Ep589: Sahil Vaidya – Wear an Attitude of Gratitude

Listen on

Apple | Google | Stitcher | Spotify | YouTube | Other

Quick take

BIO: Sahil Vaidya co-founded The Minimalist in 2015, one of India’s fastest-growing creative solutions companies. In 2019, Sahil was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.

STORY: Sahil’s worst investment was investing too much time chasing dopamine hits.

LEARNING: Incorporate gratitude in your life. Don’t be fooled by the shiny object syndrome.


“Gratitude is really underrated.”

Sahil Vaidya

Guest profile

Sahil Vaidya is the co-founder of The Minimalist, one of India’s fastest-growing creative solutions companies. An engineering graduate from IIT Bombay, Sahil co-founded the company during his final year in 2015. Marshaling a crew of over 170+ creative minds, Sahil wakes up every day with a single-minded focus: to turn The Minimalist into India’s most inventive company in the creative business.

In 2019, Sahil was featured in the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list. He has also been the driving force behind the company’s growth, which resulted in The Minimalist being featured in LinkedIn India’s Top 25 Startups List (2018).

In 2021, Sahil and Chirag launched their book Think Like The Minimalist, which is a short read on their unique IP of Minimalist Thinking. Filled with detailed techniques, examples, and anecdotes, the book is a potent tool for design, marketing, and branding students, practitioners as well as leaders to master the art and science of thought-provoking design.

Worst investment ever

Sahil’s worst investment was investing too much time chasing dopamine hits. When he started his business, it was an instant success. He received a lot of accolades, awards, and recognition. Sahil thoroughly enjoyed that attention and high.

He desired to cultivate a bigger external image. Sahil started chasing things like better looks, more fame, better relationships, and a much bigger company. It took a lot of time for Sahil to realize that the stuff he was after wasn’t really important.

Lessons learned

  • Incorporate gratitude in your life.
  • Write down a list of all the things you’re grateful for every day.
  • That external high you’re chasing will never be enough, so pursue meaningful things.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Don’t be fooled by the shiny object syndrome.
  • Follow one course until successful.
  • PR doesn’t generate revenue.
  • Go over your financial statements monthly.
  • Wear an attitude of gratitude.

Actionable advice

Start meditating as soon as possible.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Sahil’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to do a lot of inventive work for his clients so that his company is known as the company that does unique, unconventional, innovative work.

Parting words


“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to be a guest here. I hope the audience constantly incorporates the learnings they get from these sessions and become better versions of themselves.”

Sahil Vaidya


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers, and welcome to My Worst Investment Ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing, you must take risk but to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. And that mission has led me to create the Become a Better Investor Community. In the community, you get access to our global asset allocation strategies, and stock portfolios, our investment research, weekly live sessions and the risk reduction lessons I've learned from more than 500 guests go to my worst investment ever.com Right now, to claim your exclusive podcast listener lifetime discount. Fellow risk is risk takers. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a Stotz Academy and I'm here with featured guests Sahil Vidya. Sahil, are you ready to join the mission?

Sahil Vaidya 00:57

Andrew Stotz 00:59
Well, I'm excited to have you on this mission. Let me introduce you to the audience. So Sahil is the co founder of the minimalists, one of India's fastest growing creative solution companies. An engineering graduate from IIT Bombay, Sahil co founded the company during his final year in 2015. Marshaling a crew of over 170 creative minds I Hill wakes up every day with a single minded focus, to turn the minimalist into India's most inventive company in the creative business. In 2019, Sahil was featured in the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. He's also been the driving force behind the company's growth, which resulted in the minimalist being featured in LinkedIn, India's top 25 startup list in 2018. In 2020, he wants a hill and Chirag launched their book, Think, like the minimalists, which is a short read on their unique IP of minimalist thinking, filled with detailed techniques, examples and anecdotes, the book is potent tool for design, marketing, and branding students, practitioners, as well as leaders to master the art and science of thought provoking design. So he'll take a minute and fill in a little bit of detail about the value that you bring to this wonderful world.

Sahil Vaidya 02:21
Thank you, for the amazing introduction, to take a minute to talk about myself. So by vocation, like you already introduced, I'm an entrepreneur, I was an engineer, I had nothing to do with the creative business at all. But like most engineers in India, they find out only after engineering that they don't want to do that in their life. That was my fate too. And ever since I joined engineering, my engineering college, I was into a lot of creative pursuits. So I used to write a lot of jokes, and post them on Facebook back in the day when Facebook was still alive. And sometimes people would really laugh at them and would really enjoy them. And I used to also do a lot of drumming. So I'm very inclined towards creative pursuits. And I'm obsessed with making people laugh in whatever way I can. And in doing so I realized that, while I'm not cut out for engineering, maybe there's a space for me to explore my creativity and do something about it. I also used to write a lot of articles, I also joined Korra, very early, again, when Korra used to be a thing now if those platforms are not really working, maybe. But as I did that, I realized that creativity is something that I'm really driven by. And that's why I started the minimalist, which is a creative solutions company. And I wake up every day just to produce inventive work. So creativity is a big driving force for me. And apart from that, I'm very curious, I read a lot. And therefore I try to write about whatever ideas I'm coming across and pass it on to other people for their benefits of curiosity and creativity are my driving values, and I try to make the world a better place to them. And of course, charity, three fees that define me in a way

Andrew Stotz 04:04
fantastic and what type of problems would accompany be facing or person be facing that they'd say, I want to turn to your company.

Sahil Vaidya 04:15
Right? So we actually work with companies to offer them solutions in design and marketing. So when it comes to design, it's literally working with brands to create the entire brand strategy and help them launch their businesses or their products and market it across platforms create, let's say the entire brand at the launch film other videos marketed across social media and offline channels. And when it comes to design it also means that we work with companies to build their websites and apps. So digital products through which people reach out to their customers and you know, get transactions going. So we are good at design as well as marketing and we work with a wide range of companies right from big fortune 500 firms like Coca-Cola, and L'Oreal, to American experts. So even some of the biggest Indian corporates and startups to consult them across design and marketing.

Andrew Stotz 05:06
It's interesting that you had said, you know, like Facebook is funny because Facebook banned me for a month or a week or something, because of something I said during the pandemic time that it didn't like that it later said is okay to say, but they banned me for the time that I said it. And then I just thought, you know, I don't want to be on a platform, where it's just like a bully platform where that company can just bully anybody and shut them down. I want to be, you know, in a place where my voice no matter what direction I come from, can be heard as long as I'm obviously not saying something illegal. And, you know, so I have seen that I've gone off of Facebook, other friends of mine have gone off, or let's say minimum, minimum, minimize the time that we're on it. And I look at other platforms, I think, yeah, a lot of things don't work as much anymore. That's what you mentioned. Like, what does work for marketing for companies that really want to reach the market? What do you think is are the things that really work?

Sahil Vaidya 06:12
Right? That's actually a very good question. And that's a question we also find, asking ourselves, our clients are asking this to us, we are discussing this with so many people in the industry. Of course, it also depends on the context, some brands are b2c and they do find their audiences. For example, if I take an Indian context for now, Instagram does work for now LinkedIn does work, in terms of at least reaching out to people, even Instagram is sort of gearing towards the direction that Facebook took over time, where if you don't pay, you don't reach even a single soul on the planet. That's the direction they are going into. But at the same time, there are newer platforms emerging, I'm sure, in the West tick tock has really taken off, has captured everyone's mind. It got banned in India, otherwise, I'm sure it would have had the same trajectory in India as well. But there are always new platforms coming up. We are also seeing people engaging with others, newsletters, podcasts, so many different types of media, right. And we'll also probably see newer ideas emerge in court with the entire web three hype on maybe decentralized social media platforms. So it's anybody's guess, but I am sure we are just going through these cycles where one platform declines another emerges, we'll always have to keep our hands on the ground. Yeah, I

Andrew Stotz 07:32
mean, one thing that I've definitely seen is the power of membership. And I've been doing membership related. Originally, I have a lot of online courses that I've just put together over the years since I teach a lot. And so my core business is not online teaching, but I have about five or six courses that I've put online and then I built communities around those courses. But you realize, like, that's hard. If you got five good courses, and you've got five communities, that is a lot of work. And that's when I realized it makes a lot more sense to make one membership community and get everybody in there and then open it up so that they can get access to the courses, they can get access to all the different things that we do in my research operation. And so that's been something that I've really been enjoying. And now I have kind of a tribe that I can say, I can bring ideas down to like right now I'm working on what should we expect for the return in the stock market in the US in the world, and in Thailand, in this case, over the next five years. So I have a whole spreadsheet that I constructed many years ago where I do that. And I got all the members on a call. And I said let's do this together. What do you guys think? Should it be this won't be hired? This won't be lower? What do you think about inflation? We had a great discussion. And we came up with kind of a final conclusion, which was really fun, not only for them, but also for me. So membership is something really interesting.

Sahil Vaidya 09:00
Right? Right. And I'm sure community first marketing is also going to grow big time. We only need better and better platforms where you have total control. In terms of accessing the community, like you said, Facebook and all, it's very difficult to sort of retain access to your own community. And probably I hope there'll be better solutions where it doesn't become an imperative to pay those platforms over time. Or you know, you have to use a lot of advertising to just reach out to the same community that you painstakingly built over time.

Andrew Stotz 09:32
Yeah, and I took all of my communities also off of Facebook, because I just thought if they can ban me for just saying what I said, then they can do anything they want to my business and that's not cool. So anyways, great to get your expertise. And now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one goes into their worst investment thinking it will be. Tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to and then tell us your story.

Sahil Vaidya 10:01
Sure. So this is not the usual story that you will probably hear, because I don't have stock or a mutual fund or a real estate investment to really talk about in that field, I am actually quite, I haven't taken a big risk. So it's not a financial story. But it's more of a philosophical or abstract story from my own life that I would like to talk about. So if you asked me what my worst investment was, and that was a very good question, because it caused me to think quite a bit about what I've done in my life, and where am I spent, or invested a lot, and then realize later that I shouldn't have invested so much, I think one theme that emerged, and this particularly started in my 20s, which also aligned with the time at which I started my company, was that I invested too much time in what I can retrospectively say, is chasing dopamine hits. And I'll tell you how that is spread across various things, right. So when I started the company, I was 21. And very fortunately, we have managed to grow the business very, very quickly, in the first two years, five years, seven years, seven years old right now. And as we grew, like you mentioned, in my introduction, there were a lot of accolades that came lot of awards, that came a lot of recognition that comes when you are able to grow. And of course, when you're so young, and you're able to do these things, there's a lot of fame and accolades that follow. And somewhere you sort of start really enjoying that kind of attention that's high that you get even in your own business, you need to take out the fame, or the accolades, you get a sort of a high that, you know, wow, I'm achieving so much. Because when I started the company, I wasn't really aiming to start a business, I wasn't even sure I wanted to do this, it's actually started in a very organic way. Finally, I started it as a Facebook page, which went viral, it got over 100,000 followers. And that's how it turned into a company. Right. So it was an accidental initiative that slowly, gradually turned into a business. And one thing happened after the other. And before I knew it, I was just barely out of college. And I already had a team of 30 people I already had so many clients and your things were growing. So in that journey, as the business grew, as I learned more and more things, and a lot of these things followed a lot of success followed, I realized that I started chasing a lot of different things, probably unknowingly. It could be you know, better looks, it could be more fame, it could be probably better relationships in my dating life, it could be building a much bigger company, when I saw competitors, or when I saw other people also raising funds and building much bigger businesses, there's this certain factor of envy that will take over me, of course, not in any damaging way. But of course, these were themes that would constantly recur. And I was probably also trying to cultivate a much bigger external image, right. So all of these things, the common underlying link is that I was probably chasing things, which don't really matter in the longer these are very, I mean, these are just dopamine hits, at the end of the day, nothing else, right, these are ephemeral highest that you get. And once you get that, you will want something much bigger. And it took a lot of time for me to realize that the thing that I'm after, are not really important. In life, they are not really consequential to a happy life. And I think it really is. In fact, it's so funny, I have a written note, I've written a note to myself on a piece of paper, saying that don't chase all of these external things. The more time you invest in these words, it's going to be for you just focus on what you have your family, all of that actually comes first, let go of all of these things. And even though I wrote those things, when I was probably 23, or 24, I still couldn't implement those things because you know, thinking about something and implementing it, actually in your life, there's a very big difference. So, to summarize all of this, I would just say that, as anyone in their 20s I was also after a lot of things which are very ephemeral in nature. They are not persistent. And most importantly, they do not contribute to a long term happiness. And I think that is where I invested too much time ended up with a lot of dissatisfaction despite having probably the best life and the best project tree that I could ever have asked. And that time wasted and all chasing all of those things is probably my worst investment ever.

Andrew Stotz 14:39
Yep, I think a lot of us can relate to that. How would you summarize the lessons that you learned from this experience?

Sahil Vaidya 14:47
So if I have to summarize I would say that one. It's very, very important to internalize the fact that it's never enough. Whatever you're choosing a high that you're choosing an external high, it's never going to be enough we can Always tell ourselves that, okay, once I sort of get to this point, let's say, let's say it's your Instagram followers, for example, you might say, let's say I get to 1000 followers after that I'm done. It's a big achievement, I'll never look back. But then once you get there, you're gonna be chasing the next 1000. It could be about money. You might say, Okay, if I save, let's say, $1,000, or $100,000. That's it. I don't want to get greediest. But the moment you get there, you're not going to look back, it could be about relationships. So the biggest lesson was one is never, it's never enough. Number two. And I realized this second thing after COVID started, that's when I started journaling. And I started practicing, you know, gratitude, I started incorporating gratitudes in my journaling. And I started writing the things that I was thankful for every day. And I realized that when you really analyze the various things that you have, which so many others don't, it really puts things into perspective. And you start focusing on what you have, rather than what you don't. But I think that was the second biggest thing. And finally, I read a lot, and I started prioritizing peace and happiness, or external markers of achievement. And the most important thing, the biggest transformation came when I started meditating very seriously. And I practice a form of meditation called Vipassana meditation. It was taught by the Buddha actually, and fortunately, that technique of meditation is pretty good. It's not religious, it's really just a technique. And that technique really transformed and be very, very massively. I think those were the big lessons that I realized, and help anyone to come out of those loops of chasing dopamine.

Andrew Stotz 16:42
Well, it's, that's a lot of lessons that you've definitely learned. And I think everybody's facing that maybe I'll share a couple of things. I'm always reminded of my, my mentor, the guy that I followed, when I started podcasting was John Lee Dumas of entrepreneurs on fire. And he also was on this podcast, Episode 234. But basically, he talks about shiny object syndrome, and the idea of getting constantly the shiny objects come out. And then we just go towards those shiny objects. And then he also talks about focus, follow one course until success, those are two things that I really like learned a lot from him about. But what I also know is, when you're starting a company to, you're chasing revenue, you have to look at different ways of getting revenue in the business. So everything that comes you've got to kind of try. And so it's like the beginning period of a business is the chasing revenue period. And then you end up, you know, eventually consolidating that into okay, what can we really deliver, and what does deliver, which brings me to another point that someone said to me, a long time ago, they said, I realized after paying PR agencies a lot of money to get out there and be famous, and that, that PR doesn't generate revenue. And I thought that was a really powerful insight, because the idea is just going out there and you know, hey, I'm ranked is this and I'm this and, um, that does not mean that the revenue is pouring into the company. Which brings me to my my point that I always say to everybody who has a startup companies, you need to be going over your financial, your financial statements, monthly, get on time and accurate financial statements and stay focused on that revenue. Because that will that refocus on a monthly basis on the revenue and the profits of that business will bring reality to you. And it will stop you from getting lost out there. And getting back to what your employees and your customers need from you, which is to bring the value through the company. And then the last thing I wrote down is attitude of gratitude. I mean, what a blessing I happen to live, my father passed away six years ago, and I bought my mom to live with me here. And so I get to have breakfast, I get to have breakfast or coffee with my mom every day, I get to see her, you know, throughout the day, I get to see her at nighttime, we got six years spent together during the COVID time we were together the whole time. We weren't separated in any way. And I just think, be grateful, be grateful, be grateful every time that any of us feel down, the best thing to do is write down a list of the things that I'm grateful for today. And once you do it, all the other troubles kind of vaporize. So those are some of the things that I would say anything you would add to that.

Sahil Vaidya 19:44
I think that's perfect. I think gratitude is really underrated every morning if you wake up and the first thing you do is recounted the various ways in which you are so fortunate and so lucky. And if that really doesn't do the trick for you You probably just look at the level of misery and suffering in the world. And you will quickly realize that so many of the things that could have gone wrong tend to go wrong. Just by pure luck, you have gotten the best of circumstances that you could have. I think that itself, you know, just two simple thought experiments, just that you back to reality and make you just be thankful for whatever you asked, I think gratitude is a very, very important practice for people to incorporate.

Andrew Stotz 20:26
Yeah. So let's just imagine a young Sahil, who's out there right now. And they're cranking, they're getting their start. They're really excited. They happen to listen to this show. And they realize, Okay, I'm getting these dopamine hits. And what I want to frame this next question, keep that person in mind. So based upon what you learned from this story, and what you continue to learn what one action would you recommend that person take to avoid suffering the same fate.

Sahil Vaidya 20:59
So I think it's very clear to me, I would just tell them to meditate to start meditating, as soon as possible. I myself, at that very point, was procrastinating when it came to meditation and heard about it. People have told me about it, I probably delayed it for a couple of years. And I would not just say meditate, I would say go for that 10 Day Vipassana meditation course, that will really transform your life. Because it did transform my life, three, four years later, when I actually ended up doing it. It's a very hardcore experience. Of course, when you go for those 10 days, you are silent you to practice silent meditation, you're meditating 10 hours a day. It's an experience that people haven't ever had in their lives. And it's sometimes very difficult. But if you really understand what is being told, you will get experiential wisdom, they're not intellectual wisdom. The problem with a lot of philosophy is while it's very helpful, it's all intellectual, right. But if you have to change the source code of your brain, and actually get transformation within your body, within your brain, you need some techniques that cut down to the unconscious and really transform you. And I think that's where meditation, and specifically this form of meditation really helps. So I think that's my number one recommendation. Wow,

Andrew Stotz 22:16
makes me feel like I need to go to the retreats that we have here in Thailand, I know we have a lot of we pass in a meditation retreats here, also in for the listeners, go on the internet, and you'll find them possibly near you. I know they got them in India, I know they've got them in Thailand, but I've seen them in the US also in other places. So check it out

Sahil Vaidya 22:35
90 Plus centers, in I mean, 90 plus countries have a partner meditation center. So they are spread across the entire world. And I'm sure if your listeners are from the US, UK, Australia, there are many centers, my friends have actually recently gone in UK, Canada, US enough and many centers for people to try.

Andrew Stotz 22:55
So there's a challenge of the day. So let me ask you, what is a resource that you'd recommend for our listeners?

Sahil Vaidya 23:02
Sure. So I write my newsletter on substack. So I think that's the best place for people to connect with me read about the ideas that I have. I've also, of course, written about this meditation technique and my experience with it, of course, what I really gained from it, so that that's also available. And I read a lot generally, and try to pass on all the information to all of that available on my newsletters. And alternately, for my humor and all my writing. I also use LinkedIn. So those are the two places where I'm most active.

Andrew Stotz 23:30
Fantastic. And we'll have links then in the show notes so you can go there easily. Last question. What's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Sahil Vaidya 23:40
As I shared in my vision, it's to sort of get up and clearly try to do a lot of inventive work for a client. So people know us as that company, which does very unique, unconventional, inventive work. But that's my core focus on that the next well, probably next 24 months or so.

Andrew Stotz 23:57
Fantastic. Well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. If you haven't yet joined the become a better investor community just go to my worst investment ever.com right now to claim your lifetime discount exclusive for podcast listeners. As we conclude, Sahil, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of a Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Sahil Vaidya 24:27
Thank you so much. It's been a fantastic opportunity to speak here. And I really hope the audience constantly incorporates the learnings they have from this, these sessions and become better versions of themselves. So may all of them be happy.

Andrew Stotz 24:41
Fantastic. Well, that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that. We added one more person so Hill to our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying I'll see See you on the upside


Connect with Sahil Vaidya

Andrew’s books

Andrew’s online programs

Connect with Andrew Stotz:

About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

Leave a Comment