What’s The Point of Running a Company If You Can’t Do What You Want?

Let me tell you, raising money and moving to Bangalore make you question everything about yourself and induce you to be as boring and proper as possible.  You’re worried that every single thing you do is going to jeopardize the very existence of your company and at the end of the day, you will be blamed for its demise because this one time you said this one thing at that one event on that one day in front of THOSE people.  First impressions and ish, you know.

But after 6 months of fundraising, I realized one important thing.  If someone thinks you and your business is going to make money, they won’t care if you are a pseduo in the closet bisexual drag queen who posts on Fox News blogs about how America should bomb North Korea, Iran, and actually, the rest of the world for that matter (a nuclear holocaust would be grand!), who believes wholeheartedly that there are aliens living among us, and also, incidentally, is carrying Justin Bieber’s illegitimate love child.  They’d just say that you were…a “unique” character.  At the end of the day, if you are going to make them a crap ton of money, that’s all that matters.  Now the problem is that most investors don’t think most business are going to make them money. So they basically give you lots of idiotic reasons as to why they can’t invest in you.  And people like you and me believe it.  But the truth is, they just don’t think your idea will work. Plain and simple.  And changing things about you won’t matter either.  Sorry.

Which brings me to my next point. I think people take themselves too seriously.  In general.  When you are in Bangalore, you’re supposed to use words like, “synergy” and “empowerment” and “vision”.  I’m sorry, but I usually space out when people start talking to me about that stuff.  Because most of the time, that means they don’t have anything built.  Because if you did, you’d probably start with, hey this is what I do and I think it’s cool.  And if I’m interested, I’d be like wow, that is really cool, what else do you have planned? (Also, do you use Python for that? Because I heard it’s pretty neat.) People say it’s because I’m an engineer and I don’t like the big picture.  But I personally think it’s because I’m allergic to BS, and most people who have actually done anything in life don’t start with these grand hand wave-y ideas.  But that’s just personal opinion.  Feel free to prove me wrong.

Finally, I have come to realize that there are no rules on how to run a company.  I mean there are a lot of different people espousing different ideas on how to run a company, but each company is so different that it is really really difficult to say, yes, this is the way it should be done.  So when someone says, oh you can’t do that, or you can’t be that way, or oh man how are you surviving like that, I usually say, because I want to.  (And I run this company, so THERE).  I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m also saying you aren’t either.  So if I want to paint my office purple and turquoise, I sure can. And if I think it’s important for people to have fun at work/in general and if they’re not they should be doing something else, then who’s to say I’m wrong?  And if I think it’s really important to do the Tim Tam Slam in the middle of the day because we’ve been working really really hard (and also I just discovered that Wal Mart sells Tim Tams and I’m really excited) then by God we are ordering chai and the Tim Tam Slam is HAPPENING PEOPLE.  And you’re all going to LIKE IT.  (I swear I’m not as dictatorial as I sound).

Also, it helps that people already gave me the money, and it’s in the bank, so really there’s no turning back now and everyone just better hope to god I’m as good as I think I am and I have really good ideas on how to run a company otherwise we’re all in trouble.

Just kidding investors, I swear I’m as good as I think I am.  Maybe even better, according to some research.

Anyway, here’s to running a company on your own terms.

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Whenever I Feel Depressed, I Watch Grey’s Anatomy and I Feel Better About Life

Mostly because they pretty much compile the most tragic series of events and make them happen to the prettiest people possible, and then I sit along for the emotional roller coaster and I think to myself, wow.  All I have to do is run a company.  They have to make sure they don’t get shot, or crash, or bombed, or basically avoid any calamity that can possibly happen to you.  And save people’s lives.  While ALSO making sure that your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other is not cheating on you with someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/rando stranger who may or may not have an STD we’re not really sure (and find it really surprising that some sort of outbreak has not already happened).  I mean, that’s REALLY the only calamity that has NOT befallen this group of really attractive doctors.  I feel like they are saving that for the next season or something.  Also because I don’t think that’s something you can come back from, can you?  Oh ps that other doctor you slept with ACTUALLY had Syphilis, whoops, (yeah turns out you CAN’T trust those doctors who are like trust me I’m a doctor you don’t need to use a condom) and now we are all ruined and sterile.  The end.

PS did you know that’s a line someone has ACTUALLY used?  Trust me I’m a doctor we don’t need a condom?  Yeah it’s a thing.  Those are the people I would watch out for anyway because in India I always distrust those hotels that are named things like Hotel 5 Star or Palace Hotel or something because OBVIOUSLY there must be something wrong that they are overcompensating for (yes, usually my hypothesis is correct and those are the places I see rats and roaches scamper across the room as I turn on the light and realize that although I only paid $15/night MAYBE I should stop being so cheap and upgrade to a place with higher sanitation standards mostly so that I live past the age of 35).

Anyway, point is, whenever I feel like running a company may be difficult, I watch Grey’s Anatomy and realize my life is pretty awesome and thank God I don’t have an STD.  Not that they have STDs on the show, because they all practice safe sex like all good sexually active people should, but I just now realized that I am very thankful that I don’t have one.  An STD I mean.  Because I think that would be really unpleasant.

In conclusion, watch Grey’s Anatomy.  It makes you feel better about life.

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I Frickin Love Indian Clothes

Mostly because they are glorified pajamas which you are allowed to wear to work.  No seriously, they are.  In fact, I think most Indian women probably go to bed in them.  Ok ok ok maybe not, but I think out in the villages of Punjab they would, mostly because they wear the most comfortable Patiala Pants ever, and not gonna lie, if I don’t have any pajamas, I totally wear them to bed. Especially if I’m taking an overnight bus or train.  Because then people are so confused- is she dressed for work or is she trying to go to bed? Work? Sleep?  Work? Sleep?  HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO CONFUSING.  I know.  I do what I can.  That’s what CEO’s Do. Bitch.  Just kidding.  They totally don’t do that.  They probably take first class stuff everywhere.  I’m just the super ghetto one.  People look at me funny at conferences, but we’ve already covered that part already.

ANYWAY the point is, Indian clothes are amazing because if you get them just loose enough, you have no idea if you gain or lose weight, and if you just don’t have mirrors in your house, or the light bulbs don’t work, (check!), then you feel great about yourself all the time because you’re like WOW I’ve been the same size FOREVER!  GO ME.  Yeah, take that JENNY CRAIG.  You want me to stop eating cake? It’s called INDIAN CLOTHES THAT MAKE ME LOOK GOOD ALL THE TIME  (in low to medium lit spaces).

Anyway, I think the point is I love being back in India where I can practically wear pajamas to work and not have everyone think you’re a hobo.  

Thanks India. You’re the bestest.  

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Culture Shock Part II: You Don’t Know Exactly How Ghetto You Are Until You Visit Washington DC on Business

Being CEO of a company and all makes you visit fancy places you don’t normally visit, and puts you in situations you don’t normally find yourself in.  Like going to a conference put on by the World Bank in Washington DC.

Now let me just say, I usually try and avoid conferences- sort of like it was the plague. But we don’t have the plague anymore. So more like Swine Flu.  Is that still a thing? H1N1? Anthrax?  Whatever the modern day equivalent is to the thing that you just try to avoid at all costs is, because that’s what I try to do with conferences.  Mostly because they consist of me trying to make friends, and failing terribly.  And also a painful reminder that I am not an international cool kid.  And besides the unnecessarily high social pressures of trying not to do anything too stupid in front of smart people, they tend to feature a lot of talking about things that don’t usually have much to do with me.  Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all the time, I would rather be in Hubli, with the cows (yes, there are 5 cows that sit in front of our office and one of them, I’m pretty sure, is rabid), trying to figure out how to make the business run (somehow trying to figure out how rabid cow got rabid helps the creative process).  I’m sorry, but figuring out how to make money, to me, is way more fun than sitting in overly air conditioned rooms (ok WHY do people air condition a room when it’s 40 degrees outside?) with people who are probably wondering how I got the invite to this conference in the first place  (I prefer to sit with the people on my payroll, so they are FORCED to talk to me, thank you very much- yes this is how I make friends nowadays in case you were wondering)

Note:  Lets be real here.  What I’m actually trying to say is that I wish I were one of the international cool kids who let the world know what’s what. Making policy change, taking names, changing the world.  And if I had half the talking-related capabilities and resume length you all possess, I’d be rockin it too.   I secretly but not so secretly wish I was you.  Yes, this is me begrudgingly admitting that I want to be you when I grow up.  Yes, I know you know everyone wants to be you.  Ok ok ok, you don’t have to rub it in.  Geez, I said I wanted to be you and I’m jealous. What do you want, the naming rights to my first child now?

Anyway.

Point is, I wasn’t going to go to this conference (damn, I REALLY wanted to go but I need to get back to India to raise money) but then one of our advisors said that this was actually a really good conference and if we wanted to expand to this space in the future, I needed to start making friends NOW (i.e. get your ass to DC).

So of course, since this was the week before the conference, AND being the super ghetto person I am, I decide to just email the one person I knew who lives in DC to see if I could crash on her couch.  I met her at a different conference, didn’t know if we were good enough friends  yet, but hoped that she would take pity on her poor, Californian counter part who really didn’t want to spend on a hotel.  Luckily, she was rad and said yes.

A few days before the conference I decide to see what it’s all about, who is attending, and who I should try and target friend (yes, target friend- that way I can feel accomplished at the end of the day when I meet my friend quota) when suddenly, I see that my friend I’m crashing with is actually speaking at this conference.

WHEN DID I START CRASHING ON THE COUCHES OF FAMOUS PEOPLE (and since when did they start letting ghetto people in?) I think that’s because in Washington DC, EVERYONE IS A FAMOUS PERSON.  THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS ON THE EAST COAST (you also tend to start talking in caps because most things blow your mind)

Yes.  So now I’m all self conscious because I am now crashing on a famous persons couch, so I figure I need to actually dress the part (or they’d have to walk 20 paces in front of me as we walked in, I was going to give her that option anyway). I did manage to bring the one East Coast Conference approved outfit that I had to suck up and buy the last time this happened, except they have this thing on the East Coast called snow, and apparently it happens during this time of year.  AWESOME.  So literally, I spent a day trying to figure out if I would rather freeze, or just suck it up and buy some pants.  THIS IS WHAT CONFERENCES MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT- FREEZING FOR A DAY OR BUYING A MONTH OF FOOD IN INDIA (instead of important things, like ruling the world).  It’s terrible. But I chose pants. I kissed delicious Indian food goodbye, and resigned myself to eating cardboard (i.e. my own cooking) for a month. Le Sigh.

Finally, day of the conference hits, and I’m all suited up.  I feel pretty good. Until I went in.

Observation I: Party favors include  microfiber lens cleaning cloth with the conference name on it.  No joke, they hand out eye glass cleaning cloth as schwag.  Not pencils, not bags, but GLASSES CLEANING CLOTH.  GLASSES CLEANING CLOTH.  I mean, lets break this down.  Pencils are always safe because you know people need to take notes.  Tote bags and water bottles are also a good bet because you need to carry stuff and drink water.  But at this conference, they figured that glass cleaners will be a safe bet because MOST PEOPLE WILL NEED TO CLEAN THEIR GLASSES (WHICH THEY ALL TOTALLY HAD).  I am at a conference where EVERYONE IS NERDY ENOUGH TO BE WEARING GLASSES.  Ok granted it was actually useful because I WAS wearing glasses and I felt self conscious because they’re always dirty and this was basically telling me stop being a slob and clean the damn glasses.  Which was cool.  So I looked like less of a slob.  Thanks Glasses cleaners.  But still.  Crazy.

Observation II: They don’t have vegetarian food on the East Coast unless you specially request it.  Me and my Californian bubble had no idea.  Which I should have figured when they asked me to fill out the survey (which, of course, I didn’t) but I assumed there would be at LEAST 20 other vegetarians (because I mean in SF there’s ALWAYS some sort of organic tofu option) but then I realized that’s because it’s a FAD there.  So yeah. Turns out, you will starve.  At these conferences.  Also why I was going to die.  Because I just ate Spinach.  The whole day.  SPINACH AND BEANS.  And Carrots.  But really, carrots don’t count when you put it up against spinach and beans.  So in addition to being socially awkward, I was also practically starving.  If you want to make already terrifying conferences even more horrific, be the slacker who doesn’t follow directions and consequently starves.

Observation III:  You know you’ve upped the ante when there are translation devices present.  As in, part of the conference will happen in another language because guess what, this is an international shindig y’all.  But really though, I think it’s helpful because I just tend to not talk (i.e. say anything potentially stupid) and just keep putting headphones on and off so I listen to the translator, and then listen to French- English, French, English, French, and then I stare at the translator and watch her talk in a box because it’s SO WEIRD.  Then I wonder what it would be like to be the translator.  Then I wonder if she’s claustrophobic and if any translator has sued the World Bank for discrimination re: claustrophobia.  And THEN I wonder if she has had botox because I wonder if it helps with this sort of profession.  And THEN I wonder if Nicole Kidman would play me in the alternate reality which is my life as a translator. And THEN everyone breaks for coffee and I realize I missed half the session. And THEN I wonder if I can get notes from the translator.

Observation IV: When you are crashing on the couches of famous people and need to get stuff from their house in order to get your butt to the airport because your flight leaves in 3 hours, leaving the conference in time may prove complicated.  I mean lets face it, everyone wants to talk to them.  I mean, so do I, but I was crashing on her couch so I got the whole day to do that.  So in my starving state, I started taking bets with her employees as to how many people she would talk to before she came back to our table to leave.  I won- it was 5.  I felt bad because she was totally killing it out there, but I was the party pooper who needed to get on a flight to Boston.

Observation VI: Only in DC will you not know which international airport you are flying out of BECAUSE THERE IS MORE THAN 1.  WHAT CITY HAS MORE THAN 1 INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WITHIN DRIVING DISTANCE?!  Ok granted, I should have probably known where I was flying out of, but I figured I could just tell the cab driver to get me to the international airport.  And when he asked me which one, I knew I was fucked because my phone was dead (of course), and I had not even looked (much less printed) the ticket.  So of course, with 2 hours left, I had to stop at a gas station, beg the kind man to plug in my phone, buy some stuff while it was charging, realize it wasn’t charging fast enough, beg another guy to let me use the internet on his phone, wonder about the security of said Gmail passwords, realize at this point I really don’t care because I really just need to get on my flight and really just hope DC people are not trying to steal my identity (they didn’t FYI), unplug my phone, feed my cab driver (who by this point, is just staring at me in disbelief), get to the airport only to find that his credit card machine isn’t working because it’s out of range (yes I was at the farthest airport), beg the guy to do something about it because my flight is in an hour and I have no cash, have the guy call a friend of a friend to take my Credit Card Number and charge me off the books , and check into my flight as it’s boarding.

So really, that’s my conference experience at DC. I can’t tell if it’s just me, or DC.  Slightly bizarre, not incredibly pleasant, but are probably going to be good for me in the long run.

Kind of like Vitamins. Only less tasty (Flinstone Multivitamins FTW)

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I Went to Delhi and I Thought I Was Going To Die

I didn’t- FYI.  This isn’t one of those posts where someone posts your last work as a tribute to you or something, or give you an Oscar after you’re dead, or basically anything else incredibly morbid like that.  But that’s what most South Indians think when they’re going to Delhi.  That they’re going to die.  Ok ok ok maybe that’s just me.  But I mean, a female traveling alone- I didn’t even have any white people with me to be like yeah- if you mess with me, some foreign nation will probably bomb you.  Or at least send you a really angry political memo.  Basically, you just don’t want to get involved.  At least that’s what I think hooligans (yes, hooligans, I’m trying to bring the word back y’all) think when they see white people.  Maybe they just think sex.  Or maybe good tips.  Or maybe sex AND good tips.  Huh.  Now I want to know what Indian hooligans think when they see white people.  Is there some Harvard study on this?  Can I get one commissioned? I think it’s really important to humanity right about now.  Or at least really important to me, which, hopefully, I can just decide to vote on behalf of humanity. I think cancer and world peace can wait for like..a week right?  They’re not going anywhere.  BUT INDIAN HOOLIGANS ARE.  I mean, they could.  MORE MOBILE THAN CANCER AT LEAST.  Why am I shouting.  I don’t know.  I feel like it’s one of those things that sounds less ridiculous if you shout with confidence.  Transliterated via CAPS. YES CAPS. Oh my god I sound like God would sound.  If he blogged on WordPress.  Did I just compare myself to God?  Jesus, I sound really egotistical don’t I.  I just used HIS name in vain.  While shouting.  (Do I capitalize the whole thing? HIS name, His name? HiS name? What about HER name? Can we make God Female? Is God going to punish me right now?)  God, I love you.  Also, if you blogged on WordPress, would you use all caps? Can I get a Harvard study on that too?  And hey if Harvard is too busy, we can do like….Yale or something.  I heard they were ok.

ANYway, point is, I was alone and waiting for someone on the street to kill me because that’s what I hear happens in Delhi.  That plus American parents who are convinced that me just being in India means early death doesn’t help my already overactive imagination. I remember they cried the first time I went to India.  Something about dying.  Also, recently a comment from my Dad about a warzone being better than Delhi because at least you know what to look for really doesn’t help much.

SO ANYWAY, back to me waiting for someone to kill me.  It didn’t happen, turns out. I just saw some nice old ladies in pretty white saris.  Also, this auto driver totally picked me up and dropped me off and didn’t kill me and even used a meter without me asking.  It was somewhat fancy.  Also it was slightly cold and I really miss the cold, mostly because it’s hot all the time in Hubli.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Delhi is pretty rad and you don’t die.

In case you were wondering.

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Family Situations Render Me Speechless

Mostly because my family in India is pretty well to do.  I mean, my dad tried to convey this to me- that we were kind of a thing back in the old country, but it didn’t really sink in until I started going to family stuff.  Like dinners.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to add, it’s just usually highly inappropriate dinner conversation.

Excerpts from Dinner:

“Oh yeah the Chief Minister! Yes, his mother used to be my neighbor growing up. Nice boy he was.”

“That must mean you know his cousin, Ravi! Yes, Ravi and lived across from each other in Calcutta.”

My potential addition:

“Oh yeah, you know that guy that was on America’s Most Wanted last week?  Yeah! His son was my neighbor growing up and was arrested for running a meth lab a few years ago!  I don’t think it made the news though.”

More Dinner Excerpts:

“Oh you went to Lord Hills for schooling?  Yes, they had the loveliest rolling hills on their premise.  I decided to send my daughter there.”

“I know what you mean- I was torn because I didn’t want to send away my son to boarding school, but the campus was so beautiful.  We settled for one on the outskirts of the city- they only had 5 acres, but it seemed to be ok.”

My Potential Addition:

“Yeah, I know what you mean.  I think we were deciding between the school with the metal detectors, or the drug dogs.  But we decided to go with the drug dogs because at least the school police didn’t have guns on campus.”

I think my Indian family loves me because not only do I not say anything inappropriate, I just sit there, and nod and smile attentively as conversation goes over my head.  I also do a good job of passing the water/filling water glasses, and taking away dishes.

I think they also like me because I will probably make good marriage material (doesn’t talk & clears dishes!) and now they have something to offer on the market.  I think their social value goes up too.

I know, I do what I can to make my family look good.  But it’s totally a fair trade since I get to stay at their place and eat really good food.

But if a revolution (French style) happens, I will probably die.

I think about these things sometimes.

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My Maid Terrifies Me

My landlord told me that I had to clean my house more often.  How does he know that my house looks like Katrina ran through it and then a dust storm decided to hit?  Because his kids come in every evening to swing on my swing.  And to eat my chocolate.  I give them the chocolate to get them off the swing.  This was a bad idea.  Because now they get off the swing, take the chocolate, and get back on the swing.  And then demand more chocolate while on said swing. I feel like they got smarter or something.  And then when the parents call them for dinner they have to come down and drag them out.  Kicking and screaming.  Do I feel a little proud?  Yeah, a little bit. Do I know it’s not me and the kid traps I set? Sure.  Does it make me feel any less cool? Nope.  Except for the fact the wife comes in and sees the house and realizes that not only am I terrible Indian housewife material, but that it’s probably also causing her children diseases.  And they probably don’t have health insurance so really, my non cleaning was probably costing them much more than my rent which doesn’t make financial sense anymore, leaving only two options- either kick me out or make me clean the house.

Luckily, I think it’s still culturally inappropriate to tell a tenant that they have to kick you out because you are causing their kids diseases so they just told me to clean up. Which is fine except there is no way I can finish cleaning up Katrina/Dust storm and also prevent future occurrences of said activity mostly because I frequently leave my place of residence for weeks at a time and in India that’s synonymous for household suicide.  

Which means I had to hire a maid.  Which is basically what I was getting at in the beginning.  And she terrifies me because she yells at me in Kannada and I don’t know what she’s saying but I don’t think it’s very nice.  But I can’t say anything because she’s the only maid in the area and I want to stay in my place of residence.  

So I just nod and smile and pretend that eye rolling and yelling and fierce gesturing is not the universal symbol for I strongly dislike you.  

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