This book is set on similar lines as those compiled by Rashmi Bansal, such as Stay Hungry Stay Foolish and Connect the Dots. The success of such books is not determined by a great writing skill (frankly all that is needed is that writing does not come in way of a story) but the selection of people and interestingness of their stories. It is the power of these stories alone that can make a book worthy.
Good news is that in the choice of people and their stories, the book has been very effective. Although inclusion of popular, well-known folks like Aditi Govitrikar, Nikhil Chinnapa, Harsha Bhogle, R Madhavan and Srikant initially miffed me, however, after reading Harsha Bhogle and R Madhavan’s stories I realised that I didn’t know it all, and was mollified. It was interesting to know about what Harsha did before cricket commentary happened to him and that R Madhavan conducted widely successful coaching classes before he became an actor.
My favourite stories were about Nalin Khanduri who started Great Indian Outdoors Private Limited, it definitely takes courage to quit a corporate job and start an outdoors company in a country like India, Manohar Parrikar, a middle-class boy, a IIT graduate who went on to become the Chief Minister of Goa, Ashish Rajpal, his story was especially inspiring for me, he worked all over the world but came back to India to enrich K-12 education, Rajeev Suresh Samant, who through his brand Sula wines put India on wine-making map, Praveen Tyagi, another K-12 educator who started PACE education and despite being from impoverished background, Praveen made it to IIT and decided to devote his time to teaching to help other folks make it to IIT.
Then, there is Ingrid Srinath who made her name in advertising and yet one day quit it to head CRY, and then went on to become Secretary General of CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation. Needless to say, move from lucrative advertising to social welfare sector involved a hefty cut in pay check and was bereft of usual conveniences in offices that we usually take for granted. Rashmi Uday Singh, food writer and TV anchor was another person with an interesting story. She was a tax inspector before she took a full time plunge in writing and broadcasting.
There were few things common to all the stories above, all of them were associated with prestigious institutes and had high educational qualification, which they necessarily did not utilise in their chosen career. Almost all of them had a MBA. Several of them started a career in a field they weren’t always knowledgeable about. Ashish Rajpal, CEO of iDiscovery went back to school to study about Mind, Brain and Education at Harvard. Rashmi Uday Singh after a successful stint as tax officer went to be trained by BBC in TV production. They all did what they needed to, to be true to their passions.
At 220 pages and with its compact content, it is a breeze to read. I also loved the sketches of each person that appeared in the beginning of each story. Some, I thought, were quite a close resemblance to the real person. The book falters only when author’s opinion interferes with stories of people, for example, her judgements and gushing praise for Praveen is an awkward interruption to his commendable story. I personally thought Amish Tripathi’s story had few cringe worthy moments when he was asked about being ‘house husband’. There were few more mildly irritating aspects around the packaging of the book. The cover somewhat lacks finesse, cannily resembles one of the plagiarised books that you find on pavements. Editing is bad, specifically the irritating extra spaces before punctuation. Another suggestion would be that on top right header, one should see the name of the chapter (that is celebrity whose story we are reading in this case) instead of the author, it helps a reader to track. Despite such mild disappointments, book for me was a pleasure to read and the credit for this goes not to the author but to the wonderful people who lent their stories to it.