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Saying Hi to Life! - A chat with FMS alum, Siddharth Banerjee on his debut book
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Posted by : thedesk   Jan 18 2008
FMS alum Siddharth Banerjee’s debut book ‘High on Life’ weaves together stories, tips and accounts of over 1000 professionals, from IIT-IIM graduates to doctors and entrepreneurs, in areas as diverse yet relevant as careers, marriage, homemaking, children, weekends, socializing, and personal finance. Here, we present an interview with the author about his book, work-life balance and his experiences while writing it.
FMS alum Siddharth Banerjee’s debut book ‘High on Life’ weaves together stories, tips and accounts of over 1000 professionals, from IIT-IIM graduates to doctors and entrepreneurs, in areas as diverse yet relevant as careers, marriage, homemaking, children, weekends, socializing, and personal finance. It’s a self-help book about managing your existence and reaping life’s rich harvest!

It is always inspiring to hear about a fellow professional from the community taking the leap of creativity to write what he’s always believed in. 6bridges hopes to bring such worthy efforts of its members across to everyone in the global community. Siddharth puts it aptly that it helps “getting the right balance of specific information from communities like 6Bridges.

In this edition, we present an interview with Siddharth Banerjee about his book, work-life balance and his experiences while writing it.

Siddharth Banerjee

1) Can you tell us a little about your academic & professional background? How has your academic background helped in terms of depth of perspective?
I am an MBA from FMS-Delhi, currently working as an FMCG Marketing professional and HIGH ON LIFE is my debut novel.

My background has allowed me to work and travel across India, meet different people and glean fabulous stories and interesting insights from a diverse mix of people. Also, my MBA education has taught me to be curious about the world and also to look at issues with a perspective to tackle it in many different ways, all of which have contributed towards the making of HIGH ON LIFE.

2) When did you first think about writing this book and is there any trigger that inspired you?
The starting point for HIGH ON LIFE came out of my MBA batchmate wife, Eika and my early experiences together post passing out from B-school.

Post MBA, Eika and I got married; followed hectic careers; subsequently had 2 kids; lived across Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai; handled relatives, friends, professional networks; juggled maid management; explored the world…. In short, led a pretty hectic life!

In all of this, I had maintained a diary with stories, tips and “gyaan” from hundreds of friends, relatives, contacts and colleagues [and even first-time acquaintances], over the last 3 years.

Over time, it occurred to us that a lot of people would look towards us as a source of information and tips. That’s when the thought of writing about our own experiences and learnings in the form of HIGH ON LIFE; and sharing them with a wider audience really came about.

3) How do you connect your own journey to the essence of the book?
My wife and I were early adopters in several facets of life, as we along crucial stages of our lives. Hence, we also spoke to many people and got advice and useful tips which I have tried to pull together into HIGH ON LIFE. Thus, a lot of advice in HIGH ON LIFE, especially in Chapter 3 [Money Mantras], Chapter 8 [First Foreign Trip] and Chapter 12 [Invest In Yourself] are from my personal experiences.

4) What was the most difficult part in writing the book? Did you ever feel like giving it up half way or did procrastination affect the momentum anytime?
Bang on…. The actual process of writing HIGH ON LIFE itself was torturous and required dollops of discipline! I finally had to set myself a deadline and hence, had to sacrifice a lot of weekends and miss out on my reading and 3 months of Bollywood movies to meet that deadline!

5) How did you find the time to write while pursuing your full time job? Do you consider yourself to have achieved a comfortable work-life balance through such an achievement?
Well, HIGH ON LIFE is about people who are able to juggle varied roles!

Due to the hectic nature of my work, I jotted down my learnings and experiences over 3 long years; and was finally able to pull all those notings together and shape it into HIGH ON LIFE in the first 3 months of 2007. Thus, 3 years in the making and 3 months to put it down into a book!

6) What message do you have for professionals who aspire to be writers?
Good question! A lot of people among us are closet authors. And thus, a simple message - maintain a diary to record your thoughts and experiences, and when you get the opportunity, JUST WRITE YOUR BOOK…

7) How difficult did you find it to locate a publisher and convince people around you, being a first time author?
I have the same war wounds as most first-time authors [MBA or otherwise!] of several rejection slips. The positive side was ofcourse the feeling of challenging yourself again and again, as an entrepreneur hawking his ideas. However, before I could classify myself as a “young and struggling author”, I was fortunate enough to find and secure a partnership with the prestigious Delhi-based publishers, Wisdom Tree

8) If you were to sum up the essence of the book for the readers how would you phrase it?
The central premise of this book is that everybody would love to get most out of life.

One of my beliefs is that what is going to differentiate you from your peers 10 years from now are 3 things - the people you meet, the information you consume, and the choices you make.

HIGH ON LIFE is based on this philosophy, and is thus perhaps the first “Self Help” book emerging from the MBA community in India.

Thus, HIGH ON LIFE contains stories, anecdotes, tips, “gyaan”, formats and information collected from over 1000 young successful people, from IIT-IIM graduates to doctors and entrepreneurs, which can help you get most out of life!

9) Tell us a little about the title of the book ‘High on Life’ and how did you arrive at it?
Well, my publisher and I brainstormed about the title in detail! We were clear that the title needed to emanate from the soul or the philosophy of the book, and at the same time, needed to take on a larger cause, like Pepsi’s classic “Yeh Dil Maange More”. With HIGH ON LIFE as the title, I think we cracked it.

10) More and more young professionals are taking to writing in India . Why do you think this is so? & Do you see a trend?
As the Indian economy opens up to the world, and becomes more globally connected, you will need more Indian idioms, more Indian voices, and thus, more influence of Indian on the global map.

Trends like more professionals writing in the English language is both a result of our overwhelming confidence, as well as the new rush of opportunities available more and more to us. Thus, this trend is here to stay and become stronger…

11) How has the book changed your perspective towards life and how do you look at your future now?
The book is about MY perspective towards life. However, 2 inspiring books which helped shape this perspective have been Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” and Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

This book has definitely given me a strong platform, and I intend to build upon this with my 2nd book soon, a book of stories on MBAs.

12) How do you think 6bridges helps professionals in finding a platform to voice their aspirations and interests?
In HIGH ON LIFE, I have collected some rich experiences about career choices made by High Lifers [Chapter 1- Plan Your Life] and have put down some basic tips and experiences such as “Update Your Resume Every 6 Months” to excel at work [Chapter 2- Fast Track Your Career].

Besides this, I would suggest that B-school students would benefit from reading exhaustively about a variety of subjects and getting the right balance of specific information from communities like 6Bridges etc.

13) 6bridges is the largest global community of premier Indian Professionals. How useful do you think it has been as a networking tool for alumni of the premier institutes?
I think we all learn most from sharing and exploring with each other, and communities like 6Bridges are doing a great job in bringing together alumni and ideas of premier professional institutions. ,,,,