Uncluttering the Mind

The cluttered mind is the devil’s workshop.

A re-frame of the old adage that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”

If you have ever felt a lack of focus, purpose, and a sense of disconnection from life, the reason might be that your mind is just too cluttered. This is how we change it.

My experience at de-cluttering

For the first time in months, I slept without a phone next to me. And I woke up without a phone next to me.

In my bed, I visualized and felt my goals coming true. I arose from my bed calm and ready for the day. I got ready, did my morning meditation and prayers, had brunch with my wife. All this without a single screen to look at.

Remarkably, I felt an immediate change in the way I felt.

Let’s contrast with how things usually were for me.

I would go to sleep at night with a phone in my hand. I would use it to read books, so I would tell myself at least I was being productive late into the night. But of course the mind cannot be productive all the time. It just isn’t built for it.

Because of this habit, I would not be able to spend time with my wife as she drifted off to sleep herself. It was an incomplete way to end the day. Not having a phone between us allowed us to sync with each other as we fell asleep.

In the morning, I would also reach for my phone. I would again start the day with spiritual readings, but my mind is never ready for it. There is something about the device that makes me want to search for the next hit of information. I would soon find myself catching up with work emails, messages, and personal direct messages and start responding to them.

“They’re just for work or family” I would say. But at around this time, my mental peace is already disturbed. I’m in a state of chaos already, sucked into a tumultuous world.

This would happen even on weekends.

Not today however.

What Inspired Me

I have felt a lack of focus and a real sense of disconnection with myself as of late. The pace of things had been increasing but I felt I was staying in the same place.

I came at a crossroads where I realized that until I change something inside of me, I will be far away from my ideal life.

I believed my path to the ideal life was a macho push-through-everything way of looking at the world.

The picture of a hyper-connected, hyper-responsive executive, making a million decisions a day is firm in my mind’s eye. This is also extremely destructive.

What I want is calm. I want peace of mind. I want to engage with my work as an instrument of my life; something that I play with to create music because I enjoy it. Not be ruled by it.

The means of doing that is not through being more productive, more systems and processes. Not more left brain. But more heart. More soul. This is a difficult proposition at times since as of the writing of this post, I work in the legal industry where I’m often surrounded by hyper-logical and critical lawyers. But I also see a destructive lack of meaning, connection, and significance when I speak with many lawyers up close. I see broken marriages, addictions. I see brewing volcanoes of stress and burnout that is barely placated with another training on productivity, efficiency, surface-level mentions of self-care.

A hyper-active cluttered mind cannot find peace. There is no productivity hack that will reawaken your heart to work. You will be more productive at making yourself unhappy, drifting further and further away from peace of mind.

The Need for Space

I was inspired by this talk below:

It spoke about a different way of getting focus. But focus is just one benefit of removing the clutter.

The real benefit is getting greater peace of mind. More space.

When there is more space, the heart and your true self (the atman) can be heard.

This morning, I find myself more connected than ever before to myself.

I know weekdays will be difficult since I am going to work and I often have morning calls. I will have to find a way to maintain my peace of mind as I design the future.

This is just day 1. I will report back what I learn from this journey as I go through it over the coming weeks.

Consider removing the phone from your life for just this weekend. At least in between bed-time and the start of your workday. See what happens. If you’ve already done this, what has been your experience with decluttering your mind?

Use the Right Medium to Grow

You might be drawn too much to one medium to miss out on ways to fast-track your growth if you just shift the medium.

I have been looking to learn more about tax fundamentals now that I’ve been living in the US for a few years. However, all my previous attempts at trying to understand it have been in the form of books. I would procrastinate with it and never read it. The numbers, concepts, and ideas were too difficult to digest for me.

Based on my search history, I soon started getting YouTube recommendations as well. However, YouTube optimizes for recommendations and watch times, and I soon started getting recommendations for highly polarizing videos.

I would see videos like “here’s why you’re poor,” or “what to avoid if you don’t want to get audited.” These are shocking videos that makes me less likely to engage with them (although I see why others would be drawn by the click bait titles).

What I needed was a calm way of being explained basic concepts, without the hype. I needed this knowledge to be transmitted visually with examples shown to me as I went through it.

I finally realized that I need to learn this from almost a university like lecture format. So I found a course online and I’m now learning about these concepts in a more constructive manner.

The same goes for other things. For some other business skills, I am finding that I do better looking for live communities where I can engage with others who are also trying to master the same new skills. So I’m looking for that.

For deeper ideas, I still find myself looking at books. For bite-sized digests of ideas, I go to podcasts.

If you’re struggling to acquire a certain skill, or grow on a certain path, it might just be that you’re using the wrong medium to learn it. You are perhaps using the medium you are most familiar with, not the medium that works best for you to learn it.

Find the right medium and accelerate your learning.

Caveat: it is just as important to avoid the wrong medium. Reading a book isn’t always the best idea for example, sometimes a TED talk is enough to grasp the big ideas. At the same time, a talk is not always the right idea and you can understand it better if you just read the book or original paper behind it.

Lessons from Running a Legal Conference

People believe that the more expensive, exclusive and complicated something appears, the better it is. This is certainly the case for legal conferences.

We chose to do the opposite. Here’s a list of what worked and what didn’t work that well. Please learn from them to make your event not suck.

I want to pull back the curtain on how we got 1000+ people joining from 20+ countries at our Authentic Lawyer Summit earlier on this month.

We focused on simplifying everything as much as possible.


1. MUSIC! 🎵 Most events are dry, dull, and lifeless. Too serious for their own good. We sparked every session, break, and outros with music (good music!). People literally wanted to get our playlist.

2. NO BARRIERS! 🚧 We got rid of complicated conferencing software. It saved us thousands of dollars, and allowed hundreds to join us live instead when we broadcast on YouTube instead.

3. NO PANELS! 👯 These are always so boring and people tend to arrive at a consensus. We chose people with spiky points of view to lead the stage.


1. SHORT TALKS. ⏲ We thought the more focused and shorter the talk, the better it is. But some ideas, speakers, and more were so engaging that we wish we could’ve given them more time.

2. POWERPOINTS: 📈 The minute you start screen-sharing, the more people start tuning out. We were lucky that we didn’t have much of this, but we definitely saw a dip in engagement.

3. LOW-KEY PROMOTION: 📢 We managed to get 1000+ attendees across the 3 days, but we wish we’d done a better job of reaching out to more leaders who can change the industry to attend the event.

What would you like to learn about our event? I will continue sharing more insights about running this event, running our legal firm, and insights from coaching lawyers and accountants. Drop your biggest question/comment below and I’ll be sure to address it.

Client Buying Experiences

It’s not about how long you’ve been a practicing attorney.

It’s not about how big or small your law firm is.

It’s not about how impressive your network is.

You can get outsized clients if you know how to construct the buying experience.

The research backs me up:

“The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that 53% of customer loyalty is attributed to the customer’s buying experience, according to a survey of over 5,000 people at members’ customer organizations. Compare this to company and brand impact (19%)…and value-to-price ratio (9%).”

Have you ever constructed a Client Buying Experience (CBE)?

I’ve identified 9 different variables you can use to construct your own CBE in 5 minutes or less.

I’ve created a short email course to get into this topic.

5 Ideas. Shared over 5 Days. Actionable in 5 Minutes.

Success! You're on the list.

Copies of Copies

“What’s your plan to provide value to your prospective clients?” I asked the lawyers.

“We will publish thought leadership and post it on LinkedIn and our site,” they replied back.

“Does anyone read it? Have you gotten any business from it?” I asked back.

“Uhh…we aren’t really sure.”

Without optimizing any content, without any measurement, without any calls to actions, law firms are all following the same “playbook” of publishing content that no one reads or engages with.

It’s the blind leading the blind.

This is a way of deluding yourselves into thinking you’re doing big things with little to no payoff.

No, this is not about asking for likes on an article. But you do need a strategy.

Even if you rise conversions from 1% to 2%, you’ve just DOUBLED your revenues or client base. Are you measuring this? Do you have a plan?

In the interest of walking the talk, I’ll make an offer: If you’d like to talk about how to have a coherent game plan for business development, keep reading these posts. Over the next month, I’d like to pull back the curtain on how to do this all right and identify the biggest mistakes that lawyers make right now.

If you’d like to short circuit that and move faster, check out my services here.

Setting Yourself Apart

“I don’t know why a client would choose me vs any other lawyer or law firms out there.”

This is a common thing I hear when working with lawyers. Despite all the posturing, most lawyers I’ve spoken with are deeply unsure about their place in front of the client.

To combat this, most of them were putting in even more effort. Attending more virtual events. Writing more pieces. Grinding even more to become more technically proficient. And of course burning out in the process.

This is so unfortunate.

The fact is simple: you don’t need to do MORE.

Your success in front of the client has everything to do with being able to deeply understand your client and solve their needs then and there. You don’t need to be a superhero lawyer for this.

You just need to be more human.

Thankfully, this skill is learnable. It is the first thing we go over when I work with lawyers.

Sadly, lawyers are often taught to suppress this. They aren’t taught how to do this while being professional.

The other antidote is to find your unique selling proposition or USP. This is one of the first things we do when we start working together. If you’re curious about this, check it out here.

The Dharma of a Leader

The bedside clock flashed 5:12 am. My phone was ringing and I instinctively answered it.

“I need to talk. Nothing is working out. Can we talk?”

Half in a daze, I was trying to figure out what was happening. It was a friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in 6 months.

“My entire business is falling apart. My life is falling apart. I don’t know how to do this anymore. I don’t know how to make this all work.”

We had left school almost a decade ago, and had sporadically exchanged messages on birthdays and holidays. He had gone on to become a successful entrepreneur, leading one of the fastest growing online fashion companies in North America.

He started speaking. At first hesitatingly, testing the waters to see how I reacted, but then in big bursts of vulnerability.

He spoke about his struggles and challenges, the pressures he faces as a leader, and the burden of expectations from his customers, his employees. Not to mention the self-imposed pressure from his family.

“I just had a second kid last month. A girl this time. Did I tell you that?,” he asked.

We spoke for the next hour, trying to abate the mental breakdown he was having. He spoke about his hopes and dreams when he graduated with me. He spoke about all he had accomplished. And through it all, he spoke about the hollowness that came from getting everything he wanted.

His business was struck deep from the CoVID-19 crisis and the economic downturn.

“What I don’t understand is why I feel so empty. What’s going on right now has just increased the weight of hollowness in my heart. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

As the sun started to rise outside my window, I couldn’t help but reflect on the universality of this feeling. Of the challenges that come during critical times when the mind cannot find solutions and the heart’s voice becomes louder. The bumps are felt more sharply in critical times, as the pressure to act is ever greater.

This had been the silent voice in my heart as well, and the voice of many other entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs I work with.

As my friend finished his story and waited for me to respond, I found my mind wandering to the lessons I had learned from observing the friendship between two unlikely people, and a silent practice of my life.

The President and the Monk

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the man that turned India into a nuclear power. He was a nuclear physicist, the chief scientist of the country, inventor of stents, and a writer of books. He was the chief scientist of the country. He represented the pinnacle of critical and scientific thinking.

He was tasked with the work of finding how to advance India into the 21st century. He scoured far and wide to find answers to this question.

He created a vision that was focused on 6 areas. Food production, healthcare, education, technology, infrastructure, and security. He would consult with politicians and business leaders, scientists and thought leaders on these topics. This vision became his rallying cry. It was this vision that turned him into the most popular President of the country with unanimous support across party lines, and won the admiration and respect of a billion people.

He had heard about Pramukh Swami, a humble monk who had traveled the world with no possessions, without a penny to his name. He had heard about his love and compassion and how it had brought clarity and focus to the hearts of thousands across all walks of life. Dr. Kalam wanted to meet this monk.

A Muslim scientist meeting a Hindu monk. This was never meant to be more than a formal meeting of two leaders to exchange pleasantries.

Dr. Kalam presented his vision to Pramukh Swami who listened quietly with a smile on his face. At its end, the monk decided to suggest something.

“In addition to these areas you have spoken about, add one more: Faith. Nothing will happen without faith. It is faith that will bring people together. It is faith that will change the vision of people. It is faith that will unite.”

As Pramukh Swami kept talking, something started to shift inside Dr. Kalam. He had found the missing factor in all his critically thought out plans. It was the hidden dimension that he had not considered.


Dr. Kalam found an awakening in his spiritual consciousness by that meeting. Over the next 14 years, he had 8 more meetings with Pramukh Swami. The final book of his life was titled “Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji.”

This is altogether remarkable since Dr. Kalam was a Muslim, who learned his most profound lesson from a Hindu monk.

In it, he wrote “[Pramukh Swami] has indeed transformed me. He has removed I-ness and My-ness from my life. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life… Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God-synchronous orbit. No maneuvers are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity.”

This is the lesson we must embrace again.

Spiritual Leadership

The concept of spirituality feels taboo. This is meant to be a deeply personal and intimate area of life, not meant to be discussed openly and in public, let alone in the cold sterile corporate environments we often find ourselves in. After all, no one wishes to impose their views on another.

But this viewpoint stems from a lens where for one perspective to be true, another one has to be false. The lens through which Pramukh Swami was operating, and the lens through which much of the Dharma traditions of the East operate claim that there are multiple answers on the path of spirituality. No one path becomes wrong for another to be right.

From this perspective, the personal becomes universal. It becomes a means of exploring, understanding, and learning from others to broaden one’s own repertoire.

Peter Drucker felt similarly. He writes in Landmarks of Tomorrow, his lesser cited work: “Society needs a return to spiritual values–not to offset the material but to make it fully productive…Mankind needs the return to spiritual values, for it needs compassion.”

A broader spiritual consciousness lies at the very heart of widening the vision of a leader. A spiritual consciousness is what elevates the ability of a leader to lead in critical times. It is not critical thinking, the ability to think like an algorithm that defines critical times.

A true spiritual lens is also meant to be practical, not reserved for yogis and theologians. Limitations of Knowledge & Power It is tempting to think that the work of a leader during critical times is to gather more knowledge and power so that one may lead more effectively.

In response, Drucker writes in Landmarks of Tomorrow that “knowledge and power have been problems of man since the Garden of Eden. Now they are in the center of his existence. The solution to them which the new age finds will, in the last analysis, determine its character and meaning. If it fails to solve them, it will not only be a dark age…it may well be the last age of man — and conquest of space will not alter this. If however the new age succeeds in solving these problems, it could become one of the greatest eras of man.”

More knowledge, information or power will not help one lead better. To lead through critical times, we must think outside of ourselves, outside of the prejudices and snap judgements that the human mind is prone to. To not let ourselves be influenced by cold hard numbers that give the illusion of certainty.

Therefore, good judgement and the courage to act stems from the ability to get out of one’s ever-changing mind. After all, how can one make a tough decision when we are influenced by the problems of the world, by our own stories, prejudices, and priorities?

The Dharmic idea of spirituality offers a way to help us step outside of ourselves.

The Lessons of Spirituality

The dharmic lens teaches us that the greatest illusion and delusion we harbour is the belief that we are this body and this mind. We believe the story of us as definite. We cannot imagine a world that exists after we have passed on. We insert ourselves and our legacy into everything. But it is your true self that allows the body and mind to exist, to perceive, to experience, to be conscious. This consciousness is the real you. Not the body and the mind that you inhabit. This consciousness or awareness is the experiencer of everything that you consider to be “your” life. Thus, “you” are completely distinct from it all. This is not an intellectual exercise, but a plane of existing and seeing if one pauses and tries.

The dharmic lens asks: Who are you?

Consider this. Look at a picture of yourself as a baby. You were that person, yet somehow, that person you see is a different person than what you are now. It seems like a completely different person altogether. All those memories, all those moments—were you any of those?

In other words, at what point did you become you? Was the child, the newborn photo not you as well? Yet, that baby can seem like a different person completely to what you feel like today. Similarly, if that person—the boy or girl, seems like a distant person, perhaps a different person altogether, then it is equally possible that the person whom you believe to be you right now is not you either.

On closer introspection, we realize that the mind’s conception of “you” is flawed. It takes an amalgamation of your memories and makes it your identity. This identity always keeps changing. The mind’s conception of you is also ever changing.

When we keep asking ourselves this simple question “who am I?” we are forced to realize that all the problems, successes and failures, the weight and pressure that we feel as leaders are not really ours after all. They belong to the body and the mind.

Like the bulb that gives light to a room, it is the consciousness of our true self that gives light to the body and mind, which allows us to think, which allows us to feel. It challenges the adage “I think therefore I am.” It tells us instead to realize “I am, therefore I think.”

When we live and lead from this perspective, we are able to see the critical challenges we face more dispassionately. It removes the burden of leadership and gives us courage to act with our conviction. It removes our ego and lets us lead with freedom.

In Action

In January 2001, a 7.7 ML earthquake had devastated Western India. More than 20,000 people died, and more than 160,000 people were injured. Everyone was completely unprepared for this. Pramukh Swami, the humble monk who had advised Dr. Kalam, was one of the first on site in the areas which were most affected.

He inspired other monks who would otherwise spend their time in a monastery to serve others. Spirituality after all is meant to help us live in the world, not retreat from it.

Many months later, President Bill Clinton was visiting India and had decided to visit the affected sites. His work led him to be introduced to the work of Pramukh Swami. A brief 5 minute meeting was scheduled between the two leaders.

But 5 minutes became 15, 20, 30, 40 minutes. Their dialogue happened through the intermediary of an imperfect translator, and yet President Clinton felt a sense of ease and peace in the presence of Pramukh Swami.

He later remarked: “When I look into his eyes, they are filled with integrity. I saw in his eyes that he is a man who has not come ahead by eclipsing others. He has come forward by always placing others before him.”

A simple monk like Pramukh Swamiji had just received the validation, recognition, and attention of a world leader with considerable power and ability.

Far from being elated however, Pramukh Swamiji immediately spotted two brothers in a distance who had arrived from a nearby village. As soon as the President left, he went to the two brothers and started talking with them asking them about their families, their safety, their accomodations on the volunteer grounds. He arranged for their meals, and consoled them through their crises.

This is the essence of the spiritual leader. Someone who can completely step outside of themselves, and not be bound by praise, personal biases, or the weight of an ego.

Perhaps it is this state of realization that helped so many people, including President Clinton, and Dr. Kalam experience such profound love and peace from him.

Perhaps it was this spiritual leadership that inspired Dr. Kalam to remove the “I-ness and My-ness in life…where nothing else remains to be done.”

The Effective Human

As I shared my experiences, insights, and anecdotes with my friend, I heard him confused at first. But this state of being outside of himself sounded so appealing to him, that he committed himself to a process of self-inquiry to help him touch this experience more tangibly. He committed to asking himself two questions:

• Who am I?
• And if I am not that, then who am I?

The first question engages the mind to give an answer, while the second question gets one to go continuously deeper. He committed to repeatedly ask himself these two questions in a regular meditation practice.

The last time I spoke with my friend, he had scaled down his operations to tide through the shifting landscapes. He had to let go of some staff, but he paid them well above what was required of him. He is happier now too, less stressed about running his business.

I too find myself asking these two questions above. As I deal with unemployment, economic turmoil, and the barrage of anxiety producing news, when panic and anxiety overwhelm me, I try to find a center of existence through these two questions.

Who am I? And if I am not even that, then who am I?

More than anything else, finding and identifying with this unchanging core as the real me has been the most effective way I have found of leading and managing myself.

Now more than ever, we must find a way to incorporate this spiritual lesson if we are to lead effectively through these critical times.

This type of dharmic spirituality, the lessons that Pramukh Swami transmitted and helped Dr. Kalam experience, is not just the need of an effective executive, but of an effective human.


Abdul Kalam, A. P. J., and Arun Tiwari. Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India: Harper Element, 2015.

Aksharvatsaldas, and Trivedi Yogi. Eternal Virtues: Spiritual Attributes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 2. ed. Ahmedabad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith, 2011.

Drucker, Peter F. Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New “Post-Modern” World. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers, 1996.

Drucker, Peter F. Managing Oneself. Harvard Business Review Classics. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press, 2008.

Drucker, Peter F. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. New York, NY: Harper Business, 1967.