The power of words

When the Australian cricketer Richie Benaud passed away last month (April 2015), several sports journalists around the world wrote some wonderful obituaries. The one that stood out for me was headlined ‘The Voice of Cricket’. Benaud, of course, was a master test cricketer who retired in 1964 after picking 248 test wickets in 63 tests. Like most other cricketers, he gave back to the game (and made a living) as a commentator, who used his unique insights on the game and simply made it better to watch for millions of fans around the world. As the article mentioned, he was eventually remembered as much for his commentating as for the wickets he took and the runs he scored, before he retired.

Cricketers, of course, rise to the top early and their professional careers come to an abrupt halt in their mid-thirties. They reinvent their careers all over again and become commentators, coaches or businessmen.

Drawing a slightly tangential insight, the careers of several entrepreneurs and CEOs, post-retirement, is not too different. They give back to the business community as mentors, advisors or angel investors. Of course, in business one retires much later, so there is often an overlapping time period when you simultaneously mentor and manage your own career. Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that: Just like it is for cricketers, entrepreneurs and CEOs are often remembered as much for their mentoring as their own businesses. And one way to mentor a large group of people is through authoring books, blogs and sharing knowledge gained through years of experience with India’s younger professionals.

With Indian entrepreneurship now booming, I believe the time is now right for business leaders to turn authors. As Poornima Kavlekar and Madhumita Prabhakar mention in this edition’s cover story, the impact books have had on younger entrepreneurs is tremendous. Several Indian entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed talk passionately about the influence that books by Jack Welch, Andy Grove and Lee Iacocca have had in their careers, especially in the early days. Closer to home, Subroto Bagchi’s book The High Performance Entrepreneur, has had tremendous impact and has even inspired people to explore the path of entrepreneurship.

In this edition’s cover story, we’ve profiled the writing journey of six business leader-authors. Each of these people have not only impacted the growth of their own companies but also empowered several people through insights they’ve shared in their books.

We decided to slot this story of CEO-authors on the cover, simply because, we deeply believe in the idea of knowledge sharing by leaders. And what better way to share than through a book, that becomes an everlasting property, with all your unique insights and knowledge.

Some CEOs we’ve spoken to feel it may not be a good idea to write a book, simply because they fear they may end up teaching something that is no longer applicable. They fear that it is not possible to share all the intricate details of a particular situation and it may not make sense to write a book, unless you share the backstory in full.

For people who’re on the fence, I’d categorically say that not being able to share something in full is not reason enough not to pen a book. Books have the ability to impact lives like no other. Well written entrepreneurial stories, insights and knowledge shared by leaders have the potential to impact positively the overall entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country.

India’s entrepreneurship landscape is now ripe with enough access to capital and role models. Great books for and from this ecosystem will be an icing on the cake.

Hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.

Prem Sivakumaran is co-founder & CEO of Growth Mechanics, a leadership and entrepreneurship-focused business content company in India. Growth Mechanics publishes The Smart CEO, a publication focused on enabling peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among C-level executives and board members. The platform reaches over 1.2 lakh CXOs across its website, app, print publication & CEO Round Tables, and has featured on the cover India’s leading business leaders/founders from Infosys, Mindtree, Tata Sons, ICICI Bank, Biocon, Yes Bank and several others. In addition of Smart CEO, Growth Mechanics also organises the Startup50 Conference & Awards, an annual event to recognize India’s top 50 startups every year. Startup50 Alumni include Freshdesk, Oyo Rooms, Urban Ladder, Capital Float, Paperboat Beverages, among others. Growth Mechanics’ primary business model revolves around linking CXOs and Brands around engaging content and has worked with India’s leading companies including Mahindra Group, Godrej & Boyce, BASF, Airtel, Tata Docomo, Fiat, IDA Ireland, Yes Bank, Prestige Estates, Frederique Constant, Indian Terrain