The Happiness Experiment

Today we have access to an abundance of luxuries money can buy.

Today if something is happening in one part of the world, then we get to know in just a few seconds thanks to the digital revolution we have been witnessing.

Technology has solved so many of the problems our previous generations had faced: mail is replaced with emails, in-person meetings are replaced with Skype, FaceTime and Phone Calls, and manual processes & systems are replaced with Automated Systems, Software and Apps.

Speed + Agility are considered the virtues of our time.

If you are Smart + Fast + Uber-intellectual, then others admire you.

If you have generated material results for your (or anyone else’s) business, then you are regarded as a respectable entity in your  industry and many community organizations ask you to join their board as a mentor, advisor, consultant or a director.

If you have extraordinaire skills of handling difficult situations, the world is ready to do everything possible to pay you more $$$ and get more out of your abilities.

The Language of Accomplishment has become a universal language that everyone seems to be speaking… and practicing… and appreciating. I’m not sure about the “understanding” part, though but that’s not the point.

Why do we chase material accomplishments?

To live a happy and joyful life, isn’t it?

But, are we really happy?

If you answer is an absolute YES then you don’t need to read the remaining part of this post. The purpose of this post is solved!

But if your answer is NO then you should read on.

Okay, and if your answer is not an outright NO, but you took more than a couple of seconds to answer the above question (delayed NO) then you are dreaming doing something else than what you have been doing. You should also read on 🙂

I know that you want to run away from your present state and spend more time with the state that you have been imagining in your mind.

But you know that if you do that, you might lose the material success you have created for you – so you continue doing what you have been doing… unhappily.

What if we get a moment or two of happiness to connect with something that will give us happiness?

For me, photography is one such avenue.

Last week, my better half Kavita invited me to participate in an experiment where I was supposed to post 7 Nature photographs on Facebook and ask other photography enthusiasts from my circle to do the same.

During 2008-2013, I spent some good time with my Camera but in last 2-3 years, I kept away with it for several valid reasons (read: excuses) so it was a refreshing invite.

Long story short, I am participating in the experiment. Here are the Nature pics (experiment ongoing …)

Would you like to live in an unhappy world full of accomplishments?

If not, then my invitation to you is to pause for a moment, reconnect with one activity that can potentially give you internal happiness and just do that!

And the world will become a happier place :).




SketchNote: 5 Startup Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs

Who said Steve Jobs is not alive?

Though Steve Jobs is physically not present in this world, he’s still alive in our hearts through his larger than life creations.

While I did not have the privilege of working for him at Apple, NeXT or Pixar, I have the privilege to learn from the people who have been there and done that.

Yes, I’m talking about Guy Kawasaki and his wonderful article on

A couple of days ago, when I was reading at night, I stumbled upon this wonderful article: 5 Things I Learned About Successful Startups From Steve Jobs!

I read the article attentively. I liked the lessons. Since the majority of the clients I work with are startup founders, I thought I will arrange a brainstorming session with my team on the subject sooner than later … to better our startup consulting muscles.

The need was to summarize the article quickly, understand the crux of it, and share it with the team members along with context-specific and relevant examples so we can leverage the learning offered by Jobs via Guy!

I don’t know if I will ever create a product, service or an outcome which will put a dent in the universe like Jobs did but I know one thing for sure: I’ll DIE EMPTY and unleash my best work every day. Thanks, Todd Henry!

At that point, my best work was to summarize the article in some way but how?

Last week, I met my friend Tanmay, who is a master of sketch notes. He’s an artist who ships. I enjoy observing and learning from his fascinating creations: his writing, his photography and his sketch notes.

Since Tanmay is living in Chandigarh,  meeting in-person is not as frequent as it used to be so when we met last week, we spent some good time and talked about topics where our interests intersect. Sketch note was one of them.

“What if I create a sketch note for of this article?” I thought to myself.

When the possibility of a new creation emerges, the devil who lives within you, known as resistance gets even stronger (yes, Steven Pressfield, I get it.) and tells you 100 reasons why you should not venture into the unknown.

Some of the reasons that were telling me that I should not venture into creating a sketch note were:

  • I don’t deeply understand what sketch noting is;
  • My drawing was really bad;
  • I do not have good tools at the moment;
  • What if my sketch note will look ugly (I never got good marks in my drawing class while schooling);
  • I haven’t read the SketchNote Handbook from Mike Rohde … yet;
  • I don’t know how to begin …

All BS reasons: my lizard brain, as Seth Godin puts it, was doing everything possible to convince me how I am not the right fit to start SketchNoting but somehow I was able to pull the plug.

I started creating a sketch note. I think it is better to call it Digital SketchNote because I did not hand-draw it. I digitally drew it. On my Macbook Pro.  But I think when it comes to creating something, tools matter less. Intention + first quick action + willingness to continuously iterate to put it in the right direction matter more.

'To starting something up, first quick action matters more than the wealth of tools.' #startups Click To Tweet

This is the 6th iteration of the sketch note I created 2 days ago. First one was ugly. The second one was little less ugly and this one hopefully is not as much – LOL :D!

So here comes my first SketchNote:

Startup Lessons Steve Jobs - SketchNote

I have spent 4 hours designing this SketchNote. Maybe it is much more time than what a seasoned SketchNoter would have taken and the quality of this SketchNote may be primitive, I enjoyed every bit of this experience.

Fun thing was that in the process, I got some design direction from my better half Kavita, who runs her own graphic design studio, KreativePencils. It was fun to be on the receiving side of the direction in this project!

Does it all matter?

It matters to me at least. It matters to me not because I created my first sketch note. It matters to me because I ventured into the sea of an unknown once again!

Exploring an uncertain next with an immense faith in yourself, regardless of the skills or the tool, gives me inner strength and happiness.

Steve Jobs had said,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

So yes: the dots are being connected. With Jobs’ insights; with Guy’s expressions of Job’s insights; with Entrepreneur Magazine publishing it; with the lessons learned from Todd and Pressfield are intersecting; with Tanmay inspiring me to look at SketchNote as a subject and Kavita filling the gaps of the talent that I have … there is no better way to begin a new year!

Thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you, Guy Kawasaki. Thank you Thank you, Todd Henry, Thank you, Steven Pressfield. Thank you, Tanmay. Thank you, Kavita. I am grateful to your contributions in my life.

And one more thing!

Thank you so much the reader of my blogs for reading through, criticizing and giving feedback on my ideas, thoughts and point of views. I am grateful to you. I am because you are.

I am grateful to you. I am because you are.



Space-O Team Wins Hackathon at AppFest 2013

It feels so good to be a part of a team that has exhibited great teamwork and won the Hackathon.

Hackathon Winners Team Space-O Utpal

Photo Courtesy: Kavita Vaishnav, my better half from her iPhone 🙂

IAMAI has organized an amazing event called AppFest 2013 during 26-28 July, 2013. Like many emerging and established software organizations, Space-O has also participated in the event.

From Space-O, 20 people participated in the event. The 20 people team was made of Graphic Designers, Android Developers, iPhone Developers, Administrators and CXOs.

Yes, CXOs too. At Space-O, Rakesh, Atit and I, all three believe that no matter what we do, we do it with 100% of our energy such that people are energized and as a team we have an edge. So we execute things.

Yes, it will sound like 4E’s of leadership from Jack Welch and that’s true. That book has shaped our leadership skills in this particular way.

Here’s the highlight of the event:

Day 01, Friday, 26th July, 2013

Two guys from Space-O won the best quality tweet contest for hashtag #AppFest2013. I won the first price and Jigar Pandya from Space-O’s Social Media and Marketing Team got the second. We got professional photo shoot by Abhijit Naikdesai, who is not only an excellent photographer but a fantastic person too. From him, I got to know about a technique called Panoramic Portraits. Great experience.

Here are some of my tweets that contributing in making Space-O guys win the contest:

Here’s my picture with the guy who shoot my photo shoot… (Professional Pictures Soon)


Photo Courtesy: Atit Purani, apart from being my business partner and CTO of our company, who’s a great friend too!

Day 02, Saturday, 27th July, 2013

 Two guys from Space-O won the goodies in one competition for tweeting about the best app idea. again Jigar and I. guys (Ravi Vyas, Ebrahim Popat and Herat Maniar), it was nice to connect with you. Here’re the T-Shirts that we got from

utpal appfest2013

Photo Courtesy: Ravi Vyas of

Day 03, Sunday, 28th July, 2013

Space-O Ninja Team, who developed an app with the code name Book Barter won the first price.

Book Barter App is a unique book exchange platform that increases your knowledge, save money, enable you to connect with like-minded people and works 24×7. It also makes the environment greener by saving trees.

Here’s the detailed post about Book Barter App and the Winning Team of AppFest 2013 Hackathon on my company website.

The teamwork that began since 27th was extended in the morning too. Right from the top management to the junior most person in the team were working round the clock. Some pictures:

Here’s my on-moment tweet that joined the cheerful team! Yes, I wrote the tweet one minute ahead of time believing that our team will achieve it!

Not only that, the whole event was an awesome opportunity to connect with brilliant people who are master of their trade.

We met amazing guys of, Alexandre Corso from KRDS, heard Amber Krishnan from Human Factors speaking about UX, got to know what Venture Capitalists think about Mobile App Development Industry and more.

Personally, I got to know a lot more about Kiruba Shankar, who hosted the event. His abilities in taking over the audience with his wonderful anchoring is rare. Not only that, he is one of the most enthusiastic human beings I’ve ever met in my life.

Several years ago, I got to know about Kiruba via Tanmay Vora, my close friend and since then I’ve been following him. It was nice connecting with you Kiruba!

Overall, an excellent experience. Lot of energy, enthusiasm, teamwork and commitment was in the air. I said this to our team in the morning:

Quote from Utpal

Wonderful members of our team took it in the right spirit and created something that they’re proud of. Not only that they won too. Sure, Being proud is most important but next is winning. I can say this especially once our team has won, isn’t it? 🙂

Fun apart, wonderful experience that whole Space-O Team and I will remember for the years to come.

Taste 10

1. Clean Vs. Clumsy
2. Salty Vs. Sweet
3. Thin Vs. Fat
4. Western Vs. Eastern
5. Modern Vs. Conventional
6. Interesting Vs. Uninteresting
7. Minimalistic Vs. Maximalistic
8. Responsive Vs. Irresponsive
9. Being a Linchpin Vs. Being a Cog in a wheel
10. Unconventional Vs. Conventional

Different taste types. In theory, no taste is right or wrong, it is just taste. While there is a value in the right, I have always preferred left ones.


Polo Forest One Day Trip

vijaynagar-polo-forest-utpal-vaishnav-one-day-tourFor long, wanted to play with my camera that was feeling lonely for last few months. So, thought to explore a nearby, unseen place. Left for exploring one such place last week early in the morning at 6am. With my better half, a like-minded friend and his better half.

Headed towards Gandhinagar. The morning was charming. The day was agile. Full of energy and cold. An interesting combination. So thought to explore it for even longer time. Before we realize that we are going too far than planned, my car found itself close to Polo Forest near Vijaynagar that is 160km away from Ahmedabad.

Now, Vijaynagar has a special place in our hearts. Coincidently, we were there exactly a year ago. But this time, it was different.

Beautiful weather. Cold morning. Warm, big-hearted people. An interesting trek and a whole new experience.

We hired a guide who led us for 3 hours trekking. Saw several places. Got to know the forest little better. There were 400+ year old temples and its stories of construction and destruction.

The guide was a warm person. His name was Dalsukh (meaning “Happy Hearted”). He charged just Rs.250/- and gave his 110%. He was not much literate, did not go to school yet he was  a good communicator. He knew some English words as well. He was polite and had good guts about how to relate with visitors. He ensured that we get ALL the information that we should get. He entertained us and enabled us to have a great time.

It didn’t just remain a photography tour morning but became a unique day of my life. Took some photos but spend significant time before the camera. These days I’m enjoying being before the camera as I’ve lost 13kg in past year.

So, posted the photos on Facebook. Here’s the link if you want to have a look.


There’s sweet thing about posting the photos over FB. I have a LOT of friends connected via Facebook. Each posted photo album is an opportunity to interact with them at a more personal level. The reason is simple. People need a reason to interact. And photo albums are good reasons, isn’t it?

Traveling, photography, exploring new things and conversations.

So, the album I posted started a conversation with Tanmay Vora, a close friend who has written an awesome post about lessons learned from photography. Very thoughtful 12 lessons. Liked all of them. Thinking about it:

“Photography is an opportunity to be spontaneous, observe the situations as they are, align our actions to pick the right perspective and act upon it.”

A cool, fresh day, spontaneous outing, some photography and memorable experiences. Read my review on TripAdvisor too.