Will You Be My CEO? The Accidental Apprentice

By Tabitha Makumi

I cried when I was done reading the gripping narrative that is The Accidental Apprentice. Man, was the book a roller-coaster or what? You get irate, you laugh, all over sudden you are pissed again…uuuuurgh….and boom…. Just when there’s a little gleam of hope, after a few chapters and you think the author is done playing with your softie emotions, your world gets turned upside down.

What are books if they can’t bring out all these diverse emotions out of us? I live for such discoveries. Finding books that shake and challenge my view of the world. Books which have the power to transport you to India and back to your diminutive one bedroom house somewhere along "Somewhere"(let’s call it an apartment, because that’s what the cool kids call it) All that under an hour. 

I will let you in on some secret, books have the power to do that. The furthest you might have traveled could be to Nyeri to your grandmas, or to Lamu for some birthday escapades but with books…oooh… you’ve been to the densest parts of the Amazon in the northwestern part of Colombia and all the way south to the Fish River Canyon in Namibia…and if that is not freaking magical, I don’t know what is.

The Accidental Apprentice, starts off with a thought provoking line on the cover “Imagine if your life changed in an instant”… well, isn’t that what we are all looking for? I might be stretching the “all” here but you get the drift of how that sentence plays with your mind right? It’s like one those get rich quick pyramid schemes. They pose a hypothetical question. You get excited. You start to weigh in on the possibilities of your life changing in an instant and oh god….hook, line and sinker, you are in.

From the Author of Slumdog Millionaire, Vikas Swarup takes you to India with the story of Sapna Sinha… a sales girl with what you would call a humdrum life. But all this mediocrity of a life soon takes a turn…a change if you may call it that… to what exactly? Chasing the dream of becoming a CEO to a multi-dollar empire. What’s the catch? Exactly my first question!

Let me paint a scenario for you. It’s half past three in Nairobi. It’s maddening hot, people walk past you in a rush, each in their own heads. Nobody sees anybody. With the weight of the world on your shoulders, you decide to walk into All Saints Cathedral…it’s a routine of yours. It gives you some inner peace…it’s where you finally come together. You spend at least 30 minutes at the church seeking your deity. Your head is clear when you come out.

Someone approaches you. An elderly man in let’s say his seventies. He is well dressed, has glinting jewelry on his fingers. Your guard is up. Is he some Nigerian scammer trying to sell you on some scheme?

“Can I talk to you for a moment?” he asks.

There’s something about him… something about his voice…something which tells you that this man right here is used to things going his way. He isn’t accustomed to the word “NO!” You can certainly tell that no doors have slammed on his dreams like the rest of us riffraff. This man right here, when he speaks people listen. If you are ordinary folk and you somehow happen to slightly know this sort of man, you “name drop” his identity whenever you think mentioning his name will get things going your way. “Do you know who I know in this Nairobi?” you sometimes scare clueless people shitless.

You hold your briefcase/handbag closer to your body. Not because you are afraid he might snatch it but because that’s what people do when a stranger approaches them.

“What do you want?” you ask cautiously.

He goes on to reveal that he is a CEO of a multinational company. Think of any company that is considered successful.  From Unilever, Amazon, MTN, Genentech… or any Fortune 100 Best, take your pick. He calls the shots in one of those companies and he has something for you.

“I want to make you my CEO.”

Boy, stop. Where are the cameras and is this some sick prank show? You laugh. Maybe he is a mad man. Not maybe, he definitely is. You brush him off and start walking. But he just doesn’t give up. He follows and silly you decides to lend him an ear. What do you have to lose anyway? You are only listening to him. It’s not like you would take him on his offer. Right?

And that’s how the roller coaster that is “The Accidental Apprentice” begins. Sapna says yes to the mad man. After mulling over the crazy idea for a couple of days, she decides what the heck. This takes her on a journey which brings vast change not only to her life but of those around her.

I reckon most people would do the same. What’s the catch? I hear you ask once again. Well, you just have to pass some tests to prove that indeed you are the right choice. To be precise, you will be subjected to seven tests. The “mad man” will engineer events into your life to test your empathy, leadership skills, honesty…and all the makings of a “good CEO” 

Somewhere along the way your senses  will start to kick in and you will start to question why in god's name you would subject yourself to this madness. Why did this man choose you? What makes you so freaking special that someone would consider making you a CEO? Come to think of it, you didn't even graduate, don't you need a degree or an MBA for these kind of positions? What makes him think you have what it takes to lead a company? Should you quit while you still have your wits with you?

Oh…and I think I forgot to mention that you won’t know when you are being tested. The “Mad man” plays god. He makes things happen. He pulls strings here and there and man do you dance to his tune. On the bright side, how you react or the choices you make are all in your hands. It’s all dependent on you…or is it?

Get it, read it…live in the world of Vihan Mohan Acharya and Sapna Sinha. Remember… “In life you never get what you deserve: You get what you negotiate.”

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