Episode 151 / January 9, 2022
Ex-IPS Officer Rajan Singh on building life changing habits
Habits! Our habits make us who we are as a person. Since an early age we’ve been told by our parents and mentors, the distinction between a good and a bad habit.
But how often do we skip to the good one’s?
Specially as grown-ups, can you confidently say that you have the best habits in terms of –
1. Managing your finance & expenses
2. Managing your work life balance
3. Having a fruitful & fulfilling day
Something similar intrigued Rajan Singh, the guest of our today’s episode, to start HabitStrong in early 2020.
Prior to HabitStrong, Rajan served as a IPS officer, as a McKinsey consultant, and as an investment professional with a private equity fund.
HabitStrong started with him inviting people to join him on YouTube sharp at 5 am, for a 30-day challenge. And the next morning, he was surprised to see several people already waiting. Over the next few months, through several bootcamps, thousands of applicants and several hundreds of volunteers, HabitStrong was on its journey to positively create an impact in everyone’s life.
During the episode, Rajan talks about how people run after work, money and luxury lifestyle and how it can lead to a deterioration of mental peace over time, and much more.
01:18 – Journey to starting HabitStrong
05:02 – “Things that sound the simplest are often the most powerful and most overlooked.”
11:15 – Why did he make the choices he made?
19:48 – Current scale of HabitStrong
29:15 – What does Financial Independence mean for him?
33:33 – His definition of happiness – “Ability to step back from what is not making your life meaningful.”
Read the full transcript here:
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:00
Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia. Welcome to the 100x entrepreneur Podcast. Today I have with me Rajan Singh, founder of Habitstrong, Habitstrong is a powerful cohort, where it teaches you how to build best habits for your life and shows you how to become 100x of yourself. I’ve been out of habitstrong and, the experiences was the practical essence of what how it can transform my life with consistency on a few aspects of meditation and deep work. So welcome Rajan to the podcast. And the first i like to share your journey to our audience, how you started habitstrong, what triggered you, you have various successful and different roles in life, you’re the only person who I know has been government servant, then worked in, venture capital, private equity, and then now are an entrepreneur. So what are the various choices and thought process that led you to habitstrong.
Rajan Singh 01:11
The journey to habit strong was a combination of two things. One was, it was just my own personal life experiences and personal habits. And I saw over the years, especially in my own startup journey, going back couple of years, as you can imagine startup is not a predictable journey and lots of ups and downs. And what I discovered was that even in the toughest of moments, when nothing was going well, everything was like just falling apart. Even in those moments when I had to pull myself up and find that energy and that fire to push through all of that and just make things happen. The external world is what it is, you cannot change it. But I was looking for that something to really energise and charge me up every day. And I discovered that an early morning routine, regular work, workout, meditation, all these things as simple as they sound when done consistently and methodically, it changed everything. So I remember, this was a couple of years ago, and in my startup, this was a previous startup, we were burning cash, like, left and right, it was not a good situation. And then one day, I just said, Okay, I’ll set my alarm early, like, I don’t know, 4:30-4:45. And I would be literally like the first person or first two, three people in the gym, gym opens at that time, and I’m right there and get everything done by 7:30 am ready to attack the day. I know, it sounds very bookish, but, actually it surprised me how impactful that was. And then as COVID happened, and we had to close our previous startup, I was at that point, it struck me that ultimately, what has helped me is building these great habits. And it’s not easy, building those habits is hard, because actually it takes a lot of energy and you have to be really driven. But if you can do it, there is nothing the external world cannot give you that energy that power has to come from inside. And there is a way to do it. So what I discovered was that, yes, we can change our lives, we can change everything, and we can change it from inside. And if it worked for me, then why don’t we think of offering it as a product, so to say to other people. So that was truly the starting point of habit strong. And it started initially not even as a startup, it was just an idea. We were experimenting. So I was running my previous startup concept owl and we started testing all these ideas, I put a video on YouTube and started doing a 5 am like just a 10 minute connect everyday live on YouTube, did for like 100 days, and I found that people who are able to follow it, even that that single connect every day, it made a massive difference to them. Again, none of it was easy, but it was very doable. So then we started offering these as programmes, so to say and we ran the first few programmes when the brand habitstrong, even the name did not exist. So but once we found that there was good product market fit what we were offering people were looking for it then we at that point, we created a habit strong. So it was in some sense a journey which came out of partly serendipity, and partly just my own experiences and I thought that those are things that we should offer to other people as well. And once that happened, so we built a programme, we build one for morning routine which you have been part of, we build one for deep work, one for focus learning, There’s nothing very esoteric about them. They all sound pretty simple. But I believe that things that sound the simplest, are often the most powerful and most overlooked. So we are trying to change that. And one last thought I want to share here is that lot of thing that we do, you will find those ideas out there. So it’s not like we invented deep work, or we told people about meditation or any of those things. people know, a lot of us know those things, the challenge is translating those from abstract ideas to something that you do day in and day out in your own personal life, that journey, that bridge from knowing something to doing something that bridges what habit strong is trying to burn. So that’s what we do.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 05:31
these habits didn’t prevent the failure of your previous startup, but you were able to come back very strongly and start a new startup. So can you share some frameworks on it? How were these habits able to pull you back? Because I have been an entrepreneur, failing is a very lonely journey. Right. You’re crushed, defeated? you question yourself before everybody questions you.
Rajan Singh 06:02
So what exactly happened was when, like I said, we burned a lot of money on which is very unfortunate. And then COVID came, and at that point, in my previous startup, I figured it wasn’t, We did not want to proceed further, given the COVID scenario. So literally, you can imagine that in one week, like the lockdown happens, and it’s practically over literally like one no advance notice, like nobody had a chance to imagine and I’m sure it’s not me but a lot of people face that. Now, what do you do? And I would love to say that okay, at that point, I was energised. So let me go to something that is not the case. In fact, I was feeling exactly like you said, I was feeling broken, I was feeling very, I don’t know, it was a lot of things. I don’t know what were the exact emotions, but it was a concoction of a lot of negative things. But then, what I did was, I think one of my investors encouraged me said, Look, we have this time, just take this time to reflect, take the take the time to read, and I did something truly simple, like nothing staggering. I downloaded a Pomodoro timer app on my phone, I would just start the timer, 30 minutes to sit and read a book, and then take a break and then do it again. And then what happened was, as I started reading, as I started to reflecting, this whole anxiety that Oh, my God, you know what will happen? Our mind grabs those things. So there is a I want to make a distinction between the problem as it exists in the real world. And problem as we perceive in our mind. There, We think they are the same, they are not the same, there is a filter, the filter is how do we perceive, our perception changes, changes the reality as in our head. And, yes, things were not going well. But then when I paused and started doing, started reading stuff and start introspecting, I started getting these ideas. And, one of the very simple ideas was that in this journey of reading books, I figured that when I was able to put aside all my worries, and just do this focus reading and learning for a couple of hours a day, it changed everything. And if this worked for me, then why would it not work for somebody else. In fact, this became, this was the route of one of our programmes, focused learning programmes, what we call extreme focus learning. This is this was my experience, which I flipped and made it into a programme and we offered. So So it all started, if I were to say from two things from focus, and second was from morning routine. And when this came together, then I was able to, I would not say I was like highly addicted or anything. But at the same time, it was also not the case that I was totally in control as you can imagine that the way the devices are stuck into our lives and the way, our day to day functioning is embedded into into all these apps, it is very hard to deal. In fact, I would not even recommend that I’m not saying we should give up our phone, that’s not at all but finding a way to be mindful, despite using technology, it’s a very tough challenge. And to all the experiments, I was able to figure out that when I’m focused, when I’m gonna have a strong morning routine to reset my day, when I’m able to get over my distractions and, and just stay on the goal, I’m able to accomplish in two months in just those two months, we built practically the core of everything we offered habitstrong, the first two months. And this was the first two months when I should have been most depressed and most upset in fact, I was quite upset. But it worked. And, that’s what we do. So this is I believe that there are tools which are available, these tools are not very attractive. There’s not very glamorous tools. I’m not going to give like some hack, which will certainly tap into some brain circuitry and then magic will happen, No, In fact, I’m a believer in non magic, simple, straightforward things done methodically without compromise. That is where the magic is. And unfortunately, quite often we go around looking for magic. So this was how I found habits, forming good habits helping me personally, and how those got reflected into our own programmes as well that we offer.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 10:25
And how did you decide your life choices, for example, becoming an IAS officer, right? Second is going to become a PE/VC investor. And then third is, you know, becoming an entrepreneur, because I believe all these life choices make you what you are, right? So at our toughest moments, when we are sitting idle in our failures, or alone, we reflect back on these things. And sometimes they give us a lot of encouragement that you could do that you could do this also. Even building habits is a very tough journey. I’ve been through it.
Rajan Singh 11:08
Yeah, none of it is easy. So there are two parts of the answer to this question. One is about the choices I made, why I made those choices, I would love to say that there was some deep underlying connecting thought, but honestly, there was not, it was more like using mathematical jargon, it was local optimization. So at that point, what I felt would be the best next step, I just took that, when I finished my undergraduate from from IIT Kanpur, unfortunately, and this is truly unfortunate, I wish it was not the case. But I did not feel really connected with electrical engineering or what was taught to me. So I was looking for something else. And for some reason, May because in my family, nobody was in business. So MBA in business world at that time, it did not really resonate with me that much. So since I did not have those options, or at least not want to pursue those options, I looked at what else and government was sort of my father was in the armed forces. So there’s a little bit of, they’re more inclined towards that. And, so services what was, I won’t say natural, but one of the good options, and I have no regrets, I think it was a for the first five to six years, I would say it was a truly amazing journey. So that was how I chose to join IPS. But then, after a couple of years, when I found that it wasn’t that satisfactory, I did not want that past decision to determine the rest of my life. So that’s one thing, which I’ve been very firm about, very clear about is that you make choices. But if you find that those choices are no longer serving you, don’t let that sunk cost determine the rest of your life because life is very precious, and just get this one shot. And while you should not be reckless at the same time, you should not be so scared to step out and see what the world has to offer. So that’s the reason why I could IPS and then MBA McKinsey joining, private equity was actually a very, I would say very easy decision. I thought investing would be intellectually very challenging, and it is. So it was a great choice. Had i not been an entrepreneur, if I had to do a job, the job that I would love to do would be investing. So all those things I think were, at least that choice wasn’t hard, becoming an entrepreneur was obviously very, tough choice. And I’m sure you must have experienced the same thing as well. That was I think, the hardest decision I’ve taken. But you’re unlikely to do hard things. Nobody has promised that things will be easy. It’s just life is just an opportunity. It’s up to us what you make of it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:40
But why did you keep on being an entrepreneur? Because you had taken such, you know, good career paths, you could have become a VC again, or whatever you wanted to be again, right? Right. You choose to be an entrepreneur again, even after failing.
Rajan Singh 13:55
Yes, so I don’t like quitting. I don’t quit. Unless I feel that the path I’m pursuing is meaningless. If I found that being an entrepreneur at the core, entrepreneurship is not something that is for me, then I would have been happy to I would have quit and a heartbeat and taken up a job. In fact, I had over the years many times had reached out for some very interesting positions. Had I not been doing this, I would have certainly been tempted. In fact, I was tempted but then ups and downs are part of life. And I know that I’m going to make it work, whether it takes x years or x plus five years. That’s not something I worry too much. So my belief is that if the fundamental conviction is still strong, then then at least I want to pursue it and at habitstrong, I feel that now we have good product market fit and things are well, I’m quite happy where we are and how things are going. So I think it was, in some sense, it was validated. But it’s not, it’s entirely possible that I would have tried all these things and nothing might have worked. And if that had happened, I would have faced that and then would have taken up a job if it felt right. I could have. But going back to VC, going back to private equity, it is not something which appealed to me. But who knows, in future maybe some point I, once I’m done with entrepreneurship, maybe I might go back. I’m not very sure. But right now, I want to build. And that’s what I’m doing.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:41
And I believe the first month, any person is able to get enough motivation from inside to go ahead for the first 30 days and 60 days to build those habits which you teach in which you make them practice But what once after they are off the course. Right? regression to the mean is very easy. Right? A few ups and downs here, a few excuses here and there. What keeps people going even after six months?
Rajan Singh 16:15
Great question. And I think that this is a key. The habits that I pursue, I don’t pursue because somebody has asked me, nobody, in fact has asked me, I don’t pursue it because it looks good, or because it’s a consensus that is what you should have, none of that. The reason I pursue these habits is I find them rewarding. As simple as that. And I think that is the key. The key is that whatever habits you want to build, if you start reaping the rewards, and if you start feeling that reward, then your your mind will say, let’s do that. Now the only challenge I see in habit formation is that it’s like going up a hill and then coming down the hill. So the initial part of habit formation is like going up the hill. So it feels hard. But once you reach that point where now the intrinsic rewards Not, not the other rewards, not like okay, when I do this, maybe because it’s habit strong programme. So those guys are going to call me up or they will or there is a structure around it. All those things are the initial, it’s like, like when you learn cycling has extra wheels just to help you. These are training wheels. But the intrinsic reward has to come out and I can say from my experience, regular working out or regular or let’s say running medium to long distances. I do it because I just love it. there’s no other reason it’s not like I’m rationalising ego. You know what, this is good. For me. It’s good. For me. It’s incidental, but I enjoy it. Meditation again. it’ll be much much longer than working out to get into the groove. But once you are able to do that, once you get better at once you sort of start understanding, what the steps that are required and how do you go about concentrating your mind, once you figure, once your mind and body figures it out. It is just unbelievable. It’s an experience which no amount of money no luxury, nothing you can buy the whole island, will not give any pleasure or any satisfaction which you get from just being with your mind, just having having that calm in your mind in your head. And feeling that fitness, feeling that, when I finish a 10 kilometre run, the euphoria and the energy that I feel nothing in the world can actually, give me something which is better than that. So I’m just pursuing what I find rewarding and same for you, all of us will find those things rewarding, the only challenge across the hump. Same goes for focus, like you have been part of our Deep Work Programme. Now, yes, you must have, I’m sure must have found productivity, but I can also without knowing of course, just my guess. But when you focus, it actually feels very good. Now of course, does it feel so good that it will overcome all the other obstacles, other distractions, maybe not because life outside also is there, it’s not going to go away. So the challenge is the attack of distractions, all the things are going to exist, but then the reward from these activities has to be more than everything else that is going to take away, take it away from us. So I believe it’s the intrinsic reward is the answer to your question. Once you start find the activity rewarding in and of itself not for something else. At that point, you will form and you will stick to those habits.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:41
Rajan, if you can share some metrics around habit strong, how many students have been part of the cohorts or anything which can point us to that, the kind of impact that has been created.
Rajan Singh 19:57
Yeah, so that I’ll share some metrics, we don’t share these numbers, because in fact, many VCs have approached us and I say the same thing. When we do a fundraise, and we’ll let you know, but I’ll still give you some numbers at the overall level, the number is between, I would say, total number of people who have gone through all our programmes. Again, I don’t have the exact numbers, haven’t haven’t really calculated that. But I am sure that number is upwards of 5000. Maybe like, 10,000? I don’t know. But it’s a very large number of people who have gone through these programmes, various boot camps. And yeah, I think one thing, which we are very particular about is that it has to be impactful. We don’t do stuck for just because it’s a yes, it’s a startup. And no, we offer it’s a for profit activity, but the actual the genuine impact on the user is something which is of very, very high priority, I could offer like 10 other things which are very, very attractive, but we will not which will not change the lives of people. So will not be offering we only do things which we feel are are highly impactful.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 21:08
And in what keeps you going right, do you do think there’s a end goal in mind, because you are very on social media, you know, against the normal metrics, which entrepreneurs get measured on, right becoming a unicorn, attending X amount of funding, or any other thing which which are popular in the media.
Rajan Singh 21:33
I’m not against any of that. But that’s not something which resonates with me that powerfully, I’ll tell you what I am looking at, I want to offer 4-5-6, maybe more, I don’t know, certain number of programmes, which will attack certain parts of our daily lives, which I think are going to create a massive impact. In other words, I’m seeing there are some things which are really coming the way of people living their life to the fullest. And it’s not money, it’s not external things, all those things are internal to us. And we are looking to create those programmes, which will solve for that. So as an example, right now we are we are about to relaunch our digital de-addiction programme. And I’m confident. I’m confident that it will be if not the best, one of the best programmes and the one most impactful programmes in the area of digital de-addiction and digital detox. And I believe that programme, the world needs, at least I believe they need it, or people need it. Because our devices are not going to let us be at peace, they are going to poke our focus bubble and destroy our focus, like all the time. So while this unicorn, all these things, the way to think about that as look, if habit strong requires some funding, will I not go to VCs? Of course, if I needed I’ll go there. But that’s not my primary objective. I’m not looking at, okay, how can I get it to Series A? And then how can I get it to Series B? How can you get to series D. And for that I have so the one and I’ve been an investor? So I can I can think like that I understand the thinking, Okay, if I need to get to Series B, I need so much revenue, we need to show this kind of hockey, stick growth, we need to show these metrics, whatever. So let’s somehow get those numbers go to that guy, and then promise them like something bigger, they go to the next guy. So it’s like, it’s a show and tell. This showing part is something which does not really resonate with me. I’m not against it. I’m not somebody who’s doing it. I’m saying nothing. I’m not, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just that that’s not the way I want to run my startup, I want to do things which makes sense number one, number two, if sometimes, sometimes what happens is an investor may think, oh, you should be doing X. As an entrepreneur, I feel like no, I should not be doing X, maybe by not doing it. I may take six months more to get to the growth level, that’s okay. But if I do that, if I take do something which is unsustainable, maybe the numbers might look good. Maybe I can go and raise one more round of funding, but that’s not my objective. So I’m not against the conventional VC or growth paradigms. All I’m saying is that I want to focus on underlying things which are more sustainable, which will create value and in the process of habit strong become really big and I don’t like the word unicorn shall not use it. But let’s say it becomes like a truly valuable company. I’m really happy. I would love to do that. But chasing a valuation and chasing that number and somehow making crazy plans. That’s not what I’m excited about. Even when I raise funding. I’m not I don’t want to offer the moon to the next investor. Hey, you know we’re from here, we can go here. We have just gotten started. This is Because once I make that promise, what do I do next, next I have to sell, sell, sell, when I have to sell, sell, sell. The problem with that is, if that is my customer and you have been my customer, my What’s my goal? My first goal is, life has to become better. If not saying this, if not selling to Siddhartha, the right answer, I should not sell. So that says, in fact, there have been real examples when people have taken like five, six programmes, and we tell them, hey, you should drop out of the programme, we should not do that programme. In fact, if you remember the day one, whenever we had the orientation, when you would have joined, I’m pretty sure I would have told that, okay, this is the deal if you don’t like a drop out. So I want to have that freedom to tell people like, like, you know what, this is a deal. If you’re not ready, complete, that’s okay, drop out no problem, which means I have to have the freedom to let go of revenue. I’m not saying throw away revenue, but let go of it, when it that’s what it takes. So all I’m doing is prioritising the right thing, which means I have to prioritise Siddarth and your well being over my revenue. But the point is, your well being is not is not the enemy of my revenue. If you do well, my revenue also will do well, but it may take more time, and I’m okay with it. So, I am not against the conventional things. But I just want to proceed in a more grounded manner. And finally, one more thing is, I want to enjoy this journey. Look, you know, we we all everybody needs money to exist, but the amount of money we need, it’s not so much that you have to own islands and buy ships and planes. I don’t think that is required. I think we need certain amount of cash, security, we can take care of our health, we can take care of our families. After that. It’s all it’s all gravy.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:50
how do you think of financial independence in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Rajan Singh 26:57
I wish I had I wish I had thought more carefully and more about it. I did not. so there are a couple of ways in which we could interpret this question. One is one could interpret it as how much money do you need to be financially independent? Well, I don’t want to that’s a debatable question. Some people will say 100x, or 50x your annual expense, I don’t want to get into that that’s everybody can make the choice, but from a company point of view, the way I look at it as a company should not become we should not make losses, just for sake of growth. So you can show it to other investors and get more money and then show more growth and more losses. That’s not something which appeals to me. So, one thing is very, we are very particular about anything we do it has to be sustainable, which means it has to be profitable, need not be like skyrocketing, but it has to be profitable. And that brings in financial sustainability and what I found with others when when we take their approach, as an entrepreneur, I find peace of mind, my team finds peace of mind and we are all able to exist, we go about our lives without getting a panic attack. On the other hand, if we if we take the other route, okay, burn cash as much as not as much as possible, but as much as we need to for the sake of growth. There you are a VC. So you probably know this already. As long as the going is good, there is no problem. If you do series ABCD, money keeps coming, there is no issue but you have one glitch, two quarters, your numbers don’t go up, then the nightmare stops. And, God forbid if it goes on and by the way, if you’re running a startup, you will never nobody ever has a perfect curve everybody has ups and downs. So, we want to avoid that kind of randomness
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 28:55
and what financial independence to you as a person because you have made certain unconventional life choices, right, which are very different. For example, you relocated from Mumbai to Trivandrum. Right, which gave you more independence, right? If you can throw some light on these kind of choices, and what is financial independence means for you with these kinds of choices.
Rajan Singh 29:18
To me Financial independence is to be able to pursue things that matter to you and to not have to make serious compromises. Now, everybody has different preferences. So my personal lifestyle is again without getting into details, but I don’t have too many things which require a lot of money. The only thing is I enjoy eating, which again, like not fancy eating like no good food, which is thankfully It’s not super expensive. I don’t have any crazy that I should have these six cars and BMW seven series, God knows like whatever. I’m not against of that, by the way, but that’s not my primary concentration. So if, as long as I’m able to live comfortably, health and education of kids that is well taken care of, I can take care of my parents well, beyond that I like keep keeping things pretty simple. Of course, if I’m travelling, I would obviously love to stay in a comfortable place, etc. But beyond that, I find that it doesn’t really take that much money, the need to, the felt need fo 10s of crores onto the project comes. When you start thinking of, okay, I am now like worth so many millions, then I need to, I need to now travel jet class or private jet or this or that I need to have this. If you allow your needs to start expanding, they will expand indefinitely, there’s no end to it. So what I have done is put some kind of boundary around my needs. So like, if I have to buy clothes, I don’t feel like buying too many clothes. I have someone and then I know that I’ve bad, but it’s fine. It doesn’t. I have zero interest, literally if you somebody said okay, buy 10 more shirts, I mean, I would actually get depressed because I don’t want more shirts, please. That means like my wife sometimes says go and buy the shirt. And I truly get angry, like Why buy more for what I don’t need. So if we are able to somehow remind ourselves that what we need and what we want to have, they’re not the same and focus more on the needs, you can actually figure out that you don’t need that much money. At that point, financial independence becomes hard numbers, you sort of know, from balance sheet and cash flow point of view, how much do I need to have in bank? And how much do I need like monthly cash flow. And when those numbers are reasonable, you feel your anxiety level goes down. But one thing I do want to emphasise is that I truly value financial independence. So it’s not when I say that, okay? I should not sound like I’m against anti money or anything not at all, all I’m saying is think of this way, money is an insurance policy. If you don’t have insurance, then something happens, you will be in deep trouble. So for peace of mind, you need money. But once you have one insurance, having 10 insurance policies will not make you happier, because you want it the first insurance policy has already covered you. So it gets value goes up, up up and then it becomes flattens out after some time. And after that, I think beyond that whatever you earn, it’s that just a random number. Somebody change your life.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 32:33
And what is then happiness for you, is it achieving some numbers in habits wrong? Maybe X number of lives impacted? Is it a different metric? Or is it is the process of creating a company?
Rajan Singh 32:50
Yeah, well, most certainly, it is not the number of people impacted because that number is arbitrary, I can be at one lakh and I’ll see in one million is a good number. And I can bet a million and still say like a crore so there is no end to it, what I find most conducive for my happinesses, I’m able to do things which makes sense and I’m able to avoid doing things which do not make sense, if I don’t feel that advertising and getting 1000 more customers for x is the right thing to do. I have the option to not do that. And I and very often I don’t do those things. So the ability to step back from what is not enriching your life or what is what is not meaningful. That is one, second thing which I truly enjoy is when I find that okay you have created something which actually works. So we had this digital detox programme which we have not been running for a year now, we are restarting that in different format. So I thought, I did a lot of research and put together a programme and when people go through the programme and after that when you hear their feedback and they say oh wow, my from using eight or nine hours of WhatsApp and other things now I’ve come down to like half an hour and I have so much free time I’m feeling so much better about my life when I hear people say those things. And then I think okay, we put together, we create this whole structure and that thing has something has come to within it is plugged in it is making an impact. That is actually that is very joyful. So part of happiness comes from those things. And the other part of happiness comes from just leading a sane lifestyle like my morning run my daily meditation. Just not having to do like, 10 calls a day not having to random meetings, not wasting my time on things which don’t matter. Every week I will not have more than one or two external calls like that set, I’m done. And I truly relish being able to keep my time and my attention for things that matter. So that for me giving your time and attention to things that makes sense and not having to do stuff which is not meaningful for you.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 35:10
thanks for sharing that Rajan. And your different, life choices. and convergences, for example. Choosing to be an entrepreneur After continuing for such a long period of time changing cities, and you mentioned on your LinkedIn posts that you know, you’re happy, with the kind of lifestyle you live, let’s say for example, a 10 year old car, right? How do you drive simplicity in your life? That is one important thing, which I personally want to learn. Because simplicity is difficult.
Rajan Singh 35:44
Simplicity is difficult. Simplicity comes from two things. One is elimination. So what you don’t require, like don’t keep it. I wish I could do a lot more of it, but I don’t have time. So as an example, in your cupboard, like your wardrobe, if you have a lot of stuff and saw the stuff you have never opened, like maybe just give it to somebody. So one is just elimination not having things I like the one interesting example. Okay, so when I went for my MBA to Wharton, we we took an apartment in Philadelphia, and we did not have any furniture. And this particular apartment, they had this they had this carpeted floor and carpet was like very, it was very nice and soft. So almost like it was cushion, right. So very, very, comfortable to sit on. And because I was lazy and didn’t really care about the furniture, for almost I think the first year, most of the first year, we had zero furniture, literally zero. Okay, maybe we had a table, I think we had a dining table, and four chairs. That’s it, nothing else. No bed, no, so far, no cushion, no food or nothing. That’s all and, I love that house. But later on, we went and bought a sofa and this and that. And now it was maybe more furnished, but I enjoyed it less. I wanted that simplicity. So one is eliminate things that we don’t have. Second is. Again, I’m not saying I’m good at it, maybe when I have more money, I’ll probably start expanding. But try to if you want to go to the next level of spending, ask yourself, you really have to, because what happens to that is when you going up, upgrading is very easy. Coming down is very hard. In fact, when I was in my last job at a private equity fund, we would always fly business class. Even if like a half an hour fight, we’ll still fly business class. Now when I left it, when I left my company, I took economy. And the first time that you do that, it doesn’t feel great. Because now you have to say different queue, everything’s different. But then you get used to it. So I realise that keep your needs to in fact, I really feel bad for those people who have to put up the pretence of living this, of living it up. So I’m guessing all these people who are into modelling or acting or those professions where you have to portray yourself as a larger than life thing. They can’t even if you’re like I’m guessing I’m not a big actor, if you fly, you probably want people to see that you’re flying businesses, because they are so visible. And what that does is now you instead of living at cost of an x, now it becomes 3x. And when that happens now, stress now where do you get that money from? Because so the way to think about that is, it starts with caring less about what people think, caring more about what would give me peace of mind. Yes, if I have like a bigger car, people would look at my car more. But if in the process, I am worried about where do i get emi? What if my car hits something? You buy an expensive car and the rear view mirror or something breaks, then the replacement cost is so much money if those things start worrying you, then it’s not worth it. So I believe that, again, this is just a thought I have that. Do things I’m not not at all recommending that. I’m not saying we spend less, spend more. That’s not my point. The point is, if some expenses bothering you, really ask yourself, do you need to do it? Because peace of mind is so much more fun than having these things to show off. And at the end of the day is that? Like I mentioned the linkedin in the post as well. Nobody really truly cares about what you do and what I do. Everybody cares about themselves. So if I’m driving an old car or whatever, that’s fine. You don’t like someone doesn’t like and by the way, if somebody can afford to buy a good car if you want to, by all means do that. But don’t do it for somebody’s sake of impressing people and having to do that by and having to worry about where the money will come from. That is the wrong decision. If you’re after money, of course use it the way you want.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 40:00
Thank you so much for this conversation has been very insightful. And I would have loved to continue more, but just for the interest of time, you know, we want to keep it short. Thank you again, and thanks for being on the 100x entrepreneur podcast.
Rajan Singh 40:13
Thanks. Thanks for that and glad to be here. Thank you very much.
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