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Fifteen books that can make you a better business leader

Fifteen books that can make you a better business leader

I enjoy reading non-fiction books – ones that encourage, motivate or inspire me. Books that – if widely read, could affect and improve billions of lives.

On my 35th birthday, Aditi got me a gift that keeps on giving. A Kindle Oasis. An amazing high resolution eInk reader that’s light as a feather and that let’s me read eBooks even in the dark with no strain on the eyes.
Prior to having a Kindle, I had been buying paperbacks from Amazon. The device ties very well to the minimalist life style I have become accustomed to living.  I carry it everywhere I go. I don’t buy physical books anymore. But the ones I did buy – I can’t seem to let them go.
Here is a list of the 15 brilliant books that have influenced, inspired and guided me in my journey of entrepreneurship. They’re in no particular order – in fact, I don’t think I’m even qualified to sort them using any criteria.

1. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

Richard Branson’s inspiring, intimate and enjoyable autobiography. Walks you through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship from the quintessential entrepreneur.
Teaches you the value and power of branding and marketing.
A couple of factors influenced why I named my company “Zindagi“. One of them was a result of getting influenced by a quote in his book about the definition of a business – “A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better”.

2. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

When someone asked Elon how he learnt how to build rockets – he nonchalantly replied “I read books”.
This book taught me that “dreaming big” is not just a phrase you’ll read in almost every second self help book. It’s something that can be implemented.
Taught me that it’s okay to be reckless at times.
Reminded me that if you really believe in something – give it your everything! You’ll be much happier pursuing something you’re truly passionate about.

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

I like to read books from cover to cover – so at first, this concept a book being like a buffet of sorts didn’t make sense to me. It still doesn’t – So why do I think it’s a must read..
The author, Tim Ferriss has this incredible ability to distil a lot of information down to crisp actionable items.
The book puts into perspective that time is your most valuable asset. It teaches you how to put that time to the best possible use to get successful fast.

4. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

I almost felt like the author knew me and offering me advice specific to my company. He explained why small business fails because the owner’s three personalities are in constant clash – The Entrepreneur, the Technician and the Manager.

5. Rework by Jason Fried,  David Heinemeier Hansson

Crisp advice for smalls businesses by the creators of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp.

6. Direct from Dell by Michael Dell

An old book but the concepts are evergreen! The story of how a college dropout built a $30 billion company.

7. Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World by Stuart Diamond

Didn’t make me a good negotiator (I still end up going to the movie that Aditi decides).
Kidding – I think the advice is sound and if practiced daily, will make me a better negotiator.

8. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The brilliant TED Talk speaker goes into more details on how great leaders have changed their companies by focusing on Why!

9. Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar

Convinced me that that good salesmen are not “shadowy master manipulators who just want to sell you something just because they’ll meet their numbers”. Selling is a “transfer of feelings”, when you’re genuinely trying to help the other person.
Taught me that the best time to sell is Always! “Timid salesmen have skinny kids”
It taught me that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
It taught me that people will do business with you only if they trust you!

10. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Opportunity and time on the task determine success – not a high IQ.
The chapter of “The trouble with Genuises” had a tremendous influence on me. It has a section on Chris Langan, the man with an IQ of 195 (30% higher than Einstein).
Gladwell indicated that IQ is important only up to a certain threshold. After that, IQ, or “Analytical Intelligence” can’t help you as much as “Practical intelligence” can – i.e. the knowledge that helps you read situations correctly to get what you want… the skill of knowing what to say, to whom, at the right time, in the most effective manner is more important than being a genius.

11. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

A brilliant book about the power of persuasion. This books delves in to the 6 “weapons of influence” which cause people to say “Yes”. While it’s well researched and written by a PH.D, the language is simple and relatable to everything we see around us. You’ll learn how to become a skilled persuader and how to protect yourself against them.

12. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss

A book about how to pick up girls using seduction. However, It’s perhaps one of the top books for anyone wanting to become a salesman as it teaches you the value of the 30 second pitch, first impressions and the power of marketing.

13. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The story of how Jeff Bezos created a $500 Billion company by taking retail online, by always putting the customer first, and by constantly innovating.

14. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Warns you about the risks of spreading yourself too thin. Reminds you to apply selective criteria for what is essential and helps you “getting the right things done”.

15. Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher

Thought provoking and practical advice. Reinforces ideas about having an attitude of gratitude, finding positive influences, and how to be an “idea machine”.
For the readers of this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I’d love to know which books have you read which have had a positive and inspiring impact on you. Please type them in the comments section below. Thank you!
Part 2 – Kuch Apna Karna Hai – My Journey as an entrepreneur

Part 2 – Kuch Apna Karna Hai – My Journey as an entrepreneur

Ambition in the face of mortality…

“It’s difficult to say at this time.There may be a chance that you’ll survive and live through this”
That was the prognosis shared with me in 2007 by a very reputed doctor in AIIMS Delhi. Hearing those words gave me a very different perspective about life. The experience had contrasting effects on me.
On the positive side:
  • I learnt that my time here is limited. I got a harsh lesson that terminal illnesses are not something that happen to “only to other people”- I’m not immune!… no one is.
  • I always used to get pissed when my time was being wasted by anyone; and I hated it when I lost money. After one year of living like a vegetable staring at the ceiling above my bed, and after spending a fortune in medical expenses, I realised that neither my money, nor my time is truly mine. It can be taken away from me at any time. I learnt not to bother about small setbacks. “This too shall pass” is no longer a trite colloquial phrase for me.
On the negative side, I became… bitter. I had lost all ambition!
I believe that facing mortality can swing you either of two ways – it can either give you laser like focus towards achieving your goals at a fiery pace, or it can bring you down to the point where not only do you lose faith in any Higher power, you also lose all sense of wonder about the world.
You get into the “What’s the point?” Mindset – a mindset where you believe that your life is just transient; that you, and everyone, everything around you is here by accident, a series of chemical reactions; so, why bother carrying desires to achieve anything – you’re going to turn to dust soon. No matter how healthy you are, there’s no way to know how much time do you have left.
This is a very dark and scary place to be in.


It took me so many years to get myself out of this quagmire of skepticism… but when I did come back out – It was with the below realisations:
  • I realised that I can never undo the memories of all the bad things that happened to me. Instead, I need to accept that these memories are, forever – a reflection of who I am.
  • I made my peace with the “absence of certainty in life”. If all I am is life’s sparring partner – then so be it. I’ll take life’s best punches – and I’ll stand up and raise my gloves after each fall, right upto the point I am knocked out. I’ll keep learning new things, keep doing new things, keep seeking new adventures until my time’s up.
  • I realised that life, indeed is beautiful – That until I die, I am still living, and that I’m lucky to have been given a chance to be here.
  • I realised my mind can be trained to unshackle itself from the limitations it imposes on itself.
  • I realised that others in the past… people who would have been no different than me – would have worked really hard for me to be able to live the way I am living; It’s only fair that I strive to contribute in whatever way I can, till the time I can.
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”  
– The Bible

Lesson: Give it away for free

Zindagi’s first project involved designing and implementing the network for an armed forces organisation. Much to the chagrin of my team – I did that project without a PO.
Zindagi’s first full blown Cisco ACI implementation was done on a PO worth 1 Lac INR, around 1400 USD! That includes travel and other expenses.
When I started out – I didn’t have a guide in the industry who I could trust and seek advice from, or with whom I could brainstorm my ideas on how to build revenue. The entire process of entrepreneurship for me was full of trial and error.
“Bhai, tujhe dhanda karna nahi aata”
If I were given a dollar for each time I have heard that phrase, boy, my topline would look really sexy 🙂
After 2 years of having been an ‘accidental businessman’, I’ve not only been able to keep the company afloat; I’ve got new paying customers; I’ve connected with multiple people who have influence; I’ve built a team of brilliant engineers; all while ensuring that we’re in the green when it comes to the bottom line.
If someone were to ask me today – How do I start? How to increase clients? How to grow my topline? How to be successful? – My response would be: Give it away for free…
You’ve got to start somewhere. Might as well show your value by giving what you have for free.. or, for a small token amount perhaps. Not only will you gain confidence in your capabilities to deliver – next time, when you “sell your product / service”, you would have a much better understanding of it’s worth. By giving it away for free – You’ll not only get customers, you’ll have market tested products / services, you’ll gain respect – and most importantly you’ll get new ideas on how to improve on your offering, and what else can you offer.
Here’s a pertinent quote from Paul Arden’s book “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be”:
Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you.
Remember at school other students preventing you from seeing their answers by placing their arm around their exercise book or exam paper.
The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves.
Eventually you’ll become STALE.
If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.
Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.
Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership.
They’re not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating on the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up.

Lesson: Be nice… to everyone, and never break trust!

Here’s the banner that’s on my Zindagi email signature – right below our logo is our company motto, that articulates our ideals:
Abhijit S Anand, CCIE#19590(DC,Collab),VCP6-DCV, VCP6-NV, VCP6-CMA, RHCE, CWNA, CWSP
VP, Operations | Zindagi Technologies | | +9197XXX25XXX | @AbhijitSAnand
“You can have what you want, if you help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Meet Me on | Join by Phone: +91-11-6480-0114 | Meeting ID: 579 056 037
Let’s say if you were to decide today – that you’ll treat everyone with respect, consistently – irrespective of their rank, social stature, religion; irrespective of whether they have something to give you – or the other way around. What if you were to commit that you will build long lasting relationships of trust with your family, your customers, partners, and your friends.
Where will you seek to gain inspiration for change? Religion? Spirituality?
For me, this realisation was years ago – when I was sulking after having spoken rudely to my mom – something that I would shamelessly admit having done many a times back then – and that too for petty issues. It’s odd how one tends to lose respect for their loved ones just because they live under the same roof. That same day, I’d have spoken to my customers, colleagues, or my boss in a polite tone – because social decorum demanded it, because I’d want to make a good impression.. or simply because I’d not want to get fired. What hypocrisy 😞 !
In that moment of epiphany, that I decided to change:
  • I’ll try each day not to be an A$$.
  • I’ll be consistent in my conduct irrespective of who I talk to – be it at home or in office.
  • In each relationship I maintain, be it with family, customers, partners, co-workers or friends – I’ll maintain a positive balance in the “Relationship Bank Account”
When Aditi and I got married – we made a pact… We’ll work on our relationship each day – we’ll make it a practice to invest in our “relationship bank account” each day – so that, when times are tough and we’re stressed, the withdrawals won’t cause the account to be overdrawn.
If you’ve never heard of the “Relationship Bank Account paradigm” – it’s espoused by Stephen Covey in his book – it’s a simple yet profound concept – here’s a quick summary:
  • We know how regular bank accounts work – you make a deposit, save some money – and you withdraw money when you need it.
  • A relationship bank account is an account of trust instead of money. An account of how safe you feel with the other person.
  • Covey talks about 6 major ways to make deposits and avoid withdrawals:

1. Understanding the individual:

  • Seek to understand first than to be understood. When speaking to someone, don’t just wait for them to finish so you can speak. Learn to listen, concentrate and emphasise with how they feel.

2. Keeping your commitments:

  • Don’t break promises you’ve made. If you have to meet someone at 10 AM, be there at 9:55 AM. If you’ve committed to complete a project by a certain date – put your heart and soul into ensuring you honour that commitment. Living up to every word that comes out of your mouth goes a long way in building up the emotional reserves required to maintain a relationship.

3. Clarifying expectations:

  • We can’t expect others to know exactly what we want. Communicating our expectations clearly and succinctly helps build trust between individuals.

4. Attending to the little things:

  • Small courtesies, kind words, words of encouragement, genuine smiles, a little extra effort, doing something “you didn’t have to” – all these things build trust.

5. Showing Personal Integrity:

  • Integrity is the moral floor on which trusting relationships are built. When we consistently operate with a sound moral character, it makes it much easier for others to trust and believe in us. Nothing is probably more damaging to a relationship than lack of integrity.

6. Apologise sincerely when you make a withdrawal:

  • As humans, we’ll make mistakes that will lead to withdrawals from the bank account. Knowing you were wrong, admitting you were wrong, and apologising sincerely prevents wounds from festering and gives them a chance to heal.

Nicety when negotiating

As an entrepreneur and the founder of a bootstrapped startup, I am responsible for owning the company’s P&L and ensuring that we’re always in the green. A key responsibility for a person in my shoes is to know how to negotiate. The problem is – I can’t! I’ve read books on negotiation; I’ve gone through Udemy videos to improve negotiation skills – however when it comes to sitting face to face with the SCM / procurement guys – I go red-faced and my lips get parched as the negotiator tries every trick in the book to break me:
  • I’ve been called for a negotiation meeting at 9 AM, and made to wait in the lobby till 4 PM with the occasional message “Sir toh abhi busy hain, aap ke liye kuch laye…chai piyoge?”
  • The value of my services have been be-rated and scoffed at by the “bad cop” in the room.
  • I’ve been “salami sliced” – where my offer is broken down into small components, and then concessions are sought for each one individually.
Being treated like this can easily cause you to lose your chi and let your emotions get the better of you.
Here’s how I’ve dealt when treated this way in the past:
  • Always be nice! I tell myself – it’s this guys job to treat me like this. He may be the nicest person in the world, but he’s just doing this in the interest of his company. I’ll not let the pressure get to me – I’m here to offer my services to them, and I’ll do so like a gentleman.
  • I know the worth of what I’m offering. As a provider of best in class professional services, I know this market and I’ve seen what the competition is offering – I’ve seen projects fail because they were given to someone who picked it up and sub-contracted, who further sub-contracted – thus resulting in total lack of ownership, no accountability, missed deadlines, and unhappy customers. I make sure I articulate this politely and unapologetically.
  • Refer the above lesson “Give if away for free”, I have had the chance to test the value of my services. I, therefore, know my “walk away” price – the point below which I won’t make a decent enough margin for all the effort my team will put into this. If I’m pushed beyond that price, I politely refuse by stating that its unfortunate that we can’t work on this deal, and that I hope we can work together in the future.

Trust and Temptations

As an IT consultancy, Zindagi Technologies takes part in deciding which products / solutions are the best fit for a set of requirements. Given the large milieu of vendors in the ICT ecosystem – we partner with many organisations when stitching together the solution.
In the past 2 years – I’ve been tempted with rewards, to act in such a way that where my actions would cause me to break a verbal commitment with a business partner or customer. It’s at times such as these where your integrity is tested… it’s at these times when I look up at the above points and decide what I would lose if I were to give into such temptations.
Here’s what I’ve learnt – As your reputation grows as a trusted consultant to decision makers, the more you’ll be put into such like situations. At times like these – use the above points at guiding principles and put your customer’s interests paramount. Not only will you strengthen the relationship with your partner / customer – you’ll gain respect in the eyes of the individuals who tempt you in the first place.
Part 3…
Kuch Apna Karna Hai – My journey as an entrepreneur – Part 1

Kuch Apna Karna Hai – My journey as an entrepreneur – Part 1

My journey so far…

May I ask you to take a moment to apply these three questions on yourself:

  • Have you ever looked around at the way things are being done – and get the feeling that you can improve them, change them, influence them so that they’re better? But then you feel that you can’t – because you’re too confined by your responsibilities or your job… or that taking such an action would bring you out of your comfort zone?
  • Do you still “love your job” the way you did when you started? – Or, has it become a monotonous drag that you’re too scared to let go of because of the steady income?
  • Do you find it unacceptable that someone else can decide that your time from 9 AM to 6 PM each day is worth a pay check of X Rupees? Would you rather work for yourself and thereby increase your earning avenues?
If your answer to the above questions is a yes – then you may relate to my story.

The tipping point…

It’s been 2 years since I left a well paying job (~50 lac inr per annum) to start Zindagi Technologies LLP.
Zindagi is an IT consultancy and Professional Services organisation which specialises in Smart City planning, design and implementation of all Data Centre, Command n Control centre, video surveillance and WAN components that go into the making of a successful smart city.
I’m often asked what my tipping point was; that caused me to quit my job and start my own company. Did I have a brilliant brainwave that I felt I could convert into quick cash? Did I get the urge to help a lot of people and “give back” to humanity? The answer all the above questions is.. well.. no. My story has an inception point which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to:

“Yaar, Kuch Apna Karna hai ”

I belong to a middle-class Indian family; I worked many years in a 9-to-6 job; and whenever I had some free time whilst at the tea stall below the office building or while travelling back from the customer site – this feeling of wanting to live on my own terms, to be my own boss – was overwhelming.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

“A Services Company.. Really?”

The first discouragement I got when i started Zindagi out was – “Why a services company? Aren’t there enough of those? You’ll just be a commodity! What value will you add? Make a product instead!”.

All the above points are true and valid in their own right – being a services company is hard work; the competition is steep; the margins aren’t all that great; reputation is everything; it’ll take years to build a reputation of being a quality service provider – and you’re going head first competing with the behemoths of the service industry.

Despite all of that, I went ahead with a services venture anyway. Why? Because I saw the potential to do things better. To convert requirements to scalable, resilient, cost-effective solutions. To choose the right products and, wherever required – to develop bespoke solutions to meet customer requirements.

Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs on challenging status quo:

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.
Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. 
That’s a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

I’m working towards some ambitious goals for my company for the next 2 years. Some of them are:

  • Make Zindagi a company where the team is self-motivated, and where innovation and creativity is encouraged and rewarded.
  • Build a reputation for Zindagi – one that represents Honesty, Competence, Commitment to customer success and the ability to execute consistently.
  • Contribute in making India grow by working on the planning, design and implementation of all ICT components of Smart Cities.
  • Build an easy to use, vendor agnostic, modular, policy driven IT Automation product.

For everything I think I do right each day, I feel there are perhaps a 100 things i feel i could have done better. Each day, I’m learning how I can serve my customers better; how I can build a better team; how my company can contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country…

The intent of this series of blog posts titled “Kuch Apna Karna Hai…” is to share some lessons i learnt along this journey so far; maybe some of you will find them useful when discovering your own path. Good luck!


Lesson: Avoid taking advice about entrepreneurship from family or friends

Starting out, I could see many reasons entrepreneurship wasn’t for me. Some of them include:
  • Mum’s been a teacher all her life. Dad – a doctor. There was no one in the family to advice me on how to run a business.
  • I live in New Delhi. If a group of researchers were to be asked to identify the top 10 cities in the world that nurture technical entrepreneurship – I find it highly unlikely that my Dilli would make that list – perhaps Silicon Valley and Bangalore would be somewhere close to the top.
  • I had no idea where to start – Do I want to become a services company? Do I want to make a product? Should I become an online reseller?
When I asked Dad what he thought of my decision, he, in his own sweet and loving way, expressed his wise opinion to my mom –
“Our son’s an idiot! – He’s gotten a decent job… He recently gotten married; and now he wants to forego his pay check and start paying out salaries instead.”
When I consulted my friends – most suggested:
  • Wait for a few more years
  • Gain some more sales experience
  • Get an MBA first
  • Don’t do it – you’ll most likely fail. You’ve got stability in your life – why take the stress? why break the equilibrium? Why take the risk?
  • You’ll not going to do anything that hasn’t been done before… nothing impactful will come out of your efforts – why bother?
When deciding whether to become an entrepreneur, I suggest you do not take advice from your family or friends. Don’t get me wrong – they’re your well wishers – but that may not be a good thing in this case. Their cumulative life experiences could have taught them differently; and while they may indeed have your best interests in their minds – I believe the only person who can take the final call on whether you will succeed in entrepreneurship is you!
Here’s a clip from “Pursuit of happyness” where the character played by Will Smith starts off telling his son why he’ll be an average at basketball because his father wasn’t good at it.

I tried to comfort my shocked Dad by saying “Pa, what’s the worst that could happen? If i fail, I’ll just join a job once again na”.
But when Aditi asked me what would I do if I failed; I told her the truth – “I don’t intend to go back. I do not know what life has in store for me – but I really don’t want to be an employee anymore. Worst case – I’ll have to ask mom and dad to feed me for a few months while I try to get on my feet – but I won’t join back!”
There wasn’t a camera in the room that day – but here’s a pic from the Big Bang theory – Pennys’ facial expression in the picture below is as close a match as i can find to Aditi’s when i showed her my “12-month Astute Lifestyle expenses plan”.
I wonder if she called her parents that night in shock.

Lesson: Before starting, get your finances in order…

Did you hear of the story of how awesome Compound interest is? It’s about how your money plus interest will keep increasing in value over time. If you start with just a single penny and double it every day for 31 days, you end up with … $21,474,836.48. More than 21 million dollars in a single month! So, the sooner in life you start investing, the richer you’d be close to retirement! How cool is that!?!!
Mohnish Pabrai explains compound interest… the famous chess board example.

Yeah – I heard that story too, back in my teens. Then I forgot about it, and decided never to act upon it. Some crazy stuff that happened in my life that made me develop my own interpretation of ‘Carpe Diem’ and I decided there’s no point saving for a rainy day. So for all my years of hard work as an employee – I didn’t have a decent corpus of wealth. Dad’s probably right – In some ways, I am an idiot. Don’t be like me, guys – start investing early.

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

― Albert Einstein

My suggestions to wannabe entrepreneurs – before starting out:
  • Over and above the planned business budget – Save at least a years’ worth of cash for your family expenses.
    • Learn to live in a “college student budget”.
    • Determine how much you’ll need to spend per month for such a lifestyle.
    • Multiply afore-mentioned amount times 12.
  • Get insurance.
    • Your savings will go out of the window if you’re not covered.
    • PLEASE do not buy ULIP and Endowment plans – go for term insurance!
    • Get health insurance for your parents and yourself. Yeah – your company provided you medical cover as an employee – but now you’ll need to cover for yourself… bummer
    • Get your home and car insured.
  • It’s best to go in without any financial baggage. Before putting in your papers, try not to have any financial burden – no car loan, no home loan, no personal loan, no education loan.


Part 2…

Zindagi Technologies – and the joy of being able to build things

Zindagi Technologies – and the joy of being able to build things

This blog post is a copy of a short message I sent out to the Zindagi team a few days back. The intent was to encourage my team to venture out, take risks and build things; to not be scared of large challenges that seem daunting at first.

Zindagi is a young team – comprising of bright young minds all looking for the proverbial lever to move the world. I believe it’s my responsibility to groom these minds, by pushing them so they discover their strengths and capabilities, by working on exciting projects and cutting edge technology.

These past months, the Zindagi team executed some fascinating projects:

  • Worked on designing the data center and WAN for a large smart city
  • Deployed a pan-India IP Video Surveillance system covering around 600 medical colleges.
  • Deployed the Data Center and LAN for the head quarters of the entity responsible of handling the unique identification of each Indian.


Dear team,
– I’ve always loved building things, and i’ve always enjoyed fixing broken things.
– For example, I was very young – 3rd standard i think, when i saw an article in a science magazine to make a “Crystal radio” – i just followed the steps using Mica stone, coil and wires hooked on to the faucet and the TV antenna.

Hearing Vividh Bharti on my own battery-less radio gave me so much joy – it’s hard to describe!

– Any gadget, any appliance, any device that my dad used to buy – the first thing i did was to read the installation manual and get the thing to work.
– I used to love opening up the gadgets such as radios and telephones – some, i was able to put back together to it’s original state – some, well – not so much. Mom still winces when recalling memories of me and my screwdriver.
– This curiosity of wanting to see how things work… this sense of wonder of knowing how something is built… the delight of being able to fix something that’s broken.. These feelings are what have driven me towards the direction i’m pursuing in my life.

When I hired you, each one of you – all that i was looking for was this – whether or not you and I share this same sense of wonder. I saw it in each one of you. Please don’t let lack of confidence hold you back!

Team – While I’m sure that it’s a comforting feeling to know that you have a senior member of the team who can help you out – your safety net, your mentor… I request you, rather, i challenge you – get out and try to do your work without that safety net.  There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. LET GO of the fear that you can’t do the task on your own. Shake yourself out of your comfort zone – don’t take a step back and look for help if you’re entering unchartered territories. Do you think that this team would have existed if I would have decided to stay in MY comfort zone?

Ships are safer when in the harbour – but that is NOT what the ships are built for!”

All I’m saying is – the feeling you’ll get when you complete the task on your own – is far more comforting than the one you’ll get when you decided to fall back on someone else’s assistance. I’m not saying that you shouldnt reach out to help – but before asking anyone else – Ask yourself – Have you given this your best shot? Could you have done / tried something else? What additional info / knowledge / skill / experience does this other person have that i don’t?

RIP it apart! See how Neo does it!

When I was in Cisco TAC, my team members used to ask me – “How is it that you know this technology so much more than we do? Did you go through some additional trainings?”. Honestly, I used to give them the same gruesome and gory example i’m giving you guys here – see the link above – it’s the final scene from the Matrix. See how Neo enters Smith and rips him apart to smithereens! That’s my take at learning technology – RIP IT APART! Know everything there is to know about that topic! Become NEO guys!

Finally, here’s some motivation from my favourite movie franchise at all times. It’s my “27th kilometer clip” – i used to listen to this when i was on the 27th kilometer of a full marathon – when every ounce of my body was telling me that i can’t finish! It still has that effect on me.

That’s how winning is done!

Keep moving forward team.. take risks, make mistakes, learn from them – that’s how you’ll evolve as a person! And never ever loose that sense of wonder in anything that you do!

Your very proud colleague,

Abhijit Anand

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