Tarush Aggarwal is the Founder and CEO of 5x, the modern data stack as a managed service that enables companies to answer business questions, without having to worry about building data infrastructure or bringing in the right data engineering team. Companies using 5x are able to implement end-to-end data strategies in weeks, instead of years at a fraction of the cost of getting started from scratch.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Bombay, India. I look back at my childhood with extremely fond memories and a loving family. I grew up in an extremely sheltered environment. High school was a beautiful experience. We had a house system like Harry Potter which created a competitive fun environment with real friends and a desire to push past my boundaries. Would love the same environment for when I have kids but I’m not sure it exists anymore.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
The truth is I wouldn’t change a thing because everything I did got me to where I am today. But I wish I learned earlier that being the man is different from being a man. I spent too long in college and in my early professional life on chasing pursuits which got me no joy to prove something to people I didn’t really care about. I wish I learned that you don’t need to be extroverted or social to be respected and that true happiness is simple and comes from within.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I have the utmost respect for Elon Musk but I don’t agree with his view on working so hard to the point of exhaustion. He said something on those who work 80 hours/week get double done that those who work 40 hours/week. My heroes are the ones who can do what they love for 20-30 years and that comes with balance. I don’t think it’s sustainable to work that hard for many years – not for me at least. I’m here to play the long game and have fun at the same time.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I found some level of professional success quite early in life. However, I was going out 5 nights a week overindulging in alcohol and every day looked and felt the same. I had a feeling deep down inside that I needed to make some big changes but I would ignore it and try and push it away. It kept coming back no matter what I did and after spending over a decade in America I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore. I jumped on an opportunity to move to China out of all places. Just as I was getting my green card I decided to leave all of my friends and a big part of my adult life and move to a country I had never been to. Best decision I made in my life. I would probably be dead by now.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I think I’ve always been a curious person and am attracted to opportunities where there is no existing playbook and I have the option of being creative and getting into mini flow states. I graduated from college and got a job as a software engineer at Salesforce.com. I knew quite quickly that I wasn’t very interested in it because the playbook was already written and mastering something that was already established wasn’t very exciting. Data was new at the time and I was able to start early and maybe even help write part of the modern data playbook. It was more than just an opportunity – I was excited about finding new and novel ways of solving problems and had to get creative. I realized that I did something similar with many other parts of my life – living in different cities, being very open to new people and new opportunities. I think being curious and open leads to experiencing diversity which naturally brings out creativity and stimulates flow.
What is your morning routine?
I live a nomadic life so I’m in changing my routine depending on where I am. However, I usually wake up between 5 am – 6.30 am. For the last 2 years, I have been getting more and more into meditation thanks to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work. I usually meditate for 45 minutes on average in the morning. I intermittent fast so don’t eat anything in the morning. I do check my phone in the morning though which is something a bad habit. I then start my day around 8.30-9. I’ve played around with taking weekends off completely or just having more of a balance and taking time off when I want. I’m currently taking weekends off and it feels great!
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I think I’ve gone through a few already but waking up early has been a game-changer. In general, a big focus is on overall wellness – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual as well as finding purpose in life. These have helped me transform from a stressed-out New Yorker who used to go out 5 nights a week to a more balanced happier person finding happiness in the small things. Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work of late has had the largest impact in my life and although I’m just scratching the surface I’m eager to dive in deeper.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I think finding purpose is a huge factor in being able to be productive. Enjoying and feeling connected to what you do automatically makes it easier to be productive. Having said that I’m quite organized with my time. I have an assistant who manages my time through Google Calendar and that helps me as I move through multiple time zones and changing priorities. I also use Todoist to catalog what needs to get done and the priority. This means I don’t need to remember what I have to do and can enjoy the moment. Most things are quite indexed in Evernote or Google Drive so it’s easy to find what I’m looking for. Lastly, I’m learning to stop procrastinating and jump into whatever I need to get done – I’ve procrastinated for way too long and still fall into it sometimes but it’s just not worth it 🙂
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma was the first book that had a real influence on my life. It taught me about the blueprint top performers use to get ahead in life and motivated me to start my days early in the morning which is a habit I continue to this date.
Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler taught me about Flow states and sparked my curiosity around peak performance
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg is another masterpiece. It help me realize that I needed to forget everything I knew about communication and relearn. Grateful for this work and its added so much value to my day-to-day life.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
A dear brother of mine, Ryan who was part of a men’s circle I was in, talks about how you can’t lose something that is meant for you. I’m not sure where it came from but it’s been a beautiful reminder that there is no need to try so hard and what’s meant for you will find you. (I’m not saying stop working for what you want, I use it more in the context of working hard for what you want but detaching yourself from the outcome)