A few unpopular opinions.

1/ The folks who criticize Indian CEOs for their hustle and the cut-throat culture seem to idolize Jobs and Musk. I delved into the WHY, engaging in debates with friends and industry veterans to understand their point of view.

After hours of deliberation, they’d casually mention something like, “But he’s only doing X, not creating the new iPhone or anything.” That was my moment of realization. The disdain towards Indian CEOs X and Y isn’t because they’re jerks or have fostered a toxic environment. It’s becaus”e they’re perceived as toxic while working on incremental products and not doing something that is seen as “world changing”.

Comments made by people who I talked to: “Itna kya chaud, ye to bas X kar raha.” “lol X copy kar raha aur apne ko Jobs samajhta hain.”

This is why I created this graph where Y axis is the perception of world changing behavior and X is how toxic you can be allowed to be. You have to be changing the world to be an asshole.

Hence we worship Steve Jobs inspite of him parking in the Apple’s handicapped spot, stealing ideas from employees, pitting software and hardware chiefs against each other, and a lot of things that we would not be okay with if it was not Steve Jobs.

Zuckerberg could call for a lockdown and make people work 24/7 to combat the Google+ threat. Elon Musk could summon employees to work at factories during the peak of the Covid crisis. But as an Indian CEO, you can’t work 12 hours because you’re not Musk and incapable of taking us to Mars.

I’m not advocating for a hustle culture. Personally, I stick to 8-hour workdays. However, if I were to work longer for an early-stage startup, it would be a choice I make for this particular phase of my life.

2/ Most cultural values and principles are merely buzzwords mentioned during performance reviews, not genuinely practiced while running a company.

I’ve lost count of the times I had to do something because some executive demanded it, despite my best efforts to persuade otherwise. “Business” always takes precedence over “customer obsession” in the long run. So, it amuses me when leaders expound wisdom on Twitter.

Prioritizing business above everything is acceptable. I agree with a recent interview where a CEO stated, “Without business, there is no culture” or, in my words, “customer obsession.” However, ensure that your team understands the trade-offs; otherwise, it will burden your junior employees who perceive these values as immutable laws of physics.

3/ Founder behavior among portfolio companies tends to converge over time, regardless of the sector.

A, B, C = founders of X fund constantly discuss branding, active on social media, brash, growth at any cost. E, F, G = founders of Y fund heads down focused on building, barely visible online.

(I can’t delve deeper into this to avoid offending any founders or VCs, but it’s worth pondering.)

4/ People just look for confirmation bias on social media. Many spend their days being outraged, quoting, dunking, and playing the “aackchuaallly” game. If you’re doing it to signal to your tribe, gain clout and likes, well, good for you, my friend. But if you’re doing it without deep contemplation, merely coping, then I feel sorry for you. If someone can deduce your worldview from your first ten likes, you’re living in your own bubble.

5/ If you don’t intend to leverage your influence and reach to start up, sell courses, or become a VC, building an audience is futile.

Due to mimesis, many people want to write threads, engage in shitposting, believing it will boost their careers or elevate their status. However, I’d argue that it’s far more beneficial to excel at work.

I write shitposts because I have this immense need to let people know that I am funny. And liked because of it. But you posting jokes from reddit will do nothing to get you to a senior software dev from software. Unless you are doing this because it makes you happy or something. Or planning to sell a course or startup. Most people put 0 thought into what they do. They just copy what is the “current thing”. Don’t believe me? Just open Twitter and see for yourself.