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Nirmal's Blog

Nirmal's Blog

Few books I’ve loved reading

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight – When I went to college, there was only one company I wanted to work for after graduation and it was Nike. This was one of the reasons why I studied abroad in Amsterdam, The Netherlands which was very close to Hilversum where Nike’s European headquarters was located. At that point, I had planned to either get an internship or a field visit to Nike’s Hilversum office. Neither happened at that point but Nike has always fascinated me with its creative ads, innovative products, and the athletes it endorses. When I heard about this book, I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to read it. I borrowed this book from a friend and finished reading it in a few days. This book is definitely one of the best memoir’s I’ve read. I loved reading about Phil’s journey of starting Blue Ribbon which later became Nike. There are so many gems inside the book-the high’s/low’s of starting a company, sacrifices made, cross-cultural challenges, among others. I could go on and on about the book but I rather you read it for yourself.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – In 2007, I had picked up a copy of Business Week and on its last pages was the list of bestsellers. One of them was How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read the book and it has become one of my favorite books. The book has many stories that explain the simple principles and psychology of human behavior. I would recommend this book to anyone no matter what field or life stage they are in. I believe anyone can read this book, understand the characteristics of human nature, and apply the principles to their daily life.

Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik – This was definitely a book I wanted to read soon as it was published. Once I read it, I wished I had found a book like this sooner. The book helped me become aware of our limited mental and cultural beliefs, common learning challenges, and techniques to unlock our limitless mindset. Having attended Jim’s weeklong Limitless Reading Challenge to several of his Instagram live sessions, I’ve always enjoyed hearing his insights, tips and strategies on unlocking our limitless mind.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio – A book that is full of management lessons and ideas that Ray followed throughout the course of his life and journey of building his investment firm, Bridgewater Associates. I first learned about Ray Dalio’s book Principles on The Tim Ferriss Show and the title on Tim’s podcast was, Ray Dalio, The Steve Jobs of Investing. I followed up with reading Principles’ reviews on goodreads which made me want to read the book even more. Some readers on goodreads had said that Principles is one of the best books they have ever read. I couldn’t wait to read it myself and see what the book was all about. Once I got this book, I finished reading it in my daily commute to work.

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger – In my research on the art and science of questioning, I came across the book “A More Beautiful Question The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas.” I listened to several talks and podcasts that featured the author and became more interested to read the book. The book has a lot of interesting insights and detailed analysis on questioning from our environments at home, school, and in the workplace. It also makes a strong case of why the skill of asking really good questions is important now more than ever.

Any questions?

These days I’ve become more fascinated by the power of questions and the journey to unlock really good questions to activities, decisions, and the world around me. In my research on the art and science of questioning, I came across the book “A More Beautiful Question The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas” by Warren Berger. As soon as I got my hands on the “A More Beautiful Question” book, I started reading it and finished it recently.

A “beautiful question” is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change. – Warren Berger

I had always been fascinated how as a child we “naturally” ask a lot of questions. However, as we grow up, we don’t ask that many questions or ask enough questions at all. The book has a lot of interesting insights and detailed analysis on questioning.

“Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. By middle school, they’re pretty much stopped asking.” – “The Creativity Crisis”, Newsweek.

Warren states in the book that many educators and learning experts contend that our current system of education does not encourage, teach, or in some cases even tolerate questioning. Teachers for the most part are also constrained by the course overload that they have to cover within a certain time frame leaving little to no time for questioning. An interesting revelation was that “schools in many industrialized nations were not, for the most part, designed to produce innovative thinkers or questioners-their primary purpose was to produce workers.”

“Our grandfathers and great grandfathers built schools to train people to have a lifetime of productive labor as part of the Industrialized economy. And it worked.” – Seth Godin

We now live in knowledge based societies and need for people to be more creative and independent thinkers. The ability to ask really good questions thus has become a key skill in the world we all live in today. Growing up, our home and school environments play a huge role in helping/hurting our own questioning skills which carries over to how we work, communicate, and go about our lives. Questions are beautiful and we need them in today’s world more than ever before.

For more insights into Questions, I recommend reading “A More Beautiful Question The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas” by Warren Berger.

Storytelling is your authentic superpower

With the enormous amount of data that is being generated every minute of the day across various media platforms, it’s becoming harder than before for brands and creators to reach their targeted audience with the right message. The message, no matter how well crafted it could be can get lost in the sea of data. The audience also is overwhelmed with the amount of information that is being thrown at them and what they are exposed to on a daily basis. Compared to a few companies with financial resources to spend on ads and other forms of paid advertising, a startup or a company with limited resources would be way behind or just playing digital catchup to their much resourced counterparts.

So, as a company, how will you get your messages heard in this sea of information? With the mountain of data increasing day by day, how can content creators reach their audience? Is there a way to stand out amidst the digital noise and really connect with your audience?

We believe the answer is Authentic Storytelling. Storytelling is the use of visual, literary, auditory, or other creative media to educate, inform, entertain, or inspire an audience to take action. As a creator, you are the best person to tell the story of your brand and communicate the narrative as you wish. It’s a personal and authentic journey and you know the experiences (successes/failures and everything in between) better than anyone in the world. As a brand, your authentic reason(s) to start a company, your core values, and identity will certainly be different than anyone else out in the market and that narrative is what your audience can emotionally connect with you on. As Simon Sinek says in his book “Start with Why”, being authentic is not a requirement for success, but it is if you want that success to be a lasting success. Again, it goes back to WHY. Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe. But if you don’t know WHY the organization or the products exist on a level beyond WHAT you do, then it is impossible to know if the things you say or do are consistent with your WHY. Without WHY, any attempt at authenticity will almost always be inauthentic.”

Storytelling is your authentic superpower.

What does success look like?

Two years ago, I was taking a podcasting workshop. One of the prompts was to pair up with a fellow workshop member and practice our podcasting skills using the tools we have. I scheduled a call with a team member and was ready to practice my newly created intro pitch and ask relevant questions to my mock podcasting guest. My team member wanted to help me by providing feedback on how I conduct the podcasting interview.

Before we started the podcast interview, my team member had a question for me. He asked “what would success look like to me once we are done with the podcasting interview?

By asking this simple and important question, he was able to identify and focus on the type of feedback that would be helpful for my growth and podcasting career. His feedback after the mock podcast interview helped to refine my intro pitch, make the necessary changes, and hone my podcast story. Similarly, when starting a new project, working on a vision, or any activity that you will be spending considerable time and resources, I find it really helpful to ask the same question that my fellow podcasting team member asked me. This has worked for me when starting projects and especially when collaborating as part of a team. By posing this question to everyone at the beginning of the project, all team members are aware and understand what success means to the project at hand. Otherwise, each team member will have subjective interpretations of what the success is or should be.

Asking Better Questions

I Asked A Ton of Questions.

That’s the title of a section on Kobe Bryant’s book “The Mamba Mentality How I play”. In that section, Kobe talks about how he was curious, wanted to improve, learn, and fill his head with the history of the game. He also adds that no matter who he was with and where he was at, he would fire away with question after question. That relentless curiosity about the game, strong work ethic, and becoming skilled at asking questions were some of the countless reasons Kobe finished his basketball career with 5 championships, 33,643 points, and 20 years playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

We come into this world with infinite curiosity about everything in life. Some environments help nurture that curiosity while other environments control or destroy that innate desire to learn and discover. For some people, questioning comes easily while for most of us, we don’t ask enough questions, nor do we pose our inquiries in an optimal way as stated by the Harvard Business Review article The Surprising Power of Questions. The good news is that by asking questions, we naturally improve our emotional intelligence, which in turn makes us better questioners – a virtuous cycle. As mentioned in the HBR article, the first step in becoming a better questioner is simply to ask more questions. Of course, the sheer number of questions is not the only factor that influences the quality of a conversation: The type, tone, sequence, and framing also matter.

A valuable resource on How to Ask Questions Better by Tim Ferriss

Asking a lot of questions unlocks learning and improves interpersonal bonding.The Surprising Power of Questions

Unleash your superpower in 2021

2020 was an unprecedented year with many challenges, emotions, and narratives. We were all tested emotionally, mentally, and physically like never before. As we move towards 2021, the stories we hear, see, and especially what we tell ourselves serve as a compass and help us navigate forward.

Storytelling is our authentic superpower.

Here are a few ways you can Unleash Your Superpower in 2021:

1. Understand how Storytelling could help you in your personal and professional journey
2. Hone your Storytelling skills
3. Attend a Storytelling workshop
4. Observe the Storytelling structure and your emotions when you watch movies, shows, and documentaries 
5. Take a Storytelling course
6. Listen to podcasts on Storytelling or that tell great Stories
7. Reflect on your own journey and see what Stories have shaped you over the years 
8. Maintain a journal and write regularly on the Stories you observe in your daily life
9. Be part of a supportive community and share Stories
10. Jump into any opportunity where you can share your Story

30 Stories: Prabal Gurung

@prabalgurung Story by @thestorieshub

The world of Prabal Gurung is vast. He is a fashion designer, an activist, a cultural icon, a philanthropist, and an inspiration to many individuals around the world.

Prabal’s journey to the highest echelons of fashion is nothing short of a beautiful, and humbling story. Born in Singapore and raised in Nepal, Prabal was raised by his heroic single mother who encouraged him to pursue his wildest dreams. As a young boy who was constantly bullied and harassed in school, Prabal’s mother was his biggest source of strength, comfort, and inspiration.

Prabal found a home in New York City, where he could fulfill his ambitious dreams. He knew that taking a chance to study at Parsons was his decision and would live with the results if things didn’t work out. After his education at Parsons as well as his experiences at Donna Karan, Cynthia Rowley and Bill Blass, Prabal decided to launch his own label in 2009. Although 2009 was not the ideal climate to launch a fashion label because of the recession, Prabal adjusted by even collecting unemployment and downsizing his apartment.

Fast forward 10 years later, Prabal has created a luxury brand with a soul and purpose. His designs have been worn by the most influential women around the world including the former first lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, Zoe Saldana, Priyanka Chopra, The Duchess of Cambridge, Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker, Queen Rania of Jordan, Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, Deepika Padukone, Gabrielle Union, Ashley Graham, Hikari Mori, Katy Perry to name a few. He also started the Shikshya Foundation Nepal in 2011, which provides comprehensive education to children in Nepal.

Bio: Prabal Gurung launched his collection in February 2009. He leads the brand with purpose and responsibility, choosing to manufacture locally in the garment district of New York City and partnering with artisans in his home country of Nepal. Follow Prabal @prabalgurung

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Stephen Curry

@stephencurry30 Story by @thestorieshub

Stephen Curry was born into a NBA family. His father, Dell Curry played in the NBA for 16 seasons. Stephen showed passion and promise for basketball from an early age. For college, Stephen wanted to play for Virginia Tech just like his father did but he was only offered a walk-on spot due in part to his slender 160-pound frame. Stephen ultimately decided to play for Davidson College who saw his potential and aggressively recruited him.

During the transition from high school to college, Stephen heard a lot of people saying that he was too small, not athletic enough, could not play defense, and not strong enough to play in the NBA. Those comments ignited Stephen at Davidson and also were similar to the comments he heard when going from college to the NBA.

At Davidson, Stephen had a phenomenal run in the NCAA tournaments and averaged about 30 ppg. In his final college season, Curry averaged 28.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 steals and was the NCAA scoring leader. He got selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 NBA draft. The early years at Golden State Warriors were challenging for Stephen because of his injuries, players and coaching changes to name a few. However, with the addition of new head coach, Steve Kerr in 2014, the fate of the franchise started to change. In the 2014-2015 season, Golden State closed out the series against Cleveland Cavaliers to win their first championship in 40 years with Stephen averaging 26 points and 6.3 assists per game in the Finals. That same year he won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.

Bio: Stephen Curry is now a three time NBA champion, two time NBA Most Valuable Player and six time NBA All Star just to name a few of his highly coveted basketball accomplishments.

Image credit: Forbes

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Puma

PERFORMANCE ON ALL LEVELS

THIS IS PUMA

Sport has the power to transform and empower us. As one of the world’s leading sports brands, it’s only natural that we want to stand on the same playing field as the fastest athletes on the planet. To achieve that, the PUMA brand is based on the very values that make an excellent athlete.

Text credit: Puma website
Image credit: turbologo

30 Stories: Jay Williams

@realjaywilliams Story by @thestorieshub

Jay Williams was a high school all-American, national player of the year, national champion at Duke, and the No. 2 overall NBA draft selection in 2002. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and was on his way to play for the renowned basketball franchise. However, an afternoon in June, 2003 changed everything for Jay. He crashed his motorcycle on a side street on the north side of Chicago and the NBA journey that was about to begin fell short.

For years, Jay struggled with depression. He took a lot of pain medication for too long and even blew out the candles for his 22nd birthday in bed. He spent years in rehabilitation and at his lowest point, he even considered suicide. During recovery, he did physical therapy every day, often twice, for two years. Once he recovered after many years, he tried to return to the NBA and did a tryout with the New Jersey Nets. Later, he joined the Austin Toros in the Development League hoping for an eventual return to the NBA. When that dream to return to the NBA did not happen, he had to search for the next chapter in his life. 

The next chapter came with ESPN and ESPNU who saw Jay’s potential as an analyst. ESPN lauded Jay’s initiative for an analyst among ESPN’s youngest and his career goals included becoming the “African-American Matt Lauer.” He now says “I hope people remind me of my accident every day of my life because that means I’m a prime example of somebody who had it and lost everything and may not have gotten it back in the same capacity but still reinvented myself.”

Bio: Jay Williams is currently a very successful college basketball and NBA analyst for ESPN, and host of the ESPN+ sports business platform “The Boardroom.” In 2016, he released his memoir, “Life Is Not An Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention.” He is also a minority stakeholder in The Cabin NYC, a restaurant and bar.

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Offering Happiness

@offeringhappiness Story by @thestorieshub

Our entrepreneurial journey began when we decided we needed to work on a  sustainable business. We had worked on numerous development related projects with donor agencies and now wanted to start a business that was different, creative, profitable, and offered a solution to an existing problem in the market. 

We realized that a lot of people wanted to do something special for their loved ones, but did not have the time, so we decided to offer a solution, while also adding excitement in their relationships. After a lot of ideation, we decided on becoming surprise planners or surprise gift deliverers and with less than one lakh of investment, we started Offering Happiness in 2017.

The first year of business operations consisted of many ups and downs. We had started out without much market research or a concrete business model. In the initial phase, some days we got a lot of business, while other days we were not busy at all. By participating in business competitions and reaching out to mentors, we were able to hone our business model and our vision became much clearer.

Bio: Started by four co-founders, Offering Happiness is a pioneer in experiential gifting in Nepal and has delivered more than 10,000 gifts and experiences since it’s launch. Offering Happiness was the 2019 winner at Seedstars Kathmandu and were awarded the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards (GSEA) Nepal 2019. Get happy at @offeringhappiness

Image credit: Offering Happiness Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: TOMS

@toms Story

ABOUT TOMS

As the Original One for One Company, we’ve always been in business to improve lives.

Since 2006, our community has given nearly 100 million pairs of shoes to people in need. And while shoes can have a big impact, we’ve learned that giving shoes and impact grants can have an even bigger impact.

Now, for every $3 we make, we give $1 away. This is our commitment—to our customers, to our partners, and to our future.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

While traveling through Argentina in 2006, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie saw the hardships faced by children without shoes. This inspired him to create a for-profit business with giving at its core. The idea? For every pair of shoes the company sold, a new pair would be given to a child in need.

And with that, TOMS—short for Tomorrow’s Shoes—was born.

Text credit : TOMS website

Image credit: TOMS Twitter

30 Stories: Red Mud Coffee

@redmudcoffee Story by @thestorieshub

“Every Revolution Starts in a Coffee Shop”

The journey of Red Mud Coffee began from a short trip that Aashish Adhikari took when he went to visit his grandparents in Kavre. He discovered that his ancestral lands were perfectly suited for planting coffee and as a coffee lover, he was deeply interested in starting a coffee plantation in Nepal. He wanted to grow coffee and export it around the world. However, this vision did not come to fruition. Eventually, he came across an opportunity to buy a struggling coffee store in Thapathali and with his brother and school friend bought it and renamed it Red Mud Coffee. This is how the coffee revolution began for them.

One of the biggest challenges for Red Mud in the initial stages was getting access to capital. After two to three years of having established the coffee shop, they found a Dutch partner who believed in their vision. With the new partnership, vision, and team, Aashish is determined to make Red Mud Coffee the “Starbucks” of Nepal. With 5 Red Mud outlets in Nepal to date ranging from Thapathali to Manang, Aashish is really proud to have created and provided jobs to many young people. He is also very happy to have created a brand that a lot of young individuals can associate with. His vision has really come true – Red Mud is regarded as a socially vibrant space where you can mingle and network.

Bio: Started in 2012 by Aashish Adhikari, Red Mud Coffee now has 5 outlets and a coffee kiosk inside the United States Embassy in Maharajgunj. Aashish also runs Mero2Paisa, a platform and podcast that is focused on producing content that is relevant to issues faced by the youth of Nepal. Follow the revolution @redmudcoffee

Image credit: Red Mud Coffee Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Patagonia

@patagonia is excellent at storytelling.

Patagonia shares its company’s values by making it’s customer the hero of the story.

On their website and social media platforms, they feature a variety of customer stories. The stories move people, inspire their employees towards a shared mission, highlight the adventures of their current customers, and give potential customers’ insight into the company’s core values.

Follow their stories @patagonia

Image credit: Verite

30 Stories: Sneha Shrestha (Imagine)

@imagine876 Story by @thestorieshub

“You can imagine, too.”

The graffiti art form mesmerized Sneha. She had never seen American graffiti and learned more about the art form from her mentor, Rob Gibbs, a pioneer of graffiti in Boston. When she started writing in Nepali, she felt that her voice could really shine. She realized she could show who she is as a person, where she’s from, and a bit about her culture. She finds inspiration for her paintings from the vibrant traditions and cultures of Nepal, where she was born and raised. Her pieces convey a positive phrase – “You can imagine, too.” 

Although Sneha went to one of the best schools in Kathmandu, she still felt that she did not have an art experience opportunity. From her own experience growing up and realizing how important art experiences are to kids, she established Nepal’s first Children’s Art Museum. The museum provides educational and creative learning experiences and has had over 7,000 participants to date.

Bio: Sneha Shrestha (Imagine) is an artist from Nepal who paints mindful mantras meshing aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences. She has collaborated with Reebok, Neiman Marcus, and Red Bull and her work is held in the private collections of Facebook, Google, Capital One and Fidelity Investments. She is the founder of Nepal Children’s Art Museum. In 2016, she was given the key to the city by the mayor of Worcester. Follow her @imagine876

Image credit: WhereTraveler website

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Trisara

@trisara_restaurant Story by @thestorieshub

The journey of Trisara began with three friends who always wanted to open a restaurant. Once they acquired the land they wanted in Lazimpat, the restaurant was on its way to become a beloved hang out spot for many Kathmandu residents. 

Over the years, Trisara evolved with the changing times, tastes, and expectations. When the restaurant first started, they had half of the current food and drink items available on the menu. They had not even thought about hosting live music shows and events. Today, people excitedly discuss their food, customer service, live music, and especially the restaurant’s ambience on social platforms. 

With the success of the restaurant’s first branch in Lazimpat, the friends have opened a second one in Pokhara, followed by the latest one in Durbarmarg. They opened Trisara The Baking Factory as well. They eventually want to open a branch outside of Nepal.

Bio: Trisara was founded in 2011 by three friends Arun Shrestha, Raunak Rana, and Sovan Malakar. The restaurant is now extremely well known in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Follow them @trisara_restaurant

Image credit: Trisara Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: 108 Wears


@108ktm
 Story by @thestorieshub

The number 108 holds multi-dimensional meanings. It is considered sacred in many religions and traditions and is also a recurring number in astrology, science, and mathematics. In एक सए आठ the individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent onething, nothing, and everything respectively.

We wanted to bring unique and meaningful designs inspired by Nepali culture into a clothing brand and that’s how 108 wears came about. We had been designing limited edition tees by outsourcing our tailoring and printing since 2012. Then, in 2017 we started printing tees through our own print workshop. One of the main reasons behind this was to be able to experiment with different printing techniques.

We remember the days when we printed our first design (Nepal United F.C.) at a local print shop, but the color was printed opposite to what we had wanted. We went all around town trying to find the right printers to change the design multiple times and make things work. We have really experienced the challenges of printing and producing high quality tees without having our own print shop.

Now, we are able to produce good quality designs in our print shop and bring it to the market.

Bio: 108 Wears was started by Kushal and Salil in 2012. They sell their products through @thelocalprojectnepal_tlp@blockoutktm as well as online. Follow them @108ktm

Image credit: The Local Project Nepal 

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: JetSole

@jetsole Story by @thestorieshub

JetSole brings together individuals who are into premium clothing and sneakers as well as brands who want to reach potential customers under one platform.

I have always been the guy that likes to find new brands or wear clothing that are stylish, while still being unique and true to me. However, I realized how disconnected the process of finding and acquiring premium clothing and sneakers was, especially for individuals who were working full time or can’t find time to go shopping, but still want to be in the know. Similarly, new brands were having a hard time getting their products in the hands of potential customers. So, I created JetSole to address the void of convenience and curation of unique clothing and sneakers that are needed by today’s customers.

I have found it increasingly beneficial to travel to a lot of events across the country to get the JetSole brand out there. I like to travel because it gives me a new perspective on existing problems and helps me come up with fresh solutions. 

To date, JetSole has generated over 15K downloads and fulfilled over 1.5K orders since its launch.

Bio: Started by Nelson Gedeon in 2016, JetSole is an e-commerce platform for premium sneakers and streetwear. Follow the Jet life @jetsole

Image credit: JetSole Twitter page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: The Hiut Denim Company

@hiutdenim Story

Our town is going to make jeans again

Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 good people. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week. For three decades.

Then one day the factory closed. It left town. But all that skill and knowhow remained. Without any way of showing the world what they could do.

That’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town. 

As one of the Grand Masters said to me when I was interviewing: “This is what I know how to do. This is what I do best.” I just sat there thinking I have to make this work. 

So yes, our town is going to make jeans again. 

Here goes. 

Text credit : The Hiut Denim Company website

Image credit : GQ website