At 50, Sanjay Kumar Jain already has an impressive list of accomplishments to his credit: He’s won two gold medals from IIM Ahmedabad; he’s a rank-holding commerce graduate and cost accountant; a qualified company secretary; an entrepreneur, who launched his own finance company after hands-on training with top investment bankers; and now a corporate head honcho as well, serving T T Limited, a Rs. 500 crore vertically integrated textile group with pan-India sales and exports to over 65 countries. Here too he has made his mark, having taken the company to new heights of success as managing director.
Further, as part of the textile industry, he has headed reputed textile associations, has taken part in policymaking at central and state levels, and mentored students and also social and business start-ups in India and abroad. Considering all that Jain has achieved, it is not surprising that he has won numerous awards.
With all his accumulated knowledge, Jain has now turned to writing, having recently penned his debut book A Pinch of Salt: In the Recipe Called Life that offers advice and insights to readers looking to live a balanced and happy life.
MARWAR brings you a Q & A session with the promising author.
Sanjay Kumar Jain as the then chairman of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), receiving the ‘CEO with HR Orientation’ Award from the World HRD Congress, in 2019
You are already a successful entrepreneur. Why did you take to writing?
Writing a book was on my bucket list for a long time. However, I had no idea about the subject and kept postponing it. I have many friends who have written books in the last few years, hence that also pushed me to write. However, the final push came when my wife Jyoti and son Hardik told me to just do it if I wanted to. They even set me a deadline, saying that my book should be ready for launch on my 50th birthday. That finally put things in perspective for me and I started penning down my thoughts.
What is A Pinch of Salt: In the Recipe Called Life all about? What message did you want to get across?
The best of dishes made by the best of chefs become tasteless if that pinch of salt is missing—my book is about adding that common (sense) salt to life (especially the lives of readers) through 18 basic principles of life that I have learnt post my IIM-Ahmedabad days. There is no single message here—I just wanted to leave my readers with some simple and actionable principles that they can understand and implement immediately, without much effort. I strongly believe that most of us are 90 per cent complete, so my endeavour is just to add that pinch of salt to their life’s recipe. In this book, I have laced every thought and concept with anecdotes to make them relatable and real.
How have you ensured that your book is practical and not preachy, like so many self-help books out there?
I was very particular that I did not want to write a heavy and boring book that would be very intense and only read by a select few. My objective was to write a book for the masses and keep it very concise. My book aims to make readers aware and start thinking. I had no intention to preach or provide any solution to them; rather, I’ve tried to make readers aware and help them find their answers and solutions. The first chapter, titled ‘Anekantvaad—Perspectives’, summarises the thread of thought running through the entire book: there is no one truth or correct solution/answer; one does not have to be wrong for the other to be right—both can be right; and the truth is relative to perceptions/perspectives and the environment.
Sanjay Kumar Jain (extreme right) with (l-r) Hardik (son), Jyoti (wife) and Muskaan (daughter)
Did you face any challenges while writing the book?
The biggest challenge was to start writing, but the push from my family finally helped me to get down to doing it. The next challenge was to choose the topic to write about. The final challenge was to find the time to write. Fortunately, I found my sweet spot by writing my book during the evening flights I would take when travelling for business, as that was when I would be at peace, with no calls, messages or emails. I was able to complete around one chapter in a couple of flights, and hence it took over 18 months to complete the book.
How did you keep yourself driven and motivated during the writing process?
I had a clear objective of releasing the book on my 50th birthday, and this is what kept me on the path. Even when I was advised to change my style of writing—as it was not in the typical way that authors write—I was clear that I would write in my original and direct conversational style. As destiny would have it, just before my book was to go to print as a self-published work, I found Bloomsbury Publishing, who agreed to publish my book and approved the draft in just three days! Their approval and the fact that they did not ask me to make major changes in my writing style, added to my self-confidence.
How has been the response to the book?
The response has been much better than expected! I am happy that I got to share my precious learnings and understandings of life with others through this book, and that many disinclined readers dared to read my book seeing its conciseness and easy-to-read fonts. It has been very satisfying to receive appreciation from readers across all ages and walks of life.
You are also a regular columnist. What do you write on and where are your articles published?
Most of my articles have been on business—more specifically, on the textile industry. I have never written blogs and articles about my thoughts on life and living because I wanted to save it all for my book. Most of my articles have been published in business and textile magazines.
What do you plan to write next?
I will surely write more. I may start with my next book sometime next year; and by 2022-23, I hope to be featured in Marwar India again as an author.