Category Archives: United States

From obsession to mad obsession

The self-imposed news embargo has been good for me in many ways.¬† It’s a nice balance. I still listen to the news during my daily commute – a little NPR is always good for the soul. ūüôā¬† And I read the occasional news article – usually the NY Times.¬† But that’s where it begins and ends.

The news embargo is really all about TV and the endless 24×7 news cycle.¬† Sure, I like a little bit of Rachel Maddow now and a little bit of Anderson Cooper then but all of it has come to a screeching halt for me, by choice.¬† That’s¬† because a little bit of something good does not make up for a whole lot of endless talk on the crappy state of politics today.¬† And whoever wants to hear this ill-equipped President talk??!¬† Pardon me while I hold my nose in disgust.

This is a sampler of some of today’s news that I happily missed out on as it was being regurgitated on TV.¬† Did I say “happily”?¬† I meant it!

Sampler of News I Missed Out On - CNNInstead, I’ve switched my loyalties and am now getting more deeply immersed into streaming web content – of the fictional kind.¬† Turns out, I was really out-of-date and had years worth of catching-up on this content.¬† And it’s been a wonderful ride playing catch up!

What I’ve found so far is that it’s going to be hard to top Mad Men.¬† But then I got to Downton Abbey.¬† [It’s still hard to top bad boy Don Draper…].¬† And waiting in the wings to be watched, what else but The West Wing?¬† What a great substitute for reality that show will be…

Watching such well-produced shows, whenever I want to and for as long as I want to has been amazing and satisfying.¬† But it’s also easy to get addicted.¬† So, I have been forced to impose time limits on myself – no more than an hour a day. A couple of weeks ago, I had to travel across the world and when jet lag hit me in the middle of the night, guess what I resorted to?¬† I broke all my rules and limits.¬† But that was truly the exception.

And then when a really good series ends, one has to pause and celebrate it while also (literally) mourning the end of it.¬† It was much too sad to see Mad Men come to an end with such finality.¬† I felt like I had lost a limb for a couple of days there.¬† ¬†I am about to be at the midpoint of Downton Abbey (six seasons in all) and I am already projecting the loss of having¬†watched it all.¬† It’s a good thing that there’s a movie coming out this Summer to help us lost souls.

All good things must come to an end and the end of each of these series often feels like the end of a fantastic journey.¬† ¬†Sadly,¬† the end also arrives sooner than expected or desired. It’s both compelling and entertaining to watch the drama of these fictional characters play out.¬† It’s certainly easier to bear than the drama created by the non-fictional characters of our time (which often eclipses theirs).¬† That’s what happens when you get a reality show “leader” to run your country…more ridiculous twits and twats.

One day when we have reestablished the norms of decency, civility, dignity and humanity into the highest office of this country (I can dream, can’t I?),¬† I will likely return to watching the daily news and opinions.¬† Until then, I will savor fiction in the form of this persuasive new age of storytelling with the most interesting and intriguing characters I have witnessed in a long time – on demand, as and when I wish it.¬† Can’t beat that.

Streaming Series SamplerHa! Just look at this sampler of glorious stories (and that’s without Game of Thrones). There’s no comparison on what option to spend your precious hour a day on, is there?¬† It’s altogether a different feeling when you see fictional characters develop and act out their parts, good and bad.¬† I’m all for focusing on their compelling stories instead – especially when talking about the bad characters. So much easier to tolerate when you know that it’s all fiction!

In today’s climate and with time being at such a premium,¬† I find that fiction easily trumps reality.


The Richest Indian-American in the U.S. [Updated]

[NOTE: Updated to correct video links]

For the longest time, the recognition for richest Indian-American in the US belonged to Vinod Khosla, the billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Net worth = ~$1.5 billion.

Today, that recognition belongs to someone else. I would wager that he is someone most people have never heard of and no, he’s not a technology mogul, either.

Let’s talk about his product first. It’s pretty interesting.

When my team and I make the excruciatingly long journey to India for our regular business reviews, most people arrive late the night before or early the morning of the meetings. It’s crucially¬†important that all of us are alert and mindfully present, especially on day one. So, some of these guys have taken to carrying a magic potion to make sure this happens. It’s called¬†5-Hour Energy.

The active ingredients in one of these bottles are (according to Wikipedia), in order of listing:

vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, sodium, taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, N-Acetyl L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine, and citicoline

The caffeine content alone is either 200 mg (regular) or 260 mg (extra strength).  The caffeine of the regular size is comparable to that of a Starbucks venti cup of coffee. Potent (but not as tasty).

I am here to tell you that it works like a charm.  And why not? One of those shots before the painful meetings in the midst of jet lag clears your brain, keeping you awake and alert for several hours.


To cut a long story short, the richest Indian-American in the US today is assumed to be Mr.Manoj Bhargava, the Chairman and CEO of the company behind this energy shot. ¬†Like all “overnight success stories”, this one has been in the making for over ten years. Undoubtedly, it’s taken a lot of smarts and hard work, not to mention bumps on the road.

After a roller-coaster journey since founding the company in 2004, [one that including fighting many legal battles on two fronts Рdefending against those who filed suit because of alleged health dangers of the drink, and those that the company proactively filed suit against for competitive and intellectual property infringement issues], this company posts some amazing financials.  

I phrased that wrong. They don’t post anything because they are privately held. ¬†However, all the information and analysis available says that their annual sales exceed $1 billion, their annual revenues are in the $600-700 million range and their profits are an incredible $300 million. ¬†That’s a profit of 50%!

Manoj Bhargava’s net worth is assumed to be in the range of $1.5 to $5 billion and he has acknowledged that he is the richest Indian-American in the US at this time. [I either read that or saw an interview where he states¬†this].

But, that’s really not what is most interesting about Mr. Bhargava. ¬†

In 2013, he signed The Giving Pledge, which is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. His statement when he did this is worth noting. I encourage you to read it below:

Manoj giving pledge


But even that is not what is most interesting about Mr. Bhargava.

What really started my exploration about this man was this 3-minute video that someone had forwarded to me (thank you!). It is a trailer for a documentary called Billions in Change. Watch this short trailer first.

If video doesn’t appear above, you can also click here to view the trailer. ¬†You must!

Can you say RESPECT?

Now, after that wonderfully inspiring teaser, you can watch the entire documentary here; it was only released earlier this month:

If video doesn’t appear above, you can also click here to view the full documentary.

Do go to this website for more information:  Billions In Change.  

Here’s the premise it starts with:

billions in change website

Does that resonate with you? I sure hope it does!

Sure, it’s great to see who the richest Indian-American in the US happens to be, and the story of how he made it to the top¬†in this land of opportunity.

But what is even better – in fact, it’s phenomenal – to see what this billionaire is¬†doing with his wealth to actually, really change the world.



For those who want to know more about this relatively enigmatic billionaire and philanthropist, I recommend the following sources of information:

  1. AIF NY Gala 2015 РSpeech by Honoree Manoj Bhargava, Philanthropist, Founder & CEO, 5-Hour Energy Рa stirring and insightful acceptance speech by Mr. Bhargava

  2. The political kingmaker nobody knows Рnot the most rosy pictures, focusing more on his politics and his enigmatic nature Рby the Center of Public Integrity; a highly, credible source for deep and investigative journalism.
  3. The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy, more dated (Feb 2012) but still interesting.

  4. A billionaire monk’s pledge to charity Рa great interview with the philanthropist



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