You Can win…these three words just flash in my mind every time I hear Shiv Khera’s name. And I am sure this is common to most of us as well. Khera is the author of 12 books including International Best Seller “YOU CAN WIN”, which has sold over 2 million copies in 16 languages. A book is a condensed capsule of knowledge,” isn’t it a great thought to kickstart, asks Shiv Khera, and I agree, as an avid reader. Khera needs no introduction. Be it as a motivational book author, educator, business consultant or a successful entrepreneur. Besides, he is a much sought-after speaker… internationally. He inspires and informs people, helping them to realize their true potential. His 30 years of research, understanding and experience has helped people on the path of personal growth and fulfilment.
He has been recognised as a ‘Louis Marchesi Fellow’ by the Round Table Foundation, an award given to, among others, Mother Teresa. Lions Club International has honoured Khera with ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for the cause of ‘Humanitarian Service to Society’. Rotary Club has honoured him with the ‘Centennial Vocational Award for Excellence.’ He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows.
In a thought provoking conversation with the man himself, Smita Dwivedi (SD) of AABP unravels the myriad shades of his personality while experiencing a never before positivity. Excerpts.
SD: When and how did you start writing?
Shiv Khera: Well I think this goes back to almost 35 years ago, when I left India. That was the time I went through a programme by Dr Norman Vincent Peale, who has written a book The Power of Positive Thinking. He’s a wonderful man and his words had made great impact on my conscience. It was then that I decided to write a book and it would be international bestseller. For many years I researched and collected information before I actually started writing book in 1992. My first book – You Can Win – got published in 1997 in Singapore.
SD: How has been your journey as an author?
Shiv Khera: In all my 35 years, which I spent in North America, I met many influential as well as ordinary people. I feel they all have contributed to my life, especially Mr Peale, who had transformed my overall thought process. Surprisingly, before this I had never read a comic but afterwards I became an avid reader, started reading almost 40-50 books a year, which totally changed my life. And since then I have been busy reading and writing.
SD: What inspires you to be active with your writing?
Shiv Khera: The one and only motivation was that if somebody has contributed to my life, which changed my life personally, professionally and socially…so it is my time to pay back to society. If they had not contributed, I would not be there where I am. So I just want to give it back to the community and next generation. And when I realised that, it was almost 23 years ago in late eighties. It was at that time I started volunteering my time in maximum security prison in United States. I went there to conduct attitude and self esteem programs and I saw maximum behavioural change in inmates. Maximum security prison inmates are real hard core criminals. The experiences I had in the Jail of US years ago still motivate and inspires me.
One more interesting experience I would love to share. One day as I was leaving out of the session from the jail, I was stopped by an inmate, so I asked him ‘What have you learnt in the past few weeks’ and he replied…I feel good and also started reading my Bible. At that moment I felt that when I would leave the jail I would be a contributing member to the society and that was the biggest clarification of my mission. As a volunteer, I was not being paid but such experiences were the biggest pay off.
And I saw lives changing; I decided to go to the corporate world as well. And it was really big transition for me and my career.
SD: How and when did the idea to author You Can Win actually emerged?
Shiv Khera: The big question was ‘why one more book’ when there were a number of motivational books available. Why would anybody buy my book? And my answer was that my book would be different. You Can Win addresses life with a very positive perspective. It is very down to earth, written at fifth grade level and filled with real life experiences, so people can easily relate to it and the obvious reaction while reading goes like ‘Oh that happened to me’ or ‘I went through that’ or ‘I heard that’. The book appeals both to the head and to the heart…it has both logic and feelings. So that is why when people buy it, they say yes it makes sense and their lives change.
SD: How did you decide the title?
Shiv Khera: I was in Singapore with a person who was in part editing with me. While we were brain storming, the first thing that came to our mind was the title. And we both were of same opinion that this is a book for winners. And so we came straight to You Can Win. If a person could be a winner after reading a book… so, the title was apt.
SD: Who are amongst your favourite authors and what books have you read?
Shiv Khera: At a given time...I read 8-10 books simultaneously...I read 5-10 pages of one book then start reading the other and so keep on reading simultaneously. I certainly read what I want to at a moment. I love to read non-fiction books but don’t like fiction. These books basically give another perspective and keep me motivated as well. Napoleon Hill - Think And Grow Rich; Dr Thomas A Harris - I’m OK - You’re OK; and Norman Vincent Peale - The Power of Positive Thinking are amongst my most favourites.
SD: Are there any challenges you face as an author?
Shiv Khera: The biggest challenge and concern in India is piracy. There are not many authors whose books have sold over 2 million copies. I am being paid royalty for that but the numbers could be much more, if we put a check on piracy.
SD: What are your favourite activities besides writing?
Shiv Khera: Whatever little bit time I get, I love to spend it with my family. I am very fond of dogs. I have four Rottweiler, all are huge, and I love playing with them. I have two grandsons; I just love their company and have fun with them.
SD: What can our readers expect next from you?
Shiv Khera: I am ready with my next book on positive parenting. I never thought earlier that parenting is such a big issue, but today all around the world, the biggest concern is positive parenting. Now parents are more concerned about their children values and principles. And what I found is that the problem is not with the child but is with the parents. So, it is definitely going to help people.
SD: Any message you want to share?
Shiv Khera: The only thing I want to say is that there’s no substitute to good reading. A good book gives you the wisdom of ages in a capsule format. I feel if behaviour has not changed learning has not taken place. I would like to end with Henry Ford’s quote: “Whether You Believe You Can, Or You Can’t, You Are Right.”