Review: Spring: Bouncing Back from Rejection by Ambi Parameswaran – books reviews
Ambi Parameswaran has chosen a complex subject for his latest book. Describe and analyze the possible mental and professional consequences of rejection. The overall canvas is more managerial than sociological and the editor has appropriately qualified Spring as a business book.
The narrative has a truly compelling tone in large part because some of it is autobiographical. I’ll tell you why I’m so sure When I started reading, I found page after page filled with anecdotes in a medley of insightful nuggets about how to live healthily through devastating rejections. A rejection, by the way, can find strange modes of expression. A bright spark in the marketing department could have been up all night preparing a powerful presentation on the product launch under his charge. His performance is brilliant the next morning, but no hallelujahs are heard when he finishes. Instead, a mud pie is spilled all over her face. This is how the higher ups once reacted (metaphorically) to express rejection.
Rejections happen, and too often, for convenience, they are cruel.
Wiser after assimilating lessons from management stories like the one above, the idea struck me: how come Ambi knows so many anecdotes, each with a moral at the end of the story? Is this a work of fiction or what? During a WhatsApp exchange, Ambi clarifies that all the incidents and stories in Spring are true. “Some are from my own life and from people I know. An example is my grandfather ”, he laughs. He emphasizes once again that all the stories in Spring are true, although some identities have been kept out of the public domain upon request.
Much of the narrative also addresses relatively mundane situations of rejection. Typically, for example, a problem may relate to examining ways to address the consequences of a colleague not getting a promotion. Everyone in the department had believed her raise to be a done deal. Lady Luck, however, refused to smile.
The point Ambi emphasizes is that rejection is not the end of the world for hapless victims. In fact, the message of the book is that recovering from rejection indicates a new beginning. New opportunities open up. Despite adversity, tough guys rebound, as some true stories illustrate. Here is an inspiring recovery experience from the book:
Suhani Mohan (IIT Bombay) and Karthik Mehta (IIT Madras) obtained gold titles in the middle of the last decade. These, of course, would bring you award-winning work. Coincidentally, neither looked for any. Karthik was more interested in designing machines than simply operating them. Suhani, by chance, discovered the enormity of feminine hygiene problems in the lower social strata of India. She wanted to help. Although they were inhabitants of different worlds, an IIT hatchery ecosystem was familiar terrain. Suhani and Karthik met, shook hands, Saral Designs came to life. In short, Karthik would design and build machines to make menstrual pads; Suhani would communicate them with users and educate them on the use. The start-up business plan was certainly foolproof. After all, in July 2017 there were 164,398,204 women in India between the ages of 15 and 24. Suhani and Karthik were ready to get close to the VCs, glamorous and sexy stars of the financial firmament. Ambi wryly describes how the venture capitalist’s question: “What is the path to profit?” sent out to all the startups that wanted a long-term view on tailing funding. Saral Designs was no exception, he notes.
With their IIT network in place, promoters Suhani and Karthik, both 25, knocked optimistically on the doors of numerous VCs. Suhani made a total of one hundred submissions between January and December 2016. All one hundred were rejected. The rejection came in two ways: total silence was the favorite. The other was the condescending comment: “Hey, you guys are amazing, but …”
Saral Designs currently employs 50 people and uses automatic menstrual pad building machines invented by Karthik that deliver 80 pads per minute.
Despite all that rejection, Saral Designs had come to life proving Ambi’s point in Spring That rejection is just one step away from starting over.
Sujoy Gupta is a business writer and corporate biographer.