Pradeep Chhabra is an astute professional with more than four decades of professional experience, both in the Public and private sector. A mechanical engineer by profession, he has worked in the Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals industry. Being a firm believer in raising the professional and personal standards of others, he has authored the book “Uncork yourself not bottles”, which is derived from his own professional experiences and contains many anecdotes and examples. In a candid conversation with Chirdeep Malhotra, he talks about his debut book, the readers’s response to it, what it means by “Uncorking ourselves” and the concept of mental gyms, and also gives tips on choosing a good book for reading.
You’ve come out with a self-help book on professional and personal development for corporate professionals. What was the reason and inspiration behind writing this book? Can you tell us more about your writing journey?
It has been a long journey for me in the corporate sector, both in business development and business management functions. I had the pleasure of working with large teams and also with very young professionals who have grown up to be the finest managers of today. I also had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest minds in the industry who have become icons and have led large companies both in the private and public sector. Most of the topics detailed in the book are from their perspective and these topics have emerged during various formal training programmes or interactions with them over a period of time. I had always wanted to document the learning, observations and thoughts of my corporate life and I am glad that I could do it through my debut book and summarise my four decades of experience.
Can you give a brief overview of your book “Uncork yourself, not bottles”?
This book is for all professional managers irrespective of the field or domain they are in. It’s more about how to conduct yourself in corporate life, how to overcome various obstacles or questions which confront you as you grow in your career. Just to give an example- Managing your boss is an important part of your career and one should start focusing on this aspect right from the start. Over a long career, one would work under various kinds of bosses and therefore understanding how to manage your boss goes a long way. This has been discussed in the book. Besides few important aspects as to what forms the core of behaviour of any professional are discussed individually. The book is racy, has no jargons, and is straight to the point. The language used is simple and straight, which is the USP of the book, unlike many other books in same genre. Also, the explanation is given through few graphs which help in retention of the concepts.
How has the response of management professionals been to your book?
It has been excellent. Besides individuals, some of the companies have sourced this book for distribution in training programmes. The demand is coming from overseas as well. Professional managers have been able to connect with topics in day to day life and I have received multiple messages on my social media pages.
Is this book also useful for people other than the professionals working in the public and private corporate sector?
Oh yes, any person at any level, even entrepreneurs, will find much of value in the book. Throughout the day, we all are engaged in making other people say yes to our proposal. Be it our spouse, be it our children, neighbours or customers. Many such aspects of self-help and personal development are there in the book.
What do you mean by the term “Uncork yourself”?
It means setting yourself free from all the hindrances and all perceived obstacles in personal and professional life; and reengineering, reinventing, and resurrecting your life irrespective of the stage you are in. In the book, I have also introduced the concept of creating a personal mental gym, wherein one should talk to themselves with candour and engage in crucial conversations.
In the book, you have used many novel and innovative concepts to have your message of corporate guidance and self-help get through. In your view, what advantages does incorporating such ingenious and creative concepts and theories in a book have, apart from making the subject matter more engaging?
I have explained day to day real life situations with more engaging concepts so that professionals can correlate with it quickly. Many concepts like the ones discussed earlier are very significant in professional life, but get ignored in day to day activities. Besides being more interesting, they also give new ideas and perspectives to the readers.
Can you tell us about some of the concepts that you’ve detailed in the book for the benefit of our esteemed readers?
I have elucidated the concept of mental gym which should be a significant aspect of professional life. All professionals need to visit their personalised mental gym multiple times a day to keep themselves in the race. Other concepts are of investment in ourselves by improving our skill sets regularly which is a need all professionals must look at. Unless you improve your skill sets, progress can get limited to few steps. Also, while investing in yourself, you should have full clarity on what interests you the most.
What are your favourite books? Can you share with our esteemed readers about the genres that you like to delve into and your favourite authors?
I only read non-fiction. For me, the subjects and themes of the book are important than authors. I always look for new topics and these days, the subject of Artificial Intelligence is keeping me engaged from the perspective of how job scenarios are going to change in the near term. Generally, I like books written by successful business leaders.
What are your other interests apart from writing?
I love to travel and listen to Sufi music.
Are there any other literary projects that you’re currently working on?
Yes, I propose to release a sequel to this book.
Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?
This has to be “It’s amazing that life changes very quickly in a very positive way, if you let it”.
Authors can give the best advice regarding literary matters. Can you share some tips with our readers about how to choose a good book for reading?
Look for the topics which are of interest to you personally and professionally. A book is an investment that you are making on yourself. Choose the topic of your interest rather than going for bestsellers or what everyone is reading. It should purely be a personal choice and you should always buy a book which attracts you the moment you open it. Always buy more books than you can read. They are useful over a period of time. Some of the books on my shelf come very handy on certain days when I am looking for answers to some matters.
Written by: CHIRDEEP MALHOTRA