Praveen Ramesh

I write about things I learn from books, and my observations on being a creator

Having successful team collaboration in an official context often boils down two things

  1. Different stakeholders ACTUALLY getting along

  2. The teams/stakeholders DON’T have conflicting incentives.

A leaders #1 job is to felicitate these two. No amount of structures, process and documentation can solve for the lack of aligned incentives.

Over the past few months, I’ve been speaking to my coach at the Quad about a new move I’m trying out. I got lucky that I have a set of coaches who understand my body and limitations. But my journey with “getting better” at training was not easy.

But first, some back story.

I used to train for years, but probably only retained 10% of what I learnt. I was always more closer to someone who's just starting out with workouts. Basically I could do a few moves well, and my skills started to plateau quickly.

You don’t get better by hanging out there.

Some books, a couple of apps, and bunch of Youtube videos later, I realised it’s best for me to learn ‘working out’ from an in-person class.

And I’ve gotten better over the past 2-3 years. But I discovered that there’s a dimension that unlocks with deliberate practice.

Feeling better doing the thing that you’re learning makes you get better.

Before you shoot me off, getting better and feeling better are NOT the same. Getting better is about improving (on specific metrics, parameters etc), whereas feeling better is about confidence, comfort and acceptance.

Once you start feeling better you’re no longer intimidated by the act of doing something. You’re not rushed into optimising things. You’re not in a race with anyone.

Granted I’m far away from having a chiselled body, and my endurance is still way off where it needs to be- but I’ve passed the first waypoint

It just feels better to train, even when I have a bad day!

So rounding off- If you haven’t been getting better ask yourself “Am I feeling better doing this?”

I’ve worked on creative projects all my professional life. I plan to write about my observations around creativity and the nuances around it.

Creativity And Deadlines

It always helps to start a creative campaign, an idea or a project with a deadline or milestone in mind.

It always works because the closer the deadline, fewer the opportunities to doubt your ideas, the urge to ‘make’ it perfect and eventually complicate your work.

I’m reminded of the the Parkinson’s Law “work expands to fill the time available for it’s completion”. Ship it. Make it better.

Picture courtesy

In school, I believed that good writers are those who follow the rules of grammar.

Come to think of it, most popular blogs, good Twitter threads, Facebook posts, and insightful newsletters are littered with grammatical and spelling errors.

And before you shoot me off, I’m not against grammatically correct sentences or writing perfect literature. But knowing the difference between a period and a semi-colon doesn’t matter as much as having good ideas to share.

With the advent of AI tools, it’s easier to chisel your writing to a version that your high school teacher would be proud of! All I’m saying is

Ability to express good ideas far outweigh the ability to write grammatically correct articles.

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

I wrote about the paradox of something looking effortless.

Along those lines, I wanted to reflect on the ‘Connection Paradox’. The advent of communication apps and social media platforms has created more connectedness than ever before. There’s a constant dopamine drip.

I feel we’re less connected to those around us. We get a peek into people’s life via updates. But rarely know the struggles, joys, and everyday happening about people.

While these platforms have widely expanded our network, we have far lesser people we actually feel connected to :)

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Using emotions to detect problems is great. But using emotions to take decisions or solve issues? Not so much.

When we take decisions emotionally, we optimize for what we feel at this point in time, not what’s good for us in the long run.

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

I wanted to jump onto the reflection bandwagon and speak about 9 things I realized or practiced this year.

  1. You can never understand people, you can only make them feel heard. So stop saying “I understand”. You don’t! You’re not the one in their shoes :). Make them feel heard.

  2. When people rant, don’t give opinions. When people are ranting, they’re NEVER looking for a solution. They’re looking for someone who will make them feel heard. Validate if you can. Else just hear them out.

  3. You have far lesser friends than you think. Most people are with you for the ride to have fun or convenience. Real friends are the ones who stand by you when you really don’t have anything to offer in return.

  4. We need people who question our assumptions. I used to get agitated when someone questioned a decision of mine. I came to realize that the more someone questions your assumptions, the more you uncover blind spots.

  5. Family comes first. Always- Not matter how big your social circle, no matter how much money you have, and no matter what- your family will always remain your #1 cheerleader. They will stand by you no matter what. Cherish every moment you spend with them.

  6. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”– We’re brought up in a culture where ‘know-it-all’ is glorified. It’s stupid. It’s reasonable to have no opinion on things that you haven’t done enough research on.

  7. It’s okay to change your opinions. In fact, changing opinions should be seen as a sign of strength and courage. We form opinions based on biases and exposure we have at a particular point in time. It’s okay for the opinion to change if you get materials that disprove what you earlier believed.

  8. Spending stuff on yourself is an investment- Therapy, courses, Gym memberships, app subscriptions, books, travel, and experiences- these are NOT expenditures. These are investments.

  9. Have fun. If you’re not having fun doing something, quit it right away. Life’s too short to do stuff that’s not fun.

Photo by Patrick T'Kindt on Unsplash

I was not an avid reader growing up. I always had phases where I read a ton of books. And I had stages (much longer than the reading phase) where I read ZERO books.

All this changed in the past year. I read 20+ books. And started my content creation journey around.. reading books. Not bad for someone who didn’t grow up reading.

So what did I do right this time around? A lot. These 5 tips helped me read in a meaningful way.

  1. Stuck to a routine– I tried to read for 30 mins in the morning every weekday. And read stuff on my kindle when I found it difficult to sleep. This way I averaged 45 mins of reading every weekday. It was a grind when I started and slowly it became an integral part of my day.

  2. Read For Curiosity– Instead of looking for the bestsellers, or trending stuff, I picked up books on subjects I’m curious about. Decision-making, Behavioral economics, and company cultures are a few things I explored this year. I let go of the FOMO of reading THE book to feel included. And being off-social media helped in a big way.

  3. Read For Cure– I read books around subjects I needed the most help with. I was trying to find cure through books. At the start of the year, I realized I needed to stay calmer and be more mindful about how I go about things. I read a ton about mindfulness (and starting to read a bit of philosophy now).

  4. Read for Fun– This is a philosophy I employ in every aspect of life. Are you having fun reading books? If not, what is that you can do to make it fun? Fiction? Classics? Audiobooks? Shorter books? Whatever floats your boat. As long you’re reading.

  5. Quit more books- If there’s one tip I want you to take away from this post, it’s this. Quit books that don’t hold your attention. Quit books that don’t interest you anymore. Quit books that feel draggy. Quit reading if you’re not enjoying it.

Start treating books like blog posts. You don’t feel the guilt when you don’t finish a blog post. Then why put up with a draggy book? You’re not obligated to focus on the book. It’s the book’s responsibility to hold your attention :).

By quitting boring books, you’re increasing your chances of finding interesting reads.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

The advertising agency J Walter Thompson used to set a test for aspiring copywriters. One of the questions was simple

Here are two identical 25-cent coins. Sell me the one on the right

One successful candidate understood the “ALCHEMY” and he said

I’ll take the right-hand coin and dip it in Marilyn Monroe’s bag. Then I’ll sell you a genuine 25-cent coin as owned by Marilyn Monroe.

I read this example in Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense. Since then I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of decisions we take every day that is NOT “Rational”.

  • We don’t value things, we value their meaning. The reason why so many luxury and lifestyle brands thrive.
  • All buying decisions are emotional and backed by post-purchase rationalization.

Looking around my table, I find at least 3 items (an iPhone, an expensive pen, and a blender) that I got because they make me feel a certain way. Logically, I could live with a more economical option.

But what explains these purchases? No data would tell you!

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

I spoke about the framework that has helped me stay productive in an intentional way. In this video, I elaborate on those 5 questions.

Watch and do let me know what you think!

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