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 :).

5 startup lessons from Steve Jobs

Who says 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 Entrepreneur.com.

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 a 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 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 Entrepreneur.com. Thank you, Todd Henry, Thank you, Steven Pressfield. Thank you, Tanmay. Thank you, Kavita. I am grateful for 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.

Ubuntu!

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. Maximalist
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 Day Trip

My camera was feeling lonely for the last few months.  So, I thought to explore a nearby, unseen place for a photo-tour.

We left for exploring one such place last week early in the morning at 6 am. With my better half, a couple of like-minded friends.

We headed towards Gandhinagar. The morning was charming. The day was agile. Full of energy and cold. A lovely combination of nature’s energies. So we thought to explore it for an 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. A lovely trek and 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 the past year.

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

There’s a 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.