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“Tragedies Turned Into Trophies…”

Mr. Sujo John
Sujo John Ministries

Sujo John was a name in this world that was undiscovered till a decade ago, but a life-changing event gave him a new life and a new name. He had been an ordinary man from the capital of our nation with extraordinary skill sets at work and at college. He never knew that September 11, 2001, which we recall as the 9/11 attack, would be the date that would transform him into a new human being and gift him new powers – powers of humanity, social well-being, love and concern for less privileged sections of society, and a relationship with Jesus.

To acquaint nations across the world with a story of survival, we have the man himself who came out alive from the ashes, and made people’s lives beautiful in all parts of the world. Mr. Sujo John vividly shares how God turned tragedies into glory and grace for him. He articulates how he survived the 9/11 attack, given that he was at the World Trade Centre in New York when the tragedy took place. The nobleness, humility, thoughtfulness, and genuineness of this gentleman comes clear in our conversation with him. His mission is to empower people who are in the quest of God, happiness, and eternity. In this pursuit, Sujo John has launched an international evangelistic ministry, known as Sujo John Ministries, following the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. Deconstructing religion; presenting authentic Christianity to the generations who question reality, living, and preaching; and, teaching the way, the truth, and the life, are what his ministries aim at. He also started a non-profit organization, with focus on poverty, education, and sex trafficking. He has also penned a book, Do You Know Where You Are Going?: One Man’s Story of September 11 and the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

This 9/11 survivor soon realized that his speaking quality was an important stregnth and had a special meaning which needed to be discerned; thus, he opted to become a motivational speaker. This move related well to his college days, when he was as energetic, enthusiastic, and youthful as today, as well as passionate about speaking. Sujo has a Bachelors degree in Commerce and an MBA qualification in Business from IIPM, New Delhi. He has some fond memories of his college days and batchmates. He reminisces, “IIPM was just an incredible place for me to develop my communication skills. I would often be asked by Arindam sir to moderate or emcee events, and little did I realize that someday I would become a motivational speaker.” Whenever Mr. John visits India, apart from the work, grabbing coffee or dinner with his old pals from IIPM, is one of the highlights of his trip. He is extremely attached to his wife and their children, and the family resides in Lantana, Texas.

I CAME DOWN 81 FLOORS ONLY TO BE BURIED IN THE DEBRIS, AS TOWER 2 BEGAN TO COLLAPSE AROUND ME



Taking his story of hope and faith around the world, Sujo John has spoken to thousands of people in churches, evangelistic crusades, festivals, universities, public schools, sporting events, corporations, and community events in hundreds of cities in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Six months prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre towers in New York City, Sujo had moved from India, seeking adventure and prosperity in the United States. Sujo worked on the 81st floor of the North Tower, and his then pregnant wife Mary worked on the 71st floor of the South Tower. By the grace of God, they both survived to recount their accounts of those horrific events. Media from all over the world has taken interest in their story and Sujo has appeared and been featured in the BBC , The 700 Club, Billy Graham Special, TB N, Associated Press, CBC , The New York Times, The Times - London, The National Post and countless other publications around the world. As a result, speaking interests have also poured in from all over the world. He enjoys sharing the “greatest story ever told” across denominational barriers. He considers his acceptance with all denominations a blessing from the Lord and he challenges the body of Christ to come together. Hundreds and thousands have responded to follow Jesus Christ.


 
Writes Sujo John about the day that changed his life:
September 11, 2001, started out as such a nice day - no, a beautiful day. Then it all turned.

- ABC News/Good Morning America
“Terror struck America and changed us forever. None of us will ever forget where we were, who we were with and what we were doing that fateful day when tragedy struck America on what looked like a beautiful day in New York City. As we deal with the loss of thousands of innocent lives we were also reminded that history books will also tell the tale of many Americans that faced terror with courage. I thank God for the resilience of life that we saw in New York City. It was incredible to see the city come back to life and breathe again. But America will never be the same again. So much has happened in our world since this tragic day. This country has been in war and thousands have laid down their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq to make America safe. May we never forget their sacrifices. They did not die in vain.

Recently, Mr. Sujo John spoke at First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida for this historic day. He also spoke on September 10 and11, 2011 at Rock the Universe, Universal Studios, Florida. The trips to UK and India to fulfil his mission are scheduled for December 1 to 12, 2011.

Dress sharp, watch the news, stay updated on current affairs, and read up on changing markets.
Excerpts from the interview:

Q. From college till today, it has been a long journey; how has the experience been?
A. “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right”: the funk band Green Day was right when they sang these words about life. My life has been pretty fascinating with all the turning points and forks that have come my way. The biggest turning point in my life was on September 11, 2001. I worked on the 81st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Centre in New York City and my wife on the 71st floor of Tower 2 of the World Trade Centre. The wing of American Flight #11 tore through my floor, I stared death in the face and the thought of losing my wife was just unbearable. I came down 81 floors to be buried in the debris as Tower 2 began to collapse around me. I was rescued from the debris and, in that moment, I knew my life was now changed and marked forever. Our story of survival led to a speaking career where I now give talks around the world to corporations, college campuses, and faithbased communities. I also started a non-profit organization, with focus on anti-poverty issues, education and anti-sex trafficking work.

Q. What do you think is most important about one’s first job and the interaction with the first boss?
A. Your first job is pretty significant. An advice - when your prospective employer is interviewing you, let it also be the time for you to figure out whether you will be enjoying the job. Please do not take up something you know you will not enjoy. Your first job can teach you to be disciplined and accountable, and personal financial management starts from the first time you get that pay cheque.
Here are two things you can apply as you start your relationship with your first boss:
1. It is never your agenda; it is always his agenda.
2. It is never on your time; it is always on his time.
Make him look good, and someday someone else will return the favour.

Q. What are the must do’s we must follow to mould our career graph the way we would like?
A. Have a mentor; seek him out, someone who has gone where you want to go. Be careful of keeping the naysayers out of your life. Network well. Pick a weekend activity where you can meet influencers - golf, volunteering at a non-profit organization, these are just a couple of examples. Dress sharp, watch the news, stay updated on current affairs, read up on changing markets and the geo-political world, and always carry mints with you.

Q. What words of advice would you share with the upcoming brigade of professionals?
A. It took about 100 trillion unique body cells to make each one of us. Do not let that go to waste. That uniqueness can lead each one of us to higher levels of attainment and contentment. So you, be you, because there is only one you. The world’s eye is on you, young India.

Q. What do you think are the opportunities and threats specific to your industry?
A. Being in the speaking business, there is the need to stay relevant in a changing world. So, a 40-minute delivery needs a lot of research and preparation. I do what I do because I am passionate about it. In an everchanging and turbulent world, people are looking for hope, so I am excited about the speaking requests I get from around the world.

Q. Please share with us the culture of your company and how you groom your young workforce.
A. Since I run a non-profit organization, I have staff in the United States and India, and a lot of young volunteers. Managing a volunteer force can be challenging yet very fulfilling. I work with young people, knowing that this is one of the greatest generations to be unleashed upon the earth. They are cause-driven. Give them a cause and you have their devotion.

Q. What was the toughest decision made by you in your career?
A. The toughest decision was leaving my job and starting my speaking and writing career. Leaving the security of a pay cheque was hard but turned out to be the best decision I have made.

Q. What is your leadership style? Is there any leader you admire andfollow?
A. I would like that people know me as someone who carries transformational leadership qualities. My goal is to inspire people to believe that each one is endowed with uniqueness. I admire a lot of leaders - Rudy Guiliani (former mayor of NYC), Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley of Kiva Microfunds, whose non-profit organization lends money to entrepreneurs around the world. Among Indian leaders, it is Ratan Tata, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Nandan Nilekani.
But there is only one that I follow - Jesus of Nazareth, who spent most of his life with 12 unschooled men and turned them into world changers.

Q. Are there any learnings from IIPM that have helped you in your professional life?
A. IIPM was just an incredible place for me to develop my communication skills. I would often be asked by Arindam sir to moderate or emcee events, and little did I realize that someday I would become a motivational speaker I am grateful for the trust he placed in me back then. One of the things I took from IIPM was that your success will be driven by what value you can add. You add value and you will be asked for an encore.

Q. Are you in touch with your batchmates? Any sweet memories of college you would like share with us?
A. Yes, I have been in touch with my friends from IIPM. In my case, this is the group that got together in the first week at IIPM for group projects; we hit it off well and remain tightly knit to this day. Whenever I visit India, grabbing coffee or dinner with my old pals from IIPM, is one of the highlights of my trip, apart from the work. Thanks to Facebook, we are able to keep in touch even better. Our batch is often referred to as the one that got a lot of events started at the institute. IIPM was on a rapid growth curve and it was just the right time to get some of the things rolling at IIPM, including Aagman.

Q. How do you like to spend time with your family on the weekend or on a holiday?
A. I have a wonderful wife and three children. I value the time that I get to spend with them. A couple of years ago I realized that my travel was taking a toll and the children were growing up fast. So I decided to cut down on my travels a bit. So now my free time is spent going to my son’s baseball games or watching my daughter dress up as a princess.

Personally, I unwind by hitting up the gym regularly, driving on country roads or on the shooting range.

Mr. Sujo John has chalked out great plans for two projects, namely, Impact World and Impact India. Among these, he places immense focus on the youth of India as it has the youngest population in the world with 70% of people below the age of 35. The Urban Church Planting, equipping the church,and leadership development programmes are a few of the other initiatives being undertaken by him. He is also closely involved in anti-sex trafficking projects. He mentions the pain he feels for these girls and how he tries to heal their suffering personally. He was almost in tears while narrating their stories of hardship.

He travels across the globe, yet frequently visits India, which is how we, at IIPM, were able to re-connect with him. IIPM is proud of his accomplishments and the respect that he has earned by touching and impacting the lives of others. The IIPM fraternity salutes his high spirit and bravery, and we hope to continue learning from this enlightened mind!

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