Book: Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul At Work
Editors: Juhi Rai Farmania, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
Number of pages: 365
Price: Rs. 295
Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul At Workis an anthology of 101 true, inspirational tales that applaud the daily courage, compassion and creativity in workplaces. It is a simple read, with most stories being around 2-3 pages. Few cross three pages.
The stories are divided into the following sections:
- From the CEO’s desk
- Turning obstacles into opportunities
- Changing roles and industries
- Leading and mentoring
- Balancing personal and professional lives
- Self-made and successful
- On lessons learned
- Humor and fun at work
- Extraordinary entrepreneurs
- Persistence and courage
- Listening to the head and the heart
- Business – the “Hindustani” way
- A message for those starting out
While I’m sharing this list here, I didn’t pay much attention to this division when I reading the book. I just kept flipping the pages, story after story, without registering the changed section.
I was a little disappointed with the first few stories in the book. A lot of them bordered on clichés, and as a reader, you’d know exactly what was coming next. The writing isn’t all that great either. I remember telling a friend with much surprise, “You know I’m not enjoying this book as much as I thought I would.” He was equally surprised.
But I’m glad I stuck with it. The stories got slightly better post the Changing roles and industries section. By better, I mean more personal and anecdotal and less amateurish, preachy and didactic. But the writing still wasn’t great. I was left feeling incomplete at the end of most stories with more questions than answers, with not enough details, vague beginnings and endings, indiscriminate use of fancy prose, etc.
Perhaps, I’m being too critical of the writing, considering that the stories are written by different individuals and writing may not be their best skill. However, there was nothing that a quick review, edit and proofread couldn’t resolve.
Despite my initial dislike of the stories, I managed to pick out my favorites from this compilation. I leave you with the following five stories:
Just That Little Nudge by Payal Kumar < Leading and mentoring
Kumar writes how a small gesture by her best friend’s father went a long way in reinstating her self-belief. He let her help with managing billing receipts in his company after her college hours, at a time when she needed all the support and boost her confidence. The icing on the cake was an unexpected thousand rupees at the end of the month.
Trust Begets Trust by Max Babi < On lessons learned
Babi describes how a friend sent a restaurant owner a bank draft for a huge sum of money to clear his debt once the former had relocated to a new place and other similar incidents.
“When a human being puts blind trust in you, how can you betray that trust?”
Allahabad in Kolkata by Sunil Agarwal < On lessons learned
A boss politely asks a new recruit to crosscheck a particular fact, “Perhaps you are right, but you may want to check” and a little later, “Maybe I’m wrong, but there is no harm in checking.”
Agarwal ends it beautifully, “A real leader respects everyone, and gives them the space to realize their mistakes.” Amateurishly written but I loved what it conveyed.
What a Deal by Juhi Rai Farmania < Extraordinary entrepreneurs
Farmania shares her heart-warming experience with dealsandyou.com where she shares her email correspondence with Gaurav, the CEO of the company, with regard to the delivery of a BlackBerry before time.
I finally understood the meaning of the term, “delighting the customer.”
How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too by Supriya Unni < Extraordinary entrepreneurs
A house-wife turns entrepreneur by sheer chance, when she is unable to zero in on a gift for a friend’s husband. She bakes a cake, which becomes an instant hit, and suddenly, she’s in business.
I thought this was amongst the best stories in this compilation and I loved how it was written. Engaging, detailed and convincing.
Aal Izz Well by Vishal Nagda < Listening to the head and the heart
An HR manager succeeds in reducing attrition numbers and meeting hiring targets in an IT company. He has little clue in the beginning on how to tackle the problems confronting but with a little luck and faith, he saves the day for all.
A nicely written story.
Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul At Work is a light read. Some stories will leave you smiling, while some others, hopeful and upbeat. Read it, if only to add a smile and some cheeriness to your day.
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