Sunday, June 22, 2014

'Chef' - the movie, the menu for life

I saw the movie ‘Chef’ yesterday – and loved it. It happened without any planning – I was in the Fort area on a Saturday afternoon and thought of checking out Sterling. One of my oldtime favourite haunts. ‘Chef’ was playing an hour later (and the first search result on google gave the film 7.9/10). To bas, ticket le liya, aur movie dekh li.

‘Chef’ is a sweet little film about Chef Carl Casper, a guy who gets savaged by a food blogger and ends up having a spat with him. It starts with a public message on twitter and escalates into a mess where Chef Carl loses his job, his temper and his reputation.

The film is about how he ‘gets his groove back’ – as a chef, as a father, as a human being who is actually happy with himself. And it’s also a tribute to the power of the internet. The viral video where Chef Carl raves and rants at the food blogger destroys his career. But when he drives a food truck selling ‘Cubanos’ (Cuban sandwiches) from Miami to Los Angeles, the internet is his ally.

At each stop along the way, crowds gather like magic – thanks to tweets and 6 second videos posted on Vine by Carl’s ‘marketing manager’ – his 10 year old son Percy. On the other hand, the two weeks Percy spends with his dad teach him the value of hard work, of making customers happy, of putting your heart and soul into your work.

Coz you need old world thinking and new world thinking to do something really outstanding in life.

Another thought that came to mind was that sometimes the lowest point in your life – personally or professionally – is actually your biggest opportunity. A blessing in disguise. If Chef Carl had not quit his job in a huff, he would never had gone to Miami, never done something crazy like Cubanos, never spent time with his son. When you reach that lowest of low points you have nothing more to lose. The only way you can go is ‘up’!

The movie also brought out the tension between the capitalist and the creative soul. The owner of the restaurant was only paying lip service when he told Chef Carl ‘this is your kitchen’. What he meant was this is your kitchen to work in – the way I want you to. Because hey – I own the premises, I bought the equipment, I pay the salaries. But hey – you don’t own my soul.

The creative mind wants to spend its time creating something beautiful. Whether it is with words, with notes, with film or with food. He doesn’t want the hassle of paying the bills – for that he capitalist support. This can be a partnership which creates lasting excellence - if the guy with the money and the guy with the ideas find a formula to work together – and stick by it.

On the other hand we will see more and more creative people becoming entrepreneurs because – it’s much easier today. The internet has made it possible for a small, creative business to set up shop, to get customers, to build a reputation and even attract investors. So if you’re a creative soul who feels hollowed and sucked out by your capitalist employer – go watch this film.

You may finally gather the courage to throw down your ‘apron’ and walk into the Great Unknown.

Feeling light and free and happy because you have the power to create a Whole New Life.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

B for Buffett, B for Bansal


Sharing a light-hearted piece I recently wrote for Outlook Magazine on the editor's request. The context is the merger of Flipkart & Myntra (both owned by Bansals).

B for Buffett, B for Bansal
by Rashmi Bansal

The recent merger of Messrs Bansal & Bansal (of Flipkart) with Mr Bansal (of Myntra) has created a Bansal Business of Brobdingnagian proportions. Add to that the Bansal who founded Snapdeal and the Bansal behind Lenskart and apparently 85 per cent of India’s e-commerce market is now with the Bansal Brigade.

Naturally, this begs the question, ‘Inki mummy ne doodh mein Bournvita milaya tha ya koi secret potion?’ Did they simply fall into a cauldron of extra-potent arhar dal which gave them superpowers beyond ordinary oily-haired businessmen? We shall wait for researchers from Sweden to produce a highly unreadable scientific report on this subject of vast and urgent national interest.

Meanwhile, the editor of Outlook has requested me to write this article off the top of my head, based on nothing but sweeping generalisations. Such a piece can be safely written only by a person bearing the ‘Bansal’ surname. Hence I take up the gauntlet on behalf of all my bania brethren and sistren.

First of all, let me say, this is a defining moment for all Bansals. The Guj­aratis have the Ambanis, the Marwaris have the Birlas and the Parsis the Tatas. This is our moment to stand in the sun without affecting our wheatish complexions.

You will not find a Bansal filmstar (Khan territory). You will not find a Bansal army chief (Singh territory). You will not find a Bansal chaiwallah (Modi territory). You will however find dozens of Bansal Sweets, Bansal Transporters, Bansal Jewellers and Bansal General Stores. We Bansals are the traders and shopkeepers of this nation.

While Bansal is the surname of the season, let me clarify they are one branch of a larger bania community known as ‘Agrawals’. The legend goes that Maharaja Agrasen had 17 sons and one daughter, whose descendants are known as Agrawals. There are 17-and-a-half Agrawal surnames (or got­ras)—including Garg, Goyal, Mittal, Singhal, Kansal and, of course, Bansal.

This information is largely irrelevant to the general public but of great interest to Agrawals themselves. When a Mittal aunty meets a Singhal one, both brains work at the speed of light to solve the Sudoku puzzle “Hamare ladke ke liye aapke dhyan mein koi acchha rishta hai kya?” You see, by tradition, you do not marry within your gotra (a Bansal does not marry a Bansal). However, these days pandits can be ‘persuaded’ to bless even such unions.

The Agrawals are a fluid community spread all over north India (and now, all over the world). In every state, they tend to adopt the local language and customs. So while one Bansal may be strictly sober and vegetarian (in the state of Rajasthan), a Bansal from Punjab will most certainly enjoy his Patiala peg with a piece of tandoori chicken.

Matrimonial advertisements from the Agrawal community are highly ambitious. Every boy (himself no Shahrukh) is seeking a Priyanka Chopra. The girls are more practical and settle for the guy with a modern mummyji and good bank balance.

Bania boys fall under two categories: family business and nerds. The first is self-explanatory, the second are sons of banias who believed there is no future in business. The dads joined “service” and encouraged their kids to do so too.

While the older generation went for banks, the younger one went for investment banks. The route to the corner office in BKC was through the Indian Institutes of Technology and Management. Ironically, the very first coaching classes for IIT ent­ra­nce were started way back in 1962 by G.D. Agrawal. For decades, Agra­wal Classes or ‘Agrus’ was the gold stand­ard in the ragda-patti of young minds by intense mathematical calculation.

It was only in the late ’90s and 2000s that the baton was passed from Dadar TT to little-known Kota. Where a certain Mr Bansal seemed to have set up a factory producing IIT-JEE toppers. Please note—four of the five e-commerce Bansals are IIT grads. The recipe for success is like masala oats—Kuch purani soch aur kuch nayi soch. The wheel has come full circle.

The nerds are returning to their roots. They have that killer instinct coupled with technical skill, professional thinking and international exposure. From a modest shop in Patparganj, these banias have simply graduated to the big league.

But remember, banias always operate with their eye firmly on the bottomline—paisa ban raha hai ki nahin. The new-age bania must build a brand and sell at a loss but paisa to aa raha hai. The bakras known as venture capitalists are happily pou­ring it in. Cause they believe it’s B+ (Business Positive) blood in those buoyant Bansal veins. Om Namah Internet!

(Rashmi (also a Bansal) is the author of six best-selling books on entrepreneurship. A future book on Bansal success stories may follow.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Do you have a Bloody Good Book in you?

An invitation to first time authors

Many of you write to me, asking for advice on how to get published. Often you say, “I have a manuscript but I don’t know who to send it to.” Or, “I have sent my manuscript to 5 publishers but there is no response.”

At these times, I remember how lucky I have been to get a break in this industry. And I truly and deeply feel that I must help budding authors out there do the same.

But how? I have thought about it for a long time and have finally decided that the only way to do it is to create a new platform. A platform whose purpose is to select, publish and promote the most promising new authors.

The author whose work makes you exclaim: “It’s a ‘bloody good book!”

‘Bloody Good Book’ (BGB) is a new concept in publishing. Traditional publishers employ a small group of high-minded editors, who sit at a desk or in a conference room and decide which book makes the cut. This method may be traditional, but more often than not it doesn’t work well.

For instance, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was famously rejected by 12 publishers, and the 13th only picked it up because his 8-year-old daughter insisted, “Dad, this is so much better than anything else!”

And that’s the chance we are giving all of you. A chance to read manuscripts with a fresh and enthusiastic eye, and spot real talent.

Here’s how it will work:

1. Authors upload their manuscripts on www.bloodygoodbook.com (exclusively, for a period of 6 months).
2. The first 3 chapters of these manuscripts will be displayed on the site for readers to rate and comment on.
3. We will review the top 10 books of the month and aim to select 1 book every month to publish in the electronic format.
4. BGB will undertake the editing, proof-reading, cover design and all other such aspects of the selected book in order to give it the ‘professional’ touch.
5. BGB will also represent these books on the author’s behalf to print publishers.

Advantages to the author:
1. BGB will publish a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 books in a year. If your book is selected, it means it’s ‘bloody good’.
2. Your manuscript will attract a better deal from a print publisher if it can demonstrate popularity with potential readers.
3. Print publishers do not understand the eBook world. EBooks is BGB’s whole and sole focus; we will move heaven and earth to excel in it.
4. Even if your manuscript is not in the top 10, or selected for publication, you will receive honest and valuable feedback on how to improve your work.
5. ‘Bloody Good Book’ is an idea by an author, for the benefit of authors. We will never shortchange you; the author’s best interest will always come first.

Advantages to readers:
1. You get a say in what gets published—it’s more democratic and fair.
2. You could be the one who spots the Next Big Talent.
3. There will frequently be some goodies like author-signed books and chats with well-known authors for you.
4. You will be part of a like-minded community, which loves books and spreads the reading bug.
3. At the end of it all, you just might get inspired to start writing a book of your own!
So what do you have to do? Send me your manuscript. I am looking for the first 100 manuscripts which will launch www.bloodygoodbook.com.

The manuscript must be in doc or pdf form and be a complete manuscript (although we will display only the first 3 chapters).
My team and I will lightly screen the manuscripts (making sure they are original, for instance) and suggest some minor improvements, if necessary.

Email your manuscripts/ comments / suggestions to bloodygoodbook@gmail.com
The website will launch in February 2014.

From next week, I will be sharing advice on writing, publishing and promoting your book in this space. So keep coming back! And keep the faith in your writing project.

Our FB page: www.facebook.com/bloodygoodbook

Our blog: http://bloodygoodbook.tumblr.com/

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Shudh Desi Filmmaking - 3.5 stars


Last night I went to watch ‘Shudh Desi Romance’ for only one reason: writer Jaideep Sahni.

And I wasn’t disappointed. This is not your average Bollywood film.

‘Shudh Desi Romance’ (SDR) is fresh and different and not just at a superficial level. It’s a portrayal of a new India where young people change boyfriends and girlfriends the way they change their mobile phones.

Look around and you can see this India all around you. Yet, our movies and serials continue to portray the India we want to perpetuate. The India of chachis, fufis, shaadis and baaraatis. As if you can be carefree and crazy for just the pre-marital phase of life and then happily ‘settle down’.

Yeh poore India ko bas ‘settlement’ ki padi hai”, grumble Sushant Singh Rajput in the opening sequence of the film. You betcha.

Marriage is an industry, it’s a business opportunity, it’s the only legitimate entertainment India has. Khao, peeo, naacho, paise udaao – something to plan for, something to live for. And yeah, one hapless boy and girl get Fevicol-ed in public. Courts will ensure haishaa kar ke bhi todna mushkil hai.

Leave aside the few who marry out of deep desire to spend their lives with another human being and raise a family. The majority are entering marriage without thought, without clarity. Ladki achchi dikhti hai, chalo kar lo. Ladke ki family achchi hai, okay! Baad mein kya hoga? Adjust ho jayenge.

After all, har ek adjust ho jaata hai. How difficult can it be?

Believe me, it’s getting more and more difficult. I know of two cases in my extended family where the marriage has crumbled after less than two years. An arranged marriage, with all taam-jhaam, no expense spared. The reason, I believe, is simple. Girls are getting educated, they are working, they aren’t willing to take shit from their in-laws and husbands. And of course, threshold of tolerance on both sides is extremely low.

Coming back to SDR. Imagine a film where the characters keep attending weddings but no one actually gets married. There is a love triangle but no hero fighting to win the girl’s hand (instead there are two girls and one hero, and they don’t fight either). Women actually make choices.

Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) lives alone, far from her family. She is a working girl who experiments with love and life.

Tara (Vaani Kapoor) is an orphan but not a bechari. She is also cool as a cucumber in any situation (which is unreal at times but okay – maybe effect of Art of Living or something!)

Raghuram (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a good-for-nothing. Yet he has not one but two hot girls chasing him. I think this is the point that most people in the audience could not digest.

But hello, there are guys like this – girls fall for them all the time, especially in school. Later in life, I suppose such boys are rejected as they are not ‘marriage material’. But once girls are independent, earning, capable of supporting themselves – do they need to marry only for practical reasons?

You can get attracted to a good for nothing, have a fling and move on. Or, even marry him – if you really want to. Because after all, it’s your life.

You will not 'settle' and lead the life Ekta Kapoor has planned for you.

Things that worked in this film: the acting of both girls & Rishi Kapoor, the dialogues (listen carefully), the setting (Jaipur city works very well for the story!). Lot of attention to detail. Toilet joke without toilet humour.

What could have been better: The songs (just okay). A bit too idealistic (all 3 characters have no pressure from parents or relatives – makes it much too simple). Chemistry between the characters (could have been better).

The first half is fast-paced and interesting, the second half drags. But I absolutely agree with the ending. Overall, I give the film 3.5 stars.

I think this movie is too radical for some to accept. But I hope enough people see it so that more such films get made. Or, we will get ‘Kochi Express’, ‘London Express’ – old stories in shiny new wrappers. Is that what we want or is that what we deserve?

I know we aren’t easy to please but Shudh Desi Filmmakers, please lagey raho.









Thursday, September 05, 2013

Celebrating the Teacher-Entrepreneur

In response to my post The Teacher's New Clothes several readers wrote in to share how extraordinary teachers impacted their lives. Today being Teacher's Day it's appropriate for me to share their recollections of those who worked within the many limitations of our education system, yet somehow rose about it.

I have retained the original testimony, although in some cases lengthy. Because it gives a glimpse into the qualities that a good teacher can imbibe, in order to become 'great'.

1. Akash Arora writes about Dr. Rajesh Kumar (Principal of - District Institute of Education & Training - Pitampura DIET during session 2009-11)

Khasiyat- His personality and way of speaking is so unique and effective – his words really affected my mind. One thing which I really liked about him is that he always connects education with spirituality.

I remember a few lines he said to us: “Whatever knowledge you will inculcate in your students - God will give you reward for that. Spiritually this thing is called Karma which comes back to us. On the other hand, if we don't teach them effectively and they (students) adopt any bad habits or attitude then surely you will earn negative karma for that.”

Dr Kumar is now teaching at DIET Daryaganj, Delhi and can be contacted at http://www.facebook.com/dietdelhi

2. Devang Nanavati writes about Dr. Jagdish V Dave, , Former Head and Professor, Dept. of English, Bhavnagar University & North Gujarat University, Gujarat (1994-1996
)

Khasiyat: In-depth knowledge of the subject, always prepared to solve queries with detailed explanation. Always positive about receiving questions. Total involvement while teaching and full of enthusiasm.

Always insistent about original text-based learning,class notes and healthy discussion on various topics chosen from the syllabus.

Enjoyed total freedom from the time frames of the formal time-table system. Sometimes talked for 2 hrs, sometimes 3 hrs- depending upon his mood and that days' tuning with the class. Offering inspirational content knowingly/unknowingly by sharing personal experiences some times.

Honesty about his own short comings.

Also interacted with students outside the classroom - may drop in at my home and accept my invitation for dinner very easily. He would communicate with my family members with a deep concern for my future. encourage me in presence of my parents. I used to drop in at his place practically at any time and he would receive us with fatherly love and offer us self made tea.

Never talked with anyone around him in a superior tone. never insulted a student for any damn reason.

Fought for justice against any top authorities of the university /other bureaucratic set ups.

Note: Since 2000, our education system has adopted many changes- so far as teaching methods, content, class room situations, responsibilities/ expectations/ stress level of the teachers and students/exam and evaluation systems/ criteria of the assessment of teachers- are concerned. In this context, producing such a teacher is also a challenge for the new system. Yet, how to come out of any situation and become an ideal teacher remains a personal challenge for any individual.

3) Dilip Barad also writes about Prof. Jagdishchandra V. Dave.

“I recall Dr Dave’s spirited talks, full of enthusiasm which did not allow us to budge (physically as well as mentally) from our seats for hours and hours. His wide reading, understanding, knowledge . His gentleness as human beings made us humble & caring for fellow classmates and students .

Dr Dave is now retired and not on facebook etc. But his students are still in touch via phone.

4) Abhas Disawal writes about Dr. Kalyana Sundaram (Head, Department of Self Development and Department of Ideas ,Vishwakarma Institute of technology, Pune )

I have been fortunate enough to experience a handful of teachers in new clothes throughout my academics. Today at the brink of graduation , when I recollect the people who have actually helped to bring out an engineer in me , Dr. K Sundaram is the first one. I worked under him for 1 academic year ( Aug '11 to May '12).

Khasiyat:
He founded ‘Department of Ideas’. To reveal him, one needs to enter the premises of Department of Ideas. He undertakes at least a dozen new projects every year ,have a look at some:
-Apple shelf life detector.
-Micro leakage measurement for tooth.(Made by my group)
-Automated bhajji (Potato wada) making machine.
-Foldable Helmet
- Telescopic tower
-Coconut water content detector
-Watermelon sweetness detector
- Artificially ripened mango detector....and the list continues.

The best part is to work under him. He has enormous power to convince and motivate. He doesn't give solutions, rather he motivates the students to find their own. Though the projects he takes up sound weird, at the same time students realize the significance of innovation.
His project ideas can be compared to a new business venture. You don't know whether it'll work, how to reach there, capital needed, what you just know is the concept. He leaves you with this small idea just to make you realize that you yourself are at stake. This helps one use his mind and ideas start coming up. He is there to be consulted always-everywhere, on cell, sms, email, in his cabin (even till 10 pm), in class or in the college lawns as you see. :)

Dr. Sundaram is still in service at VIT, Pune. Students can contact him at Kalyana.Sundaram@vit.edu
(The attachment is a pic when he taught us on college lawns when no classroom was available.)

5. Paras Shah talks about Dr Rohit Trivedi who taught Marketing management, Research, Entrepreneurship during my MBA at V.M.Patel Institute of Management., Ganpat University, Kherva, Gujarat India (2007-2009)

Khasiyat:
In his very very first lecture he addressed the class with the message: “There are two ways to study. We discuss theories which are already available in books, and explain to you basic things, you write them in exam and get good marks. There is another way, where I will share with you various case studies. You read them, analyse them, find out solutions on your own and let us all discuss the case and various solutions given to all students. I am more interested in dealing with future managers than marks -eeking students. It’s upto you. Tell me.... “

And everyone said, “We will go for the 2nd option”.

He was very active man and liked active students. His cabins and gtalk id were available to everyone, people can go and meet him and discuss anything be it academic or literature or any general news. He was harsh towards passive students and felt proud about student who were not just marks-oriented. It is he who motivated me to take initiative to organise inter bschool culfest in our college. He supported me and the whole team at every level and today the PROTSAHAN culfest has become a very successful property of my college. I was about to leave MBA in between but this Protsahan thing and people like Rohit sir were the reason I continued.

Dr Trivedi is current with MICA : https://www.facebook.com/rohit.trivedi.3511?fref=ts

6. Mansij Majumder writes about E M Rao, XLRI, Jamshedpur, Prof. of Labor Laws (2006-08)

Khasiyat:
Depth of knowledge, connect with students, tailoring his course to suite the needs of first term learner
Width of knowledge - in depth knowledge on academic affairs as well as on Carnatic music, movies, you name it
Was one of the most influential professors, who got an entire generation hooked on to try and becoming IR managers

No longer with XLRI, with XIMB: http://www.facebook.com/em.rao1

7. Anudeep Rao writes about Sukesh sir at ICFAI Bangalore (2009-11)

Khasiyat:
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.Sukesh Sir is one of those great teachers. He taught us B2B Marketing at ICFAI Business School Bangalore for 2009-11 Batch.

Though I was inclined to take up a career in the field of Finance, I opted for a equal number of Marketing and Finance. His classes were very interesting. He was the only Professor who was not a slave to Powerpoint. In fact he never used slides at all. He would write down important points, rest was extempore. He taught 3 sections, close to 140 people with enthusiasm. Though he was a very senior faculty, he always gave us an opportunity to speak and guided us the right path. To be very frank this is the only subject is scored A :D

I entered Masters without any experience, he laid a great foundation for my thought process. He has a very large fan base. I am very proud that I was one of his students. He is still teaching at ICFAI Business School Bangalore.

Sukesh Sir's facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/sukesh.kumarbr

8. Debarshi Saha writes about Suvro Chatterjee, his teacher at St Xavier’s School. Durgapur (2002-2004)

Khasiyat:
Teachers are the 'potters' who can mould a mis-shapen lump of clay into a beautiful work of art. I trust that this venture will do its needful in this regard. I write in to you with the details of such a person today.

My Sir's name is Mr Suvro Chatterjee. He used to teach the senior sections at St Xavier's School, Durgapur. Possessed with an extraordinary capacity for teaching and 'feeling' English literature, he was our 'English' teacher- but furthermore, he could deliberate at length on most topics outside the purview of English language. It was with him that we first learnt about tales of History (never found in our often dreary text books!), explored far-away vistas with him in Geography (a la Mr. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay in 'The Mountain of the Moon' and other breathtaking novels!), and learnt the twists of Economics and how all its conundrums and theories worked out in real-life situations. Honestly, we have always been spellbound at the range and depth of his knowledge, and his insistence upon the necessity of a holistic school education.

I studied with him during the years 2002-2004. I attended his tuition classes at his residence, since he had resigned from his erstwhile workplace (and alma-mater too!), St Xavier's School. My Sir has always stood steadfast by his moral principles, been guided by a moral compass consisting of knowledge culled from wide and varied sources- and has only believed that the one true religion is the best expression of our humanity, of adhering to moral codes of conduct. It was partly due to this, a conflict of principles, that he left the school- and has been trailblazing a way in the wide world, with the Lord as his only master.

With Sir, 'unique' was a word we regularly got to feel. He could make us gallop behind the horses ('The Charge of the Light Brigade'), or make us feel Life flowing on like a great river and so forth. His eyes twinkled when he spoke of poets, of authors and narrated their tales so as to make us comprehend their state of mind when they penned some particular work. That was never all, though- We would be watching fantastic movies, be exposed to great thoughts, sublime literature and soulful music- Sir made us understood the poems as though we might have composed them ourselves! He was the conductor with a baton- and we were but the choir, the actors acting out their roles to perfection, be it Shakespeare's dramas, or the novellas we had to read. There was never a dull, or listless moment in his class- when we read English and History, and Economics with him- we were the theories, we assumed the roles that made our comprehension flawless, and we remember his classes with unbridled pleasure even today.

A man deeply committed to helping others- he has influenced more people than most teachers in our industrial town can claim. A personal counsellor, a journalist once, he is the first one to rush to the help of others when in need. All his students still count upon him as the man who 'can give us advice without sounding preachy!', and a man who has influenced many persons who have not been his students! One of the prime examples is of the doctoral scholar in Sociology, who has even penned a doctoral thesis on him-

http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/dissertations/AAI3544365/

This has been published at Purdue University, USA- and is one of the countless examples in which Sir has influenced others too. He reaches out regularly to a great number of readers at his blog- http://suvrobemused.blogspot.in/

Sir is not in active service now- he takes tuition classes at his own residence, in addition to personal counselling services. He can be reached at suvro.chatterjee@gmail.com

PS: I am an electrical engineer by profession, and the 'sense of wonder' that he imparted to me remains his greatest gift among all others.

9. Gautam Ghosh writes about Dr Madhukar Shukla, XLRI (during1997-99)

Khasiyat:
- High empathy, humor and use of different teaching methodologies.
- Always a guide and mentor, he and his wife (Geeta Saxena who passed away in 1998) were the people students went to for guidance on personal as well as professional issues.
- Madhukar is always looking out for the next big idea, and doing my dissertation with him opened my eyes to so many things. Even in my first job when I had option between two roles he asked me to go for the new one, triggering in me a process of always trying the new and unexpected
- Attaching a picture of him with his "student wards" - I wasn't one, but always invited myself into the group :)

Yes he is in service at XLRI still: madhukar@xlri.ac.in / https://www.facebook.com/madhukar.shukla (so that more past students can be in touch).

May the tribe of such wonderful and dedicated teachers increase :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Staying Hungry & Foolish - 5 years on


Aug 29, 2008 : The first bill of sale for ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ is raised

Aug 29, 2013: Over 400,000 copies sold, 9 language editions, hundreds of emails from grateful readers


Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such an outcome when I took up this project in Sept 2007. The idea of this book came from Prof Rakesh Basant of CIIE (Centre for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad), the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) and Sanjeev Bikhchandani.

At first they only sought my advice on how to do it with the help of two RAs (Research Assistants). Instead, I offered to do it myself.

I did it for a lark, to meet some interesting people and to learn something from them. Maybe because of that purity of thought and purpose, it all came together as it did.

The time given to me was just 3 months, later extended to 6 months. It finally got done ‘just in time’ for the IIMA Entrepreneurs Conference on 30th June 2008. 1000 copies had been printed to be distributed free of cost to the delegates, as well as students on campus.

Yes, we did plan to make the book available to the public. But the slow channels of the book trade had decreed a release in Jan 2009 – six months later. That’s when Sunil Handa and Sanjeev Bhikchandani came together and said, “Let’s publish it ourselves.” The book was ready, IIM Ahmedabad and Eklavya Foundation could together do the job.

The plan was to print 5000 copies – half of it on ‘order’ basis. The entrepreneurs featured in the book paid money upfront for 100, 200, 500 personal-use copies. The rest was to be put into bookshops. With great difficulty Eklavya managed to rope in a Mumbai-based distributor – Shree. The deal was struck by offering 5% more margin than other publishers. We had no option, as I was not a ‘known’ author.

Originally, we wanted the price of the book to be Rs 95, at par with popular fiction titles. But our book had 330 pages, it was not economically viable. The price was fixed at Rs 125.

The book made its debut at Crossword Ahmedabad, a franchise store owned by friend and wellwisher Mr Gaurav Shah. Within a week, Gauravbhai called to say the book is in the ‘bestseller’ list. Can we send more copies? Not only Ahmedabad, but Crossword stores across the country were the first to pick up ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ in large quantities and give it prominent display. I will always be grateful to them for this support!

I sent the book to numerous editors, hoping for reviews. The result was scanty and mostly bad. One particularly mean review came from T R Vivek writing for VCCircle.com. Since the original article is hidden behind a paywall, I share what I wrote on my blog at the time.

Oh and later, I also made it to the ’10 silliest books of the decade’ list along with Paolo Coelho and Rhonda Byrne.

However, the feedback from readers themselves was astonishingly and overwhelmingly positive.

“I read my book and quit my job to start my own company.”

“This year I am distributing your book instead of sweets on Diwali.”

“I keep this book next to my bed and every night I read the ‘advice’ section.”


Everywhere I go, I meet people whose lives have been touched, whose hopes have been ignited. This is what motivated to write 4 more books about inspiring real-life Indian entrepreneurs (not from IIMA). Why I have made the writing of inspirational books my whole and sole career.

It’s been 5 fantastic years.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who believed in me – my alma mater, which set me on this path and in particular Prof Rakesh Basant (he had some reservations about my ‘style of writing’ but ultimately didn’t make me change a word :).

My first publishers IIM Ahmedabad & Eklavya Foundation and in particular Sunil Handa (he brought an entrepreneurial touch to what could have been ‘just another book’. We did every small thing with childlike zeal, enthusiasm).

In fact I realise it can be *lucky* to not have a large publisher initially. I suspect hey would have over-edited and mangled my manuscript to death.

And finally, I want to thank all my readers, everywhere. It is because of you that ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ is still on bestseller lists. (And I hope you continue to pick up my other books :)

I hope my writings continue to serve as a window into the mind of self-made men and women. The brave and the bold, building a new India, one company at a time.

If you have any story/ incident to share about how ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ spurred you to action or affected your attitude, please send it to me. The id is mail AT rashmibansal.in.

Over the next one month, I will share these hungry & foolish stories. For the reading pleasure of all.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ode to India

Geeli mitti ki bheeni sugandh
Lo ho gaya phir Bharat bandh

Padosi ke pressure cooker ki seeti
Second a/c from Howrah to VT

Arnab ke cheekhne ki awaaz
Chhole bhature with sirkewala pyaaz

Office mein boss ke lafde hain
‘Bhaiyya aaj ke dus kapde hain’

Dopahar ki gully cricket
Chai ke saath do glucose biscuit

Do rupaye ka dhaniya patta
Fabindia ka overprice dupatta

Kaamwali ke gold ke jhumke
Rickshe ki ‘top ten’ sunke

Mere bua ke saale ke devar ki shaadi
Aaj phir badhi desh ki aabaadi

Laughter club ke buddhon ki khee khee
Vada pav ki hari mirch teekhi

Picture mein Vicco Vajradanti ka ad
Durga Shakti Nagpal very sad

McDonalds ka aloo tikki burger
Reliance & Reliance ka merger

Bin bulaye mehman aa gaye
Zimbabwe India ko rula gaye

Border par ho gayi firing
Suna hai Infosys is hiring?

Eid ke chand ka intezaar
Chandrayan ke launch ka samaachar

Bharat desh hai ajeebogareeb
Lekin hai mere dil ke kareeb

Ek apnepan ka ehsaas hai
Isme kuch to khaas hai

Happy 66th Independence Day
Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jaya He




























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