Where Ideas Interconnect

Two days in February, people gather in Goa. Ideas gather in Goa. In total camaraderie, zero competition, zero cynicism.

This is thanks totally to Imtiaz Ali’s movie Tamasha. Right through the movie there was this throbbing voice telling me again and again, ‘Go to The Goa Project this year. Go!’

So, I went. To #TGP2016

IMG_20160219_102704562_lrTwo days in February, people gather in Goa. Ideas gather in Goa. In total camaraderie, zero competition, zero cynicism. To enable each other, to share what positive they have discovered in their profession, creativity, life. People from the age range of 20s to 50s (maybe more) interacting seamlessly. How come? Because it is ideas interacting. For ideas don’t have an age. They are simultaneously age old and fresh new.

Ideas do not have any gender either. Nor does The Goa Project.

While elsewhere the issue is discussed threadbare about the inequal gender participation in science, technology, corporates, parliament – TGP simply just achieves it. Probably without even trying (I should ask the organizers).

No other professional / creative gathering have I encountered where the presence and interaction of men and women is so equal normal natural as at The Goa Project. Be it amongst the organisers, speakers or delegates.

IMG_20160219_151517648The Goa Project is an unconference. Unconference because it is not about any discipline in particular. Which means probably every idea belongs, depending on how you present it (remember camaraderie, positive energy, enabling each other). There were talks and workshops related to ambient music, being a voice-over artist, storytelling, performing arts, set design, impacting social change through positive news, poetry, sexual lifestyle, entrepreneurship, photography, mythology, writing your first (tech) book, cake making (this last one was in some previous year) … – i.e. a place where diverse ideas naturally co-habitate, interconnect and integrate.

While sessions are so widely varied, they are carefully curated.

The Goa Project is an unconference because it is informal. It is perfectly OK to get up and walk out of a session to some other session running simultaneously in the other tents.

Yes, tents. Out in the open. The event is very tastefully designed and organised (totally by volunteers) in an elegant secluded venue at the edge of the waters.IMG_20160220_162629182_lr

First I used to feel bad that I am interested in so many things that I am unable to raah pakad ke ek chalaa chal paa jaayegaa madhushala. Then I declared to my counselor – I am a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none and that precisely is my gift to the world – interconnectedness. Then I found the people of my tribe. I found the madhushala called TGP.

And while TGP loves to guzzle beer maybe next year it will be more unconference and unmadhushala by additional ly guzzling tons of nariyal pani!

Wannabe coconut water sponsors for TGP 2017 please contact Udhay Shankar!

Learning to Love Marketing

Why marketing is spiritual and how I learned to love it –

If you have a product or service you believe in and you don't do everything you can to market the heck out of it, you're stealing from those who need you most. ~ Marie Forleo

Wow. That totally flips things, doesn’t it? This is what my teacher Marie Forleo told me in her B-School program this year.

bschoolB-School is an 8-week online course focusing on online marketing. I enrolled in it to receive guidance to market my project MeULib: The Public Library by Me and You. The program consisted of 6 modules –

  • Profit Plan
  • Website
  • Communication
  • List Building
  • Offerings
  • Marketing

The first and last were POWER-packs. Everything that B-School contained requires fermentation- repeated cycles of contemplation-implementation-re-evaluation on the canvases of one’s business and heart. The nice thing is that the way that Marie taught (crystal-clear thought, excellently structured, compassionately delivered), I am feeling as-if that practice of contemplation-implementation-re-evaluation is seeping inside me and may well become my innate nature!

The Public Library by Me and You
The Public Library by Me and You

At such an early stage, maybe it is not very wise to say this. It is sounding rather premature and pompous. Specially when I have no results (read $$$) to show for it, but then “Start before you are ready” is another thing she said. 🙂

No, not start being pompous before you have reason for being pompous (you never will!) – but, in this case, start sharing your feelings of success before you are successful. 🙂

From the exercises given in each module, I am here to share with you my output of one exercise. I felt so good with what I wrote. That good feeling is still rippling inside me.

Many of us cringe from marketing. That sure has been the case with me. So it is important to revisit those words she said –
If you have a product or service you believe in and you don’t do everything you can to market the heck out of it, you’re stealing from those who need you most.

The key here is “product or service you believe in”. This requires self-belief. That I am a worthwhile entity in this world. And it requires belief in what I am doing. That it is of value, it is a meaningful contribution in this world.

Yet, self-doubt and that cringing from speaking-out remains, doesn’t it? 🙂

So she asks in an exercise:
What fears, beliefs or misconceptions will you need to let go of in order to be a top-level marketer and make the income and impact you deserve?

The answer that flowed naturally from me:
The fear of looking stupid.

That is it. That is the one single inhibition that holds me back. The answer seems so complete I feel no need to add anything to it. In its exactness, it feels freeing. It is after all, a form of explicit self-communication.

And then she continued on to say –
Whenever you change a negative belief, it’s vital you replace it with something more aligned with the life you want, and stay connected to why it’s important. This will help you anchor in your new belief and reach your goal. In the space below, create ten powerful reasons why gaining a new level of mastery in modern marketing will create a positive change in your life, and in the world.

And this is what naturally flowed from me –


  1. To connect with the world – for that is fulfilling. 
  2. To voice my voice – for that is fulfilling. 
  3. To exercise my creativity. For marketing provides a wonderful canvas on which I can unleash all my creativity. 
  4. To offer myself to serve – for to serve is fulling. 
  5. To have fun. Aah! That is just so beautiful. To have fun. Just that one reason itself makes me feel so satisfied. What more can one want? 
  6. To expand myself, my capabilities – it feels good to stretch. Challenges are tasty. 
  7. To learn to be humble. When I genuinely connect and interact with the world, it makes me widen my perspectives. That brings in a humility as well as a gratitude for being part of this big wonderful Universe. 
  8. “Why are you kissing me? Go kiss the world” (Mother Teresa). To go kiss the world. To get up and step out and stand openly in my world with my arms stretched out – to give and to receive. 
  9. To be One. 
  10. To do what He has asked me to do.

Looks like I am already in love with marketing! Exactly what she had said will happen. 🙂

If you dear reader are contemplating starting your own business or already have one and need guidance, I recommend you check Marie out. It will resonate with you specially if you are a woman, but it is in no way restricted to women. I spied a male dentist running his own clinic among the students of this year.

And dear reader, make sure you visit MeULib: The Public Library by Me and You. An unlimited library in the making and the root cause of this post!
meulib_screen_top

Resume Visualization

A company asked me recently to send them my updated resume.

I enjoy data visualization. Also, I am now trying to simplify my life towards essentials.
So this is what I came up with –


Click on the image for the full hyper-linked PDF version.

I like it for the following reasons:

  • It is one page and elegant.
  • The main information contained in any resume (the education and employment history) is presented as a data visualization. The information is arranged in a manner which visually facilitates the easy assimilation of the information, apart from explicitly reading the text. There are specific reasons why I like this data visualization which I will discuss below.
  • There is room for customization [such as the interests and skills], to tailor the content as per the intended audience.
  • It seems to be more in line with my personality, specially compared to my earlier run-of-the-mill resume.

    Now, a bit more regarding the visualization.

    Various forms of resume visualizations are there on the internet today. Below are some thumbnails. Click on them for the full view of these and other examples.

    In comparison to whichever resume visualization that I have seen on the internet so far, and independent of them too – these are the specific reasons why I like the one that I cooked up:

    • Bereft of excessive visual stimuli, it follows the KISS principle. Thus the objective of a more effective communication does not lose out against the agenda to impress. Infact it is so simple that it may hardly seem like a data visualization, but it is. The layout in fact is essentially the same as the left side of the first thumbnail [if you click it and see its full view]. However, it seems to me that, being visually simpler and more in line with conventional writing of text, makes this layout easier to assimilate.
    • The spatial and color coded arrangement of information has the following impact
      • gaps in education or employment are highlighted
      • relative time spent at each engagement is more clearly apparent.
      • provides space to write about each engagement in keeping with the amount of time spent at that engagement. Thus it encourages one to keep things brief.
      • enables one to see simultaneous engagements. Normally these are listed separately in resumes.
    • Gaps in history and relative time spent in engagements are derived information from resumes that HR specially looks out for. I suppose people in HR become adept at mentally identifying these when they glance through resumes. Such a layout would facilitate things for them.
    • The information that the visualization highlights would be largely apparent even in smaller thumbnail-type versions. Two examples are given below.
    • Lastly, it is made using MS Excel. So anyone can make a similar one using any spreadsheet software. No special visualization tool is required.

    The layout can be tailored to specific individual trajectories and on the choices made of what one wants to highlight. Here are some possibilities:

    • Many people first finish their official education which is followed only by work life. In such a case, a long empty left column may be a waste of space. One can either then keep the learning and working entries in the same column, with different color coding, or use the learning [education] column to mention other professional trainings, certifications, workshops during one’s work life, that the individual may want to highlight.
    • Two ways come to mind for including awards and recognitions.
      • By including an icon [like a star] and relevant text, in the box of the relevant engagement. In this case however, there may not be enough space for mentioning the award/recognition completely, or against the correct year.
      • If learning and working are merged into one column, with different color coding, then space is available for a separate awards and recognition column.

    I offer this layout to you dear reader, in case you want to use in your own resume or in your organization.