When we sent out the weekly bulletin CTW (Chennai This Week) of February 10, 2012, announcing it would be the last, we should have really meant it. Instead, we were moved by about twenty supportive and considerate readers who were convinced it was the best compilation of weekend events in the city and they were feeling bad to see CTW go. The tone of those letters were something like this:
“Hi Vincent, So sad to read this…It was the best compilation of events in Chennai and in many cases was the only reason some of us friends mailed each other – to share what we read here and recommend stuff…Anyways, good luck with whatever else you are going to pursue…Regards…..”
So, we conducted a survey fetching about 120 responses, suggesting what could be done to rev up CTW which then had at least twenty pages of content on movies, entertainment, bargain sales, workshops, art exhibitions, dining out and classified information.
That melted our resolve. On April 06, 2012 after two months of hiatus, CTW reappeared. From then we carried on publishing the bulletin every Friday, again without even one break in between.
As I was spending a lot of my personal time, we recruited an additional person to help. Precious money was spent in keeping the bulletin going, but sadly, nothing much came in. People approached us for advertisement space very rarely and so what we got in return for our efforts was very meagre.
I have no explanation for those Friday morning blues just when it would be time for the bulletin to be published. On the rare occasions I completed my part of the work on time, it would be the turn of the person in charge of the technical work to face unforeseen obstacles at the last stretch. When we both completed our works on time, electricity wouldn’t be there. Last minute hitches in the publication were part of my Friday mornings which often stretched to post-noon hours.
For all the efforts I put in, I was not successful to recruit one person in Chennai who would stay with us and make the CTW flag flying high with quality content, advertisements and a truly engaged readership.
I have to be honest, CTW was a source of unhappiness and drudgery that sapped a lot of my energy.
For some reason, the Universe was conspiring against my dalliance of more than eleven years with CTW almost at every turn.
Or the Universe has been conspiring to get CTW out of my way to let me chase the passions that mean a lot to me.
Force of habit extended the life of CTW. And I nurtured unreal expectations of CTW becoming really big one day. To me, CTW was a failure that became obsessively addictive.
In one of my favourite posts, James Altucher writes about people who delude themselves by falling “for a cognitive bias called “Sunk cost bias” where because they’ve already invested a lot of energy into something, then it must be the greatest business possible.”
In the article, he suggests we “Don’t try to dig a well where there’s no water underneath……..Always take a step back and make sure you aren’t deluded. Are you solving an urgent problem for someone in a scalable fashion and is it showing forward progress.
Though I enjoy writing, compiling CTW with information taken from various sources is really a drab, repetitive job. And the attention I have given it has meant taking my energy away from other very important things. And putting other important things on hold.
The weekly bulletin has given Service Square some exposure and recognition and served our customers and readers well. It is perhaps alright that we published the bulletin for nearly twelve long years. At least I have learned the hard way the cost of not taking decisions.
Even now I am wondering whether the decision to wind up is the right one. Some painful ventures are very hard to get off my back. Hopes spring eternal!
But now the decision must be made. For finding the time and the space to pursue those things that would really matter to me and Service Square, the old has to cede space to the new.
Besides, in order to fully focus on my priorities in life and business, it is time to turn away distractions which can end up defining me and even my organisation.
In all probability, a weekly bulletin like CTW is still a good idea for someone with the mind space, passion and resources for it. Such a person could make it succeed. There is hardly anything impossible for the right person with the right mind. I do not have any of these, anymore for CTW.
It is one thing to live my life according to the agenda of the world, to please others. In the process, forgetting my agenda or my company’s agenda can be very fatal. That is a sure way to end up pleasing neither the world nor myself. I am now keen to work on things that would delight me and my company, helping create beautiful things that never were.
For example, there is so much more I can do to make Service Square into a world class organisation.
Throwing light on great service providers in Chennai by writing about them in our company blog www.servicesinchennai.com has been an activity that has been on the back-burner for far too long. Then, there is this personal blog which also is crying for time and more attention.
Service Square would be richer for it. Our customers would benefit from our greater focus on service experiences. As for me, there would be relief that I am laying down a burden which I carried for nearly twelve years.
While there is a feeling of unease at having carried my atlas thanklessly all these years, almost by force of habit, there is also satisfaction that I stayed committed and showed up for a very, very long time – for twelve long years, without break.