A forced hiatus can get to the best of us. But CEO-turned writer, TGC Prasad used it to his advantage by turning a writer.
The 42-yr-old writer, who was advised bed rest for nine months following an ankle surgery, put the pain at the back of his head and went headlong into fulfilling his dream of a writer. After a year of intense research he came out with - Unusual People Do Things Differently (65 stories of people who are striving hard to do extra-ordinary things), followed by Along The Way, a witty yet insightful story about the lives of software engineers.
With the backdrop of professional industry, young urban professionals, cultural diversity, the book opens up a host of questions about the software culture. Prasad's shrewd sense of audience, typically Indian comic timing and treatment of story has a prominent Chetan Bhagat streak in his writing.
Sonakshi Babbar caught up with the author to get a sneak peek into the book and the man himself.
SB: From being a management guru to an author? How have you matured on both professional and personal fronts?
Prasad: I have been in management for two decades now and understand the nuances of it, though I am not sure I qualify to be called as a management guru. In my opinion, the real management gurus are - Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, CK Prahalad, Charles Handy...they have given so much management depth and thought to the world.
On the professional front, my significant learnings have been -
Every situation is different and contextual understanding is the key differentiator in accomplishing oneÂ¹s goals
Career is a long journey Â one has to live life too as one pursues career. No point in rushing into things.
Do what makes you happy Â and you will be successful
On the personal front, my learnings have been tremendous -
Bouncing back from difficult situations and seeing light at the end of the tunnel determines the mettle
Adapting to different environments and circumstances and making the best out of it determines success
Seeing the softer side of life is perhaps as important as living life doing things. Appreciating the small things makes you feel come alive!
SB: One of the descriptions about the book says - "This heartwarming love story offers a peek into the lives of software engineers and the workings of the IT industry." What does the book offer to someone who isn't clued in to the IT world?
Prasad: The context of the book is about three software engineers who work in TCS, a world-class software company. However the story is about love, career, and relationships Âlaced with immense humour and cultural transformation that the youth in the country have gone through. Everybody who has read the book felt that it was a fantastic read and a real page turner. The common thread ran - I couldn't keep the book down till I was done great humour and would love to watch it, if made into a movie.
SB: While the book offers a glimpse into the life of urban professionals in a light-hearted vein, does it also show the darker side of the IT industry?
Prasad: I wouldn't say darker side, but yes the book also conveys the harder side of the software industry, where people go through stringent timelines, complex projects, the pressures on relationships and importantly a lot of peer pressure on learning and rewards. I would say the book takes you through the journey of what it takes to be a software engineer from love, career and relationships perspective.
SB: You've experimented with both fiction and non-fiction genres. What do you find creatively more satisfying?
Prasad: Book writing in itself is a very creative process and I loved writing both fiction & non-fiction; incidentally both the books are on-line best sellers. I write from the heart and I am comfortable choosing any topic. In Unusual People Do Things Differently, I have profiled 65 stories of people who are striving hard to do extraordinary things. Along The Way is a hilarious story of 3 software engineers working at TCS. Both are very different and writing both of them has been very satisfying.
SB: Your shift from hardcore industry to fiction writer is very inspirational? What's your advice to budding authors?
Prasad: I led a very hectic life as a country head of Misys, a world-class MNC. After my ankle surgeries, I was at home on a wheel chair for almost an year. Initially it was very tough. I felt caged, restricted and restless. My inability to do many things, dependency on helps at home and the solitude helped me look within and taught me several lessons. Firstly, to look for opportunities that can offer you a completely different dimension, especially when in despair. Secondly, I strongly believe that when God closes one, he opens a much bigger door on the other side. Thirdly, I think opportunities come to those who look for hope and who are optimistic in life.
Now days, I help budding authors - I conduct five-day writing workshops in a quiet mountain retreat and take them through the process of writing to publishing. I help them structure their thoughts, put them through a disciplined process of writing and I want everyone to succeed in their passion for writing. I get a ton of applications, but I take only 20 at a time. I request applicants to send me an email with a two-page write-up to my email ID firstname.lastname@example.org. Based on their writing style, and the story, I determine whether I can help them or not and then take them through the workshop.