Fun as a way of doing Business, and why the “Cricky says Thanks” Campaign?

As I (CricketRadius) launch the Cricky says Thanks to Dravid and Ganguly campaign on twitter today, I want to take you into a brief journey of how I came up with the idea and how I see fun as an integral part of life, whether it is doing business or watching a game of cricket, or anything else for that matter.

If you Obey all the Rules, You miss all the Fun
If there is one mantra I live my life by, it would be this. The focus is not on breaking rules, but on having fun. We learn by doing, and by failing we learn how not to fail the next time. But that failing had all the fun. Remember the childhood days when you fell off the bicycle, or while playing football, and how much fun it was. And with every fall, we became better at not falling. For me, doing something the way I want do it is the greatest thrill in the world.

Cricky The Fan

Cricky The Fan

Work = Fun = Play = Business
I have always been in the business of cricket. Irrespective of where I have worked, I have always followed every single cricket match played by India in the last 20 years. I have devoted hours every day reading articles, watching videos and discussing about cricket with my friends and colleagues. The point I am making is what you ‘care‘ about is your business anyway, in whichever form it is. And throwing yourself into a job you love and enjoy is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I am my own Customer
The one thing that wakes me up in the morning these days is the idea of giving a great experience to my customer. I have myself followed cricket by way of keeping a track of records in notebooks and cutting pictures from newspapers to form huge albums of collages. Later on I have maintained excel sheets containing all kinds of cricket related data and kept them updated regularly. What I am trying to do with CricketRadius is to deliver a product for myself and people like me. I have still not figured out what the end product would be, but I am sure I know it somewhere deep inside and just have to bring it out in the right form.

Get Started. Make Impact. Small is not Bad
If I have an idea that can save the planet, I will act on it. But if I have a small idea which will just make watching cricket more fun, I will work on that too. For me, the real joy is of ‘creating‘ something new, not in how big or ย small, and the journey in itself rather than the destination. So the point is – Just make a difference where you can. Some solutions can be scaled up, some can’t, but I like to realize that after taking action, rather than in classrooms and meetings.

Relive 5 historic matches of Ganguly and Dravid on Twitter from 23-27 May

Relive 5 historic matches of Ganguly and Dravid on Twitter from 23-27 May

How the campaign came about?
It is not a co-incidence that the campaign is about expressing gratitude to Dravid and Ganguly for their contribution to Indian Cricket. I have spent my childhood watching their entire careers and I believe these two players have had the biggest impact on Indian Cricket in the last 20 years, along with Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. And in todays inter-connected world, the question I am asking with this campaign is – “What if twitter had been there on these 5 historic matches which I am re-creating and reliving?” Every fan has the option to relive those moments of pure joy by following the commentary, reading articles and watching videos about the same online for 5 days starting today.

And what better way to show that we acknowledge Dravid’s and Ganguly’s contribution to Indian Cricket than getting all fans together in the form of a huge collage made out of our Twitter profile pictures – The Twit-Bat. So follow the matches live on our twitter account, and invite other fans to take part in the campaign all details of which can be found here.

How can we break the safety wall?

Some seven months back I wrote an article about why we should break the safety walls around us to be happy. After the wonderful response I got from that article, I have taken some steps like quitting my job and starting up on my own again. Lately I felt that I was again getting caught in a comfort zone which was stopping me from playing a big game. And that’s what led me to reading that article again today, and I decided to follow it up with this article giving my views on – How to break the safety walls?

Start Small
If you want to do something in an area, the best way is to just start it in whatever little way you can. Do anything in that direction, and then continue doing it, step by step. Soon, you will see that all the resistance will give way as you get into a habit. Once that happens, take another small step forward and let that become comfortable over a period of time. This is beautifully summed up by this quote by Martin Luther King Jrโ€œIf you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.โ€

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. - Randy Pausch

The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. - Randy Pausch

Be Who You Are
Each one of us have something unique – it could be a talent, skill, way of being or something else. Never loose that. Do what you like to do. Say what you want to say. Be authentic. Smile when you are happy. Cry when you are sad. Don’t wear a mask. Be authentic.

Let Go of the Dark Glasses
We all have our filters through which we see the world. Whenever we start something new and look beyond our safety walls, these filters act as dark glasses and cloud our view of the future. Thoughts like ‘not possible’, ‘very difficult’, ‘can’t be done’ are all a result of these dark glasses. Be aware of such thoughts whenever they pop up in your head, and let go of them. Recognize them as just your thoughts and not the reality, and you are free of them.

Don’t Pull Yourself Down
When you take a step beyond the comfort zone, the ground is bound to feel a little shaky and the road a little foggy. There are bound to be breakthroughs and breakdowns on the way, but never pull yourself down at the first sight of a breakdown. Don’t get into arguments like – “Am I worth it?”, “Can I do it?” Many times this happens very subconsciously, so be conscious at all times, and catch yourself whenever you start pulling yourself down, and get back up. Clear your mind of the clutter and focus on doing rather than thinking about doing.

Have Fun
Doing something new doesn’t have to be boring or serious. Just continue having fun while you move into the unconquered zone, and never let your artistic spirit die. Listen to music, indulge in some painting or sketching, watch your favorite team play, cook your favourite dish, or travel to that destination you always wanted to. Laugh often, jump and play like a child and always keep a smile on your face.

People are the best investment

Throughout my life, I have seen my parents struggle for money due to some business decisions gone wrong or for health reasons. Due to this, we never had money to spend on anything which was ‘not necessary‘. Most of what my parents earned were spent in our (the two brothers) education and other long term investments, and rarely on movies, entertainment or traveling. Maybe due to this lack of financial resources, all of us made up for that by focussing on little things like spending quality time together, always helping anyone who is in need and getting connected with people on a personal level. I have seen and observed my father chatting and getting along very well with one and all. I very vividly remember my father taking me to his office sometimes and everybody, from the security guard to the peon to the street vendors outside to the receptionist inside, greeting him warmly. It felt like my father was friends with everyone in the building. This article is about people, and how they are the best investment opportunity for us.

Acknowledging and Greeting

Normally, as we go through our life we tend to focus only on what is important and ignore everything else. Think about how many people we passed through today from the time we left our home till we reached office. And to how many of these people did we stopped and said “Good Morning”. It is such a simple thing to do, and a good morning wish leaves both parties smiling, still we ignore it most of the times. Very often we forget that how good it feels when somebody appreciates us and believes in our abilities. So isn’t it natural that we should thrive to do the same to others?

It Always Come Back

We invest our time and money in our jobs, stocks, mutual funds and real estate. We buy cars, phones and other gadgets and take pride in owning them. But I have always believed that the best investment we can make in are people. You might or might not get your returns from the stock market or the real estate market, but investing in people always come back. If somebody needs our time and attention, nothing can be a bigger investment for us to help that person with honesty and compassion. There is no better sight in this world than seeing somebody smile and knowing that we are the reason behind it, that we could be of some help. And even if we talk in terms of returns, investment on people always tend to come back in life, and in proportions we can’t imagine. I am a witness to how many different unknown people have come forward to help my parents in times of need, without even their asking for it.

 

Myself and friends at Noida in 2008

Myself and friends at Noida in 2008

It is a Challenge, but a Very Rewarding One

Now it is easy to say that we must invest in people, but it can get really challenging and daunting in real life. Many times we will come across people who are very easy to ignore, or who trigger our temper and we might want to shout and yell at them. But on the other hand, empowering someone and taking time to listen to them can sometimes surprise even them. Many a time people will realize this and thank you for the extra effort you are putting, and that is always a very rewarding experience.

Have Fun, make Them Laugh

If we try to remember the times when we have been angry, upset, frustrated or just unhappy, we will realize that we have been taking things too seriously. All the life’s so called problems occur mostly when we are lost in a moment and lose the bigger perspective. If we look at things in perspective, an annoying boss in office might not be as important in the picture of your ‘whole life‘ as important as we might have made him/her. So it’s always good to loosen up, and treat people as human beings first, rather than good or bad resources. Have some fun, crack some jokes and laugh. For many, this period of fun might be the best part of their day, and you can be glad you were a part of it.

Be Genuine, Truthful and Trustworthy

All what I have written above is not some trick and people are smart enough to find out whether you genuinely mean your affection or if you are bluffing. So what I am advocating is to really become the person who cares about others, whom others can trust and who doesn’t break promises. It takes effort to ingrain these features in our character, but if we can do that, we will reap the rewards. As I said before, compared to our bank balance, stock portfolio or real estate, if our investment in people start giving results, it can dwarf all other investments we might have.

10 Simple Steps to make writing easier and more effective

My previous article on writing regularly and getting better at it in 10 easy steps has been received very well, and I could not have been more glad. There is no better way to start your day than by waking up to a mail by someone who read my article saying that it has helped him in his writings and he follows my tips (blushing ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Obviously my learnings while writing has not been limited to only ten points. So when I thought of writing a sequel to the above article, it didn’t took me enough time to come up with 10 more points. These are some tips which helps me in writing easily and effectively without much distractions. I am sure it would help you too if you are facing problems on finding ideas or concentrating while writing an article.

1. Disconnect from the internet

Take that network cable out or turn off your wifi before you start writing an article. This way, you can concentrate fully on your writing and not be distracted by new emails, facebook notifications or pings by friends on messengers.

2. If you get stuck, take a break

If you get stuck while writing and could not figure out what to write next, get up from your seat and take a break. A break could be just taking a 10 minute walk outside your office in fresh air or chatting with friends or colleagues over a cup of coffee. While on this break, try not to think about what you were writing and just have some fun. Crack some jokes, spread some gossip, or just spread smiles. This way, when you come back, more often than not, you will find words flowing out naturally. It has worked for me on numerous times, and I have no doubt it will work for you.

3. Write at a time when you are at your best

Everybody has some time of the day when they are at their best. For example, I am at my best in the morning and get my most productive work done before noon. Some people work better at evenings and late nights. To be able to write more effectively, I recommend writing during your most productive time, or in other words, when you are in the mood.

4. Hang around with people related to topics of your writing

I think this is very important. If you are writing about politics, meet people who talk about politics and indulge in a dialogue with them. If you love sports, find a group to talk about sports, or even better, play the sport. If you don’t know people who will talk about your interest, find them. I tend to observe people and then write about human behavior, and for this, I get out on long walks sometimes and just observe people on the roads, in some shops and try to find ideas for my articles.

Have fun, but make your life worthwhile

Have fun, but make your life worthwhile

5. Write multiple articles at the same time

There is no restriction on writing only one article at a time. Instead you can always work on writing two (or more) articles at one time. Write for one article for 15 minutes, and then switch to the another. I think it helps me as I write on one article, the mind still churns out ideas about the second, which I then write down when I switch. It keeps my mind from getting saturated and bored with the pressure of writing on just one idea.

6. Write an outline first

Before starting to writing an article, try to write some bullet points on what you want the article to focus on and how you want to structure your different points in the form of an article. Once you are done with it, you can start expanding each point into one or two paragraphs. For example – Before writing this article, I wrote down the 10 points first and then proceeded to write a paragraph of text for each point.

7. Don’t wait, start before being ready

Don’t wait for a good mood, or the right time to start. Start without waiting to be ready, for when you start writing, you are ready. I have always believed beginning is the most important part of doing any task. Many times we give ourselves excuses like the mood is not right, or ‘I don’t feel like writing today’, or ‘I don’t write well’. Instead, leave all these reasons and start writing. Period.

8. Concentrate and focus in a quiet place

If you are getting distracted by people around you and the noises they make, go sit in a quiet place. It could mean closing the doors of your room for 30 minutes while you write or find some peaceful place in your office. Personally, I sometimes book a conference room in office and go and sit peacefully and write ๐Ÿ™‚ If you are at home, make sure you have your TV and music turned off, unless you like some music playing while you write.

9. Go out and write. In a cafe. Watch people. observe

Contradicting the above point, you might want to go out to a crowded place and write. The aim is to change your regular environment and write in a new place. I sometimes go out to a cafe, sip some cold coffee and eat some cookies while I write. After an hour of two, as I get my task done, I get up and leave. Sometimes just by watching and observing people as they come, chat and leave in a cafe you get many ideas flowing which you can write down.

10. Make it fun

If you take a look at the above points, and even in my previous article, you will find that I tend to make writing fun. I don’t take it too seriously (infact I don’t take anything seriously) and focus on having fun along the way. So don’t write because you want a good article to come out. Write to express yourself, write to have fun, and write to write. When you focus more on bringing your ideas to life and not on the actual words, you will find that the output is undeniably good which people can connect to.

8 More Lessons from SaleRaja and other start-ups I have been associated with

Recently I wrote about some of the important lessons I learned after working with SaleRaja and other startups. I was pondering over this article and I realized I can think of many more points which I can write about. So below are 8 more lessons which I came up after reflecting on those days spend building some amazing products with SaleRaja, InfoEdge and Jivox.

8. Spend wisely

As a startup your balance sheet will be in the red in the first few years as you build the infrastructure, teams and systems for the future. Hence it is very important to monitor and control what you spend and for what purpose. Even if you have secured funding, you never know which way the economy turns in the future. The point is to always have cash in the bank to act as a cushion in tough times.

9. Networking

Big corporations are people independent, i.e. , they never depend heavily on any one or a few people for their business to survive. It is because of this that they can hire in big numbers, and even fire people easily in hard times. In startups though, the commitment to the company by employees is very important. Similarly, each employee is very critical to the company and it can’t afford losing an employee as it might impact their business. Due to this, the hiring in startups (at least the initial hirings) normally happen through networking and personal contacts as trust in the employee – employer relationship is very critical for startups. And networking is not only useful in hiring but in other business aspects too.

Beginning is Half Done

Beginning is Half Done

10. Have Fun Along the Way

I have always believed in the idea that if we love what we do, it is not work but more like play. And while doing different tasks during a typical day, it is very important to have fun and not get too serious. A team of people working who smile and have fun with each other in a casual atmosphere will always have more productivity. So in your team, play some games, pull somebody’s leg, take out time for discussions other than work, or whatever, but don’t miss to have FUN. This might be an exaggeration, but see what happened during a night out in my first job.

11. Do everything – customer service to sales to coding

As a co-founder or starting member of a startup, you should try to do everything to get a pulse of the whole business. That would mean doing coding with your engineers, being involved with your marketing team, going out on sales calls with your sales team and also hearing customer complaints and feedback. This will keep you well informed of what is happening in the whole ecosystem around your business and will help you make better decisions.

12. Do your Business Ethically

It is important to follow both the legal and ethical laws of the land where you operate your business. Being ethical will help you in fostering a long term relationship with your customers. Any success that is attained without the foundation of ethics is bound to be short lived, as lies and scams tend to come out sooner or later. The primary objective of business is not just to maximize profits, but it is also to be a responsible citizen in a just society and working in a way that benefits all its stakeholders.

13. Make Mistakes, but Don’t Repeat

It is only human to make mistakes, and as you start a new business, you will also make few. But the important lesson here is to not keep repeating them. We must take enough risks for our business to grow, but also be wise enough to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. We just need to make ‘new and better‘ mistakes going into the future. As for me, I am really glad for the mistakes I have made.

14. Mature with Time, but Don’t Grow up..

As our business grows and we reap success, we grow more mature and this maturity starts reflecting in our daily lives as well as our business decisions. But as a startup, it is very important not to loose what makes you special in the first place. It is always good to be a little crazy, keep having fun along the way and not get too serious. It is ok to risk, and it is ok to fail.

15. Don’t accept Failure as an Option

One of the most important word you have to stop listening when starting something new is ‘NO‘. So no matter what, in the face of a NOs, keep on finding new ways of achieving the objective, but never give up. Try out a lot of things, and go with the things that work. When things are not going well, take a break, do something which inspires you, but after that, get back to it with relentless persistence. Remember, failure is not an option.