Interview with Dr Amit Nagpal Author of “Heroes Amongst Us”Exclusive interview with Dr. Amit Nagpal, author of 'Heroes Amongst Us' on Frontlist.
on Oct 30, 2023
Frontlist: What was the motivation behind writing this book? Was there a particular story or individual that served as a significant source of inspiration for your work?
Amit: I have personally experienced the power of inspirational storytelling to transform lives. In my childhood, I was especially influenced by the inspirational stories in Readers Digest magazine and also the autobiography of Helen Keller. At the young age of 22, Keller published her autobiography, "The Story of My Life."
I also wanted to publish a book on Heroes (rather than Superheroes) to inspire common people. My teacher, Michael Margolis, once shared that people admire superheroes, but the stories of superheroes do not inspire them, as they tend to think that even if I try, I can't be a superhero; it needs extreme hard work or stroke of luck.
Frontlist: In your book, you featured individuals from a diverse range of professions. What motivated you to select and showcase people from such varied fields and backgrounds? Also, could you explain how you initially discovered and learned about the remarkable achievements of these individuals?
Amit: I wanted to take up various challenges, e.g., disability, struggle against odds, career suffering due to lack of an Ivy School degree, etc. The story which inspires us the most resonates the most with and has a high relatability / emotional connection is a story in which the protagonist is facing the same challenge as we do. So, my book would be able to provide role models to different people facing different kinds of obstacles and challenges.
I initially discovered and learned about the remarkable achievements of these individuals through their blogs and social media. A few of them were introduced to me by my friends/ acquaintances when they learned I was writing a book on inspirational stories.
Frontlist: Your books, "Heroes Amongst Us,' and "Personal Branding, Storytelling, and Beyond" revolve around success and inspiration themes. Can you tell us what motivated you to explore these topics in your writing and how they may be interconnected or complementary in their messaging?
Amit: As I shared earlier, I have personally experienced the power of inspirational storytelling to transform lives. Also, social media has democratised storytelling and empowered everyone with a social media account to share their story. Earlier mass media and films focused on the storytelling of celebrities only.
So, considering the social media age, I decided to tell the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. None of these were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and they have faced struggles and challenges of varied types. All these heroes have found their calling (deep passion), and many have delivered TEDx talks.
My previous book, "Personal Branding, Storytelling, and Beyond," discusses the theoretical aspects of storytelling, while the next book, "Heroes Amongst Us," shares actual stories and success mantras.
Frontlist: You've shared the success mantra of the individuals in your book. Can you tell us, from your perspective, what you believe is your success mantra or guiding principle?
Amit: My success mantra is to define your success and follow the path of your passion and purpose, irrespective of social pressures. It will be a lengthier and stricter path, but it will bring out your peak potential in the long run and will give you more meaning and satisfaction. One of my favorite quotes (Einstein) reflects my beliefs, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". Therefore, each person needs to find their passion and unique skills/gifts from the Universe.
Frontlist: Success is a subjective concept that can differ significantly from one individual to another. In your perspective, how do you personally evaluate or define success, especially in a society where it's frequently linked to fame, public recognition, and financial wealth?
Amit: To me, success means to be at peace with yourself, enjoy what you do, and keep evolving to bring out your highest potential in the long run.
Frontlist: What do you believe people can take from your book that could help them achieve the things they've been hesitant or scared to pursue?
Amit: Each story has a different lesson and a key takeaway besides the success mantras. Harjeet Khanduja's story shows us how to succeed against a series of odds; Vartika Nanda's story shows her courage and empathy in choosing a path of working with prisoners. Each hero has chosen their own path and defined success themselves rather than following the social norms blindly.
Suppose Mark Schafer's story demonstrates that you can become highly successful without an Ivy League MBA. In that case, Ananda Sukarlan's story shows us that you can succeed despite developmental disabilities like Asperger's syndrome*. While Varun Malhotra has dedicated his life to spreading Financial Literacy across India, Vinita Jain is a role model for not only women entrepreneurs but also male entrepreneurs who work in B2G (Business to Government) marketing.
All the stories celebrate the triumph of the invincible human spirit. When life looks complex, the odds are against you, and there is no hope, the book will inspire you to awaken the hero within and find your way ahead.
* People with Asperger's syndrome (developmental disability) may have particular interests, repetitive behaviors, and under or overreact to sensory input. Famous people like Elon Musk suffer from Asperger's