Full-time writer-columnist-commentator, Dr Sandeep Goyal, released his seventh book ‘Future Shock’. The book, which will hit the stand this week, is about the future driven by the pandemic.
Goyal opened up about his latest offering with the FPJ team.
Tell us about this book. How did the idea come about?
It was late April. The whole world had come to a shuddering full stop. All of us were home. One day I was talking to the editor of a leading pink paper. We got chatting about the future. The conversation went on and on. The editor asked me if I would like to write about how the world would look like tomorrow, now that the world was in the midst of such a major transition. I said I would if I could write long essays. He asked how long is long? I said maybe 2,000 words, maybe more. We agreed on a six-part series.
When I started writing the first piece, I figured 2,000 words were too little. The first of the ‘future’ series eventually turned out to be 5,000 words. I was very apprehensive if anyone would read such a long piece in today’s day and age of digital brevity. Luckily, I got hundreds of messages congratulating me on a well-written and well-researched piece. Many domain experts also reached out with very positive feedback. The rest was easy. Over six weeks, I covered travel & tourism, food, health, education, jobs & careers and leisure & entertainment.
My publisher called me as the series was tapering off and suggested that I write a few more essays and we would have a book that would be current and topical. Hence, Future Shock was born.
From start to finish, the book took me three months to write. So, at least from the literary point of view, the lockdowns have been a blessing in disguise for me.
There is a Future Shock by Alvin Toffler too. What is the similarity with that?
Yes, in fact, my book starts from mention of the Alvin Toffler original which was first published nearly 50 years ago. My mother gifted me a copy on my 16th birthday and I spent perhaps a full week pouring through the masterpiece. Not that I understood all of it at that young age, but Toffler fascinated me; conjured up new worlds, new visions in my head. Toffler’s insights were not just enlightening, they were loaded with possibilities that made you think farther, higher and beyond.
His writings are relevant and real even today. Toffler’s book is the inspiration for mine.
How did your advertising background help you in putting this book together?
About 20 years ago, I had the privilege of working with two futurists — Ira Matathia and Marian Salzman — both of whom were employed at the iconic ad agency Young & Rubicam, at their Madison Avenue, New York office. My first exposure to ‘future gazing’ was through their work.
In 1999, they were doing some epoch-making work on what the new century would be all about.
In advertising, one is exposed to multiple domains. Over the years, I have handled over 500 clients in almost every conceivable genre. In writing this book, past experience of dealing with clients in different categories has helped shape both my understanding of different domains, but also sharpened my views on specific nuances.
Future Shock is the coming together of 36 years of experience across many domains.
What is different in this book?
This book has been born in a crisis. That too, a crisis of unmitigated proportions. This is perhaps, one time when the world was cumulatively, and simultaneously, impacted more than any war or natural disaster. The impact of the virus will be around for years and years.
As I was writing the book, multiple trends were starting to be visible. In the past few months, many of those trends have become more pronounced and are headed to permanence.
My book points you to what can happen, may happen … not necessarily what will happen. The book, I will become a seminal work whenever the pandemic is discussed in subsequent years.
Out of all your books, which is your favourite?
That is a tough one, for sure! It is like asking a mother to choose between her kids. Every book has its own context. For me, the joy of writing the book exceeds all else. For now, Future Shock is the newest born, and tops my list of favourites.
Any new book in the pipeline?
Future Shock is the seventh book. And, yes, Point Blank, my eighth book is already with the editors. I am planning on a New Year launch for that.