BOOKS THAT WILL COME TO YOUR RESCUE…
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.”