Un­like most con­sumertech start-up co­founders, I don’t have a de­gree from an IIT, IIM, ISB or any such hal­lowed in­sti­tu­tion. A nerd by de­sign, I grad­u­ated from high school with solid scores and joined Hindu Col­lege for a Bach­e­lor’s in Eco­nom­ics. I had grand plans of go­ing to Har­vard some­day (there­after work­ing to­wards get­ting my­self an apart­ment that over­looks Cen­tral Park in New York City), but for bet­ter, none of th­ese MBA dreams worked out. And after three years of work­ing for two phe­nom­e­nal com­pa­nies, I found my­self start­ing an en­ter­prise, Lit­tle Black Book (LBB) at 23.

While I didn’t nec­es­sar­ily have ex­pe­ri­ence that comes with age or a de­gree to back my skills (eco­nom­ics teaches you how to ques­tion and think within con­structs; but def­i­nitely doesn’t of­fer any­thing note­wor­thy with re­spect to start­ing up), what I’ve al­ways had is in­sa­tiable cu­rios­ity. In my at­tempt to be the best leader for my com­pany, at ev­ery step of the way, I’ve worked to­wards up­skilling my­self by read­ing as much as I can, sur­round­ing my­self with peo­ple I can learn from and ask­ing for help when needed. While mak­ing a list of all the “lessons I’ve learnt” will be aw­fully bor­ing, I hope th­ese books come to your res­cue when you’re look­ing for ad­vice, a leader to be in­spired by, or anec­dotes that’ll re­mind you that you are not alone and this too shall pass.

Open by An­dre Agassi Why: An­dre Agassi was my child­hood hero (I played ten­nis back in the day). This book re­minds me that ev­ery su­per­hero, at the end of the day, is hu­man; and that noth­ing good comes without a fight. The big­gest take-away for me is that the big wins take dis­ci­pline all of us saw An­dre as an overnight

suc­cess, but that’s far from the truth.

Favourite Quote: “Life will throw ev­ery­thing but the kitchen sink in your path… and then it’ll throw the kitchen sink.”

Think­ing, Fast & Slow by Daniel Kah­ne­man

Why: A No­bel Lau­re­ate in Eco­nomic Sci­ence, Daniel Kah­ne­man is also re­spon­si­ble for my first tat­too. A de­light for peo­ple in­ter­ested in be­havioural eco­nom­ics, the book is a pow­er­ful and de­tailed read on hu­man ir­ra­tional­ity, and where it stems from.

Favourite Quote: “The go­rilla study il­lus­trates two im­por­tant facts about our minds: We can be blind to the ob­vi­ous, and we are also blind to our blind­ness.”

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Why: How you start isn’t nec­es­sar­ily how you end up, is what hit home for me through this mem­oir/au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Nike’s co-founder, Phil Knight. What I also learnt is shit hap­pens; and the only way to deal with it is by mov­ing for­ward.

Favourite Quote: “Grow or Die.”

On­ward by Howard Schultz

Why: Be­cause this has been writ­ten by the CEO of one of the most in­spir­ing con­sumer brands, Star­bucks. Also, be­cause this book taught me that what­ever said and done, pas­sion isn’t over­rated. Pas­sion gives you hope. And fi­nally, no one knows a busi­ness quite like its founder(s).

Favourite Quote: “Mass ad­ver­tis­ing can help build brands, but au­then­tic­ity is what makes them last.”

Com­pet­ing Against Luck by Clay­ton Chris­tensen

Why: I met him at Har­vard (of all places! Had gone there to give a talk), and I fan-girled like a crazy per­son. Clay­ton Chris­tensen is the OG of in­no­va­tion in busi­ness, and though his most fa­mous book is ‘In­no­va­tors Dilemma’, ‘Com­pet­ing Against Luck’ has sin­gle-hand­edly changed the way I think about mar­ket­ing and growth. Must read!

Favourite quote: “Peo­ple don’t want to buy a quar­ter-inch drill. They want a quar­ter-inch hole.”

Sil­i­con Val­ley on HBO Why: So this isn’t a book, of course, but I love this show for ba­si­cally re­mind­ing all of us to not take our­selves too se­ri­ously. Though the past few sea­sons have been av­er­age, this show is a must watch - for laughs and a re­al­ity check. Also, Er­lich Bach­man is a leg­end.

Favourite quote: “My head is so far up my own ass, I can see the fu­ture.”

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