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Choosing the Road Less Travelled: Review

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Dare To Be: 14 Fearless Women Who Gave Wings to Their Dreams

By: Rinku Paul and Puja Singhal

Published: 2016


ISBN No: 978-81-840-0756-5

Pages: 206

Price: 250

Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.

 

The book is an inspiring compilation of success stories of fourteen very eminent women who have successfully turned their aspirations and desires into thriving enterprises. It aims to inspire women to break the stereotypes associated with the professional and entrepreneurial roles and encourage them to pursue their passion with courage and confidence.

Stereotypes paint successful women as unsympathetic power mongers, single, lonely, masculine and tough, or its contrary; emotional beings unable to cope with tough situations that demand rational thinking. This primarily stems from a patriarchal bias that looks upon women as the “weaker” sex because the society is unable to cope with the women’s power of decision making that brings in a positive change in the world.

The underlying themes as highlighted by the authors are firstly to point out the gender bias in society. Secondly, to highlight the qualities of courage and perseverance as key to success. It also highlights that though the success of the ventures were unplanned, the women all had ample previous experience and profit in other fields, before they decide to take the bold step of following their dreams. Thirdly, it discusses the dilemmas that most entrepreneurs may face, of making a choice between monetary benefits and passion. The experiences explain that monetary benefits follow as one tirelessly follows one’s own goals.

Having said that, it is also acknowledged that book is not a prescription for success, one has to have the privilege of having a support and mitigation system and it is equally important to make sensible choices and device one’s own suitable plan of action. It inspiringly aims to encourage women to have faith in their dreams and capabilities as it describes the challenges and prejudices that make it tough for women to make their mark in a male dominated society. The book carries detailed and fascinating stories of the journey of these women entrepreneurs along with some trivia that also makes it an enjoyable read.

It begins with Neeti Palta’s journey from a senior creative director and writer in renowned media corporate houses to becoming a stand up comedian speaks of the struggles of a women who was initially dismissed as a women with limited abilities, but through her attitude of standing up for her choices rather than leading a life of regret made her the success story that she is today.

Malini Agarwal’s story from a journalist to becoming the founder of a famous Bollywood brand Missmalini.com inspiringly speaks of exploring the ability to create opportunities that give an outlet to ones passions. Sonam Karla pursued her passion for singing and founded The Sufi Project; she pursued her spiritual journey into truth and beauty. Sairee Chahal’s self-confidence helped her leave the small town and pursue her career in a corporate house and later founded her own firm that offers access to flexible employment models for women. Her story inspires one to practice perseverance and believe in oneself inspite of deterring social norms.

Monica Bhide describes her choice of turning to art as ‘a calling’, she emphasises on the fact that decision-making is tough, but carrying the weight of unfulfilled dreams is tougher. Sucheta Pal turned into India’s first Zumba education specialist and master trainer after being a business analyst. She argues for the right of women do demand a fair share of their right to exercise choice and seek liberation from fixed roles assigned to them.

Kanika Tekriwal, founder of the JetSetGo Aviation Services believes in the philosophy that different aspirations are ignored, laughed at, fought but eventually won, thus one must fearlessly strive towards ones goal. Abha Maryada Banerjee, motivational speaker and writer was disillusioned by the practice of law and decided to follow her passion to “imbalance things” to pursue her dreams.

Neeru Sharma dreams of running institutions for a social cause after successfully co foundingInfibeam.com. Swati Kaushal, author of bestselling novels is a role model for anyone who believes in being oneself and creating a space to fearlessly express the same. Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhari, trained into cancer research and after a successful career in health care industry, changed her path of life as she discovered the wonders of alternative therapy through her personal health struggles. Her story inspires one to believe in the genius and power of boldness to set the goals of truth and act upon it.

Pooja Warier, co founder of UnLtd India, a launchpad for social entrepreneurs and Bombay Connect, a collaborative space for people to make a shared positive change gives an inspiring message of unwavering belief in one’s own vision. Yukti Kapoor Mehandiratta’s story from being a banker to a fashion model and anchor, speaks of the need for women to shrug off the burden of proving themselves in domestic spaces and muster the courage to chase their ambition.

Anisha Singh co founder of Mydala, India’s largest coupon provider not only emphasises on perseverance but also the need for solidarity for fellow women professionals. In that spirit, the book ends with a positive note of keeping these conversations going by urging readers to share more stories of successful women entrepreneurs. In a limited way, yet the book does more justice to the discourses on inspiration and positive thinking for women than most manuals that sermonise and preach values of truth and integrity in gendered spaces.