for Seven Weeks

I borrowed this item from the stoic philosophers. I want to leave home without anything in my pocket and get back to home after seven weeks without anything. Call it a zero sum game if you have to, but I think this will help me realize what matters in life. I have done enough background work and mental preparation for this. However, a signoff from the folks at home is pending. I think that is not going to happen for next six years. I shall assign a probability of 0.7 to 0.8 for this.

Coup De Grace in Madikeri

I have seen and felt the rains in most parts of India, but somehow I find the rains at Madikeri, combined with the lush greenery and clouds touching that greenery, extremely inspiring.  I have been asking my friends on how to own a hut in Madikeri, and they always talk about in the scale of acres. Well, I do not need an acre, I just need enough space to feel the rain and wake up watching the clouds touching the greenery. I would love to convince my tribe to move there and spend time in those harmless debates, but I am not a good salesman. In my view, the probability of this happening is around 0.5.

To Summarize,

Item Perceived Probability
Marathon 1
Drive to Singapore 0.6
Entrepreneur 0.2 – 0.3
Contribution towards breaking digital divide 0.8
Chadar Trek 0.8
Hindu Article 0.1
Traditional Book Publishing 0.3
Practice a Life of Poverty for Seven weeks 0.7 – 0.8
Coup De Grace in Madikeri 0.5

 

That is all folks. It did not amount to ten, but if I can do five out of the nine, I would consider myself done!

You would have noticed the obvious in these, but the not so obvious hard fact is that I simply do want to make that dent in the universe! And do not want to equip myself doing that.

I have made peace with ‘The average Joe’ inside of me.

I hope you get to do this fun exercise and if you do, please do feel free to share with me.

My daughter asked me yesterday at the dinner table, “Appa, what you want to be when you grow up?” (I am not sure what that meant!). In other words, she was asking me what I would do after ten years.

I could not answer her, but a ludic loop of walking amidst nature, reading, writing, giving my time and skills without expecting anything in return, is something that I would like her to see me living.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder