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Curious about Career and Success? Ask These Books for Answers!

Explore a goldmine of wisdom with a diverse collection of books spanning career, management, and entrepreneurship. From leadership insights to personal growth and empathy’s role in a post-pandemic world, these reads offer a powerful perspective. Your path to success starts here!


Play to Transform
Play to Transform || Avinash Jhangiani

Play to Transform is a book that challenges the traditional mindset of business leaders and encourages them to tap into their inner child to accelerate transformation with purpose. The book argues that we are all born creative geniuses with an innate ability to empathize deeply with others, but somewhere along the way, we have lost touch with these qualities. In the post-pandemic world, leaders need to be more empathetic and agile than ever before, and a conscious shift in mindset is required to achieve this.


Unlocked || Gezim Gashi

Gezim Gashi recounts his extraordinary journey-from escaping the Kosovo genocide to becoming the first Albanian-Swede to launch a high school institute in the United States – Gezim lays out a path to personal success and fulfillment that is accessible to all, regardless of their background. With his mentorship, readers will be inspired to overcome obstacles and achieve their biggest goals.


Unfiltered || Ana Lueneburger, Saurabh Mukherjea


A pioneering book, Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach, for the first time, opens the doors that normally shield the confidential world of coaching conversations. The book, through its candour, helps readers fully grasp the life-changing impact that coaching can have. Conceived as a leadership development book, the authors share the narratives (both individual and mutual) of their partnership over the course of five years. The resultant narrative provides not just unique insights that executives and entrepreneurs will find useful for their own development but also deep insights into how, by understanding ourselves, we move towards mastery over the world at large.


Leading from the Back
Leading from the Back || Ravi Kant, Harry Paul, Ross Reck

Are you looking for a leadership model that is uncomplicated, easy to use and produces amazing results? If so, then Leading from the Back is for you! In it you will find everything you need to become a superstar leader. You will learn how to earn respect from your team members and help them in achieving the impossible. No more learning about numerous principles and laws of leadership. Just a three-part model that has an amazing track record of proven success.

Leading from the Back is a distillation of the collective experience and wisdom of Ravi Kant (former CEO, vice chairman, Tata Motors), Harry Paul (co-author of the bestseller FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results) and Ross Reck (co-author of The Win-Win Negotiator).


The Secret of Leadership
The Secret of Leadership || Iyer Prakash

Bestselling author Prakash Iyer uses simple but powerful anecdotes and parables from all over the world to demonstrate what makes for effective personal and professional leadership. Iyer draws lessons from sources as diverse as his driver, a mother giraffe, Abraham Lincoln and footballers in the United Kingdom. He shows how an instinct to lead can be acquired even while flipping burgers at a fast-food chain. All of these stories come together in an explosive cocktail to unleash your inner leader.


Catalyst || Chandramouli Venkatesan

A good job, hard work, IQ, EQ, good communication skills-these are all ingredients for a successful life. The presence of these elements alone, however, does not guarantee success. To convert them into long-term success, you need certain stimuli which precipitate or accelerate your growth. This robustly effective book identifies the various catalysts that you can cultivate and how you can leverage them to propel yourself in your work and life.
Accessible, engaging and easy to follow, and written by someone who has experienced all this in real life and not in theory, Catalyst will arm you with the right tools to succeed at your work place and get the most out of every moment, every day.


The Habit of Winning
The Habit of Winning || Iyer Prakash

Do you feel like throwing in the towel, but want to be a great leader? Would you like to build an organization? Do you want your child to be the best she can be? If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Habit of Winning is the book for you. It is a book that will change the way you think, work and live, with stories about self-belief and perseverance, leadership and teamwork-stories that will ignite a new passion and a renewed sense of purpose in your mind.


The High Performance Entrepreneur
The High Performance Entrepreneur || Subroto Bagchi

In The High Performance Entrepreneur, Subroto Bagchi draws from his own experiences to offer guidance from the idea stage to the initial public offering level. This includes deciding when one is ready to launch an enterprise, selecting a team, defining the values and objectives of the company, writing the business plan, choosing the right investors, managing adversity and building the brand. Additionally, in an especially illuminating chapter, Bagchi recounts the systems and values which have brought Indian IT companies on a par with the best in the world. High-performance entrepreneurs create great wealth, for themselves as well as for others. They provide jobs, which are crucial for an expanding workforce, and drive innovation. More than a guide, this book will tap the entrepreneurial energy within you.


Design Your Thinking
Design Your Thinking || Pavan Soni

Pioneered by IDEO and Stanford, design thinking is one such approach that draws inspiration from the realm of product design. However, it shouldn’t be narrowly associated with the world of start-ups and technology or thought of as something limited to product development. The method is increasingly being used in a wider context and can help us address a vast array of problems.

Design Your Thinking attempts to offer a practitioner’s perspective on how the tenets, methods and discipline of design thinking can be applied across a range of domains, including to everyday problems, and help us become expert problem-solvers through the use of the appropriate toolsets, skill sets and mindsets.


Let's Build A Company
Let’s Build A Company || Harpreet Grover, Vibhore Goyal

It started with a phone call from Harpreet’s mother introducing him to an uncle who wanted some help. Or maybe it started when Vibhore and Harpreet met as roommates in Room 143 at IIT Bombay. What remains true is that soon both had quit their jobs and launched CoCubes. From no money in their bank accounts for eight years after graduating to becoming dollar millionaires two years later in 2016, this is a tale of grit-of a company built in India by two Indian-middle-class-twenty-somethings-turned-entrepreneurs-written in the hope that you can avoid the mistakes they made and learn from what they did right.

This is that story-the story that you don’t always hear. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, and you prefer straight talk to sugar-coating, it’s one you should read.


How Come No One Told Me That
How Come No One Told Me That || Prakash Iyer

How Come No One Told Me That? divided into ten sections, exploring life lessons, ways of improving oneself, leadership and the importance of doing small things right, among other subjects. Through powerful anecdotes and charming essays, followed by practical, actionable advice, this book will help you make those minor adjustments to your professional and personal lives that can truly make you unstoppable.


Learn, Don't Study
Learn, Don’t Study || Pramath Raj Sinha


‘What should I study to best prepare me for success in today’s working world?’

This is the most common question one gets from young people (and their parents) who are transitioning from school to college education. They want to know which fields they should choose, which universities or programmes to attend, and which career track will give them the best chance to succeed.

In Learn, Don’t Study, drawing on his experiences of over twenty-five years in the field of education, Pramath Raj Sinha has put together the best and most practical advice available for youngsters who are facing some of the most important and challenging choices of their professional lives.


Build Don't Talk
Build Don’t Talk || Raj Shamani


School taught us specific subjects, like maths and history.
But we weren’t taught:
How to sell
Or how to build relationships
Or how to negotiate
Or how to take care of our mental health
Or how to network
Or how to deal with personal finance

These most important situations we face as adults were never discussed with us when we were students. We weren’t taught these skills in school, and this makes all the success stories we hear about seem out of reach; it makes us feel dumb. We aren’t dumb, we just don’t know how to work the system.

Your school taught you how to run in the race; it didn’t teach you how to win. And that’s what this book is for. To help you win the race. Packed with useful advice gleaned from his own journey as an entrepreneur and content creator, this book by Raj Shamani is a must-read.


Career 3.0
Career 3.0 || Abhijit Bhaduri

Abhijit Bhaduri, a renowned expert on talent and leadership, shows you how to develop the six key skills that will make you future-ready and successful in Career 3.0. Whether you work for an organization, run your own business or do both, you will discover how to adapt to change, learn new skills, and lead with impact.

Career 3.0 is a guide that will help you stay relevant. The book is filled with inspiring stories that will challenge you to rethink your career vision, strategy and action. It will give you the tools and techniques to thrive in the new world of work and propel your career.

You may be surprised to find out that you already have a Career 3.0 mindset. Now you know what it is called.

Let’s Play to Transform with these 21 Affirmations!

In Play To Transform, author Dr. Avinash Jhangiani unveils profound insights, empowering professionals to ignite hope and optimism within themselves before sharing it with others. And leading with confidence, to create a happy, connected environment that fosters steady growth. So let’s discover the power of positive thinking and self-talk as we present these 21 affirmations that will transform you into an authentic, purpose-driven leader.

Ready to play? Let’s begin!

Play to Transform
Play to Transform || Avinash Jhangiani


Play Manifesto for Your Inner Child

Hope and optimism can be effective drivers of change and leaders must understand how to provide these antidotes, not to just others but first to us. To receive maximum benefits in uncertain times, read positive affirmations before sleep or early morning. These are the times when you brain is in a calm, relaxed and programmable state. Note that the secret of making this work is to believe and feel these affirmations intensely in your heart. Your thoughts and feelings have a profound effect on your behaviours.

Here is the play manifesto with twenty-one positive affirmations to keep your inner child alive:


1. I have the power to create positive change.

2. I have a clear vision and bring clarity to everyone at work.

3. I create a happy, healthy, connected environment at work.

4. I create spaces to nurture curiosity, self-expression and creativity without judgement.

5. I create a sense of safety and belonging at work.

6. I set a positive example for others.

7. I am a cheerful, trustworthy, approachable person.

8. I am confident and can handle any obstacle in front of me.

9. I show my vulnerability and manage my emotions very well.

10. I allow others to fail and help them learn from their mistakes.

11. I give high candour, constructive feedback.

12. I inspire others to stretch and reach their truest potential.

13. I empower others to greatness with my infinite enthusiasm.

14. I provide opportunities for growth.

15. I learn something new and useful every day.

16. I make work fun and rewarding for everyone.

17. I am a conscious leader who puts purpose into profits.

18. I am an authentic leader who nurtures diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace.

19. I am grateful to my team, family and friends who help me grow as a leader.

20. I am proud of myself and very happy about my accomplishments.

21. With every breath I take, I bring more playful charisma and magnetism into my life


Get your copy of Play to Transform by Dr. Avinash Jhangiani wherever books are sold.

Office Secrets: 7 Habits of Very Happy Managers

Imagine a world where managers not only excel at their jobs but also radiate happiness in the workplace. In Office Secrets by Harish Bhat, we uncover seven simple habits that can bring a smile to any manager’s face. From relishing a hearty lunch and planning fun weekends, to keeping presentations brief and even engaging in healthy gossip, these habits offer a refreshing yet practical approach to finding joy and success in the office.

Get ready to discover the secrets that will completely transform your work life, as revealed in this excerpt from Office Secrets.


Office Secrets
Office Secrets || Harish Bhat


Seven Habits of Very Happy Managers

Short presentations, saying no to multitasking and making weekend plans—here are some ways to keep a smile on your face.


Stephen Covey, one of the most admired management gurus of modern times, passed away a few years ago. Most of us have read
his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Thousands of people have claimed that this book has changed their lives and careers forever.

Here, I pay a simple but irreverent tribute to this influential thinker, on behalf of all office goers. I believe it is important for managers to be both happy and effective. Since Covey has already revealed how we can be highly effective, I tell you what it takes to be very happy at work. Just follow the seven simple habits described below, and you will smile every day.


First Things First, Eat a Good Lunch

As Covey says, we must put first things first. Therefore, a good and relaxed lunch in office takes the highest priority. Without it, you can never really be happy. If you hurry through this essential meal or skip it, you are likely to find yourself in a grumpy mood throughout the afternoon and evening. Your stomach may begin grumbling and you may end up eating too many fat-laden cookies during the rest of the day, which is not good for your waistline or your heartline. On the other hand, a delicious and healthy lunch, had with colleagues, with a good measure of talk and laughter, is a recipe for good cheer


Begin with the Weekend in Mind

Covey’s book advises us to always begin with the end in mind. We modify this advice slightly, and urge you to begin with the weekend in mind. The weekend is an enduring source of happiness, and therefore deserves a lot of attention and planning. Have you made a booking at that Thai spa? Have you decided where to party hard, and with whom? What about dinner with your glamorous ex-girlfriend, who has hinted that she wants to get back in touch with you? If your boss is in a generous mood, could you request him for an off day either on Friday or Monday, thereby creating an extra happy and long weekend? These are just a few of the many complex weekend choices we
are faced with, so clearly we have to begin preparations in earnest by Monday morning.


Keep Your Presentations Brief

We must recognize that no one, not even the chairperson, wants to attend a long and serious PowerPoint presentation these days, when there are many other interesting office pastimes to pursue. So, if you have to think win-win, your presentations must never exceed five slides and must conclude in ten minutes flat. You will find that most things can be summarized within that length and time. Also, your boss will be so happy with the quick ending that he is likely to approve your budgets immediately. If you want to deliver true happiness, begin and end your presentation with an appropriate comic strip visual which makes people smile. That will leave just three slides for the serious stuff, which is just about perfect.


Silence Is Really Golden

Managers love talking at meetings, and this is what gets them into deep trouble in the first place. So, you are likely to be the happiest if you keep as silent as possible, unless you have dramatic views that can potentially change the course of your company’s history. Let others in the room argue and fight among each other, while you remain, like the Buddha, calm and composed amid the gathering storm. Take copious notes, but don’t speak. Once in a while, look up, smile and nod enigmatically at the people who are doing the talking. They will regard these gestures as signs of deep wisdom and understanding.


Engage in Healthy Gossip

Scientific studies have consistently revealed that cubicle gossip is a great source of happiness. If you are a creative individual, you can actually be the source of some gossip. Otherwise you can choose to merely be a conduit for the grapevine. Either way, you are adding to the HQ (happiness quotient) of your office, which is so important in these stressful times. The conference room, email, water cooler, lift, office loo—they are all perfect locations for such talk. There is a caveat to be borne in mind, though. Healthy gossip has boundaries which need to be respected.


Don’t Multitask

Many managers think they must display their professional manhood by engaging in several activities at the same time. They believe multitasking is essential, given the multiple demands at the modern workplace. They also feel good that they are intellectually competent enough to do many things at once. Don’t believe in such rubbish. Multitasking is a recipe for being short of breath throughout the day, which, as we know, leads to hypertension and all its attendant ailments. In addition, it ensures that none of the jobs you are doing ever receive your full attention, leading to a state of niggling unhappiness at all times. To be really happy at the workplace, address one job at
a time, and do it really well. By doing this, you may complete fewer tasks during the day, but you will leave the office with a spring in your step


Refresh and Renew Yourself

Covey speaks about the need for reflection and for renewing yourself, the last of the seven habits he prescribes. This habit is as important for happiness as it for effectiveness. Unless you give yourself time every day to think and relax, you will never really be happy with yourself. There are many practical methods to achieve this. Define daily digital blackout periods, when you will not go anywhere near a computer or a mobile phone. Pursue a creative passion outside the workplace—this could range from painting (which is generally safe) to music (which may be dangerous if you are a bad singer and sing in public). Take time out to run or play tennis or work out in the gym, and use this time to blank out your busy mind. Finally, don’t meet or speak to your boss for at least two days each week, and see for yourself how completely this relaxes your entire being


I think the eighth and most important habit of very happy managers is our ability to laugh at ourselves, which is the first step to having great fun at work.


Get your copy of Office Secrets by Harish Bhat from your nearest bookstore or on Amazon.

5 out of 6 books from Penguin are in the run for The Booker Prize 2022!

We have just been updated that we have 5 out of 6 books from Penguin have been shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022! The winner will be announced at the Roundhouse in London on October 17, 2022. Stay tuned! 

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Booker Prize 2022!
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Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet gay, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts who cluster around him can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka. Ten years after his prizewinning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Karunatilaka is back with a rip-roaring epic, full of mordant wit and disturbing truths.



Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Booker Prize 2022 shortlist
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Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him – and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.

The long-awaited new work from the author of FosterSmall Things Like These is an unforgettable story of hope, quiet heroism and tenderness.




Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Booker Prize 2022 shortlist
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Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

Glory is an energy burst, an exhilarating joyride. It is the story of an uprising, told by a bold, vivid chorus of animal voices that helps us see our human world more clearly. It tells the story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. And yet, as it unveils the myriad tricks required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, it reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it. History can be stopped in a moment. With the return of a long-lost daughter, a #freefairncredibleelection, a turning tide — even a single bullet.






Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Booker Prize 2022 shortlist
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Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. ‘This is the way of life,’ Lucy says. ‘The many things we do not know until it is too late.’




The Trees by Percival Everett 

Booker Prize 2022 shortlist
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Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of TelephonePercival Everett’s The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence, and does so in a fast-paced style that ensures the reader can’t look away. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America’s pulse.

Leadership or Management? Both. Transform explains why!

Leadership and Management. What comes to your mind when you think about these concepts?

We often read about being successful, but how often do we really think about making the people around us successful? That is exactly what Transform, Chandramouli Venkatesan’s latest and final book talks. It also aims at helping people navigate people management and how intricately it’s connected to being successful professionally, as well as flourishing socially.

The word ‘management’ often has a one-dimensional approach for a majority of people However, Chandramouli explains how it’s irrevocably connected with another aspect of success: good leadership. They are both different sides of the same coin. Managing is the art of impacting people while being involved directly, and leading is the art of impacting people without being directly involved. They are mutually inclusive and even though they can be executed independently, the best results can only be achieved when they are practiced simultaneously.

Catalyst by Chandramouli Venkatesan
Catalyst||Chandramouli Venkatesan

In Catalyst, Chandramouli’s first novel, there was a great emphasis on career management and life management. It had crucial insights about the important strategies and decisions people take to move forward in their respective careers. Catalyst focused on helping people win where it matters- the second half of their careers. Moreover, it also took into account life management, and how success is not limited to professional boundaries. Excelling both personally and professionally is possible.




front cover Get Better at Getting Better
Get Better at Getting Better|| Chandramouli Venkatesan

Get Better at Getting better was the sequel and the second guide in this series, and eloquently talked about improving consistently. While it’s great to be good, you can always be better, and even hack the process of getting better. With a heavy emphasis on improving one’s skills, capabilities, judgements, communication, and decision-making abilities effectively, it talked about how to grow rapidly as a professional and remain relevant.

Getting Better Continuously, Career Management, and Life Management are three out of the four of the author’s pillars when it comes to effective management. They focus on bettering themselves to excel and have an inward approach. However, management and leadership are functions that involve people. Hence these three pillars and their success depend on the fourth and final concept: People Management.


Transform book cover
Transform||Chandramouli Venkatesan

Transform, the ultimate guide to lead and manage, is an insightful and interactive read for anyone struggling or striving to be better at being a good leader and manager. By keeping leading and managing as pre-conditions instead of mutually exclusive alternatives, Transform puts into perspective the importance of being good at both. With revelations and key learnings in all four sections, it helps managers who aren’t leaders and leaders who are struggling to be good managers understand how the two are connected through their own experiences.

Transform stands out from the long list of books on people management by facilitating two-way communication instead of a jargon-rich monologue. With exercises to improve self-awareness and steps to create practical action plans, it also takes into account that different things can work for different people. People management is the pillar that supports the other three, and according to Chandramouli, “It is not important whether you are a leader or a manager, what is important is whether you are leading and managing.”

Renew the way you approach success at the workplace and in life and evolve into a more self-aware professional with Transform!

How to convert an idea into a venture; Become A Junior Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are bringing education online, connecting families at the touch of a button and revolutionizing the shopping experience-in short, they’re changing the way we live.

Following the success of Become a Junior Inventor, Vrunda Bansode gives every kid a hands-on crash course in entrepreneurship in her new book, Become a Junior Entrepreneur. Here is a checklist on how you can convert an idea into a venture, from the book.

Think of all the things that you can build on to develop your business as an entrepreneur and note them down. Right now, do not think of constraints. Just think of all that you would like to do. Innovate. Invent. Dream big! Now comes the reality check. Let us think of what you can actually work towards and have a good chance of succeeding at. How does one figure that out? Try to answer these questions for each of the businesses you have listed:

  • Do I myself have the skill of making this product or delivering this service?

(Hint: If you want to start a baking business but do not know how to bake, the answer would be No. If you want to start a web design service and are good at using design softwares yourself, your answer is Yes.)

  • Do I know who might be the customers for my business and can I reach them easily?

(Hint: If you are developing a book-trading app and know that many of your friends will use the service, your answer is Yes. But let’s say you are considering starting a garden clean-up service and don’t have any houses with gardens around you, the answer is No.)

  • Do many people need this product or service?

(Hint: Everybody needs and buys toothbrushes regularly, so the market is large. But not everyone needs dental braces, so the market is much smaller.)

  • Roughly how much money is needed to start this business and will I be able to get it through my savings, allowances and borrowings from family and friends?
  • Can I start working towards this right away – at least within a few months?

For any idea that you end up with more No-s than Yes-es, mark it as a passion to be pursued later. Where your Yes-es are more than the No-s, get going! If you have a Yes for all five questions, that’s a great place to start. But if you had to scrap all of your ideas, don’t be hassled. Just start again or see if you can modify an idea you like even a little until you get all five Yes-es.

Another great way to start is to team up with your friends. You will have more helping hands and great ideas on board, and there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun on the side. Many great start-ups started with a team of founders rather than a single founder.

If it is not just you, but you and a group of friends who want to start a business together, then do the above as a group exercise. The group together will then have the skill of ideation, knowledge, access to prospective customers and the ability to get the money or seed capital—as it is called in the business world—to start your new business.

From sifting through ideas to running a business, Become a Junior Entrepreneur accompanies the reader through every stage of turning a nascent dream into a commercially viable start-up.


The beginnings of a friendship and a business idea

Harpreet Grover and Vibhore Goyal met in college and then spent the next decade of their lives building a company before exiting successfully.

One way to tell their story is this: they had a dream, they followed it and, then, through perseverance, they made it come true.

But that’s not really the truth. Like everything in life-at least everything worth having-it wasn’t that simple. There was blood, sweat and tears, there was loss of capital, loss of friendship and even a loss of faith along the way. This is a tale of grit-of a company built in India by two Indian-middle-class-twenty-somethings-turned-entrepreneurs-written in the hope that you can avoid the mistakes they made and learn from what they did right.

Here’s an intriguing excerpt from Let’s Build a Company that reveals how the duo’s entrepreneurial journey started.


I started my first business in the fourth standard—with no funding, in my dad’s scooter garage.


Back in 1990, four-storey buildings in our neighbourhood in Pitampura, west Delhi, used to have scooter garages; small spaces that could just about fit in a scooter and a cycle. All my pocket money went into renting Super Commando Dhruv, Nagraj, Bankelal and all the other Hindi comics that were popular then. I had a friend who was couple of years older, and we would rent comics together and then swap them. Once a month, our parents would also let us buy some.


Between the two of us, we had about fifty comics, which, we soon realized, were more than what the shopkeeper had in stock at any given point in time. An idea hit us: why not give out our comics on rent and make some pocket money? The shopkeeper loaned them out for Rs 1 a day, and we could charge half the rate. We had no bills to pay, no family to feed. We just wanted some pocket money. So I asked my dad to take his scooter out of the garage and thus began our comic- book business! We had almost every kid in the neighbourhood coming to us to rent comics. It went on well for about three months. Then my dad got transferred to another government- bank branch in Patiala and our business had to shut down. That was my first taste of what I would later realize is termed ‘entrepreneurship’.


While I was growing up in Patiala, Vibhore was failing seventh-standard maths. His parents decided that he needed to get coaching to ensure he cleared his exams. They also wanted him to learn the value of hard work. So Vibhore started working in a garage, repairing bikes to earn pocket money. As he grew older, his fondness for computers grew and, along with school, he started teaching C++ in a local coaching centre. (By the time he got to college, he knew more coding than final-year computer science graduates. This would really come in handy when he helped me clear our first-year course in Fortran.)


front cover of Let's Build a Company
Let’s Build a Company || Harpreet S. Grover, Vibhore Goyal

Cut to 2000, when I was accepted into IIT Bombay, a letter came home stating that all first-year students would have to share a room. I thought it would be a good idea to reach a couple of days in advance and take the best of the two beds. When I arrived, I found this geeky guy already there with his trunk placed below the better bed. Vibhore Goyal had beaten me to it and set the tone of our friendship for years to come.


Both of us had enrolled in the five-year dual degree civil- engineering programme. While Vibhore was disappointed with his rank (he had hoped to crack the top 100), I was delighted just to get in.

The five years at IIT Bombay were eventful and we ended up spending a lot of time together. From the second year onwards, Vibhore had a bike, which I would borrow—only to slip on the road and smash the headlight. We would then go together to get it repaired. In the third year, Vibhore got an internship in Pune; I went to meet him on the last day so that we could lug his computer back together—he drove the bike back to the institute while I sat behind holding a big CPU between us on a wet highway. Another thing we always did was go to the station to drop the first person who was going home at the end of semester. Vibhore’s parents would send him an AC first-class ticket, and he would find someone to sell it to. He would then buy a general ticket to go to Jaipur and pocket the rest. I always found this funny, not to mention enterprising.


By the time we graduated, Vibhore had spent time working on a high-tech start-up based out of IIT Bombay and landed a job with Microsoft’s research division. Meanwhile, I had tried to start a brand for fresh fruit juice with my classmates Ritesh and Rahul, and failed. We bought a mixer but trying to figure out the economics of how many carrots provided one glass of juice proved to be too much trouble. I finally landed a job in Inductis, a data analytics company. After the final interviews, the company took us to a five-star for a buffet. There, they asked me if I already knew all the questions they had posed in the interview. Apparently, I had the highest score across interviews. I said no. They said, then you are quite stupid, because we asked the same questions we asked last year. That got my mind buzzing and I spent most of my final year creating a document titled ‘BePrepared’, which was a compilation of interview experiences of final-year students.


While together in IIT, Vibhore and I had discussed starting a company, but our ideas were always up in the air. Also, it was clear in our minds that we wanted to get a job after graduation. After all, that’s why we had come to IIT in the first place.





Quotes to Live By if you’re on your way to Success

How do you establish your brand to become one of the most beloved and enduring in the country?
 In her book, The Two-Minute Revolution, Sangeeta Talwar tells you just that. She was the first woman executive in the FMCG industry, which established one of our favorite brands: Maggi Noodles!
From her book, we extracted some quotes that you must take a look at, especially if you’re on your way to building an extraordinary brand!

Fuzzies vs Techies in the World of Innovation

Scott Hartley first heard the terms ‘fuzzy’ and ‘techie’ while studying political science at Stanford University. If you had majored in the humanities or social sciences, you were a fuzzy. If you had majored in the computer sciences, you were a techie. This informal division quietly found its way into a default assumption that has misled the business world for decades-that it’s the techies who drive innovation.
In his book, The Fuzzy and the Techie, Hartley looks inside some of the world’s most dynamic new companies, reveals breakthrough fuzzy-techie collaborations, and explores how such associations are at the centre of innovation in business, education and government, and why liberal arts are still relevant in our techie world.
Here is an excerpt.
The terms ‘fuzzy’ and ‘techie’ are used to respectively describe those students of the humanities and social sciences, and those students of the engineering or hard sciences at Stanford University. Stanford is what’s known as a ‘liberal arts’ university not because it focuses on subjects that are necessarily liberal, or artistic, but because each student is required to study a broad set of subjects prior to specialization. The term liberal arts comes from the Latin, artes liberales, and denotes disciplines such as music, geometry, and philosophy that can together stretch the mind in different directions and, in that process, make it free. Each of these subjects is meant to broaden the student, force them to think critically, to debate, and to grapple with ambiguities inherent in subjects like philosophy. They are also meant to help the student cultivate empathy for others in subjects such as literature, which forces one to view the world through the eyes of another human being. In short, they are less focused on specific job preparation than they are about the cultivation of a well-rounded human being. But at Stanford, beneath these light-hearted appellations of ‘fuzzies’ and ‘techies’ also rest some charged opinions on degree equality, vocational application, and the role of education. Not surprisingly, these are opinions that have bubbled well beyond the vast acreage of Stanford’s palm-fringed quads and golden hillsides, into Silicon Valley. In fact, these questions of degree equality, automation and relevant skill sets in tomorrow’s technologyled economy are ones we face in India and across the world.
This decades-old debate to separate liberal arts majors from the students who write code and develop software has come to represent a modern incarnation of physicist and novelist Charles Perry Snow’s Two Cultures a false dichotomy between those who are versed in the classical liberal arts, and those with the requisite vocational skills to succeed in tomorrow’s technology-led economy. In India, from the earliest entrance exam standards that determine whether or not students move toward or away from engineering, we have created policy and education pathways that separate rather than foster an understanding between these ‘two cultures.’ Whether a student sits for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for admission to an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), for the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT), the VIT Engineering Entrance Exam for a coveted engineering seat at Vellore Institute of Technology or for a regional common entrance exam in Maharashtra, Karnataka, or West Bengal, students are quickly funneled down very specific predetermined paths, and are perhaps less able to explore their own passions or values. And this is not specific or unique to India, but endemic across many cultures and societies.
This book not only seeks to reframe this ongoing debate, by taking into account the very real need for science, technology, engineering and math, so-called ‘STEM’ majors, but also acknowledges their faux opposition to the liberal arts. Indeed, as we evolve our technology to make it ever more accessible and democratic, and as it becomes ever more ubiquitous, the timeless questions of the liberal arts have become essential requirements of our new technological instruments. While those fabled graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology, or of the great engineering academies such as Manipal, develop critical skills and retain steadfast importance in laying the technological infrastructure, most successful start-ups require great industry context, psychology in understanding user needs and wants, intuitive design, and adept communication and collaboration skills. These are the very skill sets our graduates in literature, philosophy, and the social sciences provide. These are not separate or add-on skills, but the imperative components alongside any technological literacy.
As a fuzzy having grown up in a techie world, this false dichotomy has been something I observed in Palo Alto, California, where Steve Jobs donated the Apple computers we used in high school. This was something I observed furthermore as a Stanford student; as an employee of Google, where I spent over a year launching two teams in Hyderabad and Gurugram, India, as an employee of Facebook, and then as a venture capitalist at a $2-billion fund on Sand Hill Road, California. Peering behind the veil of our greatest technology, it is often our greatest humanity that makes it whole. Having met with thousands of companies, the story I want to share with India is that no matter what you’ve studied, there is a very real, and a very relevant, role for you to play in tomorrow’s tech economy. Our technology ought to provide us with great hope rather than fear, and we require policymakers, educators, parents and students to recognize this false divide between becoming technically literate, and building on our most important skills as humans.
Our greatest human problems require that we blend an appreciation for technology with a continued respect for those who study the human conditions, for they are the ones who teach us how to apply our technology, and to what ends it must actually be purposed. We ought to consider the true value of the liberal arts as we continue to embrace and pioneer our new technological tools. As we move forward, we require the timeless and the timely, the great poets and literature of Bengal and the glass-towers of Bengaluru.

Monetize Your Expertise

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. In her book, Entrepreneurial You she shares the stories of entrepreneurs of all kinds—from consultants and coaches to podcasters, bloggers and online marketers—who have generated six- and seven-figure incomes. It shows you how you can liberate yourself financially and shape your own career destiny.
Some professionals may hesitate to monetize because they fear the audience reaction. Indeed, people who are used to getting something for free may well rebel once you ask them to start paying. That’s what happened to Andrew Warner. A successful entrepreneur, Warner and his brother built a multimillion-dollar online greeting card business. “I felt like I was invincible,” he recalls, and assumed his next venture, a foray into online invitations, would be an even bigger hit. But it didn’t work out that way. “I ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this idea that really didn’t turn into gold. It turned into mud,” he says.
Looking for answers, he decided to reach out to other business owners: “I said, ‘I want to learn from as many entrepreneurs as I can how to build a business and never make this mistake again.’” He recorded the interviews on Skype and, in 2008, launched Mixergy, a website and video podcast where he compiled them. For a couple of years, he offered them all for free. But eventually, Warner was devoting so much time to the enterprise—including hiring a staff to help him with editing and doing pre-interviews of his guests—that he decided to start charging $25 per month for access.
As soon as he did, he heard about it. “People were posting publicly that I shouldn’t be charging, and people were emailing me and saying ‘What are you doing?’” he recalls. The feedback stung. “I felt hurt that my audience didn’t like me as much.” But charging an access fee enabled him to keep investing the time in creating the site, which now contains more than twelve hundred interviews. “If you do something that matters, some people are going to dislike you,” he says. “Some people are going to disagree with you. It’s not an indication that you’re on the wrong track.”
Try This:

As you start psyching yourself up to monetize, it’s worth considering the following:

  • Get clear on what it costs you to share your work with others. Are there recording or editing expenses? Website hosting fees? The cost of your time? The first step is to understand what you’re already putting in, so you can determine what break even (and beyond) would look like.
  • Think about various pricing models. Can you continue to offer some material for free, for those who genuinely can’t pay, while offering exclusive paid content to your super-fans?
  • Brace for criticism. You’ll inevitably face some blowback, but don’t take the outliers too seriously. If 90 percent of your audience is upset, you may want to reconsider. But if three people send you churlish emails, try to put it out of your head.
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