Monday Truclusions – Finding Opportunities In Diversity

Monday Truclusions - Ashwin Karthik Caricature

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Monday Truclusions!

First of all, let me wish everyone a very Happy Children’s Day. On this occasion, I would like to tell you about the creation of a very special book called ‘Gifted’, which was written by two very special people – Sudha Menon, a master storyteller and the author of multiple best-selling books, and my mentor, V.R. Ferose, the global senior VP of SAP Labs. It is a collection of stories about 15 real unsung heroes.

Between The Covers Of ‘Gifted’

The stories that are featured in the book are of 15 people who have, since their childhoods, fought against challenges that appear invincible to many of us. Not only have they tackled these hurdles, but they have emerged victorious. These challenges were what life threw at them in the form of disabilities.

Malvika Iyer, who lost her hands in a freak blast, and whose indomitable spirit remains unhampered.

Ankit Jindal, who made sure his employers saw his skills and potential to soar to new heights rather than his disability.

George Abrahim, who believes that “Disability is god-given but a handicap is man-made.”

These are just three examples of incredible and inspirational stories featuring people who society considered underdogs. Nobody expected them to achieve their true potential except themselves. They truly believed in their own capabilities and had the willpower to achieve their goals.

I think ‘Gifted’ is a book that tells you the stories of real people. People who believe life is all about standing up tall regardless of how many times you fall. It is indeed my proud privilege to be among the 15 individuals whose stories will be told. Now, let me tell you how it all happened.

The Real Management And Leadership Gurus

It was in 2013 that we first read about the India Inclusion Summit (IIS) on social media, and the reason it attracted our attention was one name – APJ Abdul Kalam. This true visionary and the former President of the nation was going to address the gathering at the event. Bharath and I decided that we wanted to attend the event, but couldn’t that year. Instead, I attended a ceremony where I was awarded the Best Employee Award by the honorable President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

One day after we got back from Delhi, our good friend Vilas Nayak called Bharath and said that the MD of SAP Labs, VR Ferose, wanted to meet us. He also told us that Ferose wanted to talk to us about a book that he was co-authoring with Sudha Menon. We were quite intrigued and wondered why the MD of an MNC would want to talk to us. We were even more puzzled because it was regarding a book he was penning. We were not management or leadership gurus, and we found ourselves thinking, “How can we help him?”

After a couple of days, Ferose called and told us what kind of a book ‘Gifted’ was going to be. He also told us that he had intended to write a book on leadership, until one day, when he was spending quality time with his 2-year-old kid. It then struck him that the best leadership and management lessons could be learned from people who are differently abled.

I also realized that his thought process was not because of sympathy or emotional feelings. He had a very logical approach towards the situation. He believed people who had it in them to beat the odds and be victorious, people who can think radically when they are pushed against the wall, are the real management and leadership gurus.

It is true to a large extent that people with physical or mental difficulties encounter new problems often, and that it takes a great effort for them to not only sustain but thrive in mainstream society. Hence these achievers could be exceptional leaders for society at large.

Shining The Spotlight On The Underdog

Monday Truclusions - The Gifted Kannada Book Launch

Bringing these unsung heroes to the forefront of society was the intent of both authors. In the book, the authors talk about two very important concepts, which are the crux of the success for all these winners. These concepts are called ‘Desirable Difficulties’ and ‘The Permission To Succeed.’

These heroes saw the opportunities available in diversity and looked for situations where they could prove their mettle. They are perpetually hungry for more. Their hearts have always said ‘Dil Maange More.’ That is why these challenges are called ‘Desirable Difficulties.’

The second concept, ‘Permission To Succeed’ refers to a strong support system, which always stood by them and bolstered their confidence. This support system includes family and friends. The idea is to create more and more of these support systems.

Connecting To A New Audience

A R Manikanth, a journalist at ‘Kannada Prabha’, a local daily, read the book and was so inspired by it that he wanted to translate it into the local language. The best part about publishing ‘Gifted’ in Kannada is that Manikanth sir, who suffers from hearing and speech impairment himself, will be able to convey the message in the book to rural readers. This, for me, was the true success of ‘Gifted’.

I invite all of you to join us at the launch of the Kannada version of this must-read book. It will be held at Century Club on the 17th of November, 2016, at 5pm.

This is how I summarize ‘Gifted’ for all of you:


   Stop staring at the darkness of the nights,
Look at the stars that make it bright.
From within they are brightly lit,
Read the inspiring story they do knit.
Do not think of the salt in the sea,
Think of the oyster you could be.
Every second the sun does burn,
But for the universe hope he does churn.
Each time you fall,
You are a step closer to grow tall.
Any moment the momentum might shift,
    Never forget to the world you are a gift.

Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read Monday Truclusions – Lessons In Humility From Sachin Tendulkar.

If there’s any story that needs to be told, we will tell it. Write to us at with your story lead, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Ashwin Karthik is the first quadriplegic cerebral palsy student to bag an engineering degree in India. In spite of having his share of misfortune that affected all his limbs since birth, Ashwin is blessed with a positive attitude and an undying spirit in life. He is a very talented poet and loves tackling impossible challenges. Ashwin has 3 role models in life- his mother, Sachin Tendulkar, and Stephen Hawkings. Currently, he works in ANZ as a Business Analyst, strives to bring awareness for an inclusive society, and wants to achieve at least a fraction of what Sachin has done for the spirit of his countrymen!