Sadashiv Pradhan, a Business Management graduate from XLRI Jamshedpur (Batch of 2016), now a manager at STAR India Ltd. talks about his first book - 23:59:59. For anyone aware of the importance of deadlines in a B-School and especially for XLers, the dreaded mails with a 23:59:59 deadline, the title of this book conveys what the story is about - the journey of an MBA student. But is it one of those cliched MBA books? Definitely not. Read on as he shares what this book is all about, how he went on to write it and how he managed to do it as a full-time working professional. And if that gets your interest piqued, you can find out more here.
Could you tell us something about your book 23:59:59?
Each one of us who eventually became a part of India’s best B-Schools, at some point in time, must have given an answer to the question ‘Why MBA?’ in an interview. 23:59:59 is an attempt to unfold the depth of that answer. No matter what we say in an interview to impress a panel, most of us don’t know why we are doing an MBA. 23:59:59 begins with a character named Jay who is a passionate football blogger, gets into the best B-school of India without really knowing why he wants to pursue MBA in the first place. At the B-School, he meets two friends – Abhimanyu & Ishaan, both of whom have their answers sorted for the ‘Why MBA?’ question. For Abhimanyu, it’s money whereas for Ishaan, it’s passion, and as destiny would have it, at the end of the journey, Jay faces the quintessential dilemma between money and passion.
Tell us something about yourself.
Prior to XLRI, I pursued my engineering from Pune where I spent my entire childhood. During my Engineering days, I published a couple of research papers in renowned international journals. I did my schooling from a Marathi school – Nutan Marathi Vidyalay. Since childhood, I have been inclined towards writing – won numerous awards, was an Editor of a college magazine, maintained a blog – and then finally decided to make it bigger.
When did you start writing and what inspired you to broach this subject or write 23:59:59?
The moment I walked inside the hallowed gates of XLRI, I knew there was a story to be told! The life that we expect while aspiring to be a part of elite B-Schools is completely different from the one we get to experience. The euphoria of getting admission dies down, or rather, reality hits within a week, and you realize that beating two lakh candidates in a rat race was the easier part and that the worst possible rat race of your life has just begun! Throughout my XL journey, I met various characters, followed their journeys, and started penning down stories which eventually turned into 23:59:59!
Since XLRI played an important role in shaping your thoughts, tell us something about your experience at XL.
XLRI! I don't think there exists another place on this planet which invokes so many emotions in me. From the days when I hated being there until the time, I started realizing the impact this place has had on my life, it was a roller-coaster ride. While others were looking for top-notch performers who have aced everything they attempted, XL warmly opened its gates for someone like me, gave me a chance, and turned me into a far better version of myself! Despite the rigorous, almost torturous experience, for that very chance, XL will always hold a special place in my heart.
How did these experiences influence your writing and this book in particular?
Book publishing is an exhausting process, especially when you are a working professional. It has been three years since I started writing 23:59:59 – it took an immense amount of perseverance and grit to finally reach this point. All those qualities that were needed for fulfilling this dream were instilled in me during my XL journey. More than anything else XLRI taught me to believe. The knowledge of Finance, Marketing, and other business related theories were crucial but more than that, my journey at XL gave me huge confidence in life – every time I come across a hurdle, I tell myself, ‘hey, you survived XL, this is nothing, go fight!’ Besides, 23:59:59 is about B-school culture & MBA life, thus my XL experience obviously has a big influence on the story.
How did you manage your daily schedule along with this pursuit?
Honestly, the first year at XL was painful, at least academically. I wasn’t the topper, heck, I was one of those students who start searching their name from the bottom when a professor puts out a rank-wise mark sheet for an entire batch. As much as you try to stay strong, a constant stream of failures starts affecting you – relative grading makes it even worse. The environment around you becomes negative. Few months into XL, I realized that I need to channelize that negative energy better, and thus I started writing, if not daily, at least twice a week, it may not have been good enough to post on the social media, but I forced myself to write and inexplicably, it gave me some peace.
Since you also work full-time, how do you continue to manage your time and chalk some out for writing?
One of the worst things people from our generation say – ‘Bhai, kuch karne ka time hi nahi milta’! The reality is ‘time nikalna padta hai’! In the corporate world, we are living a life where we work extremely hard on weekdays, hardly give any time for ‘us’ or ‘our dreams’, and on weekends we are left with no energy or bandwidth to do something creative. My advice to everyone who is struggling to ‘manage time’ for their passion is to start, force yourself to take a step every day. Soon you will realize that working hard for your dream is fulfilling, and gradually it will become a habit. Nothing happens overnight, it took me three years to write a book but during my loneliest and most hectic days of work in a small town of Latur where I spent a year as an area sales manager, writing 23:59:59 gave a purpose.
What would be your advice to aspirants who may want to pursue unconventional career options post-MBA?
Be selfish! Be selfish to yourself, to your passion, and to your dreams! Our generation is spending or rather wasting too much time on toxic relationships and on worthless jobs/corporations that would not think twice before replacing us. I don’t understand when someone says ‘I am crazily in love with him’ or ‘I can do anything for her’; that craziness, that ‘deewanapan’ should be reserved for your dreams; the person for whom you are willing to do anything should be YOU! Love is a choice, and in today’s world, that choice is just one right swipe away. Those, for whom you are willing to do anything will not hesitate to leave you, but your dream and your passion – that is something no one can take away from you. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in love, it’s a wonderful feeling, we need someone in life to grow old with or to share everything with but that person should not be bigger than our dreams. if you want to pursue an unconventional career then first you need to be crazily in love with that dream, rest of the things will take care of themselves.
What would be your advice to current students who are passionate about writing?
Keep writing! If you have a story to tell, write it, and post it, don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait for the right time. Unfortunately, the world is a difficult place for first-time authors but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Do not hesitate to dream bigger. It took me three years to complete 23:59:59 and I don’t know what future holds for it, maybe it will become successful or maybe not, but nothing will ever match the feeling when I held 23:59:59 for the first time.
Any other projects on your radar currently?
Absolutely! There are a couple of projects I am working on, but if I tell you about them, they might just sound ridiculous. As I said earlier, one should never hesitate to dream bigger, if your dream doesn’t sound like a joke then you are not aiming higher – if ten years ago, a boy who did his schooling from a Marathi-medium school, who could barely speak English would have announced that he is going to be an author, everyone around him would have laughed but again, here we are! So, yes, there are a couple of things on my mind, which I would be working on as time permits.