Sanjeev Kotnala: Catalyst makes to my list of 10 most recommend books to read

24 Oct,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


It took me time to pick ‘Catalyst: The Ultimate Strategies on How To Win At Work And In Life’ by Chandramouli Venkatesan. Reading it, I realised, I cover a lot of it in two of my workshops ‘Brand-I’ and ‘Re-Discover Yourself’, but from a different perspective.

On the other side, I have that sinking feeling that if I had access to such a book in the first half of my career, I could have avoided the mistakes I made.

CATALYST is no corporate Gyan.

It is a transparently synthesised AAPBEETHI (self-experience) by Chandramouli. He candidly shares his life learning’s and pleasingly never projects them as Gospel truths or well-researched truism. Catalyst makes a lot of sense.

Eight take-outs from CATALYST I personally endorse.

1. Experience cannot be equated to time spent.

2. Need for a learning approach in life.

3. Keep moving forward with the learning’s that should help you improve your decision-making algorithm.

4. Keep questioning- how could I have done this better?

5. Maximise the learning cycles. Work within your area of control and influence.

6. Invest in the first half of the career to get the depth of experience.

7. Do not mix quitting and joining decisions in your career.

8. And the biggest one that will help you a lot ‘Win where it matters’.


I am with him when he says: “Great success requires you to drive great change, great change requires you to have great leadership impact and to have great leadership impact, you need to have great values.”  However, this part of the book drags a bit and lacks the convincing punch and delivery of the earlier sections.

The catalyst is a book that is bound to have a differential impact on every reader. The impact it will have on you depends upon your frame-of-mind, receptivity towards new thinking and willingness to absorb what the author shares from his experiences. Moreover, he has managed to capture all of it in a simple language that makes excellent reading.

The catalyst is a book I want you to read.

Here is the most crucial takeout for me. Convert your time spent in any project, action or event into a learning outcome. It will help you to fine-tune the decision-making process, professionally or personally. Keep asking, how you could have done it better. That is what ‘experience’ is all about.

I do not agree with everything in Catalyst.

There is one area where I agree to disagree with him. You will have your own point-of-view on it. He says: “So folks, go out and build interest or develop a hobby that you are passionate about, that gives you a sense of achieving something. Then see how it changes you as a person at work and how much more successful you become; as a result, go for it.”

I agree. This is true for people hungry for achievement they are missing in life. As he later layers it by saying, ‘pick a sport or a hobby – where there is a degree of striving involved? And ask, does it help met your achievement need?’

I propose, you must have a hobby, passion, play a sport or have an act, that allows you to escape the pressure of combative, competitive corporate pressure cooker. Have something that will enable you to immerse so deeply into it that you lose connection with reality. You remain passionately engrossed in it for hours, and when you come back, you are highly recharged and rejuvenated. You will naturally find yourself more at peace with yourself. It will magically change the way you interact and engage with the ecosystem surrounding you.


It is a book that forced me to rejig my list of 10 books I recommend everyone to read. Am sure, it is not going to be UNCAGED from my library for some time.

A side note. I have ordered 10 additional copies of CATALYST. It replaces two other books, ‘Tuesday with Morris’ and ‘Think and Grow rich’ that I usually gift out. For some time, it is going to be the book- I will give away in my workshops.

‘CATALYST: The Ultimate Strategies on How To Win At Work And In Life’ by Chandramouli Venkatesan. Published by Penguin Random House. Pages 189. Rs 299

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