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Mad Men Chronicles
Bang in the Middle's Prathap Suthan reviews ad veteran Sandeep Goyal’s Konjo

Konjo isn’t the kind of book you will find nestling in the laps of the readers you often see snuggled inside the plush seats of business class travel. It isn’t fat, gaudily glossy and, despite its overtly Japanese signature, it isn’t quite what the affected would ever like to cuddle on a flight. Moreover, this is from the heart of a hardcore Punjabi. It isn’t about soulful orange watermelons from the sloshing Ganges, and it isn’t quite from the keyboard of the usual marijuana-loving suspect from California and beyond.  

Sandeep Goyal isn’t your typical pseudo author dipped in yoga to deliver drivel for the luxury traveller. Nor is he a touted Tantra warrior, his exquisite Lladro collection notwithstanding. I know the man. Personally. Not too well, but enough to know that he feeds on a completely different diet of vitamins. I had a run in with him ages ago when he offered me a job at Rediffusion. He wanted me to shift from Calcutta to New Delhi for exactly half the money I was earning. Purely because I’d have the pride, privilege and pleasure of working with him. I was too insignificant, and a bit too civil to tell him what I felt. But his aggression, self-belief, and whatever else drives him came through like a huffing rhino in a china shop. There was no mistaking his brilliant ego. And at a completely lateral angle, I hoped one day I could also be nonchalantly obnoxious.

The pages of Konjo are full of anecdotes, moments, plans, strategies, tactics, brashness, caution, friendships, cruelty, grace and gore. They bristle with pearls scattered for the avid to pick up, retain and employ into their advertising lives. If I were to drill down to the bone, and offer you my analysis, I see three broad take-outs for you:

One: It’s a guide to doing business with foreigners — Japanese in this case. How to read an alien culture, how to spot opportunity, how to work within their idiom, win trust, and succeed together. You can reinterpret these to do business in the global economy.  

Two: It’s the compelling personal memoir and diary of a man’s zeal, entrepreneurship, and his indefatigable fight to rise from defeat to victory. You have the inspiring chance to refuel your own tanks from his words to find meaning and purpose to your life. 

And three: It’s a microscopic look at the fleas that wander among the demons of this business called advertising. It is an industry that’s as brutal, cold and bloody as any butcher’s. You have the closest view of what happens in the gullet and gizzard of my business. 

While it used to be a fairytale of a business, CAs and financial scrooges have driven the business into a book of numbers. Konjo is for every entrepreneur who needs a rousing dose of ethnic octane to see hope, fame, and fortune at the end of a grisly advertising tunnel. It’s worth a profitable read.

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