Nishant Kaushik, Author of 'Watch Out! We Are MBA'

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of India Infoline, Mr. Nishant Kaushik says "The key to entrepreneurship is raw courage."

March 10, 2014 11:23 IST | India Infoline News Service

Nishant Kaushik, is best known to his friends and acquaintances as an entertainer who expresses himself through myriad mediums such as literature, music, public speaking and mimes alike. Nishant’s first book, Watch Out! We Are MBA, was released in February 2008 and received widespread acknowledgement and admiration from readers across various age groups and segments. A self-proclaimed daydreamer, Nishant’s earliest ambition he recalls was to become Mithun Chakraborty The Second. Wandering around the house with his trousers stuffed in his socks, he tried hard to ape his role model who had reinvented the fashion of wearing long gum boots. Thereon, his aspirations took various forms before reality struck – he studied, got grades, and made a career. After having completed his MBA in Marketing from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Nishant joined Infosys Technologies Ltd. and worked there in the capacity of a consultant for more than two years before he moved to IBM India Pvt. Ltd. in 2008. He has also been credited with various awards for public speaking, which include the state-level third position in the Times Public Speaking Contest in 2003.

What inspired you to write a book initially?
I’d been writing all throughout my school and college days – in school and college magazines, editorials, and often in newspaper supplements. So there was not much deliberation involved before I began writing a book. Finally, on account of a whole lot of interesting people I came across during B-school, and with a lot of free time, I got inspired to write an entire book.

What are your future plans?
As of now, I have my hands full with a regular job and my novels, and I plan to continue doing both. But if I can see a good opportunity some day, I’d also like to give shape to my interests in music in a more professional mould.

Would you look at writing books as a career?
Writing books is already a part of my career, though a parallel one as of now. I’ve not yet thought of taking to writing full-time.  

Your view on MBAs? What do you think is missing while doing an MBA?
Based on a report I read more than four years back, there are over 1100 MBA institutes in the country. That number must have obviously gone up now. With such a deluge of MBAs, the differentiating factor of the degree is beginning to dwindle a bit. What matters today is what an MBA learns individually in the course, and how smartly he can apply what he has learnt, on the job. Once on the job, no company wants to know where we’ve done our MBA from. The only word that matters is ‘output’.

With all that is said and done about the rigour in an MBA course, one important thing that is missing is the need to apprise students of entry-level career challenges which loom larger than the overbearing knowledge of the business and management models of the world. For example, it would be useful to focus on the hardships involved in convincing a distributor to stock a company’s biscuit brand, rather than only telling us the cool models that help us identify the brand personality of a biscuit. These complementary routes would define the purpose of an MBA better.

Your Views on B –Schools
A B-school is a great place to be at – not only from a career point of view, but also as a place which helps you grow as a person. It’s a place where people from diverse backgrounds and interests converge, and they leave you with invaluable chronicles and lessons to last you for a lifetime.

India is home to a lot many entrepreneurs. Lessons you have learnt so far?
The key to entrepreneurship is raw courage. All these entrepreneurs have shown that one does not need to tread a prescribed path for success. With a few calculated risks and a very strong vision, one can achieve even the impossible.

What kind of support did you receive from family and friends?
They have all been very supportive in all my endeavours, especially my family. When I first told my parents I planned to write a book, I was myself not as serious about the whole idea as they were. From the time I first casually mentioned the idea in passing, till today, they have pursued my passion more actively than I myself have. My family is totally the anchor I rely on for whatever I do.

Cite some qualities that you attribute to your family that later shaped your career.
One principle that has been embedded in our family is to always "mind our own business". We’ve been always told to focus on our own work, and to not get overly concerned with how much better or worse others around us are. I’ve taken this advice very seriously all throughout, and it has helped me a great deal. The sins of arrogance and envy are together dispensed with, and my life remains simpler and prettier.

What were the initial challenges you faced. Who helped you or guided you
Given that I had no prior knowledge of how a book is written, I had to go through a lot of iterations to come up with a close to acceptable manuscript. In case of a work of art, you are the only one who can really help yourself out. A little bit of thinking in isolation, combined with a tacit moral support from family, did the trick. 

What were some of the turning events in your life
In 2005, I was on a visit to a B-school for a management fest, representing my institute along with some other colleagues. I was running through a lean patch then, and unlike all my other colleagues, was unable to even make it through the qualifying rounds of various events. One night, in the presence of everyone, a colleague asked me "Come on, Nishant, will you ever show your worth somewhere?" I’d say that was one of the lowest, and also one of the biggest turning points of my life. I realized I needed to answer that question some day – not to the person who raised it, but to myself, for my own sake. And it will remain a question I will always bear in my mind.

Among your personal traits, which are the qualities which keep you in good stead?
I am very clear in my head as to what I can and what I cannot do, what I want and what I do not want to do in life. It helps me stay focused, irrespective of the opinions of people around.

How open are you to criticism. Who would you describe as your biggest critic? How has it helped you?
I respect criticism, however harsh – as long as it helps me improve my work subsequently. So if the criticism projects clear loopholes in my work, it has great value. It works as a good closed-loop feedback. Of course, there are critics who like trashing someone’s work just because they think it is cool to do so. In such cases, my best shot is to not read much into the criticism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I have no business to make people think otherwise.

Tell us about your family backgrounds, what are your siblings doing? Education, favourite food, eating joint, favourite movies/ stars, music you listen to, holiday destinations, your favourite books/authors, guru if any.
Ours is a very close knit family. I have two elder sisters, both of who are married. My parents stay in Gujarat, and we all make it a point to stay closely connected all the time. My immediate possible instance of a holiday translates into a visit back home.

I hold a degree in Instrumentation & Control Engineering from Nirma University, Ahmedabad, and an MBA in Marketing from NMIMS, Mumbai.

I totally dig samosas, and also have a very sweet tooth. My favourite eating joint is this quaint paratha joint in Pune by the name of Chaitanya. They serve some of the most delicious parathas you’ll ever get.

I’m a major movie buff, but some that top my list are: The Sound of Music, Rain Man, Top Gun, The Hangover, My Cousin Vinny, Lagaan, Madhumati, Sholay, DDLJ, etc.

My preference for a certain genre of music changes by the hour, but some of my favourite artistes include Co

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