Back after a long blogging break

I am back after a huge gap of 2.5 months. I have been busy (and lazy).

A good part of the the last couple of months was spent in taking care of my parents who had their cataract surgeries done. The operation itself is a simple one and takes less than 30 minutes. The real pain is in taking care of the operated eyes for the 21 days post operation. It is important to keep the eyes infection-free during this period by constantly applying 3 different eye medications throughout the day. I took the responsibility of applying these eye medications and tending to my parents while they rested. Mom seems to have recovered completely. Dad is having issues with irritation in his eyes (even though he was the first to get operated and it’s been over a month now) but based on the doctor’s diagnosis this is common and will go away with time. Currently, we are using eye drops to relieve dryness and irritation in his eyes and hopefully he’ll be doing well in a couple of weeks.

I have also been busy with the training for the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) certification. Even though the class is only once a week i.e. 5 hours every Saturday, the trainer gives us about 15 math problems to solve every week that are quite interesting and challenging. They generally keep me occupied for a good couple of days. I am also feeling good about how I am doing in this class. I can completely understand the concepts and thoroughly enjoy them. It’s wonderful to learn and apply yourself in an area that you’re really interested in. Nothing can beat the satisfaction!

Last night, I kicked off the process for setting up a website for myself and my Dad. The website will act as a medium for us to reach out to people and help them plan their finances by selling mutual funds, insurance and corporate deposits. I am hoping to launch the site in 2 weeks. The goal is to fill the site with enough content to keep the visitor occupied and create enough of a connection so that the visitor will feel empowered to reach out to us for the sake of planning their financial future.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have slowly been deploying the investment funds ear-marked for individual stocks into the market. These funds were earlier deployed in stocks bought under my Mom’s name. Since I have moved back to India, my Dad decided to liquidate the stock holdings and hand over the money to me. I have been slowly getting my feet wet with small bets and increasing my exposure slowly with time. I am planning to invest a sum of INR 1,00,000 in each of 35 stocks. This will be my individual stock portfolio. Of course, a good portion of investment funds will be held in mutual funds. I am maintaining a basket of individual stocks just to see if I can build a winning portfolio that stands the test of time. Think of it as my own version of the Motilal Oswal Multicap 35 Fund. I am picking 35 stocks over a diverse range of sectors spanning the entire stock market. I am trying to avoid large caps in sectors that I understand well because real wealth is made by betting on multi-baggers that predominantly come from the mid-cap and small-cap space. I have so far picked 32 different stocks, I believe in a wide variety of sectors. I am using Zerodha as my discount broker. Kite (Zerodha’s platform for buying/selling stocks) is wonderful and makes life easy for me. I typically use the mobile app on my phone to put in buy orders.

The heat in Chennai is starting to really pick up. We might consider taking a vacation for a couple of weeks to escape the heat. My Dad is keen on visiting Singapore/Malaysia but I hear that those places are going to be hot as well during this part of the year. I am in favor of hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal or Yercaud which will be cooler due to the high altitude at which they are located. Of course, these plans will have to wait until I am confident that my Dad’s eyes are completely fine again.

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It’s been a month

It’s been one month since I returned to India for good and I wanted to provide an update of where things are.

Keto diet – bye bye!

I haven’t been able to stick to my low-carb/keto-style diet because the food that my Mom cooks every day involves staple Indian food that includes a generous dose of carbs (rice, for example). One good thing though is that I have been able to control the meal portions strictly. My parents don’t eat a lot and I try to follow the same portion size. Owing to this I haven’t put on any extra pounds after returning to India. I still weigh around 76 kgs. Yay!

Gym – not yet 😦

While I spent some time exploring the different gyms in my locality I haven’t mustered the courage to actually sign up at one and prioritize my fitness.

Manual transmission driving – in progress

A lot of people still drive stick shifts in India. While automatic transmission vehicles are slowly penetrating the Indian market, stick shifts are still the most common and available options. They are also cheaper by 1 lakh ( ~ USD 1500 ). Also my Dad owns only a stick shift. I have been learning to drive the stick shift and it’s been a week since I started. My experience hasn’t been as bad as I imagined. My experience of driving an automatic in the US has made it a lot easier than I thought.

Financial planner – on the way 🙂

One of the potential careers I wanted to explore after returning was financial planning and portfolio management. Thanks to the guidance provided by my Dad, I am now an IFA (Independent Financial Advisor) and I can sell mutual funds. I had to study about mutual funds and take an online exam (involving MCQs) to get here. Given the fact that I am already familiar with the concepts of mutual funds and personal finance, it was a breeze. I just signed up as a distributor with the following AMCs : HDFC, Franklin Templeton, Mirae Asset Management and Aditya Birla Sun Life. I am also in the process of becoming a life insurance agent for ICICI Prudential. I am also meeting someone tomorrow to discuss the benefits of becoming a CFP(Certified Financial Planner). This area might be a biggie in my life over the course of the next few months!

Parents – happy!

I can see that my parents are enjoying my company a lot. They seem to be in good humor most of the time and I do my part regularly in keeping them engaged and entertained. This is the single biggest reason I returned to India and I am so happy and satisfied with how things have turned out so far.

Business – not so soon 😦

I had ideas of starting a franchise-based business and also started exploring a bit into the different franchise options available and safe experiments to try out. However, I haven’t made any progress in this regard. I feel like a big reason for this is that I am not completely independent in Chennai to go and do as I see fit. I am relying on my Dad to move around. Learning to drive a stick shift car and being able to move around freely is a prerequisite for moving forward with my plans. At the moment, all my energies are devoted towards a career in financial planning.

It’s finally happening

I am moving back to India end of December 2018.

I will not be gainfully employed for a period of 3 months. During this period, I plan to occupy myself with a variety of activities intended to keep me relaxed and rejuvenated.

Life skills and self-improvement

  • Learn to ride a bike
  • Learn to ride a manual transmission car
  • Hit the gym every day
  • Meditate every day
  • Build and follow a menu for “low-carb” in India
  • Read a lot of books
  • Learn music theory and learn to play the piano

Software

  • Solve problems on leetcode
  • Solve problems related to system design
  • Solve problems related to object-oriented analysis and design
  • Stay up-to-date on web trends
  • Do courses on coursera
  • Work on Chrome browser bugs
  • Create a github account
  • Build apps for Alexa

Parents

  • Get cataract operation done for both parents
  • Get root canal done for Mom
  • Buy an oven and bake with Mom
  • Buy a TV
  • Take HbA1c for the entire family and push doctor on how to reduce insulin dosage
  • Make sure parents don’t overeat
  • Re-arrange dining area

I have decided to spend a few months pursuing my passions, exploring some (crazy) business ideas and experimenting a little bit with the concept of extreme early retirement.

I am burned out from working for a top tech company for 6 years. I have been very diligent in saving and investing my money. I can afford to go on auto-pilot for a few months. Also it’s my passion to become a business owner. I dream of owning a set of thriving businesses a decade from now.

At the end of 6 months, I should have set up a business that generates revenue, have a day job in tech and must have settled into life in India. If everything goes well, I will spend the second half of 2018 in search of my soul mate.

Healthy things to do in India

Here I document the activities that I would like to perform routinely to keep my life on track after moving back to India.

  • Hit the gym and focus on physical fitness
  • Practise for software engineering interviews
  • Practice low-carb diet in Indian conditions
  • Slowly take Mom off insulin injections with the co-operation of the doctor treating her
  • Incorporate low-carb diet into Mom’s lifestyle. This would basically involve introducing her to different low-carb foods and figuring out the set of foods that she  likes
  • Figure out a way to meet women and go on dates. Goal is to interact with as many women as possible in a healthy way and figure out what kind of woman I would like to settle down with for a lifetime.
  • Read as many books as possible
  • Learn to drive a car
  • Learn to drive a bike
  • Budget and live within the passive income that I am already earning from my investments in India
  • Learn data science and AI-related skills
  • Learn to fix watches
  • Plan vacations with family

Startup ideas

Here I document the random ideas/concepts I could potentially try out in the first few months after I have moved back to India.

Concept: Low-carb

  • Could be a full-blown restaurant
  • Could offer dishes like cauliflower-rice biryani
  • Could offer simple dishes but are by nature low-carb. For example, grilled chicken, vegetables low in carbs etc.
  • Sell quality dark chocolates which are actually low in carb
  • Should allow customers to track their carb intake in each item served/sold
  • Should allow customers to test their blood sugar levels
  • Should engage customers with meaningful content visually and otherwise
  • Could sell ice-cream that is low-carb. This could evolve into custom sundaes that are still low-carb.
  • Identify existing stores and talk to their owners
  • Calculate upfront costs for setting up shop
  • Define success/failure criteria for the initiative

Concept: Apps for Alexa

  • Identify some useful apps and build them for Alexa
  • Could target the US since customer reach is better here
  • Sync up with Suresh as he may be able to bootstrap me quickly
  • Build a test app and gauge response

Concept: Donation collection system for SSN

  • Research available solutions in the market
  • Build a solution for SSN to collect donations using credit card at the click of a button in the US
  • Make the solution available to other colleges/universities

Concept: Build a website for selling financial products

  • This should actively present information on how to invest in the Indian markets
  • Should allow customers to sign up for financial advisory services
  • Should create a forum for customers to ask questions and for them to be answered by peers
  • Returns would be generated from ads

Concept: Sell financial products

  • Pursue degrees/courses that will improve my financial knowledge and credibility
  • CFA/CFP/AMFI/Insurance
  • Visit different AMC meet-ups and network with people
  • Read up books related to finance and valuation
  • Come up with a framework for personal finance for different age groups and identify products in the market which will fit into this framework
  • Research individual stocks and annual reports

Concept: Franchise

  • Franchises which are in other parts of India but not yet in Chennai
  • Franchises which are in other parts of Chennai but not in Anna Nagar
  • Could be set up in a mall
  • Coffee shops are a high-margin business
  • Starbucks, Jockey’s, Mongini’s, Hot Breads, Patanjali store (an extensive list to be built)

Maximum funds available: 30 lakhs

Absolute maximum funds available: 80 lakhs

Time period: 3 months

Learn to grind or hustle

Do you like your job? Every day?

If you are a salaried person, I am pretty sure there are days you feel miserable about your work. Working for a salary, after all, simply means that you are trading your time for money building someone else’s dreams. Of course, you don’t need to face the pressure of actually owning the business/company but employers do their part in making sure you are forced to show ownership at least at the best companies.

If you are forced to really “own” your work why not work for yourself? Some people just can’t push themselves enough when it comes to working on a salary. You feel like a small screw in an extremely large piece of machinery and you often wonder if it matters whether you show up to work or not. I am one such person. If you feel that way, then the only way you are going to derive satisfaction from your work is by working for yourself.

Some people cannot manage the pressures of running a business. They want to collect a steady paycheck, do some work and go home to their family at the end of the day. If you are part of this group, then you need to develop the mindset to grind. There will be days on which you’ll feel miserable but you will need to get some work done anyways. While you’re at it make sure you save a decent amount of your paycheck so that you can free yourself from the chains of the corporate world sooner rather than later.

Grind

  • Collect a steady paycheck
  • You could be out of a job any day
  • You trade time for money
  • The company’s bottomline may not affect you directly
  • No pressures of managing the business
  • Your learning is limited to a certain role

Hustle

  • You make the big bucks
  • You are directly responsible for the success or failure of your company
  • Since you own the business you can’t “fake” your devotion to your job
  • You need to deal with the pressures of running the business
  • You learn all the aspects of running a business

In this day and age, every employee is expected to act like a business owner and demonstrate strong ownership in order to keep his/her job. You might as well work for yourself if you need to demonstrate that level of ownership.

Nobody starts their career as an entrepreneur. Everybody starts their career trading their time and energy for money. My recommendation would be to save enough money doing this, at least enough to support you while you pursue creative ideas to set up your own business.

Grind a little, learn how a business operates and then go, hustle!

Be a honey badger

Have you seen the honey badger video?

Clean version

Original version

This is one badass animal. It’s amazing how thick-skinned (literally) it is. It doesn’t care what it’s up against. It just goes crazy and goes for what it wants. It could be up against the king of the jungle but it doesn’t care. It can bear the sting of a thousand bees. It can get bitten by the most venomous snake but the venom can only put it to sleep (and not kill it). So what does the honey badger do? It kills the snake before the venom puts it to sleep, then dozes off only to wake up and feast on the snake’s body.

It’s important for us to be like the honey badger. We spend way too much time inside our heads afraid about how we are perceived and judged by the world around us. Often times, life is much better if you just go for the kill like the honey badger irrespective of what you are up against. As long as you are crazy and passionate about what you want, go for it with full force. If you get hurt, it’s fine. You can doze off, then wake up and be at it again.

Don’t quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

– John Greenleaf Whittier