Handcrafted book summary of Exam Warriors

Exam Warriors by Narendra Modi book summary

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Exam Warriors

   Shri Narendra Modi

Penguin

208 pages; Average reading time 1 hours 30 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 7 minutes

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This handcrafted book summary will help you learn

  • Why should you not worry too much about exams?
  • Why should you pursue knowledge and not marks?
  • Why is it important to discover one’s self?
  • As a parent or a teacher, how can you help?

While this handcrafted book summary captures about 12 key mantras from the book, the original book carries 25 mantras, richly supported with interactive games, exercises and yoga asana recommendations. We strongly recommend that you buy the book to go through all the 25 mantras and the recommended interactive exercises.

Exams are not a matter of life and death

Exams test your preparation. When you pass the exam, it means you had prepared well. Similarly, if you fail, then you were not prepared well. The failure is not about you. You are not a failure. Your preparation for the exam was inadequate.

When Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam failed his fighter pilot test, he was disappointed in not being able to achieve his dream. But he did not consider himself as a failure and instead, went on become the great scientist that we all now know him as. One failure does not, and should not, define you. Your dreams can be achieved even if you face initial setbacks or failures.

Why worry so much?

An exam is an opportunity disguised as a challenge. Yes, there will be some tension in your mind during the exam duration, and that’s normal. But if you worry constantly and are under stress all the time, then you are a ‘worrier’ and not a ‘warrior’. Some of the bravest men and women in our history faced the same choice that you face today- worry about the challenge or fight the challenge. They always picked the latter. You, too, should fight bravely and defeat the worry about exams.

Train your mind to revise

When you keep your things in their right place and organise your things before any important activity, you train your mind to be methodical. Revising your notes is another way to train your mind to be methodical. When you revise, you are telling your mind to remember which topic is to be recollected in what manner- acronyms, mind maps, short notes, debating and discussing with friends or many such techniques. Successful athletes often watch their own (and opposition team) recording after a match so that they can identify where they went wrong, and what needs to be done to improve. Watching yourself is again a way of revision.

How you present your work is important

High-quality answers or good content will always be the hallmark of having prepared well for the exams. However, it is important to understand that good presentation helps create a lasting impression. While it is never recommended to focus on the presentation while ignoring studies, but neat and well written or labelled answers helps the examiner get a positive impression about you.

Pursue knowledge

What is important is not how many marks you scored in your exam, but what knowledge and skill you gained while studying. In fact, if you purse knowledge and study hard, good marks will be a by-product of your efforts. Focusing only on marks also makes you susceptible to ‘selective learning”, thereby leaving you with incomplete knowledge and we all are aware that partial knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

The architect of the Constitution of India is Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. Dr Ambedkar overcame many hurdles in his pursuit of knowledge and went on to study in some of the best colleges in the world. So intense was his pursuit of knowledge that it is believed that his personal library had over 50,000 books!

You are your competitor

When you pursue excellence, then the battle is not about outshining your friend. Instead, the battle for excellence is about enhancing your abilities till you reach your true potential. If you can become a better individual by competing against your self, then why compete against others? In fact, competing with others limits your ability to reach your true potential.

Former pole vault world champion Sergei Bubka kept improving on his world record thirty-five times. Why did Bubka improve his record thirty-five times? Because he was competing against himself. He was pushing his ability to new limits and was not complacent.

Being mindful- live here and now

Living in the present is about focusing on here and now. While it is important to learn from the past and prepare for the future, it is even more important to stay focused on now – your current task or project. Do not let your mind drift into anything other than what you are focusing on now.

The best way to stay focused on now is to get into the habit of observing your thoughts. Whenever your mind drifts, take a few deep breaths and bring your thoughts back to your current focus.

Sleep well

It is important to sleep well, especially during exam time. Good sleep helps you stay sharp and focused. But it is not about how many hours you have slept. What is more important is how well you slept. Just a few hours of sound sleep is far better than disturbed sleep through the night. When you have a series of exams, it is a good idea to have a nap after each of your exams is over. Good sleep helps sharpen the mind and enable you to prepare better for the next exam. Make sure you have a good sleep before your exam, as well.

Build your self-confidence by focusing on your strengths

Believing in yourself is important to be well prepared. Your confidence should stem from your strengths, even from the smallest of your strengths. Do not worry about your weaknesses. Instead, celebrate your strengths and build your self-confidence.

Swami Vivekananda quoted from the Upanishads ‘Aham Brahmasmi’- ”I am the manifestation of divinity’. When you think and meditate on this mantra, you will be filled with a strong sense of self-confidence. One interesting way of writing down your strengths is list down a strength that you have, for every alphabet of your name.

Step out, and experience the world around you

Experience the world around you. Have you ever travelled in the general compartment of a train, without any reservation? What would such an experience do to you? What will happen if you decide to go to a new playground and play with kids whom you do not know? You will get to experience something that is new for you.

But there are millions for whom travelling in the general compartment without a reservation is part of their daily lives. Stepping out and experiencing the world helps you understand the problems and challenges faced by the common Indian. Step out and let life become your best teacher. Stretch yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. Once the exams are over, work with community service organisations or pursue a new hobby.

Aspire to do

What do you aspire to be? This is a misleading question because the answer to this question carries with it the baggage of expectations of parents, peers, money and lifestyle. Instead, if you focus on what you aspire to do, then the answer will be something that you love doing. Since this aspire to do comes from what you love doing, it will lead you towards your destiny. Think about what would aspire to do for the society, if you had all the resources you needed, and no restrictions.

Be grateful

Being grateful or thankful is being mindful of the world and the people around you, who are helping you in every step that you take. Your teachers, parents, siblings and friends help you access opportunities and prepare well to take advantage of such opportunities. In fact, there are lots of people that you should be grateful to, whom you have never met in your life. The farmer who helps you get food on the table, the mason who built your home or your school- these are people who you have never met, but it is because of them that you have a comfortable home and school. Your success is not yours alone.

What should parents keep in mind?

During exams, which is a stressful time for students, encourage your children to stay happy and stress-free. As a parent, you know your children better than anyone else. Do not add the burden of your expectations on your children. Always accept rather than expect. It is important for the parent to accept that the dreams and aspirations of your children may be very different from what you expect.

Help your children explore opportunities and guide them to conquer their fear of the unknown by allowing them to experience life. Do not stop them from stepping out of comfort zone. Spend quality time with your children and listen to their dreams and fears. Stay positive and help your children stay positive.

Role of teachers

As teachers, you understand the special relationship that exists between you and your students. When students start getting worried about exams, you need to calm their nerves. Help your students make the important jump from focusing just on marks to pursuing knowledge. When students and their parents face the challenge of making career choices, help them by using your knowledge to mentor them.

While this handcrafted book summary captures about 12 key mantras from the book, the original book carries 25 mantras, richly supported with interactive games, exercises and yoga asana recommendations. We strongly recommend that you buy the book to go through all the 25 mantras and the recommended interactive exercises.

Click here to download India’s favourite book summary app-bookbhook, to read more than 125 nonfiction book summaries

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Handcrafted book summary of Think and Grow Rich

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Think and Grow Rich

   Napoleon Hill

Amazing Reads

250 pages; Average reading time 4 hours 49 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 15 minutes

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This bookbhook book summary is handcrafted by Sujatha Sathya. Apart from writing book summaries for India’s favourite book summary app, Sujatha spent a decade in teaching and training before she decided focus on writing.

This handcrafted book summary will help you learn

  1. How passion & discipline can help you realise dreams?
  2. How self-belief can build a better future for you?
  3. How to overcome the six ghosts of fear?
  4. Why visualisation is the best approach building faith and success?

Are you just three feet away from success?

R.U Darby’s uncle was bitten by the goldrush bug, and he decided to try his luck in Colorado. After some effort, he discovered the shiny metal. The uncle got R.U Darby to arrange for money so that they could dig in drills and mine the gold. The first lot turned out to be precisely that- gold!

However, after that, Darby and his Uncle just could not find any more gold, howsoever deep they dug into the ground. Disappointed, they sold the machinery to another man at a junk price. This man, however, decided to take help. He hired a mining engineer who studied the area that Darby’s Uncle had dug, and recommended that the gold vein was three feet away from where Darby’s Uncle was digging.

The informed lead from the engineer turned out to be true, and the man had transformed the gold rush dream into reality.

Darby later made a fortune in the insurance business because he had learnt that ‘I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance. How did Darby move from Failure Consciousness to Success Consciousness? What is the success formula?

 Is there a burning desire within you?

A burning, all-consuming desire to succeed is a critical component of any great success story. The irrepressible desire to succeed is a state of mind, and it has to be kept burning at all times. You must be ready to burn your ship, cut off all fall-back plans and plunge headfirst into the undertaking you have chosen. That is the extent to which you wish to endeavour a success.

When things look rough, and the future is bleak, most people turn around and pursue a more comfortable option. However, that is never an option for real achievers because they do not even think of a backup plan. There simply is none. To succeed at the chosen task, come what may, is their only option.

People of all ages and races have always longed for money. Every single person on this planet wants to be rich. However, mere wishing will not bring wealth and prosperity. You must desire wealth with an obsessive mind and follow that up with concrete plans and methods to gain the riches you long for. Those definite plans further need a persistent and concentrated effort that does not give up at first sight of failure. Only this kind of approach can bring you the riches that you dream about.

Start this journey with these six steps

To embark on this journey, first and foremost, write down the exact amount of money you want. Then, examine what you can offer in exchange for the money. Note down a definite date by when you want to own the money.

Later, draft a definite plan for executing your wish and start at once to act on it. Write the whole thing down – the amount you want to make, the time limit, and the plan of how you will accumulate it – write everything down into one clear and short statement of action. Lastly, and most importantly, read that statement aloud, every day. Read it twice – at night and in the morning – and as you read, believe strongly that you already own the money.

Visualise your desire

Learn to persuade your mind that you will most definitely receive what you ask.  Watch as your mind starts to act on your unflinching belief. It will pass the belief back to you in the form of faith. It will also follow up with sure-shot plans for getting what you want. This state of mind, of unwavering belief, can be created.

To create this state of mind, you must repeat the instructions to the subconscious mind. Use the technique of auto-suggestion to achieve that. Behave as if you already possess all the material things you are dreaming about. When our mind is subjected to a constant supply of positive emotions, the mind becomes an encouraging place for faith. Such an overpowering mind will give the subconscious mind constant instructions. Moreover, the subconscious mind will surely act upon them all immediately.

Formula for self confidence

The formula for self-confidence is very simple. First, you need to remind yourself constantly that you do have the ability to achieve your main goal in life. You need to then focus your thoughts on imagining the person you wish to become. Do this every day for half an hour. Believe that with the help of the technique of auto-suggestion, any dream that you lovingly and continuously nurture in your mind will one day find outward expression.

Describe the primary aim of your life, write it down and promise yourself that you will never stop trying. You will be open to making use of the cooperation of other people in the pursuit of your goal. Lastly, sign your name on this formula, memorise it and repeat it aloud. Do this at least once every day with complete faith that it will power your thoughts and your future actions.

The power of auto-suggestion

Auto-suggestion refers to all suggestions that reach your mind through your five senses. It is, simply put, self-suggestion. When you focus on a specific desire, it eventually turns into an all-consuming obsession. It is better to not waste precious time by waiting for a definite plan and instead of starting immediately.

However, to start immediately, you need to visualise yourself as already possessing the money you wish to accumulate one day. Then, be on the look-out and when the plans appear, put them into action without further delay. It is important to have faith if you want to get good results. Follow the instructions with complete faith.

First, say out loud the amount of money you want to accrue and the time limit for it. Repeat this twice, every day till you can see the money. Read the written copy of your statement as soon as you wake up in the morning and before you sleep till it is thoroughly memorised.

When you do this, you are applying the method of auto-suggestion. The aim is to give orders to your subconscious mind. Remember, your mind will act on instructions that have an emotional touch.  Unemotional words do not affect it. So feed the instructions to the mind with feeling. It is well known that man can become his master and that of his environment. This is because he can influence his mind.

Knowledge is power

What does the word educate mean? It means to draw out or to develop from within. We often confuse an educated man as someone who has a great deal of general or specialised knowledge. However, it is not the case always. An educated man is someone who can develop his mind. He is perfectly capable of getting what he wants. He does this without infringing on others’ rights.

Anyone who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it is an educated man. He has mastered the skill of organising that knowledge into specific action plans.

Take the example of Henry Ford. He sought the help of his Master Mind group. He had all the specialised knowledge he needed at his disposal. This catapulted him to the position of one of the richest men in America. He had very little formal education – less than a sixth grade – but he excelled financially.

It is not very difficult to gain specialised knowledge. It is one of the cheapest forms of service. Look at the payroll of any university to get an understanding of its easy availability. Before you begin your journey to unprecedented wealth, decide the kind of knowledge you need. Also, state the objective for which it is needed. Your major purpose in life will determine what knowledge you need.

Some reliable sources of knowledge are – your own life experiences and education, the mastermind network which consists of the experiences and education of others, colleges and universities, public libraries, and also special training courses.

Imagine, create and be rich

Every rag to riches story started with a simple idea. An idea is the starting point of all fortune. The movie industry across the world has generated a lot of millionaires. Most of these rich men could not themselves create new ideas. However, they had the rare ability to recognise a brilliant, money-spinning idea when they spotted one.

A fertile imaginative faculty leads to an abundance of ideas. What you can imagine, you can create. When you create something of value to others, you accumulate wealth. The scope of operation of our thoughts is the world itself. There is simply no limit to what can be done with our constructive thoughts. Neither is there any fixed price for your ideas. The originator of the idea can quote his price. If he is savvy, he will get it. At the outset, you have to give proper guidance to your ideas. Eventually, they will take on the power of their own and wipe away all obstacles.

Desire gets a shape through the help the mind’s imaginative faculty. Man is truly capable of creating anything that he can imagine. Fortunately, this is the most favourable period to foster one’s faculty of imagination. This is an age of sweeping changes in every field known to humanity. We are likely to come in touch with invigorating stimuli, which in turn, develop the imagination.

Combine desire and action into your plan

Your plans need to be workable and practical. For this, you must surround yourself with a team of efficient people. You will require them for the execution of your plan for the building up of money. Make use of the Master Mind network which refers to taking full advantage of the experiences, education, ability and imagination of other powerful minds. Every person who has amassed great wealth has followed this method. You must involve every member of your Master Mind team in the creation of a workable plan.

There are chances that the first plan may not yield positive results. In such cases, you must replace it with a new plan. You would need to do this until the time you find a plan which works successfully. Many men fail at this juncture simply due to their lack of persistence. They fail to create new plans to take the place of the ones that failed.

The world knows that Thomas Edison failed ten thousand times. However, finally, he perfected the incandescent electric light bulb. When plans fail, as they are bound to in a dynamic environment, the brief defeat should not be taken as a sign of permanent failure. Treat it as a sign that the initial plans you had drawn were not feasible. So build other plans. Start again.

Defeat procrastination & DECIDE

Procrastination is an enemy of success. Successful people seldom procrastinate. They arrive at decisions quickly and change them slowly if needed. Most people fail because they easily give in to others’ opinions. They let others’ dictate their thinking. To achieve success, one must reach one’s own decisions by making use of facts and information whenever needed.

Great decisions do come at great risks, and civilisations have been founded on them. Lincoln’s Proclamation that granted freedom to the people of colour was given knowing that political supporters would turn against him. Socrates decided to drink the poison instead of compromising on his belief. It was a courageous decision.

When decisions are made in a spirit of faith, men can solve their problems. They gain the capability to amass immense material and spiritual wealth. Such conviction in decision making demands courage. If you want financial freedom, you must be willing to expect & plan and then demand the same from yourself and others. It applies to other areas of life as well as wealth, business prosperity and professional positions.

Never give up

You need to be persistent in your efforts to be successful. It is based on willpower. It transforms desire into its monetary equivalent. Persistent people achieve success because they carry on in spite of opposition and don’t stop till they reach their goal – Edison, for instance. Cultivate the habit of persistence and be insured against failure.

To develop persistence, first, know what know what you desire. If you have a strong reason, it will motivate you to overcome any hurdles. When you focus your thoughts on building plans to reach your goal, it automatically leads to persistence. This action is critical to any success. Organised plans, even if they may not be very strong in the beginning, encourage persistence of efforts.

The Powerful Master Mind

When knowledge is organised and intelligently directed, it is power. Power is nothing but the organised effort that helps a person to convert desire into tangible riches. Surround yourself with great minds and absorb the vibrations of their thoughts to drive away poverty and illiteracy.

Mahatma Gandhi was considered the most powerful man on earth. He galvanised two hundred million Indians to come together in unity for one definite purpose – that of independence for the nation. Whenever a team of individual brains work together in harmony towards one goal, the increase in energy created in that partnership recharges every individual brain in the team.

They together add to the group efforts the intelligence, experience, knowledge and spiritual forces of all the men involved. The combined effort of the Master Mind is a formidable force and a key factor in any successful endeavour.

The emotion of sex

Of all the human desires, sex is the most powerful. If it drives a man, he develops keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence and creative ability. However, this desire has to be properly harnessed and used. If it is harnessed in the right direction, it can be a motivating force that keeps all of its qualities of sharpness of imagination. This can be used as powerful creative force in literature, art and even the amassing of wealth.

It is a historically proven fact that a woman’s influence has motivated men to accumulate great fortunes and achieve exceptional recognition in art and industry. One illustrious example is that of Napoleon Bonaparte. As long as he was inspired by his first wife, he was indomitable. But as soon as he put his wife aside, his decline started.

Most men reach the phase of their greatest capacity to create between the ages of forty and sixty. This is because it takes at least four decades before you build the understanding to harness your sexual energy into something creative. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie and James Hill are examples of note.

Sex energy lends enthusiasm to people and those who are devoid of it are neither enthusiastic nor capable of inspiring others with enthusiasm. And as everyone acknowledges, enthusiasm is one of the most important qualities in salesmanship, irrespective of what one is selling. The public speaker, orator, preacher, or lawyer who lacks in sex energy is a failure. He is a failure because he is incapable of influencing others. The three emotions of Love, Romance and Sex, are all emotions that can drive even ordinary men to greater heights of achievement.

Your subconscious is your friend

The subconscious mind records all sense impressions and thoughts irrespective of the nature of these impressions or thoughts. This suggests that you can willingly plant in your mind any plan, or purpose that you want to change, to its physical or even monetary equivalent. The subconscious will act on the strongest desire first. However, for that, the desire has to have emotional feeling or faith.

It is not possible to completely control the subconscious. However, what is possible is you can submit any plan that you want to be transformed into a tangible form. Subconscious is the bridge that connects the finite mind of man with infinite intelligence.

You can feed the subconscious with several emotions, some act as a positive influence and some as a negative influence. The positive emotions are the emotions of Desire, Faith, Love, Sex, Enthusiasm, Romance and Hope.

The negative emotions are the emotion of Fear, Jealousy, Hatred, Revenge, Greed, Superstition and Anger. Both these positive and negative sets of emotion cannot reside in mind simultaneously. One emotion will always rule. You need to ensure that it is a positive emotion that rules your mind. Even one negative emotion is enough to kill any chances of valuable support from the subconscious mind.

Your brain is a broadcasting station

The human brain picks up vibrations of thought sent by other brains. The receiving part of the brain is called the Creative Imagination. It receives thoughts. The subconscious mind is considered the sending part of the brain. It transmits thought vibrations.

When adequately stirred, the mind becomes more receptive to the vibration of thought. The stimulus process occurs through the positive or negative emotions. Emotions increase the vibrations of thought. When it comes to the intensity and the driving force, among all the human emotions, the emotion of sex leads the pack. The brain stimulated by the emotion of sex vibrates at a greater rate.

You have three aspects to keep in mind and apply when you want to use your broadcasting station – the Subconscious mind, Creative Imagination and Auto-suggestion. The agent that helps you put these principles into action starts with Desire.

Listen to your Sixth Sense

The sixth sense is sometimes also called as flashes or hunches or inspirations. It is a part of the subconscious mind. It is like a bridge between the finite mind of man and infinite intelligence. It is often considered as a combination of both the mental and the spiritual.

All the men who have achieved unmatched success have done because of their dominating thoughts and desires. The sixth sense is not something you can switch on and off. One learns the art of using the power of the sixth sense slowly. It is a fact that human beings receive accurate knowledge not just from the physical senses. It happens when our mind is extraordinarily stimulated.

Take the case of someone who has experienced a near-fatal accident. He is aware that at the time the sixth sense came to his rescue and he took a split second decision that helped him avoid the accident. Almost all great leaders like Bismarck, Buddha, Napoleon, Joan of Arc and so on and so forth have understood the principle of the sixth sense and its accuracy in predicting situations and gauging circumstances. A large part of their success comprised of their acknowledgement of the power of the sixth sense.

What about fear?

We now know how to develop faith using auto suggestion, visualisation of desire and making a friend out of subconscious. But what about fear? How do you overcome fear? To understand how to win over fear, it is important to understand that indecision and doubt lead to fear. Indecision and doubt blend to create six basic fears.

  1. The fear of poverty can be conquered by accumulating wealth that you can, without worrying.
  2. The fear of criticism can be overcome by not worrying about what others say.
  3. The fear of ill health can be conquered by not letting the symptoms worrying you
  4. The fear of loss of love
  5. The fear of old age can be conquered by seeing old age as gift that brings wisdom
  6. The fear of death is overcome by accepting death as an inevitable event in life.

Above all these six fears, is the ability to resist susceptibility to negative influences. Deliberately stay away from people who create negative influences and surround yourself with people who motivate you to think and act for yourself.

You can control your destiny if you learn to control your mind. Stop looking for alibis to failure and build the faith to realise your dreams.

 

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Handcrafted book summary of Dare To Be

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Dare To Be

   Puja Singhal & Rinku Paul

Penguin Books

224 pages; Average reading time 2 hours 49 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 12 minutes

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This bookbhook summary has been handcrafted by Nandini Shanbhag. Nandini quit her corporate job of 17 years to pursue her passion for reading and writing. Nandini believes reading opens the doors to unknown realms and widens our horizons.

 This handcrafted book summary will help you learn

  • How women have to fight off two ‘labels’- woman and entrepreneur- to succeed?
  • How taking the entrepreneurial plunge makes everyone nervous, and yet why these 14 women followed their heart?
  • How it is better to live with ‘Oh, shit!’ than with ‘What if?’

Do not miss some great videos about some of these 14 women, embedded in this book summary, including talks by Sairee Chahal & Kanika Tekriwal.

Introduction

This book summary of Dare to Be- 14 Fearless Women Who Gave Wings to Their Dreams, captures four remarkable life stories, from among the fourteen incredible women whose lives have been captured in the book. Do pick up the book to read the stories of the other ten incredibly inspiring women.

Given the fact that India ranked 70 among 77 countries in the 2015 female entrepreneurship index (report released by Global Entrepreneurship & Development Institute), it is even more important these 14 brave women’s life stories are celebrated and shared.

 

1.  Kanika Tekriwal – CEO & co-founder JetSetGo

 

Uber of the skies

Kanika Tekriwal is an alumna of Coventry University, featured among 30 global women entrepreneurs under 30 by BBC, and listed as one of the 100 most inspirational women in the world, 2015 by BBC.

Nothing could rein in Kanika’s feisty spirit to follow her dreams; neither the laid out plans of a conservative Marwari family of small-town Bhopal, nor a dreaded disease like cancer. Kanika only emerged stronger from her tryst with cancer defying her doctor’s prognosis. Her entrepreneurial venture JetSetGo is today referred to as Uber of the skies. Her story is one that tells you how self-belief and passionate pursuit can help you to live your dreams.

First they ignore you….

Kanika recollects that she had a rather uneventful childhood, except for one memory that stood out as a four-year-old when she watched a helicopter land. Her awe and fear led the pilot to give a guided tour, and that is how her life-long love story with aviation started.

Her dreams of being a pilot did not impress her father who thought that it was not meant for women from families like theirs. Boarding school life in Ooty widened Kanika’s horizons, and she followed it up with a degree in arts and fashion technology from Mumbai. She was however reminded continuously about marriage plans at home.

Kanika has a vivid memory, when she was 14, of how a stranger on a flight from Mumbai to Bhopal coaxed her to open up about her dreams. When she spelt out her dreams concluding that none of that was going to materialise due to her family pressures, he advised to never give up on her dreams & quoted the famous lines ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’ This advice went a long way in her life.

The fight begins

Kanika had a corporate stint with Indiabulls and followed it up with an MBA from Coventry University, UK. While in the UK, she again had a brush with her dreams having got an opportunity to work with Aerospace Resources. This provided her with ample opportunities to work with Indian air charter companies, setting the foundation for her dream entrepreneurial venture.

She returned to India knowing in her heart that she would set out and achieve her dreams, while her parents still believed that marriage was the most important thing for her.  This was when fate intervened in the form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Though caught off-guard, Kanika’s never-say-die spirit prevailed and so started her fight with the fatal disease.

At twenty-two, she refused to accept that she had little time and knocked on the doors on many doctors till she found one that she could trust and who, in turn, also trusted in her. Though her entrepreneurial plans took a hit, she believes that cancer taught her to face any challenge and provided her with the much-needed reprieve from her marriage plans.

Take-off

Nine months and multiple chemotherapy sessions later, Kanika was declared free of cancer, and she packed her bags to Delhi to start her journey, never to look back. Though it created friction with her father, Kanika stuck to her plans and was determined to put her plans in place. With two other partners, one from the US and one from Europe, she started a consultancy service in the aviation sector which helped her understand the market for her dream venture JetSetGo.

The idea of JetSetGo was mocked at by many insiders, but eventually, the same people later congratulated Kanika, when JetSetGo became successful. It was while she was on the lookout for a right brand to partner with, that she read about YouWeCan Ventures, backed by cricketer Yuvraj Singh. Just as how she achieved everything else that she had set her mind on, Kanika reached out to Yuvraj Singh’s team and closed an initial round of funding too. Interestingly, she mentions that Yuvraj came to know much later that like him, she too was a cancer survivor.

Today apart from being the first online private concierge service, JetSetGo also works in the areas of helicopter arrangements, medical evacuation and air ambulances. She says she felt shocked at knowing that BBC had listed her among the 100 most inspirational women in the world.

Advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs

What she would like to advise young women looking to turn entrepreneurs is that they can do it, if they believe in themselves. More importantly, she says you cannot know unless you try. To a query on her marriage plans, she quips that marriage can wait, but dreams cannot.

Through all this Kanika is still modest and says that it is only when investors start looking at aviation sector as a profitable sector, that she would call it her achievement.

 

2.  Neeti Palta – stand-up artist

 

From JWT to stand-up

Neeti dons multiple hats including those of the founder of Loony Goons, an alumna of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, scriptwriter for the Bollywood movie ‘O Teri’ and the best stand-up comic award at the Oz Fest.

Neeti quit her job as a senior creative director at India’s largest advertising agency, J.Walter Thomson (JWT) to bring to life the Muppets for the famous children’s TV show Gali Gali Sim Sim. Moreover, then she dabbled with the other end of the spectrum- stand-up comedy, which was relatively new and male-dominated to boot. Neeti’s passionate belief in herself saw her emerge as one of the very few successful female stand-up comedians in India.

Growing up

Asked about her first childhood memory of what she wanted to be, Neeti confesses to being an Amitabh Bachchan fan who dreamt of being Vijay Jasoos. She recalls how she used to write ‘nasty limericks’ about her elder brother to counter his bullying. This love for writing made her end up in a Pune journalism school. Her wedding is a comedy story by her admission.

Though she tried pretending that it was not her wedding, it did not help. The night before the wedding, she ran away from her home. Her mother panicked, but her dad’s instinctive knowledge of how she found solace in food helped them locate her at a KFC with a bucketful of chicken. On the day of the wedding, her fiancé chose to send her 24 red roses with a request not to show up. Neeti did exactly that- she showed up at her wedding and is happily married since.

Saying bye to job

Neeti talks about her advertising career, how she worked up the ranks and enjoyed attractive perks. She decided to bid adieu to this world since she felt that the client, who paid, had a big say in the how the money was spent. To her, this meant that her creativity was being curtailed.

When she made her next career choice after advertising, it was her steely resolve that convinced her parents. Her husband stood resolutely by her. Neeti admits that he has been a ‘pillar of patience’ through her variety of career choices. Around this time Neeti attended a workshop by Sesame Street, which was about to bring out a show called Gali Gali Sim Sim and promptly fell in love with the muppets.

Neeti found a purpose in the show which aimed at educating and entertaining the young kids. Soon she was working sixteen hours a day in the small Sesame Street office with six writers sharing one computer.

Turning point

The next turning point came in the form of a show of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood on their India tour. Neeti was chosen as an audience volunteer to make background sounds, and she soon had the audience in splits with funny noises. Around this time stand-up comedy was making its presence felt in India. Neeti started with open-mike sessions in a restaurant in New Delhi and soon felt that she had found her calling.

Testing times followed as her husband had also quit his job to start a venture of his own and they had to reckon with EMIs of a new house. However, they were both determined to do something that they enjoyed. Her husband’s venture did take off well, but Neeti kept looking for work as a full-time stand-up artist.

As a struggling entrepreneur, Neeti felt that many people around her were waiting for her to fail, so that they could be proven right. At times she did feel like someone who had made an overconfident career choice, and the world was waiting to let the ‘truth’ out about her being just another person with limited skills.  This is a lot similar to the Impostor Syndrome that Sheryl Sandberg talks about in her book Lean In.

Spreading the wings

Finally, Neeti saw a bright spot in the form of a corporate show with a payout of Rs. 5000. Neeti did a good job and felt exonerated when people walked up to her after the show to tell her that she had a flair for comedy. That was the first of her long list of shows and gigs. Confident, she decided to invite her parents to one of her performances at the India Habitat Centre. At the end of the show, a family walked up to congratulate her for making them all laugh.

She is vociferous about the societal mindsets about women and their career choices and associated stereotypes. She is also choosy about her assignments. She was India’s first stand-up comedian to perform at the prestigious Melbourne Comedy Festival 2013 and was bestowed with the Devi Award from New Indian Express in 2014.

Advice for budding women entrepreneurs

With all the success as one of India’s stand-up artist, how does Neeti feel about leaving a cushy corporate advertising career? She admits there is a sense of nostalgia, especially of the Monday morning blues that plagues the corporate sector.

However, she also believes that beyond a point, staying in corporate would have only increased her ‘bullshit quotient’. The quest is to achieve that sweet spot of doing something that pays the bill while making you happy. When asked to share a piece of advice to women wanting to turn entrepreneurs, she says that women owe themselves happiness and will never know unless they try.

 

3.  Sairee Chahal – Founder, sheroes.in

Small town girl ?

An alumna of JNU, New Delhi, Cartier Women’s Initiative Asia-Pacific Finalist 2012, winner of Sunday Standard Devi Award 2014, Femina Powerlist North Award, 2015 and featured among the most powerful women in the India Business Today 2012, Sairee Chahal is also a TEDx speaker and an author.

Not satisfied at being the first woman in her extended family to step out of her small-town home for a corporate career, Sairee Chahal went on to become an entrepreneur and a successful one at that to silence all her critics.

Her passionate belief about women having an equal right to financial independence led her to launch Sheroes.in, creating opportunities for thousands of women to restart their career. She has an ambitious goal to touch the lives of 1 million women over the next three years, through various flexible employment models on offer at Sheroes.in. Sairee’s is an inspirational story of a small-town girl becoming a role model for women.

Sairee impresses with her self-assuredness and soft-spoken personality, coupled with a single-minded focus. Her charming personality hides a steely resolve and determination to help as many women to reconnect with their careers as possible.

The bucket list

Early childhood memories of Sairee relate to books and reading and getting to know about a world of opportunities. It also opened her eyes to the fact of how she seemed to be a misfit in her extended family. Even at that young age, Sairee created her bucket list, in which entrepreneurship topped the list. Incredibly enough, by now she has managed to cross many items on that list.

At a time when being a doctor or an engineer was the thing to do, Sairee requested her school principal to introduce commerce and humanities stream. With the principal agreeing to her request, Sairee ended up taking electives of economics and commerce. Her wish to explore studies beyond class ten outside her hometown saw stiff resistance from her father.

However, she finally succeeded when she got an admission in JNU, New Delhi to study international languages. This is how Sairee’s journey to explore the world of possibilities took wings, and she has never looked back since.

Get rid of distractions

Sairee credits her success to her uncanny ability to keep away unwanted distractions right from her college days and the habit sticks on even to this day. In college, she was enterprising enough to find a part-time job at an advertising magazine. Later, a casual meeting with Deepak Kamran, an ex-mariner, got Sairee setting up the highly successful Newslink Services business, targeted at mariners who pine for information from home, while in the high seas.

The testimony of its success and Sairee’s entrepreneurship skills is seen in the fact that at the end of three years, Newslink operations spanned sixty editors and translators, capturing two-thirds of the global market.

Sairee recalls how she did not have any role models while in school. Today she is the role model to not just many kids in her family, but others as well. Her entrepreneurship calling came while working in a blue-chip consulting company where she felt stifled by the constraints of a formal organisational structure.

An entrepreneur sets sail

Sairee found her large canvas in SAITA Consulting in 2006, along with her co-founder Anita.  Focusing on small and medium business, the consulting firm did rather well. Being a flexible employer, they also started receiving many applications from mothers at home, which sowed the seeds for sheroes.in. With the birth of her daughter around the same time, Sairee experienced how childbirth leads to a pause in a woman’s career. She then decided to take up the issue of the women who wanted to have a second chance at their careers and desired financial independence.

It’s a shero’s world

For Sairee, the fact that she was a female and not an engineer made things difficult in her journey. Changing the corporate mindset was not easy. However, Sairee’s prior stint with entrepreneurship and the advent of the internet making virtual workforce a reality helped her cause. Her pilot run with a few firms was good enough for her to convince them to take up the flexi job option. That set the sheroes.in the ball rolling into history.

Having donned multiple hats of an entrepreneur, mother, mentor and flexi-work evangelist, Sairee has no doubts about which tops the list – entrepreneur. She looks at all the awards and recognition just as an affirmation of the societal change she sought to bring towards encouraging women’s careers.

When asked for a piece of advice to wannabe women entrepreneurs, she urges women to be kind to self and follow their inner voice.  She further mentions that there is no perfect formula for success and that it is important to stay grounded.

 

4.  Yukti Kapoor Mehandiratta – Enterpreneur, model & actor

 

What’s the larger purpose?

Yukti Kapoor is the founder of Concept Exhibitions, an alumna of JDBIMS and Gladrags Mrs India Second Runner-up in 2008.

Good looking, with a well-paid corporate banking job, and the Gladrags title under her belt, most people would have thought Yukti had everything going for her. She, however, decided to follow her heart and turn entrepreneur by setting up Concept Exhibitions. Yukti’s venture focuses on experiential learning for children, and she hopes to expand it to special children as well.

Though Yukti is a natural head turner, her intelligence and perceptive mind comes across when she mentions that there is a larger purpose to life than beyond making money. Growing up as the eldest sibling who took charge due to working parents, Yukti learnt to shoulder responsibilities quite young. This made her more mature than other kids of her age.

Glamour & hard work

Owing to her good looks, Yukti began with modelling offers, though her father had misgivings about being a model. Seeing her father lose sleep over her modelling assignments, Yukti decided it was worth the stress her parents were going through. Armed with a Master’s in mathematics, Yukti then set out on a career in banking, which is where she also met her husband. He has been the anchor in her life ever since, having no qualms even to give up his job to follow her when she got an attractive offer in Mumbai.

It was on her husband’s insistence that Yukti applied for the Gladrags Mrs India contest, and went on to be in the top ten finalists. She has fond memories of the one-month residential program for all finalists where all of them connected well with each other. Yukti cherishes the lifelong friendships made during the pageant much more than the glory of winning, which she believes is short-lived.

Being a woman at work

The harsh reality of tough situations that women face at work struck her, when she took her maternity leave, only to come back to be assigned a low-performance rating. Given charge of an entirely new business on her return, Yukti felt she was being set up for failure. Despite this, she ensured a job well done and was soon regarded as a valuable and high performing employee in the organisation. During her corporate stint, Yukti faced yet another issue that most women at work struggle with- the discipline of doing work well and then leaving for home on time, while male colleagues hang around in office till late in the evening. It was extremely disconcerting for her when her success would be credited to her good looks instead of her hard work.

The constant need to prove herself at work, simply because she was a woman, and a good looking one, got Yukti to look for purpose beyond the comfort of monthly salary.  With her heart urging her to find a purpose better than just making money, she finally picked on the thought of Concept Exhibitions, which organises experiential learn-while-you-play exhibitions for children.

Did she feel scared resigning from a high paying job? Yukti admits to a sense of fear but also quickly points out that money follows work that is driven by passion and true intent.

What is success?

Yukti describes how most of us narrowly define success within the realm of making a lot of money, and failure being unable to make money. She also recollects the added societal pressure of the accusation that as an entrepreneur, she was not paying enough attention to her kids. Yukti is convinced that women should just exercise their dreams with passion, which in turn, will automatically make all other relations like a wife, mother and daughter-in-law fall in place.

Yukti is a strong believer in the power of intentions and affirms that if you strongly wish for something, the universe conspires to help you get that. Success, however, did not come easily, especially when Yukti eroded her savings and had to reach out to her parents for financial support.

Take that one baby step

As an entrepreneur, Yukti had her share of detractors and nay-sayers around her, but she fondly recollects how RJ Anita helped her build awareness for her venture. Her first Kids’ Mela held at the World Trade Centre was a runaway hit, screening original curated children’s films in partnership with Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI).  Many more such exhibitions followed after that.

Today, Yukti pursues, along with her venture, other interests like modelling and anchoring for various events and TV shows. Having seen glamour, fame and money, Yukti is incredibly unfazed by it all and boldly chooses to live a life of meaning and purpose. Her advice to budding women entrepreneurs is that there are only one life and the best way to live it is to follow your heart.

She encourages women to take that one baby step, and, she says, God will take ten steps for you.

 

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Make Your Bed

   William H McRaven

Grand Central Publishing

144 pages; Average reading time 1 hour

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Man’s Search for Meaning

   Viktor E Frankl

Random House UK

160 pages; Average reading time 2 hours 36 min

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Book summary of A History of the World in 6 Glasses

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A History of the World in 6 Glasses

   Tom Standage

Bloomsbury

336 pages; Average reading time 4 hours 45 min

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  • How beer became one of the reasons for early man to start farming?
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Cheers to you

Drinks have a closer connection to the flow of history than we give them credit for and a far more significant influence on its course. The history of agriculture, philosophy, religion, medicine, and commerce are all vital in the understanding the history of who drank what. The six beverages highlighted in this book demonstrate the complex interplay and interconnectedness of different cultures of the world, surviving in our homes today as living reminders of the bygone years.

1. Beer

 

Let’s settle down for the sake of beer

The beer was discovered, not invented. After the end of the last ice age, around 10,000 BCE, the gathering of wild grain became widespread in a region known as Fertile Crescent, which provided unusually rich pickings of wild cereal grains for the groups of human hunter-gatherers. Although hunter-gatherers had previously led semi-settled lives, the ability to store cereal grains began to encourage people to stay in one place. The result was the first permanent settlement.

Cereal grains took on greater significance as it was discovered that the grain soaked in water, so that it started to sprout, tasted sweet; and this soaked grain water, if left sitting around for a couple of days, underwent a mysterious transformation. It became pleasantly intoxicating, in short, turning into beer. Over the next few thousand years, beers of different strengths and flavours were made for separate occasions.

No beer? Let’s grow some!

Starting around 9,000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent, people began cultivating barley and wheat, instead of merely gathering wild grains. This could have happened due to diminished amounts of available food, or a higher demand for new sources of food. Or perhaps once beer had been discovered, there was greater desire to ensure the availability of grain, by farming. Beer drinking was probably one of the factors that tipped the balance towards agriculture.

Sumerian depictions of beer from the third millennium BCE generally show two people drinking from a shared vessel through straws, probably because sharing a drink is a universal symbol of trust and hospitality. Even today, the clinking of glasses symbolically reunites the glasses into a single vessel of shared liquid.

The two earliest examples of civilisation were the Mesopotamian and the Egyptian cities. Both the cultures came about because of an agricultural surplus, in particular, an excess of grain, which freed administrators and craftsmen from having to produce their own food and funded public works such canals and temples.

Worked hard? Here’s beer for you

From early literary works, we infer that Mesopotamians regarded the consumption of bread and beer as one of the things that distinguished them from savages, making them fully human. Beer was just as important in the Egyptian culture. Researchers found some Egyptian literature where beer was mentioned more than any other food. Several varieties of beer are also mentioned in the Pyramid Texts from around 2350 BCE. Egyptians and Mesopotamians alike saw beer as an ancient, God-given drink that formed part of their cultural and religious identity, and had great social importance.

In the two civilisations, barley and wheat and their related forms, bread and beer, became more than just staple foods-they were widespread forms of currency. Large numbers of identically sized bowls found at Sumerian sites seem to have been standard units of measurement. The workers who built the pyramids were paid in beer, as indicated by records found in a nearby town. The use of bread and beer as wages meant that they had become synonymous with prosperity and well-being.

While beer is no longer used as a form of payment, toasting someone’s health before drinking beer is a remnant of the ancient belief of its magical properties. Beer’s association with friendly, simple social interaction remains unchanged, as it has brought people together since the dawn of civilisation.

 

2.  Wine

 

Aristocrats’ choice

Wine was first produced between 9000 and 4000 BCE, in the Zagros Mountains region, where the presence of the wild Eurasian grapevine and the invention of pottery led to the production of wine. Wine remained an elite drink, however, as evidenced by it not being listed in ration tablets for slave workers or lower-ranking officers.

The reigns of Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal and his son marked a turning point. Wine became increasingly fashionable, and its availability grew. But it could only have become an everyday drink among the very rich, while everyone else drank its substitute, date palm wine.

Greece’s presumed superiority over foreigners in the fifth and sixth century BCE was apparent in the Greek love of wine. Wine was consumed at formal drinking parties, or symposia, where drinkers would try to outdo each other in wit, poetry or rhetoric. The climate of Greece was ideal for viticulture, making wine widely affordable throughout the region.

As wine became widely available, what kind of wine you drank became an important part of who you were. Wine buffs were interested in the place of origin and the age of the wine. What mattered even more than the choice of wine, was the way you drank it. Drinking a fine wine without mixing it with water was considered barbaric. Not drinking wine at all was considered just as inappropriate. At heart, the symposium was dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure, an outlet encapsulating the best and worst elements of the culture that spawned it.

A Greek & a Roman walked into a bar….

With its social divisions, its reputation for cultural sophistication, and its encouragement of philosophical enquiry, wine embodied Greek culture. Wine has maintained its status of the most sophisticated of drinks, thanks to its association with the achievements of Ancient Greece.

By the middle of the second century BCE, the Romans had displaced the Greeks as the dominant power of the Mediterranean basin. Yet, the Romans, like many other Europeans, liked to show their own sophistication by appropriating aspects of the Greek culture. Wine offered one way to resolve this paradox.

The Romans were proud of their origins of a nation of simple farmers. Cultivating in vineyards was honest and down-to-earth, but the wine that resulted was a symbol of civilisation. Thus viticulture provided a way to reconcile the Roman values of frugality and simplicity with Greek sophistication.

Sorry sir, that wine is not for you

The Romans embraced Greece’s finest wine and winemaking techniques, producing wine and transporting it all over the Roman Empire. The Romans regarded wine as a staple, consumed by the royalty like Caesar and the slaves alike. Guests at a Roman banquet, convivium, were served different wines depending upon their position in society. Preservatives & additives were be added to cheap wine without affecting its taste, possibly even to improve it. But such additives were added to only inferior wine to conceal their imperfections.

In northern Europe, wine could not be produced locally, and therefore beer predominated instead. The distinction between beer in the northern Europe and wine in the south is still prevalent.

The symposium and convivium live on in the modern suburban party, where wine fuels discussions of certain topics, in a slightly formal atmosphere. The selection of wine reflects the importance of the occasion, and the social standing of the host and the guest. In some ways, the ancient Roman would not feel out of place, at least regarding drinking habits, in the modern day world.

 

3.  Rum & Whiskey

 

Let’s distil some happiness

One of the many achievements of Arab scholars was a technique that gave rise to a new range of drinks: distillation. Distillation equipment dating back to the fourth millennium BCE has been found in northern Mesopotamia, but it was only in the eighth century BCE that this process was routinely applied to wine. Distilled drinks provided a durable and compact form of alcohol.

Aqua vitae, or distilled wine, was an excellent new medicine that could be drunk or applied externally to the affected part of the body. Over the course of the fifteenth century, it began to change from a medicinal drink to a recreational one.

Hey man, let’s get high on sugar

Sugar, originated in Polynesia was introduced to Europe by the Arabs, was cultivated by the slaves from Africa. Sugarcane planters from the island of Barbados learned to ferment the by-products of the sugar making products, and then distil it to make a potent alcoholic drink, which could be made cheaply, and without any reduction in the sugar output. This is now known as Rum.

Rum spread throughout the Caribbean and then beyond. Slaves were encouraged to get used to it so that they could withstand the hardships imposed on them. Rum distilled from the waste product was consumed both by colonists and their slaves. It also became popular among sailors, being adopted as a substitute for a beer on Royal Navy ships in the Caribbean. Its immediate significance was as currency, as it could be used to buy slaves.

We will fight for whiskey

England’s plan to establish colonies in North America was to be able to supply Mediterranean goods. But the harsh climate meant that these crops wouldn’t grow. Furthermore, they had to contend with disease, famine, and constant battles. Among such hardship, securing reliable alcohol supply was of great importance. In the second half of the seventeenth century, rum became available. It was far cheaper, and stronger, and quickly became the colonists’ favourite drink.

Rum was the drink of the colonial period and the American Revolution, but many young citizens soon started favouring another distilled drink. Whiskey could be made almost anywhere and did not depend on imported ingredients that could be taxed or blockaded. Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, imposed a federal excise duty on the production of distilled drinks to pay off the vast national debt. The inland settlers refused to pay up and organised coordinated resistance.

President George Washington requisitioned thirteen thousand militiamen to demonstrate the pre-eminence of the federal government, and so the rebellion crumbled. While both the rebellion and the excise failed, the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion established that the federal government couldn’t be ignored.

Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, did his best to cultivate vineyards in America but failed. Wine lacked the American connotations of whiskey, an unpretentious drink associated with independence and self-sufficiency. Both rum & whiskey, popular drinks today, carry with them the dark legacy of slave trade.

4.  Coffee

 

I think, therefore I will have coffee

In the 1600s, pioneers such as Francis Bacon in England rejected blind faith in ancient texts in favour of the restoration of science. The spread of this new rationalism was mirrored by the spread of coffee that promoted sharpness and clarity of thought thus becoming the preferred drink of scientists and intellectuals. Coffee came to be regarded as the antithesis of alcohol, sobering rather than intoxicating, the epitome of modernity and progress, the ideal drink for the Age of Reason.

Coffee originated in the Arab world, reached Mecca and Cairo by 1510. It soon became a social drink, embraced as the legal alternative to alcohol, but some religious leaders objected that it was intoxicating, and therefore prohibited. Yet coffee failed to produce any such effects, even when consumed in large quantities.

Shortly before his death in 1605, Pope Clement VII tasted a cup of coffee and was so enchanted by its taste and aroma that he approved of its consumption by Christians. Within half a century, coffee soon became commonplace in Western Europe, taking the Arab notion of the coffeehouse as a more respectable alternative to the tavern.

Coffee & gossip

Until the end of the nineteenth century, Arabia remained the unchallenged supplier of coffee in the world, but soon its monopoly was broken by the Dutch, who briefly became the world’s leading commercial power. Next came the French who began exporting coffee, only to cede to Brazil, which became the world’s dominant coffee supplier.

Coffee seemed to be tailor-made for London of the 1650s and the 1660s. Coffee houses quickly became the central place for social, commercial and political meetings. They were vibrant sources of information. It became a common practice to use a coffeehouse as a mailing address. The coffee-house had become the Londoner’s home.

Rumours, news, and gossip were carried between coffeehouses, and occasional runners would flint to one coffeehouse from another to report significant events. The diaries of intellectuals are littered with coffeehouse references, as they became venues for discussions, negotiations, and even scientific experiments. The spirit of innovation and experiment gave rise to new business models, one of the examples being Lloyd’s, the world’s leading insurance market.

We’re French. Bring on the revolution

In contrast, French coffeehouses were subject to strict government oversight. With tight curbs on freedom of the press, there were far fewer sources of news in France, which led to the emergence of handwritten newsletters of Paris gossip, passed around on scraps of paper, passed along with coffeehouse discussions, as they became centres of revolutionary thought. Ultimately, it was at Cafe de Foy, on the afternoon of July 12, 1789, that a young lawyer named Camille Desmoulins set the French Revolution in motion.

Coffee and the Internet

Today, coffee remains the drink over which people meet to discuss, develop and exchange ideas and information. Given the history of coffee houses as places of idea exchange, it is interesting that the most famous coffee brand of today, Starbucks, is headquartered in Seattle, where the some of the largest internet companies in the modern world are also located.

 

5.  Tea

 

It began in China

According to Chinese tradition, the first cup of tea was brewed by the Emperor Shen Nung, dated to 2737-2697 BCE. Tea spread throughout China during the Tang dynasty, a time when China was the largest, wealthiest and most populous empire in the world. The idea of the tea ceremony was, however, taken to its highest heights in Japan, where the Chinese knowledge of tea was brought into the country by a Buddhist monk in 1191.

It was in 1610 that a Dutch ship brought the first commercial consignment of tea to Europe, where it was a novelty. Ultimately, it was Britain that emerged as the most tea loving European nation, with momentous historical consequences.

Colonialism over some fine tea

A factor in the rise of tea was the role of the British East India Company. The company’s first tea imports from the East Indies arrived in 1699. However, only when the company established trading posts in China, did tea become less expensive, and more widely available. At its height, the duty on tea accounted for 10 percent of the British government revenue, which gave the East India Company an enormous political influence.

Tea became sociable with the invention of new ways to consume it, both in private and public. Knowledge of tea and its ceremonial consumption at home became a measure of one’s sophistication. For the poor, tea gradually became an affordable luxury, and then a necessity.

The industrial revolution, powered by tea

Just as intellectuals and businessmen had taken to coffee in the seventeenth century, the workers in the new factories of the eighteenth century Industrial Revolution embraced tea. Tea helped industrialisation along in some ways. Unlike beer, it did not dull the mind but sharpened it, and improved the workers’ concentration when operating machines. The natural antibacterial properties of tea improved the nation’s health and provided a significant labour pool just as industrialisation took hold. It also stimulated commerce by increasing the demand for crockery and bringing it to be a flourishing new industry.

Of tea and opium

Other Western nations took up to a century to catch up with Britain’s industrial progress. The Chinese were not interested in trading tea in return for any European goods, because of which the East India Company had to pay with silver, which resulted in lower profits for the company. Another commodity which was regarded as valuable by Chinese merchants was opium. The East India Company saw opium as an easy way to trade with the Chinese. Since opium was an illegal drug, the company devised an elaborate policy to keep from being seen in the opium trade.

Exports of opium to China reached 1,500 tonnes a year in 1830. Rampant corruption, a withering economy, and soaring opium consumption caused a once mighty Chinese civilisation to crumble. Such was the legacy of tea’s influence on British imperial policy, and through it, on the course of world history.

Britain has remained a nation of tea drinkers ever since. And around the world, the historical impact of the British Empire can be seen till today. Tea played a key role in the creation of the Commonwealth world.

 

6.  Coca-Cola

 

Refreshing soda

Joseph Priestley, an English clergyman and scientist, discovered soda water in a brewery in Leeds, in 1767. One of the theories about soda water was that it might be a useful medicine. In the US, soda water moved from scientific curiosity to commercial product with the help of Yale professor Benjamin Silliman. He began selling bottled water in 1807 in Connecticut.

In May 1886, a pharmacist who lived in Atlanta, Georgia, invented a drink. John Pemberton began working on a drink containing coca and kola, masking their bitterness by using sugar, and dispensing it as soda water flavouring.

If you are happy, have some Coke

Ultimately, after Pemberton’s death from cancer in 1888, Asa Candler secured the rights to Coca-Cola. Until 1895, it was still being sold as a syrup and a primary medicinal product. But selling it as a refreshing drink gave it a universal appeal. Sales were also driven by the introduction of bottled Coca-Cola. The 1930s brought three challenges to the might of Coca-Cola: the end of the prohibition on alcohol, the Great Depression, and the rise of a vigorous competitor, PepsiCo.

Coca-Cola advertisements depicted a happy, carefree, world, providing an association with glamour and escapism, which helped it prosper during the depression. It was also advertised as a family-friendly alternative to beer and alcoholic drinks.

By the end of the 1930s, Coca-Cola was stronger than ever, becoming a national institution. Having taken over the United States, it was ready to take over the world, going wherever the American influence extended.

The rise of the American patriot

As the United States mobilised for the Second World War in 1941, Robert Woodruff, the president of Coca-Cola declared that any soldier would get a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is, and whatever it costs the company. This effort not only linked Coca-Cola to patriotism and support for the war but also helped soldiers maintain their morale, as it reminded them of home.

Conversely, the Axis powers, Germany and Japan, denounced Coca-Cola as an example of everything wrong with the US. After the Allied victory in 1945, the military bottling operations stayed in place for three years, during the period of reconstruction, after which the production reverted to the civilian realm.

Coca Cola & the Cold War

Coca-Cola’s failure to establish itself in the Soviet-bloc countries proved to be an advantage. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, presaging the collapse of communist regimes and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. As East Germans streamed through the cracks in the Berlin Wall, they were greeted with Coca-Cola, which was seen as exotic and foreign, and thus became a symbol of freedom.

Coca-Cola’s close association with American values counted against it in the Middle East. But by the late 1980s, the Arab boycott of Coca-Cola finally crumbled, and the company began making inroads into Arab markets.

Globalisation & Coca Cola

Indeed no single product is more representative of globalisation than Coca-Cola, operating in more than two hundred territories. Coca-Cola is said to be the second most commonly recognised phrase in the world, after OK. The desire to protect its global brand makes Coca-Cola extremely wary of bad publicity, and far more accountable. Globally, the company supplies 3 percent of humanity’s total liquid intake. Coca-Cola represents the twentieth century and all that came with it-the rise of the United States and capitalism, and subsequent globalisation.

From beer to Coca-Cola

For our Neolithic drinker, beer might be a connection to the future; for us, it is a window to the past. When you next raise some beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, or Coca-Cola to your lips, think about how it reached you through space and time, and that there is history in its swirling depths, along with little alcohol and caffeine.

 

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Book summary of The Subtle Art of Not Giving

Best book summary app in India. book summary of the subtle art of not giving a

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ***k 

   Mark Manson

Harper Collins

224 pages; Average reading time 3 hours 10 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 10 minutes

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This bookbhook book summary is handcrafted by Sujatha Sathya. Apart from writing book summaries for India’s favourite book summary app, Sujatha spent a decade in teaching and training before she decided focus on writing.

This handcrafted book summary will help you learn

  1. How being positive cannot always help you
  2. How embracing pain can help you live a better life?
  3. How staying foolish helps us keep learning?
  4. How less is actually more in life?

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3 Books That Influenced Satya Nadella

I just finished reading Satya Nadella’s HIT REFRESH- a book that covers his journey as a Microsoft employee, how he is building a new Microsoft and a then a peep into the future of technology, all in equal measure. It definitely is a recommended read. Being pathologically addicted to nonfiction books, I personally found it interesting that Nadella talks about at least 18 books that he was influenced by, as part of the narrative of HIT REFRESH. Let’s go through some of these books:

book-summaries-app

1. Young Men & Fire by Norman Maclean (4 hours 15 min to read): An extremely detailed account of the fire tragedy at Mann Gulch, that happened on 5th August 1949. The US Forest Service’s elite airborne firefighters, called The Smoke Jumpers, put together a crack team of 15 firefighters to control a forest fire. These Smoke Jumpers parachuted into the fire zone and only three of them survived the exercise after a 2 hours struggle with the fire. Nadella briefly mentions this epic book in context of how one of the three firefighters survived. Fireman Wagner Dodge survived by building an escape fire. Dodge survived this devastating fire by literally lighting his own fire within the larger one that he was engulfed in, and then hid within the ashes and embers of this escape fire within the larger fire. Could the other firemen have survived if they followed what Dodge did? Why did they not follow Dodge when they were all facing death? Nadella believes that Dodge did not build trust within the team. Because his team did not trust him, Dodge could not convince his team members to build their own escape fire, and they perished in the fire.

For Nadella, the counterintuitive escape fire equivalent in Microsoft was to shift the organisation from the servers business that brought most of the revenue, to focus on the cloud business that had negligible revenue. Like Dodge, he knew he had the right knowledge to save people (Microsoft) but unlike Dodge, Nadella wanted to ensure that Microsoft employees understood the context of the need to switch to cloud, and trusted their leader.

book-summaries-app-wright-brothers

 

2. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough ( 4 hours 45 min to read, coming soon on bookbhook): In context of the role of Artificial Intelligence in our future, Satya Nadella talks about David McCullough’s extremely popular book- The Wright Brothers. David McCullough recounts the journey of the unschooled brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who worked as bicycle mechanics but nurtured a passion to get a machine flying and kept tinkering in their bicycle repair shop. Samuel Langley, also aiming for getting man to fly in a machine, unlike the Wright brothers, had funding from the richest men of the time, as well as the US army. Langley’s aerodrome could not complete its maiden flight attempt. The world assumed mechanical flight to be an impossible dream, given the resources that Langley had deployed behind his failed mission. The bicycle mechanic brothers, however, continued working on their dream and on December 17, 1903, a 12 seconds flight became an important milestone in history. The Wright brothers had achieved what Samuel Langley could not.

In Nadella’s HIT REFRESH, The Wright Brothers book is mentioned in context of the tough journey that Wilbur Wright undertook to get man flying, using a machine. If today, Nadella argues, we do not call a flight an ‘artificial flight’, will Artificial Intelligence soon get so deeply embedded in our lives that we will call it just ‘Intelligence’ ’?

 

book-summaries-app-Mindset

 

3. Mindset by Carol Dweck (3 hours 50 min to read, available on bookbhook): In context of coping with learning differences of one of their daughters, Nadella’s wife gave him a copy of this book. Mindset unravels the secrets to the new psychology of success.This book is about discovering that one belief about yourself that defines your personality. Carol Dweck details out the role of growth mindset in lives of sports champions, business leaders, parents, teachers and coaches. In context of business leaders, the book highlights Lou Gerstner & Jack Welch as leaders with growth mindset, while Kenneth Lay & Jeff Skilling are described as talented leaders, but working with a fixed mindset.

In context of HIT REFRESH, Nadella quotes from the Mindset book about “CEO Disease”- a disease where business leaders fail to build a growth mindset. In fact, Nadella has gone on record saying this book provided him with the ‘intuition’ he needed to revamp Microsoft.

 

 

 

Apart from these three books, I found another 15 books that Nadella talks about in HIT REFRESH. Some of these include The Soul of a New Machine, Superintelligence, and The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Clearly, Satya Nadella believes in reading and renewing himself.

If you are unable to find the time to read life changing books, then you can use book summaries from bookbhook.com as a discovery tool to pick that one book that can help you succeed and make you a better human being.

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Handcrafted Book Summary of Playing the Enemy

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      Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela & the Game That Made a Nation

   John Carlin

Penguin

Average reading time 4 hours

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 10 minutes

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This bookbhook book summary of Playing the Enemy has been handcrafted by Santhosh. After over two decades in the Enterprise IT industry, Santhosh is working on a couple of start-up ventures. He is also a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction.

This handcrafted summary will help you learn

  • How Nelson Mandela got a fractured nation united using rugby?
  • How reconciliation can overcome bitter enmity?
  • How teams unite and perform better when they have a cause?

A quick snapshot of  Playing the Enemy

About the book: Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the game that made a nation was published in 2008. The book dives deep into one of the finest real life instances of leadership, when Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a platform to unite a divided South Africa.

What’s in it for me? This handcrafted bookbhook summary of Playing the Enemy is a unique leadership story that will inspire you and help you inspire others. This ten minutes summary will equip you with leadership lessons that you can implement in your work and social life. In particular, you get to see real life demonstration of how an unlikely sport was used to diffuse animosity between two groups of people.

Why should I buy the book? While this handcrafted book summary will give you a quick perspective of leadership lessons from one of the most illustrious leaders of our time, there are many stories within the larger canvas that have not been included in this summary. These additional stories can be used by you for honing your leadership skills or in leadership workshops.

One interesting conversation starter from this book is that this book was converted into the 2009 movie Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The movie highlights a Victorian poem Invictus that Mandela gives to captain Pienaar for inspiration, but Mandela actually gave him a section from President Roosevelt’s speech called Man in the Arena

 

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Book summary of Fast Food Nation

book-summary-of-fast-food-nation-on-India’s-best-book-summary-app

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Fast Food Nation – What the All American Meal is Doing to the World

   Eric Schlosser

Penguin UK

400 pages; Average reading time 5 hours 26 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 14 minutes

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This bookbhook book summary is handcrafted by Ruchi Nagpal. Apart from writing book summaries for India’s favourite book summary app, Ruchi is a research scientist and believes books are the wings that help you reach the unknown.

This handcrafted book summary will help you learn

  • How the fast food industry came up in the US after World War II?
  • How flavours in fast foods are modified?
  • How fast food industry led to downfall of artisanal butchers across the US?
  • How fast food has become a key reason for obesity in the US?

The Fast Food Nation is an eye-opener detailing the emergence of the fast food industry and its impact on emotional, social and economic aspects of the American life.

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