5 books you should read this year

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One week into the new year and we probably are looking at our list of things we want to do this year. If reading more is one of the things on your agenda or you are looking for book recommendations, here is my list.
books reading list 1. Linchpin by Seth Godin
A powerful book which helped me make a big career move. Acted more like a guide who pushed me off the cliff so that I could learn to fly.

2. Discover your Destiny by Robin Sharma
This book was like God sent. Happened to pick it up at a time when life was going through a rough patch. Inspired and put me back on the right course.

3. Rashmi Bansal Book Series 
Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, Connect The Dots, Take Me Home – 3 of her books influenced my decision to quit a regular pay job and take up the challenge of running a business with my wife.

4. Dave Trott Books – Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking & One Plus One Equals Three
These 3 books by Dave Trott are a wonderful read. Don’t get mistaken that it’s only for those in advertising or marketing. Anybody can read this book and start making decisions which are more about common sense.

5. Autobiography of a Yogi 
A book much recommended by @rodinhood (Alok Kejriwal) This has been a very tough read for me. I have left this incomplete and I do hope to go back and finish it soon or maybe even re-start. There is something about the book which draws you in and puts you in a very different zone.

What are you planning to read this year? Do share your recommendations with me in the comments.

Sticker activity to keep the kid busy

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Holidays are fun times for the kids. Holidays also mean the parents have to work hard to keep the kids busy. I have joined the Early Learning for Toddlers and Preschoolers(India) group on Facebook which has been a good source of inspiration to make up activities for my little one. Last week I tried one, which she enjoyed and spent good time completing the sheets.

sticker activity kids child

What to do?
Buy bright colour different shaped neon stickers. These are available easily in local stationery shops. Take a couple of blank sheets and draw patterns, shapes which the child needs to decorate with the stickers.

I made 2 sheets. One of them had shapes, where I asked her to put stickers on the borders. Great for hand-eye coordination and good skill development to get those stickers in a line. On the second sheet I wrote the numbers in blocks and asked her to put the stickers accordingly.

This is one of the few activities where I was happy to get her full attention and kept her busy for about 1 hour.

Let me know if you’ve got some fun activity ideas, would love to hear them.

 

Film Review: Bajirao Mastani

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Two big releases on the weekend – Dilwale & Bajirao Mastani. With limited work load, I was determined to catch at least one of them before it was too late. Good sense prevailed and the love story of a warrior was picked.

Bajirao Mastani Film Review

As a staple diet, Sanjay Leela Bhansali offers you his magnum opus creation. Beautiful grand sets, lavish costumes, exquisite jewellery and a star cast hand-picked for the roles. He once again manages to get some superb performance from his choice of actors – Ranveer, Milind Soman and Mahesh Manjrekar. The ladies – Priyanka & Deepika play their roles with utmost royal elegance.

The dialogue writers have done a fabulous job to ensure that a personality like Bajirao is not only good with his sword but also has the ability to slice people with his words. I do hope there is a video collection of his dialogues.

All said & done, Bajirao Mastani is Ranveer’s best performance. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t steal the thunder at all the film awards in 2016. He has put in immense work to play the character. The maratha dialect, the body language and the energy which portrays a fearless warrior smitten by love.

I have come back entertained and strongly recommend that you catch this only on the big screen to enjoy the movie in its full glory.

Answering the “What do you want in life?” question

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The answer to “What do you want in life” would be most often answered in objectives – A good house, fancy car, lovely long holidays and more. Very few of us can define our life needs, the way this person has done it:

Rather than argue over numbers in a spreadsheet, we instead each listed the lifestyle we wanted. My list was simple: Eat dinner with my family every night, send my kids to good schools, work out three times a week, and if everything fell just right, fly business class. Clarifying success in terms of daily life vs. dollars made it easy to agree on how much was “enough.”

Extracted from: Never quit a job you hate without first doing this

What a wonderful way to look at life.

RIP Dr.Kalam

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As the country mourns the loss of a great visionary and one of India’s finest President – Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam, I would like to take just a moment and share one of his quotes which had the strongest impact in my life and has kept me going.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

11 Lessons from being a business owner

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Last month I completed 1 year since I quit advertising, quit a job and started managing a small business along with my wife. What I do now is different from what I did in the past 14 years of my working life. Different but at the core very same.

However running your own business has some challenges and some lessons you need to learn fast if you want to survive, grow and make your efforts count.

1.Self-starter Wanted
There is No Boss for a pep talk, no colleague to drink with and no HR for your Annual Review. If you can’t be a self-starter then things are going to be a drag. You need to wake up every morning & get to office NOT because your boss needs you or the client is firing. But because you have clients to face and salaries to pay at the end of the month.

2.No role only responsibility
As a business owner you have no defined role you only have responsibilities. If transport fails, you need to load the taxi and have the good delivered to the client. If your accountant is missing, you need to issue bills and follow-up on the money.

3.Respect your time
If your business is a small setup, chances are you are working by yourself most of the time. Which means you need to fix deadlines for yourself and ensure you don’t get lost trying to check Facebook & Twitter because there is nobody expecting a report at the end of the evening.

4.Penny Pinching
Every penny counts. Cost of courier, travel & telephone expense, staff entertainment – all these indirect expenses matter if not controlled. So be wise, search for cheaper options, look for ways to ensure your expense is controlled from day one.

5.Build relationships
I think this one applies for any scenario – Job or Business. Don’t work with people because you think they are being paid and hence obliged to deliver. Work with the attitude that together you are fulfilling a requirement and helping everyone in the deal move forward. Respect them all.

6.Hire attitude then talent
As a small business owner budgets can be small when it comes to hiring help / talent. My experience – Hire people with the right attitude. A 6/10 on talent can be made into a 8/10 over a period of time. Hand holding, guidance and training should get them there.

7.Develop a problem solving attitude
Shit will happen. Things will not go as planned. You will be challenged almost all the time. As a small business owner if you don’t develop a problem solver attitude there is very little you will be able to achieve. Leave the comfort, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

8.Spread your hope & risks
No single client should be responsible for all your expenses. Spread your business so that you don’t have to close shop if that client goes out of business or just happens to not pay for the services/goods. Keep the faith but spread it.

9.Keep innovating. Keep experimenting.
In the last 1 year we have experimented and introduced our clients to a varied product range. Some were hits, some failures. We have worked & then re-worked our price points, re-seller commission models and everything that goes with it. We have banked on the success but haven’t stopped the innovation because we for sure know that our best designs will be outdated very soon.

10.Build your image
As a small business owner, I strongly recommend spending good time & some money building the right imagery for your business brand. Do you have a well designed logo? A sales pitch for new clients? You don’t need to spend mega bucks on marketing but do focus on the smaller elements to build the right image for your business.

11.Money is a bitch
Buyers will come in with very big smiles. They will agree to prices with maybe a small smile but they will smile the least when you talk about payments. If you happen to be unlucky, at some point chasing your OWN HARD EARNED money will become a TASK. Calls, follow-ups and what not. So play safe. Keep your risks minimised.

Want to share something with me & my readers? Do leave a comment below.

Photography finds a new expression at Freecultr Express

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A few months ago Sandeep Singh, my ex-boss at Quasar Media who now heads Freecultr called me to introduce and induct me into the BETA version of Freecultr Express. This is an online initiative by the fashion brand to let artists / photographers & the creative lot have their designs printed on a t-shirt, which are available for consumers to buy online or at the brands’ stores. The earnings per t-shirt are shared with the design owner.

It was an experiment & over a weekend I handpicked some of the photos which I think would look good on my online showcase.You can browse my design store here.

freecultr t-shirts photography

Over the last few months, the project has done well for the brand and also become the centre point for the brand as can be seen from their new website design. I am sure the artists too have benefited from the project. Besides earning some pocket money for myself I am happy that my photography has found a new platform to be displayed & appreciated.

The Woohoo! Moment was last week when Sandeep shared this screenshot from Jabong.Com One of my design t-shirts was featured on this online fashion store.

freecultr jabong t-shirts

Express Freecultr at Jabong.Com

This has been a great boost and I am hoping to select a few more of my photos which can make for some fabulous t-shirt designs. If you’ve got some pieces of creative work, do send in your work to the team at Freecultr.