4 Nov 2015

What Happens When You Sell Out to the Wrong People

Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez were slugging it out at the Malaysian MotoGP. The way they were going at each other, something had to give. And it did!

Rossi pushed Marquez off his bike.

I was furious! “FUCK YOU ROSSI!” I screamed, running towards the TV. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!”

My mother came running from the kitchen. “What happened, Vishal?”

"GO BACK TO YOUR WORK, WOMAN!” I shouted, and continued hurling abuses at Rossi.

Okay, that didn’t happen. Here is the real version.

Rossi pushed Marquez off his bike. I sat up in my chair and said “Ooh!”

Mom handed me a plate, saying “ ‘Ooh’ ke bacche, yeh le khaana kha (Stop shouting and eat your food).” And I ate, quietly wondering whether Rossi would be penalized for that horrifying act or would get away scot-free yet again. You see, Rossi is to Dorna Sports (which governs MotoGP) what Robert Vadra is to the Indian National Congress.

Be honest. The first version sounded great, didn’t it? Like I really put myself out there, like it was heartfelt, like passion was running through my veins. You enjoyed reading it. But it wasn’t true. It was grossly exaggerated.

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend about James Altucher. Many of his articles have lines like:

“I’m sorry I lied to you that day I posted on……………..”

“…………and [I] didn’t answer until eventually she left, screaming my name.”

“Fuck you dad. RIP!”

She believes he writes from the heart (no offense dear friend, I know you’re reading this). And I said that he is the Chetan Bhagat of the United States. She scoffed.

Right on cue, James held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on GrowthHackers last night. For the uninitiated, Growth Hackers is a fabulous portal where people share articles on content, growing a business and online marketing and more. And this was the description.

What did he think he would achieve by mentioning that he went into a ‘depression’ on GrowthHackers, a site dedicated to content marketing? Wait. Maybe this is content marketing. What if James knows that the most effective way for him to market his content (read 'books') is to berate himself? That enables millions to connect with his content, and buy his books.

Kanan Gill summed up the human attraction to grief and misery perfectly (I’m paraphrasing here)

“Suppose we maintain a diary. If we look at a day in 2014, we read about having stepped into a pile of dog shit. That’s all we focused on, that day. The good that occurred found no mention and was taken for granted.”

We like ruing over pain. And we gravitate towards people who share theirs with us. It makes them appear genuine, vulnerable. But is that what we need?

On one side, we have James Altucher who writes about how ‘fucked’ his life has been, in every post. And when I turn my head (or rather turn on the tele), I find yet another news channel slandering a man - something that they have indulged in for almost 15 years.

This man sold tea with his father when he was a child. His mother was a maid at others’ houses so that the family could make ends meet. He joined a political outfit and rose through the ranks to become the Chief Minister of his state. In 2002, a communal riot broke out. The world blamed him for it. The United States denied him a visa. The Supreme Court cleared his name, and he was elected the Prime Minister of India. But to this day, people call him a 'murderer', among millions of other derogatory terms. And he continues toiling to improve the condition of India, to empower the poor and make our country a global superpower. Yes, he is Narendra Modi.

Image Source

Or consider MS Dhoni. The man has captained India to win every competition. But a couple of bad series and we (media and mango men) bay for his blood, prepare the scaffold and wait for the opportunity to take him to it in chains and celebrate with pomp along the way.

Dhoni and Modi are torchbearers of hope for millions across India and the world. And yet we treat them like dirt. If there are people who deserve to cry about how ‘fucked’ their lives are, these two deserve it the most. Yet, their steely determination shows in their eyes as they carry on their work, achieving in a single life what we will not achieve in seven. We, on the other hand, prefer reading stories of people who................. well...............

It’s fine to display emotions. The occasional display shows a side of you that people didn’t know, making you appear more human. But too much self deprecation or broadcasting of misery makes me feel uncomfortable, and it should make you feel the same. Life is about moving forward after all, yes?

James Altucher is fun to read. Please don't misunderstand this post as one saying that you must stop reading his stuff. But for inspiration, look at people who keep moving in spite of the odds rather than selling themselves based on them. It’s time you let people find place inside your heart based on what we want to do. Do you want to whine? Or do you want your life to be worth watching when it flashes by on your deathbed?

For each choice, you have options. Choose wisely.


  1. Absolutely agree. We need to look at the right people so as to follow their ideals which makes them inspiring in the first place. Perhaps, we need to be more aware of our lives and where we want to take it to. Only then can we make the right choices, when the directional purpose and our line of thoughts is clear.

    Wonderful post with great insights, Vishal. ( .. the first version was truly hilarious!)

    1. So true Arti. We need to follow the ideals of the right people... first ask ourselves the question - What inspires me?

  2. Total agreement to your version of positivity Vishal. It is very difficult to get out of any habit formed over the years..specially the ones we are comfortable in..today crying ..cribbing has become a part of life..to much stress..be it a student or an adult...in the school premises ..with friends while partying. ..in d work place...or at home... self confidence .. happiness.. smile on the face has no place....everyone is comfortable with negative impacts on their life.....A little boy plays with toys when young. ..as he grows up he gets a bicycle. ...automatically the toys take a back seat in his life . similarly let us reach for the higher (positive approach ) the lower (negativity) will automatically fall down. The Major Step Here Is To Walk Towards The Higher. .Very Good Lesson Taught ..
    Thx Vishal

    1. The Major Step Here Is To Walk Towards The Higher

      Great point. Thanks Bharati.

  3. Well written and interesting observations, Will be on the lookout the next time I see myself siding with the whiners...

    1. Thanks Tushar, for the comment and for dropping by :)

  4. Yes, I am very uncomfortable around those who are always whining whether in their writing or in real life. Perhaps their niche is sob tales and they may be good at it, but I steer clear of it. As a matter of fact, I steer clear of depressing stuff. Let's just say that I no longer have stomach for perpetually unending sorry tales. That is not to say that I don't like a display of emotions or a crib or rant once in a while. I know we all do that. After all our blogs are also great for venting. But there must be a balance. A colleague once told me that she wonders if most of the stuff on personal blogs is manufactured you know like how on reality shows to garner sympathy and eye balls. Made me think! You cannot fool your long-term readers for sure. But, I wouldn't put it past people to do that too. Anyhow, an interesting post.

    1. I agree with you and your friend Rachna. A lot of content on personal blogs is manufactured for the extra chutzpah. And that's fine... As long as we don't use those stories to measure the good or bad in life.... The occasional rant helps us be more honest, but ranting all the time makes us appear like Rakhi Sawant...

      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Hi vishal, I read your article and I would be wrong if I say I didn't like it. But then I would not say I completely agree with you. I think more harm than good can come out of completely shutting out whom who would like to call whiners. Most of the greatest problems the world is facing today and in the past has actually been the result of delusional positivity. For instance the 2008 economic breakdown, the real estate bubble, the Chinese depression, day to day losses made in stock market by gullible investors , wars lost .In fact, positive thinking sells as much in the market if not more than negative whining , which most of the time like pegs of whiskey gets you up and down in no time and has more pleasure value than any real one. I would thus in fact like to have a more balanced approach by keeping me open to both the negative and positive side of things. As for whining against Narendra modi, only time will tell whether his success really equates to the success of India or just remains that- the story of aa self described chaiwala fighting against all odds and through all rightful and unrightful means to amass power.

    1. Absolutely, dear friend. It would be unwise of me to suggest that we must not learn lessons from blunders committed in the past. It's one thing to be a pragmatist and another to be a delusional optimist, like the Stockdale Syndrome explains. And whether someone shuts whiners out or not is their decision. This post suggests that we look towards people who work tirelessly regardless of the odds being stacked against them, without making bones of it. Whether Modi's success translates into India's is not the point here. The fact that he made it to where he is speaks volumes of his determination and spirit.

      Such a lovely and insightful comment. I wish you had posted your name.

  6. This one called for a reading, re reading and then one more time !! Very nice man !


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