Rishi Piparaiya has an MBA from Cornell University. He completed Economics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester, also a creative writing program from the University of Cambridge and schooling from Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai.
Rishi Piparaiya is also corporate speaker and mentor. He has close to two decades of experience with multinational corporations such as Citi and Aviva. Renouncing the corporate life while at the helm of his career, Rishi has been pursuing his interest in mentoring students and start-up entrepreneurs as an angel investor and an influencer in the corporate realm. His first book Aisle Be Damned is a national bestseller and his satire on corporate life, Job Be Damned, has been recently published by HarperCollins.
Rishi has a track record of success and was one of the youngest MBA’s from Cornell University’s class of 1998, where he was also awarded the Entrepreneurship award. His career spans working with multinational banks such as Banco Santander and Citi, where he was appointed Senior Vice President in his early thirties. He then moved to Aviva where amongst other roles, he was the Marketing Director, responsible for the creation of some iconic campaigns for the Insurer. As an author, his debut book achieved national best-seller status in India.
What inspired you to start writing?
Ever since I can remember, I have used writing to express myself. As a child, I was very interested in poetry, and this was something I pursued all the way through college. Some of my poetry was humorous, and somewhere along the way, I also transitioned to writing humor and satire.
Professionally, I used to write satirical emails at work sometimes to diffuse tension and that would viral out – it used to happen very often. My Powerpoint presentations invariably had an element of humor in them. I love the process of writing – words just magically fall into place, and when it is all over, you step back, look at what a blank page has been transformed into, and that is the only motivation one needs really.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
Like so many others, I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton as a young boy. And of course a lot of classics.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
The greatest challenge in writing a book is keeping oneself motivated through the writing process. It is hard to get feedback from anyone while the book is still a work in progress – if someone doesn’t have the full view on the work, his or her feedback will be limited or biased. Therefore you are writing in the blind, driven by your own passion and judgment and tend to be more self-critical than most. So very often you find yourself questioning your work and criticising it. That can be very hard on oneself. But once the final book is out and in your hands – all that pain and angst is forgotten and everything has been worth it.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
A lot of my writing is basis my observations, and before I start a new project, I am quite diligent about taking time out to think through and jot down my notes. That really helps me in the writing process. But I also supplement it with a lot of research – Job Be Damned has a lot of real-world anecdotes, and I spent months researching the relevant case studies for each point that I was making.
What motivated you to write the book “Job Be Damned”?
Spending close to two decades with multinationals, across geographies and functions, and managing thousands of professionals certainly gave me a unique perspective on corporate life. As a trainee, mid-manager and then senior leader, I have probably been through every plausible situation that a professional would encounter in a typical career. And every line and paragraph in the book is inspired by something that I witnessed first hand or heard about. I enjoy writing humor, and I just found so much material in the corporate world. It would have been a pity not to document it!
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Job Be Damned”?
Job Be Damned is one of the most hilarious and unconventional management and self-help books that one can read. It takes an entirely contrary approach to typical books that coach one on how to become an extremely efficient, effective and successful professional. Job Be Damned starts with the satirical premise that everyone is merely average and by the end of the book, promises to make them the best average employees that they can be. And it then, over twenty chapters, takes readers through a complete career cycle starting from making an exaggerated CV and getting interviewed to the eventual outcome of resigning or worse, getting fired. It provides tips and strategies for every possible workplace situation – attending meetings without preparation, procrastinating and finding scapegoats to take the blame, getting co-workers in trouble, shining at offsites, lowballing performance expectations, making confusing presentations, brown-nosing the boss, and so on.
Every page has laugh out loud moments that will take you back to some workplace situation that you have encountered; reviewers have even called it a PG Wodehouse meets Dilbert. But behind all that wit and satire, the book also holds a mirror to the typical corporate workplace. So much of what we do daily at work is unnecessary theatrics around managing perceptions and not focussing enough on the things that really matter. And Job Be Damned, as the back blurb says, is the kick in the backside that so many working professionals desperately require.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a self-help genre book?
I like to write about any subject where I have an interest and a fair amount of observational experience, as I like to call it. I was taking a hundred flights a year and spending a lot of time on planes and in airports. That resulted in my debut book, Aisle Be Damned – a bestselling humor book on the nuances of air travel. Having spent over fifteen years in corporates, I have had the opportunity to witness virtually every aspect of corporate life. And that has resulted in Job Be Damned. It turned out to be a nonfiction self-help book. Equally, I could have written it in a fictional format. So I am quite open to genres actually.
Who are your favorite authors?
I am a fan of simplicity and enjoy reading authors such as Roald Dahl, Jeffrey Archer, PG Wodehouse, Michael Lewis, and Micheal Crichton.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
I don’t have a fixed writing schedule as such. Whenever I feel the urge to write, I do, and when I don’t, I don’t! There are times when I simply do not have the urge to write anything, and I try not to struggle through writer’s block and simply occupy myself in other pursuits. Equally, at the times when I do get into the flow of writing, I try not to get distracted by anything else. So I may write nothing for a month and twenty thousand words in the following week, and on an average, I am fine.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
I would just encourage all aspiring writers to pick up a pen or switch on their computer and start writing. It is tough to get started, but if you have to complete a book, the prerequisite is to start it! Don’t get bogged down by your own demons or flimsy excuses and just start writing. And then enjoy the journey!
Also watch our Job Be Damned Book Review:
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