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Dear Readers,

Please join me to welcome Ms.Mukta Mahajani this week.

BNI: Welcome Mukta, please introduce about yourself to our readers.

Mukta:  Starting on professional front, I have completed Master of Laws, May 2005 from Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA. My Specialization was Alternate Dispute Resolution. Prior to this, I have done Bachelor of Laws with Honours, June 1998 (along with Student of the Year Award completed three-year degree in two years) from University of Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. Further, I have completed Professional Alternate Dispute Resolution Study, Training in Negotiation Skills at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, Training in Mediation Skills at High Court of Bombay, India.

Academics wise, my graduation was from St. Xavier’s College, University of Bombay, India in Bachelor of Arts – Psychology and Anthropology, June 1996.

I also have professional affiliations such as – Member, Lincoln’s Inn, London, United Kingdom; Advocate, Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, India; Licensed to practice law in India.

I am on Board of Directors of Institute of Clinical Legal Education & Research, a unit of Global Vision India Foundation- a charitable registered organization.

I am a committee member for Mumbai University Mediation Expert Committee, India; Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Mediation Expert Committee, India; Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Law: Review, Reforms & Rationalisation Expert Committee, India and Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Arbitration and Conciliation Expert Committee, India.

I visit Maharashtra Judicial Academy and Indian Mediation Centre and Training Institute, India as Guest Lecturer.

I have been guest speaker for various bodies including The World Bank Group, Washington, DC; Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

I also provide consultancy services to – The World Bank Group, Washington, DC , High Court of Bombay, Bombay, India.

In addition, an author of a book titled – “Let’s Talk; Negotiation and Communication at the Workplace by Jaico Publishing House, India”. This was declared a bestseller in the ‘Business and Management’ books category pan India at no. eleven by leading Indian bookseller – ‘Crossword’ within 11 days of its launch and a top selling business book by online giant Flipkart.com.

The second edition of this book with a new chapter and new reviews will be available, as the readers read this interview.

BNI: What an interesting profile you are adorned with! So, what all you have written / published till date?

Mukta: Apart from the book I author, I have co-published with Africa Regional Justice Note; Published by The World Bank Group, Washington, DC. My research work is published in ‘Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook; Published by The World Bank Group, Washington, DC’ and WPS5781 Policy Research Working Paper 5781 Framing Local Conflict and Justice in Bangladesh; Published by The World Bank Group, Washington, DC.

BNI:  What was your inspiration behind being an author and writing books?

Mukta:  Having fifteen (15) years work experience in UK, USA and India, I realized where our Indian young professionals were falling back. They lack skills to deal with difficult situations. This is especially relevant when one has to deal with reverse brain drain in India all the time and hence I thought to take the onus and the idea took shape.

BNI: What will be a thirty-word tagline for your book?

Mukta: An educational book teaches organizational negotiation and communication; mentoring ‘BEFORE A PROBLEM ARISES’. It builds confidence in young adults and adults by offering advice on mentoring, negotiation and communication.

BNI: How did you come up with the title?

Mukta:  Jaico Publishing House came up with this inspiring title. J

BNI: Who all do you think fit best as your intended audience and why do you think should they read your book?

Mukta: My intended audience is anyone over the age of twenty (20) years. They should read this book to learn how to avoid escalating minor sticky workplace situations. This book will help them avoid standoffs with seniors or colleagues. The book explains why certain personalities find it easier to learn negotiation and communication techniques and others do not. The book also guides those who may find techniques daunting, making the learning process easier.

BNI: In context of the book, who is your favourite and least favourite character? What makes them so?

Mukta: My favourite character is Ram because he also had to overcome extreme introversion to study the techniques. My least favourite character is Nikita because I dislike personal manipulations through low blows.

BNI: Please provide us with an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Mukta: There are four main characters to this book. Each is a good person who basically wishes everyone well and to that end makes every effort to study relevant negotiation and communication techniques to better themselves quickly and grow on the job. The latter happens due to successful self-help.

BNI: What was the hardest and easiest thing about your latest release?

Mukta: The hardest thing about my release was the nerves I faced before seeing the final product; all the last minute tasks that need to be completed as the release date comes along.

The easiest thing was speaking at my launch, as I love talking whether to 10 or 100 people.

BNI: Share some interesting story about the book writing or its cover development.

Mukta: I wrote the entire book sitting in a cafe in a mall over cups of cappuccino.

BNI:  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Mukta: Always remember that while taking care that all things being healthy and in the right direction where the company bottom line is concerned, people come first before problems. They are as important as the project technicalities involved.

BNI: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions or similar events? Any plans in relation to this book.

Mukta: Many students and corporate houses approach me after my lectures. They ask me to resolve their professional issues and I am happy to do so even though I advise them to change the names and places before telling me. All have been keen to understand the subject of mentoring.

Having degrees in Law, Anthropology and Psychology, my next book partly deals with working with very difficult people and partly with the mentoring process in an organization.

BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Mukta: Yes, they love particularly like my writing style, that I am teaching through a story telling style and not textbook format.

BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part-time?

Mukta: I write part time. I am also a lawyer, mediator, speaker.

BNI: Whom do you look up to as inspiration for writing?

Mukta: Swami Muktananda of Ganeshpuri, Leo Tolstoy, Victor Hugo

BNI: What draws you to this self-help genre?

Mukta: I love to learn and teach subjects that will help a person or me to grow.

BNI: According to you, what is the hardest thing about writing?

Mukta: The hardest thing about writing is to say exactly what you intend to say.

BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Mukta: I will write as long as I can.

BNI: What has been the toughest criticism and best compliment to you, as an author

Mukta: The best compliments have come from people who have emailed me saying my book has helped. The toughest criticism has been I should be doing more to reach people.

BNI: What will be your one favourite tip to get through the writer’s block

Mukta: I have never faced writer’s block

BNI: What are your thoughts on book series? Would you like to have one for your latest book?

Mukta: Yes, the second book coming soon features the four stars of this book as mentors to four new young people.

BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established

Mukta:  Read, read and read. Understand what you like reading about most, your favourite authors and feel free to write to them if possible or to me if you wants general tips. Websites also provide tips on writing but you must be very clear on your subject matter.

BNI: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Mukta: It is the first experience and so everything is new. You need to learn to have patience. Many people are involved with ‘your baby’, the book. Therefore, there is anxiety in general. I am blessed to have Jaico Publishing House who guided me through everything.

BNI: What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Mukta: All chapters are the same to me

BNI: Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?

Mukta: Reading your own work always teaches you something. Writing reveals and clarifies one innermost thought. One tends to get even more clarity that is personal.

BNI: How about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us?

Mukta: It has been a month since Ankita joined her new company. This being her second job she is confident about her work. Ankita reports to her department’s general manager, Vijay. As middle-level managers in small to medium enterprises commonly handle several portfolios simultaneously, Ankita has sought advice from her immediate superiors a couple of times. Ankita shares a secretary, a very senior lady named Jaya, with others in her department. Jaya is very passionate about her job and very protective of her boss, Vijay, who she gets along with well.

Ankita spends her first week figuring out things through Jaya who does not appreciate the intrusions and finds Ankita and her questions tiresome and unwelcome. Ankita too finds Jaya pompous and very difficult to work with. Ankita feels Jaya is just a secretary and ought not to behave the way she does.

When the time comes, Jaya refuses to type a 10-page letter for Ankita and tells her to do it herself. Enraged, Ankita plainly reminds Jaya it is her job to do the work, at which point the Jaya simply turns away. Ankita also has other work pending for her secretary.

What can Ankita do? How will she work with a secretary who gets on so well with the boss? Should she buy her lunch or a box of chocolates? Should she report it to the boss and possibly worsen the situation?

BNI: What are your expectations for the book?

Mukta: That is reach and help as many as possible

BNI: Do you think book cover an important role in sales?

Mukta: Yes

BNI: According to you, what is the top most advantage / disadvantage of self-publishing?

Mukta: There are no advantages in self-publishing

BNI: ebook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick? (must answer)

Mukta: ebook and hardcover

You can contact Mukta at:

– Blog: muktawrites.wordpress.com

– Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/beforetheproblem

– Twitter: @MuktaMahajani