Monica Iyengar, the author of Work Hard-ly, pursued a bachelors in science with mathematics as major and followed it up with an MBA. She has 15 years’ experience in sales and business management managing large teams in various organizations. She is also pursuing a doctorate in management and am a visiting faculty for organization development.
TBE: Tell us about your book, can you share something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Monica Iyengar: I have tried to use humour as a mechanism to communicate unsavory truths about workplaces. Humour is an engaging method, I believe, to make the audience pay attention to matters that may appear dull in their natural form or are too sacrilegious to propose. In this book Work Hard-ly you will find the “Tear management technique”, which is only hilarious because it is true.
TBE: What’s significance of the title and the key theme and/or message in your book Work Hard-ly?
Monica Iyengar: The title is a critique on the process, policy and mechanisms deployed in workplaces to achieve targets or complete tasks.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book? and How long did it take you to write this book?
Monica Iyengar: I started writing this book in bits and pieces over the years as a response to the frustrations that I faced in my workplace. And writing my thoughts, made the serious matters seem comical, which they actually were in retrospect. I wrote this over a period of time and it took me a month or two to put it all together.
TBE: During your journey from the idea of this book to the publication, what was the most difficult thing you faced? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Monica Iyengar: Humor and sarcasm are second nature to me, so it was enjoyable to write this book. However, it was a challenge to tone down the language to a softer and less abrasive form.
TBE: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Monica Iyengar: The most apparent purpose is to make the reader laugh. But surreptitiously, I have tried to send a message to employers, about the transgressions in organizations, that are revered and accepted as traditional and professional workplace practices.
TBE: At what point did you realize how much humor there is in the workplace?
Monica Iyengar: Wherever there are humans, there is a large amount of stupidity floating freely. It’s an impossibility to not find humor in such situations. It’s everywhere, you just need to see and listen.
TBE: Do you see your humor as a gift?
Monica Iyengar: My humor is a defense mechanism that helps me sail through stressful or awkward situations. I think, I was my most funny self on my wedding day. It is definitely wonderful to make others laugh and be able to laugh at yourself, it helps you stay grounded.
TBE: There’s a great section in the book about the silly things people do to look busy—leaving Google docs open forever, scheduling tons of private meetings so their calendars look full. It feels like we’ve just created digital equivalents of status markers like staying until after your boss leaves or keeping piles of paper on the desk. Why do people do this stuff?
Monica Iyengar: I believe people do this for the sake of appearance. We, as a people, give too much importance to appearing busy, appearing rich, appearing young, appearing successful. It’s much easier and a lot less work to just be yourself and not judge yourself against the benchmarks set by society.
TBE: Can you talk a little bit about how your time in corporate job helped you write Work Hard-ly?
Monica Iyengar: In all my job roles, there was a common thread, non-productive systems and people who had a buy-in for those systems. No matter how much of an open communication system an organization boasted of, it was always a challenge to speak one’s mind freely. In this book, I speak my mind unabashedly and irreverently.
TBE: What sort of reactions have you received from your colleagues after reading your first book Work Hard-ly?
Monica Iyengar: A lot of laughter of course and many were able to relate to the situations that I have mentioned in the book.
TBE: What would you say is your ultimate goal in writing workplace satire — is it to let other people know they’re not alone, affect change, entertain people or something else entirely?
Monica Iyengar: As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to speak the truth and I just wanted it to be told. However, I chose humor and satire because that makes the subject very readable and entertaining and makes it possible to engage a larger audience.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Monica Iyengar: I have enjoyed reading Stephen King over the years. I am a big fan of graphic novels and have enjoyed the works of Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi and Will Eisner.
TBE: Have you ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Monica Iyengar: I have tried to keep this book crisp and humorous; hence havse incorporated the constructive criticism related to that.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Monica Iyengar: I am currently working on my Ph. D thesis, which would be of interest only to academics; unless I make it funny, in which case, the joke would be on me.