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I’m a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.

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Theni Fire Accident

The Theni Fire Tragedy is heart-wrenchingly sad. I don’t watch TV but I did watch a video on YouTube of people who have been charred from the fire and writhing in pain. 20 seconds into the video, I could no longer watch it.  That girl squirming in pain could very well have been my daughter. In fact, my plan was to ask my daughter to join a long trek after her public exams are done.  I can only imagine the pain and agony the parents must be going through with the loss of their dear ones.

This is an accident. No one would have anticipated a disaster of this magnitude. Even with all the precautions, its not easy to escape a raging inferno. That’s why I don’t think its right to criminalize an organization like the Chennai Trekking Club. I’ve known members who have been part of the organization for the past ten years and they are among the nicest folks I’ve met. They are so full of life and energy. They are law abiding and very eco-sensitive. I really wish the Chief Minister or the Media can take into consideration the amazing work done by this passionate community over the last decade.

It’s also very easy to victimize the leader. Peter Van Geit has earned the respect of tens of thousands of people for selflessly helping others and to help build an amazing community of volunteers. It would be very wrong to punish him for an accident which is beyond his control. If that’s the case, then the Minister of Forests and Minister for Environment should also be held accountable for failure to prevent the forest fires in the first place.

Here’s hoping that positive measures comes out of this tragedy. Better forest fire measures. Better safety precautions on adventure treks. I really hope the spirit of Chennai Trekking Club continues to live on and I would whole-heartedly sign up for the next activity as a sign of solidarity.

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Goodbye Aircel, My Old Friend.

I feel bad for Aircel. Today, I initiated efforts to cut ties with it after being a customer for over 18 years.

I’ve been a loyal customer and stuck with them through thick and thin. There have been sporadic outages but overall their service was decent. Not great but decent.

As a professional speaker, Aircel has been my client and I have had opportunities to speak at their HQ and got to meet their top brass. They are nice people and I can only imagine what a tough time they would be going through right now.

I would have stuck on had the connectivity not been this bad. It started to affect my business and that cannot be tolerated.

However, getting out of Aircel is proving to be a lot tougher than I thought. To port successfully, I need to pay this month’s bill but the payment link is not working. I heard from other Aircel customers that they are not approving the porting from their side. Here’s hoping a smooth transition.

 

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Taking Inspiration from Tony Robbin’s Namale Resort in Fiji

Over the last few years, my family and I have been focused on greening up our farm. We have painstakingly planted hundreds of fruit saplings in our vision to grow a healthy food forest.  The reason my wife and I put in so much heart into this place is that we know that we are sculpting our own retirement place. We are also conscious of the fact that this place cannot be an expensive hobby. Make no mistake. The farm does suck away a lot of money. In order to make sure that the place pays for itself,  I have thought through many business ideas. One such is by starting a farm stay business where people can come to experience rural life.

Recently, I watched a video tour of Tony Robbin’s 525-acre resort in Fiji.  It is not only a resort but also (one of) Tony Robbin’s home. I love how he build a business around his dream that is a profit center. It is also a place where he conducts one of his signature workshops.

This is pretty much what I want to model Vaksana Farms. It should be a place for me to conduct workshops and people can come over to stay at the farm. Currently, I have thought of having 11 small homes that act as accommodation for the farm stay business. It doubles up as a reunion spot for our family and friends. One of the things I enjoy most is having people I love come over and stay.

This is the next project that I’m very excited to start working on.  If you are an architect, a resort aficionado, a farmpreneur or an eco-enthusiast, do connect with you and I would love to share my ideas and take your views.

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Bhogi is NOT a Day for Burning

Every Bhogi day makes me sad to see how humanity comes together to cause harm to itself. The smog is so thick in my village that you could mistake it for Delhi.

Bhogi is a day of transformation where all old habits, vices, attachment to material things are sacrificed. Its when people discard old things and concentrate on new things causing change.

There are so many other ways of discarding things other than burning.

This morning, I woke up to see old sarees and clothes being burned at my farm. A better way to discard would have been to use as mulch for the fruit saplings.

I wish people saw the deeper meaning of the day.

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Instagrammers Meetup at Vaksana Farms

I’m putting together an Instagrammers Meetup at Vaksana Farms. This is a two-day retreat and unconference where 12 of the most passionate and creative Instagrammers in India will get-together for a weekend of intense knowledge sharing and learning…and sheer fun.

This InstaMeet will be part of the global meetups happening around the world. This is unique because it happens on an organic farm while most others happen in cities.

The event venue is a small farmhouse in the middle of a 13-acre farm.

This is not a commercial event. This is a community event that works on gift economy. It’s a no-profit and no-loss event where everyone equally pitches in. All expenses including food (breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner), basic stay, labor, event materials etc will be equally shared by the participants.

If you are an Instagrammer who is fascinated with travel, landscapes, architecture, rural or creative photography, this will be a perfect fit. There are only 12 slots available for this Instameet. We welcome Instagrammers to apply. You are welcome to apply together with friends too. So, do tag your friends.If interested, please fill this form. https://goo.gl/forms/xtlPOiAclUwbyW4E2

 

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Featured in a Social Media Book

Ankit Lal is a founding member of Aam Aadmi Party and a council member. He helped strategize the social media campaigns during AAP’s election victory. Ankit has stitched together a book titled ‘India Social’ with examples of various events and instances where social media played a significant part. You can feel his passion for the medium as you read this book.

We were fellow speakers at Talk Journalism 2017 and Ankit had a discussion with me on the sidelines fo of the conferences for the book. There’s a short paragraph in the book on page 229 which has my thoughts.

Wishing Ankit the very best for his entrepreneurial venture in digital and social media marketing.

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The ‘Never Eat in the Same Restaurant Twice’ Challenge

In 2018, my goal is eat at a different restaurant everytime I eat out. This is the challenge I’m taking on.

Why? Because life needs spicing up. I’m finding opportunities to continuously step out of my comfort zone. And my family’s. My daughters have a notorious fascination for biriyani and that’s almost a standard order. Through this goal, we’d look to try different cuisines.

What did I have for dinner? Mutton Boti (gizzards made of intestines, liver and stomach) and goat blood fry. I’ve never had them before in my life. Never wanted to. Now did it to kickstart the challenge. Wish me luck.

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The Best Way to Respect Advice is to Action Them. Here are Three Examples.

This blog post is dedicated to a rare set of people who respect advice given and go on to accomplish things in life. These three people I hand picked are to inspire the rest of us to actively look for ideas and suggestions and more importantly execute them.

CHETAN MAHAJAN

My first pick is Chetan Mahajan, a corporate honcho who held senior positions including CEO of HCL Learning and has since quit the rat race. He has moved to a quaint little village in the Himalayas to pursue his passion for writing. A common friend had connected the two of us. I wanted to get Chetan on my ‘First Book Podcast‘ where I interview authors. He wrote his book, ‘The Bad Boys of Bokaro‘ in while in Jail and that made for a compelling story. After recording the interview, we continued to talk when he told me that one of us future book ideas could be on his own experience quitting the corporate life for a quiet life. He even had a nice title, ‘The Rat who Refused to Race’. That’s when I mentioned in the passing that starting a community blog with a group of people like him who pursue other passions could be a good marketing strategy. He immediately went ahead with the idea and started the UnCity blog. Well, the book never saw the light of the day but the blog took a life on its own. Two weeks ago, the UnCity blog won the IndiBlogger ‘Best Indian Blogger Award’ in the humor section.

AMAR RAMESH

Amar Ramesh was a tech professional in his earlier avatar. After spending a decade in the US, he made the life-altering decision to move back to India to pursue his passion for photography full time. In the few years he has been here, he has built StudioA, one of the most creative photography and videography firms. He recently won the Fearless Award, a prestigious award considered to be the Oscars of the Wedding Photography World.

Early last year, I decided to get out of my blogging hiatus by taking up ‘The 1000 Days Content Challenge’. It’s a way to force myself to blog regularly. Amar Ramesh jumped in and decided to join the challenge too. Fast forward and while I have faltered here and there, Amar has been super consistent and continues to produce high-quality content every day.

STALIN RAJKUMAR

Stalin Rajkumar is an IT veteran with a deep interest in writing. One of his bucketlist goals is to author a book. He attended the Unconference on Book Authoring I conducted and took inspiration from the 100 Day Book Authoring Challenge to realize his dream. He is now the proud author of ‘Broad Daylight’.

The three persons I mentioned above are all highly self-driven professionals. The thing that clearly differentiates them from the rest is the ability to capture ideas, build on suggestions and finally take the ideas to fruition.

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