Category Archives: books

Book Review: Me 2.0 By Dan Schawbel

There are a lot of people who are great at their work. They are passionate about what they do, they do it well, and are very well liked too.

How many such people do you know? Are you one yourself?

How do you leverage your passion and performance to really get noticed in today’s cut throat world of corporate warfare, specially if you are a recent graduate?

If you graduated in 2000 and later, I am sure you do one thing better than much of your senior workers do – use the internet to connect with friends on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. And perhaps you have a website too – and maybe you maintain a blog too. 

Dan Schawbel shows you how to use the tools available for free online to create and communicate a great personal brand. Think Tom Peters’ “You Inc.” and add communicating web 2.0 style and you have it.

The book is called Me 2.0

 

by Dan Schawbel

by Dan Schawbel

 

 

It’s packed with useful tips – often not found with much ease – for example, how to hide your photographs on Facebook and not enable anyone to just tag you – to help you minimize negative impact on one’s personal brand.

In fact, the book is more relevant today than it was when the economy was doing better. 

The HR professional these days searches for a candidate on the web – as each and every hire is scrutinised and like it or not – your social network profiles, comments on blogs/ forums will go into forming an opinion of who you are – your values and a judgement would be made – even without your being aware about it. 

But Me 2.0 is a book not only about being reactive – but is majorly about understanding how you can be proactive about your personal branding.

Dan points out that branding is not just making a promise – but is about fulfilling that promise, so whatever you choose to communicate needs to be backed up with reality. 

It doesn’t matter if you are a Millennial/Gen Y member. This book is a useful set of advice/tools for anyone to use.

Book Review: Married But Available

“Married But Available” is the second novel by HR professional Abhijit Bhaduri. In the first- “Mediocre But Arrogant” the protagonist Abbey spends two years drifting along in his B School, from relationship to relationship. 

In this one, Abbey gets into his first job, as a Personnel Manager at Balwanpur Industries, at the plant and the township owned and managed by the promoter Balwan Singh. The other people he meets are his first boss, Capt. Sobti, who has his own homegrown knowledge of people and HR. Then there’s the assorted other characters in his life, his father who thinks that he should be loyal to his employer, his mother who always thinks he’s a small kid. Then there’s Ass, his sister- Asmita. Then there are his women Ayesha and Keya and Priya. One is the one he lusts after, one is his love and then there’s one who has a crush on him.

As Abbey balances his work – getting to understand how the worker’s union works- with his love and then married life, life begins to take its own sweet pace. As he goes about acquiring the trappings of success – a bigger house, a car his marriage seems to be headed downhill. Finally his wife walks out on him, accusing him of being selfish. Devastated, Abbey looks for a chance to move out of the small township – and moves to Balwan’s corporate office at Delhi. He constantly compares his designation and personal life to his friends- trying to define success in the materialistic expressions of life.

Years pass, an old love comes back into his life – and everything seems to be fine – but life seems to be keen to throw his balance off-kilter. Abbey finds out unsavory truths about his mentor – and about his Chairman’s plan for the plant too.

Soon Abbey goes back to the township – to do the toughest job in his career so far – and to make the toughest self-journey he would make. In the end he understands that the sense of self he derives from a mere visiting card – and designations is hollow. As Father Hathaway – the Jesuit priest tells him:

“If you want success, think of yourself. If you want happiness, think of others. Stop asking about the meaning of life and instead, think of yourself as the one being questioned by life.”

So the book ends with a question: Will Abbey finally be able to break free of the selfish self involved pattern of behavior? Maybe we’ll find the answer in the next book. 

Overall the book is an easy read, however, sometimes the management jargon can get to be a little off putting to the lay reader. Like the gyaan that Rascal Rusty gives Abbey on the phone can get a little tiresome. The book is set in the mid 80s to the mid 90s – so there are few contemporary references for today’s readers – but quite a few nostalgic references for the generation that was brought up then 😀

Why Ashok Banker chose to go offline

Well I had posted earlier on how Ashok Banker’s presence gave readers like us an opportunity to connect directly. He recently commented on the post:

My joining Twitter was not as a means of ’social networking’ but simply an experiment in a new form of writing. As you probably saw during the brief time I spent Twittering, I was more interested in the technical challenges posed by the limitation of 140 characters, rather than networking. The same applied to blogging and other online means of communication and self-expression.

Due to the attention focussed on my microblogging and blogging, I’ve since chosen to go completely offline. I’ve shut down my blog, Twitter feed, Friendfeed, etc, and am going offline indefinitely. Just thought you should know since it now makes this blogpost irrelevant!

I was dismayed and commented back:

that’s a radical decision you’ve taken, however for your many fans who feel connected to you thanks to these media I hope indefinite does not mean ‘never’

And he (I can only guess it was him) responded:

Hey Gautam, well, that’s the problem. There shouldn’t be writers and fans, we’re all writers on such platforms and should be all equal. The moment there are writers and ‘names’, it’s a failure of the system. I’m sorry but after seeing the way most bloggers shamelessly abuse the medium to promote themselves and their work instead of genuinely writing something worthwhile, I realized that blogging and microblogging have also become tools to crass commercialism. The only way out for people who genuinely want to write and not merely self-promote is to remain unknown and invisible. Hence my deletion of my blog and my presence from all other social networking sites. If and when I do resume, it will be anonymously and the moment I have ‘fans’ or a ‘name’ that means its time to stop or move on again.

I just feel very strongly about these issues. In protest, I’m not using my name here.

I take my hat off to Ashok to stick so much to his principles, but I think he’s missing an essential point here. When we participate in social media – we are not primarily writers. Writing is an act of love for most of us, but we have different day jobs. However Ashok Banker will always be known as a writer primarily of the Ramayana series. It’ll be interesting to see if and when he comes back online in an anonymous avatar – whether people react differently to him – or whether his quality of writing will stand out without the weight of his reputation.

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An author embracing social media

I thought that Abhijit Bhaduri leveraging Orkut to get a community of readers to brainstorm on his upcoming novel Married But Available was a great thing.

Until I bumped into Ashok Banker, author of the acclaimed Ramayana series – on Twitter

He connects with fans (like me!) on Twitter and on Facebook, where he also shares excerpts from his forthcoming novel – Vengeance of Ravana

How cool is that!

Check his marketing philosophy from his blog:

The song belongs to they who listen.

If that sounds more like a line from a song lyric than a marketing philosophy, well, let me explain a bit.

It means that I don’t believe in promoting myself or my work to anybody who hasn’t already expressed an interest.

No forced conversions. No reaching out through mass media to people who aren’t aware of me, or my books. No book launches and media interviews. No public events. No advertising. No book promotions of any kind.

It’s upto the reader to discover me and my work on their own, over time, in their own way. It’s not upto me to choose how that will happen, nor is it my place to get out there and get in the faces of those potential readers.

In fact, I take the view that I only have so many readers at present. If that number increases, so be it. I’m content with whatever number reads my work already. I do not seek out anymore.

The song belongs to they who listen.

In other words, I’m like a guy sitting in my house, strumming my sitar, and singing the classical blues. If you happen to know me and my work and want to listen in, then I’ll welcome you. But I will not come out there on the street, into the marketplace and start rocking to rouse the neighbourhood.

You have to already want to listen to my ’songs’, so to speak, in order to hear them.

Unaccustomed Earth

I liked the book, in parts. Detailed review would be later. Here, in the meanwhile what Abhijit thinks:

Like in her first novel, I liked the title story the best. It is about the daughter coping with the death of her mother as she stumbles upon evidence of her father’s romantic interest in another lady. The beauty of the prose lies in being able to capture how the two different world views lead to an awkwardness in the relationship. Another story I loved in this collection was the one called Heaven and Hell. That is the story of a Bengali wife’s attraction to another immigrant Bengali man only to fall out of favor for marrying a white American lady. A story that will remind you of Satyajit Ray’s film Charulata which remains one of my all time favorites in cinema.

The stories are all about upper middle class Bengali couples and their children who have grown up in the adopted land. The subtle insights into that world are charming. For instance the struggle of parents whose son drops out of an Ivy League college and becomes an alcoholic reflects the Bengali immigrants’ view that education helps a person to climb social rungs in the adopted home.