2014: The Year That Was

Keeping in line with my yearly tradition (2013 and 2012), here’s my annual review of my life – where I look back on what happened, what changed and reflect on my life. I’m about a month late, but better late than never. 2014 was the 26th year of my life, and it’s probably been the best yet. It’s also been the most hectic, which explains why I haven’t been able to pen this down yet. There’s been just too much going on – on both the work and the personal front, mostly the former.

Work

I’m still working at hike, which is now the biggest Indian mobile app. We hit 15 million users around the beginning of 2014, and 35 million users by August. We’re much bigger now, and much much bigger than any other app made in India. I’ve now completed two years here, which is one more than I originally planned for, and looks like I’m going to be here for the near future.

We’ve seen really good growth this year in all our metrics, on the back of possibly the most successful app marketing campaign this year, which catapulted us to #1 on the app stores again, and helped us achieve escape velocity to some extent. We also raised our biggest round of funding yet – $65 million from Tiger Global and BSB.

I’m working primarily on growth and product, while dabbling in a lot of other stuff. It’s been a great learning experience so far, and it’s exposed me to a lot of smart people, inside and outside the company. The aim is to become the first Indian app with more than a 100 million users soon, and bring all of India online. We’ll be making some big moves this year; watch out!

Life

Work has been taking almost all of my attention, and life has kinda taken a backseat. Not that I’m complaining. It’s been really exciting for the most part, and I’m trying to make it even more so. I’ve grown a lot this year, in terms of learning and personal development, both at work and generally.

I ended 2014 with a 10 day long Vipassana course, which ended up giving me some perspective. Great experience, but mostly because of the time it afforded me for some deep reflection (more than the meditation – could hardly do that well because of my borderline ADHD).

Caught up on my reading this year, but still not much as I should’ve. Books have become harder to read, because of my deteriorating attention span, but I still managed around 30+ good ones mostly in marathon runs over the weekends. Also saw a ton of movies and TV shows (discovered a cool hack which allows me to view it faster without any loss in absorption – watching most of these at between 1.5 to 2X these days). Feels weird, but try it out, it works. Pushes you to focus on the movie and better than skipping parts.

My brother got married to the love of his life, and so did a lot of other friends. One thing I don’t understand is why the fuck everyone is in such a rush. Even juniors have started getting married now, and I’m pretty sure they’ve no clue what they’re doing.

Travel

I started the year with a trip to Rishikesh for a couple days. Hung out with some new friends at some Osho thingy, and tried bungee jumping. Twice. Best adrenaline rush I ever had. Need to make this a regular thing. Next up, travelled to Kashmir with some office friends, some time in March. Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam etc. Tried my hand at skiing (the basic tourist kind – need to get better at that), but came down a 8 mile stretch in a snow cycle (much easier than skiing) instead. Had a lot of fun, first time there. Got completely swamped with work post that – lots going on on that front.

The next trip was directly in August I think. Trekked in Triund, and spent a couple days at Dharamsala. Good experience, but realized I’m growing old. Met some interesting people. Need to ramp up the exercise bit and stay in peak physical condition. Also traveled to Goa with the hike team and did whatever everyone usually does in Goa.

Following that was a work trip – flew to New York for a work related conference, and also caught up with some old college friends (almost every single one of them is in Amreeka, and working now). Good times. Next up, the trip I’d awaited most.

SILICON VALLEY, bitches!

Flew to San Francisco, to visit some of the best startups & internet companies and meet some of the best growth and product teams in the world. Met the people who had led the growth teams at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Paypal, Dropbox and many other startups. A very enlightening experience, for reasons I can’t reveal just yet. Finally went skydiving too in Santa Clara. That one minute of freefall was the single best one minute of my life yet. That’s about it on the travel front, made a couple more small trips around North India.

Learnings & Goals

One of the biggest things I’ve improved on is the ability to work in a team, and lead one. I’ve mostly been a solo player yet, but that’s changing. Trying to learn how to play well with others. Other than that, one of my biggest learnings in the last year has been humility. I’ve met a lot of really smart people, and that gives you a lot of perspective. On the other hand, I don’t value raw intelligence as much as I used to. Some people who I regarded highly (almost as gods), once I actually interacted with them, I’m now not at all in awe of them, even though I respect them.

Another thing I’ve come to realize again and again: time is the most valuable resource you have. No point wasting it doing things that don’t matter or with people you don’t like.

In 2015, the goal is to find a couple hobbies outside work, play more, spend more time with my family and close friends, work smarter, be more efficient, cut out more bullshit – things and people that don’t matter, read more, travel more, figure out the meaning of life, do things I’ve never done before, and just generally – live more.

To end with, these are the 5 articles I’d share with you this year. These have shaped my thinking more than anything else I’ve read.

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