The Accidental Apprentice, Vikas Swarup


Sapna Sinha is just an ordinary salesgirl in an electronic shop in downtown Delhi. Out of the blue, a billionaire industrialist (Vinay Mohan Acharya) offers her an opportunity to become the CEO of his company. No requirements for prior business experience or qualifications but with one condition: she needs to pass seven tests from the 'textbook of life'.

Along the journey to pass the tests, she encounters a host of memorable personalities, an arrogant Bollywood superstar, and even a hard core Gandhi fan. But are the seven tests for real or is Acharya just playing a game with her?

I was curious to know what kind of tests will be given to someone to determine for the suitability for the CEO position. At the same time, I'm also curious to know what kind of ideas will be coming from the author for this story after I've read the 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

Every given tests is to test the principles and moral values of a human being instead of the business view. I couldn't agree more that other attributes are important as well and not just monetary values and business mind.

Vikas Swarup can be considered as one of my favorite authors although I have a few things which I dislike about his writing styles. Some of his common writing styles which can be found in his stories:

  • Old style or uncommon wordings.
  • Lots of unexpected plot twists.
  • Lots of emotional and sentimental attached in the story.
  • Complicated expressions of feelings.
  • Ordinary person with unbelievable or unreasonable abilities.
  • Reading his book is like watching a Bollywood movie. Despite some of the stories are unbelievable especially when an ordinary person with so many unreasonable abilities (more than what you can imagine), I still love to read his books. It's probably extravagant if I say that he is like the Asian version of Paulo Coelho. Both authors have several similarities. Their stories are always extraordinary with a lot of life lessons for the readers to ponder and to understand the true meaning of life.

    I have jotted down some of my favourite quotes from the book. I hope you like them as well :)

    In life you never get what you deserve: you get what you negotiate.


    'Happy people don't make good CEOs. Contentment breeds laziness. It is aspiration that drives achievement. I want people with hunger. Hunger that is born in the desert of dissatisfaction. You seem to have that want, that hunger.'


    A school simply tests your memory. But life tests your character.


    A company is only as good as the person who runs it.


    There are only two choices available to the powerless of this world: either accept the abuse or walk away, only to suffer the same abuse from some other powerful person.


    A loser has got nothing to lose.


    'You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.'


    Leadership is the one competency that cannot be learnt in management school. A manager is trained to do things right; a leader does the right things. It is not a matter of training and preparation, but one of instinct and conscience.


    A leader doesn't have to be the smartest, strongest or prettiest. I'd rather have a less-than-brilliant leader as my CEO than a genius but gutless plodder, because leadership is the most important factor for a business to succeed. Just as machines need maintenance and products need marketing, employees need direction. It is the leader who provides that direction, who encourages and inspires ordinary people to do extraordinary tasks. For this the leader has to walk the talk. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, in matters of style, a leader swims with the current; but, in matters of principle, he stands like a rock.


    If you keep a dream for a long time, it gets rust. And nothing is more dangerous than rusted dreams. It poisons the heart.


    Courage is not the absence of fear: it is the ability to act in spite of fear and overwhelming opposition.


    A good leader has learnt to conquer this fear. He or she takes calculated risks boldly, knowing that the greatest fear is not taking the wrong action, but not taking action at all. That is the fear of regret, the regret of not having tried.


    Leadership without courage is like a racing car without an accelerator. It can sputter about for ages but will never cross the finished line.


    I believe that the only way to prepare for the future is to plan for it. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.


    The world is full of good men and astrologers who claim to know the future. But no one really does. The future is a mystery that is never revealed to us completely; it can only be glimpsed dimly in our dreams and imagination. Foresight is just a glorified name given to the process of drawing lessons from yesterday's failures and successes to plan a better tomorrow. It's a process humans have been pursuing since the dawn of history. And it's called survival.


    Blood demands a price. Love demands sacrifice.


    As I watch the teeming streets and maddening rush of the city, I am overcome with a strange burst of emotion. How vast the city is, and yet how lonely. No one has time for anyone else. Our lives are ruled by the clock, each one of us trapped in its ticking, stuck in the rat race with no end in sight. Perhaps we are no different from cars, each a self-contained cocoon, each travelling apart from the others, hurtling down a highway to nowhere.


    'Do not play with poor people's emotions. Their I'll wishes have a habit of coming true.'


    Failure is an option, but quitting isn't.


    It is said you don't always recognize the moment when love begins, but you always know when it ends.


    There are three things that wait for no one: time, death and opportunity. Once you miss this opportunity, it will never come again.


    The true worth of a job is revealed by the amount of time it takes you to quit it.


    You just need three things to be truly happy in this world: a person that you love, a job that you like, and a dream that you live for.


    'Man does not live by bread alone. Ordinary lives, at times, need the spark of the extraordinary. We need awe, we need wonder, we need wonder.'


    "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome"
    Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The fact is that nothing remains constant. You might be on top today, but there are always rivals within and without looking to bring you down. And, when that happens, you need that most essential quality in a leader: wisdom.


    Many people think that wisdom comes with age, but that's not true. Only white hair and wrinkles come with age. Wisdom comes from a combination of intuition and values, from making choices and learning from them. It comes from the ability to handle failure and rejection.


    But the most valuable lesson of life is to trust your own inner voice. Knowing the world is cleverness; knowing yourself is wisdom.


    So, whatever you do, be yourself. At all times listen to your heart, do what you think is right, and stand up for the principles you believe in. Everything else will follow.

    Rating: ★★★★
    More reviews can be found on Goodreads: The Accidental Apprentice.

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