Aadi sat in front of the Managing Director. The Managing Director, Ms. Muskaan Dutta, took a sip from her largish cup of coffee that had “Difficult Decisions Make Life Easier,” scrawled on it, cleared her throat and began…
He clenched and unclenched his fists, took a deep breath, and checked his phone. His first workshop on story writing and storytelling was about to begin in three minutes.
He took another deep breath, pulled himself up, and rotated his shoulders – a technique he had learned from one of the stress-busting videos on the Internet.
He had been reading about it for as long as he could remember. He had gone through books, sat in workshops, subscribed to every blog worth its readers that promised to teach the craft of storytelling. He was selectively loquacious about storytelling and story writing, while talking to people who mattered – people who would decide who would be conducting the next storytelling workshop, now that Ankita Sharma had resigned.
Ankita had been with the company for the last five years and her storytelling workshops were a hit every time she rolled them out. It was like she had an invisible magic wand that she waved when she entered the training hall. Her audience, however disinterested they might be in the beginning; were entranced within the first fifteen minutes – and they all stepped out of her workshop beaming with confidence. Some among her audience even sent her the stories that they had written after completing her training.
He had met Ankita when he was sent to Peer audit one of her workshops. He had gone in skeptical. He had heard about her, but he wasn’t someone who’d believe everything he heard. He also had his own theory about Ankita’s unprecedented success in such a challenging discipline. She was attractive, had a clear voice, excellent diction, and above all, she had a great presence. She was amicable and had a ready smile for everyone she met. Anyone would enjoy sitting in her class!
His skepticism hadn’t vanished entirely by the end of the class, but he was surprised to see how well she illustrated the principles of storytelling and combined them with the elements of training for her participants – like she had been writing stories forever. In the afternoon session, she broke the audience into groups of three and got them started on writing their own stories around their chosen training objectives. He found himself sliding into a comfortable space, as he lost himself into the art and craft of storytelling…and by the time the workshop had ended, he had lost his heart too.
He, Aadi Arora, Engineer & MBA and the smartest kid of Arora Khandaan, had fallen head over heels in love with Ankita. The next six months were a whirl, and he had begun to dream. And then she told him that she was leaving. At first, he thought she was leaving just the company – but then she told him that she was moving to Bangalore. Aadi tried to reason with her, told her that she should find a job in Delhi, and that they could get married, and actually after a few years, she could leave her job, live comfortably, and raise kids.
Ankita had laughed, and her laughter rankled still. He still remembered every word of hers that she had thrown at him, standing outside the Great India Place Mall, their favorite rendezvous.
“You are a chauvinist, Aadi. Why do you think I’m moving to Bangalore? I earn twice as much as you do. I’m probably one of the best trainers in my domain as a storytelling trainer, I’ve written stories and earned awards for storytelling, and I have a career ahead of me. You haven’t yet developed your core-area, a discipline that you’ve mastered. I am a storyteller and so I can help my audience become a storyteller. I am a creative person and I glean my creative methods from the processes I follow. I don’t repurpose information, I design my training programs!”
Aadi had never been so insulted before. He was his mother’s favorite son – whatever he did, was always right. In that interminable moment of rejection, he wanted to run away from the shrill voice of that harpy and find the warm embrace of his loving mother.
Gradually, the pain had subsided. The pain wasn’t so much of the rejection, as it was due to the manner in which she had rejected him.
She won’t remain the best storytelling trainer in India for long, he told himself at least once, every hour of every day.
He had read all he could about stories, their structure, their elements – what made a story interesting; he learned all about characters, settings, plots; he went through the training plan of Ankita’s workshop, found thirteen errors in it, and corrected them; he learned how a story shouldn’t just be written but told. And now he was ready to achieve his goal – be the best!
He looked at his phone.
It was time to prove himself.
Muskaan Dutta, aptly named by her parents, because she was always smiling, smiled at him from sheer force of habit, “We gave you three chances, and as I see it now, it was a big mistake. We thought you knew a lot about storytelling and that you were the right person to take it over from Ankita. Unfortunately, we were wrong, I am sorry to say that we’ll have to let you go.”
Aadi pulled his phone toward him and clicked the email button. He was prepared for this meeting and drafted the letter in the morning. The last three storytelling workshops that he had conducted, had been a learning experience for him, they had taught him to…
“You aren’t listening to me Aadi. Put away your phone,” Muskaan growled through her smile.
Her smile reminded him of the Joker from Batman, and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling back.
“Don’t smile,” she snarled. The Joker!
“Check your inbox, Muskaan,” he said calmly, “you’ve got mail!”
- Why despite his education, Aadi’s views on women appear archaic? (Hint: The Learning Domains)
- Why despite his best efforts, Aadi’s workshops couldn’t succeed? (Hint: Stages of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle)
- How would you map Aadi’s response to Kolb’s Continuums?
- In your opinion, what Aadi’s last three workshops (on story-writing and storytelling) taught him, leading to his resignation?