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Always Be Curious
Q: How are you bringing curiosity into your life?
I am so proud that we launched our newsletter Disco Dialogues last year. Kinnari pushed us to get it out without putting too many barriers in front of us so that “perfect did not become the enemy of good”. Once something is out there, it forces us to learn new things - like what does it take to write an engaging newsletter or how do you market your product when you are a content creator.
Here are some realizations I had through this experience -
The process of learning new things is energizing. In the past 3 months, we branched out of the Google ecosystem of tools and experimented with new ones like Substack, Typeform, Workflowy, Coda, Airtable, Descript, Slack, Notion, Discord. I constantly chose the option that stretches me and forces me out of my comfort zone to be a beginner. Being a beginner is sometimes scary - some fear looking like a novice but for me, it triggers an adrenaline rush that makes me feel alive.
I learn best through inquiry. Some of my fondest memories at Google are of me and one other Googler engaging in conversations with customers, partners or developers for the first time and pitching a half formed idea to get feedback on version 1.0 of the product. It feels good to be back in that space again. In 2021, I connected with many old friends and colleagues to ask them questions about their entrepreneurial journey. These conversations reminded me that I am not alone and am surrounded by people who are happy to share their lessons and takeaways with me.
There is no one right way to do things. I enjoy designing my own approach to tackling problems. Becoming a student again and teaching myself by trying new ways of doing things. I did it time and again at Google when I was involved in the early days of Google Maps, Android, Google+ and Google Assistant and it was invigorating. This time I went down rabbit holes through tweetstorms as I learnt about building prototypes, finding product-market fit, and building a subscriber base. I subscribed to many newsletters and podcasts from entrepreneurs with varied backgrounds [hat tip to a few - Wisdom Well, Indie Hackers, Behind Her Empire]. Reading others’ stories bolsters my confidence in my ability to do something that I know nothing about.
Don't get me wrong there are many days that I wake up and wonder what I am doing and if I am crazy for trying to dream up a new business idea. The ups and downs of being an entrepreneur are real. I am sure I will have more stories to share about this journey in future posts - but for now, it's been fun to follow my curiosity down unknown paths.
Passion is overrated, or at the very least, inaccessible. When searching for a purpose, people often say follow your passion and it will lead you to your purpose. However, to those of us that haven’t quite figured out our passion yet, this can feel even more confusing. I much prefer curiosity.
I think curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it’s a very gentle friend, and a very forgiving friend, and a very constant one. Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes, not so available. …And curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you. - Elizabeth Gilbert
As a child that was called inquisitive, I find that being curious comes naturally to me. At Google, being curious about what problems users or other companies are facing has helped me identify novel product features our team needs to prioritize, and also establish “first of a kind” strategic partnerships that are still in play ten years after signing the deal. On the personal front, here are some curiosities I followed in the past 12 months:
Graduate school. After years of living with a therapist (former roommate), a lifelong interest in people’s stories, and finally reading “Maybe you should talk to someone” by Lori Gottlieb, I wondered if I would enjoy being a therapist. I wanted to use my people skills to have more impact on the lives of others. I applied to a reputed part-time graduate program in San Francisco with a focus on transpersonal psychology and multiculturalism that encouraged deep self-inquiry. By the time I got the acceptance email, however, I had followed another curiosity (more on that later) and realized that I couldn’t follow both paths. Maybe I’ll go back to school 5 years from now if my thirst for knowledge is still alive.
Salads! I want to incorporate more salads into my week but don't seem to be having much success. As someone who has avoided salads for most of my life, it just seems a bit daunting. However, this past weekend we were going to visit our friends and their five-week-old baby and I wanted to bring a home-cooked meal for them. This was my opportunity to let curiosity lead the way. I experimented with a new recipe by attempting this lemon parsley couscous-chickpea salad (thanks for sharing Mitali). It was fun to make and a hit with the new mom!
Notion. Oh where have you been all my life? My brain is great at coming up with new ideas, but not so great at storing them. I needed a new system to capture my to-dos, lists of projects and ideas, 1:1 notes, trip plans etc…basically a second brain.
Notion is an all-in-one workspace that lets you build your own database, pages, and wikis to manage your projects, tasks, and notes.
I spent hours over the past 2 weekends, going down the rabbit hole of all things Notion - watching videos of how people manage their life and downloading all sorts of templates. I am really enjoying geeking out and creating my own digital workspace. I highly recommend giving Notion a go if you, like me, are searching for a system to manage your life. I was lucky to have friends that offered me tips on setting up my Notion and would be happy to pass on the favor to anyone that needs some help.