It’s been a while since I last went on vacation with my mom- eight years to be precise. And between university, work, travel and other worldly commitments from both ends, we ended up postponing our holiday to, ‘another time.’

No more- said I, the defiant son, who chose to break that trend.

Parented by a single parent for most of my life, I’ve always looked for ways to tapping into my mother’s labyrinth mind for knowledge, life’s lessons and perspectives that I- in my mere twenty-six years of existence- have only barely been able to scratch the surface on. And I thought, what better way to do so other than take a road-trip?

This was the beginning of a great idea.

I had to be quick with the bookings- flights, car, and accommodation- as most of Dubai was ready to fly out that weekend on account of Eid.

This was done, and my mother and I embarked on a journey of a lifetime through the beautiful country of Georgia- with a road-trip spanning over 800 km and longer conversations.


In the meanwhile, I also thought to myself that I would use this time to photograph my mother who was formerly a model in Mumbai (Bombay,to some).

As an ode to the bond that we share, here are the top 8 things I learned on vacation from my mother:

1. Hold on to the things that make you happy


If you thought life was only and only about living up to society’s ostentatious standards- well, you’re half right. But that also means that you’re half not-so-right. While money is an enabler, it is but a consequence of your efforts- and not the other way around.

The church of  Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini contains the remains of 4,000 friars buried between 1500 and 1870, during which time the Roman Catholic Church permitted burial in and under churches. The underground crypt is divided into five chapels, lit only by dim natural light seeping in through cracks, and small fluorescent lamps. The crypt walls are decorated with the remains in elaborate fashion, making this crypt a macabre work of art. Around which, there’s a plaque that reads-

 “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.” -The Capuchin Monks

Agnostically speaking, this is the only time we know that we have – and that will ever be.

Don’t waste it. 

2. Allow yourself to shine even in the darkest of times


Each of us have gone through our very own episodes of tribulations in life. And without a doubt, will go through more of them at varying levels of difficulty. But you are only as strong as your mindset. Don’t let a rainy day bring you down. I’ve never opened up about my upbringing and the struggles that mum faced when I was younger (maybe I’ll write about it sometime…). However, the one thing that kept the both of us going was our mindset.

“Practice makes permanent.”- Eric Thomas

You’re always stronger than you think you are, and all you to do is remind yourself of that.

3. Remember to solve for one variable at a time.


I posit that a difficult situation is a bit like a Rubik’s cube. There’s always more than one solution available. When you have more than one difficult situation present, remember- Studying for the GMAT has taught me one of life’s most important lessons- solve for one variable at a time.

Don’t multitask. Forget it, it’s a bad idea.

The trick to multitasking is to actually break down your difficulties into buckets- and solve them individually. Do whatever you can to come to the solution, or the closest to one as possible, and then move onto the next. You may not like the solution- but you’ll have one. Solve for one variable at a time.

4. Let go of your pride if it means sacrificing ethics


Working for an MNC (multi-national for you entrepreneurial mavericks out there) has taught me that you will always approach a fork in the road at some point in life; where you’re going to have to decide between doing what’s best and doing what’s right.

“Your subconscious will never lie. Ever.” -Original

If you find yourself starting to go astray from who you truly are, STOP. Take a minute and think to yourself- is it worth it? Your decision is the difference between a short win and a long win. Ultimately, what you’re actually trying to decide is who wins- the situation, or you.

5. Take a moment to embrace who you are right now


Look at yourself, literally. Look into the mirror if you have to and intrinsically observe yourself. Study the shape of your face, the frown and worry lines (if any), your eyes, the way you smile, how you stand and how you walk. They are all a consequence of decisions that you may have made directly, or through others in your life so far.

“Never give up on anyone. And that includes not giving up on yourself.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

You may have some demons in the past that you haven’t put to rest. That’s OK. And even if you have, that’s amazing! You can’t move forward without appreciating how far you’ve come. 

6. Love who you are


Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.


Whoever you are, you’re incredible in your own unique way. Your a product of incredible human and emotional construct second to none. If you’re suffering from depression or can’t quite find the motivation to break out of the cycle that you’re stuck in- read. Find the self help section in the library/ book store and pick up a book. You are never too old to learn something new. And the best part about it is, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as going to university.

7. Live to live, not to survive


This may be similar to point 1., but it has it’s own takeaway meaning. Live your life to not form regrets. If you fear something, know that it will consume you- partially, or wholly.

Do it anyway.

We’ve all seen videos and read articles about what dying people regret not doing the most. Isn’t it funny how most (if not all) of their points fall along the lines of not living to their fullest? You’ve got a job that pays, and you have a few loans; and yet, there’s that vacation to Barbados you’ve been looking forward to all year long. You feel that you could save a month’s worth of loan money if you just didn’t go? Do it anyway. You’ll still have your job, once you’re back and the loan would still be there. Trust yourself to make a decision- and stick with it.

8. Don’t be afraid of starting over


Guilty, as charged. -Role Models, 2008.

While a lot of my friends from school, university and other walks of life have move on in life to becoming vice-presidents, senior managers, equity partners and even getting married (MAN DOWN!), I’ve had to start over in life a couple of times now- re-started my career when it took a nose dive; re-boosted my investments when I went flat out broke and couldn’t afford a day’s worth of food- the list goes on! But the one thing that I do not regret doing- is trying my hand out at each of them. I’m not one to brag, but I’ve made a career out of proving people wrong- and I intend on keeping it that way. And sure, I’ve been wrong dozens of times! But I’ve never EVER been afraid to say, I’ve failed, and that it’s time to get back up.

You can do it. The hardest part is admitting it to yourself. Don’t bother about explaining it away to anyone else- because you don’t owe people an explanation (unless you’re cash locked with their money- in which case, pacify, mitigate and move forward until it’s settled). Once you’ve accepted where you are, it’s time to rise and grind

So here are my learnings- and I hope that I’ve added some value to your time here!


For more pictures, type #FollowTheHat on Instagram.

Take it easy, slick. See you on the next post!


Positive Intelligence- The Case of the Average

We live in a world where pointing out flaws has become the very crux of reward. Going into the cinema to watch a movie, the ending was a little drab; headed out to a restaurant to try some sushi; you didn’t like the taste of the maki rolls that put you off of the whole experience; being approached by a salesman on the latest credit card deals; the interests are too high.

It even disseminates into our careers where all we ever do is point out flaws. It’s no wonder that lawyers earn exorbitantly- they go through years of training to point out flaws which is exactly what they get paid to do!

What exactly are we benchmarking these remarks against? 

Turns out that we’re always on the lookout of ‘the average’. It is a contagion that has pulled its way into every bit and corner of our lives- giving us the gall and audacity to challenge every single element of life on how far away it lies from the average.

I’d like to illustrate the same with the image below (an exercise I learned from reading this book called The Happiness Advantage)

Look at this graph:


It could mean absolutely anything but in this case it is not pinned to meaning anything in particular- so let it pertain to whatever you’d like it to illustrate.

As one does, we plot the data on the line that falls between the x-axis  and y-axis. We see that all the correct data collects around the line.

The red dot right there is an error. We know it’s a problem because it’s on the line and is screwing up our data.

But what if it could mean more than just an error? 

What if that red dot defines a new average for the denizens of modern times? Even science has brought about a way to change the way we question:

Q: What is the time it takes a class to learn math?

Science Q: What is the average time it takes a class to learn math?

We’ve now structured a whole class full of children with completely different levels of learning ability to only fall on the average- and not on their own capacity to learn!

“If we keep seeking average, we will only get average.”- original

Remember that our lives are how we intend them to be. We are the masters of our fate and while it’s not our fault if we’re born the way we are- we cannot hold anyone or anything else responsible for how we turn out by the time we’re ready to leave this life.

It’s about time we took control of the trajectory in which we move, and move with purpose. 

How do we do this? 

Answer: Schedule your happiness.

In July 2010 Burt’s Bees, a personal-care products company, was undergoing enormous change as it began a global expansion into 19 new countries. In this kind of high-pressure situation, many leaders pester their deputies with frequent meetings or flood their in-boxes with urgent demands. In doing so, managers jack up everyone’s anxiety level, which activates the portion of the brain that processes threats—the amygdala—and steals resources from the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for effective problem solving.

Burt’s Bees’s then-CEO, John Replogle, took a different tack. Each day, he’d send out an e-mail praising a team member for work related to the global rollout. He’d interrupt his own presentations on the launch to remind his managers to talk with their teams about the company’s values. He asked me to facilitate a three-hour session with employees on happiness in the midst of the expansion effort. As one member of the senior team told me a year later, Replogle’s emphasis on fostering positive leadership kept his managers engaged and cohesive as they successfully made the transition to a global company.

Happiness makes a difference.

In fact, people who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. I call this the “happiness advantage”—every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive.

Develop new habits

Train your brain to functioning positively in the face of trying times. Keep a little notepad and a pen with you (moleskin for you fancy folk). Every twelve hours, jot down at least three good things that have happened to you on that day; they don’t have to be work related, but can be; they don’t have to be anything significant.

For example:

Stress is an inevitable part of work. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try this exercise: Make a list of the stresses you’re under. Place them into two groups—the ones you can control (like a project or your in-box) and those you can’t (the stock market, housing prices). Choose one stress that you can control and come up with a small, concrete step you can take to reduce it. In this way you can nudge your brain back to a positive—and productive—mind-set. It’s clear that increasing your happiness improves your chances of success.

Thanks for checking in! I’ll see you on the next post!