Kaustubh Sonalkar’s book, Fetch your Own Coffee, is a collection of his memorable and perceptive blog posts, initially posted on WordPress, and which later gained traction through LinkedIn.
The book is a treasure trove of day-to-day inspirations from various fields of life spanning corporate culture, interpersonal relationships, leadership, politics, poetry, music, sports and Bollywood. Simply put, it is an intriguing cocktail of storytelling-meets-nostalgia and relatable leadership values for those with an open mind.
Each chapter captures Sonalkar’s views on the burning issues of diversity, education, transgender inclusion, biases, youth, women’s issues and even societal taboos. What has contributed immensely to the popularity of his writings is the fact that his views do not toe the expected line, and he doesn’t mince his words.
Sonalkar’s vociferousness is reflected in his writing and the lessons in them hit home, across cultures. With the foreword by Harmanpreet Kaur, Arjuna awardee and captain of the Indian women’s T20 cricket team, the volume is a great place to start for those youth that seek a different approach to life, beyond the confines of their management classes. A significant chunk of the content is drawn from sports — cricket to be precise. Not surprising, given that Sonalkar himself had nurtured dreams of becoming a professional cricketer, until an accident changed the course of his life. He has since spent 25 years in senior corporate roles with his blogs enthralling readers for over four years now.
“Fetch your Own Coffee merely emphasises the fact that everything is there around one. All one requires to go do is fetch what one needs,” explains Sonalkar when asked about the inspiration behind his book’s title. The book comprises musings pertaining to situational learning, that is, it takes inspiration from the daily happenings around us, that we come by through performing routine tasks, and reflecting on the same.
It drives home the fact that solutions to problems of any kind are always within striking distance; that there is always an alternative view of everything that surrounds a person. That is why, there are lessons to be learned from boardrooms as well as the sports field in equal measure. The message from Sonalkar is loud and clear — every experience in life holds a lesson, “our role is to learn it and soar on.”
Having led companies across the globe and managed people from various cultures, the author has managed to gather some truly profound lessons from his personal experiences over the years. He compiles these very lessons, in the form of nuggets of delightful insights, in Fetch Your Own Coffee.
For instance, the chapter, ‘Lifting the leadership pitch with Airlift’, is inspired from the Bollywood film, Airlift, starring Akshay Kumar. The movie portrays how unnecessary and irrelevant pre-planned heroism is to become a successful leader. Some of the qualities of leadership that Sonalkar feels can be learnt from Bollywood, in particular Airlift, are that a leader should own up to mistakes, start small, but get to the big picture quickly, possess unwavering empathy, should be infectiously persistent and stay with their teams.
Sonalkar has had the opportunity to be a part of inclusivity programmes, especially those aimed at the transgender community whom he has hired, and for whom he has organised skilling schools and apps as well. His experiences in this area have given birth to the chapter, ‘What the third gender can teach us about our first priority – innovation.’ The chapter enlightens readers on how integrating members of the transgender community into workplaces promotes a holistic work culture. As Sonalkar puts it, “they bring more to the table as they are creative, agile, fast and great multitaskers. Bringing them from the fringes of society to the workplace, can promote a healthier work culture that can change the world for the better.”
The book offers some of Sonalkar’s personal favourites — his posts on ‘Education- the red flower of the corporate jungle’, ‘What the third gender can teach us about our first priority – innovation’, the two chapter on sports — ‘Is Virat Kohli your dream leader or a nightmare waiting to happen’ and ‘Finding the MS Dhoni within you,’— and ‘This women’s day, lets change the story.’
Currently the group director – HR, general affairs, CSR and corporate communications, Welspun Group, the author is active on Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress.