Through a digital book group, Rajiv Srinivasan, WG’20, shares his passion for reading and addresses important issues like racism.

Rajiv Srinivasan, WG’20, came to Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco for career advancement. At the time, his focus was on a bigger title and salary. However, the “transformational nature” of the EMBA program changed his priorities.

He explained, “Wharton showed me how to optimize for a mission. I saw that things like big titles and salaries are not actual ends in themselves, but rather come with finding a match between your personal value system and mission, and the institutions you choose to serve.”

During the EMBA program, Rajiv became global clients director at LinkedIn, which is an organization that “holistically aligns” with his mission and values. “I want to create economic opportunities for every member of the global workforce. I want to wake up every day feeling like my efforts are making the world a better place,” he said. 

Recently, Rajiv found another way to make an impact – through launching an online book group. Instead of having a TV at home, Rajiv and his wife have a “massive” bookshelf. “Reading is a way to explore someone else’s worldview. It has made me a more empathetic and well-rounded person. I am passionate about reading, and I probably read 50 to 70 books a year.”

The idea for the book group stayed in the idea stage until George Floyd’s death last summer. When that happened, Rajiv said it was “game time” and he officially launched 99pages.

He explained, “I knew I had to do something, so I decided to create a book discussion community to help those struggling with the plight of racism in America and facilitate empathy. I speak from the position of a minority in America with tremendous privilege, and I wanted to stand up and take an active role on these issues.”

The original format of the community featured panel discussions about books related to racism, such as Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. As the community has grown, the site has added author interviews and branched into a diversity of topics.

Recent author interviews have included Suneel Gupta, who wrote Backable, Dr. Stephanie Kelton, the author of The Deficit Myth, and Derek Redmond, whose father helped him cross the finish line when he injured his hamstring at the Olympics in 1992. This spring, Sebastian Junger will discuss his new book Freedom.

“We decide what topics the country and the world need to engage with, and that is how we pick books. It’s nice to have a platform for advocating policies and ideas that are important as well as engaging with experts on those topics to provide point and counterpoint discussions,” said Rajiv.

He noted that he has hosted interviews with several Wharton authors, such as Prof. Stewart Friedman the author of Total Leadership and Parents Who Lead.

Rajiv said, “The 99pages broadcast is largely an extension of my Wharton experience. It is extending the intellectual curiosity that you need to get into the EMBA program, but also to get most out of the program and graduate. Intellectual curiosity is a muscle and I highly encourage people to exercise that muscle every week by reading.”

Click here to read more about Rajiv and why he decided to come to Wharton’s EMBA program.

Click here to learn more about 99pages.

– By Meghan Laska

Posted: September 27, 2021

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