Rahul Akerkar has a Masters in Biochemical Engineering from the US but is better known as a celebrity chef and owner of Mumbai's fine dining restaurant, Indigo; Manohar Parikkar went to the prestigious IIT, Bombay but makes headlines as the honorable Chief Minister of Goa; Harsha Bhogle is an alum of IIM Ahmedabad but is a world renowned cricket commentator and Rashmi Uday Singh was once the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax but is widely known today as Indias famous food critic. These and 14 other fascinating stories feature in this book, 'My Life, My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers', exploding every conventional myth about professional choices of a cross section of people. From a Doctorate in Environmental Toxicology who chose to be a musician: Rahul Ram of the Indian Ocean; an alumnus of IIM Calcutta with a successful corporate life who was inspired to write and became one of India's bestselling authors with the Shiva Trilogy: Amish Tripathi; to a woman who gave up a highly paid and exciting life in advertising to work with an NGO: Ingrid Srinath. This book seeks to inspire every working individual from young professionals to senior level managers to opt out of the rat race, chase their dreams and pursue a profession of their choice for inner happiness, success and a long term career.
The Author, Sonia Golani, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on her new book 'My Life, My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers'.
Q. How did you come up with the subject of your book?! Are you also someone who has lived her life by her own rules?! Asked by: Priti Gandhi
A. After finishing my first book "Corporate Divas" I was looking for a theme for my second book. It seemed intriguing to me how people with impeccable qualifications and a conventional career had switched to careers that were very different from what they had trained for.On further discussing and researching on this aspect, there were interesting revelations and I decided to do a book on this theme covering people from diverse walks of life.
Q. Is it not risky to follow your heart and not bother about conventional career paths? Asked by: dilip
A. That's the idea behind writing this book - to introduce different perspectives and look at risk in a different light. What use is that security that doesnt give you happiness and contentment? There are some people like Rahul Akerkar, Rahul Ram, Nalin, Aditi Govitrikar, Rajeev Samant, Nikhil Chinapa, Ashish Rajpal who have been covered in the book who took the risk and succeeded. There are others like Amish Tripathi, Harsha Bhogle, Ingrid Srinath and Rashmi Uday Singh for whom it was a calculated risk to change tracks. I will say it is worth the risk to try a profession for which your heart compels you and with the passion that goes into the work thus, success is usually not far behind.
Q. What defines a writer for you? Asked by: Ashwin Dodani
A. I am a person who finds reality far more exciting than fiction. I like all the books of Malcolm Gladwell and I also like Jonah Lehrer's works. Or amongst fiction writers, someone like Chetan Bhagat who has a good sense of humour and writes on contemporary themes.
Q. If you want to define your Life in one word, especially relating to the title and the book, what would it be? Asked by: Ashwin Dodani
A. Go with the flow. Live each day. Enjoy your time with your family, friends and loved ones. Be content and happy. Career is just one aspect of life, we live only once and it can all not be only for professional success.
Q. No question from me, Sonia. Just wanted to thank you for writing this book. Asked by: Ingrid Srinath
A. And a what a pleasure it was interacting with you Ingrid. I am glad I have come to know such fine individuals in the process. Writing as a lonely profession is not for me.
Q. Do you feel that our society isn't very open minded when it comes to people wanting to pursue unconventional careers? Most parents push their children to become doctors or engineers without giving them much of a choice as these are jobs that usually pay high salaries. How can we go about changing that mentality? Asked by: Varun
A. Hi Ravi, wonderful to hear from you. Yes, I see that all the time around me and it pains me no end. Parents usually have a total focus on academics ignoring all other skill sets their children may be gifted with. R Madhavan's story in my book is a case in point. I was introduced to Howard Gardner's theory through Ashish Rajpal who is doing a lot of praiseworthy work in the field of education. While on one hand its for our economy to provide more avenues and society to become more liberal, at a basic level, the parents must change their attitudes to bring that bigger change in societal perspectives. Our children need to experience a happier and all round development focussed environment rather than one which is JEE focused.
Q. Hi Sonia, loved your book. But then how is it possible to "chase one's dreams" when we are faced with an economic downturn? i am a trained musician and a banker but after reading your book thought of going back to being a music teacher. but my bank job pays me 10 times more! so how does one do that? unless one robs a bank or comes into money:) thanks Asked by: Maya
A. Hi Maya. Thanks for your compliment. I agree its a difficult task. Rahul Ram and his band members may be exceptions, yet we can see increasing number of such people in our society. While you cant leave your bank job for material reasons, you can surely step out of the 8-8 routine to nurture your soul. To begin with, that may be very fulfilling. Ideally I feel we should not have more than 6 hours work day. The society has brought upon the evil of long stretched and full of stress work hours on itself. That's perhaps another campaign which should kick off.
Q. The book so pretty, ma'am. Hi ma'am, I am 21 years old and study in Bangalore. What I love about your book is that u make it sound so easy....like life is so easy. so what i wanna know is that if i want to just drop out of college and be a model, will it be a stupid decision? Because I am a 90 per cent and so want you to tell me. Btw I got this book as my b'day gift on Feb 22:) bye ma'am. Asked by: Ria Janakiraman
A. Hi Ria, I'll suggest, don't quit studies. You can give a try to modelling if that's what interests you and if you have the talent for it without giving up academics. Your success will show you the path. Read Aditi's story, you may find parallels and some clarity there.
Q. Is India's education system geared to the philosophy of doing what you love? I don't think so - your comments please. Asked by: Spitzer
A. I am afraid that's the truth as there are too many people and less resources and more than that the political will to bring about the desired changes. However, within this existing environment, its for the parents to change their mindset and let their children optimise their talents and potential. The book is aimed towards changing mindsets.
Q. Ms Golani, I read your first book corporate divas also and liked this very much. it looks attractive as the drawings gives it an artistic look. now my question to you is that is it only possible for qualified people to changes jobs midstream? i am just a graduate and have lost more than 5 jobs and it was tough for me to find jobs. So education first? Asked by: Palash sengupta
A. Hi Palash, thanks for liking my books and I will convey your compliments for the darwings to my editor, Sudha Sadanand and the design team of Gunjan Ahlawat and Nitesh Mohanty. No its not necessary that only qualified people can change tracks. Rashmi Bansal has written a book which focuses on this aspect. The point is not just changing tracks for the sake of it. You have some chances for rial and error and to figure out what you are good at. Once you have arrived at that, you need to dedicate yourself to it and make a success of it which always requires hard work and focus. Wish you all best!
Q. Would you define yourself as a writer first or a woman first? Also tell me about what do you think about the attitude of our country towards women? Asked by: Ashwin Dodani
A. This doesn't take me long to answer - of course I am a woman first and proud of being one! Just like extreme poverty and extreme prosperity, the attitude towards women in our country is also as polarised and not necessarily linked to economic status. There are many women who are blessed to have parents who brought them up with all love, affection and opportunities and husbands and in-laws who have treated women in the families with due respect and love. But then there are horrifying stories we hear every day how women are ill treated. that also happened in this very society. The solution is right education and economic development at a faster pace.
Q. Hi Sonia, Have you planned a next project? is it going to be another book based on inspiration or are you interested in writing fiction too. Asked by: Snehal
A. Snehal, I am happy to share with you that I am already working on my next project which is based on the much engaged aspect of our lives - Bollywood. I am hoping to bring a fresh perspective to this theme. Cant reveal more at this stage. As I have mentioned in an earlier answer, my romance with reality doesn't leave me much time to delve into fiction and that reality I like to keep track of includes the Dhonis, Federer and Rory Mcilroy's of our world too!
Q. Is the concept of "Follow your dreams" alien to India given that family responsibilities take precedence over one's dreams? Asked by: Spitzer
A. Increasingly, follow your dreams is not so alien to India. One reason clearly is the economic advancement our country has experienced because of the liberalisation of the 90s. We have seen growth in television media, music and cinema, banking, telecommunications and such sectors with related areas like catering etc seeeing a spurt. So as more opportunities and surpluses are available, more people can take to the professions they like. Having a family backing you, always helps.
Q. What makes one a writer more? Imagination or Experiences or both equally? Asked by: Ashwin Dodani
A. For those who write fiction, I imagination certainly takes a precedence - look at authors like Amish Tripathi and Ravi Subramanian. Surely, you cant churn out works like they do, unless you have a fantastic grip over imagination. For writers like me who are rooted in reality, experience and understanding the subject in right perspective and articulation are important.
Q. In one of the questions, you have bracketed profession and passion into two different boxes. My question to you, is.. Is it necessary to give up your profession in order to pursue ones passion? Isn't it better that you don't depend on your passion for your living. Else you run the risk of passion becoming stale. Asked by: Ravi Subramanian
A. Ravi, you are performing a great balancing act. I am finding it difficult to balance recruitment and writing. Amish gave up banking to focus on writing full time as did Chetan Bhagat and started the trend. This question will become redundant for you once you have secured yourself amply financially (everyone has a different benchmark for that) and then you have the choice of discovering a new passion if the original one becomes stale. As Rahul Akerkar has said in my book, "your experience never goes waste, you discover what interests you and see where the journey takes you.' I find this approach exciting, more so after having met people with interesting journeys!
Q. Sonia, Can we expect any Fiction from you in the near future. Are you working on something? Asked by: Ravi Subramanian
A. Ravi, I just answered the question a while back about my next project about which I am really excited. Fiction...hmmm, I need to take good long lessons from masters like you, I guess!
Q. According to you, what is more prefer for person. To follow heart or to follow career in which she is working. Asked by: naiya
A. Naiya, I really don't know at what stage of your life you are right now. I could tell better if I knew. Anyhow, as a thumb rule, if you are in a certain career due to certain reasons like parental guidance or available information and you are just not able to carry on with it, evaluating your immediate responsibilities, you must try other areas which the voice within you says you can do well and which you have experienced for yourself in your younger years that you are good at. If you get success, it would be worth having tried and you will not live with regret.