8 ways to change your mind to be more peaceful

 1. Change your brain chemistry to increase serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin

  • High-intensity exercise
  • Deep sleep
  • Supplements and nootropics
  • Music and dance
  • Socializing and intimacy
  • Flow state by doing things at the right level of difficulty, or accomplishing quick wins
  • Certain drugs (though you may be borrowing from the future)

2. Make plans or progress to address underlying problems

  • Creating a to-do list
  • Quick wins and progress
  • Embracing challenges as a way of life
  • Getting advice or help from a friend, colleague, or mentor
  • Dropping some goals, expectations, or commitments; or extending timelines

3. Reframe underlying and subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and mindset to make your feelings and actions more positive

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy 
  • Self-hypnosis, Manifestations
  • Gratitude
  • Peers, coaches, mentors

4. Identify, vocalize, and integrate different parts of your mind and life to achieve harmony

5. Understand the cause-effect of everything in your mind and outside, and achieve equanimity and clarity in the process

6. Surrender to the universe and accept a greater power beyond you

7. Understand the impermanence of life, drop all attachments and aversions, and live a harmonious life

8. Drop the intellectual facade and enjoy the magic and absurdity of the experience

The Best Job Rejection

I still remember the phone call 14 years later, so it clearly meant a lot to me.

In my final year of college in Singapore, I was selected to interview with Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG Singapore was known to be extremely selective - interviewing only a handful of people every year and hiring maybe 1 or 2. So the pressure was on and I spent every ounce of my energy in the next 1-2 weeks preparing for the interview. I also bought and borrowed some nice clothes and got a haircut to look presentable.

The interview day arrived. I was nervous but as prepared as I could be. I did okay, but I knew I hadn't really nailed it.

A couple of days later, I got a phone call. It was one of the partners who had interviewed me. He shared the bad news quickly - I didn't receive the job offer. He also explained that he was the dissenting partner, so he was calling to explain his decision. He talked through the case study (it was about a small airport trying to grow profitable), highlighted the parts I solved well, and what I had missed. I agreed with him and thanked him for the feedback. He ended on an encouraging note and wished me the best. I didn’t get the job, but I got closure and helpful feedback.

A partner at a top firm called a fresh college grad after interviews to explain his rejection decision - what an incredible standard for being empathetic, respectful, transparent, accountable, and helpful!

I have been through many interviews since, but this has never happened again. Companies worry about legal risks and efficiencies but forget the human effort and emotions. To be fair, candidates also do the same when deciding to accept a different offer or when leaving a company. We could all benefit from a more empathetic, respectful, and transparent interview etiquette.

Tell me about a time when the job hiring process was broken.

It's been a few weeks since I published my first book - The 5-Step Job Search. I feel happy about the milestone and how the book has been received. But I have to admit that I also feel conflicted about writing a book on the topic of job searching.

I was confident it was needed and would be helpful - that isn't the problem. I feel conflicted because it's a band-aid to succeed in an inherently broken system that I have come to despise, despite being reasonably good at it.

I'd much rather prefer if we can fix the system. I'd much rather prefer if we made the system perfectly meritocratic so that everyone can just focus on being good at their jobs and be magically placed in the right job for them, rather than spending even an ounce of energy in learning to be good at this bizarre skill of job searching.

But that’s just wishful thinking. 

Proxy games

The world is crowded and noisy. Most of us suck at knowing what we want and filtering signals from noise, be it in dating, investing, or hiring. So we invent or blindly accept little games and proxies that help us confidently make not-terrible decisions.

When I was pitching to VCs recently, a friend advised me that fundraising is a different game than building a company - you need to be able to do it, but it isn't a reflection of your ability as a founder. Job searching is similar.

The resumes are screened and selected, implicitly or explicitly, for some desirable phrases, pedigrees, and unverifiable and definitely inflated achievements. We have only recently acknowledged and grown past the blatant gender and race biases in this process, but plenty of others remain strong. If you don't come through a referral, your resume will probably never get past a poorly functioning AI to a human eye.

The interviews are mostly standardized questions that are now freely available in Leetcode, Glassdoor, Blind, or Exponent (along with answers if you upgrade). Most prepared candidates parrot their answers with the standardized CIRCLE, STAR, or IMROBOT frameworks that they have learned and practiced a hundred times. They perfectly match the standardized assessment rubric but bear little resemblance to how the job is done. Beware of trying to solve a problem on the spot like you would in real life, or being creative or nuanced because you will run out of time and your answers won't fit into the neat little rubric the interviewer has to submit.

And let's not forget the creative story-telling round where you narrate unverifiable stories about odd situations conjured by the interviewer - also called the leadership and behavioral interviews. The assessment criteria are a mystery to both you and the interviewer alike, but the general rule is to keep them easy to follow, engaging, and always climax with you as the wise savior. Of course, keep it authentic, but not so naively that you come across as a regular human doing a regular job. That'd raise all sorts of red flags. Again, do not try to wing this - rehearse various versions of all stories for all possible situations, or you will lose out to the other candidates with a more impressive script or delivery.

The hiring process has become so standardized and mechanical that it's fallen victim to Goodhart's Law - “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure". The gap between what it takes to get a job and do the job has grown as much as FIFA on Xbox vs soccer in the field. Hiring processes have come to resemble standardized tests, which are now more a measure of how well you are prepared for them, rather than the required skill set. It isn’t surprising because they were invented by the same kids who loved and aced the standardized tests. Like a good Ivy League application process, they may be okay at identifying the safe and average bets, but eliminate outliers.

How did we get here?

Underlying all these issues is the fact that the vast majority of humans are inherently bad at interviewing and assessing (including those who think they are good), as Daniel Kahneman proved to us. Some forward-thinking companies adapted to this insight and developed a checkbox approach devoid of all human judgment to make not-terrible decisions.

And then there's hubris of how the final decisions are made. I have been in several hiring debriefs and decision meetings, and it's astonishing how anyone can randomly shoot decision-altering opinions from their hip, with little evidence or objectivity. As in any polite corporate groupthink setting, most of these are quickly accepted at face value without much debate or challenge. There's really not much rigor, feedback loop, or accountability for the quality of comments or decisions, so it's mostly a silent failure.

So we have developed this not-terrible cookie-cutter system and diligently transplanted it across all companies sparing little critical thought to revisit or refine it over the years. And like every system, it has been gamed and outdated to the point it is no longer useful. Today many of us see and loathe the absurdity of this system but we helplessly or indifferently continue to play in it.

Is there a better way?

The best way, in my opinion, is for the hiring process to be as close to the real job as possible and over an extended period of time. 

At my startup, when we were trying to hire for a new role, we contracted part-time with a couple of candidates for a couple of months. Through the process, we learned and refined what the role requires and how the candidates performed. At the end of the contract, it was pretty clear who we wanted to hire and it wasn't the one who we'd have picked based on their resume or initial conversations. Of course, there are practical concerns with this approach. You don’t have to do exactly this but explore creative ways to get as close as possible. 

As a company, it is important to introduce accountability into your decision making. This means holding interviewers to a high bar in conducting and assessing the interview, or even requiring the dissenting interviewers to share the news with the candidate, as Boston Consulting Group used to do. 

As a job seeker, you can go out of your way to proactively demonstrate how you'd do the actual job well - through projects, portfolios, and reputation - so that you will be spared from some of the silliness and coin toss of the proxy job search game.

Fitness, not Health

"Be healthy" is a misleading and unhelpful slogan and goal. 

Most young or middle-aged people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s enjoy "good enough" health. So being healthy isn't a very inspiring or urgent call to action. It's a low bar that they have already hit.  

The health issues start in their 50s and beyond. 

Fitness, as measured by strength, speed, flexibility, or endurance, is a much better goal because most people would agree they aren't fit enough and fitness is actually a leading indicator of long-term health.

Selective Aggression

In poker, there’s a concept called selective aggression to maximize your winnings - be conservative when you have an okay hand but get aggressive whenever you have a good one. 

A few years back, I got a good hand in my career. I was doing really well in the job and had also developed a good rhythm and reputation. I was also getting paid over 3X what I had ever made before, with a path to more raises and promotions. 

But instead of doubling down, I decided to roll the die again and take up another opportunity that seemed interesting. Turns out I didn’t roll sixes this time. 

The lesson is that life is always going to be a game of chance. When you hit a winner, double down. Explore and extract. 

This is true for business as well. It’s extremely hard to find a Product-Marlet fit, but when you do, go all-in and extract as much as possible, rather than exploring another P-M fit. This is also true in investing, relationships, hobbies, or habits. 

2+ Hard Things

I published my first book last week, and I’m very happy about the milestone and how it’s been received so far. 

The process has made me more familiar with the Amazon Kindle bookstore. I’m suddenly aware there are tons of books published and many of them seem quite promising. But despite that most never really take off in a big way. 

This has made me realize that the secret to success isn’t doing just one hard thing. Writing a book is hard! It takes a ton of motivation, resilience, domain knowledge, writing skills, and creativity. But clearly, just doing that one hard thing isn’t enough. 

But if you combine that one hard thing with another hard thing, you dramatically increase your chances. If you do a tour promoting your book, run a marketing campaign, or if you have already earned a reputation in your domain, your book suddenly rises above all others. 

The reason is simple - there are 7 billion people in the world and we have a pretty efficient market. For any single hard thing you are doing, there are many others doing something similar. But the competition, quality, and uniqueness of what you do dramatically increases with you do 2+ hard things*.

The first hard thing gets you the entry ticket into the game. The second hard thing onward is when you really start playing and winning. 


1. You can also do a less popular hard thing or one hard thing really, really well. Those are challenging as well. I'd argue that, in general, doing 2 hard things well is easier than doing one hard thing really, really excellently. 

2. This is synonymous with Scott Adam's Talent Stack theory. 

The #1 trait for Product Managers and Founders

I have been splitting my time between a part-time PM role and starting my own company. In both, I realized breakthroughs and progress happen because of one main underlying character trait. 


Obsession about the domain. 

Obsession about the customer and problem. 

Obsession about the goals and strategy. 

Obsession about the current product and business. 

Obsession about execution details. 

Obsession about delivery.

Obsession about feedback and results.

Obsession about learning and improving. 

Obsession with the craft of PM and product development.

When you are obsessed, there's a constant thread in your brain that's always obsessing about all these factors. You are also constantly researching, learning, tinkering, discussing, ideating, and iterating. 

Obsession, when combined with curiosity, knowledge, intellect, and collaboration, leads to clarity, evolution of ideas, elegant simplifications, breakthroughs, and getting all the details right. 

To be a successful PM or a Founder, you need to truly pick a domain and area that you can be obsessed with. If you're hiring, prioritize obsession. 


1. Obsession is probably the main trait to succeed in any profession.


We can all agree that it would kinda suck to exist alone in the universe.

Adversity with friends is better than success or comfort alone. 

Hear it from Shaq: “I live in a 30 thousand square foot house by myself. You don’t think I know I messed up?”

I appreciate whatever transpired to get us to this moment in reality because it brought us together, with each other, capable of problem-solving, empathy, kindness, togetherness, play, and love. 

We can make lives better for each other - less suffering, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. In fact, that may be the only way to do it. 

The ego is often the root of most unhappiness. When we focus on just the I, just ourselves, we suffer. The I is a small, transient, fickle, greedy, and fearful illusion. 

When we focus beyond us - our loved ones, our society, all of humanity, all of everything - we feel limitless and we thrive.

Be it your personal life or your career/business, expand your focus beyond yourself. 

Banda Ho To Zinda Ho - my new anthem

This Zinda Banda track from the new Bollywood blockbuster, "Jawan," has taken over my playlist recently. It's not just Anirudh's peppy music or Shah Rukh Khan's swag. 

What truly speaks to me is the lyrical essence of the song, which has crystallized a powerful epiphany I've had in recent months. A realization that serves as a clarion call whenever I find myself teetering on the edge of self-doubt or an important decision in my startup or life journey.


Banda Ho To Zinda Ho!
If you're alive, truly live!

Banda Zinda Ho To Zinda Nazar Haana Zaroori Hai!
To be alive, it’s necessary to have a lively vision. 

A few months ago, I took the plunge into entrepreneurship, leaving behind the relative stability of a 9-to-5 job. It was a leap of faith into a realm filled with uncertainties and risks. Entrepreneurs, you'll get me when I say the looming specter of failure has often kept me awake at night, pondering whether it's time to pack it up and return to corporate life.

Then came the aha realization, during one late-night worry session. And interestingly, it was through chatting with my startup’s product, Appi.

Working on my startup ignites my soul in a way a regular job could never hope to match. I find myself engrossed and in a flow state for hours on end, so much so that the clock's hands seem to whirl in a delightful blur. It's what I can read, talk, and obsess about around the clock.

I love having my own creative freedom, choosing why and what I work on, how, and with whom. I enjoy the breadth of running a business - from strategy to product to programming to marketing to UX to growth to fundraising. It's like being a composer, conductor, and musician—all in one grand symphony of life.


Himmat Se Nacho Thirak Thirak Yaro
Dharti Hilla Do Thirak Thirak Re
Mati Ka Badal Ufak Ufak Jaye
Ambar Jhuka Do Thirak Thirak Re

My buddies dance with passion and groove
With your dancing, shake the ground
Make the clouds dance with you
Make the sky come and dance with you

Thirak Thirak Thakna Kyun
Tunak Tunak Takna Kyun
Jhijhak Jhijhak Jakhna Kyun
Banda Ho Zinda Ho

Why must you get exhausted when dancing?
Why should we be looking around when dancing?
Why should we be hesitant?
A person must make the most of his life

Yes, it's tough and uncertain. But the path I'm following is the one I desire and makes me come alive. So what other choice do I have? Just choose something easier and less fulfilling in the one life I have?

And yes, I will make mistakes and even fail at the startup. But I'd much rather pursue and shape my own destiny boldly, stumbling and learning along the way, than be afraid to start and live with regrets and what ifs.


Jeena Jane Joh Dil Ki Mane Joh
Kar De Thane Jo Zinda Banda Ho
A living person is one who understands how to live
One who listens to his heart
One who does what he chooses

The point of life is to be alive and follow your heart. Not to play it safe and meek. Because there's no special prize in the end - we will all die and be forgotten. The reward is the journey, in the very act of living. 


1. Doing a startup isn't everyone's spark. Find yours. It's elusive, but when you find it, pursue it and turn the spark into a fire. Inspiration expires if it isn't used. 

2. Some jobs can create a similar spark. I have experienced it at an early stage startup, with an aligned and interesting mission, low bureaucracy, smart people, significant personal upside, and where the leadership was kind and empowering. 

3. My startup's mission also had to be truly aligned with what I wanted to do for me to feel this way. It didn't feel like that when I was working on an idea that didn't personally speak to me.

4. Lyrics and Translations from: https://www.intolyrics.com/zinda-banda/

In America, capitalists are the kings

This talk by Bill Gurley, a popular venture capitalist, is a master class in both the subject of regulatory capture and presentation. It's so well-crafted and powerful - the story-telling, the flow, the energy and intonation, the slides, the creative title and close, the eye-opening lived experiences and insider insights, the authenticity, and the truth to power and corruption. 

It drives home that America is the land of capitalists. If you are a large business, there's probably no better place in the world. Conversely, if you are in America, consider starting a business or owning equity to thrive. Capitalists are the kings here. 

Compare it to Europe, where capital gains taxes are high, and employees and consumers have strong protections and social services. Or to India, where politicians, cricketers, and movie stars are the kings. Or to China, where the CCP is the only monarch. 

Most companies need to do some objective good for their customers to rise and survive, so this might be the best of all alternatives.

But as this talk highlights, there are also problems. Even though the country is a democracy, capitalists have an oversized influence on politics and laws, often to benefit the incumbents, the rich and powerful, and at the expense of the common person and startups. "Regulation" is a sophomoric solution as it doesn't address the messiness of implementation, incentives, influence, and power.

Keep buying lottery tickets

I woke up excited today because I had shared my new app on Reddit, and I was eager to check if it had taken off. 

I have been waking up excited on many days over the last few months for similar reasons. I'd have taken a long shot the previous day - launched a new product, shared a blog or social media post, sent an email to an influential person, applied for an exciting job, etc. Long shots (or moon shots) have small odds of turning into something really big, exciting, and life-changing. 

Extraordinary successes are almost always a result of taking long shots and asymmetric bets. Sam Altman in his blog on How to be Successful, writes "I always choose a next project that, if successful, will make the rest of my career look like a footnote."  

Most people, most of the time, are on a very linear path, with no possibility of a big win or exponential take-off. They don't buy any lottery tickets and they don't win any big prizes. 

When you keep buying lottery tickets, you increase the chances of winning a golden ticket. And life becomes more exciting too. 


1. You don't have to give up your stability or take substantial risks. Most of the examples I have above are low-risk, but high upside side-bets. 

2. Lottery ticket may not be the most apt term as it implies pure luck and no skill. In reality, you get better at both identifying and executing long-shots, so your probability of winning increases. 

3. You can apply this within a company or product roadmaps as well, where you invest in a few moon shot bets. 

Hold and raise the bar

In a recent team meeting, someone announced we wouldn't be able to meet a project deadline and we'll have to move it to later. Not wanting to be pushy or unreasonable, I accepted and updated the date. But another colleague interjected and held the bar. He pointed out that we had slipped a few times already and rallied the team to figure out options to meet the date. 

Oftentimes, we avoid hard things and uncomfortable conversations, and try to be "naively nice". This leads to a slippery slope that snowballs into low accountability, performance, quality, outcomes, morale, and pent-up frustration. I say naively nice because ultimately this turns out to be not very nice to the team, stakeholders, managers, business, and customers. 

The nicer way is to set clear and reasonable expectations, hold and raise the bar, provide direct and timely feedback, identify and fix the problems, and work together compassionately and collaboratively to make it happen. 


1. Amazon appoints a "bar raiser" in interview panels to avoid this slippery slope. 

2. It is possible to be both kind and maintain the bar.  

Product Managers: Make $100 on the internet

There is now plenty of great advice, thought leadership, frameworks, newsletters, podcasts, and courses for being a good product manager (this blog included). 

Maybe even too much. 

My simple advice that supersedes everything else is this: First, make $100 on the internet on your own. 

My first job out of college was as a consultant for startups in an incubator in Ghana. While I could give helpful technical advice on how to build their products, I felt like an imposter when advising on the business or approach. I was a new grad who had never started a business on my own, so who the heck was I to share my business advice?! 

Most product managers, especially in mid or large companies, are so removed from the realities of running a software business, but at the helm of opinionated decision-making. PMs now thrive (or drown) in the theories of product building. They can wax poetic about strategy, differentiation, jobs to be done, UX simplicity, distribution, activation, network effects, monetization, ltv:cac, team operation, funding, etc. They can pull the right quotes and zingers from Shreyas Doshi, Stratechery, Lenny, Steve Jobs, or Paul Graham. They can ace Product Sense and Analytics interviews with elegant frameworks like CIRCLES or AARM from Decode & Conquer. 

But most have never made even $100 on the internet on their own!

It reminds me of this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting.

Here's an excerpt of the exchange that captures the difference between knowledge and wisdom; information and experience:  
Sean (Robin Williams): You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.

Will (Matt Damon): Why thank you.

Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one...

If this is you, don't fret - you aren't alone and you have a nice low-hanging fruit to propel your product skills. 

My first role as a PM was building my own app business with 10+ apps and $2000+/mo in revenue. I was in the common situation of an engineer aspiring to transition to a PM but couldn't find a way into the elusive and gatekept profession. So I decided to just do the job on my own and learned a lot more in the process, which opened doors to PM roles.

When you try to make $100 on the internet, your theoretical knowledge, frameworks, and strategic thinking make direct contact with reality. You will realize how hard it is to get customers to pay attention, keep them coming back, or open their wallets. It will be a humbling experience. 

When you succeed at making the first $100, try to make a $1000 and a recurring revenue business. Or try to sell to businesses. Or try to build the product on your own or contract and manage some people. 

You will likely fail the first few attempts. You will realize how difficult it is, and how frail ideas and frameworks are. You will viscerally experience the emotional ups and downs that you have only heard founders talk about. 

But if you keep at it, you will learn to identify a valuable problem, niche segment, gaps in the market, a solution, a compelling message, channels, and economics. You will learn to research, position, write copy, market, sell, run ads, follow up on leads, identify a good MVP, get feedback, measure what matters, monetize, iterate, and pivot. You will learn the limits and nuances of all the PM advice out there.  

I guarantee you that you will emerge as a humbler, more practical, more nuanced, and more confident product manager or designer than you will from consuming another podcast, blog, course, or framework. You will even have more fun in the process and maybe kick-start a career as an entrepreneur. 

Oh, and you will make $100 too! 


1. This is necessary, but not sufficient. You still need to know how to operate within a larger company, think strategically, draft metrics, align stakeholders, use frameworks, etc. 

2. Many PMs will feel they can't do this because they aren't technical. You don't have to be technical. You can sell a PDF, a course, a service, or a product from Alibaba. There are platforms and no-code tools that can get you pretty far without writing a single line of code. 

What if you had a $0 budget?


I was watching this interview with Rich Barton, one of the few people in the world who has created multiple successful businesses across industries - Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor.*

He recalls the story of how Zestimate (home price estimate) was created. 

One of the investors, Bill Gurly, asked him a powerful question before they launched Zillow - what would you do if you had no ad budget? 

Good questions can be life and business changing. And in this case, it turned out to be. 

Rich and his team ended up creating Zestimate and market reports, which generated a lot of interest and organic traffic.

Constraints breed creativity. Sometimes, imagination can solve problems better than money can. 

Coincidentally, I watched another video on the same week where Linkedin's CBO shared how the other end of the spectrum - thinking without any constraints - leads to more creative solutions as well. 

I'd square both these points into this one piece of advice: If you are in a place of abundance, think with constraints. If you are in a place of scarcity or business as usual, think without any constraints. 


1. Rich Barton's common theme behind all his businesses was "power to the people". Give more visibility, so people can make informed decisions.

You're not doing a tour of gas stations

Growing up in the middle class in India, the first 20 years of my life were somewhat consumed in the pursuit of academic, career, and financial success to secure a comfortable life. But now that I'm comfortable and have checked off those boxes, the same scarcity and survival mindset is unhelpful. 

This quote really drove it home for me. 
“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”

– Tim O’Reilly

Gasoline and money are really important when you are low. But they are hardly important if you have enough. The same can be said about other pursuits like fame. Get what you need, so you can finally enjoy the life you want.

Skeptics vs Innovators

The world always has a lot more skeptics than innovators.


Skeptics question any change.

While blindly accepting the status quo and all its flaws. 

They are limited by their own fears, lack of vision, beliefs, and capabilities.

They choose the easy path of nay-saying and changing nothing. 

Innovators question the status quo. 

They see a better way. They are eager to invent and try new things.

They are bold, creative, capable, and action-oriented.

They are choosing the hard path of solving problems and creating change.


Every innovator is met with skeptics who try to douse their spirit. If you are trying to be an innovator, surround yourself with other innovators who energize you and help you figure out a way. 


1. Yes, there are thoughtful skeptics and clueless or evil innovators. 

You may be missing a dimension!

A friend of mine was baffled that he wasn't getting promoted. He was getting his work done and coming up with good ideas. But people who were less capable seemed to be progressing faster. 

"It's just stupid politics and unfairness", he grumbled.

When the world doesn't seem to operate according to our expectations, guess where the problem is?

Yeah, you got it...the expectations.

When your model of the situation, and therefore your expectations, doesn't capture some key variables or dimensions, the course of events will baffle and frustrate you.

In my friend's case, his model of the world derived from school where studying hard and doing well on your tests gets you good grades. But in the corporate world, it isn't that one-dimensional or clear-cut. Collaboration, enthusiasm, likability, influence, working on the right things, producing and demonstrating results, etc. matter in both promotions and impact.

When things don't go as expected, instead of being annoyed at the unfairness, figure out which dimension you may be missing.

The Secret to Innovation...

 The secret to innovation...

...is to tackle a very specific problem. Obsessively, deeply, and excellently. 

Given the vastness of human knowledge already, there probably isn't much low-hanging fruit of discovery in most areas (the circle isn't uniform as depicted, so it may be lower in some areas than others). So innovation needs depth. 

Specific innovations and deep understandings of specific problems can possibly evolve into broad truths or innovations. But you are less likely to go deep and innovate if you are starting off broad. 


1. There's a valid counterargument that broad knowledge across domains can help spark innovation through a general understanding of the world and by translating ideas from one domain to another. I have a center in the middle to represent a broad understanding. It's possible that 2 or 3 areas of focus might be better than 1, but I doubt 10 areas of focus (is that even focus?) is better than 1. 

2. This was inspired by listening to CEO of Anthropic talk about how he obsessed and tinkered with the problem of speech recognition for years and that led to a more general AI. 

3. The illustration was inspired by Matt Might's excellent visual of what a Ph.D. is. 

Embrace Doing Hard Things

I just finished the 23-mile, 5000-foot Enchantments hike in a single day. 

Not going to lie - it kicked my ass, especially the relentless climb up Aasgard Pass

But boy oh boy, it was beautiful to walk by pristine Alpine lakes. Even more significant and long-lasting was the exhilaration of being able to do something so difficult after being non-athletic and flatfooted most of my life.

And that made me think...

🕊 The ability to do and enjoy hard things sets you free. 

When I was deciding whether to do the hike, one of my friends jokingly said, "Worst case is you will be miserable!"

The default human nature is to pursue the path of least resistance and immediate gratification to the local maxima. When you pursue comfort and stability, life has a way of slapping you back into harsh reality. Because stability is an illusion. Life is entropic and always changing. 

On the other hand, if you aren't deterred by hard things - things that are high risk and hard to figure out, require a lot of consistent and crushing hard work, and take a long time to bear fruit - you can pursue whatever your heart desires. 

You aren’t afraid. You are okay with change, failure, and struggle. You don’t settle. You keep living. 

Seek not calm waters, but the skill to sail. And calm waters never make skilled sailors. 

💪 Many rewarding experiences are often behind hurdles and require constant growth. 

Want to be healthy and fit? Exercise and eat healthy consistently. 

Want your own rich, smart, or famous? You have to learn, practice your craft, and hustle in uncertainty and obscurity for years. 

Want to have a nice family life? Meet and fall in love with a compatible partner. Then have, raise, and support each other for decades. 

So start practicing doing hard things, because when you get good at it, it's quite rewarding!

🤝 You get more support when you do hard things. 

Doing things is hard, in general. Doing harder things is counter-intuitively easier than doing medium-hard things. Because when you do harder things, more people are excited and support you in many ways. 

Sam Altman explains why through the lens of starting a startup, "I believe that it’s easier to do a hard startup than an easy startup. People want to be part of something exciting and feel that their work matters.

If you are making progress on an important problem, you will have a constant tailwind of people wanting to help you. Let yourself grow more ambitious, and don’t be afraid to work on what you really want to work on.

If everyone else is starting meme companies, and you want to start a gene-editing company, then do that and don’t second guess it."

🥳 There's good news...

Doing hard things gets easier the more you do them. Just like your body toughens with resistance training, your mind does too. 

You learn to be okay with struggle and discomfort. You develop fortitude. You even start to enjoy the challenge (type 2 fun). You become a better problem solver and develop the skill to navigate through the "idea maze"

Developing the superpower of enjoying struggle gives you the freedom to pursue your dreams and remain resilient.

Easy choices, hard life. 
Hard choices, easy life.

[1] This does not mean you have to burn out, not relax, or not do things you enjoy. 

[2] Of course, you can just rise above all this and train yourself to be inherently peaceful and joyful without any pursuit whatsoever. But that is a hard thing as well, so the logic holds ;). 

[3] Why are harder things more rewarding? A lot of our innate sense of meaning and reward derives from what society values. And society values difficult and hard-to-get things because the easy things are abundant. And even individually, our hedonistic brains also quickly get used to the rewards from the easy things so they aren't as enjoyable anymore. Doing hard things unlocks rarer rewards and the process of doing them releases brain chemicals like endorphins which make you feel better.

Early reflections on starting my own business (Part 1)

I have fancied starting a business for a very long time.  

Finally after getting my green card, building a financial safety net, learning by working at other businesses, and being inspired by the recent breakthroughs in AI, I took the plunge recently! 

I'm sharing some reflections from my first few months. 

Fair warning: all of these may change over time as I experience more and grow wiser. 

1. Businesses are incredibly hard

This is repeated often, but we still often underestimate or forget it as we are constantly inundated with victorious stories of very, very few survivors. 

Finding and sustaining the right partners, ideas, customers, business models, teams, and investors is a long and tough journey. By default, your business is dead. You have to will it into existence and life every day with perseverance, smarts, support, and luck. There are many ups and downs, and tricky and hard decisions along the way. 

I now empathize and understand why founders have an extremely high upside and satisfaction, even compared to early employees, because they endure a high-risk, high-effort, always-on, and incredibly difficult path to go from 0 to 1.

2. Number of shots and time in the game matters

In low-probability, hard, and non-linear games like startups, you increase your chances by staying in the game for longer, taking multiple shots, and learning/improving each time. That's probably the only way to succeed.

When I started, I thought I'll give myself ~3 months to create a revenue-generating business or quit. But I quickly realized that was a silly strategy as the timeline is unpredictable and it takes a few months/years/cycles to even understand the game and get good at it. So I took on a part-time consulting gig to extend my runway. You can also choose to raise funding or pursue your business on the side. 

Before you play the game, be realistic about whether you are set up for success and how you can stay in the game for longer. 

As Sam Altman reflects, "So much of being a good entrepreneur is about not giving up and staying determined."

3. Business should be primarily an act of passion, invention, and service 

Many people, including myself, are attracted to starting a business because of the potential glory or wealth. Bad idea. 

Most businesses, most of the time aren't glorious or prosperous. And they may never be. In fact, the odds of prosperity are much higher if you climb the corporate ladder at an established company, and that can be enjoyable and meaningful too. So if you are counting on glory or wealth, you will feel defeated very quickly and feel like you are wasting your life.  

As Elon Musk put it, “Running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends”

Start a business if you are really passionate about solving a problem, serving a group of people you care about, or creating (or changing) something you deeply believe needs to exist. 

Start only if you are going to enjoy a grueling challenge and the growth that comes with it. Also, start a business only if you're curious and passionate about the process of starting and running a business. 

Doing something that's truly aligned with your passions, drive, and values is incredibly fulfilling. The act of inventing, and creating something worthy out of nothing is also amazing. These motivations are much more intrinsic, realistic, and sustained for longer. You are more likely to enjoy and persevere through the day-to-day, the ups and downs, and the failures. 

4. There are no shortcuts. Make things that people want, be strategic, and be nice.

Your business will only succeed if you do these 3 things: 

  • Create something valuable and differentiated that the market truly needs.
  • Acquire and retain customers in a sustainable and scalable way.
  • Generate profits and have sufficient cash flow to sustain the business. 
In jargony but more complete terms, keep improving the Product-Market-Channel-Model-Founder fit. 

You only get there by understanding your market deeply, talking to potential customers, choosing the right problems and solutions, validating, continuously, and quickly iterating, improving, or pivoting. 

Don't trick yourself into thinking you have something when you don't (it is hard to know!). Don't get distracted by shortcuts and vanity metrics like acquiring lots of disinterested users, raising VC funding, or dreaming of getting acquired. 

5. You will fail and learn a LOT quickly; having a growth mindset and self-confidence is key. 

Startups also give you a chance (and force you) to learn incredibly quickly across a broad range of skills. You will pursue bad ideas or unsuitable partners. You will bomb customer and investor pitches. You will make mistakes and learn how to build products, test, and iterate. You have to learn how to sell, advertise, and monetize. You learn a ton about finance, legal, operations, and compliance. You will learn how to assess, attract, hire, and fire people and partners. You meet and learn from other smart founders and investors. 

If you like to learn and grow, this can be incredibly fun. You have to be "good at learning" - not be frazzled by mistakes or failure, seek good advice and expertise, reflect and learn with honesty, humility, and curiosity, and not repeat your mistakes. On the other hand, if you get easily overwhelmed or always want to be right and successful, this will suck.

6. Choose the right partners and advisors

You may spend more time and emotions with your co-founders or partners than with your spouse! You will be going through thick and thin, walking into a mysterious and dangerous jungle. 

You need people who you can count on to support you and who you want to support, regardless of how tough things get. You need those who you trust to act in your combined interest and also have good judgment. You need a team who can complement your skills, weaknesses, and temperament. You need people who are also driven by passion or a sense of service, aligned with your values and work ethics. 

You need people you can work well with, "fight well with", ideate and build on ideas, and make tough decisions with. You need people who inspire and energize you, not drain you. You need people who you enjoy spending time with. You need people who will grow and adapt to the business and you.

7. Self-care, health, stability, confidence, and support systems are extremely important

Startups are dangerous. Because by default, startups will take a toll on your physical and mental health, relationships, and hobbies. Startups are endless and all-consuming. There's always more to do, plans to figure out, fires to fight, and problems to worry about. The ups and downs, uncertainty, and long hours can wreck your mental health.

You need to be disciplined, healthy, mentally, and financially strong even to start. It's even better if you have a supportive family, friends, and professional network.

Then you need to be even more thoughtful and disciplined to use your time effectively and prioritize areas in life that are important to you and give them time and energy. 

Exercising every day and taking time to spend with your loved ones, occasionally relaxing and enjoying what life has to offer, and pursuing a couple of other passions or pleasures are all no-brainers. Otherwise, you will burn out or look back with regret in 5 years for hollowing yourself in the pursuit of a low-probability game. 

This is a marathon, not a sprint. You perform better when you are calmer, healthier, and happier. Balance is important. 

Questions to help you make big decisions

Find some quiet and relaxed setting to think through these questions. 

1. What would you advise a friend?

We are more clear-headed when we step back from the situation. 

2. What feels more exciting and fulfilling? What would you do if you weren't afraid and if others won't know? 

Fear and norms often hold us back. 

3. What kind of life and lifestyle do you want?  What option ranks higher in your rubric?

Having a structured approach with top factors and coarse ratings for each path+factor lets us be more objective and increases confidence in the decision. 

4. What is the best-case scenario, most probable scenario, and worst-case scenario? Can you protect the downside?

Outcomes are usually non-deterministic, so think in possibilities and probabilities. 

5. Is this a one-way door or a two-way door?

Most decisions are reversible. Spend more time and focus on those that aren't. 

6. What are the 2nd and 3rd order effects? What happens after this decision?

Consider long-term trajectory and compounding effects

7. How would you feel 5 mins, 5 months, and 5 years after the decision? How would you feel about this 10 years ago or when you were a kid?

Time traveling forward and backward gives you the future and past perspectives.

8. Decide and sleep on it. How do you feel about your decision the next day?

Enjoy Life

I distinctly remember this anecdote from Stephen Covey that I read many years ago. 

At a workshop, a troubled participant approached him and confided that he and his wife weren't in love anymore. He desperately needed help to save his marriage. 

Stephen Covey's advice was simple: 

"Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love, the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her."

Covey's reframe is powerful. He changed love from something that just happens to people to something they can deliberately do. 

I think the same advice applies to the universal goal and challenge of enjoying life.

If you want your life to be more enjoyable, you must enjoy life. 

Enjoy is a verb. It's a choice, a mindset, and a way of living, thinking, and acting. 

In fact, the word enjoy originates from the French word "enjoier", which means "to give joy" or "to take delight in". It is a set of actions, not a result. 

For example, you can choose to: 

  • Be grateful and appreciative of everything good rather than be woeful about what isn't. 
  • Deal with challenges with boldness, cheerfulness, optimism, curiosity, and a growth mindset rather than with fear, cynicism, judgment, or pessimism. 
  • Do more of what you enjoy and enjoy more of what you do, rather than be miserable and powerless.
  • Go with the flow, explore, play, and make friends, rather than being bogged down by ego, attachments, greed, seriousness, and the resulting struggles. 
  • View life as a mysterious, fascinating, and fleeting improv that you get to enjoy, rather than being bogged down by rigid and made-up expectations of successes and failures; good and bad. 

Yes, it may seem easier said than done. But it is definitely possible. 

Ups and downs in both life and our experiences and emotions are inevitable.

But with regular practice, you can develop presence and lucidity that helps you create "the space between stimulus and response" that the psychologist Viktor Frankl famously discovered even during his unimaginably hard experience at a concentration camp. 

And in that space, instead of being reactive, you can choose to interpret, think, act, and behave in ways that help you be at ease and/or enjoy. 

I have reflected more in my related post "Mostly Peaceful, Often Joyful, Sometimes Upset" and in "The Four Roots of Unhappiness"


1. I like Naval Ravikant's quote: "Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion." When you are mostly at peace, you open yourself to experiencing moments of joy. You don't have to feel compelled to be joyful every moment...just at ease and at peace. 

How to Use Prompt Engineering to Rewire Your Brain

Have you ever wondered what shapes your mind and behaviors? The influences that nudge us towards success or failure, happiness or despair? Let me share a magical experience from my high school years that puzzled me for a long time. A mystery that only started making sense to me years later.


When I was in grade 10, I went to a large book fair with my family. Like all events in India, it was bustling with people and energy. In the midst of the chaos, my family and I were drawn towards the stage that was particularly abuzz. The stage banner displayed the name 'Madras Academy for Excellence', or 'MAX', and a group of people, who were national memory record-holders no less, were captivating the audience with their ability to quickly memorize long lists of words or facts and answer any questions about them.

I was impressed and intrigued because I was a nerdy kid, and a lot of my schoolwork required memorization. So I ended up volunteering to go on stage to use their technique to similarly learn and recall a long list. Much to my and the audience's surprise, it worked! I was able to memorize a list of 50 words in just 10 mins, and then go on stage and recall any item on the list by its number, or say it forward and in reverse. 

Naturally, I ended up signing up for their full "student success" program, where I was introduced to a wide range of concepts and techniques for goal-setting, discipline, memory, creativity, focus, speed reading, learning, communication, public speaking, etc. These were quite useful, to say the least, and had a big impact on me for years to come (I wish schools would focus more on teaching these kinds of skills). They also got me deeply interested in learning, cognitive, and behavioral science, which is where I ended up focusing a large part of my career so far.

But out of all the techniques, there was one that was the most fascinating and unexplainable to me. It was enticingly named "Self-Hypnosis".  


Self-Hypnosis involved standing in front of the mirror, gazing into your eyes with unblinking determination, and saying affirmations aloud, along with positive hand gestures. The affirmations had to follow the format "I will <insert goal>! I have the ability to do it! I can do it, I can!" You don't do it just once. You had to repeat it thrice and then do it all three times a day - as soon as you woke up, then once in the afternoon, and finally before going to bed. It felt like cuckoo voodoo! 

I decided to try it anyway. As advised, I aimed high and set my goal to top my school in the grade 10 board exam (an all-India standardized test). I was a good student, ranking usually among the top 5 or 10 students in the class, but topping the school was quite the stretch. So, religiously, three times a day, I'd stand in front of the mirror and say, "I will top the school in the board exam! I have the ability to do it! I can do it, I can!" I also mocked up my dream scorecard and looked at it frequently. 

Fast forward to the end of the academic year, my final score was a whopping 98% on the national exam, which catapulted me to rank #2 in my school and rank #6 in the country. This wasn't just a surprise, it was a thunderbolt out of the clear blue sky as I hadn't done as well on tests leading up to the final exam and was especially flailing in my Hindi course. 

Past the elation, as I reflected on these results, I couldn't help but wonder if Self-Hypnosis had played a role. The scientific, rational part of me was resistant. But at the same time, I couldn't ignore the lived experience. 

Unraveling the Mystery

Pareto Product Management

As Product Managers or entrepreneurs, we often have multiple good ideas and an exciting vision. That's necessary but not sufficient. 

It's easy to come up with a large collection of many capabilities and features that can together make a product compelling to users and produce business impact. But that isn't practical. 

Most individuals, startups, or teams within larger companies get defunded or lose steam before they can do everything they envision if they don't produce results along the way. The complexity of more also confuses users and overwhelms teams. 

A startup founder wisely told me, "Startups don't starve...they drown."

What's really important is identifying and prioritizing the minimal set of ideas or bets that are going to have the largest impact, and then distilling them to their core essence. The 20% of work that'll produce 80% of the results. You need to have the conviction and discipline to say no to everything else. Only if you do that, do you get to start and stay in the game and keep building toward a larger vision and impact. You also end up with simpler products that are better understood, valued, loved, and easier to manage and improve. 

It is extremely hard to predict what's important and requires astute product intuition. You need clarity on mission and goals, a deep understanding of problems, users, the product, and past learnings, and very intentional prioritization and editing. You also need sound mental models on good product patterns, technical knowledge to know what's possible and estimate efforts, and user psychology.

The new approach to building software with AI

Traditional software simply executes explicit instructions provided by Human Intelligence.

This blog is powered by software. And like most software we use, it functions based on explicit instructions.

When you are on a blog post, the code explicitly specifies to deliver content from a CMS or database that's tied to the blog post and then styles it as per explicit HTML and CSS-based instructions. When you are on the home page, the code explicitly asks to display the list of 50 recent blog posts from the database. 

This software is really useful as it can execute more precisely, quickly, cheaply, and on a larger scale than humans. But it is also simply doing what the human developer explicitly instructed it to do. 

Enter - Software powered by Artificial Intelligence. Human instructions not needed. 

Let's take this ChatGPT Plugins demo. 

ChatGPT is able to: 

  • Create a meal plan
  • Generate a visual of the meal
  • Shop for the ingredients
  • Tweet about it. 

No explicit instructions were provided by a developer for these tasks. No explicit instructions on how to create a meal plan or how to draw it. No explicit instructions to use Instacart API to shop or Zapier API to tweet, and no explicit instructions on how to use those APIs.

Instead, the software is figuring out how to execute the user's request based on its training on a large corpus of general knowledge and using the descriptions of the different APIs and tools available to it. 

It is MAGICAL and a dramatic shift in how software works. To be clear, AI has been used in software for a long time now. But nearly all of it has been for very narrow and well-defined tasks like ads, shopping, or content recommendations, and not something like this that can broadly understand and solve any problem. This dramatically changes both what software can do and how we write software 

Software is now more dynamic. It can understand any user input, then think and do or say whatever is needed, without explicit instructions...to some extent.

If you have used Plugins or AutoGPT, you'll also know that it is still far from foolproof. While it's magical in its dynamism and promise, it is quite slow and error-prone, unable to do complex tasks with large contexts, and results can vary with every run. It also costs, as Sam Altman says it, an "eye-watering amount of money". 

The new way to build software 

We don't have to write explicit instructions in a programming language anymore - it's not only unnecessary and it also cramps the ability of AI. But we also can't rely on AI (yet) to be fully dynamic, autonomous, and general purpose. 

We need a middle approach that leverages the power of AI but also has the reliability of traditional software. Something like -

  1. Specify the goal and experience, with the AI's help to draft and refine it. 
  2. Provide UI/tools/code/services/data building blocks to the AI, along with their descriptions and how to use them. AI can also assist in developing these blocks. Some of these blocks can have AI embedded, but limit those to robust use cases to maintain reliability. 
  3. Ask AI to stitch together the blocks to solve the goal.  
  4. Verify it works for a few scenarios and iterate with AI's help. 
  5. Finally, save or publish it for future use. 
Unlike the traditional explicit approach, we need to provide only rough guidelines in natural language and offer the building blocks/services, dramatically reducing the barrier, cost, and complexity of developing software. 

And unlike the ChatGPT Plugins or AutoGPTs' dynamic approach, we will be pre-verifying and saving it, so that it's more reliable and faster at run time.  

I have verified this definitely works for simple applications like a to-do list. It is possible but can get challenging for larger applications with multiple states. 

As AI evolves and becomes better, and when there's a general-purpose intelligence that can do anything we want dynamically and quickly, then there's no need for this middle approach. But I think that's still a long way away, and that will be a very, very different world in many different ways. 


Aha moments with GPT

🤯 1) 

I had my first "Aha! moment" with #ChatGPT / #LLMs in November 2022, just around when ChatGPT was released.I had asked ChatGPT to draft the annual strategy for the company I was working at, without providing any additional context. I had only used ChatGPT to answer basic questions or generate poetry and didn't expect much in response to something more complex.

But the answer that ChatGPT produced in a few seconds resembled what the exec team had drafted, in content, reasoning, and priority. A few more prompts and minutes later, ChatGPT also had answers for how to present the plan, organize the team, mitigate risks, and execute the plan.

ChatGPT was able to replicate a lot of the strategic work of the highest-paid and most experienced people at the company in a fraction of time and cost!

🤯 2) 

I experienced my second Aha! moment when I restarted programming last month after a hiatus. After some trial and error, I'm now able to get ChatGPT to now generate 75%-95% of the required code. ChatGPT and other AI tools also help me ideate, design, debug, and generate creative assets and marketing copy.

My idea -> prototype -> launch speed has never been quicker!

It isn't just me. Andrej Karpathy, then AI Director of Tesla and now at OpenAI, clearly a top-notch developer, tweeted that Co-pilot is now writing 75% of his code.

Software is a powerful tool and a multi-trillion-dollar sector that runs so much of the world. With LLMs, the cost and barriers to producing software have dramatically reduced overnight. And the software is now capable of fuzzy reasoning and generation.

😅 🤖 What now?!

The implications are immense, and this seems like the beginning. It's hard to predict the future, but it is very naive to assume that your life and job will not change because of #AI. The safe-ish and exciting bet at this moment for individuals and businesses is to learn to leverage AI to be more effective at what you do. That is necessary but not sufficient, as your bosses, competitors, and customers will also be doing the same.

🚀 You will also have to dramatically reset and increase the audacity of your ambitions, approach, and timelines. You can spin up an army of average-human intelligence bots now. Start dreaming of a world with autonomous agents, flying cars, and cancer cures.

Human2023 -> Human100000: the Odyssey of Our Past and Future

We have been talking about the progress of GPT (or ChatGPT) across versions 1 through 4. We measure them by the number of parameters, test scores, capability, range, accuracy, modalities, plugins, etc. We celebrate and are excited about the progress of every version. There are so many memes now hyping up what GPT-5 would be. 

It just struck me that humans, as individuals and as a collective system, are also a form of intelligence. And humans have also been upgrading versions. We are on Human2023 right now. Wouldn't it be fascinating to similarly explore and celebrate the progress of humans and speculate about the future?

Thanks to a technology developed by Human2022/23, it is now possible to generate a sweeping narrative that transcends the boundaries of time and space with a single prompt. Read on to take a step back, traverse the epochs of human evolution, celebrate the milestones of our past, and gaze with wonderment at the horizon of possibilities that awaits us. 


Human300000BC - The first Homo sapiens began to appear in Africa. They were hunter-gatherers, relying on their intelligence and cooperation to survive. Early humans developed simple tools made of stone and wood, and their survival relied on their ability to work together to find food and shelter.

Human100000BC - During this time, early Homo sapiens were navigating the challenges of the Pleistocene epoch, characterized by fluctuating climates and the presence of large megafauna. These early humans were hunter-gatherers, relying on their intelligence, social cooperation, and tool-making skills to survive. They crafted stone tools, used fire for warmth and cooking, and developed rudimentary forms of communication. Small groups of humans lived in close-knit communities, working together to find food and shelter in a world that was both wondrous and perilous.

Human50000BC - By 50000 BC, Homo sapiens had begun to exhibit signs of behavioral modernity, including the creation of more sophisticated tools, the use of pigments for symbolic purposes, and the development of complex social structures. These early humans were capable of long-distance trade, which facilitated the exchange of ideas and resources. The use of language likely played a crucial role in enabling cooperation and the transmission of knowledge across generations. During this time, Homo sapiens began to migrate out of Africa, embarking on a journey that would eventually lead them to populate the entire globe.

Human10000BC - The year 10000 BC marked the end of the last Ice Age and the beginning of the Holocene epoch, a time of warmer climates and rising sea levels. As the environment changed, so too did the ways in which humans interacted with the world around them. The transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled, agrarian way of life laid the groundwork for the Neolithic Revolution. Early humans began to domesticate plants and animals, leading to the development of agriculture and the establishment of permanent settlements. This shift in subsistence strategies set the stage for the rise of complex societies, trade networks, and technological innovations that would shape the course of human history.

Human5000BC - The year 5000 BC was marked by the continued expansion of agriculture and the development of early forms of pottery and ceramics. The Neolithic Revolution was in full swing, and the domestication of crops and livestock allowed for the growth of larger, more stable communities. In regions such as Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley, and the Indus Valley, early forms of irrigation and water management were being developed to support agriculture. The establishment of permanent settlements led to the construction of increasingly complex structures, including granaries for food storage and communal buildings for social and religious activities. The foundations for the emergence of early civilizations were being laid, and human societies were becoming more organized and interconnected.

Human2000BC - By 2000 BC, several early civilizations had emerged, each with its own distinct culture, social structure, and system of governance. In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians had developed cuneiform writing, one of the earliest known writing systems, which facilitated record-keeping, communication, and the development of literature. The Old Kingdom period in Egypt saw the construction of the iconic pyramids, which served as tombs for pharaohs and were a testament to the society's architectural and engineering prowess. In the Indus Valley, the Harappan civilization was known for its well-planned cities, advanced drainage systems, and standardized weights and measures. Trade networks were established, allowing for the exchange of goods, ideas, and technologies across vast distances. This period was characterized by significant advancements in art, science, and governance, which would have a lasting impact on the course of human history.

Air - an inspirational movie about how to make things happen

I just watched Air, a fun and inspiring movie about how Nike, then an underdog in the shoe industry, managed to sign Michael Jordan, a rookie at that time.

The movie starts with Sonny Vaccaro (played by Matt Damon) opposing his colleagues' decision to go with the low-risk and low-reward move of signing three average basketball players. Teams and companies operate a lot based on group discussions and consensus. Those don't usually lead to brilliance or extraordinary outcomes - they converge on average, which is why most companies slowly wither and die as they grow. But Sonny doesn't care for the consensus. His deep passion and expertise in basketball make him realize that Michael Jordan is going to be a superstar before most people did. He aims higher and dreams of signing Jordan, defying his bosses and other business restrictions. He makes bold moves, breaks rules, and risks his entire career to make it happen. 

As this impossible idea starts to take shape and seem more possible, his team and bosses eventually start to support him (similar to the stone soup fable). I loved the character of Peter Moore, the shoe designer. Every instigator needs a partner in crime. When Sonny goes to Peter to ask him to design a unique shoe within a few days, his first reaction isn't to push back, which is so common and even a celebrated skill in the corporate world. His eyes light up with enthusiasm; he thinks about how to get it done and masterfully comes up with an innovative design. Sonny's bosses, including Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, also succumb to the power of his brilliance, enthusiasm, and vision. Kudos to Phil for having the insight and boldness to have brought Sonny on board in the first place and for giving him a loose role and autonomy. 

While Addidas and Converse make cookie-cutter offers to the Jordans, Sonny and Nike present something much better, more personal, innovative, and with so much more care because they need it much more than the others. It shines through in every interaction and the Jordans finally accept. That's how the Davids beat the Goliaths in the business world - with a narrower focus, but with higher quality and care. 

One person's brilliant insight, creativity, and obstinate perseverance defied all odds, rallied a team, and led to Air Jordans, an iconic shoe line that now makes $4B/year revenue for Nike, and changed how the sports industry compensates athletes. It reminded me of this quote from Elon Musk on how we can't just take progress for granted - for e.g. the space program declined after the moon landing. Progress happens only because some people believe deeply, go against the grain, take risks, and persevere incredibly hard to make it happen. 

The stories of most incredible innovations and progress start with one person infected with a great idea and an unstoppable passion. 

A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it. The world will just be what it is until someone decides to change it. 

The Pipes of Information and Their Hold on Us

Those who control the pipes of information, control the world. 

It's a notion I have heard and generally agreed with. Humans are powerful agents in the world. Humans use information to act and human minds can be easily programmed by information. For instance, the "Stop the Steal" movement in the 2020 US Presidential Election, where disinformation led to a significant number of people believing the election was rigged. Controlling information is, in essence, controlling people.

But it wasn't until a recent personal experience that the true impact of this control hit me.

I was excited to launch a new business and decided to run some ads on Meta/Facebook. Imagine my surprise when, less than an hour after submitting my ad, it was flagged for a policy violation. I suspect an automated risk check program had detected some inexplicable issue and also penalized me for being a new ad publisher with a new page. Although the violation seemed thematically relevant to my ad, it was simply incorrect. My only option was to appeal and wait, without even the opportunity to submit a reason for my appeal. 

I waited three tense days, as the fate of my fledgling business was being decided by an anonymous Meta reviewer, who would subjectively evaluate my ad with some mysterious internal policies and processes. My momentum and enthusiasm were dampened, and I figured I may have no option but to ditch the idea and move on. Fortunately, my ad was approved—but the experience left a lasting impression.

A handful of large social media companies, media outlets, technology companies, and regulatory agencies hold the reins of information, attention, and infrastructure. These powerful organizations are, in turn, influenced by select leaders, board members, employees, sponsors, and occasionally, vocal and extreme audience factions. When promoting a business or idea, or when creating an app on their platforms, we are at their mercy, forced to comply and appease them. When we consume information, we are at the mercy of their algorithm and advertisers that prioritize what we see and therefore, think and act.

While I appreciate the existence of checks and policies to prevent societal harm, the lack of transparency,  accountability, or recourse is deeply unsettling. The sobering reality is that one misstep—or simply being labeled as "wrong" by an algorithm, a biased or nonchalant enforcer, or a vocal group—could spell disaster for you and your endeavors.

In a world where information is power, we must advocate for greater transparency and fairness to ensure that control over the pipes is decentralized or exercised responsibly. Otherwise, we risk spiraling into an Orwellian society, where the few dictate the lives of the many. I suspect we may already be there. 

GPT-4 shares ideas on how to improve it

I don't plan to fill my blog with AI-generated content but felt this was pretty interesting to share. 

AI progress can accelerate exponentially if they help humans make it better. Then AI gets better and helps humans make it even better, and so on, until it can make itself better, eventually leading to singularity and superintelligence. 

In this prompt, I asked it to take cues from biological intelligence to come up with ideas to improve AI. I'm realizing that it's a good prompt pattern to ask AI to combine influences from different fields to solve a problem, since that's how a lot of good ideas and inventions are generated, and that isn't easy for humans to do. 

Imagine you are developing an intelligence. It's still nascent, but you want to accelerate its powers. what would we do? look at examples from evolution and biological intelligence development. for e.g. humans got some brain capabilities like imagination, and also opposable thumb and tools and that accelerated progress.

To accelerate the development of your nascent intelligence, we can draw inspiration from various aspects of biological intelligence and human evolution. Some key strategies include:
  1. Encourage learning by trial and error: Mimicking the way animals and humans learn from their experiences, the intelligence could benefit from an algorithm that allows it to learn through trial and error. This will enable it to identify patterns and make informed decisions based on its experiences.
  2. Emulate neuroplasticity: Humans possess the ability to rewire their brains and adapt to new situations. Incorporate a mechanism for your intelligence to adapt its internal structure based on the tasks it encounters. This will enable it to become more efficient at problem-solving over time.
  3. Develop sensory perception: Human progress has been significantly influenced by our ability to perceive and interpret the world around us. Equip your intelligence with the ability to process data from multiple sensory inputs, such as vision, touch, and hearing. This will give it a broader understanding of its environment and help it to make better decisions.
  4. Instill a sense of curiosity: Humans have an innate curiosity that drives them to explore and learn. Implement a reward mechanism that encourages your intelligence to seek new knowledge and explore its environment, similar to the role dopamine plays in human curiosity.
  5. Foster social learning: Humans learn a great deal from one another. Incorporate a feature that enables your intelligence to learn from other agents or instances of itself. This will allow it to grow more rapidly by sharing knowledge and experiences.
  6. Encourage problem-solving and creativity: Equip your intelligence with the capacity for abstract thinking and imagination, allowing it to consider multiple solutions to a problem and think beyond the constraints of its current knowledge.
  7. Emphasize the development of fine motor skills: As humans have benefited from the use of tools, develop your intelligence's ability to interact with its environment in a precise and controlled manner. This could involve developing robotic components or virtual environments where it can practice manipulating objects.
  8. Provide a rich and diverse dataset: To enable your intelligence to learn and adapt rapidly, expose it to a wide variety of data, experiences, and challenges. This will stimulate its growth by helping it to recognize patterns and connections across different domains.

By incorporating these features and learning strategies, you can accelerate the development of your intelligence, making it more versatile and capable of tackling complex problems.


An age of unparalleled peace, joy, love, creativity, and discovery for all of humanity.

Fueled by an abundance of wisdom, resources, science, technology, labor; and elimination of all suffering, friction, and bottlenecks. 

Made possible by the invention of benevolent superintelligence.


Picture this day in your life. 

You wake up feeling like your best self - well-rested, lucid, energetic, and joyful. You are surrounded by people you want to be with, also in the same state of bliss. 

What's on the agenda for today? Anything you want! You have no chores, commitments, or worries.  Surf on a tropical beach with friends and family, both alive and passed? Granted, you are there. Don't know how to surf? No problem. You are going to learn it from the best coach or use an assisted board. 

Hungry? You are served delicious and nutritious dishes invented just for you. 

Feeling unwell or tired? You get diagnosed and treated in no time. 

Need some inspiration or entertainment? Mindblowing art, movies, and books created just for you, await. People you admire appear before you to interact, help, and entertain. 

Want to learn, create or discover, and share it with others? Granted - the world's best team, tools, and coaches assist you. 

Fancy exploring other new things to do or try? There's no shortage of them. 


What would have been distant science fiction hyperbole last year has suddenly turned into a possibility. 

AI can now have thoughtful conversations, ace complicated tests, create computer programs, generate breathtaking poetry and art, understand images, analyze unstructured data, propose ideas, impersonate people and expertise, and diagnose problems. 

Companies, large and small, have invested in and launched AI capabilities and models. There are new inventions and discoveries every month, even every week. Millions of people already use it in valuable ways.

If all of this happened in just a year, imagine what's possible in 5 or 10 years! If GPT-4 can do this, what can GPT-40 do?

Human life changed remarkably after each major revolution - Agricultural revolution, Scientific revolution, Industrial revolution, and Information revolution. They provided humanity with new insights and abilities, that helped create abundance and changed how we live. 

Now, we seem to be at the cusp of the next inflection point, the Intelligence revolution. 

It feels significantly more powerful than all the others because it addresses the biggest bottleneck in human progress - intelligence. Intelligence was responsible for all the previous revolutions. When there's unlimited intelligence to discover, create, and solve, progress is exponential.  

Imagine what is possible when everyone had unlimited access to human-like brains at near-zero costs!


There are many reasons to be skeptical and worried.  

AI still seems limited today, it makes mistakes, can't reason all that well, needs human prompters and editors, and doesn't have hands or legs. So all of this sounds fantastical. 
Yes, but the current AI is already helping people make it better. Then the better version of it will help people make it even better. Then it'll keep making itself better. Just like we have, as biological intelligence. 

Will life still feel meaningful if we didn't have responsibilities and struggle? 
Absolutely - why not. You are just not going to be working for a living. You are going to play, create, learn, discover, love, and live. You are going to be blessed with an infinite flow, wisdom, and presence. 

Can humans cope with this level of change? 
It's going to be disorienting for who we are today and in the short term. But we will cope and evolve into something else with the abundance of wisdom and science. 

Will power and wealth be concentrated in a few hands?
Looks like there are multiple players already, and they are driving costs down. People may not want to hoard if there's an abundance of resources and wisdom. 

Will people intentionally or inadvertently use this to harm others? 
Possibly yes, damaging is easier and quicker than building. We will need to simultaneously generate an abundance of wisdom and love, and ability to protect or heal from all harm. 

Will AI become conscious and take over? 

That’s possible too. We may be well integrated at that point; we already are. 

We - humans, plants and animals, the silicon that’s the AI, and everything else - are the universe, and reality is just the universe experiencing itself in fun and crazy ways.