My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Their Day

My ex-boss used to repeat this phrase so often that it has been permanently imprinted in my brain:

If you replicate 100% of the actions of successful people, you will get 75% of their results

The lesson was to copy the routines, strategies, and habits of successful sales- people so that their results could be replicated, and it worked! I also found that this approach could also be utilised in other areas of my life like working out, meditating, listening, learning, investing, managing etc. This is one of the primary reasons that I consistently read autobiographies of successful as well as not so successful people.

While these autobiographies provide the mental conditioning required for the long road ahead, very few provide details on the daily routine these people deploy to start, run and end every day. While I have always been in awe of how a Warren Buffet, a Richard Branson, an Amitabh Bachchan or a Brad Feld find the time to run a much larger operation than mine, write books/blogs/poems, make videos, devote time to their respective social causes, be famous and make it all look so effortless, I was certain that there had to be a secret to the system or hack that they were using.

To find an answer to the riddle, I subscribed to various podcasts, read multiple books on time management, signed up for several productivity apps or hacks, attended seminars and even bought expensive diaries and journals. These solutions would only work for a few weeks and also at the trade-off of my close ecosystem going insane. (Sorry, Sandy)

Invariably, I would find out that these systems were built for a machine and inflexible for the needs and wants of an entrepreneur’s time. Even worse, these systems would make me feel guilty if I missed out on a dot or a tick or on making a task list. I had to look for something better!

Then I came across a blog post in my news feed that listed out the morning routine for a regular joe like me and I was intrigued. I went through the website (where the blog was posted) and saw several examples of morning routines that I could identify with. I signed up for the newsletter trusting that I had finally found the answer I was seeking. But my prevailing habits won and I didn’t end up diligently reading those newsletters or making any changes to my routine.

At the beginning of this year, as I was cleaning out my inbox, I found several Morning Routine newsletters. That’s when I promised myself that I would make the change this year. I took the first step by buying the book ‘My Morning Routine’. I started to write down the elements from the morning (and evening) routines of people being interviewed that aligned with my own goals and life situations. Then, I began to incorporate those changes into my daily routine and have witnessed excellent results for the last 52 days of this year.

Who is this book for?

I believe that this book is for any individual who wants to focus on getting results versus getting busy. It is written as a collection of interviews of CEOs, artists, journalists, actors, entrepreneurs, authors, VCs and working parents.

In my honest opinion, it is a must-read for entrepreneurs and people working inside VC firms (especially you Nikita, Karishma and Sandesha)

My Morning Routine is available on Amazon


Video of the Week: The Undisputed King of Bollywood

I must be honest that I was not a big fan of Akshay Kumar through most of my teens. His movies centred around his martial arts abilities and he had typecast himself into a brand of cinema which I did not identify with. Then something happened 10 years ago that altered the actor’s career and this transformation & success formula should be a case study at the top management & entrepreneurial schools in India as it pole-vaulted him to highest paid Bollywood actor (7th highest in the world).
Akshay has been a vocal critic of movie schedules that can take 300-400 days and he adopted a simple success formula which I found is on the lines of the lean start-up mentality.

  1. Akshay completes his movie schedules in 60 days (Housefull 3 was done in 38 days!) which significantly reduces the carrying cost of the movie i.e. the path to profitability is significantly reduced.
  2. He releases 4 movies a year, therefore, increasing the number of shots he has at delivering a hit. Compare that to the competition that does 1-2 movies a year, therefore, has to maintain a near perfect record.
  3. The more releases per year also means that Akshay gets to read the audiences’ pulse regularly and he can adjust/alter/update his next product iteration thereby catering to his customer’s (read: audience) preferences much faster.
  4. The success of this simple success formula can be gauged by the fact that Akshay has delivered 100+ crores in box office collections every single year since 2007

The inspiration to do this research came from two videos wherein the actor provide an insight into his journey, both are must watch videos!
The first one is in Hindi

The second one in English


3 Things to Learn About Investing from a Founder that Sold his Company for $465 Million in 2013

On Friday, AIMWI  invited me to be a panellist for their 6th annual Family Office Summit India 2018. One of the perks of being a panellist is the opportunity to listen to the speakers scheduled before my session. I can point out many instances where the nuggets of wisdom imparted by speakers have led to impactful changes in my entrepreneurial, investing and even personal strategy and/or views. Today was one of those occasions.
I had the privilege of listening to Hexaware Technologies’ founder, Mr Atul Nishar, who shared the wisdom of putting to work, the wealth he gained after selling his stake to Barings PE in 2013. There were 3 key points that will remain etched in my memory:

  1. Putting money into fixed deposits is the riskiest investment one can make
  2. A part of one’s investment portfolio should be earmarked for investing in start-ups
  3. People that believe that 99% of start-ups fail are misinformed


Hats off Manjit Singh!!!

Amid all the din surrounding the Wizard of Omaha’s endorsement of Paytm’s pole position in the Indian Paymentech space, an endorsement which must be the proudest moment for any entrepreneur, but the day belonged to another Indian. This is the story of an Indian runner who has (reportedly) never won a gold in any national level race. He was considered the rank outsider in the 800m finals of the ongoing Asian Games in Indonesia, in fact, he was the second best Indian in the final. But what happened over the next 2 minutes is going to be remembered for a very long time.

Manjit Singh who hails from Haryana, came from nowhere to win the gold medal for India and pipped India’s best runner, Jinson Johnson to 2nd place. This gave India a very rare 1-2 finish at the Asian games. I could not find a better video of the proud athletes accepting their medals draped in the tricolour but it so rare a moment that even the poor quality video cannot take away its sheen.
Jai ho Manjit Singh & Jinson Johnson!!!


How Would You Deal with Superstardom?

For today’s post, I had decided to write a book review. But while browsing through, I came across a brilliant piece of journalism on Virat Kohli, undoubtedly the most famous man in India. The journalist, Wright Thompson followed Kohli for a day and wrote about how Kohli dealt with his superstardom daily. He brought to light the two different sides of Kohli; the outside persona which is what the public sees and the inner, softer, a more personal side that he keeps concealed. The trials and tribulations of this Indian superstar are a must-read for anyone who dreams of becoming one.
Kohli has been an enigma for me. Although I do not like his batting (since it lacks the poetry I heard in Tendulkar’s stroke play), I love the way he responds to a challenge. Kohli always aims to dominate a challenge and invariably prevails because of his limitless perseverance that always lasts longer than that of the challenger. He never lets the pressure of a situation show on his face or in his body language, consequently helping him find the clarity to make tough decisions.
So, while I might not like watching Virat Kohli bat, I do love to watch him play. And after reading about him in this story, I seek to emulate him, just a little.

Book Review: The Entreprenurial Bible

Book summary
This book is a collection of lessons from some of the top venture capitalists and angel investors in the United States. Through the chapters, VCs share their experiences on how to build value in a startup by describing important aspects of how to pitch to VCs, when to pitch to VC’s, how to negotiate with VCs, etc. In addition, the book talks about practices that align founder’s interests with the growth of their company and consequently the growth of the VC investment. Not only does this strategy give the founder more liquidity preferences but also lowers the risk of investing for an investor.
The book is written in the form of short essays contributed by various members of the VC ecosystem, with the author’s continuous narrative connecting the stories to his own anecdotes. Although ordered haphazardly, this book is a page turner due to the wisely penned stories and examples from such exemplary contributors.
About the author
Andrew Romans is the GP at Rubicon Venture Capital which is an early stage VC with offices in New York and San Francisco
Who should read it

  1. Entrepreneurs that
    • Are thinking about raising venture capital
    • Have raised venture capital
    • Are thinking about raising a new round
    • Are thinking about an exit
  2. Angel investors that
    • Are interested in investing in early-stage companies
    • Have invested in early-stage companies but want to do it better
    • Want to ensure that their investments are set up for success
  3. Venture Capitalists
    • You just should read it if you haven’t already

Why you should read it
This book is unique in that, it is the first book that I have read which offers a view from the different vantage points i.e. from the perspective of the entrepreneur, angels, venture capitalists (early and growth stage), private equity guys and lawyers on issues that invariably come up whenever any two of the parties engage on a deal. This smashes the enigma that some members of this ecosystem create (or maintain) and provides tips on how to have the upper hand on a negotiation table. It teaches the reader how to question, negotiate and close a negotiation successfully.
3 things I learned from this book

  1. The importance of providing founders (and early investors) with liquidity at various points in the life cycle of a venture to
    • Secure the commitment of the founders in the venture
    • Provide money to early-stage investors & founders to back early-stage companies thereby creating deal flow for the VC as well as grow the ecosystem

(The AVF team and I have started working on the viability of a structure described in the book along with our CA & Lawyers – more on this in a later post)

  1. The difference between patient capital and impatient capital and why it is important to match the start-up with the right kind of capital
  2. The preparation required by an entrepreneur (or even a VC) when pitching to investors
    • This was a big, big learning
  3. The difference between fundraising and raising a round of funding (very important!)

Where is it available

  1. This book is available on Amazon.
  2. It will be the first book for 2018 that I will be shipping out (physically or digitally) to all Artha investee founders (the team will reach out to you soon on this!)


The hunt for my mattress points to a shift in Indian E-commerce

In January, I found myself at my orthopaedic’s office for the 3rd time in 12 months complaining about unbearable back & neck pain which were not only limiting my movement but also leading to sleepless nights. Obviously, concerned about my frequent visits, he did an array of tests that revealed that it was nothing serious. So, he inquired further into my daily habits, activities, time spent on the computer and so on. After giving all the information that I had given him some serious thought, he concluded that the issue could be the mattress and pillow that I was using. He surmised that these items had most likely lost their firmness and suggested that I should change them immediately. Little did I know that this exercise would take me from the outskirts of Bangalore to the ports of Kolkata and open my eyes to a rapidly growing industry and proof that Indian consumers were growing up.
The first company that hit my eye was a company that had (at that time) over 1000 reviews on Amazon, with 95+% of those being a 4-star rating or higher. I assumed that 1 out of 10 people will actually go online and rave about a company (1 out of 3 will do it if it is a negative feedback) which meant that this company had sold close to at least 10,000 mattresses on Amazon alone! The average product price was around Rs. 15,000 so this company should have done 15 crores in sales online (the number is much higher than that) but, the best part of my research was finding out that the company had not raised any external funding. This sleeper hit of a company is Wakefit, founded by Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda. In a recent interview, they predicted that their 2-year-old startup would exceed $5 million in sales for FY2018. This is an impressive number for a nascent startup with no retail presence at all.
I reached out to Vinod and Dhiral on my team, and with my initial findings and our combined brain power, we were able to identify 5-6 other companies that were selling mattresses online. I decided to visit each one and although it took longer than expected, I got into their warehouses, offices, and factories and had the chance to speak with each founder. While most parts of those conversations are confidential, their stories and experiences confirmed the increasing comfort of Indian e-commerce customers to make large ticket purchases online. Not just that, but they have even become comfortable purchasing goods from brands that they haven’t previously heard of and are willing to pre-pay for the same (these companies do not provide COD).
This entire exercise served as an eye opener for the AVF team and I, concerning the Indian consumer. We realized that the Indian e-commerce buyer is becoming more and more confident to make purchases of over 10,000 rupees (except mobile phones) online. Going forward, we are actively reaching out to product startups with larger ticket sizes since we feel that this could be the next wave of e-commerce purchases and that has already hit us or is about to.
I did end up buying a mattress and pillow set from Wakefit, as a mystery shopper and it has been 2 months since they delivered and installed my new mattress. It is safe to say, that I won’t be visiting my orthopaedic for back or neck pain any longer.

How Did You Die

Siri tells me that it took 1,347 days from my first blog post, Dropping Out Of The Rat Race… to my 100th blog post. Thereby, on an average taking 13.5 days to write each blog post. If I remove the 31 blog posts written in 66 days of this year, the average will shoot up to 18.5 days per post, therefore making it evident that things are already looking up for my blog.
In the journey to a 100 blog posts, I have had many interesting & challenging moments. There was a post defending an investee company against a much larger competitor that made it to the Economic Times (without my knowledge). The reaction to this was a screwball approach from their legal advisor who tried to pose as though they were trying to make us their client. That whole experience that was blown out of proportion led to a writer’s block, that made me stop writing for almost 2 months. There have also been times where I wasn’t confidant if what I was writing was meaningful enough for people to read. While reading the Bhagavad Gita over the course of the last 2 years however, I have come to the realization that it isn’t worth stressing over whether people like what I write or not. All I am responsible for, is writing and expressing my thoughts and the way it is perceived isn’t under my control. That lesson (albeit difficult) is something I am starting to imbibe as a motto for all the things that I do in life and hopefully inspire the people around me to pick it up too.
Which is why I think this poem from Edmund Vance Cooke is the best way to express what I have learnt from the journey to 100th blog post, a target that I did not believe I could achieve when I started (my goal was 50).
Now my goal is to just write every week day (my goal is 260 blogs for the year) with no particular number of blogs in mind. The only goal is to write and to keep on writing, come what may cause in the end it is the journey that counts.

How Did you Die

by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it? You are beaten to earth?

Well, well, what’s that!

Come up with a smiling face.

It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there–that’s disgrace.

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;

It’s how did you fight–and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?

If you battled the best you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?


3 Videos That Always Motivate Me

There are many days in a founder’s life where he/she are searching for inspiration to feed the fire within them. I too, experience such moments, days and even weeks. In such times, I find inspiration in books on founders like Capitan Gopinath, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Warren Buffet and many others. These true stories remind of successful entrepreneurs remind me that the success is a journey, not a destination.
Then there are days like today when my body is aching, my mind is numb, and I am in dire need of that double shot motivation expresso. It is on days like these that I turn to the following 3 videos to keep me motivated.
Shift Happens
I remember this video being a huge eye-opener when I watched it back in 2008. It was the first time I realized that the world was shifting right under my nose and the only way to stay ahead of it and not get left behind was to continue to evolve.
Although today some of the facts may seem dated, this video continues to be an active reminder that those that didn’t evolve don’t exist.

212 Attitude
The margin between defeat and victory can be very small but the preparation for that minute (read: small) difference starts months, years and even decades before the victory moment itself. The difference starts by doing those small things today that others don’t so that you can do those things tomorrow that others can’t.

Bruce Lee
While there are changes taking place every minute of every day there are some days when the flux gets to me. On those days this video acts as a reminder that to thrive I must adapt and to adapt I must be formless and to be formless I must let go of my ego.
The intensity with which Bruce Lee delivered these lines continues to give me goosebumps to this very day.

What are some videos that motivate you on days like mine today? Share them in the comments below!

Dont Quit

Looking out at the inclement weather from my car window I reminisced my days as a door-to-door sales agent. Door to Door sales could be an excruciatingly painful job on occasions when the inclement weather coincided with a day with no or low sales. It was at those times that this poem, “Don’t Quit”, shared with me by my boss, helped tremendously to tide over the tough days. My boss got this poem from his boss.
Later, when I became a manager, a founder and an investor. This poem helped me get over the tough days when the perfect storm brewed right above my head. At times like these that I recite this poem to myself – quietly.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–

You may succeed with another blow.


Often the goal is nearer than,

It seems to a faint and faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up,

When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

And he learned too late when the night slipped down,

How close he was to the golden crown.


Success is failure turned inside out–

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

The poet remains anonymous. If you know who he/she is, please share it in the comments section.