I Will Survive
I would like to share with you a few insights from my experience which I hope will be beneficial to you.
In these pages, I will discuss ideas and influences that shaped and fashioned me and also experiences that defined me – both as an individual and a professional. I will share the lessons I have learnt in various areas of my life, be it family, relationships and self-development, you can gain some insights into my journey so far.
I am a corporate communications professional. I work for one of India’s biggest brands – Tata Consultancy Services – ranked among the top 10 IT companies globally. If you are an executive or someone who aspires to make a living in the corporate world, then we have much in common. If you are someone who is constantly battling to move ahead in your career, then we have much to talk about as well.
I am fortunate to be an Indian living in the US as both these countries share a deep connection and share some very similar values.
In the past five years, I have lived in the Europe and US and am increasingly convinced that India is going to the giant of the future. The key catalyst in reshaping India’s future will be the youth of India.
There are wealth makers, social change agents, artists and writers, thinkers, sports persons, business and political leaders who will stand head-to head with their peers from around the world, unapologetic and fiercely compelling. And I am not simply being parochial or jingoistic by saying this. The current geo-political dynamics and socio-economic factors have changed the way Indians are perceived around the world. This is just the beginning.
If you are thinking of buying my book, go ahead and give yourself a chance to read about my journey and the lessons learnt on the way. You are welcome to share your thoughts about me and my experiences.
I also want you to share this story with others who go through similar struggles. Kindle hope in them and energise them to keep faith and persevere and never surrender. After all, nothing significant is achieved without a strong effort.
I want to use my site as a forum to learn from you as well. If you have learnt certain lessons from a difficult experience, please write to me. I look forward to hearing from you, soon.
Why did I write the book?
I have faced several struggles in my academic and professional life. As a young person in a small town, I had very limited people who I could approach and speak about life’s dilemmas and making decisions that can potentially alter the course of life. I had to learn most of my lessons through trial and error.
There were times when I was on the verge of giving up. But I didn’t. And that’s what I want to tell our youngsters today. There will be times when things will look too dark. But the cliché about there being a light at the end of a tunnel is true.
I want my book to be a guide to you. I want you to feel optimistic after reading the book. Just like life, there are some dark moments in the book. There are some hard settings in the book, particularly in my relationship with my father.
Read on though, and you will find that I get humbled and learn many lessons.
The book recounts some ugly and some downright embarrassing moments of my life. I wish there was some way I could have changed these parts of the book. But I can’t. These are true stories. The good, bad, ugly, and the embarrassing, together form a part of our lives.
Just as I come through strongly in some areas, there are areas where I have failed. It is this aspect that I would like you to bear in mind. I am just like you. Still struggling, but always persevering.
My book is also a tribute to my father and an act of gratitude for my family. They are as much strong survivors as I struggled to cope with life’s vicissitudes. There are many who supported me and this is my way of saying Thank You. Because of your help, I survived.
I shall endeavor to return the favour. Publishing this book is my expression of gratitude and a promise to guide young people to always retain faith in their abilities and themselves.
The trigger for this book came shortly after a trip back to India in 2006. The publication of the book is a culmination of three years of hard work and I can now personally vouch that publishing book is a harrowing experience. But the wait has been worth it as finally I can share my life lessons with you and hope that I help someone to draw strength from my experiences.
Someone once told me that writing a book is the closest experience that compares to giving birth to a child. I couldn’t agree more. During the writing process, I had to dig deep into the recesses of my memories. Often, a lot of painful memories would flood my mind and then I would find sleep difficult with my mind recalling all the vivid details.
Once an idea for the book took root in my mind, it would take me several days to turn my attention towards a new topic. Sometimes, I would be so engrossed in my thoughts that I would miss exits on the freeway while driving or forget my wife’s grocery instructions and give wrong answers to my son while helping him with his homework.
The great thing about the book is that the project kept me energised. I am used to adrenaline bursts in my day job and writing the book filled my spare time with adrenaline too!
Writing the book was admittedly tough, but I was blessed when it came to publishing.
I have heard most writers confessing about receiving several rejection slips before publishing their book. I was lucky. I did not have to take the traditional approach. I did not have to approach a publisher with the first chapter, and then tweak my manuscript based on the received feedback.
Once I had written a draft of my book, I expressed a desire to polish my manuscript and was put in touch with a freelance writer for ideas and suggestions. The writer liked the manuscript and showed it to a publisher who got interested and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
It was often a tiring exercise as I was communicating with them from thousands of miles (8,000 miles) away.
But the process of editing the book brought me in touch with some brilliant people whose invaluable contributions have helped shape my book into its current form.
In Andhra Pradesh, the seventh grade board exams are the first milestone in a student’s life. In my case, they turned out to be a particularly memorable event, teeming with high drama. A few days before the exams, much to my horror, the Principal of the school notified my family that if they did not pay the arrears of school fees for the entire year, I would not be allowed to sit for the board exam. It was a nightmare! While the rest of the class was putting in long hours of study I was anxiously pacing the floor, waiting to hear if my parents, through some miracle, had been able to raise or borrow the money to pay the fees.
All too soon it was the first day of the exams … and the fees had still not been paid. While I was getting ready to go to school I wondered what I would do if the authorities barred me from entering the classroom. My future looked bleak and uncertain, but I tagged along with my parents while they made a last-ditch attempt to rustle up the money. We knocked on the doors of some relatives and friends, but in vain. They either couldn’t or wouldn’t give us the money; and my desperate pleas for help went unanswered. I started crying, and curious onlookers looked askance at me. They were probably wondering why a big boy was walking along with his parents, sobbing uncontrollably, when there were no other schoolchildren anywhere in sight.
It was unthinkable that I would not be able to write the exams. It meant that I’d have to repeat the seventh grade with my juniors, or drop out of school altogether. I had always been among the top five students in class, and was all set to write the exams. Why was I being punished for something that was no fault of mine? Eventually, my parents decided to take a chance, plead our case in school, and beg the Sisters for a reprieve.
Unknown to me, a different drama was unfolding in school. That year, ours was the first school on the list of roll numbers. So there was a distinct likelihood of officials from the Education Department coming to inspect the arrangements that had been made there. Also, there was the possibility of the Education Inspectors quizzing the school authorities about the conspicuous absence of a student in the very first row of the very first class in the very first school that they visited. (My roll no, 5E, was somewhere at the top of the list, which meant that my seat would have been in the first row.)
Anticipating all those complications, the school authorities backtracked from the hard line they had taken regarding my fees. They sent two of the teachers to fetch me. But by then, all of us had left the house to borrow money for the school fees, so the teachers found the door locked. And no one could tell them where we were. They panicked-we were already panicking elsewhere! -and everyone was so frantic by the time I reached the school gates that a hero’s welcome awaited me. (I think I would have killed myself that day, or maybe, beaten up someone in school, had I been prevented from writing the exams.)
All my classmates were already at their desks. I was completely drained and traumatized because of the goings-on, and was probably red in the face from all the crying. A few teachers converged quickly, offered me a glass of water, and then ushered me into the exam hall. Through the window, I could see my anxious parents waiting for me to start writing. It took a few minutes to still my nerves and pick up the pen. And then, my fingers flew across the answer sheet without pause, for I knew the answers.
So after all the drama, I managed to write the exams, after all. Of course, when the results came in, the mark sheet was given to me only after the last rupee due had been paid. By God’s grace, 5E had scored well. On my way out of the school building, I compared my Telugu marks with my bete noire, Rajani, who was my most bitter competitor in Telugu and a vigorous boy hater. I had the last laugh for my marks were way better than hers. But those were small joys.
I’d got decent marks in the seventh class exam, and was encouraged to apply for admission in a better school although my parents had no idea how they would find the money for the higher monthly fees, books and other expenses. Eventually, I joined the popular St Mary’s High School, which was a long way from home. And that meant I had to take the bus to school. Or walk, when there wasn’t any money for the fare. Now, a five-kilometer walk on an empty stomach is not exactly a perfect beginning to a long day, especially if you need to exercise your grey cells. I certainly would not recommend it. But then, I did not have the luxury of any other options. Yet I loved school for it provided me with an escape from the perennial conflicts that were tearing our home apart-a home that once had been full of laughter, hope and happiness.
Why did I write the book?
“Sunil’s life story is heartwarming. His style is conversational and he shares his personal struggles and triumphs with candour. It is hard not to get inspired by such real life values not to get inspired by such real life valour. I gladly commend his effort to reach the youth of India.”
“I am delighted that he overcame so many odds since his childhood to succeed at a global level.”
“Grippingly written, here is a book that will inspire our young people to aim higher, while also providing practical tips based on Sunil’s own life regarding how actually to do so.”
“His book is not just about the road ‘from penury to prosperity,’ but about the greater journey to a life of purpose.”
“I have known Sunil for many years. He practices the principles he espouses and addresses these questions by encouraging his readers to consider the paradigms from which they view the world and work. He is a passionate and articulate man who understands the challenges facing many today, and I believe his book will encourage, motivate, and inspire you.”
“Vision without implementation is simply a hallucination. Likewise, a book without an experience that can transform you is just an illusion. Rarely do you find someone like Sunil, so enjoy this exciting book for your own success with integrity.”
“Sunil Robert’s Bound to Rise is a short but wise book, filled with thoughtful guidance for young people trying to steer their careers through a turbulent corporate world. I encourage young professionals everywhere to read it. It has the potential to change the way you think, and even more importantly, the way you act. That is its value.”
“I believe that if each individual in an organization focuses on performing to their potential, the positive effect on the organization can be exponential. In this context, Bound to Rise is a practical book that draws from real-life scenarios and offers engaging insights to help professionals realize their potential. Sunil draws from his experiences and offers realistic and honest alternatives that urge the reader to look inward in order to propel ahead in their lives.”
“Sunil is an outstanding example of how an individual can, through passion and diligence, realise his dream, overcoming the inevitable obstacles.”
“This book (I Will Survive) will serve as an inspiration to young people everywhere seeking to achieve something in their lives”