Pujan Roka grew up in Kathmandu and attended St Xavier's before heading to the US for a BA and an MBA. Award-winning editorial cartoonist and now author Roka spoke with Nepali Times about his book Bhagavad Gita on Effective Leadership (reviewed in Strictly Business).
Nepali Times: What is the one thing about leadership you distilled from the Gita?
Pujan Roka: Leadership is about inspiring and guiding others by ideas, actions, and compassion. This is what the Gita and contemporary leadership authorities say.
Why the Bhagavad Gita for a book on leadership?
Scholars and management thinkers are constantly re-defining leadership. A few writers have looked into ancient texts, such as Sun Tzu's Art of War, and spiritual figures such as Jesus, in the context of management and leadership. But no one had previously explored the Gita in the context of present-day leadership.
I did research on leadership for over three years, and examined what contemporary authorities have to say. Prominent management thinkers had not devoted much thought to the Gita, and Gita scholars had not extracted lessons for business readers. My book is therfore both on leadership, and for admirers of the Gita who are interested to read it from a different perspective.
During my research I exchanged notes with well-known management gurus Peter Senge and Marshall Goldsmith, and their positive responses motivated me further.
Why did you self-publish?
Many new and well-established writers are publishing their own books these days in the US. Self-publication has created a brand new publishing model which gives control to the writers instead of the publishers.
I found no publisher who could represent the genre that is demanded by my book. There are publishers that specialise in either business or spirituality but there are none that specialise in handling both in a cohesive way.
Given these constraints, self-publishing has worked very well for me. I have a worldwide distribution through retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and major wholesalers like Ingram. I have been able to channel most of the proceeds to Save the Children programs.