Bookstrapping: The Defiant Optimist by Durreen Shahnaz

Durreen Shahnaz defines ‘defiant optimism’ as the attitude of women who refuse to accept that what they’ve been told is their fate, is the same as their future. Bookstrapping rating: 3.5 stars

By  Reeta Ramamurthy GuptaJul 1, 2023 5:18 PM
Bookstrapping: The Defiant Optimist by Durreen Shahnaz
Durreen Shahnaz's book is about fueling change with optimism.

In the beginning of this memoir, you are introduced to Bangladeshi writer Sadaf Saaz’s poetry. She says, “I was born into a body, which now has a voice.”

A nice touch by author Durreen Shahnaaz, a Bangladeshi American entrepreneur. She is often referred to as the first Bangladeshi woman on Wall Street. In the book, she talks about her journey through a labyrinth of limited opportunities. She defines ‘defiant optimism’ as the attitude of women who refuse to accept that what they’ve been told is their fate, is the same as their future. Women who stitch their own unrealized dreams into empowerment for others, and who defy common wisdom enough to imagine a different world into being. Powerful!

Here are our #BookStrapping insights.

The author talks about how ‘men make war and women live with the consequences.’ Durreen saw the horrors of Bangladesh’s war of independence during her childhood and learnt crucial lessons in survival. As a small child, when stern-faced West Pakistani soldiers bent down to ask her if anyone else was living in the house, she knew to shake her head and to solemnly tell them, “No, sir, we are living here all alone.”

The stories of her childhood, pen pals, receiving stamps from foreign countries, building a thriving business collecting and selling stamps- only to be told that girls cannot do it because it bought ‘shame to the family’ are a wonderful insight into the times past. And what built her resilience.

There is a bit of the nostalgic American dream, dogged determination and defiance, that forms the preamble to Durreen’s journey to Smith College. Here, she got introduced to the concept of socially responsible investing (SRI). There was no looking back! Throughout the book, Shahnaz's personal journey adds flavour to the evolution of her beliefs. The birth of her two daughters- Diya and Aliya, becomes a catalyst for her unwavering commitment to ensuring that girls are valued and provided equal opportunities. She says, “Like a mother, an entrepreneur gives birth to a company and knows when the company is ready to crawl, walk, and run.”

As Durreen writes in her concluding paragraph, “Defying countless obstacles, we keep pushing. Living with systems designed to keep some in and some out, we find the courage to keep fighting.”

Did she just define inequity in a her own way? Here’s to women standing up for other women!

Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist and bestselling biographer. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ On instagram @officialReetaGupta.

First Published on Jul 1, 2023 5:18 PM

More from Storyboard18

Brand Makers

Sushant Sreeram quits Prime Video, likely to join JioCinema

Sushant Sreeram quits Prime Video, likely to join JioCinema

Brand Makers

Google elevates Sanjay Gupta to President, APAC

Google elevates Sanjay Gupta to President, APAC

Brand Makers

Sony Pictures Networks India announces retirement of Ashok Nambissan and Nitin Nadkarni

Sony Pictures Networks India announces retirement of Ashok Nambissan and Nitin Nadkarni

Brand Makers

Naturals Salon appoints Sanjay Enishetty as CEO

Naturals Salon appoints Sanjay Enishetty as CEO

Brand Makers

CXO Moves: Exec movements across Mahindra & Mahindra, WPP, PepsiCo and more

CXO Moves: Exec movements across Mahindra & Mahindra, WPP, PepsiCo and more

Brand Makers

Bookstrapping: ‘More Days at the Morisaki Bookshop' by Satoshi Yagisawa

Bookstrapping: ‘More Days at the Morisaki Bookshop' by Satoshi Yagisawa

Brand Makers

Lack of joy at work leads to burnout and stress: Avi Kumar, CMO, FNP

Lack of joy at work leads to burnout and stress: Avi Kumar, CMO, FNP

Brand Makers

Fisdom ropes in Girish Venkat as head of the wealth management biz

Fisdom ropes in Girish Venkat as head of the wealth management biz