I like The Empty Raincoat by Charles Handy. Apart from explaining the nine paradoxes we are faced with, he proposes three paths to guide us through it – the Sigmoid Curve, the Doughnut Principle and the Chinese Contract. He argues that we can live more than one career cycle in a single lifetime like a Sigmoid-curve if we are smart enough to start the second curve before the first curve has reached its point of saturation. For the Doughnut Principle, Handy compares our professional roles to a doughnut and says that we are responsible for balancing our own doughnut: with a core (a duty) that matches our destiny and an outside that caters to our potential. The core is what’s essential. The potential is variable and you can develop as much or as little of it as you want. But it needs to have a boundary. My consulting colleagues gifted me this book on my fifth anniversary at Eicher Consultancy in 1995, a period when I had to make a big decision – choosing a big organisation and relentlessly climbing the hierarchy or taking a leap of faith and commit the rest of my professional life in building an enterprise. I read the book and I made my choice overnight. Eventually, I incorporated Maveric Systems.
Ranga Reddy, CEO and co-founder, Maveric Systems, an independent software testing company
One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is very inspiring and helps me motivate myself with daily endeavours. In the story, the boy, who was searching for his treasure finds it not in the place where he suspected it to be, but in the place he came from. It’s pretty ironic that what you are looking for is, in the end, right beside you. But what he learned and discovered from his travels is another treasure that he should realise in order to appreciate himself and the things around him. A positive book, it actually gives me hope that the things that I aspire for will be achieved only if I strive hard and not lose hope until I get it. Sometimes, the detours and the problems that we face now in our life will make sense later. And when you remember the hardship you had to overcome, you would be thankful that it happened because you learnt something from it.
Gautam Bhirani, CEO, Moving Trumpet Communications, offers innovative OOH (out of home)marketing solutions for companies
Some of my favourite books are The Goal by Dr. Eliyahu M Goldratt, The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. The Goal is a must read for every operations manager as it helps you understand the bottlenecks and makes you to think of ways to solve various problems. The World is Flat is for anyone who wishes to understand multiple factors in an ecosystem and certainly for Internet entrepreneurs, whose web products and services cross boundaries. The latter two books help to train your mind to think of cause and effect in a non-linear fashion. They help in broadening my thought perspective. Outside the business domain, I like Weapons of Peace by Raj Chengappa and Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra.
Ranjith Boyanapalli, CEO, Buytheprice.com, an e-store for consumer electronics
The Goal by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt reads well for a fictionalised story about management practices, and what really sells it to me is the fact that it remains very practical and to the point. It’s peppered with great examples, such as the overweight kid and how it’s the ‘weakest link’ that defines the success of a company which reiterates the concept of Theory of Constraints focused in the novel. As a young professional, reading The Goal was pretty much like finding a guidance manual for management and success. The concepts of bottlenecks and constraints as a useful tool for measuring and controlling the flow of materials, and the use of the Socratic method to solve a personal problem like fixing a marriage focuses on the applications of these concepts in real life. The book makes for an essential read as it not only treats the subject of ongoing personal development in a unique way, but also interweaves the professional with the personal, culminating in emotions and anxieties that we all can identify with. And with more than a few re-reads since I first discovered it, it’s a gift that continues to give.
Md. Imthiaz, founder and CEO, Hoppr, a device agnostic location-based rewards and check-in service
My favourite books are Lectures on Ramayana by Rt. Hon. V.S. Srinivasa Sastri and The Holy Geeta by Swami Chinmayananda. I like these books because they help understand the human mind and behaviour, and why people think and act the way they do. Each human evolves based on the choices they make that are integrated with the value system they believe in. Lectures on Ramayana have taught me to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Having a goal isn’t enough but it should be backed by a good value system. I learnt from The Holy Geeta that life presents multiple choices and sometimes the mind is unable to pick the right one. It gets confused and may lead to the value system being compromised. Bad intentions sometimes becomes too much to control and lead to demise of the human being/race. How to overcome these bad intentions and put more positive thoughts? What is the duty and how to perform it correctly? What is the meaning and purpose of one’s life? The Holy Geeta gives ample instances/examples to answer such questions.
Sridharan Mani, director and CEO, American Megatrends India, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMI USA
Maverick by Ricardo Semler, a book that I read a decade ago, is still fresh in my memory. It has a made a huge impact on my thinking and management/leadership style. Maverick is the story of Ricardo Semlar, a young CEO or counsellor of Semco, a manufacturing company in Brazil, who adopts radical policies and follows a unique management style to transform his company into a highly successful one. There are three lessons that I learnt from this book – first, the importance of trust, which the author uses as a binding factor to run a company in a truly consultative democratic way; secondly, the benefits of creating an informal work culture and finally, the need to put quality of life above all else.
V.R. Ferose, MD, SAP Labs India, a leading player in the enterprise application software sector