Life Beyond Code


By Rajesh Setty on Thu 11 Feb 2010, 9:45 PM – Leave Comment


Who said that?

That’s the first question that comes to your mind when you hear a quote or anything interesting.

Think about this quote

“Stay hungry, stay foolish!”

If you didn’t know that the above quote (source: You have got to find what you love) was from Steve Jobs, you may be lost. You might think, why should I stay hungry and for God’s sake why should I stay foolish? But the moment you know this quote was from Steve Jobs, things become clear.

I love the above quote but on a lighter note, don’t take it literally :)

Remember that:

You cannot change people’s need to know the “Who” but you can take care of it by working on your identity.

Gerry Sindell of Thought Leaders International explains the power of identity brilliantly in his new book “The Genius Machine.” He says:

“One of the great challenges in getting new and valuable ideas accepted is that many intended users, even those who would benefit enormously from what is being offered, spend a lot of energy and time trying to figure out who the person is behind the innovation. Until we feel comfortable that we know the answer, it’s hard for us to accept the advice, no mater how valuable it might be.”

We also have Chris Pirillo who sums this up in a tweet below.

We still have more than 10 months in this new year. So may be you can work out a plan to address the “Who” question more powerfully?

Posted in the Main Page category.

Quotes worth recording – Paramahamsa Yogananda

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 11 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 2 Comments

This gem from Paramahamsa Yogananda sums up what is required to build lasting relationships.

“There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first… when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

Hat tip: Ambal Balakrishnan

Posted in the Great Quotes, Main Page category.


By Rajesh Setty on Wed 10 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 2 Comments

A plane is getting hijacked and everyone on the plane is VERY scared. There is fear on everybody’s face. It is clear to them that they are not in control anymore. At one level, they were not in control anyway once they got into the plane but this was different. They signed up for it knowingly. They knew the risks before they boarded the plane. Hijack was different. They didn’t sign up for it and they didn’t want it.

Somewhere in the backseat, there is one person who seem to be not perturbed by this hijack. In fact, he is smiling and going about his work.

Do you think this is odd?

I presented this scenario in one of my recent talks and the reaction ranged from “odd” to “idiotic.” I concur.

However, when the context is changed, we all behave like that “odd” person on the plane.

Think about a typical moment in your life. It is typically “hijacked” either by your past or your future. Most of the time, you don’t notice it or behave as if there is no problem with it. The moment is taken away from you – robbed. Moment after moment disappears without you noticing or trying to escape from this hijack.

I wish there was a simple trick to snap out of this hijack and start living in the present moment. But not trying to “live in the present” is to throw away the “gift of life.”

Deepak Chopra said it beautifully.

Past is history.

Future is a mystery.

This moment is a gift,

that’s why it’s called the PRESENT.

Here is something to think about:

Posted in the Main Page category.

The Distinguish Cycle – Where do you want to begin?

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 09 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 6 Comments

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you know that one of the themes on the blog is how to escape the prison of commodotization – being one of the many.


Simply because commodotization erodes value.

If you are valuable and can distinguish yourself, you can claim a premium in the marketplace.

Of course, nobody is smart to be able to permanently distinguish themselves because for anything that is getting a premium, there are others who will follow suit and compete for attention until that “anything” is commodotized and loses the early premium that marketplace awarded.

So, how does one continue to command a premium?

For starters, there are two ways:

1. Continue to accumulate valuable accomplishments – It’s easy to duplicates strategies and tactics but it’s hard to copy valuable accomplishments.

2. Continue to innovate: If you are changing the game all the time, it’s hard for someone to copy. People can copy if there are set of rules. If the set of rules keeps changing, they won’t know what to copy until they figure out a pattern. By the time they have figured out a pattern, you move on to a new game.

Ok, we are getting ahead here. The topic of the post is to discuss the “Distinguish Cycle” and to keep it simple and actionable and then build on it in the future posts.

Here is the distinguish cycle.

Think about it for a second. You can start wherever you want in the cycle and work through the other parts.

For example, you can start and move in this fashion

1. You can BE a different person to start with

2. You will SEE different things as a result of that.

3. When you SEE different things you don’t have a choice but to THINK differently.

4. When you THINK differently, you will PLAN differently.

5. When you PLAN differently, you will DO different things.

And, hence

6. If you DO different things, you will BE a different person

You can play with the cycle and you will see that you can start anywhere else and lead to the same conclusions. All parts are important and no part can be skipped.

My personal favorite is to start with THINKING differently.

How do you start that?

By rubbing shoulders with people who think differently. A few decades ago, this was hard to do. But today in the digital age, you get an opportunity to do that simply by following a set of blogs, Twitter accounts or websites.

When you are exposed to thinking that’s different, you don’t have a choice but to think different. Without your knowledge, you will set forth to transform yourself.

Once you THINK different, it’s easy to set the the distinguish cycle in motion.

Here are a few resources to trigger that much needed “THINKING”

1. PSFK – Innovation and Trends Research

2. SpringWise – Innovative Business Models from all over the world. (Hat Tip: Dan Pink)

3. Seth Godin – Daily dose of simply brilliant thinking

4. Innocentive – Companies looking to pay money for innovative solutions. Take a look and see what problems they are trying to solve.

5. TED Talks – Brilliant insights in less than twenty minutes

6. ChangeThis – Manifestos that you can read in less than one hour

7. THINKaha – Our own series of bite-sized books for thinking people. You will be guaranteed to get a dozen “aha-moments” in less than 30 minutes

(Disclaimer: I am the executive editor for the series)

8. Lateral Action – Where creativity and productivity intersect.

9. Meylah – Resources for creative people.

(Disclaimer again: I am a mentor to the founders)

10. WorkHappy.Net – Killer resources for entrepreneurs

11. Lifehacker – Life hacks and more.

12. Creativity OnlineCreativity Online culls the best visual and idea-centric communication from around the world and the talent behind it

The above list is no way complete. Please add your favorite resources and I will update the list sometime soon with your contributions.

Posted in the Main Page category.

The problem is never the problem…

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 08 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 1 Comment

In this short (around 2-minutes) video, one of my heroes, Tom Peters explains (with examples) why the problem is never the problem, the response to the problem is.

Totally loved the video and is embedded below for you:

Why did the 2-minute video touch my heart?

The way I look at it, the statement can be extended to many other things – such as an “opportunity.” An opportunity is not an opportunity unless you do something about it.

The trick is in “taking action” and doing something about what we are faced with. And, that is in our control.

Posted in the Leadership, Main Page category.

A killer app – “Free” + “Social Proof” + Now!

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 07 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 4 Comments

The other day, I was at the Campbell post office standing in the line waiting for my turn. It was a long line so (as usual) I was busy browsing a book. The person in front of me brought me out of my dream when he stepped out asking me to hold his place. I nodded and continued reading.

I couldn’t help notice what the person did.

There was a box to drop off a business card to win a prize at the end of the month. The person dropped off his business card and walked back. I looked at the box again. There were probably 200 other business cards in the box.

Not fully believing what I just saw, I struck a conversation with the person in front.

I asked, “So, what exactly is the prize they are promising?”

He said, “No clue on that one.”

I asked, “But you put in your business card in there…”

He said, “Yeah, what’s there to lose. There are hundreds of them who have already put in their business card. They can’t be wrong.”

We both smiled and ended the conversation there.

I couldn’t help thinking about what happened.

1. There is something “free” that is promised. Don’t know what that is.

2. Around 200 other people thought it was good to get that “free” thing and opted in to the offer

3. A new person thought that if 200 other people are not wrong, he can’t be wrong.

4. It takes only a second (and a business card) to opt-in to the offer

5. The new person takes the bait and opts in to the offer.

Just a simple example that the combination of “Free,” “Social Proof” and “Now” is a killer combination.

Have a great day.

Other articles on the concept of “Free”:

1. Jan 3, 2010: The case for “Free” (again)

2. Jan 12, 2010: The “Free” Dilemma – Bits vs Atoms

3. Feb 3, 2009: The business case for giving away your best work for free

Posted in the Business Models, Compelling Offers category.

Grace and Elegance

By Rajesh Setty on Sat 06 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 4 Comments

Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bacchan’s blog

Criticism is part of life. If you are doing anything significant, there will always be some criticism from someone


Simply because you can’t please everyone.

A simple thing to do is to handle criticism with grace.

Here is an example of how Amitabh Bacchan (who needs no introduction for anyone who has heard of Bollywood) handled criticism from another superb Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah.

Here it is, in his own words (on his blog)

[ Note: I made VERY minor edits for the sake of readability. Emphasis is mine ]

A question came my way during the reading of the latest Filmfare. When told to comment on Naseeruddin Shah’s remark on how I had become a victim of my star hood and forgotten how to act (That he had preferred me in my earlier ventures due to the simplicity of playing characters who were closer to the earth)

I replied that when an actor of Naseeruddin’s stature speaks, you just listen head down and quietly with your hands behind your back.

We can all learn a lot from just the above incident.

Have a great day.

Posted in the Leadership, Main Page category.

A gentle push…

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 05 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 1 Comment

When you are on the fence, sometimes all it requires is a gentle push and you will move to one side. But someone or something has to give that gentle push. It does not take a lot of effort (remember: it’s gentle) but someone still has to do it.

With that in the background, let’s put the “proverbial” fence aside and take a real situation.

You are contemplating whether to attend a networking event or not. You want to do it but you also have other competing priorities to take care of. You know that in the long run it will help you but there are some short-term fires to put out.

You are in a dilemma.

In other words, you are on the “proverbial” fence.

You are waiting for someone or something to give you a gentle push – and help you make that decision.

What is that one thing that the organizers can tell you that will give that gentle push?

How about the following?

What if they said:

As of <date> and <time> we have 40 CEO’s or Presidents of companies attending.

You suddenly have that “information” – something attractive enough to give that gentle push and nudge you towards making a decision to go to that event.

I was fascinated by the CEO Counter that was shown on the homepage of the website called The BD Event. It is a networking organization and someone there designed a much needed “carrot” to provide that gentle push.

Something to think about in your own situations –

What is that thing that will provide that (much needed) nudge or gentle push?

Posted in the Business Models category.

Creating “no-brainers for the future”

By Rajesh Setty on Wed 03 Feb 2010, 11:01 PM – Leave Comment

First, I have to share a personal story to set the context.

This is the “behind the scenes” story of how a book series and now a book imprint was created over a dinner with a long-time friend. A friend who I respect a lot.

If I look at the entire last year (2009) and reflect on all the events that I attended and decide to pick on one event that was game-changing, it would be a talk by Charlie Rose at the Flint Center.

To be brutally honest, it was not the talk but the dinner I had with my long-time friend Mitchell Levy before the talk.

So, it was really the “pre-event meeting” that was game changing.

For the ten or so years I have known Mitchell, I don’t remember a conversation that was less than insightful. I always walk away with one or two things that makes me think and reflect and become better in one way or the other.

So, I was not expecting anything less. We talked about a number of things and over that time, I shared about my crazy idea – a book that I had written on Twitter (not about it but using it). The book was called THINKtweet. I shared with him the genesis of the idea and why the format would be increasingly relevant in the future.

For those interested, here is a quick video that provides a sneak-peek into the genesis of this project ( in less than ten minutes.)

Mitchell patiently heard me and by the end of the meeting, we had a plan to publish THINKtweet. We alao agreed that we should partner on this book series and grow it beyond this first book.

Over the next few weeks, my friends at Stresslimitdesign helped us design and package the book. Long story short – the book was published on June 1, 2009.

Over the next few months, we got serious interest from MANY people to publish their work in this format. The general consensus was that these were books designed for the A.D.D. generation.

A couple of months ago, my super-smart friend Karen Kang helped us brainstorm the branding for the series. Over the next few days, we renamed the series to THINKaha ( our books are designed to give at least a dozen “Aha Moments” in less than 30 minutes ) and also finalized a tag line which is:


Bite-sized books for thinking people

As of today, we have close to a dozen books in print and more coming. You can see the entire series here:

While this story was evolving, Mitchell and I realized that we had not finalized our business arrangement. I still remember that day when the arrangement was finalized. It was in a coffee shop (Roasted Coffee Bean) in Cupertino. It was at the end of a brainstorming meeting and we were just getting ready to leave. While heading back to our respective cars, we finalized the terms and the general roles we will play. It must have taken a total of two minutes to “negotiate” the business arrangement.

In essence, coming up with a “No Brainer” arrangement was a no-brainer for us.


The simple reason is that we both trusted each other completely. Trusted that both of us will look out for each other more than we look out for ourselves.

Mind you, that this “No Brainer” mindset didn’t develop overnight. It was the result of a long friendship built over a decade.

That philosophy of creating “No-brainers for the future” has saved me a ton of time, energy and heartache over the years.

The rule if there is any is simple – build lifetime relationships where you care for the concern of others involved as if it’s your own concern.

Many of your current relationships can blossom into “No-brainers for the future” if you put enough care into it.

If you have many such relationships, congratulations. Life is better that way. If not, it is not too late to start building them right now.

Posted in the Business Models, Main Page, entrepreneurship category.

Treadmill or the Train…

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 02 Feb 2010, 7:55 PM – 3 Comments

Photo Courtesy: Ducatirider on Flickr

No, this post has nothing to do with fitness and traveling.

It is about the confusion that occurs when you copy something blindly.

I will take the social media example.

There is a tendency here to follow what the most successful people are doing.

The general assumptions people make to convince themselves to copy are:

  • If it is “working” for them, it must be right
  • If it is “working” for them, it must “work” for me.
  • If it is “working” for them, all I have to do is follow their footsteps to make it “work” for me.

What people generally forget to do is to observe “how is it working for them.

You can look at their actions and the consequences of those actions on social media but that is still a tip of the iceberg. This has to translate somewhere into their revenue. This has to provide a “return on investment” somewhere for their time. Otherwise, it’s simply not sustainable. Unless you see how they get their ROI from their efforts, you may have no way to determine whether their strategies are applicable to you.

If you blindly follow someone’s strategies however attractive they seem, you are running on a treadmill and hope to reach a wonderful destination. You will get tired after a while and it seems like a ton of work, but you won’t make progress.

If you want to head towards “your” destination, you need to come up with your strategies. Strategies that work for you. The way “popular” people use social media may not be it.

You are on a “train” to your destination only when you start using strategies that work for you.

There is no need to force-fit something that may seem to work. There is enough that you can learn from everyone around you. They are doing something right – yes, right for them. Something that will take them to “their” destination.

If you really want to get the most out of social media without breaking your back and without breaking your bank (remember: time is money) then I suggest you

  1. First look at who has reached the kind of “destination” you are looking to reach.
  2. Once you identify those people, observe what they are doing. What are their strategies and what are their actions on social media.
  3. Lastly, improvise and innovate based on your learning.

In summary, just don’t confuse being on a treadmill to traveling on a train.

Posted in the Main Page category.