What does a man leave behind? A pertinent question that creeps
up, esp. around milestone birthdays.
As echoed in one of Amit’s favorite songs, “Ek din bik
jayenge mati ke mol, jag me rah jayenge pyaar tere bol” <We’ll all die one
day, the only things that will remain are our thoughts/words>, I believe his
legacy are his thoughts and words, translated into ideas and advices.
The man needs no inspiration
His ability to create viable business ideas out of any little
conversation, piece of information, observation, is unparalleled. There have been many recipients of his ideas
over the years. But most of what I reflect here are an outcome of our daily
bathroom ritual. i.e. Me standing
outside his bathroom door, listening, while he is showering away his ideas.
<He does not believe in wasting a single second.>
His days in the Silcon
Valley, esp. during the
advent of the internet boom spurred many ideas. Some of the early ones I
Global Buying, Local Delivery: Every year we used to be challenged
when it came to sending gifts to our parents in India around their birthdays. So he
thought why not use the internet to allow folks like us to purchase gifts
globally but have them delivered locally to their home cities. There were lot of
variants of this idea, over cups of tea with our friends, Kaushal and Krishna. But sure enough, while we talked, there were
others who started successful sites with the same concept.
Local Buying, Global Delivery: So he came up with a reverse
idea. He told me, that there are lot of folks living outside of India,
who miss those bhakarwadis from Pune,
sandesh from Kolkutta or Kurtis from FabIndia. How about sourcing
these items from local markets and
figuring out a global delivery mechanism?
A survey followed around the most popular regional items people miss.
But of course, the logistics marred this one.
Way before the shaadi.com and the “Band Baja Baraat ” era,
Amit had come up with the idea of a complete wedding portal (from online match-making
to planning to execution). He wanted his mom to run it, given her expertise and
knack in that area.
The mobile and the social networking era, along with the
move to India,
brought its own share of ideas. The furore in his voice, the twinkle in his
eyes and you know there’s another one coming at you soon. A born
problem-solver. Though I think most of his ideas are due to his ability to
co-relate trends, technology, and human behavior.
|A Daydreaming Amit|
- A search
engine optimized for SMS searching.
- A mobile-app
discovery tool to search for applications based on relevance and
methodology to gauge effectiveness of ad campaigns using social networking
career guidance program for Indian schools aided by online assessments/aptitude
college discovery portal to help Indian students select the right college based
on specific criteria.
blog/service to curate experiences (basically allow folks to share their unique
experiences about a city, its public transport, things to do, etc.).
With some whacky ones, like:
- A service
that delivers your own self-written letters to you after 5 or 10 years.
Would be cool to see how your thinking has changed over a period of time.
tagged car keys/mobile phones(to eliminate the daily ritual of looking
for these items).
fluid-filled, yet wearable bodysuit which can control body temperature via
hydrodynamics principles. Image the energy cost-savings across the globe!
women run men’s shaving salon (just to get that daily dose of feel-good
Btw, being a foodie, his creative juices presented
themselves on our plates from time to time. Some of his successful culinary
Burrito - burrito with basmati pulav, grilled paneer/veggies, and salsa.
Margerita – margarita with mint, ginger and masala.
rasmalai – Rosgulla (sweet cheese-balls) in mango and saffron puree.
thick rice crepe sprinkled with chilis and veggies and stuffed in a sandwich.
Side up: Spicy pan-fried sandwich spread of oats, besan and yogurt.
Well, needless to say, lots of “What an idea, Sirji! :)”
moments in our household.
But his idea-crunching abilities are only paralleled by his uncanny
ability to give gyan. (Could be a side-effect of having many mentors as well as
mentees in his life, coupled with the weekend rendezvous with the TED talkers
and those self-help books.)
Laying down some of his pearls of wisdom:
So, What’s your goal in life?
Though this was passed on to him by a bade bhaiya <close
family friend>, this can be called Amit’s signature question. This question has irkingly served as a
wake-up call to a lot of the younger somani clan. (His younger brother,
Abhishek, can swear to that. Well, at least the irking bit.:)). But it’s his
way of imbibing focus and alignment of energies towards one’s priorities in
Good enough is better than perfect.
Amit doesn’t believe in perfect. Like a true baniya, he thinks instead of maximizing returns. Back in his college days, when
everyone used to spend days studying for exams, he said he’d still excel with
half that effort by focusing on just the right topics.
You don’t have to be the first, you just have to be better.
But in life, he says coming first is not key. You have to be
a better person, a better businessman, a better employee, a better son and
father. You have to constantly improve yourself to be better.
Most of folks who know Amit will say he’s a visionary. But on
a trip to Pune and a car-ride with a friend, he figured out that that’s not
enough. You have to visualize, even daydream about how success would feel like.
That is the most powerful way to get over your own inhibitions and go for what
Learn from others mistakes.
The old-school theory that men should learn from their own
mistakes is too time-consuming, he says. Smart men learn from others mistakes.
Don’t tell me 10 things why it wont work, tell me 10 things
how you’d make it work.
A self-proclaimed optimist, he always uses this line on me.
(And I’m sure, his team also hears this occasionally.)
Connect with people when you don’t need them, not when you
Relationships are your most important assets, so make your
sincerest efforts to cultivate them and keep them buzzing.
Surround yourself with smart people.
He says the biggest opportunity he’s got in his life is to
be able to hang out with so many smart people. Most of his life learning has
come by watching them or listening to them.
Golf is a mind-game. Its actually like life. The calmer you
are, the better your chances of winning.
His favorite game for years, golf has taught a lot to him.
And he’s taught golf to a lot many.
And finally, Life is too short.
Very true, esp. for the kind of vision he has and the kind
of things he wants to do. But I just want to remind him that “Life begins at
So here’s a Heartfelt Happy Birthday to the greatest problem-solver
and advisor in my life.
ps. I had once told Amit that I could write a book if I
could get my head around all the ideas and advices he’s shared. So, how about
gifting him back one of the ideas or advices (or even moments) you’ve received/shared