Interview – Sudhakar Ram – Group CEO, Managing Director & Co-Founder – Mastek & Author of ‘The Connected Age’

Mr. Sudhakar Ram is an Indian entrepreneur and a blogger too. He blogs at a very popular blog called “The New Constructs”. He has recently turned into an author with his debut book ‘The Connected Age’ published by Harper Collins India. I’ve had the opportunity to interview him via e-mail and here is what he had to say.

2M8A5148Ques. What made you write ‘The Connected Age’?

Ans. As I saw the turbulence that the world was going through – economically, politically, socially – I was struck with the insight that it was our Industrial Age mindset that was causing this. The same ideas that brought enormous prosperity to the world over the last two centuries were now causing its destruction.the-connected-age-400x400-imadt57ykdrjahy3

Reflecting on this insight deeply, I realized that our entire notion of success was very narrow and restricted only to money and material progress. Individual wealth, market capitalization of companies, GDP of countries – these were the only metrics we were focused on. This monoculture, across the globe, was leading us to consume mindlessly and putting an enormous strain on the planet.

It was important to develop a new narrative that was richer, more diverse and focussed attention on all facets of being human – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. We needed people to feel the richness of connections with themselves, with one another and with all life on earth. I felt that I had some things to say – that may clarify these ideas for people. Hence the book.

 Ques. While I was reading the book, I felt that the book carries quite an ambitious approach towards everything, did you feel the same while you were writing it?

Ans. I have deliberately painted a very idealistic picture since I would like readers to aspire to something large and meaningful. While our practice of these principles may fall short from time to time, my intent is for all of us to keep learning, developing and striving to achieve these ideals – knowing fully well that we may never get there.

Ques. You’ve asked individuals to be optimistic about things and their actions. Don’t you think it is extremely tough to be always optimistic when the world around us is changing at the drop of a hat?

Ans. We have no control over the world. We can only control our own responses to what the world throws at us. I am convinced that every experience of ours is a “wonderful opportunity” to learn something new, and stretch ourselves to our full potential. It is our limitation that we succumb to negativity and feel pressured by the situations. It is just as easy to choose to be unflustered and respond to the world with equanimity and joy.

When people question the practicality of this approach, I ask them when they are likely to be more creative – when they are unhappy and stressed or when they are calm and joyous. The obvious answer is the latter. If that’s so, what’s the point being stressed. If we have a choice, would we rather not be cool about it? The book contains examples of how to choose to be more powerful.

Ques. It took you almost 4 years to write this book. Was the writing process tough and challenging?

Ans. 4 years were spent researching different ideas and blogging about it every week, without fail. It was very enjoyable – meeting different people, reading all kinds of books, practicing some of these ideas and reflecting on what I was learning.

When I started writing – it took me some time to decide the structure of the book. Once that was clear, my first draft took me all of 3 weeks. Getting it reviewed by some people I respected and refining it based on their feedback took almost 3 months.

Ques. Who got to read the first draft of the book? What was the person’s reaction?

Ans. My first reviewer was my daughter, 17 years old then – since she is much better at writing than I am. She read it diligently, marked many comments by pencil. Her only feedback was “Dad, I think this is a good book”!

Ques. A question that is totally unrelated to this book, I’ve seen business leaders talking about breaking the clutter, thinking out-of-the-box and other such heavy phrases while they address seminars, conferences etc. But do they actually follow the same ideology while they are looking out for new talent to hire in the market? I’m asking this because I’ve seen people taking a conservative path while they are out there to hire fresh talent.

Ans. That’s true. It is quite difficult to practice all these ideas in a traditional organization. We are in the process of transforming Mastek into a Connected Age corporation based on the ideas of the book – we have made some very significant changes in terms of delayering the company, empowering youngsters, changing to team accountability instead of individual accountability and scrapping our performance appraisal system.

Ques. What is that one thing that you believe acts as a catalyst when an individual is trying to re-invent himself and his vision? Do you think your book will act as that catalyst?

Ans. While I would love to believe that my book could be a catalyst, I don’t think any single event does the trick. People get ready to change based on a set of life events, meeting and engaging with inspiring people, and, reading different kinds of books. Ultimately, it is their personal conviction and discipline which get them there.

Ques. What does Mr. Sudhakar Ram do when he is not working or travelling?

Ans. I continue to research the Connected Age by meeting new people and reading more books. Now that I live in the UK, I have had the opportunity to expand my reach into British influences. My recent blogs have covered the nef (new economics foundation); Transition Town movements and the like.

Ques. Do you ever see yourself writing a fiction? If yes, what genre would it be?

Ans. I would like to write fiction – since stories are far more engaging and appealing to convey ideas. I would need to learn how to write fiction but if and when I do, my attempt would be to create stories around facets of the Connected Age.

Ques. Why should one read ‘The Connected Age’?

Ans. The book is targeted at youngsters who are committed to making a difference to the world. They have questions about the world and their role in it. They would like to expand their worldview to gain a deeper and more complete understanding of the world. They would like to develop their own vision for the world that they want to leave behind for future generations. This book gives them one starting point for this quest.

I want to thank Mr. Ram for taking time out for this interview and people at Harper Collins India for making this interview possible.

The Connected Age is available on all the leading e-commerce portals. It is an interesting read. You can read my review of the book here.

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