Words. Wisdom. Winners.

From Crutches To 21kms in 12 Months

In Feb 2012, I was ordered to “stop walking” in 2 weeks flat. A pain in my hips had been diagnosed as AVascular Necrosis (or AVN) – a freak thing to happen considering that most of the causes for AVN did not apply to me.

The doctors suggested treating it right away, through a process called Core Decompression – there would be a hole drilled in the hip bone, and a living bone chip from the thigh would be implanted. The natural healing of the bone would take 18-24 months.

I was to be on the bed for 3 months post-surgery. And on crutches or walking support for 5 more months.

Jan 2013

In a reply to a Quora question, I realized that this experience taught me a lot. Largely around how the world’s reaction to your circumstances are determined by your own perception of the same circumstance. As if you could project your views onto others, and get them to react in a certain way.

Feb 2013

I love flights – especially when travelling alone. It gives me a lot of thinking time. And it was once such flight back to Delhi, when I told myself – this journey has been fascinating. But what could I possibly tell myself to convince myself that its over. Tell life that I have won.

How could I tell life that I have gone beyond the crutches, that it gave me?

By running?

Mar 2013

The thought stuck. But it was a scary one.

I hadnt had any physical activity for months now. I was fat and inflexible.

I hated running (still do!)

And I hated waking up early in the morning. So not a morning person

Lastly, the idea of challenging myself had to be big. It couldnt be some random running. It had to be big.

And so – as the thought consumed me even further – I decided – I would run the Delhi Half Marathon – 21kms. And I would have to complete it in 3 hours, for it to mean anything.

I had decided to run 21kms under 3 hours, after a surgery that rendered me “unwalkable” for 6 months! 

April 2013

I joined a gym. And started training. It was DIFFICULT!

I couldn’t run for more than a minute, without feeling the need to stop

My leg hurt, really bad

My body was stiff! I was fat (86kgs)! And waking up at 6 was the worst feeling ever!

I think back then, the Marathon was just a dream.

May 2013

Ajay Singh, a Groupon colleague I admire and respect, shared this video over Facebook

2 things caught me:



“You guys find a fear – that fear will either create you or destroy you. I love fear – because behind every fear is a person you want to be. fear is self imposed, meaning it doesnt exist. You create it, you can destroy it too. Its an intangible”

(2:32 in the video)

This video changed me! 

I have seen this video EVERYDAY since then – either on my way to work, or on the pot, or on the treadmill (just listening to it) – but everyday since then.

September 2013

The months gone by had been hard. Waking up at 5.45 everyday for 5-6 days a week was hard. Lifting weights was hard. Running without stopping was hard. If there was anything that kept me going, it was this video that kept shouting at me – “behind every fear is a person you wish to be”

In Sep, I ran my 1st 5km in one go. Took me almost an hour. Super slow. But a big feat mentally. I was getting there.

October 2013

Finished 7kms in an hour. Was down to 80kgs from 86kgs

November 2013

Finished 12kms in 1.5hrs

The marathon was scheduled for 15th Dec, 2013

Dec 10, 2013

Ran 14kms. decided not to run any further for the remaining 5 days.

I had NEVER run beyond 14kms in this entire period. Ever!

Dec 15th, 2013

Started the marathon at 8am (Group E – the group that had never ran a marathon before). Completed the first 5 kmI much faster than I thought. The music helped, fellow runners helped, the weather helped.

Some memorable moments on the way, that almost seemed unbelievable a few months back




By this time I knew I would make it. I was sure that I would complete the 21kms.


The distance I had run till so far. Anything beyond this point was a new achievement for me.

and finally the winning moment!

A selfie with the medal


2:36:15 hrs for 21 kms, at an average of 8.07kmph

Fascinating 12 months…

I am never going to run another marathon again. I hate running

But I beat life to it! :)

Marathon Certificate

Here is me with my partner-in-crime (Ruchi decided to run the 6km Delhi Run and finished in sub 45mins)





Sometime back, TEDx KMC was kind enough to invite me for a talk on this post. Here is the recorded version of the same

It seems to me…

This will be a lesson. A lesson that took a lot of effort for me to learn, but once I did I realized its power.

This is a lesson on Feedback – giving and receiving.

It has been a fascinating experience for me. It started in an “organized” fashion once I started Executive Coaching. I realized its an art and science at the same time. The realization that its science – was pretty startling. And in the time between then and now, the realization has turned itself in a fascinating belief!

there is feedback

and then there is judgement

and then there is a request

And all three are different. Though considered the same by almost everyone, including me before the realization.

Feedback is about yourself – the one who gives it. Its NOT about who you are giving it you. Hence the tone of feedback always has to start with you

“It seems to me…”

“I feel…”

“I think…”

“I thought…”

Feedback is about perception. Not necessarily fact or truth. Its like saying “I feel cold” – which may be a totally different thing for someone from Antarctica!

What feedback is almost always confused with, is judgement

“What you did was wrong…”

“You are not understanding…”

“You need to work more…”

In such cases, the speaker is casting a decision on the actions. Rarely helps, as one can imagine.


What is also “unique” about feedback is that it is NOT meant to initiate change. Its just feedback – your perception of how things are. If you wish the opposite person to change, do not give feedback, instead make a request. But here is the twist. You making a request isnt reason enough for it to happen. What is needed back is commitment.

How many times have I written an email saying – I need this asap. And then when it came after 3 hours, I was like “why did it take so long”. 2 things happened here

Our definition of asap didnt match

I didnt convert my request into a commitment – based on clearly laid out objectives


So let me rephrase

I will need this by 5pm today. Do you think thats possible? 

I will either get a yes or a no! But I know what to do when I get either of the responses.


While I know I am a convert, I have also grown less and less respectful towards people who are not receptive to feedback. Turn defensive or start explaining themselves. I think its partly because I used to do so earlier and never liked doing it.

fascinating lesson, especially when you are managing people…

Fuck you, Delhi!

22 years
College topper
Super smart
Fun to be with
Always smiling


In sales
In Delhi
Has to meet merchants
Has to convince them of Groupon


Advances made at her
Inappropriate Touching
Porn pics sent
Sleep with me and I will sign the contract


Fuck you Delhi! Fuck you
If you think you can bulldoze a career into oblivion, fuck you!
If you think you can act like a predator and it won’t come back at you, fuck you!
If you think why does the same happen to your sister and wife, fuck you!
If you think you can make her feel cheap, fuck you!
If you think she will give up, fuck you!
If you think she is scared of you, fuck you!

If you think you will win, FUCK YOU!

I am ashamed to be part of this city.
So should be everyone.

Twitter favorites and their awesomeness!


Let’s for a second ignore the jaw-dropping retweets.
What’s with the favorites. What are people thinking

“Oh what was that brand someone had mentioned, which had bad customer service.
Umm – let me check twitter favorites
Aaah – Range Rover!
Glad I checked before buying.
I just love this feature on twitter!”

People are weird. Occasionally.

Time is the biggest sunk cost

I grew up dreaming of becoming an astrophysicist. That dream consumed me. I loved everything about the universe and the physics of it.
And then, over a year – while I was in my PhD program (and top of my class, with a 100% scholarship) I realized this wasn’t something I will be good at – something I wouldn’t enjoy!

This was almost 10 years of preparation I am talking about. Faced with the realization that it wasn’t to be!

I left all that – to come back to India – in search of what next to do. With no idea at all of what that would be.

It wasn’t easy – but was the right thing to do. I didn’t know of any other way at that time.
The past 10 years didn’t matter anymore.

“But I have already spent so much time on this. How can I leave it all together?”

The most dangerous statement in the world, I would argue.

It ignores signals, it ignores trends, it ignores advise and it ignores the truth most often.

Time, in my opinion, is the biggest sunk cost of all. It doesn’t matter what you have been doing. It doesn’t matter how much of time has gone into it.

The day you realize you have to change – that’s it – you have to change.

Your past can never determine your future. It definitely cannot dictate how your future has to be!
The past has no salvage value
The future is for you to salvage

The Tomorrow Test

The past 2 weeks have been unusually busy. Preparing for Q4, some key initiatives.

And speaking to a stream of entrepreneurs that came my way. 6 of them, to be precise.

All but 1 failed the Tomorrow Test.

Somewhere in the past 6 years, it become clear to me that any new idea has to answer a critical question.
“Is the problem you are trying to solve – likely to be a bigger problem or a lesser problem tomorrow”

This single question ideally should define whether this idea is even worth your time. And if it is – what does it do to your product, your market and your business model.

Hidden between the lines of this stunning question – is the part where most people stumble. Articulating the problem one wishes to solve. Surprisingly – or maybe not – that’s the hardest part. And the first step for you to answer the part about the future.

So you are out to build a service that accurately determines people’s residence address. Awesome!
Do you expect maps to get better at solving this problem or worse off?

So you are building a portal for students that wants deals less than Rs100. Awesome!
Do you expect the share of such students reducing (and the rest going for “better deals”) or increasing?

So you wish to build an app that syncs with your car and provides all information you need. Awesome!
Are cars more likely or less likely to have this information inbuilt, tomorrow?

Bet on tomorrow. Take the test today!

Why is Groupon India selling onions at Rs 9/Kg when the market price is Rs 50?

Answer by Ankur Warikoo:

Setting aside modesty (which I would endorse any other day), this was indeed a brilliant move for us. 

Groupon India launched on Sep3rd a crazy deal – selling Onions at Rs.9/kg – when the market rate is between Rs.60-70/kg.
Onions are a staple food item in India and the rising price is a hot topic of discussion for the past 3-4 months. In the past, rising onion prices have been the reason for even governments toppling in elections.

Our objective was to shock and awe our customers. And in the process generate some PR around the brand.
Rs.9/kg was chosen because of the shock value (this price was last seen in India in 1999)
Onions were home-delivered across 78 cities in India (free of cost)
Only 1kg per delivery address was allowed
We released 3000kgs of onions everyday for 7 days – with the intent of selling 21,000 kgs in all

Consider this:
We sold 22,500+ Kgs of onions over 7days.

And we chose, as beautifully explained in the other answer, a product that was mass and was being spoken of.

In these 7days,

  1. Our site crashed on the 2nd day, because of the traffic we had never witnessed before – Demand for discounted onions crashes Groupon's Indian website
  2. We got over 16,500 new buyers on the site over 7 days, at a never before cost
  3. We activated over 3000 buyers that had not bought anything in the past 90 days
  4. It increased our brand search on google by over 400%
  5. Business went up by 60% and is now stabalized (10 days post the campaign) at 12% higher than the base before
  6. This deal generated unprecented press coverage – all national press carried it (in a positive light) and it even reached international (WSJ, AFP, Huffington Post, Verge, Medium, Gulf times
  7. Indian TV picked it up
  8. People have started analyzing the deal and its dynamics
  9. The deal was nationally trending on twitter for a total of 28 hours
  10. Facebook had it covered all across
  11. And finally, business generated by the new customers has paid itself over several times (compared to the cost we bore for the exercise)

A case study indeed. And a good one at that.

Happy to respond to specific questions.

View Answer on Quora

The final interview round

Considering my “fancy title”, most candidates I meet everyday have already gone through multiple technical and qualifier interview rounds. I am fortunate to meet the best of the crowd.

And I am entrusted upon conducting the “final interview round” – also fashionably termed as the “culture round”!

3 questions make up this round for me

What’s the riskiest thing you have done in life
This is a powerful question. It not just allows the candidate to lower their guard, but also beautifully gives an insight into the risk appetite of the individual.
Most people stick to the basics – rafting, bungee jumping, crossing the road in Delhi!
And some are fascinating – changing my industry, coming back from the US, becoming an entrepreneur, participating in a singing competition.
A 10-min conversation following this question almost always gives me a clear idea of where the candidate belongs in their worldview.
The best response I recall was – marrying my love against my parents wishes.
Brutal honesty! And tells me so much about the individual to even speak about this in an interview.

If you didn’t have to earn for money, say you had plenty of it, what would you do in life?
This is a really hard question. And shopping is the worst response!
The question allows most candidates to explore what is it that they really like doing. Is it painting, singing, teaching, traveling?
Magically, the candidate is forced to say the truth and nothing else but the truth. And the truth is all that the final round needs. One of the best responses I have received was – “I would spend my time visiting universities across the world and attending their best rated courses!”

How many unread emails in your inbox as of today?
I know it’s anal and this question is so me. But it does have a very strong proxy with how organized the individual is. That said, I have several examples where non-organized people excel supremely.
I am simply biased by the notion that being organized is definitely a more positive indicator of delivery (not really performance).
God-awesome response – “today is 12 hours old. Can you be a little more specific!”
Hired, I say! :)

Would love to add more questions to this kitty. Please do share

Let me get back to you on this

This is a statement you will rarely, If not never, hear at a startup.

And this statement forms the basis of most conversations in a large company.

I have come to realize – the reason large companies are so slow to move is because they tolerate the existence of excuses.
Excuses for not being able to deliver
Excuses for inaction
Excuses for not taking charge
Excuses for not deciding then and there!

Whosoever you are – no matter how big or small – don’t ever create an environment where excuses are easy to discover. Only then will you have a “let me get back to you on this” free world!

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