In October 2018, when Ambi Parameswaran, Brand Consultant, Coach and Founder of brand-building.com was invited by Jagran Lake University in Bhopal to talk to their mass communication students about his experience in the world of marketing and advertising, a girl asked him to share some advice for youngsters who are just starting out, and who are not equipped to handle rejections on the way. This struck a chord for Ambi and remained with him.
During another lecture in November that year at IIM Calcutta, he spoke about three things one should learn at B-school, the first of which is readiness to face rejection. The talk earned him a huge applause and it got him thinking.
This is what laid the foundation for his latest book, Spring, where he pens down his learnings and experience on ‘Bouncing Back from Rejection’. Here Ambi talks to us at length about the book, the process of putting it together and its relevance during the pandemic.
Q] You have drawn learnings and cited examples of various authors, sportspersons, clients and your colleagues too in the book about how they handled their rejections. Can you tell us more about the process that went behind putting this book together?
In my case, non-fiction writing follows a very different path. First you need to think of the idea, the overall concept of the book. Then you write maybe one or two chapters, and then you start doing research. So, I started digging and reading books and articles on the topic.
Unfortunately there’s not too much from India. So, I identified about 10 different people to talk to and I started structuring the book in a particular way. There were going to be 20 chapters, of which I could write about myself in five chapters but we had to book stories in 15 other chapters.
I went through several articles on psychology, and pulled out certain concepts like ‘silencing the inner critic’. So compared to my previous books, which have all largely been on marketing, advertising and branding, I have gone somewhat wider this time. I’ve spoken of business people, scientists, sports people, authors and bureaucrats.
Q] Does one require a good mentor to come out of or handle rejection?
I talk about this in this section Rejection Processing System. There are three steps to handling rejection. One is you should be ready to face the rejection. When you’re hit by rejection, you should not crumble, collapse or blame yourself. You need to face it.
You feel bad for a day or a week and then you have got to get on with it. Next is processed rejection. Processing calls for what happened. So, for this, you sometimes need to have a mentor, or a friend, colleague or maybe your boss.
Someone has to put his arm around you and say, “Look, I think you did this wrong. I think you underestimated the complexity.” It is important to find someone who can give you unbiased feedback on what you’re doing wrong and that you need to think through.
Q] You have closed the loop on the concept of rejection by actually giving worksheets on handling rejection at the end of the book...
Actually, my literary agent and I had a debate whether we should include those worksheets or not. He said young people get scared by worksheets. But I insisted that the worksheets were in the end and by the time the readers would reach there, they would be ready for it.
Today’s youngsters have gone through fairly good and sheltered lives, which is why they say they’re scared about rejection. Which is why it’s all the more important.
Q] Every chapter has its own trickiness, but you also ensured that you don’t sound too preachy in the book.
This book is for a 25 or 35 year old, and they don’t want to be preached at.
A lot of self-help books have a very strong ‘preachy-ness’ to them. That’s actually because they are written by preachers. I just want to say, this is what happened and this is what I learnt from it. Now, you decide what you want to learn.
Q] The book is a lot more relevant today in the pandemic and lockdown scenario. Did you also have that in mind in terms of releasing the book?
Actually, no. I do my books in a particular way. I take two years to write the book, then do the launch and travel across cities for it. Even this time I had a similar plan. Ideally the book was to be out in April but we delayed the launch due to the pandemic.
My publisher said that the bookshops are gradually opening up and that we can launch. I actually asked them to hold on, as opening up of airport book shops was likely to take time and my books tend to sell well at airport book shops among business travelers.
But we went ahead with the launch plan. However, it turns out that the book is more relevant today than it would have been in January this year.