Thursday, March 19, 2009

The High Performance Entrepreneur - Subroto Bagchi

I heard Subroto Bagchi, when he had come down to IIMB to deliver a lecture for the incoming batch of our juniors. It was also the occasion when he released 'Go Kiss the World' in our college. He made a brief reference to the accolades he got on with the first book of this -' The High Performance Entrepreneur'.

I had decided I would start off on my own after my PGDM from IIMB, and did so. I started off my company along with a few friends of mine - 'edu-next'. I began working full time on the company after my completion of the course, i.e. since last week of Feb 2009.

I had taken up a few entreprenuership related course and interned in a startup during my summers. A lot of places while working on these courses there were sufficient references being made to the book. I decided to read this book following all this background.

It is definitely a very insightful book for entrepreneur who want to start off; a lot of the caveats which are given which these people need to be cautious about. A very good book to read before you start to ensure that you are on the look out for these caveats. However, every enterprise that starts has its own course to follow, its own challenges to face - this book doesn't solve all the issues. It is a must read before you start, but the challenges of each start up are very different.

An interesting read in general and a must read for entrepreneurs to be.

Games Indians Play - V. Raghunathan

We have heard about the famous anecdote of Indian Crabs not being covered with a lid while transported across the oceans. This book takes up issues like this and explores the questions we sometimes ask ourselves as Indians - 'Why are we the way we are?'

Most of the things that we do look so usual for us that we accept them at the face value never questioning the logic behind our actions. This book is a summary of the efforts which Prof. Raghunathan has made towards analyzing the behavior in terms of Game Theory, and Behavioral Economics.

The book tries to look at the 'Indianness of Indians' as detached as possible checking the personal biases at every stage and looking at answering the apparent paradoxes that emerge. Some of the questions that he tries to answer are - Why are we a nation that is individually so smart and collectively so naive? Why do we mistake talk for action? Why is our self-worth massaged only if we have the ‘authority’ to break rules? Why are we among the world’s most corrupt? Why do we jump red lights? Why do we dump our garbage at the neighbour’s doorstep?

In the last chapter Prof, tries to link the Gita with the concept of game theory; this I believe is a very interesting attempt at interpretation of the slokas from the Gita with a game theory perspective. These can always be debated and a new understanding be derived from them, none the less it is very interesting interpretation.

This attempt by Prof, should be only the starting point and a lot more needs to be done in taking the subject of understanding the 'Indianness of Indians' and make it a main stream of study.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl

The first time I heard about the book was in a class at IIM-B, I got to know more about some of its contents when some of my friends started reading it. From their initial review and small snippets I read from the book I borrowed I decided to buy one for myself and began reading.

This has surely been on of the best books I have read, a store house of knowledge on human psychology. The insights which Dr. Frakl educes from his experiences in the concentration camps is just phenomenal - a hell a lot of work in the situation!!!

Instead of rewriting some of the points from the book, I choose to copy paste some interesting qoutes which are put up in the wikipedia here.... I am sure when in the right frame of mind and right situations there will be many who would appreciate the depth of these thoughts
  1. "A man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how."
  2. "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way"
  3. Nietzsche's words, 'He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.'
  4. "When we are no longer able to change a situation...we are challenged to change ourselves"
  5. "We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering."
  6. "Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary."
  7. "It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."
  8. "We were not hoping for happiness---And yet we were not prepared for unhappiness."
  9. "Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!"
  10. "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

These 10 points in essence what I call the highlights of the book. These points listed down here are so profound, I am sure writing a page of on each of these 'meaning's would not do justice in any sense. These are like the distilled truth one begins to realize when one starts reflecting. Further, interpretation and analyzing the experiences shared in the book would lead to many insights for us as individuals, which we can be applied in different situations.

Interestingly, independently before reading this book these were in essence some of the thoughts I discussed with Bipin ( a close friend of mine at IIMB). There seems to be something beyond what is visible in all that that happens in the B-Schools, especially IIMs. The competition, the reaction, the approach and my interpretation of these in some way relate to the readings from the book. It would definitely be interesting what would emerge out when a study similar to the one done my Dr Flankl is done through the country's top B-Schools.

The books touches psychology and spirituality majorly, however there are many more things that emerge to be interesting about this book which explains why it was voted as one of the ten most influential books in the United States in 1991.