Fetch your own coffee: A compilation of life's profound lessons

An exclusive excerpt from author Kaustubh Sonalkar's upcoming book, Fetch Your Own Coffee, that is a compilation of some truly profound lessons that the author has derived from his experiences over the years.

 |  6-minute read |   16-09-2020
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We do our best thinking when our minds are free to wander, and our minds are most free when we do routine tasks like fetching ourselves a cup of coffee or watering the plants. Fetch Your Own Coffee by author Kaustubh Sonalkar is a compilation of such profound thoughts, that offer an alternative view of everything around us. Written and published as separate blogs over three years, each chapter included in this book has been widely read and discussed online before being handpicked and compiled in this one book of invaluable life lessons.

Each chapter captures the author's views on burning issues like diversity, education, transgender inclusion, biases, youth and women issues and even societal taboos.

We present an excerpt



Fetch Your Own Coffee. Rs 499. Publisher: Penguin Random House India


Lifting the leadership pitch with airlift

Leaders are neither born nor bred; they emerge from the caveats of possibilities deemed dead.

Of the 169,000 Indians stranded in seized Kuwait, in the movie Airlift, only one – Ranjit Katyal – could see the big picture - a way out of the situation. Mid-managers lulled into the drone of everyday delegation, leaving the ‘leading’ to the top-management often ring the death knell for an organization’s nimbleness. Like Katyal, all of us, in the corporate world, could potentially transform into knights in suited armour. The protagonist, played by Akshay Kumar, starts off as a selfish, albeit successful person but begins to transition into an empathetic benefactor as the problems emerge, creating solutions with thought and daring. The movie also showed us that pre-planned heroism is not required to become a successful leader. Below are some leadership qualities that our Bollywood movies highlights through gripping narratives:

1). Own up to grave mistakes

2). Start small, but get to the big picture quickly

3). Unwavering empathy

4). Trust issues after failures

5). Infectious persistence

6). Stay back with the team

Speed, imagination and the lullaby syndrome

Disruption comes at a cost; you have to pay with your comfort

People who ‘do HR’ are boring; those who disrupt HR are far from it. The honest truth is that the distance between a management trainee and the Managing Director is just those couple of steps that need to be taken to cross the corridor. The world is getting younger, consumption patterns are being driven by youngsters, and the means of communication and dialogue are definitely driven by the sub-30 age group. In this scenario, occupants of the coveted corner offices are keenly looking at their newest team members for an understanding of the market. So the trick is to avoid the comforting lullaby of the regular work-cycle, and to act with speed. But knowing that speed often comes at the cost of strategic thought, we need to combine it with imagination. Here are some rules that Kaustubh urges people to break:

1). Don’t sound like an insider in the know of things

2). Don’t try and demonstrate efficiency by solving as much as possible in one shot

3). We don’t have to strive towards perfection as what’s perfect for one set of people at one time can spell disaster in an alternative setting

4). Don’t just follow the process to lead to results, rather focus on the solutions

5). Don’t be afraid to fail, let it make you strong

Business T20 – five questions that agile businesses need to stop asking at interviews

Whether in work or life, undo the status quo by replacing the redundant with relevant.

T20 cricket, officially born in 2003, changed the rules of the game. Similarly, it is time for the recruiters to change the age old template of questions that they ask candidates at interviews. The relevance of the set questionnaire may still be intact but we need to rephrase the approach to understand whether the candidate is ready to sail with the company even amid storms. T20 cricket shows us that there is truly no qualification that can beat experience. Tillakaratne Dilshan is 39 years old, and Ashish Nehra is 37; both still going strong as gems of the T20 format. However, the key is not only their experience, but experience coupled with adaptability. Likewise, a candidate with years of experience should also have the ability to adapt to new sets of goals. Just like Dhoni, the ability to think big under pressure and follow it up with action, is what will set successful talent apart in the future. Experience should be considered, but always in the light of adaptability.

What the third gender can teach us about our first priority – innovation

Two is company, three’s not a crowd; welcome the third, out loud and proud.

The ancient wisdom of Hindu Vedic knowledge defines the third gender as ‘tritiya prakruti’, which means the ‘third nature’. There was a time when there was a specific place for the ‘hijra’ in the Mughal kingdoms as a special counsellor - a role they were believed to deserve because of their offbeat perspectives. Apart from their gender being their strength, it is their characteristics, their nature and their way of handling situations, that can help win wars in the corporate world. Businesses today have realized that innovation is the surest way to stay relevant, and the third gender has an edge in this respect. Kaustubh feels that transgender people have a lot to teach us in innovation, creativity, agility, speed and many more. It is believed that transgenders are wired to think differently and more creatively. They are the epitome of multi-tasking, and including them in the workforce will result in a more holistic work culture. The fact that from the traffic signals, they would be transported to a workplace where they can bring about a different work culture which could change the world someday, seems really fascinating, exciting and empowering at the same time.

A world of polka dots – lessons from the little ones

A critical step in innovation is to experience the world through the eyes of a child and marvel at life’s little joys

Through micro tales, Kaustubh has tried to showcase how children in our lives can help us see the world in a completely different way. Facing the day with excitement is just a matter of perspective, everything is a learning experience, and we can become whatever we want from a child’s perspective - a doctor, an astronaut or a chef! There is no limitation to their imagination. The kids around us help us to understand that it’s not so difficult to make new friends, and leisure times are to be given as much importance as we give to productivity. Most importantly, they teach us not to get bothered with people’s opinion as apprehensions can come in the way of creativity.

Also read: Why we fall for fake news


Kaustubh Sonalkar Kaustubh Sonalkar @ksonalkar

The writer is a philanthropist, author and the CEO of Essar Foundation.

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