Life Beyond Code

Mini Saga #42 – Perfection

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 24 Nov 2009, 12:10 AM – 4 Comments

You may want something to be perfect. But there might be hefty price to pay for that.

Enjoy the story:


Mark was determined to win Sheila over. He decided to do whatever it takes to get her. It was hard. She didn’t like this. She didn’t like that. Finally after eighteen months of work, she got a “perfect” Mark.  Unfortunately, the “new” Mark was no longer interested in Sheila anymore.



1. A mini saga is a story told in exactly 50 words. Not 49 or 51 but exactly 50.

2. You can download a photographic manifesto of Mini Sagas at ChangeThis. Here is the link – Mini Sagas: Bite-sized Wisdom for Life and Business (PDF, 2.9MB).

3. For a complete list of Mini Sagas, please see the entire list here or at Squidoo.

Posted in the Mini Saga category.

15 Low-Cost Ways to Thank Your Favorite Author on this Thanksgiving

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 23 Nov 2009, 12:10 AM – 1 Comment

Times are still tough for many people out there. After reading my post on thanking powerfully, someone recently asked me how they can thank someone (in this case an Author they liked) without spending a ton of money. I came up with a few ideas and shared with them. After the person left, I came up with a few more ideas. Here is the entire list (as of now)

[Note: If you can think of some other creative (low-cost) way of showing appreciation to a favorite author, please add to the comments.]

1. Buy a book or two as gifts for someone that might not have been exposed to their work

2. Write a review of the book you liked at Amazon or any other online outlet.

3. Comment on their blog

4. Tweet  one of their posts to your followers

5. Send them an email but do not make them require to respond back to you.

6. Send a link to their work to one of the mailing lists that you belong to. Make sure that you are sending something that is relevant to the mailing list you belong to.

7. Subscribe to their blog feed and/or email newsletter and actually read it.

8. Support them by indicating yourself as a fan (eg: Facebook)

9. Follow them on Twitter. Retweet something from them that you think is relevant to your followers

10. Talk about their work to at least one person in your network.

11. Carry one of their books to a restaurant and place it on the table so that others can notice it.

12. Donate one of their books to a local library

13. Pass along your copy of the book to someone that might not have read it.

14. Leave a copy of their book at your office lobby

And, the ultimate appreciation:

15. Put at least one of their advice into practice and make something happen in your own life.

Posted in the Main Page category.

Small things are important..

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 22 Nov 2009, 11:10 AM – Leave Comment

Last week when I was at CostCo, I saw that busy peeling off the pricing label on a book. As I was browsing, I saw that he successfully peeled off the pricing tag on the book he was holding and then immediately stuck the pricing tag back on the book.

No, he was not doing anything funny. If you see the books on display, you would feel like doing the same too. I have pasted below the images of a book cover of The Audacity to Win (a fantastic book by the way) with and without the pricing label.

With the pricing label

(making it almost impossible to read the sub-title)

Without the pricing label

(the sub-title is clearly visible)

It was not just this book but 90% of the books had pricing labels covering a key part of the title or the sub-title. As you can see from the cover, there is a whitespace to the left of the author’s name were the pricing label can be placed. But that would require someone to be thoughtful about what they are doing. And, being thoughtful is hard work!!!

Have a great Sunday.

Posted in the Main Page category.

NaNoWriMo – Making a Dream Come True

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 20 Nov 2009, 10:11 PM – 6 Comments

This is story about a story that was made possible by NaNoWriMo. This is a THANK YOU post for NaNoWriMo and the wonderful people behind it.

First, some background. For those of you who have followed me for a long time, you know that I started my writing journey when my first book (a murder mystery) was published a while ago (read story here). I have been fascinated by fiction for a LONG time. My first four books were fiction (murder mysteries, spy thrillers etc.)

In the recent past, I have written business books and created a DVD program ( Beyond Code, Upbeat, TH!NKtweet and The Fulcrum Effect)

There was always this lingering thought that I should write some fiction one day. As you can imagine, that one day would never come because there are many interesting projects going on in life. There is always an excuse to not start on something that you love.

So, when I heard of NaNoWriMo, I was intrigued. NaNoWriMo is a worldwide phenomenon where people take on a seemingly impossible task of writing a novel in 30 days in the month of November. The minimum number of words is 50,000 to be one of the winners. You can read more about how it works on the NaNoWriMo site. But the simple technique is to write at least 1,1667 words per day every single day. So, in other words, you have to spend just one hour every night and you can create a novel. It may not be the best work but it is something to start.

So what makes NaNoWriMo work?

Here are a few things to start with:

1. There is a clear start date (Nov 1) and a clear deadline (Nov 30)

2. There is a specific outcome (at least 50K words)

3. There is a method to the madness ( 1,667 words per day at least)

4. There is a support structure ( total of 162,000+ people total, close to 1000 people in south bay)

5. Write-ins (where writers come together to have writing sprints)

6. Mini-celebrations (halfway parties, dangerous writing nights etc.)

7. Thriving community

8. Plot Ninjas (where people pose challenges to include in your novel)

I can go on..but you get the point.

I took on the challenge and I am delighted to report that as of 19th november, my novel crossed 50,000 words.

Note: Click on the image above or here to see the latest wordcount.

I am not done with it yet but I would not have reached here without NaNoWriMo and the challenge.

Highlights of the journey in the last 19 days


1. I had read the following books in preparation:

Story by Robert McKee

On Writing by Stephen King

The Art of Fiction by Ayn Rand

No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo)

2. Attended a 4 day program on storytelling by Robert McKee. It was simply one of the best programs I attended.

2. Requested two close friends (names to be disclosed soon) to help me with completing the project (polishing, editing etc.) once the book is complete. So I am covered to make this a good book.

3. Created my own plan (20 day plan rather than a 30 day plan) – this involved 10 hours of writing in the weekends and 2 hours of writing every weekday night. I didn’t have the time to work on it during the week days.

4. Purchased Scrivener to write my manuscript

5. Discussed my story idea with four friends to make sure that I was not (totally) crazy. Refined the story in my mind. Did not write a single word on paper (that is one of the rules)

During the 19 days

1. Things changed drastically during the 19 day period. I knew that things won’t go the way I had planned. I started exactly at 12.01am on November 1.  I took a really big lead (completed more than 10,000 words in two days) at the start.

2. Things slipped multiple times but the early lead helped me to stick to the plan.

3. When things were almost slipping, I went to Write-In where I got back my motivation to write another five thousand words to get back into the plan.

4. Made a few new friends in-person and on Twitter and created a virtual support group.

5. Once I got past 40,000 words, there was no other option but to go all out last weekend to get to 50,000 words.

So, NaNoWriMo was what made it happen for me. My request to you is to think about your own project (it need not be writing a novel) and see if there is a support group and a community that you can participate and make that dream a reality NOW!!!

Posted in the Announcement, Main Page category.

Wherever you are, you can make a difference

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 17 Nov 2009, 3:33 PM – 2 Comments

Take a look at this cool video of a flight attendant on Southwest Airlines.

Now, it’s hard to beat that for sure.

Have a great day!

Posted in the Compelling Offers category.

Thoughtfulness 101 – Robert Scoble

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 17 Nov 2009, 2:29 PM – 3 Comments

I have written about thoughtfulness on this blog (1, 2, 3, 4) before.

You don’t have to do groundbreaking things to be thoughtful – it can be little things but with a lot of care. Let me illustrate this with a simple example

I heard from Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) on Twitter that Loic LeMeur (CEO of Seesmic) was switching the Seesmic platfrom from Adobe Air to Microsoft Silverlight. Being a semi-geek, I was curious to know more – especially the reason for the decision to switch.

So, I sent a query to Robert to see if he could share more. Here is my tweet:

Robert responded back very quickly and here is tweet. I have met Robert several times (who has not??) and he never ceases to amaze me. May be it’s his thoughtfulness.

Take a look at the tweet from Robert. A few things to observe:

1. The dot in front of my twitter handle ensures that others in the follower stream will read this tweet.

2. Robert ensured that his response is whole and complete – meaning for his followers to understand what is going on, they don’t have to click through a series of tweets – saving them time.

3. I had mentioned Loic’s name but Robert changed that to Loic’s twitter handle – that way Loic gets a notification (if he is interested) about this conversation.

4. The name of Loic’s company was not included. Robert included that (Seesmic) so if someone was searching for Seesmic, they will see this conversation too.

5. Lastly Robert included the hashtag for the conference #pdc09 so even those that are searching for conference info will find this conversation.

Yes, it’s just one tweet and Robert has 26,000+ of those. But with care and thoughtfulness you can get a lot more leverage from that ONE tweet (for instance, this blog post)

Quick Note:

The meetup presentation on “Thought Leadership 2.0″ is tomorrow – Wednesday November 18, 2009. If you are in the bay area, I would love for you to attend. Details are below:

Silicon Valley Busines Meetup Nov 18, 2009: Thought Leadership 2.0

Posted in the Compelling Offers category.

Ways to Distinguish Yourself #206 – Thank Powerfully!

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 12 Nov 2009, 12:57 AM – 8 Comments

Note: Thanksgiving is coming soon but I wanted to share this way before that date. You will see why as you read the post.

Everyone knows that an attitude of gratitude is important to grow. In fact, you might remember your parents telling you to be thankful to people that help you.

Yes, I subscribe to the above views whole-heartedly.

You are where you are today because of MANY people who helped you get here. It is easy to forget the people that helped you. Sometimes you might think most of your success is because you are smart and of course you did some get a little help here and there. In most cases you are wrong. In reality, you are not so smart and you got a LOT of help to get to where you are today.

So, the first step is to recognize the real contribution of people around you and to go ahead and thank them.

There are many ways to thank people. Here are some:

  • Send them an email
  • Call them and thank them
  • Take them out for coffee or lunch
  • Send them a greeting card
  • Send them a gift card
  • Send them a gift
  • Send them money
  • Send them flowers

I can go on.. there are a thousands of ways to thank someone. Some are easy and some are difficult. Some cost nothing and some cost a fortune. Some are useless and some are meaningful.

If you spend a few minutes though, you can find some thoughtful AND powerful ways of thanking people.

Think about it.

The best way to thank someone is to help them with their project without adding additional cost to their lives. Do something that will enrich their lives.

People are always working on ONE or more projects both in their personal and professional lives ( for more on this, please read the introductory chapters of “Beyond Code” [foreword by Tom Peters] – Free download here) However powerful they are, they need help. They help others but they need help too. In the world of social media, it is not hard to see “what matters most” to the person that has helped you. You are smart and it is not hard to imagine how you can add value to one of more of this person’s projects in a meaningful way.

I can provide ideas but you can come up with your own. The key is to do something that enriches the life of the person that has enriched you. To make it even better, do something that will not introduce new costs in the life of this person.

Go ahead, thank that someone before the upcoming thanksgiving day and do it powerfully.


Note 1: Here are links to the other 200 articles in the series

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code – Distinguish Yourself #1 – #50

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #51 – #100

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #101 – #100

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #151 – #200

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:

ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:

ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)

Posted in the Distinguish yourself category.

Ways to Distinguish Yourself #205 – Dis-Engage When Your Work is Valued Less

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 09 Nov 2009, 10:26 PM – 6 Comments

Photo Courtesy: psyberartist on Flickr 

Marketplace is right most of the time. It will set the price for what you bring to the table – based on the supply and demand equations that exist (all the time)

Smart people sometimes hit a roadblock when they don’t get what they truly deserve. What they don’t realize is that in many cases they are the ones to blame for that situation.

Here is a typical scenario:

As you become an expert, it takes you less time to complete a task in your area of expertise. As they grow their expertise in the area, the time takes keeps shrinking.

Now, let us look at the external world. There are broadly two kinds of people there.

1. Those that measure value by output: These people will be delighted to have you on your side. They don’t care how long it takes to complete something. They are focused on the output or outcome. If you take less time, that does not make the work less valuable. In fact, they are willing to pay you a premium as they save a ton of time because they engaged with you.

2. Those that measure value by input: These people think that if something needs to be valuable, you have to put in a lot of effort. If you produce something quickly, you have put in less effort – meaning it MUST be less valuable.

If you are an expert, you will thrive when you are working with the first group of people. Similarly, you will be frustrated if you are working with the second group of people.

So, what do you do?

The quick thing to do is to observe and notice who you are working with. If you bring something valuable but are not valued, you may not know how to demonstrate the value or you may be working with people who value by the input. If you don’t know how to demonstrate the value, the responsibility is on you to educate yourself.

If the people who you are working with don’t want to see the value, you may be tempted to try and educate them. That would be a huge opportunity cost. People rarely change.

The better option for you is to dis-engage when your work is valued less. You will be better off finding people who value your work.

All the best!


Note 1: Here are links to the other 200 articles in the series

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code – Distinguish Yourself #1 – #50

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #51 – #100

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #101 – #100

Rajesh Setty: Best of Life Beyond Code -Distinguish Yourself #151 – #200

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:

ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:

ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)

Posted in the Distinguish yourself category.

Event: Thought Leadership 2.0

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 03 Nov 2009, 11:10 AM – Leave Comment

If you are in the bay area on November 18, I would love to see you at this event where I will be speaking about how to build thought leadership without breaking your back.

A quick summary

Thought Leadership 2.0

Building thought leadership without breaking your back

Everyone knows the benefit of being established as a thought leader. For starters, there is an immediate trustworthiness associated with thought leaders that will increase your influence as you are perceived as someone who “knows” and who “cares.”

In the old world, tools to build thought leadership included writing books, speaking and getting the attention of the media. There was a physical limit on the number of spots available and the competition was intense. Social Media seemed to change that with everyone being able to create their own platform to establish thought leadership. However, this created its own problem. With more than 150 million blogs and more than 50 million people on Twitter, how do you ensure that you are heard?

In this talk, #THINKtweet series editor and successful entrepreneur Rajesh Setty will cover what it takes to build thought leadership in this new world.

More details are here.

Silicon Valley Business Meetup: Thought Leadership 2.0

Note: There is a fee of $20 to attend. All attendees will receive free copy of ONE of the books below:

1. “#THINKtweet” by Rajesh Setty

2. “#DIVERSITYtweet” by Deepika Bajaj or

3. “#MILLENNIALtweet” by Alexandra Levitt

Posted in the Announcement category.

Apples and Oranges: The pitch for pre-paid gas option

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 22 Oct 2009, 10:36 PM – 9 Comments

light-bulbYesterday I was at the Hertz counter in Los Angeles and there were about half a dozen people in front of me in the line.

I was surprised (actually shocked) to see four of the six people in front of me choose the pre-paid gas option.

For those of you who don’t know what is pre-paid gas option, you pay for the entire tank of gas and you can return the car with an empty tank.

A quick side note: I know there are some nit-pickers who might be reading it. You can’t return a car with an EMPTY gas tank (you will need to get it towed, literally) so that is not the point of the blog post.

Now, the pre-paid option seems like a convenience option. But let us look at this in a bit more detail. You can drive about 300 miles with a full tank of gas. So if you want to make the most of the pre-paid option, you have to drive about that distance and return the car without filling the tank again. If you return the car with half a tank of gas, you literally paid twice the price per gallon on the gas. Pretty good for the car rental company.

After the first person chose the pre-paid option, I listened to the story with care. The story was well-crafted and staged:

There was a big board that showed two prices:

Average gas price in LA: $3.06 per gallon

Price with pre-paid gas option: $2.63 per gallon

There was another big board that said if you don’t take the pre-paid option, you would be paying a fee of $7.99 per gallon ( this included the re-fueling charge)

The agent would simply show the board and say that if the customer wanted to save money (?????) on gas, they might want to choose the pre-paid gas option.

It was simply brilliant piece of storytelling.

Really, there was no time to think. In a few seconds the customer has to decide whether he or she wants to take the pre-paid option and the entire story was staged in such a way that taking the pre-paid option made a lot of sense. The gas price was cheaper than the average gas price in LA.

The price shown was per gallon (around $2.63) but what was being charged was for a tank full of gas (around $45.00)

We can debate whether the car rental companies are using ethical practices in pitching the pre-paid gas option. Rather than worrying about them, it is best for us to be vigilant on the stories that we are being told to influence our decisions.

Photo Courtesy: Mr.Beaver on Flickr

Posted in the Business Models category.