Hope your 2021 is off to a great start. I did get a few days off over the holidays, but that feels like quite some time back already. One of the highlights of this holiday was that we managed to spend time as a family and play some music. We recorded a cover of Abba’s “Thank You for the Music.” In a year that was not easy for most of us, we hung on to little joys in life to keep us going. This song is an excellent recap of one such joy that we are thankful to God for as a family.
I am sure some of us have this habit of reflecting when a year comes to a close and preparing for the new one. I did the same over the holidays and wanted to share some reflections (as it pertains to Musings) and plans for this year. I have a small request for you towards the end.
As hard as 2020 was for most of us, it has been a year where I am thankful for a few specific things. I was able to work on two areas I have always wanted to. Reading and Writing more. In prior years, I would get through 12 books in a year (maximum). But, in 2020, I finished 58 books and on topics of personal interest (for those interested, the list is here). We had looked at some of the techniques to cultivate reading as a habit. All it took was to carve out about 1 to 1.5 hours daily (thanks to the saved commute time and Audible while walking my dog Toto) to nurture this habit.
Thanks to all the Musings readers and your encouragement, I wrote 25 Musings cementing the learnings on various topics. I also want to particularly thank my 20+ friends who have been super supportive in reviewing the Musings before publishing and giving thoughtful feedback to make it sharper. I could not have done it without their help.
For those new to Musings, most of the topics we covered last year fall into two themes – Personal Growth or Startup Related. Here are my top takeaways from last year (in no particular order) – I would love to hear yours.
- Deep Work Earlier in the year, I decided to spend solid chunks of time daily to work on topics that require undistracted attention (one such initiative was Musings).
- Grit – One of the critical ingredients for success in life is Grit. We took a close look at Grit as it applies across various situations. Especially in a year as severe as the one we saw, this was a timely topic for us to discuss.
- Embracing Fear of Failure – Many of us refrain from taking big swings for fear of failure. In this Musing, we studied the importance of overcoming this fear and going for those swings.
- Decision Making – An essential ingredient for success, both professionally and personally, is to have a robust decision-making framework. This ended up as one of the most popular Musings from last year.
- Giving & Leading There is a strong connection between Giving and Leading, and we explored that in this Musing. Post this Musing, Vivek (CEO of Bounce) ended up inviting the startup community in India to rally to #PayItForward, which led to a concerted effort to help under-represented founders in India. Close to 100 mentors from all over India signed up to help the startup community. It was heartening to see this Giving attitude.
- Building Teams – We also spent a month looking at building great teams and coaching them for peak performance along with a strong culture.
- Strategy – Strategy is a key aspect of Playing to Win. And how can we navigate competitive markets to find Blue Oceans.
- Habits – Hacking our habits is essential for success in life. In this Musing, we looked at how to develop good habits while eliminating bad ones. Many of the techniques here are ones I found practical and helpful.
- Biographies – Biographies give us a peek into successful people’s lives, and we enjoy reading them. Here is a recap of one chapter of one such biography.
- Leadership Skills – What are some common attributes of great leaders, and how can we emulate them.
The following AirTable summarizes the various topics we covered last year. Please comment below if it would be useful if I maintain this table going forward. We can use the “filters” in the table (top left) to pick specific sub-topics of interest for you.
No significant changes for Musings in 2021. The plan is to publish twice a month. As mentioned when we started on this journey, this is more like a journal where we learn together about thought-provoking topics. I will try and keep these as short as possible with the following three main sections:
- Reflections: On a specific topic for that week
- Spotlight: Video or Podcast (if any) related to the topic that I found helpful
- To Ponder: Questions to ponder around the topic.
Now for the favor, I mentioned earlier. Getting the reader’s help in figuring out which topics we want to dive deeper into together was helpful last year. And so, with that intent, I would be grateful if you can take a minute to fill out this quick form to share your feedback on topics to cover:
That is all for today. If you are enjoying Musings and find it helpful, please subscribe, and please share with friends who might find it useful as we set out on this journey together in 2021. Will be back again in a couple of weeks, kicking off with our first topic. I look forward to hearing from you via the form above and the comments below. Here’s to a fantastic 2021!