A book by Mr Sanjeev Kotnala (PGP 1987)
REFLECTIONS. Life Reloaded, Class of ’87, IIM Ahmedabad is my third book. It is a compilation of 29 impact stories from personal and professional life contributed by 18 Alumni of 1987 batch from IIM Ahmedabad.
In my corporate life in advertising and marketing, and later as a Brand-marketing consultant, trainer and facilitator, storytelling has been always been part of life. In fact, I consider life as an unpredictable journey between two points of certainty; birth and death. Rest everything in life is probabilistic. Here, we react to the probortunity (problem and/or opportunity) based on our experiences and expectations. We decide between alternatives, the resultant experiences shape our lives and our future decision. Life is lived and managed at the same time.
When you start looking deep, you find there are only two types of experiences you learn from. Self-experience called Aap-beethi and other’s experiences called Jag-beethi. Self-experience being the better teacher. However, why should everyone need to go through all the experiences when they can learn from other’s experiences. What and how we learn from experiences of self or others is based on our filters and experience.
So, when in November 2019, the batch of 1987 was getting ready for their annual (33rd) get-together, this time at Hyderabad at the end of January 2020, I propped up the idea of REFLECTIONS. Sharing of our experiences in complete honesty.
I saw my batch as an ideal ground for harvesting rich-informative, authentic real-life stories. Something that the readers will not only enjoy reading but also benefit.
The challenge was to make it happen in the next 100 odd days and release at the get-together.
It was all about execution. There were multiple challenges. To start with, find willing contributors. To push them to find time in their already busy schedule to think and evaluate the experience they could and want to share. Many of them were constrained by the confidentiality clauses in their work, and few were hesitant to write. Lives of some of the batchmates were already dissected and covered by the media. Few of the contributors were first-time authors, they needed support. As a curator, I guided them through the process without impacting the story and the learning.
The stories were not constrained by any demand or guideline for the tone and style. Each contributor was free to choose the format and treatment while writing from their heart.
The stories have a distinct individual stamp. So, story after story in Reflections does not allow the reader to settle down. The pace, subjects and reactions are all different. It is a huge plus point for the book; differential experiences need differential flow and style.
To bring some semblance of organised chaos, the stories were re-distributed under five distinct groups; Business, People, Interaction, Life and Institute.
Though I take the credit as curator of the content in REFLECTIONS, certain batchmates were fully charged with the idea and equally passionate about the possibilities. They were the motivators and pacesetters. To name a few, Anchal Jain, Giri Giridhar, N Subramanian, S Ram Kumar, Srinivas Shastrix, S M Sundaram and S. Subramanian. They have not only contributed but also helped the project compilation on time.
There is a small regret I have with Reflections. No female batchmate has contributed any story. Hopefully, sometime in future, the error will be rectified.
Personally, I see stories as a beautiful way to share learnings. They can express the event in totality. I firmly believe that Corporates, Organisation, Brands, Teams and even Schools and colleges can use story compilations format like Reflections for shared learning from other’s experiences. Frankly, I would love to be associated with such projects and curate the content. After all, I have been a storyteller all my life.
ALUMNI 1- BATCH 1987
ANCHAL JAIN one of the contributors, captures it in his unique style, ‘Life is not a single dot. Millions of tiny ones keep joining randomly to shape stories. Stories that one doesn’t even dream.. they just happen. Many such dots have actually shaped my purpose rather than me chasing them with a purpose. Beautiful stories get built when many such unrelated dots connect in unpredictable ways, making Life worth discovering.’
ALUMNI 2- BATCH 1987
Ankur Mithal, another batchmate and a contributor, captures the idea in his review. ‘Life is unique, and every Life has lessons which we can learn from, are truisms which we all know. Not many lives can be easily read and understood. Reflections fills this gap with stories about real people. The stories are varied in tone and setting, as are the people. I hope they are of value to many others, not merely because they are from the lives of a few people who went to IIM Ahmedabad’.
ALUMNI 3- BATCH 1986 ( wrote the preface)
Prakash Iyer, the well-known Leadership Trainer, Motivational speaker and best-selling author, in the preface, says, ‘Reflection is a reunion, where you and I get to eavesdrop and listen to the stories of mistakes made, battles won and lessons learned… The fact that successful people can share stories of their mistakes and failures makes Reflections a nice little read’.