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Updated: February 28, 2014 20:29 IST

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KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, 03/01/2014: Legendary Quizmaster Derek O’Brien, MP in Kolkata on January 03, 2014. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty
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KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, 03/01/2014: Legendary Quizmaster Derek O’Brien, MP in Kolkata on January 03, 2014. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

There is much more to success than money, says Derek O’ Brien in “My Way”, a book he’s edited on the success mantras of 12 achievers

“My Way”, a book edited by well-known quizmaster and Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien on success mantras of 12 achievers is bound to attract attention of one and all, as he himself has been successful in the vocations he has undertaken. The personalities – Abhinav Bindra, Akio Morita, Andrew Carnegie, APJ Abdul Kalam, Azim Premji, Dr. Devi Shetty, Donald Trump, Leander Paes, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, N. R. Narayan Murthy, Saina Nehwal and Salman ‘Sal’ Khan — represent a divergence of nationalities and ethnicities, experiences and callings. Derek in his introduction mentions that the book “is not so much a road-map for attaining success as an exploration of the idea of success, told through and by people who are recognised as successful.”

Derek started his career as a journalist, shifted to advertising and then decided to pursue his passion — quizzing — as a quizmaster. He has authored several books including “The Best of Bournvita Quiz Contest”, “Derek’s Challenge”, “Speak Up, Speak Out: My Favourite Elocution Pieces and How to Deliver Them” among others.

Though success is identified with intelligence, scholastic achievement and hard work, according to Derek, these are true only up to a point. The ingredients are varied and change from one individual to another, and the roots of success may lie in experiences that are anything but successful. It is the sense of failure and the ability to pick oneself up afterwards that is important for success. “There has to be failure for one to become successful,” he says. In fact, Donald Trump in the book focuses — while writing on the architecture of success — on failure, on the lowest point and how it is not permanent.

A number of sportspersons figure in the book. Derek admits it and comments, “The pieces and icons I have chosen to include in this book are inevitably a reflection of my personal beliefs and value systems…this represents the sports lover in me and also an unrequited ambition to make it big in sport.” Denying that the absence of politicians was deliberate, he says there are several who have been successful and he will include them in case he writes a second book on the subject. Similarly about inclusion of Saina Nehwal, the sole woman in the list, Derek writes “….the reason I had not consciously looked for female icons just to reach some sort of forced balance was because five of the six biggest influences in my life have been women.”

“Money is a by-product of success,” and to Derek it does not qualify as a yardstick. “One may have all the money in the world but still be unsuccessful. You want respect,” says the master quizzer. Dr. Shetty mentions in the book how he was voted the most popular person in Bangladesh despite the fact that he had visited the country only twice – it was because he had treated a large number of poor patients from there.

Derek narrates his interaction with Mother Teresa at the end of the book and sums it as “my encounter with greatness”, highlighting her ability to negotiate, acute sense of time management and core competency, using surprise as a key weapon in her transactions – all of which were directed towards compassion for the poor, forsaken, indigent and destitute.

Asked if a translation of the book is in the pipeline, Derek remarks: “Yes, it is a good thought. It certainly should be translated into Hindi and Bengali.”

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