“Achieve! Achieve” But Why? – An Invited Article

human machine

Discussions on productivity just sound like another form of the litany “ACHIEVE! ACHIEVE” to me. This voice only grew louder and meaner as I found myself unable to continue in the corporate and academic world and was left wondering – “So then, now what?”

So what if I get 78 on 100, or 85 on 100 in a subject at school and not 92? “She is so intelligent but… “, that is what each teacher told my mom at the parent’s-teacher-meeting each year for ten years. “Can do better”, “Can do better”, every teacher wrote these same three words in the comment section of my report card. And I was left wondering silently, “So? So what if I did not get those few marks more? How does that matter?” I never got an answer. This standard feedback slowly translated into the litany inside “Achieve! Achieve!”, a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with myself. Each time my inner voice demanded “Achieve! Achieve!”, my being with quiet innocence asked, “Why?” – and an answer was not forthcoming…

Dear Reader,

I was invited to contribute an article to an ongoing collaborative blog project called The Human In The Machine – articles on productivity written mostly by people in the software world. My article titled “Achieve! Achieve!” But Why? was published today.

The above was an excerpt from the article. Here is another –

“Work is love made visible”, says Khalil Gibran. That rings true in my being. However, to do that, one first needs to connect with the love within, which can then get expressed in the work we do. Some people know from early on which kind of work is “love made visible” for them. Maybe you do not know what it is for you. For the longest time I did not know. Now I sense that I am nearing the answer.

To find what you naturally like to do, which can be of worth to the world, can be a process of elimination for some people. It has been for me. This can be extremely harrowing and can batter one’s self esteem. You try one thing and find that is not the answer. You try another. That too is not the answer. And the only way you can know if something is or is not the answer is by doing it. And each time your self esteem dips a bit further. Self-doubt and the sense of failure tighten their grip. Nevertheless if this is the only option you have, then it is the only option you have. This search requires patience and faith. Even then, while being harrowing, this search can be exhilarating too.

Each doing and undoing leaves some clue in its wake. “Feeling” data points accumulate, the feeling that each activity, each engagement aroused in you. This “feelings database” that you create in your heart makes for exotic intuitive data analysis, if you let the pattern and answer reveal itself…

I invite you to please visit this project “The Human In The Machine” and read this human’s whole article here.

If you would like me to write for your publication, please email me at vani.murarka@gmail.com

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