Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with Radhakrishnan Pillai, author of the book "Corporate Chanakya"

Continuing our discussions with some of the fabulous authors in India who are coming out of the woodworks these days, we got to chat with Radhakrishnan Pillai, author of the book "Corporate Chanakya".

If you did not know about Radhakrishnan already, he has been awarded the Sardar Patel National award 2009 for his research on Chanakya and his principles. And this first book "Corporate Chanakya" has created a record for the highest number of pre-release sales for any first book of an author.

Here is a transcript of our discussion:

Q. Tell us about your journey from a manager to a spiritual leader/management guru.

I started my corporate journey as an ordinary sales person. From there I went on to work in various companies and industries. I held many positions from a sales manager to a production planning in charge of a jewellery factory. The last job was handling All India sales for a publishing company. However, from the year 2000 onwards I went to start my own business venture called Atma Darshan which was the biggest turning point in my life. To better my business I went to study the Chanakya management ideas of Kautilya's Arthashastra and in no time I started training and teaching people on leadership and management.

I will give the full credit of the success in my life as a spiritual leader / management guru (as you have called me) to Chinmaya mission - This is a spiritual organisation where I got trained from my chidhood. I also learnt Kautilya's Arthashastra at Chinmaya International foundation (CIF) which is the research and academic wing of Chinmaya Mission.

Q. How did you become fascinated with Chanakya and his 'darshan'?

Tell me who is not fascinated by Chanakya? Even I was like any other Indian. He is a person who is symbolic of dynamism and energy. However I just went an extra bit by studying the work of Chanakya - the Kautilya's Arthashastra (containing 6000 sutras) in detail.

Q. How easy is to live digest & implement 'the Arthashastra'?

If you have a will it is very easy. If you have excuses you never start. Infact I have written in my book I got inspired to study the Kautilya's Arthashastra at Mount Kailash the divine place where I got an inner calling which said, "Do not just study the Arthashastra - live the Arthashastra'. Any person can do it. One has to just start the remaining follows. As the well known saying goes - Take one step and lord takes ten steps for you... Finally it is Divine help that keeps you on the track.

Q. Why do you think Chanakya’s model is still relevant in today’s society & especially in today’s management per se?

Because Chanakya's ideas go beyond time. These are eternal principles of management that for over 2400 years have been studied and practised by kings. It will benifit our generation also you will see the practical application in the book Corporate Chanakya itself.

Q. Is there any point where you disagree with Kautilya and if yes, where & why?

Not really. Yes as a student I had my own standpoint and opinions.However as I grow more mature I realise that Chanakya could never be proved wrong as he was a man of perfection. How else could a book like Arthashastra survive for such a long time? But at the same time please note one need not agree on everything the Chanakya says with blind faith. Chanakya himself says that till one is logically convinced one should not accept anything. So if you study Arthashastra with the attitute of a student in the long term one will understand that Chanakya can never be wrong.

Q. How did 'Atma Darshan' happen to you?

Yes you are right - Atma Darshan 'happened' to me. I was an employee who got turned into an employeer. There is an incident that happened. In year 2000 I was sitting with Swami Tejomayanandaji, the current global head of Chinmaya Mission. He asked me "What are you currently doing?" I said, "Looking for a change of job". He smiled as said, "Our Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda said - Youth should think of creating jobs rather than seeking jobs..."

Here was a divine indication that I have to start something on my own. But did not know how. Since I was interested in spirituality since childhood and travel was my passion my first company was in the field of Spiritual tourism. Swami Tejomayanandaji himself gave the name 'Atma Darshan' to my company.

The success of my company clearly goes to my partner Mr Venkat Iyer who took it to the great heights it has achieved in the past few years.

Q. What inspires you most to remain focused on your values?

My Guru Swami Chinmayananda. He is my role model and I have been inspired by this teachings.

Q. Your book is now India's top selling management book. What do you have to say?

For the first time when my friends at Jaico publishing asked me to write a book they said. Your book will become a best seller in no time. As a first time author I liked their idea but did not know how it will turn out.

However the book has created records since its release on 15th Aug 2010. In less than two and a half months of its release it has already gone for 9 reprint editions. For a first time author of a book it is more than a miracle.

The appreciations that I have been getting from across the globe is amazing. Infact the dean of Yale university is coming down to meet me to discuss about me and the book. This book has already been introduced as a text book of management in more than 200 Business schools across India and abroad.

So all this in just two and a half months.. they best has not even started....We are still at the tip of the ice berg. If course any author will be happy by these achievements.

But what I like is those who buy this book actually gift more copies to thier friends, relatives, employees, clients and even their bosses. That shows one has really liked the book and want others to know about it.

I thank by readers for making this book a grand success and a national best seller.

Q. 'Kautilya was a mentor, not a boss' - What would be your advice for today’s corporate bosses?

The word 'boss' seemes to put of people. Because it comes with negativity and fear. While a word 'mentor' is like a teacher and a big brother who guides you in the path to success. So I advice all the bosses should turn to become mentors and all subordinates to become students. Thus the flow of knowledge from the senior to the juniors will be complete.

The corporate world has already understood this fact. Narayan Murthy calls himself the 'Chief mentor' of Infosys. So does Bill Gates. Subroto Bagchi calls himself 'Chief Gardener' of mind tree consulting. You can also create this change in your companies.

Q. Apart from "Kautilya's Arthashastra", which other books are close to your heart?

The Bhagwad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharat and work of saints of India.

Q. Tell us about your next project?

Chanakya Institute of Public leadership (CIPL). We have started this institute to create future leaders for India. This we have started with partnership with University of Mumbai, department of Philosophy. My other director Ranjit Shetty have been instrumental in creating this institute. Here we teach the complete 6000 sutras of Arthashastra in a 6 months residental program. Pl check The best part is that the course is completely free of cost to the students. This is a good project to create a model of 'Good goverance' for India.

Q. Have you seen this facebook page? How does Chanakya Pillai feel? :)

One of my friend and fan Usha created it. She says its important to use technology to spread ancient wisdom. It feels nice to see the following I have in the cyber space. We are spreading Chanakya knowledge across the globe via a medium like Facebook.

Q. How did you feel when you received the Sardar Patel award?

This was my first International award. I received this on the 1st of January 2010. It was a wonderful feeling especially when Sardar Patel himself has been one of my role model as a national leader.

Starting from this award the year 2010 turned to be very lucky for me. I started my Institute CIPL this year. Became father this year - my daughter is named Aanvikshiki (coming from Kautilya's Arthashastra meaning strategic thinker & philosophy). Also my first book 'Corporate Chanakya' was released this year.

So in short getting the Sardar Patel international award was a begining of a very good phase in my life.

Q. Any message for Infibeam book lovers?

Buy this book. But do not just stop there. Read it completely page by page. You will discover a Chanakya in you. Many times people buy books read a few pages and never touch it again. Do not do that - read it fully. Then if you were benefitted, gift the same to others so that the knowledge can spread.