~ Vedashree Patankar, Deepa Soman
We were in conversation with Rashmi Bansal, our Learning Monday guest.
‘Shine Bright’ on ‘intrapreneurship’ is her 10th book in 10 years.
Rashmi started writing at 7 as a student in the US. The freedom to write on “anything” gave her the needed freedom of expression. It did not suck out my creative juices as a topic “Science Boon or Bane” may have done. Her work was selected to be published in the Christian Science Monitor! Daughter of a scientist, Rashmi was back in India. She grew up in the green campus of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) campus.
Rashmi excelled at school. “I was smart and had a good memory and spent most of time reading. I often borrowed one book a day”. Rashmi topped school in the 10th class board exams. She took science in the 11th at St. Xavier’s College, but this daughter of scientist/ astrophysicist daughter, did not enjoy science. She “escaped” to do her 12th in the US and by the time she returned, most of the college admissions were closed.
She chose to study Arts at Sophia College, and used her time to participate in many college events, write and get published. Persistent about what she wants, Rashmi is a strong thinker, executor, communicator and influencer.
Her life and work choices are bold and quirky. “It will be impossible for me to work for anyone”.
After opting out of IIM-A placements, Rashmi joined The Times of India and worked for a few years, having crafted a role for herself that straddled editorial and business.
She has a finger on the pulse of her reader, and a deep understanding of Indian youth, largely because of the magazine JAM that she wrote for 15 years.
Rashmi travels extensively to address students across campuses.
She tries to meet a couple of people who are doing well. She steers clear from well-known names and does a thorough background check on the person she will profile.
Her last book, ’Shine Bright’ took four years between doing the nine interviews and writing eight chapters.
“We need to work with government to create big impact”
We give Rashmi Bansal a 10/10 because her journey inspires us to:
- Give it a try
Rashmi wanted to feature in ‘The Middle’, a column in Times of India. She sent her write ups, getting rejection letters multiple times. But she didn’t let her rejections bog her down, she kept sending her articles, until on the 41st try she saw the piece with her by line featured.
- Stay true to our inner self
Dropping out of IIM-A placements is a tough decision, but Rashmi knew that writing was something that she needed to for herself, not as a hobby but as a career choice.
- Be creative in finding solutions
Rashmi decided to launch JAM, but with no major funding, she got creative with her promotions by promoting it at the St Xavier’s College festival – Malhar in 1995. She went the unofficial route and got people to wear t-shirts with the JAM logo on them. Guerrilla marketing to in the true sense.
- Be okay with not knowing what’s next
Rashmi was managing JAM, and raising a child. Attrition was on the rise as well; it was getting very stressful. Rashmi had to face the bleak reality that it wouldn’t be a smooth sailing. She wasn’t happy, she decided to rediscover herself. She started writing again, she even started writing for Business Today magazine
- Leverage our past
The columns at Business Today revolved around management and B-schools. This was a way for Rashmi to leverage her MBA degree. She always wondered why she did her MBA; the columns gave her the assurance that it was life connecting the dots for her.
- Not be afraid to reinvent ourselves
Rashmi got an opportunity to interview IIM alumni entrepreneurs to call out their stories to make it into a book. The book originally was just to be distributed at a conference. Rashmi took up that project with gusto and weaved interviews into stories. These stories are what we see in ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’.
- Stick to our guns
The people who commissioned the book wanted to include charts and graphs but Rashmi was adamant that the stories needed to be told organically, not to be interspaced with business jargon.
- Find our niche
Writing ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ propelled Rashmi into mainstream literature, she followed up the wave with ‘Connect the Dots’. Each subsequent book features entrepreneurs from different walks of life.
- Search for areas to contribute
Rashmi feels passionately that people need to relate to the entrepreneurs in the books she writes about, she fulfils this passion by having a few Hindi texts along with English writing. Rashmi wants to write in local languages with small towns as her target audience. This is what she wants to do, she wants to inspire people; for them to be hopeful.
- Always be on the lookout for the next level
Rashmi is far from satisfied. “I could have done more”, she says with a faraway look in her eyes. Moving on from non-fiction, she wants to reach her audience through fiction and has written a couple of short stories. She wants to broaden her audience; she is looking into myriad ways to engage with them. ‘I will start teaching a course in Entrepreneurship in Ashoka University’
Restless, seeking a larger canvas to impact, Shine Bright, Rashmi Bansal! You scored a perfect 10!
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