#Bookmarked: Leapfrogging your way to success
‘Leapfrog: Six Practices to Thrive at Work’ by Mukesh Sud and Priyank Narayan, published by Penguin India, lays down six evidence-based insights to help readers advance their careers at an incredible pace
Saman Waheed28 November, 2022 | 4m read
Priyank Narayan is the Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and the Director of the InfoEdge Centre for Entrepreneurship at Ashoka University. Mukesh Sud is an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a Visiting Faculty at the Department of Entrepreneurship, Ashoka University.
Their book, “Leapfrog” blends stories and anecdotes which are supported by extensive research to suggest six ways to flourish at work. Utilising their extensive experience of teaching and mentoring students the authors have developed a Personal Journey Map (PJM). This will help readers implement the six practices by capturing their current repertoire, scanning the landscape ahead, and curating a path to a career they desire.
We spoke to the authors about their experiences that led to the creation of this book. Here is what they had to say.
What were some of the incidents/people who helped lay the foundation of this book?
The ideas in this book are from our students. We have dedicated the book to them. We learn from them every day. Our students have shared their experiences on what works and has not worked for them at their workplace. We also had alumni, recruiters, and parents who shared their observations. The book is an amalgamation of everything we have experienced inside and outside the classroom since we started teaching.
In addition to that, we have extensively studied these practices to find out what researchers have discovered about them. Each story, practice, and pillar in the book has been validated. It may start with an anecdote but is supported by literature—we have around 30 pages of citations.
What were some of your key learnings while you were working on this book?
We kept iterating on the practices and the process to ensure that students not only succeed but can thrive in the workplace. We realized that the key to writing a book is to keep the reader engaged by giving them something that is doable and showing them how others have used it. We were able to learn this in the process of writing this book.
One of the practices we discuss in this book is curation. We had to live this practice by curating what we put together in this book. It has also helped us in our teaching as we now have a lot more focus on what we want our students to imbibe and develop.
We pushed each other so that we could validate a number of our intuitions with published research. We had to read extensively, speak to a lot of people and then build that into our book. It has been a strenuous but rewarding journey over three years.
Was this book initially conceptualized as a collaboration between the both of you?
Mukesh has been teaching at Ashoka University for the last seven years. We have been good friends for a long time. The acknowledgement section in the book has the story of how we met and got involved as a part of a collaboration between two premier institutions, IIM Ahmedabad and Ashoka University.
This book is an outcome of what good institutions with individuals who have the right intentions can create when they come together. As co-authors, we had to agree conceptually on the values we wanted to write about. So, the collaboration between us grew over time and we were then able to intellectually challenge each other.
I think we complemented each other very well. Mukesh had a strong MBA and research focus. I came from an undergraduate liberal arts teaching environment. where I had a lot of very practical anecdotes of students that I had taught. So, we were able to bring our forces together to create a good balance of theory and practice.
This model of collaboration is something that other educational institutions should look at. We often look at research and writing as being very inward-focused. If other institutions can be inspired to find partners to create and document knowledge, great collaborations can take place.
Who, in your opinion, should read this book?
The book is meant for everybody who cares about doing well at work—in their career and their life. Examples in the book are simple and apply to everybody. Whether the readers want to be efficient in managing their home, office, or life, they will find some story in the book that will resonate with them.
A lot of parents have reached out to us saying that they love some of the stories and are reading them to their children. There is enough for everybody to read and imbibe.
The book does not have to be read in one go. It has been divided into sections and each one offers a unique lesson in itself. It is ultimately what one wants to make out of it.
The interesting part of the book is that it also provides the readers with a Personal Journey Map (PJM), a framework that helps the readers plan and put into practice whatever they have learned from the book.
Leapfrog is not just a book to read, it is also a thinking and doing book. People should imbibe these practices and their pillars as a habit while they move forward.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to the readers if they want to thrive at work or in their life?
One very important element of doing well at work is having a well-defined goal. Many of us are hungry for success without knowing what success means for us. The goal might change and evolve over time but we need to pursue it. Only then can we find a path to get there.
We always encourage our students to think about what would make them happy. That in itself is a difficult question to answer, not just for students, but even for mid-career and senior professionals. However, people need to push themselves, otherwise, it becomes a classic story of ‘I am happy to be on a path without knowing the direction in which it is going.’
The first chapter in the book is about developing grit. Grit in one line is defined as passion and perseverance which can sustain over time. We can do anything we want in life if we can demonstrate grit because ultimately there is no shortcut to hard work.
Is there anything else apart from this, that you would like the readers to know before they jump into this book?
The world today expects everybody to do well, and that too at a young age. That early success is glamorized. This is one of the myths we want to challenge through this book, where we say that one can do well at any age. We talk about people who take time to get successful, and that is perfectly fine. Some people have to deal with a lot of constraints before they become successful, and that is fine as well.
We also have a website for the book for readers who want to engage with and explore the ideas beyond the book.
We would love to hear from readers about what they think and how they have been able to apply the learnings in their life.
(Saman Waheed is currently an Assistant Manager at the Office of PR & Communications, Ashoka University. She is a former Young India Fellow from the batch of 2022.)