The Maths of Life

When a man marries his girlfriend, he immediately creates a vacancy.

Okay, this is not my quote. It is from James Goldsmith. But it doesn’t matter whose quote is it because the point is – it highlights an unpleasantly interesting truth.

The truth is, you like something when there are no strings attached. When strings get attached, you start disliking the same thing!

We observe it all the time, but we don’t pay attention to this pattern much. Here is a story that affirms this observation.

In 1999, I met with a person called Milan (name changed for privacy).

He had a clerical/administrative job in a school. His work hours were 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and his salary were more than enough to take care of his needs.

But Milan hated his job. His passion was teaching maths to children.

Milan was excellent with academic maths and loved teaching. A lot of students used to come to him to learn maths.

Frustrated with his boring job, he quit his job. Soon he rented a space, ordered some furniture, and open his maths coaching classes.

He got the first batch within just a week of opening the classes.

Within just 3 months, he was running about 4 batches in a day. He was happy with his work and he rented more space, partnered with a couple of other teachers and hired a few more teachers.

They were four people running their coaching classes and gaining a good name amongst young children and their parents because of their quality maths coaching.

More and more students started joining his maths classes. And he was almost compelled to start more batches.

Now, apart from teaching maths, he also had to look after the administrative and operational aspects of running a coaching class business.

It turned out that he just loved teaching maths, not running a coaching class business.

His operational costs were increasing day by day – and the revenues he was generating through fees was not enough to take care of the costs.

His “hobby” shifted from teaching maths to share-market day trading. He started hating maths and started spending more time at a sharebroker’s office.

To make a long story short, after a few months, he shut his classes down because he could not sustain it and got an administrative job again with some organization.

His life went on but certainly, it was not something that Milan and his near ones would have wished for him.

The Math of Life Utpal Vaishnav

Lessons:

  1. Don’t turn your hobby into a business (especially if you are not up for understanding the business aspects of converting your hobby into a business).
  2. Your boring looking job gives you time and money to pursue your hobby, be aware of that and find peace with it.
  3. In business, there are a lot of things that you do which you may not personally like but you still need to do. That’s normal. If you don’t know how to lead yourself on the face of unpleasant yet important activities of your business, you will be out of business soon.
  4. The maths of life is not 1+1 = 2. Its answer could be different in different situations. What people do not get is that both the digits (1) are defined passively – by a lot of external factors. In other words, in business, 1 does not represent a constant, it is a variable!

Your relationship with the hobby will remain healthy if you don’t try to convert it into a job – or a business.

Learn to Love Networking

It’s been a few months since I’ve got a new interest: Networking.

I think that understanding Networking at depth will help me be better at what I do.

I had never consciously touched upon the subject of networking but better late than never.

In business, people invest in networking activities willingly or unwillingly.

The problem is, many executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs consider Networking as an inauthentic, and exploitative activity.

There is some truth to it too. People often invest in networking to gain some benefits out of the activity.

I am not done with my research yet and I have a little understanding about the subject but I think networking is a wonderful gift to a professional when done right.

Good networking provides more opportunities, deeper knowledge, and improved capacity to innovate and make things better.

I have started to believe when done right, Networking has a potential to improve one’s personal life as well.

While looking at Networking from business and opportunity perspective, I came across this interesting article from Harvard Business Review: Learn to Love Networking. The article is written by Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino and Maryam Kouchaki.

Some of you might know that for last few months, thanks to my friend Tanmay Vora, I’ve been learning to take notes in the form of Sketch Notes. I did the same while reading this article on Networking. Here is the sketch note:

Learn to Love Networking Harvard Business Review

I think the four take home points from the article: focus on learning, identify common interests, think broadly what you can give and finding a higher purpose have a great potential to make you a better professional and better creator.

What do you think?

Is that so – a modern Zen Story

Alex, an intelligent, detailed oriented and calm Computer Programmer was praised by his colleagues for his ability to solve complex problems without getting stressed.

He was working with a Software Development Company and he was so respected that many clients used to put a clause in the contract that the company would get the contract only if Alex is part of the development team.

One day a young and attractive software developer, Lisa joined the company. She was to be the point of contact for the company’s biggest client account. What’s more, she was hired based on a strong recommendation from the same client.

Few months passed and the client discovered that the software version they received had a business-critical bug. It made the client upset and they asked Lisa about who was responsible for causing the bug. She would not confess initially but after much questioning, at last, she named Alex.

With great anger, the client went to Alex. “Is that so?” was all Alex would say.

 

Is that so?

“Now you will need to work on the day and night and fix the critical bug within next 24 hours or your company will lose the contract and also the legal battle.” The client demanded.

“Is that so?” Alex said calmly as he accepted to fix the critical bug.

Few months later when Lisa could not stand it longer, she told the client the truth: the real bug was caused by her and not Alex.

The customer went to Alex and asked for his forgiveness, to apologize at length and offer them praise and bonus and express their gratitude.

This time also, Alex was calm and peaceful. All he said was: “Is that so?”

Lesson: Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution.

Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution. #hackyou Click To Tweet

How to Be Wiser In 3 Minutes or Less With Audvisor

Do you want to be wiser than who you are?

Silly question.

We all want to. We all want to learn. We all want to better our lives. But the problem is, we have a lot more commitments and a lot less time.

We follow thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and our data feeds are filled with so much information that often we fill guilty of not consuming the wealth of wisdom available to us.

What to do?

Enter Audvisor: It’s a mobile app that brings bite sized insights from world’s top experts for us to listen to and get wiser. Anytime. Anywhere. While driving. While walking. While taking lunch or while getting haircut!

be wiser with audvisor

The remarkable thing? The constraint of 3 minutes. We get all these insights from hundreds of handpicked experts – all under 3 minutes.

Audvisor’s app has found its place on my iPhone’s home screen for almost a week now. I’ve been using it almost every day.

I listen to Audvisor’s insight early morning and “think” about the topic during the day whenever I get few free minutes.

Here’s my first-day experience with Audvisor

I spent my first 1.47 seconds on Audvisor listening to Tom Peter‘s advice on The Real Problem.: Here are my notes from it:

Gem 1:

The problem is never the problem. The response to the problem is almost always the problem.

Gem 2:

Perception is all there is, there is no reality. There is only perception. So, the way you deal with the problem, is so much more important than the problem itself.

Simple thought. Profound concept. Just 1.47 minutes of my time. Positive ROI.

Another audvise I listened to was Pamela Slim‘s Communicating with Clarity. She touches upon how we miss practicing general protocols of clear communication in our everyday communication. My notes:

Gem 1: 

What’s the BEST way for the person whom I’m writing to, to respond me back without the need of processing ?

Gem 2:

Stay away from Jargons and Buzzwords. Tell heart touching stories. Don’t be complex. Use words that a 7th standard student can understand.

And there are 100 more experts to learn from. Seth Godin. Guy Kawasaki. Ishita Gupta. Kevin Eikenberry. Dr. Liz Alexander. All renowned experts.

About Audvisor’s UX

Now about the App’s user experience: The app is easy to use, has no learning curve and lives up to the promises made on their marketing website.

App’s interface is clean and offers Tinder like cards view but with a sensible twist. The gestures feel intuitive.

It is certainly developed with a lot of care, attention to detail and love, which Rajesh Setty, co-founder of Audvisor, is known for – Bringing Ideas To Life, With love!

In terms of user experience, Audvisor app is off to a very good start.

What I Would Like to See In Future Updates of Audvisor

I liked the idea so much that I could not stop myself thinking about it for an hour. I could visualize that eventually Audvisor will become even better when it will get some of the features that I would like to see:

#1 Save audio locally: Ability to save the audio so that I can listen to it again when I’m traveling and do not have consistent access to 3G, LTE or WiFi networks.

#2 More learning on the subject: A feature that offers manually curated useful links to related articles, videos, papers or books on the subject. 3 minutes are sufficient to trigger an action, but more info on the subject, if available to me via an optional gesture or a button, would be of great help in leveraging what I have learned.

#3 Save to Pocket  Ability to save the audvise to Pocket or other read it later service. It also opens a possibility to offer the same audvise via web interface to save it on read it later, the audvise needs a permanent place on the web.

#4 Ability to edit Tweet text: When I choose to share an audvise with twitter, I would love to be presented with an auto-populated tweet, which I can customize if I want to. Current implementation posts the tweet automatically for me which is good, but I wanted more control over the tweet text.

#5 Search:  Ability to Search by topics, experts, and keywords – this would be a great feature especially when there are a lot of topics and experts.

#6  Assign an action on a particular Audvise: Ability to assign a set of actions to a particular Audvise. If I want to extend my learning on a particular insight, I would want to create a to-do and set a reminder. An alternate could be an ability to send Audvisor link to tools such as Trello for further actions.

#7 Vidvisor: Maybe an enhancement (or a companion app)  where I can see the Videos of the experts as well if I want to.

#8 Trending audvises: Twitter-like trends for audvises.

#9 Likes: Ability to give thumbs up or down on an audvise. Litmus test for experts. Will make the platform more trusted.

#10 Stories: Audio (and video) stories of people who have listened to the audvise and how they have put it in action – and the results that they have seen because of it.

I also see that Audvisor has a potential to become a gateway between teachers and students for bite-sized learning. Imagine a teacher creating 3 minutes or less audio/video lesson on learning maths, Spanish or history on any other subject.

Mini-sagas, ThinkTweet, and  Audvisor – bite-sized insights cannot get better than this.

Audvisor adds value to the learners. I vouch for it.

Audvisor seems to add value to the experts – as they get more exposure and acts as a gateway creating more value through their services, products, and advice.

Everyone who uses Audvisor, wins. Experts. Learners. Creators of Audvisor.

If you’re using iPhone, check out this push button app for learning today. If you’re using Android, follow this link.

I’m sure you’d want to thank me for this heads up. Feel free to invite me for a coffee. I like espresso shots. I take no sugar and no milk. Just coffee.

I like coffee in its pure form and perhaps that’s why I liked Audvisor. You also might :).