I spoke with a bunch of management students at a college in New Mumbai at the start of the New Year. Though within the confines of a classroom, it was all very casual. I chatted with the kids (who were all in their early twenties) about my life experiences, threw in a few stories, got them to open up about their lives, their interests. Many of them had backgrounds in commerce, some in engineering, others in IT. One fellow had a degree in marine biology from Russia and said he was fluent in five languages. One of the (regrettably few) girls in that class said she was studying German on the side and hoped to conduct business with German houses someday.
Many of them seemed passionate about business and entrepreneurship, which was pretty great. One of the students for instance told me he wanted to run a restaurant but his parents didn't think he ought to; so he'd applied to b-school as a way to learn the general principles of running a business.
I spoke to several such kids individually after class. Part of the point was to reassure them that that they didn't need to do ridiculously well in college to "succeed" in life; that they would be better served by identifying a bunch of interests and working towards being among the best at those. They seemed to enjoy our chat as much as I did. Afterwards a couple of them told me that they wished their professors would engage them the way I did, which I took as a massive compliment.
The talk was a rewarding experience for me, not least because I got to refine my sense of how urban, college-educated students think today. It appears to me that while students are just as hesitant to question authority as my generation used to be, they are slowly beginning to buy into the notion of India as a potentially powerful global entity; no doubt this feeling will foster in them a sense of self-belief -- even entitlement -- over the next few decades.
I plan to recycle bits of the talk when I speak to class X and XII students at a couple of schools early next week. Here's my presentation from Jan 3. Feel free to borrow elements from it if you plan to speak to school or college students: