Life’s most pertinent and urgent question is what are you doing for others

Why do you help others?

When we eat that exquisite piece of chocolate- it is important to recognize that it is not that chocolate we desire. Instead we desire the person who will be happy once he eats that chocolate – we desire the pleased self.

So when someone asks for help – it is not the task at hand(or the favour itself) that we desire. Instead we desire the pleased Person B, which in turn will make us pleased. As always, we desire the pleased self.

For next time you are asked to wash the dishes 🙂


Life’s Remedies

Life takes you on funny journeys.

Usually every journey has multiple edges – some growth, some joy, some pain. You carry much of this from one journey to the next in the form of memories, lessons and emotional baggage.

Sometimes, in rare instances these turn out to be life changing. They end up influencing much of your future journeys- either you look for more of them or avoid some of them.
There is a smaller subset of instances, your baggage stops you from going on a few genres of journeys- You want to, but you can’t. Funnily though, life also has its own remedies. It creates the right setting and the right set of people to help you overcome your own baggage. Just be open to it.

Project 1% : A How-to Guide

Project 1% as the name suggests includes each of us pledging 1%.  We pledge 1% of our incomes, time and energy to helping worthy causes.. because we believe that small things can often be the big things. We meet virtually monthly to channel the resources to a partner of our choice. That’s it!  (Perhaps, our favorite part of project 1% is  how easy it is to explain)

The logistics:

  • People: A few of friends got together to share 1% of our income. We are close to 15 of us, but our active population is a bit lower.
  • Charities : We chose a few charities we ll donate to (see Charity choice) & the cause within the charity to fund. This took a few iterations and may change further. Roughly we plan donate up to 2000 USD per charity per year.
  • Funds: We collect some funds centrally (we have a central bank account) and others are transferred directly to the charity. Check country specific logistics to ensure everything is done legally. The transfers are done either quarterly or annually – fewer transactions means lighter logistics.
  • Reporting: We meet the charity virtually via skype/hangout call & have a fun conversation with them periodically. This is the only form of reporting we like.
  • The process is fairly simple. At this point – I coordinate the logistics, but we’ve been taking turns based on personal workloads.

How we chose our partners:

  • We were certain that we wanted to support charities that helped underserved children. This narrowed our scope a bit – but then we reached out to charities (through network, google searches & cold calls).
  • When a charity piqued our interest, we spent some time talking to them and understanding their work. When possible we also tried to meet them in person. We wanted to ensure that a long standing relationship could be sustained virtually.
  • We also went for a variety of charities as opposed to concentrating on just one. This we believed would help us learn more about making a difference.
  • Given the small size of our donations – we chose to help charities that are currently on their growth phase.

The partners we donate to:

This goes across our donation philosophy. Read more here.

Why this is awesome?

  • It’s a constant reminder that we have a responsibility to share
  • It’s super light weight, yet a constant source of inspiration
  • It’s a great way to stay in touch with friends

What can you do?

  • As you can see – this is simple. Happy for you to take this along and run with it your group of friends. Reach out to or and we’ll be happy to help.
  • If you would like to join us – we need to be sure that you get comfortable with us. As you can see, we run based on each of us trusting each charity partner. We do this because we want to share, not to be commercial (at least not yet). At this point, due to legal reasons we can also only work with you if you have an Indian bank account.
  • Want to take this idea & expand it. Please go for it J Let us know if we can help.

Crossposted on Help2Grow’s blog here. 

Let’s get started 

The end of One Young World 2015 is here. Many of us are making plans about the next steps – about finding the cause we care for and making a difference. Inspired by 3 books I read this year , I wanted to share  a couple of lessons that might help moving from thought to action. .

Take a first step ASAP

We have an idea. The next step is planning and flushing out the idea- white boards, getting feedback and market surveys. Right? No. The recommendation is to skip all the intellectual masturbation and get straight to action. Don’t think too far – just start! Maybe take 30 mins to do something about your idea. Try your product on someone you meet ( even if they are not the ideal user). As Prof Yunus said, find the first user (or customer) , whack together a very basic product(minimum viable product) and get cracking!

Keep gathering momentum – bite sized improvements 

If your MVP works, we tend to go back to the drawing board. You want to foresee the future of your product and plan towards it. But plans work only in a stable world – our world changes very quickly. Change your mindset from planning the entire product to creating iterations of a fully functioning product- keep adding features or making improvements. This gives great momentum and energy. This is particularly useful if you work on some ideas as a “side job” – lack of momentum kills many ideas. Remember your ideas won’t save lives – only the implementation will. So keep pushing out versions of your product. Keep learning and improving.

Fail fast, learn faster

To allow the iterative development process to work, you need a major change in mindset. You need to learn to fail and fail fast. Accept that you are going to screw up and just screw up quickly.  You can’t be an adult without being a baby. Treat each iteration of your product as a lesson and fix one thing at a time. Over time the failures will reduce and the successes increase. But please fail fast and learn quicker.

I am learning as we go, slowly moving from thought to action. Hopefully these tips will help you too. Do leave a comment about the small steps you  are taking – am certain it’ll inspire all of us.

Have a go, you never know what happens…

The reading list :  
Little bets by Peter Sims
Scrum by Jeff Sutherland 
Lean startup by Eric Ries


P.S.  This post was in response to a fellow delegate’s question. Conversation was turned into this post. If you have  questions or feedback, I’d love to hear and improve this post.