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Learnings in life - Year 2020 Week 14

Balkrishna Agarwal 20 min read

Lets start with a beautiful thought. The silver lining in these trying times. The nature finally gets a breather from all of this incessant activity. Here is a picture worth framing

I want to do this, plant such giant tress all across the city, state, country & globe. Let nature take over. :)

Looks like we changed even how the earth vibrates.

Here is an alternative view though


So many books & articles were written about times in 2020, some setting goals & some guessing what it would look like. Some inspiring like ‘India 2020’ by Sir APJ Abdul Kalam. Nobody asked us to prepare for what we are facing today & rightfully so. No point being a pessimist. But then I don’t think anybody got it right about what it would actually look like… Just think from the perspective of the last decade, things which have changed from 2010 to 2020.

  1. Work-from-home & gig economy & content. Who knew freelancers would practically rule the world. In the world of piracy who would have thought content would become one of the most lucrative industries. And one could make money by displaying their goofiness on the internet.

  2. Paytm & other wallets - Who would have thought that something as simple and old as mankind enough - Paying & receiving money has scope for disruption. QR codes were believed to be a failure technology but QR codes rule the world today. Actually India has probably one of the best payments infrastructure in the world & the whole world is learning from us on this, be it wallets, IMPS, RTGS, UPI.

  3. Google Maps - Asking directions was up for disruption. One of the most used apps in everybody’s phones.

  4. Uber - Don’t walk to your taxi just summon it. Don’t haggle the fare. Who knew this was a problem statement at all.

  5. Tinder - Enough said.

So what are the new verbs in our dictionaries in the last decade? & what would be new verbs in the coming decades? Dunzo, Bounce, what else? Here’s a tweet from me about life post Corona, but I guess we are always walking into a new-normal


On with the learnings….

  1. What matters is what you do with what you know. Actions speak louder than words.

  2. Love this library design. Will have it in my home someday. The books in the center are must reads for anybody, then they can explore their field of interests to delve deep into a particular topic. I wish all libraries in the world were designed like this.

  3. Indias love for SMEs & hatred for large businesses/factories is what doesn’t allow it to reach its potential. As much as I would like this to be false, the thread & its points are very valid.

  4. One of the crazy things about tech is that how a small team can win over the world. This is from repl.it & they have had the team of just 8 people. Afterall the iPhone was designed by a team of 10 people. Everything from hardware to software.

  5. Piecharts & Pizzas. Literally Mind blown!

  6. This is a blog from Steve Blank, where he talks about how he has steered almost 100 deals away from a VC & rightfully so. People remember how you make them feel. These are tough times. People will remember how you treated them.

  7. I wish somebody explained this to me when I was younger. I used to feel that everybody knows what they are doing, that they have it all worked out & I used to wonder how do people make all the right decisions all the time.

    I wish I knew everybody was doing trial & error.

    It’s ok to be dumb. Actually like the saying ‘Be Hungry, Be Foolish.’

  8. Hahaha!

  9. Peter Lynch on volatility in share markets.

  10. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

  11. Dreams don’t happen overnight.

  12. If you know where you could die, you can prepare for it. Think of it as making your parachute / safety-jacket better.

  13. Countries across the globe are trying to control Price Gouging. Though it looks right externally, the problem is with the kind of negative incentives its creating.

    Having said that, I also watched a movie “The Platform”. The movie is full of metaphors & in a way criticizes shows how Capitalism is broken. Like I said the last week, we are in the times of no right answers.

  14. A wonderful blog on Kushagra’s first visit to New York & Las Vegas. Its awesome to read a story about a person growing & learning, esp when they articulate it so well.

  15. Any startups which start now are more likely to succeed. Just because they have seen the worst in the start & would be prepared for it.

  16. Can you believe that even Leonardo-da-Vinci had to write his own Resumes. Here is a classic you would love to read.

  17. I think we are moving into the next level of how we interact with the electronics with IOT. It took just 30 years to get to this point.

  18. When Fishermen cannot go to sea, they repair their nets. Similarly when we go trekking, we remove pebbles & thorns from our shoes when we rest.

  19. I hope the government is listening for this once.

  20. Looking for a cofounder? Is it all around raising capital?

  21. We need to learn from history. A paper on 20th century pandemics in Singapore. Just look at the amount time it took to control this. Is herd immunity the only way out?

  22. Increasingly looks plausible that masks will become a permanent feature in the world of tomorrow.


As always, here are some great resources.

  1. Schedule a meeting with Kunal Bahl, founder of Snapdeal.com here.

  2. Abhay Jani is compiling the list of all AMAs & Webinar sessions.

  3. Take & attend small courses on the go here. Anything from cooking to Ukulele to investing.


Some thoughts on impacts of this pandemic & life after corona.

  1. Think about it. The president of United States saying that deaths due to COVID limiting to 1 lakh is good. This is supposed to be one of the most technologically & medical advanced nation in the World, a leader. I don’t think the times get more dark than this.

  1. I was thinking, because its almost impossible to control this virus just by lockdown, because essential services & factories have to work & the way our economy is designed today, all industries are inter-connected at a extreme level. Stopping one wheel kind of stops the whole machinery or raises the cost. Unfortunately high costs are seen a price gouging.

    But then Singapore has also announced a complete lockdown from this Tuesday, so I guess even that example & option goes out the window?

  2. Difficult times ahead. Get everything order, have contingencies for every scenario, esp your finances.

    Prepare for depression. Hope for recession.

  3. The problem is not lockdown, its life after that.

  4. Here is a silver lining this though. All this remote work-from-home will make us more authentic with integration of work & life.

  5. Here is prediction from 34 thinkers of various different fields on life after corona. One thing is of sure, we are moving more towards dataism as described by Yuval Noah Harari in his book Homo Deus.

    For example there are more than 5 million downloads on Aarogya Setu app by Indian Govt. Through this app, people are willfully sharing their location movement details with government. What if peoples movement is restricted based on this app once the lock-down is lifted? & how long before this data is used for other purposes?

  6. The best for the last. Read this wonderful piece by Charles Eisenstein on what are the implications of Corona & hence the life after that. Many reasons that the new-normal wont look like anything in the past.

    Here the author talks about how things get reported & why its important to work on improving general health & we would be way more prepared for Corona or by extension any such threat. Thinking about it, loneliness is only going to increase in these lockdowns. Unfortunately these lockdowns is taking people away from wellness & alternative therapies. People are missing their Yoga, Gym & walking, etc… sessions are going to come out more unhealthy after this. We should be doing the opposite.

    air pollution increases risk of dying by 6%, obesity by 23%, alcohol

    abuse by 37%, and loneliness by 45%.

    “Your fish is sick. Germ theory: isolate the fish. Terrain theory: clean the tank.”

    To understand the point about ground conditions, consider some mortality statistics from Italy (from its National Health Institute), based on an analysis of hundreds of Covid-19 fatalities. Of those analyzed, less than 1% were free of serious chronic health conditions. Some 75% suffered from hypertension, 35% from diabetes, 33% from cardiac ischemia, 24% from atrial fibrillation, 18% from low renal function, along with other conditions that I couldn’t decipher from the Italian report. Nearly half the deceased had three or more of these serious pathologies. Americans, beset by obesity, diabetes, and other chronic ailments, are at least as vulnerable as Italians. Should we blame the virus then (which killed few otherwise healthy people), or shall we blame underlying poor health? Here again the analogy of the taut rope applies. Millions of people in the modern world are in a precarious state of health, just waiting for something that would normally be trivial to send them over the edge.

    From the worldview of medical authority, alternative modalities, social interaction, yoga classes, supplements, and so on are frivolous when it comes to real diseases caused by real viruses. They are relegated to an etheric realm of “wellness” in the face of a crisis. The resurgence of orthodoxy under Covid-19 is so intense that anything remotely unconventional....


Thats it for the week. Stay safe!