When you see someone do well, and emotions trigger for you to do well yourself, there’s often a thin line between what’s driving it.

Were you inspired or envious?

Seemingly difficult to know what it is, but not as hard to identify. If the changes you’ve made to get closer to the end game make you more disciplined towards your goal, you were inspired.

If your actions become more erratic e.g. taking bigger risks, breaking rules to get to the point, etc then envy drives you.

And of the 7 deadly sins, envy is the one that is no fun at all.

The Two Ends

There are things that you need. Without those, you’d likely be in a miserable shape. You need a roof over you. Being homeless would likely make you extremely unhappy. You need a way to keep yourself warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s hot. You need to eat a minimum amount of calories everyday. It’s almost always a good idea to spend money on whatever you need. I am willing to bet that the majority of the happiness you feel stems from fulfilling your needs.

There are things that you want. May be it’s a new phone. May be you want two cars instead of one. But there are certainly somethings that you want, but not really need. These could act as short-term happiness boosters. But usually these wants will not make a significant contribution towards your long-term happiness.

There are things that you like. May be you would really like a new carpet in your living room. Or a more pleasing work-station. Your likes probably also make contributions towards your short-term happiness. But probably not so much towards the long-term one.

There are things that you love. These are the things that you’d love to do if you had a large amount of resources whether time or money. May be you love travelling so much that for the ease of travel you’re willing to throw $100,000 on a better travel document. May be you really wanted to see the northern lights. May be, you want to travel twice every year for as long as you’re alive.

I’ve come to a realization that the kind of happiness that money can buy is often found in two things that are farthest from each other on our quadrant; need & love. Your happiness is either stemmed in the basics, or probably in the extravaganza. Everything in between is probably not worth your money.

User Equity

Mercury – a bank built for startups, recently published their crowdfund campaign primarily with a goal to allow the customers of the bank to own equity and financial upside in the success of the bank.

Mercury acquires >60% of their customers with word of mouth or referral from their existing customers. As customers become owners of the bank, they are far more likely to refer other startups to bank with Mercury. Hence it is fair to say that Mercury has, in a way, delegated part of the job of customer acquisition to their customers which is very fascinating for me.

I’ve previously seen this model a lot in the crypto & DeFi space. For example anyone who ever traded even once on a decentralized exchange Uniswap was airdropped the Uniswap governance token.

Or if you’re a market maker or liquidity provider on PancakeSwap, you are rewarded with the CAKE governance/equity token.

While any business is only successful as long as it has customers or users, yet for centuries, we hadn’t seen an economic model which rewarded the customers with the financial upside of the success of the business.

We started to see a little bit of it in the past few years. For example content creators on YouTube have an economic incentive to create content and publish on YouTube. However, their financial upside is limited to the revenue generated by their content alone. In addition, the viewers of the content have no financial upside. Even though, both are users of the platform and make it successful.

On the contrary, with Uniswap, even the traders and not just market makers earned governance tokens for simply trading on the platform.

With this new customer/user equity model, users can have financial upside across the entire product and hence they have an economic incentive to work towards the success of the business.


The unconscious mind has aggressive needs.

Capitalism forces the aggressive unconscious mind to use that aggression in a productive manner. Although, we’ve learnt to deal with our aggression in a manner that’s not straight harmful, we’re still just giving in to the aggression.

On the contrary, we could try and completely suppress the aggressive unconsciousness. However, that would mean we’ve to direct the aggression inwards instead of outwards which could lead to anxiety.

Outward controlled aggression through capitalism could make you rich but it could also make you egoistic, selfish and unempathetic.

In order to be more empathetic you would have to suppress your desires, aggress inwardly, and feel the imbalance inside.

It’s easier to create imbalance in the world.

It’s harder to create that within yourself.

Abundance & Patience

Over the last few years, I transitioned into an investing career. I decided to invest in people that could deliver instead of doing everything myself. I had read tons of content on how the investing is the real way to build wealth. That time is limited and the real progress is made when you use your wealth to make wealth.

But it hasn’t worked out that well so far.

I also read and believed that abundance mindset is the way to go. Resources aren’t limited. Love isn’t limited. Kindness isn’t limited. Making money isn’t a zero sum game. Someone else’s success isn’t your failure. That you need to be happy for success of other people instead of showing resentment. That you need to share more of what you have.

I believed that if I helped more people, I’ll eventually find people worth investing in and so having an abundance mindset will eventually make my investing career a success.

This didn’t work out so well either.

The problems with failures in return of the acts of kindness is that you lose your faith more quickly and start doubting your actions faster.

You are led to believe by your own experiences that investing and abundance is a lie. That things do not work like that in the real world.

At this point you could scrap your learnings about investing and abundance based on your little experiences. Or you could continue to hold them close based on the experiences of many other people who you consider wiser than yourself.

To do the latter, you will need to be patient. Investing, however, has always been a game meant for the patient.

Getting A Massive Payout For the Simple Skills [Part 2]

I wrote this a few weeks ago. This is another post on a similar theme. I recently spoke with two sellers on fiverr that are doing really large volume per month ($10K+) and so I thought to write a bit more on this.

One of the sellers sells graphic design services. Most people think that the graphic design industry especially on fiverr is a $5-$10 space and this discourages them to take this as an opportunity worth exploring. The person I spoke with, however, specializes in box designs and so he has a much higher order value than someone making birthday cards for example.

There are many reasons why he has a higher order value but it could simply be because his customers are businesses and not people. His customers are likely in the e-commerce space which is why they are hiring box design services on the internet. E-commerce is going through forced adoption and insane growth right now so his business could be blowing because of that too.

The takeaway here is that the problem is not being a graphic designer on fiverr. The problem is what you decide to do with your simple skills. If you’ve decided to do what everyone else does with photoshop, sure your chances are bleak. You’re likely in a high competition low average order value business. But it really is your choice what you make out of your skills or what service do you offer in the graphic design space. Or how rich your average customer is. Or how big a problem you’ve decided to solve with your graphics. It’s really you who choose.

The other person I spoke with is in the video editing space. Because of COVID-19, the over-all video-editing work is down. Lesser ads are being made. Lesser people are doing events. And so the post-production work is on the decline for him. But the gaming industry is booming through the COVID-19. There are more and more people playing and streaming games as well as more viewers than ever who are watching these live streams. Gamers are making a killing right now, and so this video editor is offering gaming highlights editing service. Not only he found customers in these circumstances, he found customers that are paying top dollar right now and so his average order value is much higher than his previous gig.

It’s really not about the skills you have. It’s about what you do with them.

Will A Robot Replace You?

It was father’s day yesterday. I sat down with my father and spoke for a few hours on various subjects. We briefly discussed a topic that reminded me of something I learnt way back in college. It’s a concept from physics. I was actually quite awful at physics so I apologize in advance if my interpretation is incorrect. But here it goes anyway.

In physics, “work” happens when a force is applied to an object such that it moves from A to B. If you exert the force, but the object doesn’t move, the work done is zero.

In regular life, we don’t think of work the same way. But I think we should. If our actions aren’t bringing about a change or a result, I’d like to think that the work done is zero. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, or how many hours you put in, because as long as you couldn’t move the needle, the work comes down to zero.

I feel that in normal life work should be measured as Force x Displacement and we should move away from our current definition of work as only force. In addition, we should make our best effort in order to have maximum displacement for the force we put in. If employee A works longer hours than employee B, but delivers the same value in the end, it may seem that A worked more, but in my opinion, they worked just as much as they pushed the object just as much. Here’s an interesting case-study.

Savannah Sanchez, a Facebook marketer, did an interesting video that I don’t completely agree with, but I find it interesting to share here today. Her thesis is that Facebook’s AI has gotten so advanced, that a human marketer working over 10 hours a week on an ad account was able to deliver just about the same ROAS that another ad account delivered which wasn’t touched at all during same period and was only optimized by Facebook’s algorithm. If you want to watch the video at the exact time, you can do so here. Or you could watch the full video below

The reason why I shared this here is because when a robot can deliver the same value, your working hours i-e force is worthless. It’s the displacement that counts, and if a robot can do that better than you, you’ll be replaced. Although, I don’t think that time has come yet but I know it isn’t far.

I’ve used Facebook as a marketing tool for about 10 years now, and to think that there’s no more human tweaking possible on Facebook any longer is an alien concept to me. 10 years ago, you could do a thousand tweaks and the system would play along. Now, it’s increasingly harder but I feel expert marketers i-e a small percentage of all marketers could still do better than the system. In a few more years though, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number shrinks to a mere fraction.

We Are The Cockroaches

I’ve spent a significant part of my life running content sites that capitalized on catchy (click-bait) titles like the one above so I’ve old habits of using them time and again. The reason, however, why I chose this title for this blog is because there’s a myth that cockroaches can survive the nuclear apocalypse.

After reading about the studies that were conducted, I found out that while cockroaches can’t survive the apocalypse, just as no other biological creature can, they are 10 times more resilient against the radiations in comparison to humans. They also breed fast, so it’s a lot more likely for their generations to live despite the nukes.

I think thats us. The entrepreneurs of Pakistan. Or people of Pakistan in general. Allow me to explain please.

I’ve ranted enough times here on this blog about the lack of basic digital infra access. We don’t have PayPal for collecting small/medium international payments. We don’t have Stripe or other payment gateways, so we can’t collect payments from the credit & debit cards of the customers. We can’t sell on Amazon as a seller either. We’re not eligible for Facebook monetization programs such as Ad-Breaks / In-stream ads etc.

I can’t think of many businesses that can exist without the ability to accept payments. So, in summary, we’re in a pretty fucked up situation.

In comparison, PayPal is available in 200 countries. Stripe is available in 40 countries. Residents from over 100 countries can sell on Amazon US. Facebook monetization tools are available in over 50 countries. All the services described above are available in India & Bangladesh.

Despite that, one of the top ten largest sellers on Amazon US that is doing over $50 million dollars in monthly revenue is a Pakistan-origin company. There are thousands of sellers from Pakistan who sell on Amazon US by setting foreign companies.

The top 5 Facebook ad-breaks / in-stream publishers are Pakistan-origin companies doing millions of dollars in monthly revenue.

Pakistan also has the 4th highest number of freelancers in the world.

These people were banned from participating in this global trade. They were not given an equal playing field. They were born in poverty. There was a systemic racism in place.

While the west focused on “solving problems for others” that could make them billionaires, these people focused on solving their own problems. Problems originating from hunger. Problems originating from lack of education. Problems as basic as access to electricity. Even the middle class & upper middle class struggled with problems as little as the inability to afford air conditioning in scorching heat.

Because they were so tied up with solving problems so basic, I couldn’t and wouldn’t expect them to come up with the Googles and the Amazons of the world. I wouldn’t have even expected them to be top sellers on the marketplaces where they weren’t even welcome. But they are. Because they are resilient. If they have come this far, they will go farther too.

And so, I don’t have any doubts any longer, that Pakistani entrepreneurs will win, whether they get an equal playing field or not.

Systemic Racism & Entrepreneurs of Pakistan

In the past few weeks, I came across many videos that highlighted the systemic or institutional racism in the US. They highlighted how the opportunities are blocked for the people of color right from the start which result in the eventual 700% difference in the wealth between whites and people of color especially black.

systemic racism starts right from when you can’t go to the same schools as your white counterparts.

Here are some of the videos that I saw: 1 | 2 | 3

If you can see such contrast in citizens of the same country, how do you expect the same opportunities to be ever available to people of Pakistan? I received the following comment on a thread in one of the Facebook ads group, and it made me think about it (again).

If people of color struggle in the US, as a Pakistani entrepreneur, with limited access to quality education, lack of access to community, nearly no access to funding, not even access to the same softwares, or banking, how do you ever expect to achieve the same things that are achieved by the people of similar intellect in the US? The short is answer is that you can’t.

However, despite making the above statement, I’m extremely optimistic about the people of Pakistan and their future. The reason for that is that I’ve seen them rise up and stay resilient. Sure, they aren’t building any Amazon or Google, but they are doing much better than anyone could have expected given all the odds against them.

I want to write about this resilience in tomorrow’s blog.

Last Mover Advantage

The first mover advantage is talked about a lot. The first mover advantage is often quite great but not necessarily game-changer. First mover advantage is both for businesses and early users of the businesses. For example, Amazon has the first mover advantage in the e-commerce space. The early sellers of Amazon also enjoyed first-mover advantage on the platform by monopolizing competitive niches. All early users of social networks that eventually go big have a huge first-mover advantage in influencer marketing.

But the last mover advantage is not frequently talked about. The last mover advantage is that you look at everyone’s mistakes, let them take risks, and you only launch a product after learning at their expense. This isn’t talked about a lot probably because it’s not fancy to talk about it and that not everyone can enjoy the last mover advantage. Often but not always, you need to be at a place of influence to enjoy the last mover advantage.

On Amazon, as a seller, you often prefer going after products that others have tried and tested for months, you learn from their experience by studying the listings, and launch in the end so you have absolutely no risk of dead or wasted inventory etc.

In a similar manner, as a seller, Amazon enjoys the true last mover advantage. After all sellers are done testing, trying, risking, & iterating, Amazon comes right in the end with their own private label product often under the brand name of Amazon Basics. Because they enjoy a position of having everyone’s data, they truly love having the last mover advantage.