Management advisor and business expert Veer Sagar’s life is the characterisation of an unconventional success story. The tech expert successfully converted from CEO to entrepreneur when he was 55, founding Selectronic, a pioneer of the back-office revolution in India.
In his unique book, 'Failure is not an Option', a blend of self-help and memoir, Sagar takes us along on his entrepreneurial journey. He illustrates his principles with stories from his life to help the reader develop the traits and responsibilities of an accomplished leader; to think out of the box, create successful teams, and nurture talent and innovation.
Sagar told Connected to India that his book is a candid reflection on his personal experiences and insights gained from his journey in management.
“It's a heartfelt account, devoid of complicated graphs or charts, and extensive research papers. I do not claim to have all the answers or a one-size-fits-all solution for management success, as I believe that management is situational and context-dependent,” he added.
As someone who came from a non-traditional background without formal management education, Sagar had to learn through experience, which he turned into an advantage.
Sagar said that acknowledging his lack of formal theory, never being ashamed to seek advice or help and keeping an open mind has been his greatest asset,
“I have actively listened and learned from individuals from all walks of life - from rickshaw pullers and shop floor workers to CEOs and management students. Everyone has something valuable to contribute. Often, the best solutions arise from unexpected sources,” he added.
Sagar provides tips on how to make leading less daunting, including how to have difficult conversations with your bosses and peers and accept the vulnerability necessary to do good work, to enable you to set up and manage your own business. Think of ‘Failure is not an Option’ as a motivational pep talk from a friend with loads of experience in the Indian tech and corporate management sectors.
Recounting what inspired him to write the book and the challenges he faced, Sagar said that writing this book during the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique experience as the lockdown gave him the time and space to finally sit down and dedicate himself to the writing process.
One of the first challenges Sagar faced was deciding on the structure and concept for the book. Looking for a unique angle for his script, the author decided to make it more relatable by incorporating personal anecdotes and stories.
“I wanted to share not only my learnings but also my personal experiences, successes, and failures, to make it a more engaging read. It was a balancing act to ensure that the book remained authentic and genuine while also being engaging and informative,” Sagar said.
He also thanked the people who had helped him in the journey to get his manuscript published. He sought feedback from a dear friend and professor at the management institute in Lucerne, whose input was invaluable in refining the book and making it better. Sagar also realised he needed a professional editor to proofread and edit the manuscript.
The book title ‘Failure is not an option’, is Sagar’s personal life motto and has no direct relation to the Hollywood movie ‘Apollo 13’. However, Sagar recalls using the tagline from it to inspire teams over the years.
“I had a hard start so moving forward or up frequently meant being thrust into unfamiliar situations and roles with their own set of problems. I was simply aware that if I wanted to survive, giving up was not an option,” Sagar said.
He added that the book does not explicitly reflect his direct thoughts on the IT and business sectors. However, Sagar had a front-row seat in witnessing the growth of the IT industry in India, so it is very much a part of the narrative.
The book primarily focuses on the processes, challenges faced by the country and the company, and the solutions and growth that emerged from those challenges.
Sagar stated that his next book, titled ‘The Selectronic Story’, will delve into the IT revolution in more depth, with a specific focus on the back-office revolution.
The author's message to the readers is to have faith in themselves to overcome obstacles and make sound decisions, which is reflected repeatedly in the book.
“It is critical not to be intimidated by what you don't know, but rather to make it irrelevant, disregard it and focus on what you do know and work with that. This will show you how much easier the road to success can be,” he said.
Writing the book was a difficult but rewarding experience and gave him the opportunity to reflect on his life, share his experiences, and hopefully inspire others to persevere in the face of adversity, Sagar stated.
“My aim with this book is to inspire and guide readers who are navigating their managerial roles and responsibilities, urging them to think critically and strategically. I firmly believe that there is no right or wrong in management; it is only right or wrong in that particular moment and for that particular option,” he said.