Just last month I was prepping an industry leader for a speech he was to deliver at an industry forum. He wanted to use a story to highlight the role of ecosystems in building the new Internet of Things. The problem was every single speaker would use stories about technology and every-day life, and with 12 other speakers doing this, how would I help my speaker to stand out?

I instantly found myself back in my 8th grade history class, where Smitha ma’am was teaching us about India’s struggle for freedom.

The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, aka India’s first revolt against British rule, may never have come to fruition if in 1851 the East India Company had not laid the foundation of a railway network in the country. For decades, there had been escalating unrest among various sections of Indian nationalists, and it was manifest as isolated small-scale protests scattered across the country. These uprisings had failed to capitalize on each other’s momentum – for lack of communication and coordination. The Mutiny began in the barracks in Meerut, when the soldiers rebelled against the use of cow and pig grease on bullets.

At any other time, this is where it would have started and ended – but this time was different. The railway network – which connected a few major cities in the northern and central parts of India – enabled news of the uprising to spread. It also allowed for congregation of the various mutiny leaders in a short period of time, and transformed a localized mutiny into India’s first war for independence. We used this example to showcase the power of networks and ecosystems, and the audience related to it instantly.

Every time I come up against a challenge or need a new direction to think in, I find myself going back to the knowledge and insights that my teachers have shared with me.

Thank you, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

Today, as India celebrates Teacher’s Day, would you like to share your favorite story about a teacher or mentor you cherish? Tell us in the comments.


Title Image courtesy: Pablo


Sonali Raval

B2B tech marketing writer


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