Sunday, September 9, 2012

Insecurity Work

Re-Posted from my blog Business CoFounder

I read a very interesting post the other day by Tony Schwartz, founder of the Energy Project, called ‘Take back your life in seven Simple Steps.’ First of all, let me say that the steps look simple, but implementing them is anything but simple.
The part that stood out to me was the description of what he called ‘Insecurity Work.’ Insecurity work is the ‘check in’ work we do everything every day - work that gives us an instant sense of progress, but does not contribute to the achievement of our goals. Examples:

 - Check email - wow, 7 new messages. I must be important!

 - Check Klout score - man, I am super influential

 - Check Google Analytics - wow, 30% increase in day over day hits on my blog

This work needs to get done. But it need not interrupt us all the time. The video below has some excellent tips by Scott Belsky, the creator of the term, and author of ‘Making Ideas Happen.’ Simply be aware of when you are doing it, compartmentalize it, and batch it so that you are doing all this work together, in a 30-minute time when your energy is too low to do other, more productive work.
Sounds simple - but isn’t. It is much easier to do work that provides instant gratification, and much harder to put it off. But being aware of when it happens, and working slowly in the direction of changing things is a start.

I am personally working on this with the use of tools such as StayFocusd and LeechBlock that automatically block, or limit activities such as Facebook, personal email checks etc. So wish me luck!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It’s time to Gamify the To-do list

Reposted from my new Blog 'The Business Cofounder.'

I am a strong J. That means that my fourth MBTI type is Judging - leading to me preferring a structured approach to life. One of the most important ways I keep my life organized? With my To-do list, using my favorite tool, Toodledo.

My To-do list is not just a To-do list, it is organized by Context (where I am/what I can do - e.g., Work, Home, On the Phone), Priority, Start Date, Due date, Goal/Project etc. So at any point in time, I can easily pull up things I can/want to do. And I try to clump things together, to maintain a rythm - e.g., if I am feeling focused, I will pull up specifically tasks for which I need a certain level of concentration. If I am sending emails, I will batch the effort and send 5 emails instead of 1.

The conflict

But as I ponder over my To-do list, I realize that it is also a big reason for my unhappiness. And not
just my unhappiness, but the unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Let me explain.
I - along with most people I know- maintain a to-do list that shows them what remains to be done. And rightfully so - who would I waste precious screen space that shows me what I don’t need to worry about? Also, most people have way more to do than what they could possibly do. Every time a task is completed, it disappears from the list; all that is left is what’s remaining to be done.
Boy, what a miserable existence! What if a video game, rather than showing you how many points you have earned, shows you - 10 levels left. How long do you think would you play the game?

That’s where Gamification comes in

If you have never heard of Gamification - it is the application of game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. Or in layman’s terms - what if we approached every problem to be solved with the lens of converting it into something more like a game?

What might happen if I gamified a To-do list? Here are some ideas:

1. A score - A score, or an achievement is the physical representation of having accomplished something. It keeps you focused on not just what you have left to do, but how much you have accomplished!
In this case, I would not do a linear score, but a more complex one - rewarding you much more for important tasks than simple ones (so writing a blog post might get a few more points than emptying the trash)

2. Levels - Levels are a system, or “ramp”, by which players are rewarded an increasing value for a cumulation of points. If you have already been pretty productive today, you level up - and hence get more points than on an ordinary day

3. Progression - or how much of the work that I set out to do have I done? This is just like the LinkedIn progress bar that shows you what %age of your profile you have completed, motivating you to finish it

4. Social - Yes, I will make it social - in a way that helps your friends provide support and encouragement for finishing things - especially important tasks that require concentration, taking risks and persistence.

5. Analytics - a very important side effect of this type of gamification will be analytics. For example, when are you most productive? When are you able to do tasks that require a high degree of concentration? Consequentially, how should you change behavior e.g., focus on important tasks in the morning than checking email?

6. Last, but not least, battling the monsters - We all battle with a big monster while completing work - the procrastination monster. It is not that we are inherently lazy - it is that our Lizard Brain is telling us not to take risks, to stay in our comfort zone.
I would love to hear from anyone who has seen such an app/working on one. Or I might just work on one myself…

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Being a dad

The other day, I was talking to my dad. He had just looked at some of Simran's (my daughter) pictures and videos on Facebook. He told me how much he loves watching her videos and pictures, and she had totally overshadowed all the children he had seen - including me. In fact, after watching her, the memories of me had been replaced by her (he said it in jest, of course).

Now that I think about me, I imaging that at that point I might have felt jealous, angry - how could the memories of my childhood have been replaced by anyone? But all I felt was - happiness. Intense Pride. Joy.

I guess that's what being a dad is like. Your children might overshadow you, excel in life more than you had ever done - and you hope that happens. And if that happens, you feel just intense pride and joy. But above all, you hope and pray that they are happy - always. And there is no joy like seeing them happy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Network

Reposted from by new Blog, the Business CoFounder

Networking gets a bad rap unnecessarily. Think of what picture comes to mind, when you say ‘networker?’ Is it a slick haired, smooth talking fellow, nicely dressed, extroverted, skillfully finding the most important people at a cocktail party, ready to impress them and hand them his business card?

For me, my network is just a group of friends and acquaintances, who help me, and who I help. My approach to networking is simple - in any opportunity to meet and network with people, I am always thinking - who can I help here? Yes, some of it is because of the goodness of my heart! But some of it is that I strongly believe in the principle of reciprocity - if you help someone, they must help you. In words of Dr. Cialdini (world famous Professor of Psychology, and arguably the world’s most well known expert on Influence) “Society works because of the principle of reciprocity - people can freely exchange resources, because they know that they are not giving them away. When they need them, they will receive them back in return.” And it’s not that I keep a count who I asked for favors from, and who I gave favors to. There are people who have helped me immeasurably, and I have hardly ever done anything for them. And there are some people who I have helped more. It all adds up in the end in a giant pool of reciprocity.

But the more your network grows, the harder it is to keep in touch with everyone. I try to keep in touch with some means:
1. Email Reconnect - every year, I try to send an update to whoever I think might be interested in hearing from me. It works great, and people update me with what’s going on in their lives, call me etc.
2. Commenting on posts on LinkedIn, Facebook
3. Sharing articles - whenever I come across something useful for someone, I share it with them
4. Making introductions is a great way, as in my mind, you are doing something good for the person who wants to be introduced to someone, and the someone who he/she wants to be introduced to (as long as the match is appropriate). Always do check with both people before you actually send out an introduction emails
5. What I am terrible at is actually calling people - definitely need to get better at this

Enter Technology
Technology related to networking has been there for a while, from address book utilities like Plaxo, to email software like Xobni.
Recently though I have come across other technology that could take building and maintaining a network one step forward. Let’s look at some of them.
  • Cloze is a promising ‘interaction organizer’ that adds a context for every conversation. I have not been able to try the software yet, but based on their video, it does sounds promising. The idea is simple - aggregate all contact info, conversations, and present them when it matters (e.g., when you are email a person, talking to them etc.). The MA based company has raised $1.2M, and is in private beta.
  • Another interesting company is NetworksIgnite, started by my friend from Kellogg, Rajus Korde. The company attempts to answer the question - when should you follow up?
  • There have been several apps to meet people/network at conferences such as Plug from Mobinett, Pathable etc.
  • Apps that try to eliminate business cards, like Bump and a variety of others. None of these appears to have succeeded though, as there hasn’t been a single platform that everyone has moved to.
So what’s next? Well, I continue to watch for new technology in this space - still seems like a lot of potential to innovate. And networking - that continues too, with friends and acquaintances, old and new. Till then? Stay thirsty, my friend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Human Predicament

We all suffer from the great human predicament. In search of happiness, we work hard to achieve more and acquire more things - wealth, status, power. But our mind is incredibly at adjusting to the 'new normal..'. Research shows that someone having suffered from a catastrophic event - like having lost a leg - is about as happy as someone who won the lottery, six months after the event. 

People who are happy, are not happy because of success. They are happy because they are either naturally inclined to be happy, or choose to be happy (or both). In fact, happiness is more tried to effort than to outcomes. 

I am no master of human happiness - but I am a student of human happiness. Hopefully you too are, and want to be, a student of human happiness. Want to know where to begin? Just ask me. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Forming a Peer Group in Boston

Earlier this year, I was reading a book called the Accidental Creative. The author said that his greatest piece of advice for creatives is to start a small group that keeps you focused and engaged on your work. This compelled me to re-read Who's Got Your Back. Apparently Core Groups have been in existence longer than most people think; Benjamin Franklin belong to a Core Group called Junto. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone belonged to a Mastermind Group.

Now One of my big, short term goals? To form a Peer Group in Boston.

What is a Peer Group?

The idea is simple - a Peer Group (aka Core Group, Mastermind Groups, Personal Board of Directors) is a small, professional group that meets regularly, and in which members offer each other advice and encouragement. The advantages are many:

  1. Accountability: If people hold you accountable, you are more likely to achieve your goals; especially if you need to answer publicly to a group of six of your peers
  2. Encouragement:  Peer Groups are designed to encourage its members to strive towards their goals, to explore things they are passionate about, to stay motivated.
  3. An outside perspective
  4. Motivation: For me, this is the biggest factor. Whenever I have had career discussions with peers or mentors, I have always come out feeling energized
My quest for a Peer Group

I am largely looking at People I already know and respect, though I would be open to others, especially people who are known and respected by people I know and respect. They need to be interested in Technology and Entrepreneurship for us to have at least some common goals. I plan to hold monthly meetings, and more informal get-togethers. Will keep y'all posted on how it goes!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Relentless resourcefulness: the What, Why and How

 Reposted from my new Blog, The Business Co-Founder

The most important quality of an Entrepreneur is relentless resourcefulness; even Paul Graham agrees. In this post, I will cover
1. What is relentless resourcefulness?
2. Why is it important?
3. How do you build it?
So let’s start.

What is relentless resourcefulness?
The dictionary defines resourceful as ‘Able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.’ Relentless resourcefulness is simply resourcefulness + perseverance - or applying resourcefulness continuously, without giving up.

Why is it important for Entrepreneurs?
In startups, you will continuously come across situations that pose novel, difficult problems, for which there is no easy, obvious solution, and which force most people to give up. Only if you are relentlessly resourceful will you overcome these challenges, and not give up. This might take various forms e.g., your funding round did not come through - how do you become creative and bootstrap for another three months? OR your customer development interviews showed that your target market has no need for your product - how and where do you pivot?

How do you build it?
This Life Hacker article gave me the following equation, that makes complete sense
Resourcefulness = Necessity + Creativity + Persistence
So the only way to build resourcefulness is to build each of the constituent qualities.

Though not a quality, necessity signifies that you are most resourceful when you need to. This is why people often tell Entrepreneurs to quit their job; when you have no fallback, you become more resourceful.

You might not consider yourself very creative, but there is a big difference in the different kinds of creativity. As a blog post I wrote a while ago, Conceptual Creativity is what you need to be successful in Business. There are several interesting books you can read on this topic (list below). But here are my favorite tactics:
  • Question everything - try to look at the underlying assumptions and see what happens if you reverse them
  • Look for outliers and anomalies
  • When generating ideas, start with one idea - any idea, no matter how stupid. That gets your mind going
  • Think of ideas alone before and group sessions - group sessions encourage group think
  • Have fun and believe that you are creative
While there are several ways to be persistent (and tons of articles and Quora Answers on persistence/perseverance), I believe in one way more than any other way: Invest in the process, not the Outcome. No matter how much we believe in our qualities, our ability to change the world, the truth of the matter is that several circumstances are outside our control. ‘Luck’ plays a part - a huge part - in the success or failure of any endeavor. Market dynamics change, unforeseen things happen. The idea is the be emotionally tied to the process, and not the outcome. That way, you will not give up when you are faced with obstacles, because you did the best you could, and be truly, persistently, persistence

Further Reading: Creativity
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity
The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones
Further Reading: Persistence
Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The woman at the grocery store

There is a Stop and Shop in Arlington where I buy groceries - once a week or so. Most of my interactions with cashiers at the checkout counter are pretty normal - say hello, ask how you are, tell them that I want paper and plastic bags (or use the bags I brought), get groceries packed efficiently and go out of the way.

This woman - who's name was Ami - was different. She said hullo to me, and asked where the Mrs. was. Now I did not remember Ami - but she remembered my wife and I. When I told her that the Mrs. was at home, with the baby, she said that oh yes, she remembered that last time she ran into us, my wife Kerri was pregnant. Since Simran has turned 5 months ago, the incident was more than 5 months ago, likely longer. I got home, and asked Kerri if she remembered Ami - she did.

Why am I saying all this? It's simple - Ami tries to remember all her customers, takes interest in their lives, is pleasant. She doesn't do this with an objective in mind - she does not get paid any more for being friendly. She does it out of a choice - it makes her happier, it makes other people happier. And it's the right thing to do.

We often get caught in a vicious cycle - thinking that things will make us happy. A bigger house, a fancy car, a promotion etc. Happiness is a choice. The foremost drive of happiness - our own inner self-talk, and our relationships with others - which are also majorly affected by our own inner self-talk. So start with being happy - and other things will come into your life when they are supposed to.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hustler = bad, hustle = good

A few months ago I sat with my friend Scott Pollack, discussing our common hatred for being called Hustler. We have all heard - Entrepreneurs need to be Hustlers, Business Development folks need to be hustlers. As Scott said in his blog 'an enterprising and often dishonest person, esp. one trying to sell something.'

The book 'The Startup of You' by  Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha does clarify the terms a big. Hustler is bad - you don't want to be known as someone who could be potentially dishonest. But to hustle - To move or act energetically and rapidly - is good. To pursue opportunities aggressively is good. All while maintaining integrity. So hustle, but don't be a hustler.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

5 ways to listen better - Julian Treasure

Here are the 5 ways?

1. Three minutes of silence a day

2. Mixer -  how many channels of sounds can I hear in a noisy place

3. Savoring -  enjoy mundane sounds your dryer, the fan of your computer

4. Listening positions-  You can listen in different ways - active vs. passive, reductive vs. expansive, empathetic vs. critical

5. RASA (i.e., juice in Sanskrit) - Receive (pay attention to the other person), Appreciate (via little sounds), Summarize, Ask

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Perfect! Or is it?

Ask me what my daughter is like. My response would be - she's perfect. The hair - perfect. Her smile - perfect. Her two little feet - just perfect. Her crying, not sleeping, pooping through clothes - all perfect.

Yet anything I produce is never perfect. The presentation deck that I wrote yesterday - not perfect. The 10,000 line program that I coded at my last company? Not perfect. The Latin Chicken that I made 3 weeks ago - excellent, but not perfect.

Why is that I can look at my daughter as perfect, but no work I do is perfect? Is it because of my love for her? Is it because I cannot really consider anything I make myself  perfect, because that would be vain?

I think there is a strong correlation between seeing things as perfect, and happiness. Imagine a vacation - you are on a beach in Hawaii. The sun is shining, and there is a rainbow in the sky. Would you be happy? Probably. Why? It is because you accepted things as they are. You did not think that the rainbow should be a little to the left, the weather just a little warmer, and the stupid people should get off the beach so that you can enjoy it alone. No. You accepted it as it was, and that is what gave you happiness.

So now that I have rambled on and on, let me come to my main point. Accepting things as they are gives you happiness. It also might drive complacency. Solution? Accept the outcome as it is, but invest in the process. I am not one to quote religious texts, but this one is important - this is from the Bhagvad Gita. Lord Krishna tells Arjun 'Karam Kar Phal Ki Iccha Na Kar' - which translates to work, but don't expect outcomes, and get disappointed when you do not get what you want. So that slide deck? And that speech? Work on it with your heart and soul - that will give you true happiness. The outcome - will pretty much be immaterial.

P.S. Credit to the book "Are you ready to succeed" for most of these lessons

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A commitment experiment

I am conducting a new commitment experiment. Here is how it is going to work: for the next 4 weeks, I am on a strict diet. I have one cheat day per week; other than that, my diet consists of no bread, pasta, rice etc. Its all meat and vegetables. I am allowed tea and coffee and a small dessert at night. Everytime I break this contract, I will:

1. Post it on my Diet Log page

2.  Donate five dollars to something I do not like - for example, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign (that will also ensure that my wife watches my eating habits closely!)

Will keep everyone posted on how it goes!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Ever decided to take no responsibility for what the government does? Think again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mark of a great idea

In my opinion, the mark of an idea is that it seems obvious once someone has done it/mentioned it. A great example is this - whenever I have gone to a Yoga class, I have always felt that I was one of the handful of guys in a class dominated by women. Did I really belong here?

Enter Broga Yoga - a Yoga class designed specifically for men. Now that I think of it - its an obvious way to solve this problem. But only now is it obvious - not before it was created.

Another similar idea is Hipmunk - why should flights not be displayed in a calendar format? I want to quickly see which flight will match the times I want to fly? But it took over a decade after online ticketing had gone mainstream before such a concept appears.

Great ideas are obvious in hindsight, but it takes a flash of brilliance to get the idea.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lessons I learned in Business School

I recently read a blog post by Rob Go of Next View Ventures called My Top 3 Lessons learned in Business School. The post inspired me to reflect and write about my own top 3 B-School lessons.

Lesson 1: What Strategy is

Before Business school, strategy was this buzzword that I saw used around me all the time. The phrase "What's your strategy for getting the Milk from the fridge?" might be an exaggeration, but not a big exaggeration. At Kellogg, I learned a lot of tools that help understand industries dynamics and judge whether a firm strategy would be successful or not. Most of all, it helped me get a simplified, clear cut definition of strategy. Strategy, according to me, has 3 steps:

1. Decide what you will stand out for? What will you differentiate in?

2. Validate that customers value your point of differentiation

3. Allocate resources to achieving the point of differentiation

Let's take an example. Zappos - known for customer service, not shoes. So their resource allocation is in culture and in giving people in the call centers leeway to make customers very happy. Do they have the lowest prices always? Not quite - if you look hard enough, you can find the same shoe for cheaper elsewhere. But while buying something like a shoe, which you can't make a decision on until you wear it, would you rather find the cheapest upfront price, or rely on a retailer like Zappos, that will take your shoes back, no questions asked?

Another example is Apple - known for innovation and design, not low cost and operational efficiency. They do happen to have a very efficient supply chain, but key decisions are not made with Supply Chain being the determining factor. Case in point - when Steve Jobs decided to make iMacs of different colors, it created havoc for their supply chain. What if you wanted your iMac in pink, and the store had it only in blue? Now the store had to carry multiple colors per iMac. But it didn't matter - Steve realized that your computer was becoming a fashion statement; having colors was more important than supply chain efficiency.

Lesson 2: The "Soft stuff" can be learned

Before Business School , my vision of an ideal leader was charismatic, outgoing, and visionary. Through case studies, class exercises and observing speakers and my classmates, I realized that the "soft stuff" can be learned. This includes leadership, teamwork, negotiation, influencing others etc.

The fact of the matter is that the soft stuff was the most valuable part of Business School. I began to understand what were my leaderships strengths and weaknesses, what company culture actually meant, and how simple things such as where you sit in a room mattered. 

A simple story - one of the first classes we had in Business School was called Leadership in Organizations. Shortly after this class ended, I went to compete in the MIT Sloan Sales Competition. My first case was individual - selling investment services to a rich individual. I prepared hard, established rapport, listened to the client etc., but I think the one thing I did mattered more than anything was choosing where to sit. You see, when you sit on the opposite sides of the table from each other, its like you are having a face-off. If you sit on the same side of the table, it's like you are solving a problem jointly. In order to be able to sit on the same side, I actually made sure that the proposal I was presenting was not printed. Instead I had to drag my chair over on to the same side, sit next to the person who I was selling to, and walk him through the proposal on the laptop. The result - 2nd place in that round :)

That was one example. Another major leadership lesson was on leadership styles. We all think that we have one leadership style, but the fact is that we all have a combination of multiple leadership styles inherent within us, and we can change how much of each we use depending on the situation. 

Lesson 3: Mindset, not skill-set

This was not a lesson per se, but a revelation. People often ask me what skills I picked up during my MBA that is useful in my consulting job, in startups etc. I can hardly point to one or two skills that are super crucial; instead, it is more of a change in mindset; in how I analyze any issue, business or otherwise. Things such as approaching problems with a hypothesis, quickly figuring out how the hypothesis can be proven or disproven, digging deep into understanding the root cause of most issues, and being able to take a much broader view of the different aspects of the issue.

If this sounds vague, it probably is; I do feel that there has been a marked change in the way I think about things.

Now let me tack on to the post and answer this very important question that I get asked all the time - what is the ROI of an MBA? Is it worth the financial trouble? Is there a ROI analysis that shows that?

If you take on a job that pays more than your pre-MBA job, and stick there for a while, you will have a clear justification; especially if you intended to just stick in your old job if you did not go to school. If you have a zig-zag career path - which is the norm, not the exception - you might never be able to clearly explain with an excel model how your career path would have been different. What if you had quit your job and started a company which sold for a billion dollars? There are so many options, and too much variability.

But if you come out a changed person, and think and act differently - now we're talking. That might be more than worth the financial trouble. Of course, the tons of fun and the number of friendships you build during Business School helps :) I had an amazing time at Kellogg, and would not give up the experience for anything.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The diaper shift blog post

Ideas come to us in the craziest places. And the craziest times. Most of my ideas occur to me between 4 and 5 AM. What I am doing up at that time? Doing my duty on the diaper shift.

Every night, our daughter Simran gets up at this time from her first shift of sleep, to eat. Now I cannot feed her; what I can do is the 'diaper changing and putting her to sleep' part. She is awake some of the time; but then gets very sleepy, and as I rock her to sleep, my mind wanders.

For some reason, this is when thoughts start occurring to me - thoughts related to ideas that I was thinking about the day before. And its not just disjointed thoughts - thoughts often come in as a coherent whole. I try to jot down these thoughts in my notebook before I go back to sleep, as I can often translate them directly into a blog post. There is a blog post that I will write soon titled Skillshare vs. Sidetour - I have the entire outline, with all major points ready. And that thought came to be - on the diaper shift.

Amazing TED talk by Susan Cain

If you are an introverts, or know any introverts (all of you!), this is a must see talk! After watching this, I realize that I am an ambivert - actually love social gatherings, love to take the limelight in Public Speaking and Improv, but after a few hours, want to retreat back to my shelf.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


There was a time when information are scarce. News took forever to travel. Now with a a few clicks and keystrokes, you can know a lot.

Information is no longer scarce. Ability to apply the information and change habits is still scarce. Really 'grokking' concepts is still scarce. Initiative to act on the information is still scarce.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The rise of the subscription model

It seems like there there is a new E-Commerce website with a subscription model on Tech Crunch every week! Just one week ago, Lost Crates expanded their subscription model to includes verticals other than what they had started with first: boutique stationery goods. There is a pretty good list of subscription services here. I started wondering: what is behind this new trend?

Let's first consider what job customers hire these websites to do? In one word - curation. Consider the example of Bespoke Post, launched by my Kellogg classmates, Rishi and Steve.

Bespoke Post sends you hand-picked goods, which enable you to 'Turn into a gentleman. One box at a time.'  And they send you a new box of 'Awesome'. Their marketing message is simple and brilliant. Their persona seems to be - wait for it - 'Barney Stinson.' For people who do not watch the show 'How I met your mother,' Barney is his early thirties and almost always wears a suit. He picks up women - all the time. And always has an opinion. And uses the word Awesome and Legendary a lot! Hence Bespoke Post's marketing message reads (at least to me) if you are a classy gentleman who like the fine things in life, subscribe to our service, and we will send you products that help you maintain your classiness. And it's all curated by us, so there is no effort on your part. And by the way, their products are super awesome!

Next let's consider, what is behind the rise of so many subscription model E-Commerce businesses?

1. Subscription models have been around forever; these businesses are online versions of traditional subscription businesses.Wine of the month club comes to mind.

2. Such businesses can start producing revenue quicker than let's say a marketplace. What do you need to get started? A cool concept, a good website and some amount of inventory and a clear value proposition. Layer on the marketing on top.

3. There is a good amount of predictability. Only order a little more than you think you need for that month - since you are seeing numbers month to month, you can predict the demand for next month to a reasonable degree. If you under order - back order the goods, please the order with the supplier, and have them shipped out a little later.

4. Most of them are buying from small suppliers, so they have enough negotiating power to get good margins, and also shift some of the risk over to the suppliers

5. The cost of customer acquisition is lower in this new era of social media marketing. And then there is affiliate marketing - just offer your customers $10 off for very friend that signs up, and you have another channel going

6.  As the number of such businesses will show, there are enough number of niches to be filled

7. On the customer side, another value proposition is surprise. As an example, Birchbox sends 4-5 samples/month for $10. What the samples would be? That's a surprise that's eagerly awaited by customers

8. The perceived price from a customer's perspective is lower; Psychologically speaking, $19.95/month seems much lower than $240/year.

9. I think the biggest factor is that these businesses give the founders a chance to share something they are passionate about. For example another friend Gautam, from the same Startup Leadership Program batch as I, launched Naturebox, which sends healthy Snacks daily. He passionate about healthy food, and the startup enables him to share this with his customers.Read this excerpt from his blog:

"As a co-founder of NatureBox, I’m especially pleased to introduce you to our company and thank you for your visit. The NatureBox mission of helping you eat healthier without changing your daily routine, has great personal meaning to me. I grew up overweight – weighing more than 200 pounds at the age of 12 – and struggled with obesity for most of my life. As a child, I would come home from school and spend hours eating junk food. My weight struggles were preventable if I had healthier options and better eating habits. Through hard work and dedication, I lost weight by focusing on healthy foods. Now I am dedicating my life to helping others discover a healthier you."

But as the number of these business rise, what will enable each one to be successful?

1. Scale - is the market big enough? Probably boutique stationary goods is not!

2. A clear marketing message - as in what do you provide, and who do you provide it for? Can the customer easily recognize that the service is ideal for them?

2. Trust - do your customers trust that you will send high quality items? Startups often prove this by showcasing examples of things they have sent before

4. Additional revenue sources - even with a large number of customers, the business model might not support a large company. Additional revenue sources come in handy here. A prime example is Birchbox's marketplace - if you like the samples they send, you can purchase a full size version of the product right from their website.

So go on, find the subscription service right for you now!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - great concept, terrible design!

I recently came across a new e-commerce site called This is how describes itself " will be an open, online retail platform for consumer packaged goods, focused primarily on linking manufacturers of essential household stuff like tooth brushes, toilet paper, trash bags etc. to end consumers directly." - Crunchbase.

I was intrigued - why Why not - doesn't has the same variety of goods? What do you gain, rather than or Then I saw's crunchbase page.

"Consumers currently lack a convenient way to shop for household essentials on the web, while manufacturers of consumer packaged goods are in the market for a fresh alternative to the large bricks-and-mortar retailing services. The model will be unique both in terms of how goods are ordered/distributed and how consumer packaged goods companies can target, incentivize and personalize offers to consumers"

Once I explored the website I did begin to understand the merits. See for example the page for the Cat litter deodorizer. It clearly lays out how long the product typically lasts, reviews from customers etc. Some other pages also laid out the green rank of products etc. The bottom line - the site is custom designed for household products, and so gains a significant advantage over other sites like amazon.

Thinking of in a jobs to be done framework, the site is enabling users to shop for household products online rather than go to the store. Quoting from a HBS working knowledge paper, there are a few dimensions to this framework:

"With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension. If marketers understand each of these dimensions, then they can design a product that's precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy."

In terms of functional dimension, the site does well in terms of how it enables viewing of various aspects of household products important to the user e.g., how long they last, how green they are etc. There is also a product rank section that lets you see how other products in the same category are handled. This is something that amazon is likely going to find hard to do, given that they have a much larger variety of products, and products can be listed by merchants in the marketplace. So far, so good.

The social element is well handled - in terms of reviews appearing instantly on the tight, letting you see what the other users think of the product. Another aspect of both social and emotional element is the budget; the question is there on a lot of people's minds - am I paying more than others for the same stuff? The site shows a tab called My Budget which compares your expenses to the average household.

There are two things that the site does badly. One is design
. See the following screen shots: in the first one I hover over one of the category icons. As I go to select a subcategory, I move the mouse left - and the category to the left gets selected. I had seen such issues with websites designed in 2000 - it seems that they did hire a designer from that era!

The second thing that seems to be forced is social networking. There is a section called MyFriends - where you can share activity related to your favorite products in the neighborhood. The web is full of places where people highlight products that they love - but these products carry a lot more emotional value for them. Whether it is music, movies, books - sharing these highlights an aspect of the user's personality.  I completely understand reviews - but social sharing of toilet paper and detergent is unlikely to excite anyone. I might be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

It would be certainly interesting to see how does. I haven't made my first purchase yet, but do plan to soon, and post more thoughts on the site.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

GTD rediscovered

I have always been a pretty organized person when it comes to by Todo list is concerned; I know exactly what I need to accomplish each day, how much time I need etc. But recently I re-read the classic book 'Getting Things Done' by David Allen. I discovered some key aspects of GTD I had been neglecting:

1. The main purpose of GTD is to free you of thoughts about the small tasks that still need to be accomplished, so that you can focus on the one thing you are doing right then. That can be only done if you know that the other small things are captured, and will be reviewed and taken care of according to priority. That means - pick a task, and keep going till you get it done. Don't look at your task list to optimize every single moment of life. If you are reviewing a presentation say, and it takes a minute to save, don't open the task list to see if you can get anything done within that one minute. Breathe, chill and continue to work on the task. Actually closing the browser tab that shows my Todo list (I use toodledo) helps me take my mind off other tasks as well.

2. Another big change I have made is organizing tasks by context. So if I am at an airport waiting for my flight, I can look up my context called 'Phone Call,' and make the phone calls that I have been neglecting. This also hides all the tasks that cannot be done at that moment; so my task for 'Pick up Dry Cleaning,' which has a context of 'Tasks near Home' does not show up at work.

3. I also stopped using due dates unless absolutely necessary. Before this, I would 'guess' a due date for a task, then be disappointed if I did not completely finish the task. Now I just set start dates - dates before which I will not begin working on the task. Then I make a decision on what task to do based on what context I am in, how much energy I have etc. This has helped me get the unnecessary pressure off me, and allowed me to focus on just doing whatever I can during the day. And paradoxically, I am getting more done!

4. I also have 75 odd tasks in the 'Someday/Maybe' list. Things that I would love to do, but cannot do so at the current time. These include 'Write a Book.' Just knowing that I am capturing this information, and review it periodically to see if I can bring them into the active task list keeps them off my mind.

5. Most importantly, I have started focusing on the Next Action. Let's take an example of a task from my task list below, which said 'File taxes.' And then I will wait till close to the deadline before even getting started. Why? Well there are a substantial number of moving parts. Now File taxes is a project, which has a sequence of tasks that includes 'Find W-2s', 'Collect 1099 forms', 'Enter tax data', 'Review' etc. They key is that the Next Action in a project should be the next physical action you are going to take, and not a fuzzy goal with several tasks yet to be figured out.

So GTD is great; but I do want to mention a major pitfall. GTD has the potential of making you a task completing machine. Have a few minutes while walking from the bus stop to home? Find some task to do! But slightly changing what  William Henry Davies said, "We must make time to stand and stare."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do introverts dislike NYC?

I lived in NYC for one summer. And did not particularly like it! In fact, I felt tired very quickly every day. Now I have some explanation why.

Today, I was on the subway, while reading the book 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.' Ironically, the book was explaining a fundamental trait that correlates highly with introversion: high reactiveness. Essentially, everyone has a sweet spot of how much stimulus from the environment they like to take. This includes noise, light, smell etc. Now the more introverted you are, the more you react to the stimulus, and the less of it you prefer.

I have always been just ever so slightly introverted. My latest MBTI scores rank me slightly introverted, just off the middle between introverted and extroverted. (In contrast, when they compared me on planned vs. playing by ear, I am extremely planned. Knock your socks off planned - or rather, fold your socks and put them away in the correct drawer planned).

Anyhow, back to introversion - NYC is just too stimulating. There is the noise of the subway, the conductor announcing loudly, someone singling, too many people - just too much going on. I much prefer the relative calm of Boston. No, not the calm of suburbs - I hate the calm of suburbs. Just the calm of a city that is not that crazy. Even Arlington is fine. And this, coming from a guy, who grew up in Delhi. Try going to Karol Bagh; you will understand.

And that is why I love Boston and love to visit NYC occasionally. And while we have all sorts of people living in NYC, I would argue that on average, they are much more extroverted than the rest of the country. So I am going to get my NYC fix, and head back to Boston.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Niceness as a competitive advantage

I was at a startup pitch event recently. The format was typical American Idol. The judges - typically VCs or angel investors - gave frank, honest comments which would be super useful for the Entrepreneurs. Everyone was happy.

But there was one VC who was nice. And not just nice - super nice. Even when the Entrepreneur was not up to the mark, he offered words of encouragement. And gave constructive criticism in a nice way. He seemed to realize that this work means a lot for the Entrepreneur, and must be appreciated, even if it is not ready for primetime yet.

Keep in mind that the nice VC did not hold back on criticism at all - far from it. He just expressed it in a kind, sympathetic manner.

I think this niceness is a competitive advantage in today's world; people who were watching the interaction will probably go to the nice VC first. And when an invest-able deal comes around, the Entrepreneur will likely pick him (if there are multiple choices) - because the VC will be great to work with.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quiet Bloggers - an observation

According to the book 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking', people who are introverts are likely to express themselves more in social media - especially blogs. This brought to mind my fellow B-School bloggers from Kellogg - Orlando (with two blogs now), Dino and Jeremy. All of which were part of the Clear Admit top 10 student bloggers. None of us seem super introverted, but I think on the balance, all 4 are just slightly introverted. I know these results probably don't count as statistically significant, but Susan Cain seems to be on to something!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thoughts on Pinterest

Pinterest is the hot new thing. The new kid on the blog. The new story in town.

On hearing about it from multiple people, I decided to give it a shot. I actually had to wait to be let in and create an account - which made it all the more desired for me! After spending some time in it, I have started to see what makes it so special. Here are some thoughts:

1. Design - obviously, the design is super awesome! But what exactly about the design is so awesome?

As this article would tell you, it is the infinite scrolling and the masonry style layout. Infinite scrolling is a technique used by several new websites, including Facebook. There is no pagination; as you scroll down, the page just refreshes with more content. No effort required on part of the user. The masonry style layout, as the article says, " the most efficient utilization of space possible given varying image heights. It overcomes past layout hurdles and takes vertical height into account when laying out the images, thereby creating a super tight, puzzle piece flow of images on the page. "Simply put, the images are laid out in an efficient manner, and you can scroll forever till you find something that captures your attention.

I will add one more thing; it is the way images "pop." Forgive me for being non-technical, but I am no UI designer. I notice that the contrast of the images to the rest of the page, including backgrounds, comments etc. is so good, that as I scroll down, my eye can dart from one image to another without being interrupted by anything else. That is what makes the scrolling so fast and efficient. And the more I scroll, the more I am likely to discover something interesting. And spend more time on it.

2. Positioning and messaging - The positioning and messaging of the site is outstanding. Let's start with the name - Pinterest. I think of pin and interest. I am slightly confused, but interested. And what do they mean by interest? Is it the money I earn from a savings account, or things I like to do/see/experience?

But the confusion disappears the moment I enter the site. It's your virtual pinboard - ah now I get it! I can pin the things I like on the web, just like I would pin clippings from a magazine to a real-life pinboard. The messaging is simple like other great startups, especially Dropbox, which describe itself as a 'Magic pocket in the cloud.' You could drop anything (file) in it, and pick it up from anywhere. Such simple, intuitive messaging ties technology to real life objects, and turns skeptic visitors into people just waiting to try the product out.

3. Get them started - It is so easy to get started with Pinterest. And I don't mean just signup. I mean you have pins and boards to look at the moment you are on the site. The homepage takes you to the most popular pins on Pinterest. If you have friends on Facebook who are using Pinterest, you are immediately subscribed to them. You can look at what they are interested in, repin the pins, and find similar users/boards and follow them.

4. And keep them coming back - And of course, Pinterest makes it easy to share pins on Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc. Which means even if I have not visited the site, I will see the Pins in some feed and will visit again

So am I an avid user of Pinterest. Not at all actually. Why? Well the most popular pictures are women's clothes, accessories etc. I am not trying to be sexist; it is just currently dominated by items of interest to women. I am sure us tech and business geeks will catch up. Till then, I continue to visit Pinterest occasionally, and follow any news on them very closely.

Experimenting with Pinterest

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Define your reality

I continue to be more and more influenced 'Happiness at Work.' One of the concepts that the book lays out is of 'Alternative realities.' The basic premise is that there is no matter how you look at the world, it is one reality, not the reality. You can change your mental model - or how you look at the world - and change what you define as your reality.

An example; I woke up the other day worried about all the things I needed to do that day. I hurriedly got to my computer, started answering emails, doing whatever I could to get the quick tasks done soon so that I have a manageable workload. In reality, I was far behind.

But then I got a reminder email for one ritual I have established - called the morning quiet time. I spend at least 15 quiet minutes every morning, either just sitting with a notebook, reflecting and writing my thoughts down, or reading some notes from on Evernote, which contain some daily reminder. I do this with a beverage (typically chai and coffee, not a bloody mary:)). I look outside, enjoy looking at the morning sunrise, look around in the room, at the cat who is typically either begging for food or sunbathing! This routine helps me slow down, and defined my an alternative reality. Which this day was, that I had 10 urgent tasks to take care of, but only 2 important ones. And if the urgent tasks did not get done - really nothing significant would change. I might have a few responses go out later, a blog post written one day later. And there was more than enough time to do the two important tasks. Life was good!

Whether I am able to carry on this routine when I have to travel for work again - that remains to be seen. It might happen later in the day - but I am committed to this short, but precious quiet time. The time to define my reality.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Yes, there is an app for that!

One of my wife's friend's mom recently gave her some advice: if your baby is crying too much, then just switch on the vacuum cleaner. Babies are fascinated by the noise and often start crying. In fact, she went through several vacuum cleaners raising her three children!

My immediate thought was - maybe, just maybe, there is an app for that. Of course! Called the 'White Noise Baby', this app plays car ride, vaccum cleaner, hair dryer etc.! Awesome!

But wait, one glitch. The free version comes with one sound. I wanted to buy the others (just costs 99 cents), but the link on the app gives an error. Please fix it dear White Noise Baby application developers, and I will gladly give my 99 cents.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On internet marketplaces....

I have written before about two-sided markets.Harvard Business Review has a phenomenal paper on strategies for two-sided markets. I have been observing the emergence of a large number of internet business that generate value by connecting two distinct user groups, and gathering my thoughts on it. Here is how I think about these businesses.

How does the business generate value?
One needs to think about how the business generates value for both groups of users. Value is generated by one or more of the following ways:

1. Lowering costs or effort: Let's take the case of TeachStreet, a marketplace connecting students with teachers. For students, it simplifies the process of looking for a class. For teachers, it lowers marketing expenses and effort; by creating one single site that lists all teachers, TeachStreet can perform SEO much better, ensuring that its pages show up near the top of Google search results.

2. A better match: The other side to the coin is how internet marketplaces can help create a better match.

Let's take the example of eharmony. While you would not see it as a classic 'marketplace,' it is essentially matching guys to girls. No, eharmony does not support men seeking men, or women seeking women (so I heard). Anyway, back to my original point - because of a large number of men and women on the site. EHarmony is able to leverage attribute based matching and proprietary algorithms to get a supposedly better match.

Another example is EBay - you can get the exact product you are looking for, down to model, version number etc. etc.

3. A unique experience: A number of marketplace-like businesses have started provide unique experiences, not available anywhere else.

Skillshare and Sidetour are the first two that come to mind. Skillshare is 'a community marketplace to learn anything from anyone.' Which means that people who were not sharing their knowledge before, are doing so, using the platform. Sidetour, a 'Marketplace for Authentic Experiences,' provide experiences that you cannot find anywhere else. For example. 'Visit NYC's Flower Market and Create a Bouquet with a Floral Designer' by the owner of a Floral Design Boutique who has a lot of knowledge about the NYC flower market (otherwise she would be out of business).

A challenge for these marketplaces is their uniqueness - particularly, how can they scale while maintaining their uniqueness and quality. It is completely possible that as these platforms get more and more popular, more people sign up to teach. But then again, would the quality of people signing up be just as good? That remains to be seen.

Value proposition

Similar to the point above re: value generation, Marketplaces need to have a clear value proposition defined for customers. The value proposition might emphasize comprehensiveness (eBaY - the world's largest marketplace for goods, so you can find anything here), uniqueness (other than the examples above, Etsy - the marketplace for handmade goods that you cannot find elsewhere), cost (one of the main attractions of AirBnB, though so is uniqueness) or quality ( for example provides customized music lessons by handpicked teachers, to ensure quality).

One value proposition might affect another; for example, comprehensiveness = more buyers and sellers = more efficient marketplace = lower cost.

Revenue model
Several interesting revenue have emerged in marketplace businesses i.e., ways in which the marketplaces themselves make money

1. Transaction fees - from the days of eBaY, this is the most popular model. Fees might be percentage of final price plus flat fees (e.g., eBaY's listing fee, fee for using more than 5 images etc.)

2. Subscription fees - typically, one side of the marketplace is charged a subscription fees, while the other is free. Normally it is the service provider which is charged

3. Other - Some companies have other revenue models., for example, has none :). My guess is that they are aiming to build a large user base at first, and worry about monetization at a later point. This might be a great strategy; once they have regular matches on the website and people contacting teachers, they can monetize by solving various problems for their clients. One might be appointment scheduling - if a user lookup the service provider's calendar, scheduling an appointment through the web and pay up front, this might save the teacher a lot of hassle, and reduce the risk of no-shows dramatically. asks all service providers to give a free first class, and charges $20 to the student for the class.

One of the most interesting business models is from restaurant reservation site Savored. Started by SLP fellow Benjamin Kean, Savored helps restaurants solve capacity management issues; essentially, you can reserve a table at a restaurant for an off-peak time, and get 40% off food and alcohol. You get money off the meal, and the restaurant gets to fill in idle capacity and generate incremental revenue. For this, you pay $10 to make a reservation through Savored. As of now, 635 restaurants have signed up for Savored, and the website is reportedly doing very well.

Success factors

So what determines success in this business? Simply put two things:

1. Are you able to build a large user base on both sides of the marketplace?

2. Is your customer lifetime value significantly higher than your user acquisition cost?

Let's look at both factors in detail.

1. Building a large user base: The first problem in building a large user base is getting the initial users. Marketplaces face the chicken and egg problem at first. Why would parties on one side of the platform sign up, without enough users from the other side?

Startups often give one side offers such as free trial period, in which they have no upfront costs, and won't see any costs until they see some sort of indication that they are benefiting from the marketplace. This indication could take the form of people signing up for their service, or even visiting their page.

Sometimes this trial is not enough, especially if it takes some effort to sign up, create a profile etc. Startups can further boost the initial signups by making the process as simple as possible, and providing some kind of value to the user immediately upon signing up. Betterfly for instance providers teachers a set of Marketing tools that allow teachers to market themselves in other venues such as Google Places, Craigslist etc.

Sometimes the trial is necessary for both sides. For example a site connecting buyers and sellers of goods could give the buyers $5 off first purchase etc.

The second problem in increasing the user base is capitalizing on the initial set of users to make sure that your business grows virally. Word of mouth marketing plays a big role in this. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, websites must make it simple for users to spread the word about their Marketplace. For example, if someone signed up for an event through your website? Share on Facebook. The next most emerging channel might be Pinterest

2. Making sure LTV>> CAC: Let's talk about both LTV and CAC with an example. Take the case of a marketplace that matches teachers with students. Let's say the cost of acquiring a student is a dollar through a combination of SEO/SEM/Social Media and Inbound marketing. What will determine the success of the business is whether LTV is much bigger than the the initial acquisition cost. Let's also assume that the revenue model is percentage of transaction - Let's say 5% of transaction.

Suppose the student finds a teacher through the website, and signs up for the first class online. If the cost of the class is 20 dollars, revenue generated is 5% of $20 or $1. Which is equal to the acquisition cost of the user.

The key question is - what happens next? Does the student meet the teacher, and decide to do more classes? If he/she does so, is the transaction through the website, or does the teacher tell the student to just email him/her directly next time, and pay in cash? Or does the startup have a way or controlling, or atleast influencing that the transaction continues through the website? Also, does the student continue to look for other teachers in different subjects? The key is to increase customer loyalty, and prevent leakage. Common ways of doing this are loyalty programs, email marketing.

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Alloparenting - or - allo there, parenting

Steve Jobs on having kids: ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.’

And this was the man who changed the world. Many times. Who am I to argue with him

It's been over a month since our daughter Simran Abigail Chugh was born; and it has been the most wonderful experience of my life. Some of the best moments have been just chilling with her awake, hanging out, making faces. Like here.

But sometimes I wonder, why is it so hard! I mean, think of it? Getting up every 2 hours, diaper changes, walking around with the baby, cleaning up, burping, holding the baby's head up; not to forget coming stages, like school etc. It doesn't seem to be the same way for animals; kittens mature within three to four months, and are off to the races! While we humans take around 18 years to mature (or in some cases, 80). What is it about humans that causes parenting to be so much work?

As it turns out, its the very reason that humans rule the earth - our brain! I am reading this amazing book 'Brain Rules for Baby' for the second time now, and it explains this in detail. Essentially, as the brain developed, and we started to walk upright, the head size increased, and the pelvic canal size decreased. So now there there was a trade-off between the size of the brain and the mother's ability to push the baby out.

Nature's solution? Push the baby out before she is fully developed. The result? Parenthood.

But that is not all. The brain made us all so social. Which resulted in us working as a team, and groups of females each other raise children, with males acting in a supporting role. A phenomena called alloparenting. So if it feels like raising a kid is a five person job - it is. Suddenly the Indian joint family system seems to make a lot of sense.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Gamification, or applying Game mechanics to everyday activities, is a trend thats super interesting to me. has already been known to apply game Mechanics to motivate people to achieve financial goals. Just today, announced a $2MM fundraising round. The intent of the site is to motivate people achieve financial goals Product Explanation from on Vimeo.

Three problems. First, I get this error when trying to add an account to the site on the iPad. That is not good. It does not give this error when used on Firefox on a PC.

Second, effort involved in importing all my financial information (which is already in is too much. Especially as I run into more issues on my PC! For example, accounts were in progress of being added, and then I get this error.

And the third? Just by adding an account, I got a Super Saver badge. I have no idea what this badge means - and unlike a Foursquare Mayor badge, it has no significance to me. Especially since it is not proportional to my action!

The concept certainly is promising, and I sincerely hope that the product gets there too!

A baby Roomba!

I have been on parental leave for the past 3 weeks, taking care of my daughter Simran. It's been an amazing time! Now having some free time has led to some ideas for products for parents and kids. One of them is baby Roomba.

Roomba, as you might already know, is a robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans your house on its own.It has collision detection sensors and complex algorithm so that it travels throughout your house, cleaning every nook and corner, while you might be away at work. And at the end, it heads back to the charging station.

Now how does this apply to kids? My daughter, and kids in general, love it when you carry them around the house. They love the warmth of you holding them, and the motion that puts them to sleep. While this is one of the best times of the day for me to bond with my daughter, depending on the kid, it can get tiring. Especially if you haven't had time to sleep much.

Enter the Kid Roomba, a heated chair where you strap in the kid, which moves around the house. Similar to a Roomba, it will detect collisions and switch directions; giving the kid a similar experience as being carried around the house. There are already vibrating chairs like this one, why not a moving chair?

The only downfall I see is that parents over-use it, and bond with the kid less and less. But other than that - someone should invent it!

Update: Here are some YouTube videos of parents who actually hacked a solution! And rabbits like to rid the Roomba!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bye Bye Delicious. Hello evernote

I have been a loyal user of Delicious since early 2010. Finally, I have decided to move on - to Evernote! There were several reasons why I decided to make the switch:

1. We live in a world where we use several services together. For example, I use Read it Later to mark items I want to - well, read later. I also use Evernote for my notes, web clippings, thoughts etc. And I used to user Delicious for my bookmarks. They worked seamlessly with each other - I could mark an item as 'Read later' using my Read It Later web browser plugin, then read it on my Read it Later iPad app, and then save it to my delicious bookmarks list from the app while marking it as read. Until the delicious API started failing on me - especially from Read It Later iPad app. All, apparently because of some changes to the API which broke the connection with the Read It App. Lesson: Please do not break your most basic API services - people will leave

2. When I looked at what my alternatives were, the best one was to just export all by Bookmarks to Evernote. I found an article here that allowed me to export my book marks and import to Evernote with a little bit of work. There was a little bit extra work required, as the Delicious bookmark only returns the first 1000 results, and I had to repeat this process again, passing the argument 'start=1000' to retreive the next 1000 results, to get all my bookmarks. Ultimately, in 30 minutes, I had all my bookmarks in Evernote. Now the tags still do not work properly - but I see this as an opportunity to read through some of my bookmarks and consolidate them, so that I can actually find things I need. A painful process, but well worth the effort.

Now I use Shareholic and Read it Later plugin in my browser to move things where appropriate. So bye bye Delicious. Hello again, Evernote!