Happy Birthday Mom!

Dedicated to the most childlike senior citizen I know!


Words are not enough and that’s why we have love. In this Europe trip you did three things for me. You showed me the incredible Duomo in Milan with all the wonderful sculpture that woke me up from my recent cynicism – ” Mom, I am not interested in this, all cities are the same .” After we sat in the café in Milan and talked about your book and you saw how I work and how I am, you told me- ” You are an artist” which made so many things simpler and more understandable for me. Third, and perhaps the best, you started laughing when I described my troubles. In this particular case the world economy and the Chinese stock market were crashing, I didn’t have any of my software, didn’t have a good internet connection, and was homeless in Reykjavik, Iceland. Any “normal” mother would have sad and or horrified. Instead you said- well this is what makes you have stories. Figure it out. But it is so FUNNY…. And laughed harder and harder :)


My “gift” to you this year is the perspective of normal people :) Most “normal” people are not brave enough to be uncomfortable for other people. Most of our actions are out of fear/insecurities or greed for ourselves. On the other hand, your actions arise from fear for other people’s well-being and an intense desire for their progress. You have no time left for your own.

No more! This is also not compassionate. We are all the same and you know it in a very deep way. So now you should only be uncomfortable for your own deep connection because it will naturally connect other people.


Now what is your deep connection? I will take a shot at describing it. You have an uncommon ability to see the common thread in humanity. You relate to people and even animals in little actions like relieved smiles at the sight of water when thirsty. Most people are so oblivious to this deep unity that they only touch it when it hits them over their head a few times in their lives- when their children are born, or when some “big event” happens. You touch it constantly. And now with your writing and art you need to express this and show it to people. Your art will touch them and make them happy and honestly and fully express your unique characteristics – just like Bruce Lee said.


I have always experienced this unity and deep love because I am lucky enough to be your son. I have not always appreciated it and been angry when I don’t see you do something for yourself. But you helped me be free of this anger and go towards my best self. That is why even though you don’t speak Italian , the Italian village loved you.


God bless you and happy birthday!




Why A players hire A players and B players hire C players?

A players hire A players and B players hire C players
A players hire A players and B players hire C players

So Steve Jobs had this quote and I wanted to think about why that may be. Here is my quick attempt… Enjoy and please leave comments.

First we have to define a few things…

Process is a living object that successfully evolves in response to reality. Of course it needs brains and courage to follow the process since it involves embracing the inherent randomness and shattering your ego repeatedly on way to connection.

Procedure is the crystallization of the process (that has been successful in the past). Procedure is dead but remains useful until conditions change subtantially. So there is a lot of benefit from just blindly following the procedure and being known as an “expert.”

Hack is the shortcut way of the procedure. It is for lazy people who want to just do enough to not get caught and get results 80% of the times. A hack can be incredibly useful to initially explore something or understand the value and limitations of various mechanisms. However, it guarantees failure at critical times.

Individual rationality solutions:

A players are interested in the process and hence hire other A players so that they can help them develop the process even better. It is mutually beneficial.

B players don’t have the ability/courage to evolve but they appreciate the benefits of the process. So they crystallize it and follow the procedure since they cannot be dynamic. Now they are afraid of the procedure not being followed and hence want to control the person doing it. They know if they hire an A player, he/she will want to change things and they cannot reason/give reasons/evolve with the person and it threatens their position as the expert. So of course they hire the C player.

The C player merrily does the hack, doesn’t understand why the A player works so hard. Achieves most of the result of the A player in the short run and thinks everyone to be stupid who works that hard. His boss B comes across as a nag and he doesn’t care much for that either.

Group Dynamics:

Below a certain threshold of A players, the process begins to die and hence all A players leave or if they come in and realize they are A players, they don’t get the freedom and hence leave. So then management tries to keep the morale of the C players by nagging less and being nice to them. So you end up with a pool of B players who are annoyed at not having the procedure followed, a pool of C players who are given free beer and kudos to deal with the nagging. Results in a toxic environment. Now management knows they don’t have superstars and hence they don’t pay any of these people very much. And things seem to keep chugging along. For a while. But you are dead as a group!

Other names for these players:
A players are the ones who want to touch something bigger than themselves and are prepared to sacrifice (their ego) for that bigger thing. These are people who do/want to do fundamental things and the ones who come up with the philosophy.

B players want a comfortable living and to be known as an expert (social recognition) and are conscientious and don’t want to destroy the high opinion of themselves. They are also called priests.

C players are the slackers who want to have a good time but are forced to have a job. They are the put upon and figure out how to get around.

C player CEOs

Now some C players who are psychopaths are much better than B players at managing since their only concern is themselves and they are good at dealing with the group since they specialize in emotional manipulation and have no higher agency that constrains them. So with luck some of these guys can make CEOs :).. To be clear, not all CEOs are C players


What makes someone an A player or a B player or a C player?

I think A players want to go towards connection and are driven by the need for awareness.

B players are anxious and want the reward (of the process) without the risk (the dealing with the unknown- the randomness of reality).

C players are greedy or fearful by turns and want reward/survival without doing too much.

Constraints, Ego and Star Trek

kirk-spock-fightMy friend X had a great insight- “You are very good at motivation but not so good with constraints.” I am more captain Kirk and less Spock. Kirk is capable of great things but is egotistical, reckless, emotion driven. High amplitude Kirk needs Spock to chop off the downside!

Without Spock, Kirk is at best a vision who will find a glorious death- since you don’t need to plan for anything after that dramatic gesture- and at worst, the talented could have been, drinking himself to death since life has disappointed him. Without Kirk, Spock becomes an incredibly competent but soulless bureaucrat who composes mathematically complex music that 3 people listen to, and the only reason he knows he is alive is because he goes for his annual check-ups on the dot and his doctor tells him that he is in great shape.

When these two combine to form a high performance team, the universe applauds. Theirs is not an easy marriage but oh it is glorious. That team is so life affirming because it represents the best of us. Creativity and vision evolving with intelligent constraints. To stay married they both have to rise to that challenge not just skate by. Important problems are the third leg of that stool- without goals bigger than themselves their ego and dissimilarities would prevent any friendship and just result in puzzled irritation. Puzzled because intuitively a part of them seeks what the other has to be complete and irritation because just the fiber of the other’s being is the opposite of theirs.

We should all know that feeling of being on a team that takes us to places we could have never gone! To explore the ourselves and the universe for the possibilities of our talent and hard work. That is what the best kind of existence is about.

A part of the reason I have set myself difficult goals for this year is because I will have to channel Spock, manufacture him, find him (and other supporting members) around me. There are other reasons- first- I have never had short term goals- I have mostly acted on aspirations (which is philosophy) and the desire to avoid failure (survival). I have never planned and followed an objective, scientific process to improve myself given self-imposed, explicit. short to medium term goals. However, I am ambitious. So my approach for evolution has been to take risk: put myself in harder and harder situations, try to get past those and see what happens. I evolve as a result. This style lacks purpose; but more troublingly, makes me depend on external beatings for evolution. The biggest flaw is that this style prepares me for barely good enough, albeit in a tough environment

Just good enough is ego satisfying and survival at best. It is a lack of commitment. Being the best is a different mindset. It may involve many things at which I am only just good enough, but I am explicitly trying to reach my limit in something that I stand for. Only surviving tough situations while floating around in a miasma of general malcontent with the universe is quite ego driven. To stop, I have to give up the crutch of irony. Launching a perfectly targeted acidulous barb makes my day and throwing stones at glass houses is deeply necessary. But ultimately these are not constructive- not primary emotions. Succeeding at the self imposed tasks is about seeking success not avoiding failure.

Much more glorious to sign up and lead the ship into unchartered territories rather than be conscripted trying to survive as a pawn in a war I don’t care about.

How Big is Your Son’s Package?

The Indian mating ritual is refreshingly direct and cynical. How much does your son make? How much will you pay us for him to marry your daughter? Do we have any other religious synergies. Oh and does he have all his limbs. It celebrates life as a tradable commodity.
My father who is trying to get his vagrant son married got asked the main question by a prospective bride’s father. The gentleman’s email said -” Please specify your son’s package….”
I have been in the US too long. My instinct was to say- giant! (of course) or we will let your daughter find that out. Until my Indian roots kicked in and I realized that he meant my financial penis size.

Fast Food Friendships

fast-food1Fast food tastes delicious, kills your health and makes you dumber. Is there a counterpart in relationships? If we end up codependent, seek flattery incessantly, and cannot tolerate being alone, we probably have too many fast food relationships!

” Oh dude you are so awesome!” , ” Your coming here has made my life more meaningful (Indian relatives), let me prove that by jumping headfirst into your feet. Interesting how many of these kinds of toxic friendship exchanges are made to the cadence of physical indulgence!- food based drugs (greasy, carb, non nutritious), drugs based drugs or alcohol fueled (so you can tolerate everyone around you). Dull the rational parts of me or this family/marriage/couple/best friends shit won’t work! This friendship miasma cannot stand the rational glare. No wonder Omar Khayyam drank- a LOT.

My friend X will flatter beautiful girls beyond redemption. “That is so INTERESTING.” ” Ooooh you are so evil.” He will let these girls order him around as long as they are hot and “interesting” – he pays attention, time and resources and they provide hotness and company. He hosts couchsurfers- people who stay at your place temporarily for a few night and move on… All elements of an emotional fast food chain well-constructed- temporary indulgence, hazy interactions, vague feelings of emptiness later, satiated by more cravings of the same. However, have us men done worse things for female companionship and to obtain beauty- absolutely! Let me not only throw stones but admit to my own pizza and fries binges. ..

A part of my friendship/or any friendship is complementarity. Also some of it is acknowledging human nature and that we need some flattery /sugar and fat to please us, nurture us and cover a lack of flavor. However, scientifically engineered fast food to make you an addict and engineered ways to “impress” other people/ make them codependent/find the worst in them and nurture that so they will do something for us (indulge our anti evolutionary/entropy decreasing/idiotic behaviors) is evil.

However, in the immortal words of Gene Fama” The market clears”-

Or in the equally immortal lyrics of Eurhythmics..

“Some of them want to abuse you,
some of them want to be abused ..
Sweet dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree…..”

So how could I take a moral stand against people’s clearly expressed preferences? Do I know more? Am I just being alarmist? A sanctimonious, hypocritical do-good-exhorter-without-economics?

It may seem like a social stand but it is a personal stance. Some people just are fat and miserable but do not have the intrinsic courage to throw off the habit. Similarly, I desire to do things but not enough to throw off my own habits that prevent it. Sometimes, we need that temporary help or that extra force. That extra force can come from people we look up to but really can come from better systems (habits) or deeply understanding what we are giving up by indulging.
Once I understand the true cost of my indulgence, it helps me make a more informed decision about how much I value that pleasure- that burger better be worth it.**
Overall, I am telling myself- that it is worth fighting to conquer myself. I will achieve AWARENESS. I don’t want to eat pizza or drink or seek flattery because I am sad. I want to joyfully explore my senses and emotions with awareness! I want to be free of the NEED to drug myself- I want to choose to INDULGE while evolving.

*However, the human brain works in funny ways. We are momentum driven. If we see ourselves doing something- our capabilities in our minds expand. So if I get on a good path then my estimation of what I can do increases and so my perceived cost of bad habits increases so I am more likely to give them up. This is obviously personal observation and speculation on my part…

**That cost is variable- if I have been working too hard then the cost of pleasure is high and I should indulge in it, should circumstances allow and if I have been slacking then I should probably get on with it or I won’t achieve my goal.
It is exhausting to always compute so the key for me is to develop self-aware systems or just eliminate some of the worst habits.

Underdogs, Going Deep and The Cosmic Irony

*dedicated to Sarah for withstanding a lot of my conversations and hearing out my sob stories about dates gone wrong/right :)

Like most of us, I love underdog stories. Fighting can compress time, magnify emotions and reveal the narrative. I was cheering for a complete underdog Algeiri- a one division, newly crowned world champion in a boxing match against the eight division, well established and fearsome world champion Manny Pacquiao. Algeiri got beaten- thoroughly. Should he have kept his lesser belt and never fought Manny Pacquiao? Was this worthless ? Etc…

Of course, I see myself as Algeiri and the difficulties of life like Pacquiao. The emotional responses to the result- a win or a loss are also easy to guess. So these questions are foreseeable and quite common. Yet, or hence they must be extremely important. Naturally, the answers are also foreseeable.

Spirituality/growing up/mastery is about connection. It is about finding how my particular common talent can best shine using well known tools to master myself. It can then reduce entropy and connect. It is the outcome and the randomness in life that end up being unique, not really me. Just like I am the vessel for divine but it is not helpful think of myself as divine.. Although of course I am CONNECTED to it and am it etc.

The feeling of uniqueness is a sampling problem. If you are the tallest person in a village and they treat you differently – look at 10,000 villages and you will find many tall people. You may start a village consisting of the tallest person in each village and then be the shortest person in that village…So your tallness is interesting and shapes you and you should of course enjoy it and let others enjoy it but it cannot be the most important thing about you in a cosmic sense.

Initially a lot of what we feel is unique about ourselves- experiences- first love, mistakes, tendencies and talent are generally quite predictable and common. That is most of our ego. The fear of hurting our feelings and the unwillingness to face ourselves, the secret fear that we are really quite “common” and hence our lives are worthless, can keep us tied to it and we can go our entire lives without REALLY connecting. It keeps us from giving ourselves to the world and accepting the world in return, truly attaining consciousness and engaging with all the incredible raw material available to play with and create something “special” or deeply necessary.

Our ego keeps us from the connection it so desperately seeks. This is the cosmic irony.

That’s the cruel gods of myth laughing at us.   However, once we are prepared to give up the ego and commit to going deep and submit to walking the path of mastery/connection to something bigger than ourselves then we start connecting to the random, evolving and beautiful world around us. As we walk this path and acquire the ability to go deep, we understand. We are closer to reality. And once our ego is not preventing us from seeing reality and we have acquired the ability to create, we can take these blocks of reality and truly create beautiful things- some of which may be unique and contribute things not seen so far or contribute known things we need or whatever needs to be done.

The egoless person is incredibly powerful. They can quite likely acquire skills faster- after accounting for natural talent because they can perceive reality fast! They are difficult to control for the “wrong” reasons (connection destroying/someone else’s ego serving). And an egoless person with skills is even more powerful. They are divine, or more precisely, can invoke divinity. They contribute to the collective conscious, the entropy reduction, the truth that we all can enjoy and worship.

So what about Pacquiao and Algeiri? So of course I think Algeiri should fight Pacquiao. That’s the only way to learn. If he wants to continue to box, he might as well learn from the master. If Pacquiao beats him because of superior random physical allocation, that’s something Algeiri can then judge very fairly. Then he can choose to keep acquiring the skill of boxing because it truly connects him to something deeper and beautiful or realize that his human self/other skills/another deeper connection will suffer because of the brain damage, limitations of the human body and physical nature of the sport. Of course if he has a better physical allocation then he can learn and get better and become world champion. The point is that he is free. He KNOWS. And then he can move quickly, freely without the limitations of the ego. Then the truth will shine- Pacquiao is the instrument that gets him closer to the truth and the world championship is noise.

As humans we need that to focus ourselves and we are not totally free of our physical self’s survival needs. But there is no need to give it “too much” importance. It should be more of the desire to respect and enjoy the random allocation that is life and an evolved form like human at that, by doing beautiful things and connecting that should drive us. Not a miser’s desire to just cling to this lucky incident of being alive. Because while dead or non-living things not being able to connect is perhaps sad, sentient beings imprisoned by their ego is definitely tragic!