Life Reloaded: The short story called life

Post graduate from IIM Ahmedabad, Sanjeev Kotnala, who has headed marketing operations at some of the country’s biggest ad agencies including Mudra and Lintas, has curated a book of self help stories with a difference. Life Reloaded has different writers pick up incidents from their own life and tell readers about having suffered from stereotypes as they went through life. One of the book’s main objectives will be to help readers RAM — Reflect Absorb Move On. Incidentally, his second instalment of stories from life, a greater teacher in itself as he mentions, will be released in January 2020.

Can you tell us what is most relevant about Life Reloaded?

- Nothing teaches you better than life itself. The same life experiences, different people take them differently. People have their own filters and algorithms. I have been teaching a subject like this in MICA. How a person can be a brand. However, they are not necessarily professional experiences. Some of the writing is about professional life and some personal.

Why is a negative life experience usually a put-downer for many?

- Not everybody I spoke to said yes. Because whenever you are putting your experience in a book, you are becoming naked. Due to some experiences, a writer can be seen in a bad light. But do you have guts enough to share? However you still want to be sharing an experience that is relevant. So what we have avoided is saying that this is the moral of the story. You may take away a dissimilar learning. The problem is, we don’t take only the learning and move forward, we take the whole baggage of the experience and move forward.

How can one get the best out of life and the many learnings it has for us?

- You were very innocent when you took birth. Then the family started talking: ‘You shouldn’t be doing this. This is the way to behave’. They never said go and explore, be adventurous, realise, learn. We went through the wrong kind of training. When a son becomes 21 in the Indian family, they start saying ‘Bahu kab la rahe ho?’ Abroad, the minute he becomes 18, the father will cut him off. That’s a brilliant thing to happen. How many Indians take a year’s sabbatical after graduation and go on a world tour? Abroad they will wait to be independent. We don’t allow that. There are so many no-nos here. We are intra dependant, they are independent. You’ll be fine if you take good learnings out of bad experiences.

Tell us about the anecdotes that are unique to your book, which have hidden messages open to interpretation.

- There is not a big message or small message. There is a Farzana Suri story. A senior saying that my employees have to have lunch during lunch time, the client can go and jump... I think that’s a great example of team management. Then there is a story by Khyati. It’s very simple typecasting. You are even hearing things differently because your mind is telling you to hear differently. If she did not have that, that whole experience would have been totally altered. The filter worked contrarily.

Life will always have ups and downs. Why are we only seeking ups? If people start putting themselves in these authors’ positions, and seeing if their reaction would be changed, I think I’ve done my job.

As marketing guys we are story tellers. I read about 70-odd books a year. I like Stephen King, Chandramouli. I liked Tuesdays with Morrie, Osho. Then you have to develop your own style.

As a marketing head, what do you think networking means today?

- One is, don’t talk about yourself. People like to vomit out all that they are doing. You have not even seen if there is frequency of equal business relationships. Get the name right. Use the name in the conversation twice or thrice. Ask a question that he or she will need to fill, let them feel better. And don’t next day send them an email saying, we met over here can we do that!

Also Read: Book Review: Overcoming the quirks of fate