Confidence is the first step to having a life you need

I read a story of Richard Branson buying Necker Island for a mere $180,000, despite its $6 million asking price. You might think it’s all due to his negotiation skills, and I agree he must be quite the negotiator to reach such heights in business. But what struck me most was his confidence in making that first call.

Imagine seeing a $6 million price tag when you can only afford $100,000. Instead of walking away, he picked up the phone, arranged a visit to the island, and boldly offered his limited budget.

I wish I had that kind of confidence.

For example, I run a podcast and sometimes spot the perfect guest. Yet, I lack the courage to reach out to them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email. But Branson’s story teaches me the value of taking that first step.

Coming back to Branson’s story, a year later, the island’s owner hadn’t received any better offers and called Branson again. This time he could offer more – $180,000 – and sealed the deal. The lesson here is clear: have the confidence to act even when there’s a gaping chasm between what you can give and what’s asked for.

I want to embrace this boldness in my own life. Maybe I won’t always succeed in negotiating, but at least I’ll have given it my best shot. So I’ll start with my podcast and reach out to potential guests with newfound courage.

Path to Genuine Fulfillment: Small goals, uniquely mine, finely executed

When I first stumbled upon the idea of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, I wanted to chase dreams that made my spine tingle and my heart race. So, I aimed big: buying an apartment in Long Island, traveling the world, and so much more. But soon, I realized these goals didn’t fit who I was; they felt hollow and unfulfilling. Even though I traveled, the thrill of exploring alone faded quickly.

Years later, I decided to start a company as my new audacious goal. But again, it wasn’t for me. As an introvert who struggles with crowds and constant social interaction, running a startup drained me.

So, I took a step back and focused on smaller goals that resonated with my true self: building a close-knit family, investing in stocks, and enjoying quality time with loved ones. These goals may not seem grand to others, but they brought me genuine happiness.

Nowadays, I homeschool my boys and cherish every moment spent with my wife. We explore different cuisines together—Italian, North Indian, Thai—savoring each bite and bonding over shared meals. My podcast allows me to have intimate one-on-one conversations about life’s many facets.

In coffee shops or quiet corners, I meet people one-to-one, face-to-face, to discuss everything from current events to our personal philosophies. And from the comfort of my desk, I invest in stocks, relishing the challenge of analyzing companies and watching them grow.

I write not for fame or recognition but as a way to think deeply and seek answers. My life may not be filled with grand adventures or massive accomplishments in the eyes of others. But these small goals have led me down a path of genuine fulfillment—a path uniquely mine.

Over the past ten years, I’ve focused on simple goals, executed with precision. And as I look back, I see that this time has been far more fulfilling than any grand ambition I once pursued. I find joy in the small things, not chasing grand dreams.

The lesson I’ve learned is that our goals must align with who we are at our core. If you’re a starry-eyed dreamer, let that be your guide. But if love for your family or the thrill of a good book fuels your spirit, embrace those desires and build a life around them. That’s what works for me, and it’s what makes my heart sing.

Hierarchy of tasks

Hierarchy of tasks

You can sort any task into three categories:

  • routine, low-level tasks;
  • time-based, deadline-driven tasks; and
  • creative tasks.

The more time you dedicate to creative tasks, the better your output will be. For that to happen, you need to keep low-level tasks as frictionless as possible.

Podcast Example

Take my podcast for example. Tasks for the podcast involves finding guests, crafting questions, conducting interviews, editing, creating video thumbnails, and sharing on social media. The podcast focuses on leadership rather than design, so I’ve simplified my thumbnails to just two colors and one font in three sizes. This makes it a low-level task that can be done quickly. I also have templates for guest communications that are easily copied and pasted. These routine tasks are now automated or streamlined.

Time-based tasks include scheduling interviews on specific dates and releasing episodes every Tuesday at 6 a.m. These deadlines keep me focused.

My creative work lies in discovering the theme or perspective to shape the interview and its questions. That’s where I want to spend most of my time—thinking and framing the questions. If I spend too much time on thumbnails and social media sharing, I’ll have less time for this vital creative work.

Of course, your priorities may vary. If you’re a designer, you might want to spend more time on thumbnail design. So, depending on your focus, adjust your task hierarchy accordingly.

Take writing and publishing a blog post as another example. For me, writing is thinking and seeking answers. I want as little friction as possible to focus on my writing. That’s why I’ve made hosting platforms, color themes, fonts, dictation tools, and editing low-level tasks. This way, I can spend more time pondering what to write about and actually writing instead of fiddling with design details.

Creativity depends on routinized low-level activities

The more tasks you can turn into routine, low-level duties, the more time and energy you’ll have for creative work. This doesn’t mean low-level tasks aren’t important; they are. But streamlining them frees up your cognitive power for creativity.

Imagine your day as a series of tasks in different buckets. The better you can sort these tasks, the smoother your day will flow. By turning many daily activities into low-level tasks, you’ll reduce friction and save energy for what truly matters. For example, my morning routine is filled with streamlined tasks, from fitness to learning new things.

Knowing the hierarchy of tasks will help you boost your creativity and output. So, focus on making routine tasks as efficient as possible to free up your mind for the creative work that truly makes a difference.

There is no single factor for success

• What’s the one thing you need to be fit?
• Which one thing should a CEO focus on?
• What is one single leadership quality?
• Who is more important – customers or employees?

I’ve heard such questions often.

There’s no silver bullet, but we’re all looking for it. We hope we’ll find a magic genie to clear all our confusions.

Seeking a single factor is magical thinking. Inexperienced people gets stuck onto one idea. Content marketers love titles that highlight one thing over everything else. Yet seasoned people offer balanced views.

Imagine brewing the most delicious coffee. Quality beans matter, but so does roasting, water, and blending. To create that delicious coffee, you need all the ingredients.

Consider the question, what should a CEO focus solely on? CEOs must juggle capital, customers, and employees. Is it possible to run a business without any of these?

Fitness requires balance too. Mix up your diet, strength training, and cardio! Oh, don’t forget 8 hours of sound sleep. If you mess up one, you mess up your health.

That doesn’t mean you have to do everything at once. By planning your approach, you can start by improving one factor, then move to the next knowing that one by one you’ll improve everything.

What has worked for me in building wealth

Wealth flywheel


Building wealth has been a learning process for me. I tried being an independent consultant before it was popular. I designed systems for cardiac surgeons and cardiologists as well as trained doctors in using computers (in 1995). However, marketing was not one of my strongest areas. So, I became an employee.

In 2009, I returned to consulting and explored various paths—product development, entrepreneurship, coaching, and community building. What worked best was focusing on one stable revenue source like consulting. I honed my skills to command premium fees.

I invested my earnings in two main ways: real estate and stocks. Stocks were a better fit for me because I could start small and adjust my investments as needed. Over time, my portfolio grew by 182%. Even though I still own some properties, I didn’t get the same returns as stocks.

Investing in stocks also taught me valuable lessons about management and running a business. This knowledge has come full circle, helping me improve my revenue generation capabilities even more.

Finally, I learned about tax planning – not avoiding them, but planning for them. When I started, I knew nothing about tax-saving options. A CA enlightened me on how to plan my taxes efficiently, whether through an LIC policy, home loan repayment, or other means.

By combining these aspects – generating revenue, investing in compounding assets, and planning taxes effectively – I’ve built wealth and grow my career without any leaks.