Utpal Vaishnav

Utpal "UV" Vaishnav is a lifelong learner and entrepreneur. UV is also the co-founder of an agile mobile apps design studio which facilitates bringing fresh ideas to the world of mobile. Follow UV on Twitter @UtpalVaishnav.

Mediocrity Is Not an Option

Few days ago, one of my newly hired designers came to me to show a design that was not even mediocre at its best.

He didn’t say anything but got back to his drawing board when I asked, “Is this your best work?”

If I would have measured my blood pressure at that time, I’m sure it would be much higher.

Not because the deadline was about to miss. Not because my designer’s capabilities was any less. It was because the premise that the designer operated from: mediocrity might work this time.

No. Mediocrity won’t work. Not this time. Not anytime. If it works for someone, it is a fluke.

I wish the designer was taught to tell his past leaders on face: Raise your standards for me. I deserve more than what mediocrity may produce in my life.

The designer’s life would be much different if he had worked for a leader who would push him to his limits and bring his excellence out.

Take ownership of your life. Find a leader who does not accept mediocrity. Find a leader who pushes his people to the limits. Find a leader who makes you uncomfortable for all good reasons.

And work for him. Even if you get less salary than what you will get working for a mediocre leader. It’s a very small cost to pay.

Will it make you feel comfortable?

Hell no.

Will it make your life better over the long run?

You guess.

This applies to you even if the leader is you.

How to Get the Shit Out of Your Coding Skills

Do you know how to get the shit out of your coding skills?

No?

You can do two things with your coding skills. Sell your skills on per-hour basis, a pretty good source of income, or use your skill to create an app, a product and experience the compound returns on your skills sooner or later.

How to Get the Shit Out of Your Coding Skills

The developer who writes the code aggressively, without regard for her peers earning pretty good income for more or less the same skills, and partying out loud on the weekends more frequently than she could, often ends up with more opportunities on her way and more possibilities to influence the world positively (including her own world!).

On the other hand, her seemingly happy peers, end up with 7-15% pay increase every year till the market is booming and then when the time is not good, might lose their job wondering what they will do next.

And, of course, it’s the same for designers, writers, doctors, advocates, painters and every kind of creators out there.

Sell your creations for “guaranteed” low returns or compound it through your abilities to deal with an uncertain next.

Is any next certain?

Screw It, Let’s Do It!

“Screw It, Let’s Do It!” ~ Sir Richard Branson

This is one of the most powerful advices one could ever get. It’s powerful because it can change lives. It’s powerful because it works … however, it’s not so easy to make it work.

The reason is your #1 enemy who pretends to be your friend and lives inside you.

Outside enemies are relatively easy to deal with. You know who they are. You know what their intentions are. You know you have to be careful or you’re gone.

But the enemy inside you, the voice of procrastination and resistance, that’s the one you need to be eagle-eyed about.

Do not be friends with your enemy.

As it turns out, most of us have very generous hearts and we want to be friends with our enemies too including procrastination and resistance.

We act like an edgeless sword against it.

We let their charm take us over.

We let that voice lead.

Run. Walk away. Get off.

Screw that voice, let’s do it.

In Search of Self-Worth

Do you know what’s your self worth?

Are you in search of things that are beyond the logical boundaries of sorts?

Do you believe in …

yourself,
your vision,
your co-founders,
your product idea …

… and your startup so deeply that others find your beliefs highly opinionated, unreasonable and outside the generally accepted norms?

If so, then chances are you might be creating your destiny in a way you won’t regret later.

But if your default is to never sound opinionated, unreasonable and you always strive to act within the accepted norms, then you’re probably not living your full potential.

Reflect on it. You would know What You Should be Doing Vs. What You’ve Been Doing is in harmony or not.

Startup Founders And Social Validation

What is your first response when you encounter a tremor?

You wonder if anyone else has also noticed the tremor. The need for “validation” is widespread and happens for incidents that don’t involve tremor as well.

If those in your group feel something, you’ll too. That’s the reason we look around before we start clapping on really good speech by that inspiring guest speaker. Why should it matter if people in  your group felt the way you did about the episode? Because it matters. A lot. Social validation matters.

Startup founders are no different.

They attend hackathons, tech meetups and try to network with every other startup founder in their area for that very reason – social validation.

Still why the startups that have won hackathons and mesmerised everyone else in a tech meetup don’t live up to the promise?

More or less, crux of whatever they talk about in such events comes to this:

“I’m riding the horse of uncertainty. I can see that you’re too. Just the color of my horse is pink and your’s is blue.  I’m cool at what I do. Pretty soon I’ll be successful; you might too!”

And they feel relaxed. They feel they’re doing something right even though the case might be exactly the opposite.

This observation from Seth Godin is so on-target:

“Action, even ineffective action, is something societies seek out during times of uncertainty.”

Sure, it’s natural. It’s human too. But it’s scary as well.

As they are more close to everyday uncertainties, startup founders tend to take more actions than others.

But sometimes more is not better. Only better is better. Again a profound thought from Seth.

Maybe, instead of attending one more similar startup community event, you might want to spend your Saturday noon making your product better.

Attend good startup events for sure – they provide great value. But do it for right reasons. If you’re doing it for social proof, then you might want to reconsider it.

Not more actions. Just the better ones.

The Perfect Time to Do the Exercise

The perfect time to do the exercise is when you don’t feel like doing it.

The perfect time to do the exercise is when you don’t feel like it will have an immediate positive impact on your belly fat.

The perfect time to exercise is when you have a choice not to do it.

The perfect time to exercise is when you have realized that doing exercise is important and it is more worth than the time, energy and efforts it will take.

Same is the case with learning a new skill or taking your spouse on an intentional date after 15 years of marriage.

Same is the case with doing anything that you consider important but you don’t have time to do it because of other “urgent” things at your hand.

Would you like to do the exercise today?