215: Purpose

Is there a rhyme or reason to why we are here?
In this vast universe, floating all by ourselves
not a soul in sight, not another life we know of

We tell ourselves, I am but a pale, blue dot

Pause for a moment, take a deep breath, close your eyes
you are just a pale, blue dot
floating in a vast ocean of darkness

The purpose of your life is to make it worthwhile.

185: America

Today is America’s independence day, the day she achieved her liberty from England. There will be fireworks, wishes, and general good cheer. I’ve lived in the United States for over twelve years now. I came here a few days before I turned 22 and have made this my home. Not having grown up here or having an emotional attachment to either the independence day or childhood memories of watching fireworks, I would always struggle with getting into the spirit of the 4th. I’d wonder if it’s because this is not *my* country and I didn’t grow up here?

The real reason I believe is that I was attached to the notion that I need to celebrate America, the country’s independence from her rulers. Recently, while going through a frustrating moment in my battle with the immigration laws here, I questioned why I crossed the great pacific ocean and moved here as a young adult and continued to contribute to this nation’s development and progress vs my birth place. I love India, where I grew up, and do care much about her progress and development. Why then am I here?

I think I’ve found my answer to this tiny existential crisis. America, in my humble opinion, is not simply a nation. It is more than that. It is an idea. It is an ideal. There is no place, no country elsewhere on this planet that, as a whole, carries the spirit that America does. It is the closest version of utopia (to the extent utopia exists) on earth where freedom, justice, and the opportunity to make something worthwhile of yourself are seen as basic requirements, not optional. No other country is home to such a diverse population who have all, in one way or another, positively contributed over generations to America’s progress.

So, on this fourth, raise a glass to the liberty that gave birth to this idea.

2: War Rooms

CrunchBase 2.0 development is well into high gear now. While everyone in the team is accomplishing a ton and working efficiently, we were still running into many blockers and gaps in spite of our best efforts, both from a process and team point-of-view. To address some of these, a few weeks ago we decided that the entire team of 10 engineers and the product lead, will work together in a common, enclosed space and try to mimic a war room, hackathon-style working environment until we relaunch.

While I expected this to benefit our situation, I was initially concerned if it would feel forced. However, the result surprised me — everyone took to it with the right spirit and it felt organic. So far, it has worked wonders for us. We are moving at a much faster pace, identifying potential problems ahead of time, coming up with simple and effective solutions to problems, and unblocking each other quicker. The energy in the room is palpable and there is a buzz akin to a hackathon.

In my previous gig at Qualcomm, we did some war-rooming the closer we got to the software release date and inevitably things moved faster.

While this working model/style may not be appropriate for very long periods of time or large teams, I would say it is probably the best mode of working for groups of 2-3 when they are collaborating on a project. When the project/feature is done, team members rotate to other projects and this continues.

1: Habits

One of the best changes I made to my daily routine this past year was waking up early and clocking in time on my personal projects, doing some thinking, or occasionally just attending to the todos I needed to get done — before I begin my regular, day job. The result was, I almost instantly complained less about not having enough time. My anxiety levels about my projects dropped. I no longer felt that I wasn’t making progress.

For a very long time, I would work when I was “inspired”. I did get some really good work done during those bouts of inspiration. However, I now believe that the net output that I produced was far less than what I could have if I’d instilled and followed the habit of “just showing up”, day in, day out.

Mason Curry’s book, Daily Rituals re-inforced this for me.

In 2014, this is a habit and ritual I hope to continue with. To further capitalize on this habit, I am going to try and wake up an hour earlier than my current wake-up time of around 7am.

2013: Year In Review


Building the CrunchBase 2.0 team and product
From the first hire to the eighth. With a strong team of engineers, I led the engineering effort through thought, action, leadership, and example. It has been an incredible experience so far of building a strong team and product from the ground up. I gave it my best and the experience so far has taught me a mountain on how to create and mobilize an energized team of people, the challenges and ways of engineering a complex product towards a robust solution, and the pitfalls and what-not-to-dos in such a mission.

Starting to ride a motorcycle
This was one of the unexpected joys of 2013. I had never pegged myself to be a motorcycle person but riding one to work and around the city is one of those primal, liberating, and enjoyable experiences.


The decisions you don’t make have a cost that is greater than the benefits you reap from even a good decision.

Your attention is finite and the rarest of rare resources. A forty eight hour day will do you no good if your attention is occupied by inconsequential things.

Don’t engage with anything or anyone frivolously, i.e., without respect.

Don’t linger for long without purpose. Corollary: move with purpose.

Your place as the leader is earned. Be a fine example of it.

Get off the computer if you want to do anything original

Being in front of the computer is detrimental to your thinking. I’ll go as far to say that it kills your creativity. It robs you of your ability to have eureka moments of new ideas.

As someone who writes code but also indulges in a fair bit of big-picture thinking, I’ve seen this happen to me repeatedly. I think most people in professions that require creative problem solving work in two modes.

The wired-in mode is where I’ll work on something for hours at end. For me this usually involves writing code, developing a front-end UI, or solving a problem that requires digging in, understanding new concepts, and coming up with solutions. These are phases of being “in the zone”, the most satisfying periods of work for me. I’d imagine for a writer this is when they are on a roll churning out hundreds of words in a stretch. For a painter, this is probably when it’s just them, the canvas and the long night ahead. However, imho, this is not when original thinking happens, at least not often. This is the mode to be productive, to advance your work. For me though, this is not the mode when I develop new insights and ideas.

The second, dormant mode is where the thing at the top of your mind (the problem, project, or idea) is a running thread, albeit in the background. It’s there and your brain is silently working away at it — unraveling the tangled threads, getting rid of extraneous data, surfacing important information. You are almost unaware this is happening. You are likely engaged in a low-effort activity like driving, showering, pacing your living room, or even dreaming. And boom, once in a rare while, if you’ve been at it long enough in this dormant mode, there is a moment of insight. The eureka moment. The aha thing that escaped your best efforts when you were wracking your brain in frustration trying to come up with a new idea or solution. There is of course, a lot of work ahead of you to validate it, to test it, to develop it. But, you now have a new direction, a path worth exploring. The only requirements — patience, relentless thinking, readiness to spend long spells of what appears as inactivity, and the most important, time away from that glowing screen for when that moment finally presents itself.

I like to think of it as an alternate interpretation of the Zen proverb – When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


– Lord Alfred Tennyson

“We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”