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12 Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business Venture

A framework to choose which problem you should solve

Yesterday I met few friends after many years. After everybody sharing their whereabouts, it was my turn to share what I’m working on. I explained I’m working on a new venture and also shared the details of the problem we’re solving. The first question one of the friends asked was — “why did you decide to solve this problem?

It was a great question. As they say, as a startup founder, you should be able to answer these 3 questions with high clarity and conviction –

  • Why this? (Focuses on problem statement and opportunity)
  • Why now? (Focuses on market and technology landscape)
  • Why you? (Focuses on founding team)

The good part was, I had thought a lot about why I want to solve this problem from various perspectives, so it was easy to answer my friend’s question.

So I thought I should share a framework with you all that I used to decide which problem I want to solve.

As mentioned in my previous post

I researched and brainstormed a couple of problems extensively, discussed it with other people too, and eventually decided to solve a problem that I faced every single day in my professional life as a knowledge worker, and is also applicable to pretty much most of the knowledge workers in the world.

I want to fix the productivity and information loss problem that happens during every “meeting” — the necessary evil of a corporate life.


While it was a simplistic overview of why I picked up the problem that I’m currently working on, here is a list of questions I used to choose the problem I want to solve and start my next business venture —

  1. Do I personally face this problem? If yes, do I face this problem very frequently and how frequently?
  2. Do other people also face this problem? If yes, how many such people exist? Is it a very large population?
  3. Do I have the basic understanding of the problem and the solution domain?
  4. Is there a lot of progress happening in the larger space of that domain?
  5. Do I have initial thoughts on what will be the differentiation compared to competitors?
  6. Is it a hard problem to solve such that it will not be easy for too many competitors to enter into this space?
  7. If I make it affordable and at the same time deliver high value, will people pay? If yes, who will pay and how much will they pay?
  8. Will a single user receive a value from this solution or will it require more people using this service (e.g. entire team or organization) to receive basic value?
  9. How will I sell this solution? Can I sell this using bottom-up B2C2B model or will I need a typical top-down enterprise sales model?
  10. How will I distribute this solution? Are there any viral/referral distribution opportunities? Are there any platforms/partners that I can integrate with to distribute this solution?
  11. Do I believe by solving this problem, will I be making a positive impact in many people’s lives and the world a better place?
  12. Finally, if I fail to solve this problem, will I learn something new that will prepare me for the next wave/demand in the technology space?

The current problem I’ve decided to solve met all above requirements and had very compelling answers for each of the question.

I hope this framework and a list of questions will be useful to you too to choose your next business venture.


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Product Managers should be Problem Managers, not Problem Solvers

A friend of mine, who’s is a product manager at a large company shared her frustration recently that there were some reorganization and changes in her company that caused her to manage a different product than she was hired to do.

I immediately resonated with her situation. I had personally experienced similar situations multiple times where I had to give up the ownership of products I had started to other colleagues and take the ownership of new things. But most vividly, I remember a conversation with a teammate of mine, who had also gone through a similar experience.

We had hired him as a Product Manager for our Mobile initiatives, but due to some business reasons, management decided to move the entire product (Engineering, Design, Product Management) to a different geolocation center. And he wasn’t happy with this decision at all. He kept mentioning that he was hired as a “Mobile Product Manager” and that’s what he had done in the past and is great at.

I acknowledged everything he was saying, and tried to give him another product in the Web domain which had similar “consumer psychology” problems, but he wasn’t happy. Then I explained him the framework that I use for any decision making for my product or personal career decisions –

  1. First and foremost, is this in the company’s best interest?
  2. Second, is this in my team’s best interest?
  3. Third, is this in my best interest?

I would always put the company first and my interest last. Every single conversation and decisions I’ve made were based on this framework.

With this context, I explained to him that he was thinking about this change in the exact opposite order. He should understand why this is a good decision from the company’s perspective and support it.

Instead of getting too attached to “Mobile” domain and getting obsessed about the app ecosystem or particular features, he should think that — he was attached to solving customers’ problems and Mobile just happened to be a medium to solve those problems.

I convinced him that he should give a chance to other domain, understand those customers, learn their problems and give it a shot. The Web is just a medium through which we solve those problems today.

Eventually, he agreed and took up the new role. At some later point, he appreciated me for changing his perspective — and that’s why I remember this story vividly.


Everyone loves to be a problem solver. It’s a common believe that if you’re exceptionally good at solving problems then you have a distinct advantage to become very successful in your career.

But I cringe to give this advice to Product Managers.

Product Management isn’t a well-defined function. Its role is changing rapidly over the past few years. A common understanding is product managers identify problems in the market, come up with a bunch of ideas to solve it, define how the idea should look and work, and then give it to designers and engineers to build it.

I’ve also done this mistake in the past too. When I was new in my Product Management career, I received the feedback from a VP of Engineering — “Aditya, can you please mind your problem boundary?”. That feedback was harsh, but it completely opened my eyes. I realized what I was doing wrong. But I took that feedback positively and quickly stopped my day to day involvement in coming up with different ideas and solutions.

Since then I strongly believe —

Product Managers shouldn’t be problem solvers. Their focus should be to —

  • identify the right problems that their company and a team should solve
  • prioritize which problems to solve first and which can wait later
  • communicate the rationale behind these decisions to their team and other stakeholders

Essentially Product Managers should identify “what” problems they should solve, “why” their company and a team should solve it, “when” those problems need to be solved and then communicate all these things really well to their Design and Engineering teams and to other stakeholders.

And then let Design team come up with “how” it should work and look, let Engineering team come up with “how” it should be built, and let Sales and Marketing teams decide “how” to give it in customers’ hands.

The most important reason for letting other specialized teams to solve specific problems is — they feel valued and empowered.

If you, as a product manager tell a designer what to design and how it should look like, then they don’t appreciate it. Similarly, if you tell an engineer how to architect a solution or use specific technology stack, then they don’t like it. They don’t feel empowered enough to take key decisions. If you take decisions on behalf of them, they don’t feel as motivated and involved and then hesitate to take responsibility for those decisions.


In fact, I believe that we should change the title of a “Product Manager” role to “Problem Manager”. Because of the “Product Manager” title, there is this notion that they are the owners of the product and get credited for the success or blamed for the failure.

In reality, they’re just team members playing a particular role in identifying and prioritizing problems. The rest of the team is responsible for solving those problems in elegant, scalable and profitable ways. While product managers are the face of their respective products, they rarely make or break the product. It’s a collective team who is responsible for the success or failure of the product.

By calling Product Managers as Problem Managers, it will keep them away from solving problems and will remind them to focus only on identifying and managing problems.


Having said all of this, if you’re a very early stage company and can’t afford to hire specialized Designers, Engineers, Marketers, and Salespeople, then yes, as a Product Manager you might need to play different roles and get into “problem-solving” mode too. But as the company starts scaling, you should let go your other responsibilities to specialized teams and focus only on identifying the right problems and prioritizing them.


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Andy Rachleff on Product Market Fit

How I was wrong about some of the concepts of Product Market Fit and how Andy Rachleff clarified it.

I listened to this Mixergy podcast episode with Andy Rachleff, co-founder of Benchmark Capital and founder of Wealthfront. It is an exceptionally great episode. Normally most of the podcast episodes I listened to are great and I learn a lot — every single time. But this episode is special. It had some key nuggets that I had misconceptions or little different understandings. But the way Andy explained it, it made it crystal clear. So I felt compelled to share these nuggets with you in its entirety. Ideally, you should listen to the 1-hour episode, but if you’re running out of time, read the key nuggets here.


“Product/Market Fit” (PMF) is a common concept in the startup world. It is widely used in every conversation, especially in early stage startups.

As per Marc Andreessen, who wrote about ‘Product/Market Fit’ in his post “The Only Thing That Matters”:

Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

So the gist is — the best team with the best product will fail if the market is not there (using product and service interchangeably). So achieving PMF is “the only thing that matters” and that companies should strive obsessively to achieve it until they do.

So I was under impression finding a great (large and growing) market is the most important thing in finding a PMF. But as per Andy Rachleff –

In contrast to what most people think entrepreneurship is, which is evaluating a market to try to find the holes or the problems and developing solutions of those problems, that leads to very mundane outcomes.

The truly great technology companies are the exact opposite. They are the result of an inflection point in technology that allows the founder to conceive a new kind of product.

The question then is, “Who wants to buy my product?” So you start with the product and try to find the market as opposed to starting with the market to find the product.


PMF is also divided into two key concepts — i) Value Hypothesis and ii) Growth Hypothesis —

First you need to define and test your value hypothesis and then only once proven do you move on to what’s known as a growth hypothesis. The value hypothesis defines the what, the who and the how. What are you going to build? Who is desperate for it? What’s the business model you’re going to choose to deliver?

Until you prove your value hypothesis, you waste money to spend money trying to acquire customers. Unfortunately, most people try to get the growth before they prove the value hypothesis. You don’t want to get the cart ahead of the horse.


This is another big misconception I had — if you’re struggling to find a PMF, then you continue to iterate the product until you find it. But that’s plain wrong. As per Andy —

Now, within the value hypothesis, people think, “I should iterate on the product until I find something people want.” No. You stick with the product. You figure out if the first group I approach isn’t desperate, then I’ll try to find a different group that’s desperate.

Now, most people don’t do that. Most people just keep on trying more people to see somebody’s got to want it. The first class in my product market fit class I ask, “Should everyone like your initial idea?” The answer is absolutely not, because if they do, then the only reason they do is they’ve been conditioned to like it by someone else. Means people aren’t desperate for it because somebody else is serving it.


This is also a great advice on finding ideas.

Great ideas find you, you don’t find them. If you sit in a room trying to figure out, “What company should I start?” then by definition you’re starting with the market, trying to come up with the solution and that leads to mundane ideas.

Howard (Andy’s investment idol) describes the investment business with a two by two matrix. I think this matrix describes entrepreneurship as well.

On one dimension, you can either be wrong or right. On the other dimension, you can either be consensus or non-consensus. Clearly, if you’re wrong, you don’t make money. What most people don’t realize is if you’re right in consensus, you don’t make money because all the returns get arbitraged away. The only way to make outsized returns is to be right and non-consensus.

So starting with the market to try to find a problem, everybody can do that. That’s a right and consensus approach to entrepreneurship. Starting with an inflection point in technology which allows you to build a product and find a solution, that is non-consensus. If it works, it works big. That’s where the great venture capitalists all focus, back to the point I made earlier.


If I really want to summarize my understanding of PMF in one sentence is — finding a group of people who are desperate to use your product.

What do you uniquely offer that people desperately want because if they’re not desperate, there’s a good enough alternative. Let me tell you, if there’s a good enough alternative, you’re doomed. So, if you want to build a big business, an advantaged business, people need to be desperate.


Also, having a big vision to conquer a big market is great, but your strategy should be to start small in a niche and dominate it —

If you want to build a big business, you don’t go after the big market first, because those people only buy based on references, and you don’t have the references. You need to create a beachhead, a niche you can dominate. Through references, you grow from that niche of early adopters.


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Starting up… a new chapter

Today is my birthday. Birthdays are generally a good milestone to start something new, to have new resolutions and goals, to reflect on the past and think about the future — very similar to the beginning of a new calendar year.

Today is that day for me. I’m starting a new chapter of my life — one of the most important chapters of my life for the next several years — I’m starting a new company.

A day before y’day, I resigned from my current employer, [24]7 and jumped off the cliff again to start a new venture.

4 years ago, my co-founder and I had sold our previous startup Shopalize to [24]7 Inc. As a part of the acquisition, I joined [24]7 and worked there for the past 4 years. During my stay there, many people (friends and acquaintances) used to ask me when am I starting my next startup?

As they say, once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. So their question was quite valid. But I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. I knew it was not going to be “soon”. Very honestly, it was partly because we had some payouts over the period of 4 years, but largely also because I didn’t want to rush into a startup rat race for the sake of doing it and because it’s a fad.

While I had to wait there for 4 years for the full payout, I enjoyed every bit of this period on both work and personal fronts. Overall I had fun working at [24]7. I enjoyed working with some of the smartest people, built some great relationships, learned a lot of about Enterprise space, built some cutting edge innovative products, failed in getting traction for some of the products and made some mistakes too.

One of the most fulfilling reasons I enjoyed working at [24]7 is — I was able to contribute and make a direct impact in the company’s strategy and vision. It was a full package experience — I not only learned what to do in my next company but also learned what not to do. But overall, it was a great experience.

But for the past 6 months or so, I started feeling plateaued. I wasn’t able to make the progress I wanted. I wasn’t learning something new. And at that moment, the decision became stronger to start something new on my own and accelerate the learning process in pretty much everything.

Once it was clear I wanted to start my venture, I didn’t have a shortage of problems I wanted to solve. The question was — which problem should I pick to solve — and dedicate the next several years of my life for it.

For the past 3–4 months, I researched and brainstormed a couple of problems extensively, discussed it with other people too, and eventually decided to solve a problem that I faced every single day in my professional life as a knowledge worker, and is also applicable to pretty much most of the knowledge workers in the world.

I want to fix the productivity and information loss problem that happens during every “meeting” — the necessary evil of a corporate life.

I don’t hate meetings. In fact, I love them — but when they are productive. So much knowledge gets shared, so much progress is made, and so much alignment is achieved when you have good meetings.

But there is a downside to it the way how meetings are getting conducted today. So much of time is wasted and so much of knowledge that gets discussed in the meetings gets lost. And I hate that part. And that’s what I want to fix.

I’m teaming up with few other people who are equally passionate about solving this problem. It’s a hard problem and it will take many years until we achieve our final vision. But every attempt to reach towards that vision will be worth taking to make a positive impact in knowledge worker’s life.

We’re barely getting started, so the more details will get shared very soon and very frequently on this blog. So stay tuned…


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17 Things Newly Hired Product Managers Should Do In Their First 90 Days

A friend of mine recently joined a big company as a Sr. Product Manager after heading the product at an early stage startup. He asked me how should he go about joining a big company, which will be very different in culture, pace, processes, and expectations perspective compared to his early stage startup.

I was surprised he asked me that question as he is an experienced product manager himself with 5+ years of relevant product management experience under his belt. In any case, I shared my thoughts with him and then thought I should expand it more and share it with the larger audience so that all newly hired product managers, irrespective of their position, may find this useful too.


Here are few tips (mostly in the order of its priority) on what you should do in your first 30 to 90 days as a newly hired product management professional in your new company —

1. Be excited

First and foremost, you need to be excited about joining this new company and the new possibilities. You’re going to meet new people, work on new products, and solve new problems. So bring your excitement to the office every day. There will be a lot of information overload and at the same time a lack of clarity in the early days. So unless you’re excited and motivated to come to the office every day, it will be hard to navigate through this haziness.

Also, your colleagues will notice your excitement and enthusiasm. They will understand you are there because you’re interested in the problem they’re solving and want to make a difference and not just to earn yet another paycheck.

2. Understand the vision and strategy of the company and your product

Your understanding of what the company is doing and what is their vision will be limited based on just interview conversations with them. So you need to dig deeper and make sure you truly understand their vision and strategy.

Talk to the CEO or VP of Product and understand the vision and strategy at the company level. Also, talk to your manager and peers to understand the vision and strategy at your product level.

Make sure you’re able to connect the dots between your product’s vision and strategy to the company’s vision and strategy. If you’re not able to connect the dots, then discuss in detail with your manager or VP of Product to explain how your product aligns with the company’s vision. That clarity in alignment is absolutely crucial to make sure you will be spending time on the important and required things.

3. Meet 1:1 with as many relevant people as possible

Make sure to meet every single person from your product development team — not just the leads or managers, but every single person.

Identify which other products your product is dependent on. Accordingly, meet other product managers and engineering leaders of those products as well.

The success of a product is not only dependent on the product builders (Development, Design, etc.), but also on the business functions of the product too. So meet with all key cross-functional leaders like — Marketing, Sales, Finance, etc.

The common theme in these meetings should be — introduce yourself, but more importantly, learn about them. When did they join the company, what do they do now, what do they enjoy most, what do they hate most, what do they expect from your product team and specific from you, is there anything you can help them in the short-term, etc.?

4. Write down as much as possible

Take good notes. Everything will be new to you — people, products, processes, acronyms, etc. So take good notes when you’re meeting people 1:1. It will come handy in future as you start executing.

It would also exhibit your disciplined and detail-oriented execution approach to your colleagues.

5. Build relationships

Don’t treat 1:1 meetings as a one-time checklist item. As they say, it’s a people business. Continue to hang out with your teammates at lunch, coffee, or any casual occasions and build the relationships. It will be a lot easier to get things done from people when you’ve good relationship with them.

But make sure you don’t abuse your relationship. Be authentic. Everyone is smart. They can smell your fake or aggressive tactics. It takes months to build a good relationship, but it would take minutes to destroy it.

6. Understand the culture — mend or bend as necessary

While talking with people, learn how do they work —

  • How are decisions made — authoritative or consensus?
  • What gets rewarded — results or efforts?
  • What is preferred — pace or perfection?

This will help you understand what’s the true culture of the company. Culture is not what’s written on the “About Us” page of the corporate website or some posters hung up on the office walls.

Once you understand the culture — decide what you want to mend and when do you want to bend. As a newbie, you will find a lot of things different, inefficient, and broken. But resist the urge to fix everything.

First, try to understand the context and history of why certain decisions were made in a certain way. Accordingly, decide what you absolutely need to mend based on your product goals and vision. Sometimes, some battles are not worth fighting, at least in the early days of your career, so just learn to bend during those situations.

7. Be a power user of your product

Based on what kind of product you’ll be managing — a consumer product or a B2B/Enterprise solution, there will be a different level of easiness to access and play with your product. In either case, setup a demo of your product—and be a power user.

Observe everything — friction points, delightful experiences, wow moments, bugs, lack of documentation, etc. Make notes of these observations and discuss with your design and engineering leads about shortcomings and understand if this is something already known to them, and if it is on their roadmap or is it something by design a particular thing was done in a particular way.

Your goal is to not fix everything. It’s to understand your product in and out — what are its strengths and weaknesses, the reason why it’s designed and engineered that way, etc.

8. Understand the nuts and bolts of your product

Once you become a power user of your product, it’s time to understand the mechanics of your product. Meet with the engineering leaders and architects to understand the basic building blocks of your product —

  • How data flows end to end?
  • How your product interacts with other products in your company?
  • Why was this architecture chosen vs other?
  • Why was a particular tech stack chosen?
  • What are the limitations of a current solution?

At the end of this exercise, you should be able to draw a high-level architecture on a whiteboard.

While understanding the past and current mechanics of a product is a great thing, it will be equally important to understand what will be its future. Make sure you get some inputs on —

  • What new architectures or technologies these engineering leaders are considering to use in the near-term future?
  • How will it help to achieve the desired business outcomes?

9. Understand your product’s metrics

Get access to your analytics system and understand the usage of your product. Understand which metrics are most crucial that defines the success of a product. Don’t just look at the numbers, but ask your manager “why” certain metrics are they way it is. It will help you understand how your customers behave.

If there are certain insights you want to know and if those are not available, then discuss it with your manager and see if can you add it. It will accelerate your learning of the analytics and reporting system inside your company.

10. Get in front of the customers or users

Numbers will tell you “what” is happening — like which product is growing, or which feature is not working. But it will not tell you “why” is it happening — why certain functionality took off or why no one is using a certain feature.

The best way to learn these things is to get in front of the customers or users. You can be a silent listener on meetings scheduled by other colleagues, attend any usability research interviews, listen to customer support calls or read customer support emails/chats. Your goal should be to understand why certain customers are happy vs some are frustrated.

11. Deliver or ship something

Once you understand what’s working well and what’s not and why it is so, look for any low-hanging fruit that can provide high value. Ship and deliver the end to end functionality and announce it to the customers who needed it. Make sure to measure the impact of that functionality and report it to management.

By shipping and delivering a functionality end to end — however small it is — even a bug, you will be exposed to a lot of processes (security reviews, tech support trainings, etc.) and systems (infrastructure, monitoring, etc.) in the company that are required to ship any feature or a product. This will be a much faster way to learn things than reading hundreds of documents.

12. Achieve or exceed your goals

Once you start shipping some features or new product releases, you’ll feel the momentum of day-to-day execution. But make sure you’re not just spending time on checking off the product backlog items. You need to achieve important goals too and show that you’ve moved the needle.

At the beginning of your joining, ask your manager what’re her expectations from you. What 1 or 2 goals you should achieve by the end of 90-days and what should be its success criteria? And then make sure you focus on these 1 or 2 goals and do your best to achieve those. Ideally, you should aim to exceed these, but since there is a lot going on, simply achieving those would also be great. In general, having a goal-driven mindset is more important than simply getting things done.

13. Develop your execution frameworks

Once you learn how your company works, what are the top sources of inputs for feature requests, what is valued more — vision or customer requests, etc., now it’s time to define your own frameworks for execution.

These are frameworks for —

  • How do you prioritize requested features?
  • How do you do quarterly roadmap planning?
  • How do you communicate product updates with the internal team, cross-functional teams and even customers on a regular cadence?
  • How do you run your sprints, retrospectives, and demos?
  • How do you handle any escalation situations, etc.?

The more you’ll have clarity and disciplined approach in handling these things, the more effective you will be in your execution. You’ll be in a driver’s seat rather than just getting driven by everybody.

14. Read market research and industry insights

By this time, you should have a good understanding of your product — what problems it solves, who has these problems, how does it solve it, how well it solves it, etc.

Now it’s time to start looking outward and learn —

  • In which domain your product gets categorized by analysts or customers?
  • What is the landscape for the underlying technology you’re using?
  • What are the key next technology trends or consumer mindset shifts happening?

Subscribe to some of the newsletters, start following few blogs, take any online courses, or buy books and learn as much as you can about your industry and it’s future. You will be able to provide a lot better recommendations in overall product strategy and future roadmap.

15. Develop a point of view

Product managers without a point of view will be just project managers — who will get things done that have been told by the upper management. But if you truly want to drive a product, then you have to have some point of view, unique insight, and some foresight about the market shift and next trends.

90-days is a good period to learn about the market you serve, your product’s strengths and weaknesses, competitive landscape, technology trends, etc. Once you have all this information, your job is to synthesize it and develop your own point of view. You need to able to clearly articulate —

  • What’s your product’s core belief?
  • What will your product stand for? How will you position it?
  • What will you do and not do in your product?
  • How will your product be different compared to competitors?

16. Educate and inspire the broader team

As you start researching about the industry and future technology trends, share interesting and relevant articles with the broader team. This is an opportunity to inspire your team by sharing with them they’re working on something that’s going to be the future of the company and going to improve the lives of many customers.

You can also share articles or podcast episodes about the best product management practices and processes that other companies are following. Be the catalyst to bring good practices in your new company.

17. Have fun

The most important thing — don’t forget to have fun! Enjoy new learning. Celebrate wins and mini-milestones. Embrace mishaps and failures. Make friendships and laugh. If you’re not having fun in what you’re doing, then it would be very hard to give your best.


While this may not be an exhaustive list, I hope I covered most of the key areas. And I hope this will help you make a great impression and build a great rapport with your team in the first 90-days of your new career.

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6 Things I’ve Learned After I Became a Father

The rollercoaster of thoughts and introspection I had when we had almost lost our daughter.

Last week, we almost lost our daughter.

We had gone to Maui, Hawaii for a week long vacation. One afternoon, we were looking for a particular restaurant in a multi-storied business complex. When we enquired to a shop-keeper on the ground floor, she navigated us to the top floor. When we reached the top floor, a shop-keeper there directed us to the ground floor. As you can imagine, we were going back and forth with a 7-months old in one hand and her stroller in another hand, a 5-years old and my parents running behind us — in general, it was a little chaos.

And in that chaos, we didn’t realize our 5-years old didn’t take a turn from the staircase that we took and she went further down to the other end of the business complex.

A few minutes later when we found the restaurant we were looking for, we realized that we didn’t have our daughter with us.

I was pissed. I was panicked. I wanted to blame everyone — including me. But that was not the time. I ran back to the top floor, came back again to the ground floor, shouted her name, asked few shop-keepers sitting outside if they saw a little Indian girl, but nothing helped. We couldn’t find her.

It felt like my heart was beating very fast and at the same time, it was going to stop beating in a moment.

I was furious with myself. How could I let this happen? How could I be so careless? How could I not hold her hand all the time? Would I be able to ever forgive myself for this mistake? What must be she doing right now? Is she crying? Did some stranger find her? How can I reach out to the police? Can they find her on this remote island? How long will it take for the police to find her?

All these questions splashed in mind in the matter of a few minutes.

And right at that time, my wife signaled from the other end that she found our daughter.

And it felt like I got my life back.

When asked my daughter what had happened to her in those few minutes, she said she started crying as she was not able to find us and told one of the shop-keepers there that she cannot find her parents. Fortunately, that shop-keeper calmed her down and started looking for us as well. And when he saw my wife worried and looking everywhere for something, he figured she must be looking for that missing girl and approached her and handed over our daughter to her.

I was shaken by this incident for the rest of my stay at Hawaii. Especially, while flying back to home, I kept thinking about it and kept feeling how fortunate we were to find her very soon.

This got me thinking that irrespective of how much ever trouble our kids give us at certain times, or how much ever demanding or unmanageable they become in certain situations, we love them limitlessly and unconditionally.

And then I started thinking about how my life has changed — mostly for the better after our kids. I realized how I have become better at many things after I became a father. I’m jotting down those thoughts below so that I’ll have better clarity in my thoughts, but more importantly — I can go back to this essay and be grateful to my daughters for coming in our life.


1. I’m a lot more patient person now.

This is the biggest change I’ve seen happened to me after I became a father. In general, I’m a very patient and well-composed person. You’ll not see me losing my cool in public or in friends circle at all. But I’ll lose it at home — when I’m with family. Well, because you tend to take people at home for granted (and you also love them the most :)).

But as a father, you get stress tested at a totally different level than you’ve ever experienced before.

My daughter’s constant saying “no” to every meal and required daily routine, her unending questions, her constant ask to have candies, her non-stop talking about the princesses and ponies, her constant demand to watch TV, etc. is constantly testing my annoyance limit.

But because I love her so much, I just can’t raise my voice and scold her. I can’t see her crying. But that doesn’t mean, I’m not teaching her good discipline and manners. It’s just that — I prefer to be more patient, take time in explaining things, and wait for her to behave well. It definitely takes more time than usual scolding or forcing way, but by being more patient, I achieve what I want, and she also doesn’t feel forced to do something.

2. I’ve become a better teacher.

As mentioned above, I’ve become a better teacher in general. I started talking a lot more than I used to. I’ve learned to explain “why” more than just telling “how” and “what”. I’ve learned to craft stories on the fly with a hero, a villain and the lessons learned out of any situation. I’ve learned to communicate what I want to convey in the language and at a level that my daughter can understand.

I’ve also learned to teach the same lesson, again and again, knowing that what I teach will not be understood, or grasped or practiced in just one session.

3. I’ve become a better listener.

But just teaching to behave well is not enough. I’ve also learned to be a lot better listener now. It doesn’t happen instantly, but after my daughter repeats the same thing a couple of times, I know I need to stop what I’m doing and listen to her carefully.

Sometimes it’s her some non-sense talk, sometimes it’s her creative thoughts, and sometimes it’s something important that she had heard or observed. I’ve learned to listen and understand what she really means when she says something.

4. I’ve learned to put myself into others’ shoes.

But sometimes just listening and understanding is also not enough. I’ve learned to put myself into her shoes. I’ve learned to focus on “why” she’s saying something than just “what” she’s saying. If she doesn’t want to eat some specific meal, or if she doesn’t want to change her clothes, or doesn’t want to wear specific clothes, then I’ve learned to respect her view points rather than forcing what we had planned.

As a grown-up, even I’m moody sometimes. Somedays I don’t like to follow a daily routine. Sometimes I like to take things slow. Sometimes I like to eat junk food. Then why can’t my daughter have similar thoughts?

Thus, I’ve learned to put myself into her shoes and see things from her angle rather than forcing my plan or decision just because I had planned it that way.

5. I’ve started being in the moment.

I wouldn’t say I’ve become really good at this, but I would definitely say I’ve improved a lot, and I’m constantly trying to improve even more.

As smartphones and wearables are taking control of our lives, and the messaging apps and app notifications are taking control of our attention, we’re not able to give the due attention required to our kids. I know and feel embarrassed when my daughter tells me to put my Macbook or phone down. So I try to spend more time playing with her, listening to her silly stories, doing projects or paintings with her, watching cartoons with her (which I don’t get credit to spend time with her ;)), etc.

But I’ll admit, I’m still not satisfied with my behavior. I’ve definitely become better over the period (I’m less active on messaging apps, have turned off the notifications on most of the apps, got rid of most of the wearables, etc.). But I know there is still room to improve to be more mindful and be present in the moment with my daughters and the family than being with the devices.

6. I’ve started appreciating and caring my parents more.

Raising a child and being a parent is definitely not easy. And I learned it only when I became one. And that made me realize that how much trouble, tantrums, and demands I must have made to my parents, how many times I must have hurt them and tested their patience and annoyance limit as well.

As my parents are getting older and as I’m also getting “smarter” about how to live my life, naturally there are different view points due to a generation gap, exposure, expectations, etc. Before I became a father, I would expect my parents to adopt as per the new generation. I would not bend but would expect them to do so. I would not understand their view point, but would try to force my view point on them.

But as I became a father, and I started bending myself for my daughter, started changing my view points, started becoming more patient, and then one sudden day, it hit me, why I cannot treat my parents the same way I treat my daughter? The level of understanding and compassion I show to my daughter, why I can’t show similar for my parents? And that changed everything. It improved my relationship and behavior with my parents drastically.

I’m more thankful to my parents for what they have done for me.


I’m sure by no means this is an exhaustive list. There are many more benefits of being a parent that I’ve not listed explicitly here. So feel free to share your experience or lessons you’ve learned in the comments section below.

In the end, as a parent, life definitely becomes much more challenging than it used to be, but it’s a choice you make. You definitely need to shift the mindset and accept the new reality. Like many things in life, it’s a baggage of mixed moments — but definitely a lot more beautiful moments than the messy ones :).


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Being a Teacher

Last week, it was my daughter’s 5th birthday. In her pre-school, for every birthday, they give a worksheet to fill up with some questions like what’s your favorite color, favorite food, a family picture, etc. There is also a question about — “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. This year, when we asked this question to our daughter while filling that worksheet, she said — “teacher”.

For a minute we were surprised. We had never discussed being a teacher with her and it was completely her own answer. Maybe she is influenced by her current teachers at the school or her grandmother who was also a teacher.

But this got me thinking about teaching as a profession and teaching as a practice and the value and importance of teachers in the world.

This may sound clichéd but as working parents, our kids go to school or daycare for 50% of the time when they are awake. So they spend substantial time with the teachers and their school friends and learn most of the things at the school than at the home.

And as every parent, we want to teach the best of the things to our kids — not just from an academic perspective, but also from physical, behavioral, moral, social and cultural perspectives as well. And I always wonder if our kids are getting that kind of education and nurturing at the school or not. Sometimes I doubt, but in the end, as a busy parent, I don’t have an option other than trusting the education system, the school, and the teachers and hoping they’re doing their best.

And the reason I sometimes doubt it because of my own experience as a student. Throughout my entire education — starting from the 1st standard to the Masters degree, I would say, roughly 20% of the teachers who taught me were the best in what they did. I still remember every single of them very vividly. They had a profound impact in who I’m today. They were in the teaching profession because of their passion. They enjoyed teaching everyone. They had some purpose.

Then roughly the next 50% were in the teaching profession simply because it was a job to them. While it wasn’t their passion, they did their job sincerely and they were decent good at it. And in the last, the remaining 30% were there simply because they didn’t get any other job but somehow ended up getting the teaching job. It always seemed they neither had an interest in teaching nor they were good at it.

While our expectation is to have some of the best and brightest people in the teaching profession, the reality is — most of the best and brightest minds are choosing engineering, medicine, legal, management, etc. career paths due to either because of high-salaried jobs or because of their liking.

According to this article, elementary and pre-school teachers across 34 developed countries make about 22% less, on average than their full-time counterparts with similar education levels who have chosen to do pretty much anything else with their lives.

So naturally, a very small % of individuals, who are truly passionate about teaching, who want to make an impact in the world, and who care less about high-salaried jobs, decide to choose teaching as their profession. The rest (like me), decide to take other paths.

Thus, it’s clear that we can’t have all teachers in the school as the best and the brightest minds and we also can’t expect our kids to get the best education in the schools only.

So the questions remain —

  • Can we teach our kids (or even adults) outside of the school system by the best and brightest minds who are not teachers by profession but are by practice?
  • Can these doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc. allocate their time to teach others about anything that they’re good at — any specific skills, particular knowledge, cultural values, their moral and spiritual beliefs, etc.?

Now this kind of teaching need not be in a formal setting. The students don’t need to earn any certification. Sometimes this teaching could be even unsolicited as well.

Let me explain.


The other day, a friend of mine had some questions about her career change. I listened to her situation and gave her specific advice on what she should do next, how she should prepare for it, how she should approach it, etc. Overall it seemed she really liked my advice and at the end of the call, she asked me, why don’t I do this as a consulting.

A few months ago, a colleague of mine also gave me a similar feedback that I should open a consulting firm to give people advice on product management and guide them on taking their complex or hazy product ideas and crystalizing them down into short-term product iterations that deliver enough value while keeping the long-term vision and strategy intact.

Similarly, every single time I explain some new concept to my mom or even discuss some old concepts and try to explain some rationales about those concepts, she always tells me that I should have been a teacher.

In above all situations, I didn’t behave as a professional teacher, but I practiced teaching something I had learned, something I knew, something I was good at, and something I was passionate about.

I didn’t have a class of students. It started with just one other person, who needed that knowledge, skill, and guidance.


And this is probably true with you too.

You’re also a teacher — if not by profession but by practice. You are also already teaching many other people around you. You probably just didn’t internalize it that way.

But there is a value in internalizing it that way. Right now, you might not realize if you are really teaching someone or not. Or you might not know how much time are you investing in doing that. And just by observing if you are doing it or not, you will be able to make a measurable impact in someone else’s and your life too.

All you need to do is to make sure you are spending some % of your time to pass on your knowledge or skill to at least one other person. It could be your spouse, your kid, your friend, a family member, etc. And it could be any knowledge or skill — educational, physical, mental, moral, creativity, etc.

Once you start enjoying teaching one person, then you can start teaching more than one person. Maybe you write blog posts, maybe you create video tutorials, etc. which can reach to many people.

Now you might ask — but what’s in it for me?

Yes, there is a benefit in this for you too. We all know that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. So by teaching someone else, we are actually helping ourselves to learn and understand our knowledge better.

But you might still say — I don’t have anything to teach, I am still learning a lot of things myself.

That’s true with everyone. Everyone is a life-long learner. There are so many things we don’t know yet, that we want to learn. But there are many things that each one of us has learned so far, that we can teach to others. We just hadn’t thought and internalized that the knowledge we know can be valuable and is needed for someone else.

But if someone forced you to teach something to others, I’m sure you will be able to identify few skills that you are good at, which you also enjoy teaching it to others.

One way to think about it is — imagine to have some sort of “learning tax” similar to an income tax.

The way every individual is required to pay an income tax on the income they earn, imagine they also need to pay a learning tax on the knowledge they learn. And the way you pay this learning tax is not by any currency, but allocating a percentage of your time to teach others.

Just imagine the difference there would be in the world if everyone starts spending some time teaching others. This does not necessarily have to cost a lot. All it requires is a drive and commitment to help others.

And I hope being a teacher is something we all practice every day.


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Why Do Many Smart Engineers Fail To Build A Successful Startup?

Recently, I had a couple of friends reaching out to me to discuss their startups’ progress and get some advice on how to take it to the next level. In all these interactions, there were some common patterns –

  • Most of the founders are smart engineers and some of them have worked with Google, Amazon, eBay, Oracle, etc.
  • They have a B2C (focused on consumer) product, which didn’t have any transactional (i.e. user paying in some form) business model
  • They have been working on it for over a year and have a working product or technology, but are struggling to get users and increase the engagement for their product
  • They are first-time entrepreneurs

What surprised me the most is — while there is so much content available on the internet today about how to start a startup, how to follow a lean methodology, how to do a customer validation, how to build viral hooks in your product, how to implement various growth hacks, etc. but still, these entrepreneurs are making the same mistakes that many entrepreneurs have made 10 years ago.

My hypothesis is —

  1. These entrepreneurs are not investing enough time in learning as much as possible from others’ experiences by reading books, blogs or listening to podcasts and avoid some common mistakes
  2. They are not able to let go who they are and what background they came from (engineering) and grow into a new role (founder), which is required to build a successful product and a company

To build a successful software company, there are 3 skills that are essential in the founding team —

  1. Building a great technology
  2. Building a great product
  3. Growing your users/customers

After talking with these smart engineers I realized— they had largely focussed on #1 but weren’t giving enough attention and importance to #2 and #3.

If you are a great technologist and aspire to build a technology product company, then either you grow from an engineer to a product manager/designer, and eventually into a marketer/sales person based on if it’s a B2C (consumer) or B2B (SaaS or enterprise) product or have someone on the founding team who is specialized in these skills.

As an engineer, the technology innovations you’re doing are really admirable and absolutely essential for a startup. Being a smart engineer is the greatest asset you can have in this startup world. Every other “idea” guy wants you to be on their team to make their idea a reality. So by no means, I’m belittling the value and the need of having strong engineering members on the founding team.

But I want to emphasize the need of having someone with strong product sense and/or great marketing/sales skills as well.

If you don’t prefer to have someone with product design/management in your team, then you will need to play a role of a product manager/designer to truly understand your users/customers and build something they want and solves real problems.

And eventually, you will also need to become a marketer/sales person and reach out your target users/customers, talk to them and convince them to use/buy your product, and eventually know how to do it at scale and do it repeatedly.

Just because you are a great engineer or technologist, don’t assume you can build a great product.

And just because you are a great product manager, don’t assume you can build a viable business.

There is a difference between a technology and a product — most people confuses this. And there is also a difference between product and business.

Typically, technology is an applied science. We build new technologies using some of the breakthroughs in the science world to achieve some objectives — i.e. to make existing things (technologies) faster, cheaper or better (larger, smaller, last longer, etc.)

On the other hand, a product is an applied technology. We build products using multiple technologies to solve specific problems that a user faces or tasks she wants to do.

And in the end, a business is an applied product. You need to take your product and reach out to your target users/customers and have them use it, which helps you generate a sustainable economic value.


As an engineer, we gravitate towards building great technologies. Making that code run even faster, improving the performance and accuracy of that function, etc. And some engineers are really good at that. And that’s why they get hired at some of these great companies, who have built some of the greatest products for mass consumers. But just because these companies have shipped great products, the engineers who work at these great companies start believing that they can also build great products on their own.

While that’s absolutely possible, it doesn’t come handy without you putting any efforts towards achieving that goal. If you are a smart engineer and eventually want to build a great product too, then your existing technical skills are a great asset but are not sufficient. You will need to invest considerable time to achieve those product and business skills as well.

I would recommend learning these skills –

  • Consumer psychology
  • User experience design
  • Prioritization
  • Communication
  • Business acumen

Let’s dive into each one in detail –

Consumer psychology

If you aspire to build a product that is not only useful (solves a real pain point) and usable (effortless and intuitive to use) but also delightful (that creates happy emotions).

You will need to get into user’s head to understand what specific problem they want to solve and what specific outcome they want to achieve, what effort it takes for them to do that, what emotions they feel after they achieve that outcome, etc.

Once you understand the consumer psychology very well, you will nail the product that will resonate with them very well and chances of them using it actively and recommending it to their friends will increase drastically.

User experience design

As per Wikipedia, user experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.

The last part is very important — “interaction with the product”.

This is the most common mistake engineering founders make — they confuse UX Design with UI Design (User Interface Design). UX Design is a more analytical and research oriented, while UI Design is largely about graphic and visual design. While both are crucial, nailing the UX design (usable) is more critical than the UI design (look and feel).

UX role is quite complex and challenging. It involves consumer analysis, competitor analysis, product strategy, content strategy, wireframing, prototyping, usability studies, etc. So I’m not suggesting you do this everything on your own and become an expert in this. But if you understand what each function does and practice some aspects of it, then it will go a long way.

At the minimum, to provide a great user experience, focus on the lifecycle of a consumer who wants to use your product. You need to understand what they do in their life before they use your product and after they use your product. And repeat that exercise few times. This will help you understand your target consumers’ life really well to build a product that fits into their lifecycle.

Prioritization

Another most important skill you will need to learn is — prioritization.

As a technologist, you get sucked into optimizing things that are not required on the day one. You tend to build advanced technologies in-house instead of leveraging off-the-shelf services from the 3rd party providers. You believe that that’s your core IP and needs to be built in-house. You argue that 3rd party providers are generic platforms and won’t be as effective solving your specific use case. While that all is true, it’s still a mistake to optimize for these things before you even have any product-market fit. You can always build advanced technologies in-house as you start scaling.

I recently learned this from DJ Patil’s Twitter update

  • Dream in years
  • Plan in months
  • Evaluate in weeks
  • Ship daily

And –

  • Prototype for 1x
  • Build for 10x
  • Engineer for 100x

And –

  • What’s required to cut down timeline in 1/2?
  • What needs to be done to double the impact?

This is such a great prioritization framework that forces you to focus on delivering maximum value at minimal wastage. You will need to learn to be ruthless in your prioritization for all activities.

Communication

While this may sound very obvious and cliche, but written, verbal, and nonverbal communication skills are actually the most important traits you will need to master to gain credibility as an effective and trustworthy founder.

While you might be great at explaining technical details extremely well to your peers, now you will need to communicate the problem, the value and the benefits of your product to various different stakeholders — potential teammates, advisors, investors, prospects, clients, etc. You will need to wear a different hat every single time based on who is in front of you and communicate effectively in multiple languages — executive, development, strategic, tactical, etc.

Your written and spoken communication is going to be an absolutely crucial skill for your sales or marketing efforts. You will need to communicate what value your product delivers and able to align those benefits to the problems prospects have shared and eventually influence them to use or buy your product.

And don’t forget, you will need to be equally great at “listening”. Sometimes you’ll learn more when you’re actively listening as much as you are speaking or writing.

Business acumen

While this is a broad topic, having business acumen boils down having a minimum level of expertise in strategy, finance, operations, marketing, and sales. You may not need to be the expert in any one of these skills, but while communicating with advisors or investors, you will require some level of fluency and confidence in these business languages.

You will need to understand the basics like —

  • what’s the unit economics — how much it costs you to serve a customer?
  • what’s your business model — transactional, subscription, revenue-share, or ad-based?
  • how much does it cost to acquire a new user/customer (CAC)?
  • what’s the market opportunity — what’s the total available market (TAM) size, what’s the serviceable available market (SAM) size, etc.?

Now you might say, for a smart technologist by profession, learning all these skills means deviating from their core focus. While that may be true, the key question is — do you want to continue to stay only as a technologist or do you want to grow into a founder role?

There is nothing wrong with staying as a technologist throughout your startup, but then make sure you have someone on the founding team who has a great product sense and a strong business acumen.

But if all founders have technology background, then make sure at least you have someone in the founding team who wants to grow into a product manager and eventually into a business operations/marketing/sales role.

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My strategy and plan to conquer 2017 goals

Lesson learned from the 2016 retrospective

One of the things I observed in my 2016 retrospective was — I had achieved the goals that were clearly defined and had a clear action plan to execute them.

For example — I achieved the goal of improving my fitness by doing P90X3 routine, which required exercising 30 mins/day for straight 90 days.

On the contrary, I did not achieve the goals that did not have any clear action plan. For example — reading a book per month or blogging actively.

Strategy and plan for 2017

So for my 2017 goals, I thought why not apply a methodical approach so that I can be sure to achieve those. I know what I want to achieve, but it didn’t have a clear strategy and specific action plan.

For strategy, applying a top-down approach helps me start with a big picture and then break that into smaller milestones.

At the same time, for a specific action plan, using a bottom-up approach helps me define a day-to-day routine.

Examples

Fitness Goal

One of the goals for 2017 is — to exercise for 9–10 months. So from a top-down strategy perspective, I plan to do 3 repetitions of P90X3 routine. So every 3 months, I will complete a P90X3 routine, and in between take a break for a few weeks.

At the same time, from a bottom-up tactical perspective, I plan to allocate 45 mins to exercise on 6 days a week — preferably at a consistent time every single day.

Reading Goal

Similarly, for reading one book per month goal, my strategy is to read ~300 pages book per month.

And my tactical plan is to read ~15 pages per day. So I need to allocate dedicated 15–30 minutes to read ~15 pages every single day.

You got the point. I have done a similar exercise for my other goals about blogging, programming and building a startup venture.

Summary

My hypothesis is – having some kind of system and method in place will be crucial in making consistent progress on the goals I have defined.

The top-down strategy is important as it removes the uncertainties of how I’m going to achieve a bigger goal by breaking it into smaller steps.

The bottom-up plan is important as it creates daily habits by consistently allocating a dedicated time every single day.


Now this is a plan. Certainly, it might work or fail. We will see. I will update in 3 months if it worked or not.

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2016 Retrospective and 2017 Goals

I have never written any retrospective blog posts or shared my new year goals on this blog before. So this is a new tradition I’m starting. There are a few reasons why I thought it would be an interesting exercise to do –

1. Get back to blogging

It’s been a few months that I wrote something on my blog and I have been wanting to start writing for many days. And since we’re at the junction of ending of 2016 and beginning of 2017, I decided to get back to writing by doing some retrospective of my life and planning for the next year.

2. Get effective in my life

As a Product Manager by profession, I have been doing Agile Retrospectives with my scrum teams at the end of every sprint. As a part of the process, the whole scrum team reflects on their execution in the sprint and discusses how to become more effective in their execution and adjusts their behavior accordingly. We typically discuss different topics and categorize them in one of the below buckets –

  • what worked well that the team should continue doing
  • what did not work well that the team should stop doing
  • what’s missing that the team should start doing

So I thought it would be very valuable to do a similar exercise for personal life for 2016 and based on that decide what are the plans for 2017.

3. Be accountable to my new year plans

By sharing my new year goals and plans publicly, I will be accountable to achieve these goals and write a similar retrospective post at the end of the next year.


Below are the key activities that I pursued in 2016 and for each activity, I categorized it if I want to continue doing it in 2017 or stop doing it in 2017 and if there is anything new that I want to start doing in 2017.

Health

My most important goal for 2016 was to become physically fit. And it wasn’t about just doing 10,000 steps/day to achieve a Fitbit badge, but really push my physical limits and get stronger. So I started doing the P90X3 routine. If you’re not aware of it, it’s 30 minutes a day all body workout routine for 90 days.

When I started it for the first time, I could only do it for 30 days, and then something happened and I couldn’t continue. Then I again started it for the second time and I could do it for 60 days. Then again something happened and I couldn’t finish. Then finally, in the second half of 2016, I started it again for the 3rd time, and I could finish all 90 days.

I think collectively in the entire 2016, I must have exercised 7 months. Ideally, this should have been 9–10 months. But I’m still happy with the strength and fitness I’ve achieved so far. By no means, I’m a very strong person yet, so the ultimate goal is still not achieved.

So I will continue to do P90X3 in 2017 as well and my goal would be to exercise at least 10 months in the entire year.

Reading

When 2016 started, my goal was to read a book a month. It wasn’t a very hard goal, but somehow I still couldn’t achieve it. I barely completed reading only 3 books and 2 books are still in progress. I never prioritized reading books and didn’t allocate any dedicated time every day. Instead, I read a lot of articles shared on the web whenever I used to find some leisure time in between different activities.

Books read:

Books in progress:

Obviously, I will continue to read in 2017 and my goal would be still same — to read a book per month.

Blogging

I didn’t have any specific goal for Blogging when 2016 started, but I knew I wanted blog actively. Unfortunately, I wrote only 7 posts in the entire year. I definitely failed in showing consistent discipline for blogging.

For 2017, I will continue to blog and my goal would be — at least a post per week.

Podcasts

In 2016, I got addicted to podcasts. I probably listened to 200+ episodes from different hosts in the entire year. I learned a lot about different people, various topics, sometimes inspirational stories and sometimes tactical advice.

I have already shared which podcasts I’ve been listening to.

I will continue to listen to podcasts in 2017 as I absolutely love them and my goal for 2017 would be to listen to any podcast for at least 20-30 minutes/day while commuting.

Sleep

In 2016, I wanted to sleep well every day — at least 7 hours a day. Overall I believe I achieved that goal, and it definitely helped me to have fewer health issues and have better focus and energy during work days.

I will continue to have good sleep as a priority in 2017 as well. Even though I’ve more ambitious plans for 2017 in general, I’m making a mental note to not compromise on this activity.

Programming

As I started my professional Product Management career since last 4 years, I pretty much stopped programming. That was a big mistake. I should not have stopped programming altogether. While I don’t need programming skills for day-to-day work, but I’m a builder at heart and enjoy software development. In 2016, I thought I will start coding again and will build some software for fun, but I couldn’t prioritize it. I barely started coding a little bit at the tail end of 2016.

So I will continue to start programming in 2017 and my goal would be to build a meaningful software application by the end of 2017.

Music

I wanted to learn guitar since my college days. I tried learning it a couple of times, but have never been consistent in continuing it. In 2016, I was inspired by my nephews and decided to start learning guitar again using self-learning process. I started watching videos on YouTube, used few iPhone apps and started learning and practicing playing guitar. I did that for a few weeks but very quickly realized that I have other important priorities on my plate and I was running too thin on commitment on different activities. So I decided to stop learning guitar and put it on the backlog.

Unfortunately, in 2017 as well, since I have other important priorities, I will have to stop learning guitar and put it on the backlog.

Outsourcing

One of biggest mistakes in 2016 was outsourcing my old part-time software project. Since this project has paying customers and there were a lot of bugs reported and new feature requests asked, I outsourced the development of this project to an offshore development provider in India. But overall it was a very bad experience.

Partly it was my mistake. Since I did not have a lot of time, I did not give detailed attention to those developers. At the same time, those developers took advantage of that, which ended up in longer development cycles, unethical behavior, and extremely poor quality software. I wasted significant money and was completely dissatisfied with the outcome. The short-term benefit in the cost savings with a cheap labor turned out to be an expensive mistake in the long term.

I will definitely stop outsourcing anything in 2017, especially when I don’t have time to micro-manage them. Either I will learn to do things myself, or hire quality resource locally or just say “no” to any such activity which requires outsourcing.

Startup Venture

In 2016, I did not have any goal to start my own startup. So there is nothing much to retrospect here.

But for 2017, my goal is to start a new venture. The thoughts are still in early stages, so I still need some time to get more clarity. I will be spending some time in early 2017 to learn new technologies, explore few domains, meet few people, and tinker few concepts. I’m personally interested in exploring artificial intelligence domain, but if I’ll find a meaningful problem to solve in that domain is a different question, which I will continue to explore.


While this may sound a lot of goals, if I want to prioritize only top 3 goals or focus areas for 2017, then they would be –

  1. Family
  2. Health (Exercise + Sleep)
  3. Startup (Venture + Programming)

These are the “big rocks” for me. The rest activities like Reading, Blogging, Podcasting, etc. are the “pebbles”. (Learn more about Big Rocks, Pebbles and Sand).


If you’ve read until this point, then I would request if you have any suggestions for me to improve my thinking, or help achieve my goals, then please free to comment or send me an email at aditya dot kothadiya at gmail dot com.

Also, if you haven’t already done any retrospective for your 2016 and planned your 2017, then I would highly encourage you take a moment and think about it and write down what worked well and what didn’t in 2016 and what are your plans for 2017 — if not publicly, but at least for your own benefit.


Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2017. Hope you all crush your 2017 goals! Fight on!