The world of 2G!


In a world talking about 5G and beyond, I would be sounding hopelessly obsolete with the 2G in the caption.


While the G definitely stands for ‘ generation ‘, I am not referring to any current generation of cell phone network technology. Far from it. The 2Gs that I am referring to are generosity and gratitude.

Generosity creates possibility, connection and energy. Keeps the door open for moving forward, starting and leading conversations. In the process setting up room for exploration, discovery, resolution, innovation, progress.


And 2G is best exemplified as a two way street. When it is met at the receiving end with gratitude. Setting up an environment that is conducive for both the giver and the receiver. Sparking energy, unshackling bottlenecks, bringing the power of reciprocity into the equation. The loop gets more meaningful, rugged, relevant and long lasting.


Status quo and impasse may seem safe domiciles but that is just a myth brought about by fear, reluctance to see | want change and remaining blind to new possibility.


It takes two to tango: generosity and gratitude. They go hand in hand. As William Arthur Ward once said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” There is such to be grateful for, we don’t need to wait till Thanksgiving to practice it.



Time to eulogise ‘slack’ ? Doing Nothing is Something to Think About!


If some or many of you consider that I am going off my rocker given the caption above, I don’t blame you. After all, in a culture that literally worships the hustle, equates busy with productivity and the associated chaos around it, who on earth will be actually according ‘ slack ‘ a pride of place?


A study called “Slack Time and Innovation” shows that even companies like Google, 3M and Wella encourage their workers to be innovative besides their strongly innovation-oriented work environments, by providing slack timeAs Paul GrahamY-Combinator founder, wrote: “Microsoft and Facebook both got started in January. At Harvard that is (or was) Reading Period, when students have no classes to attend because they’re supposed to be studying for finals.”



According to award-winning author and innovator Phil McKinneyslack time allows the brain to roam freely, decreases stress, provides an opportunity to refresh, and, ultimately, creates  a better work environment, making people happier and more productive.


Even our rest times are ‘ active rest ‘ at best. You stop work and your idea of rest is listening to a podcast or reading a book or playing the music of your choice, or watching a movie- all of which needs the mind to use its processing power. These are all fun diversions, a way to switch the mind’s tracks without completely stopping its journey. We are never at complete rest- it is almost as if complete rest makes us restless.


Taking time to escape isn’t just a luxury – it’s essential. No need to fill in the blank. Use that time(blank) to think, plan, dream. The Republic of Not Enough that we all are willing | unwilling citizens of, will never let you slack. Because we are deeply buried most of the time in our ledger of lack. It’s ironical to know that our best creations and inventions come during periods of slack not when the mind is furiously occupied(or pre occupied). So is it almost an aberration that there is a productivity tool used by many organisations around the world called Slack?  Probably not. Brilliantly counter intuitive branding.


Listen to the old bray of your heart. Not to the piercing shrill of your mind. “Sometimes sitting and doing nothing is the best thing you can do,” reminds Karen Salmansohn, best selling author of THINK HAPPY.
Only by taking time to think, dream, and plan are we able to discern the essential few from the trivial many in our lives.  


As I conclude I am reminded of a brilliant campaign line of the chocolate brand 5 Star– ” Eat 5 Star, Do Nothing “. Don’t dismiss it as a Sweet Nothing!


How about looking up from our ledger of lack and maintaining a  ledger of slack  ?

Addressing the imbalance


The historic John F Kennedy quote from his inspiring inaugural address goes like this ” Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”-


There is a cue in it for a lot of us defaulted in the thinking which goes something like this ” what does the world owe us? ” – this question not only is a trap that often goes unheard but comes from a place of unearned entitlement and fans the scarcity fuel.


Probably a better a question to ask would be ” what do I owe to the world ? “, which leads to opening the doors of possibility, exploration, adventure, connections, contribution and onward momentum. Waiting for the world to show us the way, fetch things onto our lap is an endless and futile wait. On the other hand, getting to doing things that leads to contribution is energizing and intrinsically motivating.


This extract from a Marianne Williamson quote sums it up nicely- “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.


Yes, we owe it to the world! And that is the way we address the imbalance.

Why are we afraid of a ‘gap year’?


The very term gap year brings with it the potential for instant ostracising. Because, sadly that is how our culture is hardwired- wherein we are trading conformity, compliance, adherence to gaining some kind of stability in return.


Somehow we have all done a terrible job of marketing and branding the gap year. Hence it has an awful name.  It is almost a taboo that you are considering one.


It is that time of the year when millions of students are at the crossroads as they consider getting into universities and colleges. A lot of them take up anything that comes from their way far removed from what they needed or expected. Because they are afraid of breaking the norm, being labelled a quitter, of going against established, accepted practice. And end up spending significant amount of money and time pursuing something sub-optimal.


Why not look at the gap year with a new lens? As an opportunity? To level up, address your curiosity, explore, living(which we are not, as we are merely complying), figuring out where to contribute, how to make things better- in fact all the things that we don’t do when we are just conforming or adhering. In fact, on the contrary, our compliance years are the gap.


And this is applicable not just to college students but as much to other adults. Wherein we are committing our time and resources with intention. If you can afford it, this is a powerful moment to invest in the next chapter of who you are and what you will and can become.


Understandably it is a tough call especially for adults to move away from their freelance dance or from the security of their ‘job’ and tread the path less trodden to become the leader or the creator that you always wanted to become. But for a student, it is actually a great opportunity to disembark from the carousel of conformity and lockstep obedience and actually commit to a path of your own choosing– leverage the freedom of being an amateur. Save up on that sizable tuition money and make it work for you, far, far better.

The duration can be a semester or two or an entire year- wherein you have created the chance to become the best version of yourself, make your dent in the universe and adopt a posture that will remain a permanent asset you have at your disposal rather than fall prey to the diktat of the zeitgeist, the herd mentality.


People like us do things like this. The acute discomfort that you feel is exactly the reason why you should consider a gap year in the first place and spend more time invested in it.

The endless poverty of comparison!


I am guilty of using this term ” Republic of Not Enough ” many a times on this blog. Probably an outcome of observing people (yours truly included) unwilling to look up from our ” ledger of lack “. Big Tech and their well( or is it veil) crafted algorithms nudging you perennially into FOMO( Fear of Missing Out) mode, never lets you off the hook.


If perfect (in lieu of being content) is the default expectation dancing in our heads all the time, it is an unattainable destination that is rarely reached taking us down the rabbit hole of wanting  more  in comparison to someone else, as what you are whining about is that you never have enough.


The only thing that whining or complaining does is to convince other people that you are not in control. Helpful? Far from it. And for all those who are under the mistaken impression that whining burns calories, sorry to disappoint doesn’t!!


If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are far more blessed than the million plus people who will not survive this week. If you can read this blog then you are far more fortunate than the millions who cannot read it at all. Are you ready to compare now?


Nobody is going to invite you and say ‘ here’s some cheese to go with your whine “- Whining, at best, is a symptom, it’s rarely a cure for anything. So, you know what to opt out of!

We are all fellow travelers in the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill( or hedonic adaptation) is the idea that an individual’s level of happiness, after rising or falling in response to positive or negative life events, ultimately tends to move back toward where it was prior to these experiences. Leading to the never ending pursuit for more. Exactly what big brands tap into- the attraction of ‘ the thrill of the chase “- the shiny new object syndrome.


So, time to step off the hedonic treadmill. Elimination and subtraction is a powerful proxy to make progress. So is discomfort. But the jury seems to be still out on that since we live in the ‘Republic of Not Enough‘ and ‘more‘ is the operative four letter word.


Comparison is an act of violence against the self. It is a thug that robs your joy. So, where are you headed?

Knowing to say no !


There is tremendous power resident within the act of saying no. The domino effect is that we tend to value ourselves more, prioritize ourselves and can even lead us to new opportunities that wouldn’t have been achievable by saying yes. It also allows us to set boundaries.


Way back in the mid 1970s there was a book released titled ” Don’t Say Yes When You Want to Say No ” which got cult status in transforming mindsets. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying no when necessary. This includes when you simply don’t have the energy to do everything you’re asked or when you want to prioritize self-care.


As they say, “ the best movies are so not because of what you see, but because what you don’t see “. The director and editor would be in tandem saying no to such stock even though it might be alluring to retain it within the film but because they realise that leaving out will only add to the appeal and the aura of the film.

If you are tongue tied up about saying no, and find it hard to articulate it, here is an incredible example that you would want to take inspiration from. Writer and translator Estelle Gilson picks up this extract of a rejection slip put out by a Chinese economic journal :-


“We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see it’s equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.”


Now, go better that!!!


Saying “No” is an essential skill, but so is knowing how to say it without antagonizing people. If you can get the balance right, you’ll be all the more successful for it. We might be capable but that does not mean that we become the walking talking epitome of being a ‘yes man’.


So, stop being a people pleaser! We can learn how to set boundaries and say NO – Without Feeling Guilty! And you will discover that it is counter to what runs in your head. Especially if your worry is putting off or upsetting people. Imagine being able to turn down requests and decline invitations with confidence and poise. Imagine saying no to people asking you for favors, and inspiring their respect in the process. Only the guilty are afraid.


Start taking control of your life. Start with that beautiful word “no”.



It all begins at the foundry called the ‘unknown’ !


When the outcome is a foregone conclusion, when you are secure in the comfort that what you seek is what you would be getting, when the sequence is linear and the numbers all add up as expected, you are dancing with the knowns, the certainties which will assure you that 2+2 will indeed be 4. No unpleasant surprises.


There’s beauty in the unknown and beauty in what may be, beauty in the promises of tomorrow, and beauty in all we cannot yet see.

You might be a scientist or a chef or a scriptwriter or an entrepreneur or an actor or a gardener or a painter or a game designer or a monk or a stand-up comic, if you know something is going to work, there is hardly any thrill in it. You are not putting your neck on the line, you are not embracing uncertainty and the unknown, you don’t need the courage or the faith, you don’t need to have skin in the game. It is all very predictable.


The foundry is where you forge your chips is the unknown. Anything important ever invented was because someone took that leap of faith into the unknown. Happily sitting in the domicile of discomfort and taking the plunge with only uncertainty as your ally is what moves mountains and give us the opportunity to leave our dents in the universe.


 When nothing is sure, everything is possible “- Margaret Drabble


The assertion here, however, is that there really is no creativity without uncertainty. Put another way: dubito ergo creo. This is Latin for, I doubt therefore I create.


The outside world provokes, persists and insists that we change the story we tell ourselves. Our attitude doesn’t have to be driven by the outside world, but sometimes they overlap.


Specifically, when we experience the unknown – no matter how uncomfortable and unsettling and destabilizing it can feel – the good news is that it opens vistas of possibility for new thought and action. If we have the confidence and willingness to take creative action in that moment, then our experience with the unknown can lead to new ways of thinking and acting. Taking action, of course, does not guarantee creative outcomes, but it is through new thought and action that we can, at least temporarily, re-stabilize our experiences in new and better ways.


Organizations are created, powered, and led by people. To lead organizations well, we train people in disciplines such as marketing, finance, and leadership. But uncertainty and the unknown presents a special challenge since few of us have received training in how to deal with it. As a result, although we may call for innovation, transformation, and change, most people back down at even the hint of risk, falling into a series of behavioral traps that limit organizations’ ability to grow and adapt. The challenge is that all growth, change, and transformation inevitably come paired with uncertainty, the unknown. We have to go through the uncertainty to get to the possibility.


“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty…in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.” ~ Deepak Chopra.


So, are you willing to knowingly venture into the foundry called the unknown?

Whats the story in your head?


The concept refers to the narratives and beliefs we create about ourselves, others, and the world around us. These stories can shape our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. And furthermore, how these perceptions and beliefs materialize in our lives.


It is election year in two of the world’s biggest democracies India and the US and there is no better time to unleash the spiel that dances in our head. There are multiple stories running between our ears and a lot of them are invented, planted, coerced or some might be voluntarily accepted as you gracefully offer room for it.


But as we absorb it, use it, misuse it, we have to remain cognisant of the fact that all these narratives do come with caveats, that there are many a loose end and it is better not to miss the wood for the trees. Distill the myth from the reality- your presumed role in the world versus the actual role you play. It is all a shortcut- so, we have to be mindful of the fact that the map is not the territory. Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom; just like education is not learning.

The sensible thing to be is to be agile and alert about the spin doctoring and backtrack where warranted to change the story especially if it is polarising, intimidating, untrue, misleading and not serving the human cause.

It is a post truth world. The more we recognise it, the better.


There is never a better time than ‘now’!


The much touted (yet severely under practiced) ‘ leap of faith ‘ has nothing to do with what fate has in store for you. You can either furiously hang on to the coat tails of impasse( status quo in other polite words) and pretend that you are making progress( in a time where people have to run hard to stand at the same place) or embrace uncertainty( and the accompanying comfort of opening up possibilities) because that is where discovery, invention, progress and connections converge.

There is never ever a perfect time to begin- on the contrary, all the time you spend on pontificating, over analysing, deferring, not deciding and standing still is a serious trade off with not creating, not evolving and not living life to the fullest. There is a beautiful quote by Rumi which puts this in perfect context-” As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”


Enlightenment is the natural enemy of the mind as articulated by Eckhart Tolle in his seminal book ” The Power of Now “. The clarion call here is to live fully in the present, liberated from the burden of the mind and being intensely in the now.

So, time to write that script, start your project, pitch your idea to investors, apply for that job, travel to that destination in your bucket list, call that friend whom you have not in ages, move base to a new place- and see the magic unfold- the obstacle becomes the way (When the Obstacle Becomes the Way Forward — Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations 5.20).


The perfect time to start? It’s now. What are you waiting for?


A ‘race to the top’ anyone?


The most desired resource ( fast becoming even scarcer) is attention. And there is a furious race going on to attract (even steal) attention. ” Everything Must Go “, ” Last Day “, Right Now “, ” Never Again ” , ” Last Chance of A Lifetime “, are clarion calls where your attention is expected to be traded off for the seemingly ‘ manna from heaven ‘ that you do not want to miss out on. Needless to add, it is a race to the bottom.

All this burden of getting attention comes at a cost. Cheaper is not better. Obsolescence. Badly designed products. Undercutting by the competitor means taking the shortcut- read going cheaper( the inevitable race to the bottom). Most stakeholders in the game have already surrendered their self-respect and self-esteem and the quintessential never ending pursuit is that of getting attention. At any or all costs.


Once reputed media outlets now shamelessly and diligently toe the ‘ if it bleeds, it leads ‘ narrative, e-commerce and click bait are best allies and partners in crime, and deep discounting and never before offers remain suspect.

All this said, the encouraging news is that there is a very viable alternative. A chance to work up the ladder to the top. The ground up model. A race to the top. Of creating products and services that are so good that people talk about it( as it is remarkable) and influence others to come on board, crafting authentic and relevant messages that are tailored to inspire your audience( not all and sundry, no ‘spray and pray‘) who look forward to receive them( because you are concerned and care for your MVA- the Minimum Viable Audience).


People who know this craft will define it as marketing.