Debating, have we got it right?

I debated in various forms for the entire 4 years of my college life, and as I’ve grown with time and experience, I genuinely believe we’ve got the concept of debating completely wrong in the education system.

The intent of all debates in schools/colleges currently is to ‘win’ the debate and convince the other person, that your opinion is the correct one, and must be agreed upon – no matter what it takes.

While the intent of any debate/discussion should not just be to speak, but to listen, learn from the other person and on occasions, even change your opinion, completely different from what you had when you started.

This flawed concept of debating is one of the major reasons why we have mediocre political debates with friends and family, brainstorming discussions at work where all of us have been trained to have such little egos, and do whatever it takes to be right, ‘win’ the discussion.

The definition of good debaters needs to seriously change from good orators with good convincing skills to people who who don’t just speak, research well, but also listen, empathise and respect reason.

Celebrating 1 year of Joblessness

(Wrote this on 09th Feb 2020)

I quit my job exactly a year back today. It’s been quite a journey.

I’m not a successful entrepreneur, I’m not a failed one, I’m a learning one.

The past year has given me an opportunity to learn and execute skills that I’ve learned in the past 10 years, and the learnings have been immense. Thought I’d share 

1. Entrepreneurship: There are no good or bad ideas. Only experiments. And experiments take time and money. And the amount of time, money and pain it can take to create something new can be indefinite. Learn to be patient.

2. Marketing: People don’t come on the Internet to buy products. People come on the Internet to consume stories. People who become the most successful marketers tell stories that talk of untold pains of the customer and unexpected gains.

3. Sales: The human brain, in most cases is triggered by greed or fear when it makes a purchase.

4. Product Management: Never pick tasks, features in your product. Pick problems, blocks, metrics to solve.

5. Writing: It takes perseverance, a lot of bad articles to arrive at a good one. The key to becoming a great writer, or to becoming anything great in life isn’t just intensity, but consistency.

6. Acting: Act not to act, but to react to what your co-actor has to say. The greatest minds listen, consume in huge volumes before they build something new of their own.

7. Nutrition: Almost everything being served to you in a packet has rubbish. Please start reading the nutrition facts.

8. Programming: Magicians exist, they write code and change the world at scale. You don’t see them speaking to you a lot because they have their earphones on, and are too engrossed in the problem they’re solving.

9. Humour: Nobody gives a fuck about your problems. Start laughing at them, and you’ll suddenly a lot of people would want to hear about you.

A good sense of humour is a skill with one of the highest recall values, beyond most of the skills that you have. You’re not born with a good sense of humour, it’s a skill that can be learned. Acquire it.

10. Handling relatives: People closest to you don’t want you to try something new, not because they don’t want you to succeed, but because they don’t want you to fail.

Every female best friend birthday post!

Like every year, I’ve forgotten your birthday this year too. But I’m going post the most embarrassing and ugly pictures of us on social media and the world is going to go ‘Aww’ on them, because they have no option. Also because they’re all mechanical engineers and single.

Also, notice the kisses and hearts in the birthday wish. They’re trying to tell that I love you. I don’t know if I really do. But social media, so we have look like #BFFGoals.

I copy pasted this line from some other female friend’s post but you mean the world to me. Remember the night out we had? I genuinely think nobody has had the kind of fun that we did, until last night when I saw Priya’s pictures that looked hotter than ours. Marjaaye kutti kameeni.

You know we are going to stay friends forever, and you know what I said before the comma is a lie. But iss post par tumhaare aur mere dono ke dost like karenge, so it doesn’t really matter.

Nobody is going to read such a long crappy post because people know they all look the same, but I had to write this. Because as I said, likes. Also because I want you to write such a post for me too on my birthday. So that people know I have friends. And a life.

Shayad voh poetry nahi

Agar tumhaara koi ek guitarist dost ban Gaya hai,
Jo tumhaari tez aur dheere bolne ne skill ko
poetic sound karvaane lag gaya hai,
Aur ise tum poetry kehne lag gaye ho,
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho.

Kyunki tez aur dheere toh mere PT sir bhi mujhe bhaga lete the.

Agar Delhi yaa Mumbai kaa koi sexy cafe background mein lekar,
Aur haath mein mike ke saath dp khichwaakar tumhe likes mil rahe hain,
Aur ise tum poetry kehne lag gaye ho,
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho.

Kyunki likes toh sirf pout aur top shot se bhi mil jaate hain.

Aur agar tum raat ko baat se,
Aur time ko mime se rhyme karne lag gaye ho,
Aur isse tum poetry kehne lag gaye ho
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho

Kyunki rhyme toh main bachpan mein “Roses and Red sky is blue, Oh dear Reema I love you” bolkar main bhi kar leta tha.

Agar agar tumne poetry ki naam par
Sirf ‘The road not taken’ pada hai
Aur tab bhi tum apni likhne ko poetry kehne lag Gaye ho,
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho,

Kyunki sirf ‘The road not taken’ padne waala poet poet nahi,
School kaa student hai.

Aur agar tum India aur Pakistan mein Aman aur Shaanti ke topic par poetry likhte ho,
Aur ise tum poetry kehne lag Gaye ho,
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho,

Kyunki tum galat nahi tum chaalu ho.
Kyunki tumhe pata hai dono taraf se likes milenge aur India aur Pakistan mein ghanta koi aman Shaanti nahi hone waali.

Aur agar tumhaari ghatiya rhyming par snapping kaa clapping aane lag gayi hai,
Aur isse tum poetry bolne lag gaye ho,
Toh ho sakta hai tum galat ho,

Kyunki bhookon ko khaana
Aur first time listeners ko kaisa bhi content pasand aa jaata hai

Par agar tumhaari videos viral hone lag gayi hai,
Agar tumhaari castism, racism sexism ki daaru par baatein hone waali discussions logon ko stage par bhaane lag gayi hain.
Aur agar tumhaari mike waali DP par tumhaare tinder ke matches bad gaye hain,
Toh is skill ko pakad lo jakkad lo gale lagaalo,
Kyunki haan, haan, haan yahi poetry hai!

Aur iss chutiyaape ko logon ko poetry samjhaane mein zindagi kaa kaafi lamba hissa nikal jaata hai

Note: This poem was just for laughs, hope this made you smile. I love all you lovely writers/poets 🙂

Happy birthday, dear 25 year old me

Happy birthday, dear 25 year old me. I like 25.

I like 25 because it’s kind of young, and it’s kind of old. I like 25 for it makes me realize that one-third of my life is over, for it makes me realize that life actually is too short, for that Kal Ho Naa Ho songs never made more sense than how much it does today.

I like 25 because it gives the rishtedaars a reason to crib, and I love how they crib. I like 25 because I don’t know who I love, and what I love, but kasam se I’m trying hard. I like 25 because I can still break, and fail, and fall into pieces, into so many pieces that it’s hard for anyone to recollect, but I can recollect myself because I’m just 25.

I like 25 because I’m not ‘kiddo’ enough to hit on that girl elder to me, and not old enough to hit on that girl younger to me. I like 25 because 25 feels just right.

I like 25 because the alcohol is legal, or maybe I don’t like 25 because the alcohol is not going to be fun anymore.

I like 25 because I like ‘liking’ that MBA college status, that happily married status, that raising of a million dollar funding status, that viral video status of 25 year olds like me. I like 25 because I know I’m still not there, I know I can get there, and I know that even if I don’t get there, I’m going to be just fine.

I like 25 because of the number of unanswered questions it gets with it, because life ahead is uncertain. I like 25 because I like uncertain.

*This post was written on 11th September, that’s when my birthday is 🙂 *

Kalakaar hun main

Picture of an empty stage for an artist to perform
Kalakaar hun main

Roz ki bheed bhaad mein, bhay mein ghute tere voh vichaar mein,
Kalakaar hun main

Maa ki mamta, toh kabhi premi kaa ek tarfa voh pyaar hun main,
Kalakaar hun main

Bhrashtachaar, aatank, balatkaar ke khilaaf sadiyon se cheekti voh guhaar hun main
Kalakaar hun main

Kabhi jeet ki khushi, kabhi haar kar bhi chalte rehne ki pukaar hun main
Kalakaar hun main

Sathar saal kaa buzurg gaayak hun,
Naukri karta hun voh lekhak hun,
Aur ‘passion’ follow karte hue haath mein liye guitar hun main,
Kalakaar hun main

Lakh koshish karle, par nahi rok paayega mere khayaalon ko tu,
Kabhi kalam, kabhi nritya, toh kabhi dhun par sawaar hun main,
Kalakaar hun main.

Your step by step guide to building impactful products!

Why do a lot products fail, and why do some of them succeed and do so well? What is it that kickass Product Managers do that makes them get such high output in less time, that average PMs would otherwise take large amount of time, and features to achieve?

The usual process for a product manager before building a feature is the identification of the problem the user is facing through various qualitative/quantitative means(the WHAT), moving on to find the possible solutions(HOWs), and then the execution of some of the features from the list of features that they think are higher priority features. But what they pay very little/no attention to is spending on predicting which solution shall work the best. The third step doesn’t have to be a subjective, but a very objective call to achieve high output.

Apart from design, analytics, UX, business and technical specifications, this strategizing of picking the right features is a very important skill for a Product Manager to know.

The next few steps going to serve as your kickass guide, which should help you predict the impact of features well before building them. Use this guide to build impactful features, in interviews, to impress people, whatever works best for you 😉

Know your funnel

To be able to get a good and broad understanding of the user journey in your product, it is important to know the various stages of your user and the number of users in each stage. A very basic user funnel in any product can look like:

Visitor -> Lead -> Activated -> Converted

For instance, on an ecommerce platform, a user funnel can look like the one below:

Knowing the number of users in each step of the funnel will let you know where your users are actually dropping off, do the analysis on why they’re dropping off and then build your tasks accordingly.

As you can see in the funnel above, one such prominent problem is that only 3% of the users complete a purchase even after adding the item to cart. It, hence becomes an important problem for the ecommerce company to solve.

Bucket features

Before you build a feature, try to bucket them on the following lines:

Necessary: Is there a feature that has high financial impact? Is there a usability issue for the user that I need to solve? Is there a feature that will significantly reduce the effort of my sales team? If there is a feature that solves any of the problems on these lines, they need to be picked on highest priority.

Experiments: There are features that you think can make it big, because of various reasons(because of data backing it, because you’ve spoken to the users who feel there is an issue with the product, it is a hunch based decision), but are not very sure of how well they shall perform.

For features like these, it is important you perform experiments to validate the impact.

For instance, say you think launching an offers section in your app will result in higher number of people making a purchase on your app. You think so because your competitor has had offers on their app for quite a while, and have in fact given them high visibility. But because you are not sure, an experiment can help you validate this hypothesis. Showing your app with the offers section to half of your users, and without the offers section to the remaining half will let you know what upside the offers section brings to your app, and whether you should have offers in your app or not.

(Experiments can be done through A/B testing, you can read about it further here)

Hygiene features: These are features that have to be present in the product, and will most probably not have impact metrics attached to them. For instance, my account page, terms and conditions, cancellation policy, uniform design guidelines in the product, research on a new analytics tool etc. in the product. Their impact doesn’t need to be quantified, but the validation can be simple on how many users actually use the feature.

A good mix of these features usually makes a good roadmap for building a product. I typically distribute necessary, hygiene and experiments as 60, 20 and 20%. Going extreme on any of the three verticals in a given timeline is usually not recommended. Why, you ask? Say for instance, you only pick 100% validated necessary financial tasks in a quarter, because you aren’t picking any experiments. In this case, your company isn’t doing any innovation and hence won’t have a USP in the long run. Also, because you haven’t picked the hygiene tasks, a lot of priority user problems will end up staying unsolved.

Similar argument can be given for other cases.

Quantify features

Before building any feature/product, try to come up with the following statement about the feature:

“This feature will improve the X Block by Y% in the next Z months”

For instance,

This feature will improve the Visitor to lead % of the product by 0.5% in 2 months”

Remember, there is no feature in product that does nothing. If it actually does nothing, you shouldn’t really be picking it in the first place. Quantifying the impact of a feature gives you a good sense of whether you should really pick, and which ones you shouldn’t.

Looking at the impact of the features after you’ve built them will always have bias on what impact metrics you should be looking at. You’ll only end up looking at the metrics that have improved to self-justify yourself, and not at the blocks that actually matter. You don’t do this on purpose, you do it because it is human nature to really like what you’ve built and think what you’ve built is successful.

Once you’ve quantified the impact before building a feature, there’s no scope for you to do sales, even to yourself. Because you can now be very objective in the impact of the feature, and do its root cause analysis.

Most importantly, quantifying the impact helps you prioritize and pick the right features before building them.

Benchmark the impact of the features

But wait, the immediate next question that comes up is, how do I predict the impact of the features that haven’t been built? Yes, it’s a tough task, but it can be practiced and learned with experience and hard work. I use the following techniques to benchmark a feature:

1.      Identify what are the metrics you’ll impact: For instance, if you change the color of your chat head to give it more visibility in your app, it’ll result in more number of message sends which might eventually result in more number of conversions. The former is called lead metric, and the latter are called lag metrics.

2.       Predict how well your features will perform: You can use any of the following techniques to be able to do so:

a.      Previously launched features: If you have the learnings of the impact of a similar feature that was launched previously, or the same feature launched on a different platform, you can use them to predict how your feature shall perform.

For instance, you can use the learnings of how well the offers section performed in your android app, to better place the feature on your desktop/mobile site/iOS app.

b.     Competitor analysis: If you want to introduce an offers section in your product, the placement of this feature can well be decided where your competitors have placed this feature, and why.

c.      Experiment: If an impact of the feature is not known, try and experiment your product with and without the feature. I’ve explained experimentation before, but the success/failure of the experiment shall help you gauge on how the feature shall perform if it is fully rolled out.

d.     Guesstimate: Do a plain guesstimate of how well your feature shall perform, if it’s an absolutely new feature, or space that you have no idea of. Remember the questions they used to ask us in interviews? Estimate the number of cabs in India? Similarly, try and do a rough estimate of how many users, which user segment shall use your product and why.

Make sure, keep in mind variable factors like seasonality, varying tax policies etc. that aren’t in your control, but affect the impact your feature shall bring while you do your predictions.

A snapshot of how a roadmap can look like basis the techniques above is given below:


Needless to say, once you’re done launching a feature, spend time validating the impact of the feature/product you’ve built.

Once you’re done validating, you should have an answer as to why your feature achieved what it was intended to achieve, or why did it underachieve/overachieve.

Use these learnings in the next feature/product you build. Repeat!

Phew, long read, wasn’t it? But I really hope you learnt an important aspect of strategizing and prioritizing in building impactful products. 🙂

Nani, tu badi yaad aati hai

So it’s been exactly two months since I lost my nani. Been trying hard to write this for her, but would stop writing because I ended up crying and missing her too much. Dedicating this to my nani, who was the most beautiful and chirpy woman I know. Love you, wherever you are 🙂

Waqt ho gaya hai ab tujhe mujhe chhode hue,
Par naa jaane kyun teri yaad mujhe chhod kar nahi jaati hai,
Nani tu bada yaad aati hai

Pyaar karne waale toh bohot hain,
Par kisi kaa pyaar vaisa nahi, jaise tu sir par fer kar kar jaati thi,
Naani tu badi yaad aati hai

Kaun mujhe chhup chhup pyaar kar 500 ke note de jaayega, jaise tu de jaati thi?
Kaun mujhe “Puttar tu bada kamzor ho gaya hai” keh kar ghee mein latpat paranthe khilaayega, jaise tu khilaati thi?
Naani tu badi yaad aati hai.

Kaun mujhe baagdo billi aur sarla behenjee ki kahaaniya sunaayega, jaise tu sunaati thi
Naani tu badi yaad aati hai.

Tere ghar abhi bhi jaata hun, Aur use abhi bhi naani kaa ghar kehlata hun,
Bas kami itni hai uss ghar mein nani tu nahi,
Voh ghar toh hai, par uss ghar mein uski ruh nahi

Jhooth nahi bolunga, toota zarur hun andar se
Teri arthi uthaane kaa, tujhe aakhri saans lete dekhne kaa gam abhi bhi zinda hai mujhme,
Par fir bhi dil khol kar, muskuraakar jee raha hun, Bilkul vaise jaise tu muskuraati thi,
Nani tu badi yaad aati hai.

If you enjoyed the poem above, sharing a beautiful video of my nani that I shot when she was with us.

Yes, it’s hard after a bad board exam result

Bad board exam results
It’s hard after a bad board board exam result

So the board exam results came just today. And like every year, I wasn’t amazed by the amount of philosophical content that came online which talked of how unimportant marks are in the long run.But sadly enough, they were mostly people from IIT/Stephans/SRCC/DCE/NSIT writing those statuses.

But lets be honest, in most cases, the marks that you get is what you worked for. If you’d worked hard, you must’ve scored well and if you didn’t, you didn’t score well.

The heartbroken ones are actually the ones who’ve work really hard, but end up being in mediocre colleges because they didn’t get it right on the day of the exam for various reasons. And it’s these students who end up with mediocre careers because they give up too soon, because the society forces them to believe that their brains are lesser compared to that Stephanian, SRCC, IIT, NSIT guy.

I was in a Tier 2 engineering college for a year, and then worked hard to move to a tier one college the following year. And I can tell you for a fact that being in a tier 2 college isn’t pleasant for the ambitious folks.

If you’re a class 12 kid who has got great marks in your board examinations, congratulations. Make sure you continue working hard; beautiful days lie ahead of you.

But if don’t have that amazing scorecard, yes it’s a tough bumpy ride ahead of you. Companies aren’t going to accept you quick, investors aren’t going to believe in you easily; not because you don’t have a good enough idea or traction, but because they won’t that IIT brand on their portfolio, and of course Sharma ji kaa beta is going to piss the shit out of you because he made it to IIT/SRCC/NSIT. But what’s going to be awesome is that you need hustle more than Sharma ji kaa beta,

Good colleges atleast in India is majorly not because of some ground breaking education they teach us, but because of the amazing students the ‘Tier 1’ colleges have.

At NSIT, I was surrounded by such smart people throughout my 4 years, and what being surrounded by smart people does to you is that you become smart yourself. You know skills and dimensions about yourself that you never knew existed before, and even kick ass in a few of them.

So here’s to those guys who’ve failed in the boards. Badhai ho, life has hit you sooner than the ones who didn’t, and it’s time for you for you to get your shit in place and work hard. Harder than Sharma ji kaa beta. Really hard.

Surround yourself with really really smart people. Go out and say hello to that guy who built his company at 19, to that amazing topper of SRCC and learn how he does what he does. Some are going to reciprocate, some won’t. But make sure you keep at it.

Go in debates, writing, coding, business plan competitions and beat that student from IIT, SRCC, DCE, NSIT. Don’t let the world ever tell you that you aren’t smart enough. Shit is not over, shit has just begun.

Sad story of every person wearing specs

Broken specs
That’s exactly how my broken specs and heart looks like

1. You wear a pair of specs.
2. In some days you get bored of it, so you buy a new pair.
3. You forget the old pair because you think it’s design is baba aadam ke zamaane kaa, and you’re too sexy for it now.
4. You click selfies, tons of selfies. You don’t want people to notice your pretty face for a change, but your brand new specs because bro it’s expensive and new.
5. 10 days later, your friend sits on your pair of specs. The asshole breaks your new pair, and your heart.
6. You’re blind now. Everybody shows you the middle finger and asks you “Bro yeh kitni ungliyaan hain”. You badly need the old pair now.
7. But you don’t find the old one because you gave no fucks to it after you bought the new one, and you realise that the saas bahu serials were correct. Puraane rishte zaruri hote hain.

Watching Kyunki saas bhi bahu thi on Youtube right now to learn good values again.