The words describing Abhishek's expertise would be business strategist, consulting, analytical skills, start-ups, qualitative research, program management and entrepreneur. Known often as the man behind grooming efficient leaders, Thakore has worked with Deustche Bank, BCG and Hay group. He is a graduate from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore and the chief catalyst who initiated the Blue Ribbon Movement in India (a youth NGO). He has represented India globally on several international festivals pertaining social cause. Thakore's works gained limelight through his books like 31 Mantras for Personality Development, 21 power tools for Reiki and The Portrait of a Super student. Excerpts from an interview in conversation with Thakore:
1) Tell us more about your schooling, growing up years, college etc?
I am the Bombay boy. I did my schooling in St Mary's Dahisar, then college in Narsee Monjee and later MBA at IIM Bangalore. I always had great opportunities and did well on them – authored books, won competitions, organised events, held positions and did decently in academics. But all of this meant that I had to use my gifts for a cause larger than myself – and hence Blue Ribbon movement became the larger cause for my strive.
2) How did the Blue Ribbon movement start? What is its vision?
Blue Ribbon started in 2000 with a simple idea – Together, we are stronger. The idea that young people need to come together to solve problems facing our planet – because we have the time, the energy, the purity of intent and the largest stake in the future.
I look at Blue Ribbon as a part of a much larger movement of shifting the world to a better place – and our vision is to create leadership that facilitates that transition. So a world where young people take the responsibility of implementing solutions to create a better world for everyone. Leadership through laddership is what triggers mass youth movement.
Specifically, we are working on transforming several systems – including how students volunteer, how civic issues are resolved, how gender inequality is resolved, how leadership education is imparted, how South Asian youth collaborate and how sustainability is taught.
3) What is project Relead? Why was this venture started and how are you dispersing it to the masses?
Relead is the essence of our understanding of leadership, delivered over a six-day program. It is run in collaboration with IIM Bangalore. Pre Relead, we conducted Leadership Circles – conversations around what is leadership needed for creating a better world. We will be launching the Leadership manifesto soon.
The vision of Relead is to keep it low cost (as it currently also is) and eventually share our ideas in an open source format.
4) Who is the inspirational idol that you look up to?
Inspiration is to be found everywhere – in seeing each person grow beyond their limitations, take tiny steps towards improving their lives, being kind and more. So I see it everywhere – but what I guess inspires me most is my vision for myself and who I can become in the future – that keeps be anchored to who I need to be now.
5) Share with us one of you best memories as an orator and one of your worst ones as well.
One of the best memories was when I was closing the NSS Community Connect Fellowship – which is our one year leadership program focusing on civic engagement. In the last session I got a standing ovation which moved me to tears – not because it was a standing ovation (by God's grace, I have had my share of them) but because I had really invested myself in creating a world class experience for the students. The process of offering it had transformed me and this last speech was the culmination of it.
As for the 'worst' one there are no bad ones, one learns from them all. One was where I was working with a particularly unruly group of school girls and the tea was placed on a chair. Accidentally, I sat on the 2 plastic cups of tea (and burnt my bums!) and the class had an uproarious laugh! I just said "I know all of you are wondering what it looks like, so here" and I turned around – and the laughing quadrupled but my embarrassment dissolved!
6) Talk about your recent trip to Argentina and its purpose.
We were there as a part of Sustainaware, an eight-country project supported by the European Union. We are visiting communities, looking at experiments and projects in sustainability, sharing our ideas and stories – all of which will eventually build a toolkit to provide training on sustainability with concrete examples. We will also be translating it in Hindi and making it available to all interested organizations.