Author: Hacks for Life and Career..A Millennial’s Guide to Making It Big – Sandeep Das, PGP 2009

Understanding millennials is a huge challenge, making them understand is a bigger challenge. In a world where access and exposure to extensive information is readily available and digital globalization is immense, it takes so much more to be heard in the crowd. Sandeep Das, author of Hacks for Life and Career – A Millennial’s Guide to Making It Big has all the tricks up his sleeve to be able to guide the empowered crowd of millennials into success and something greater. His book talks about the struggles and hardships of a millennial and how one can overcome these challenges.

Sandeep has authored three books in different genres – Contemporary Fiction, Corporate Drama and Strategy. His first book Yours Sarcastically got rave reviews and was even nominated for the Crossword Economist Book Award. He is a columnist with leading newspapers & magazines and has penned over 100 columns. His abundant energy often finds him anchoring & hosting events at business schools across the country. A foodie at heart with the spirit of a explorer.

Please tell us something briefly about yourself.

I am a pass out of PGP 2007 – 09. I have been working in the management consulting space for over a decade at Accenture Strategy and now as a Director with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

After work, I have been actively pursuing a writing and a speaking career. I have been fortunate to author three books – ‘Yours Sarcastically’, ‘Satan’s Angels’ and my latest book, ‘Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big’.

In addition, I write at the intersection of consumer behaviour, behavioural psychology and technology with over 100 opinion pieces for the Economic Times, Fortune, Mint, Business World and Outlook. I am grateful for the speaking opportunities that have come my way, having spoken at 20+ leading institutions like IITs and IIMs and currently building my career as a professional speaker in corporates.

The Indian media has been very kind to me by featuring my profile or my books in the Times of India, Mint, Fortune, Business India, Hindu, CNN IBN, Deccan Chronicle, Entrepreneur, Asian Age and other leading publications.

When did you decide to be a writer? How did you get into this line?

It is an interesting anecdote actually. During my early days in my career, my manager walked upto me and said, “Your job is to interview 60 South Bombay women over the next few days. Take them out for drinks and parties and get to know them personally. Your company will bear all the expenses.” This was the genesis of my book, ‘Yours Sarcastically’. I thought it was too good a story not to be written about.

Can you please tell us more about your latest book – Hacks for Life and Career?

The genesis of my book was a startling revelation about the mismatch between millennial buyer values and corporate India’s buyer values. I interviewed nearly 250-300 millennials and 100 corporate leaders to find that most leaders in corporate India believe that 95% of millennials are neither ready to succeed at the workplace nor in their personal lives. Millennials on the other hand believe that the education system and the corporates they work for don’t equip them to succeed in their lives. They find their work boring, routine and organisations out of touch with their aspirations. This is where, “Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big” steps in and tries to fill the gap.

In terms of advice, millennials need to be cognisant of their likely career paths this decade. Careers are likely to be non-linear, span multiple themes with extensive focus on meaning and impact at work rather than a designation and monetary benefits. In addition, millennials will be expected to be the ‘jack of all trades’ with basic knowledge across business theories, sectors and technologies. It is important for millennials to have a decent understanding across a wide range of contemporary topics (e.g., behavioural psychology, business storytelling, design thinking, entrepreneurship, mental health) to succeed this decade. Finally, the most important part for millennials across industries will be to have a very good understanding of personal finance. The more money you have in the bank, the better you will sleep at night.

These principles are what my book tries to address.

Having a full-time corporate job, how do you dedicate time to writing? Is there a routine you follow?

It is not easy managing a full time corporate job, along with a speaking and a writing career. What has helped me immensely is that I get up early every morning (between 430 and 5 am) and I dedicate 2-3 hours in the morning everyday to writing. I have been doing this for nearly a decade and it has helped me immensely in maintaining this balance and succeeding in multiple spheres in life.

A routine is definitely helpful. Irrespective of the time of the year, I try to write 1000 words, or roughly 3 pages, every week. It keeps the writing process in sync and a book is ready every 18 months.

As an author of different genres – how do you think it impacts your audience and your potential as a writer?

The genres I have operated in till now are popular fiction (Yours Sarcastically), a crime thriller (Satan’s Angels) and business non-fiction (Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big). I intend to pursue ‘Hacks for Life and Career’ as a ten year business franchise while I explore other genres, potentially travel or socially relevant themes. One of my books is being considered for an adaptation for the big screen and I hope to get into that space in the future.

Dabbling in multiple genres helps you in reaching out to a larger audience. In addition, your existing audience might have a thrilling ride by being exposed to a similar fast paced writing style in a new genre.

As a writer, it is about creative maximisation of your abilities as you have to master a steep learning curve to operate effectively across different genres.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process involved in writing?

The most difficult part in writing, whether for a book or an opinion piece, is undoubtedly in generating new ideas on an everyday basis. As a result, it is important for every aspiring author to be abreast of the latest socio-economic and cultural trends which implies a lot of reading across different genres of books.

What is equally difficult is the business part of the writing process – getting a piece published, building scale and driving commercial success. There is no clear winning formula here and every author discovers his own recipe in overcoming these barriers.

Do you have a writing quirk? Or Is there something your readers don’t know about you?

I am not sure if you can call this a quirk but when I write any piece, book or an opinion piece, I write the ending first and then work backward to write the remaining piece. I think it helps me in keeping the piece taut, riveting and full of punches.

How has writing helped you as a person?

A career in writing has helped me become calmer as you carefully notice intricacies of people’s behaviour, their non-verbal cues and often try to empathise with them as you put yourself in their shoes. Everyone you meet is after all a potential character for a future story.

From a skill set point of view, storytelling teaches you brevity in language, flow in thought process and ability to narrate your points of view without losing the audience’s attention; all of which are incredibly important in running any modern day business. In fact, business storytelling is the single biggest skill professionals will need to master to be effective at their workplaces in the upcoming decade.

What role has IIMB played in your writing journey?

There is a lot of credit that I ascribe to IIMB in my overall journey. My stint at IIMB was instrumental in shaping my mind that a person can have multiple interests and pursue all of them in parallel and be successful in all of them. During my stint at IIM Bangalore, I was in the top 10% of the batch academically along with being part of 8 student clubs (including the student council) and authored multiple cases with members of the faculty. In one line, IIMB taught me that a person can actually have it all and that 24 hours in a day is a really long time.

Are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?  

I am active on all social media platforms. Readers can reach out to me on LinkedIn (handle: Sandeep Das), Instagram (handle: @sandeepdasauthor), Facebook (handle: Sandeep Das) and Twitter (handle: @Sandydasauthor). In addition, readers can also subscribe to my YouTube channel (handle: Sandeep Das) where I speak about contemporary business themes that affect millennials.

You can grab your copy of Hacks for Life and Career and other books by Sandeep from Amazon. Please follow the link here.