Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Fountainhead - by Ayn Rand

Ed: This post was originally made on May 18, 2005 at my blog. This is a reproduction of the same.

Most B-schoolers discover Ayn Rand classic during their MBA preparations. In fact it is probably a matter of prestige for B-schoolers to have 'The Fountainhead' as their favourite book. But I have met quite a few people who call 'The Foutainhead' their favourite just because everyone else does so. By doing so they go against the very philosophy that this book tries to teach. Such people are the living copy of the character - 'Peter Keating'.

Relievingly, I have found many people who have a mind of their own and do not feel ashamed to confess that they either do not understand Rand or the book itself is complete bullshit!

I just completed my 3rd reading of the book. I had failed to complete it 2 times and had to restart every time. After completing the book I felt that the core of the book is the testimony given by Howard Roark (the protagonist of the story) in the court at the end of the story. However, Roark's (or rather Ayn Rand's) ideas are so fundamentally challenging to the dogmas of the society that Ayn Rand had to create a story filled with extremely unnatural characters to explain it.

This is one reason why many people start reading the book but give up in the middle finding the story too absurd or extreme. I myself came very close to being one of such people and know at least two of them.

I feel that such people can read the above mentioned speech and try to understand the concept presented here. I had earlier pasted the text of the speech on my blog but it was too long to be posted here. So I have made good use of my Yahoo! ID which works on all Yahoo! affiliates like geocities by creating a webpage dedicated to Howard Roark's Testimony.

The Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid

Author: C K Prahlad

Publisher: The Wharton Press

A real Paradigm Shift about, what Market Is? Shows you how the Poor People, People at the Bottom Of the Pyramid (BOP), who were earlier neglected by the Big Corporate, are now considering them for future growth. It makes you believe, with practical case studies, how you can generate demand with sustainable profits by tapping into BOP. It’s no Philanthropy serving the BOP, its serious Business now and future growth will come from those sections only.
The BOP market is much more challenging and demanding than the high end markets, since the adversities there are much more. Companies have to clearly understand BOP requirements and bridge all the gaps between them by innovation. This could be by micro financing, improving distribution, cutting overheads, Introduction of low volume packs, generating awareness. Author shows how the solutions to BOP markets can be scaleable across geographies and thus generates sustainable markets.Author backs up his claims with proof of success, through real time case studies, and that’s the book's strongest point. Though the other day I had a talk with one of the ITC guy according to him e-choupal is still not in profits till now and ITC is not bullish on it, but otherwise claimed by the author. But this doesn’t affects, since the logical coherence shown by the author makes anybody believe it is possible.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Future Shock

by Alvin Toffler

When you go from geographical area to far away geographical area, you find difference in conduct of almost everything. You don’t know that how to act. There yes means no and no means yes. This is a shock- The Culture Shock. There is always a possibility of coming back to your original geographical area. But, if you can’t come back and the culture or environment you are habitual of is past or can’t be brought back, then what do you feel? Guess!!! I think you got it. It’s Future Shock.

Alvin Toffler (born October 3, 1928) is an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, corporate revolution and technological singularity. A former associate editor of Fortune magazine, his early work focused on technology and its impact (through effects like information overload). Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism. He is married to Heidi Toffler, also a writer and futurist. They live in Los Angeles. They wrote the books credited to "Alvin Toffler" together.

Accenture, the management consultancy, has dubbed him the third most influential voice among business leaders, after Bill Gates and Peter Drucker. He has also been described in the Financial Times as the "world's most famous futurologist". People's Daily classes him among the 50 foreigners that shaped modern China.

There no. of books written on future but what joins all these—in the book as in life—is the roaring current of change, a current so powerful today that it overturns institutions, shifts our values and shrivels our roots. Change is the process by which the future invades our lives, and it is important to look at it closely, not merely from the grand perspectives of history, but also from the vantage point of the living, breathing individuals who experience it.

The acceleration of change in our time is, itself, an elemental force. This accelerative thrust has personal and psychological, as well as sociological, consequences. In the pages ahead, these effects of acceleration are, for the first time, systematically explored. The book argues forcefully, I hope, that, unless man quickly learns to control the rate of change in his personal affairs as well as in society at large, we are doomed to a massive adaptational breakdown.

First, it became clear that future shock is no longer a distantly potential danger, but a real sickness from which increasingly large numbers already suffer. This psycho-biological condition can be described in medical and psychiatric terms. It is the disease of change.

Second, the author gradually came to be appalled by how little is actually known about adaptivity, either by those who call for and create vast changes in our society, or by those who supposedly prepare us to cope with those changes. Earnest intellectuals talk bravely about "educating for change" or "preparing people for the future." But we know virtually nothing about how to do it. In the most rapidly changing environment to which man has ever been exposed, we remain pitifully ignorant of how the human animal copes.

The purpose of this book, therefore, is to help us come to terms with the future—to help us cope more effectively with both personal and social change by deepening our understanding of how men respond to it. Toward this end, it puts forward a broad new theory of adaptation.

It talks about death of Permanence or in other words strengthening adhocracy day by day. We can feel so in our real life. I very well have seen the lives of generation of our parents. The life was routine-one company, one work, one family, one neighborhood…….. But is it so now. I myself have changed three companies in 3 years. And I know people who have changed 3 in a year. I myself have changed 4 houses in one year but have seen people who change it every fortnight. I have never changed my familyJ. But, have seen increased divorce rate. Few years back I went to the place where I was born. The things were intact, same hospital, same surroundings, same…….. But now, hospital has been turned into Mall, surroundings have been given landscaping required for picnic and parking. And what I can see is that change is changing very fast. Just imagine, the biggest invention in the early ages was fire. Further imagine how many millenniums it took to the second most important invention of mankind wheel. Further imagine, our ancestors were riding horse carts 300 years ago. 30 years ago in India most of the common men were riding bicycles. A decade back most of Indians were riding scooters. 5 years back, most of them started using motorcycles. 2 years back due to economy boom leading to steep rise in disposable income, they started using cars. Now, car is no more a status symbol. It’s a necessity. And now, even the lower middle class people have started using airplanes for short distances. This is the change, which is changing very fast.

Then he talks about standardization. It rose from assembly line concept of Henry Ford. Even today its being interpreted as “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black". And there is clear cut evidence that standardization has increased in last 3 decades and will keep on increasing at a much more rapid speed. The most ardent followers of standardization are Japanese. The critisism against standardisation is that it constraints degree of freedoms of mankind in every aspect- job type, innovation, ………. But let me ask you one think, if this is the case then how come we are seeing ever increasing number of models of vehicles of electronic goods, of computer packages, types of jobs, types of services. So, this criticism stands thwarted.

These are just few of the arguments present in this masterpiece. Owing to the revolutionary ideas written in the firy language, it was banned in more than 70 countries, where underground organisations printed and circulated it. The second half of the book mentions the sort of life, that even I can’t imagine. But I m sure that is future. Only, relief I m having inspite of chill running down my spine, after reading Toffler is that I hope I won’t live that long to see that second part happening.

I recommend this book to anybody and everybody who dare to imagine in future.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Strategy and the Business landscape by Pankaj Ghemawat

Do you really know what the Business is? Do you know SCA? Do you know the “learn to burn ratio”? What is the slack and Hold up for your business? I’m not sure if you have not read the book “Strategy and Business landscape” by Pankaj Ghemawat. Business is all about learning and adapting to the external environment as well as internal environment. This book gives the good understanding on the modern theories used to plan your business. It starts with historical perspective on the field of strategy. This approach offers several advantages. Then it slowly progress to the early work on environmental analysis by giving in-depth analysis on Michael Porter’s influential “five forces” framework. Then finally it progresses to the dynamic issues for sustainability and superior performance model. The some of the tools understanding given in the book is Andrew’s Strategy Framework, Ansoff’s product/mission Matrix, BCG and the experience curve etc.

The book shows you how to look for the proper fit with applying the trade offs between the resources. Whether responsible for developing and implementing competitive strategy at the business, corporate, or global level, senior executives and teams must have an in-depth understanding of not only strategy itself and the strategy development process, but also of what it takes to sustain a unique value proposition over time. This book will help you to achieve the sustainable competitive advantage above your competitors.

The book is very practical and rigorous. There are rich examples to understand all the concepts in detail. The 10 real environment cases will form a good pillar to your knowledge. So read this book strategically.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Search: How Google And Its Rivals Rewrote The Rules Of Business And Transformed Our Culture by John Battelle

In this book the John Battelle recognizes that the real story about the search engines is actually outside the admittedly fascinating geek arms race between the big players: what's important is what the very act of searching for information on the Internet means for business and consumer alike. The simple act of keying in a phrase to a search engine is carried out billions of times a day and in totality provides an unprecedented map of human desires. The commercial ramifications are obvious, but our culture and our access to information are also being transformed by the nature of search. Put it this way - once the Net becomes a daily part of your life, it's hard to imagine doing without it.

The most obvious example of the commercial gold in search queries is contextual advertising, those text ads that turn up next to your search results that are related to your query.

For now, though, search remains a huge success story - Google may well be about to have its own stock bubble popped, but the company is profitable and unlikely to be knocked off its leadership perch by Wall Street alone. Yahoo and MSN are moving into the contextual ad field, each looking to get the competitive edge to make advertisers and publishers alike use their particular system. Most importantly, all three are continually trying to find better ways to slice and dice the Database of Intentions to give you what you want quicker, simpler and faster. Google, to my mind, still remains out in front for innovation, constantly testing business boundaries and received wisdom, putting the user experience first and working backwards. In the last five years, it has continually gone its own way and managed to take the industry with it. But Yahoo and MSN and, indeed, people and companies we've never even heard of yet, are not to be underestimated. John Battelle's The Search provides a brilliant illustration that within five years everything in the search world can change absolutely. It has done so already once - it probably will do again.


This book review from my stable friends a bit from Science. Friends i personaly feel that reading should be diverse so a manager can't narrow his focus to only 1 or a few type of reading. This is an ocean, the ocean of knowledge the more u read the more is the benefit & yes stream doesnt matter in reading! Hey i am trying to review a work from the stable of a genius - so forgive me if its not up to the mark or doesnt give justice to the topic.


This book is a tough one to get through because of the deep subject matter but it tells the fascinating story of important scientific advances during the last century. It chronicles the work of Einstein, Heisenburg, and Hawking. If you are looking for a good explanation why most scientists believe in the Big Bang this is your book. In addition, Hawking describes his no boundary proposal which attempts to do away with an absolute singularity in the beginning of time which reduces the role of God as the immediate cause of the universe. This book is very good and a must read if you are interested in origins

EXPERts / with science Background :

Stephen Hawking is known to the world for both what he can do and what he can't do. What he can't do is most of the things you can. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a nerve disease that has left him with little more motor function than a rag doll. He can move his hands a little and talk only with the aid of a voice synthesizer. His mind is apparently unimpaired--to put it mildly. Despite his handicaps he is considered one of the world's leading theoretical physicists. The man who can't use his body to scratch an itch uses his mind to explore time and space, to explore quantum mechanical particles and the shape of the universe, to see back to the Big Bang and forward to the death of the universe.

Well now coming to the point.

Its a small book.

Its comprehensibility is spotty.

It uses some questionable philosophical points. It seems he is building explanation for why you know universe might not have no boundry in space & time. The anecdotical references he gives complecate the stuff. It may well be that with the mathematics his heuristic arguments would be more convincing, but without it much of his reasoning is most unconvincing.

Seeing his genious & busy life some times i feel he might have delegated the job of bringing these theoritical perspectives to masses to someone like us.

The book has a useful glossary, though incomplete and also some definitions sound confusing.

Though i feel it s a readable book, but fundamentally it seems flawed. But we all know that people can only relate to what they understand & he also points that out in the book so still its a decent book if not great.

Ultimate Conclusion: A read once.



Saturday, June 16, 2007


This is a bohemian book by a bohemian author with disdain for the conventional wisdom. The Author, Steven D.Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago and is rightly connoted as a "Rouge Economist". The book interestingly written by an economist seldom makes much use of hardcore economics but regression analysis.

The Author rightly points out that if Morality represents the ideal world then Economics explores the obscure side of the actual world. This book explores the hidden side of everyday chores and comes out with exciting insights. The Author insists on asking the right type of questions and an ability to sift through a large amount of data.

This read doesn’t contain any unifying theme but runs on a uniform premise of looking, discerning and of measuring the everyday facets of life in a novel way. The author is bemused and excited to entangle the mystery of how does the real world actually works.

He asks a lot of interesting and hilarious qns like:

1) If drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers?

Once you sift through the book you will be able to appreciate that they actually do not make so much money. It is only the higher echelons as in any industry which takes home the major chunk of the windfall.

2) Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?

3) Do real estate agents have their clients’ best interests at heart?

4) Is Sumo wrestling corrupt?

These and many more like these weird qns will force you to think how the real world functions. It will help to establish relationships which were hitherto implausible.

Hence approach this text with an open and unbiased mind and you will experience the "Aha" effect as Levitt takes you through some mind boggling riddles.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Losing My Virginity - Richard Branson

Losing my Virginity,,, Screw it Lets do it! Only one businessman can be that blatant. Yes, its Mr. Richard Branson, the brash, dynamic, flamboyant British Business Tycoon. This book is his Autobiography and guys, its a pleasure to read. Yeah, its fun and infomative.

It starts from the very childhood of Mr.Branson and chalks the path of how he built up his Mega- Virgin empire. You have to admire the guts of this guy. He is extravagant, flippant and a playboy, but he is one hell of an entreprenuer. He is the ideal entreprenuer, risk taking ability being his best quality.

In the book Branson tells us about how he started a new magazine called STUDENT while he was studying. How he used innovative tactics to distribute and market it. Then how he started Virgin Records which was a mail order business first, then he started the first Music experience stores. At that time music stores were dull and boring. Branson created a Music theme store, where you could listen to music, sit for long time and have fun. Then he signed up Mega stars for his Virgin label records. He also diversified into travel, entertainment, retailing, media, financial services, and publishing. He also gives details about his flaboyant, flagrant lifestyle, which is quiet entertaining. Also, details about his amazing Baloon expeditions across Atlantic and Pacific , his near death experiences. His life has been one hell of a ride and he shares it quiet openly. The best part is his detailing about how British Airways tried to crush his airline and how he fought back and survived.

This guy has style and guts. One incident states how he encountered a problem for his idea of Virgin branded railway bogies - how a person had stated that Branson could not start a thing like that untill he was alive. Branson took up the challenge and did it.

Though Branson is not a great writer, but he is a good story teller and hence the book is very interesting. Go for it. It will teach you what a person has to go through to reach those heights, the struggle to be faced and the guts you need to reach there. Its a great read.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IT happened in India - Kishore Biyani with Dipayan Baishya

This book is all about guess whom Kishore Biyani! It explains in detail Mr Biyani's rise from being just another businessman to being a pioneer in his field.

It explains the intrinsic nature of Mr Biyani his business style his sense of judgement. It tracks his life when he had just finished his college & the kind of & conditions in which he tried a variety of businesses.
How each & every decision has shaped him into the businessman he has become today.

The narration style is also extremely refreshing. It has the story of Mr Biyani & in between there are inputs by people who have been associated with him over the years like his bankers,cousin,business partners etc.

Mr Biyani seems to have a tab on the pulse of Indian consumer their likes dislikes their preferences & how he has made a sucessfull busuiness by giving people what they want the way they like it best.
It also has some good insights about retail as a sector & anyone who is interested in making a career in retail should surely read this book.

Black Friday - S Hussain Zaidi

Black may or may not be a beautiful colour but when used to describe a day in the lives of people it will be anything but beautiful.
One day that changed the way not just a city but an entire nation thinks. The catastrophe that struck Mumbai then has not been matched & hopefully will not be matched.
This book describes the events leading upto the day, the things that happened & the consequences of it. The kind of detailing that has gone into it would make any investigating officer worth his/her salt proud.

This book starts with the blasts that happned on that infamous day 12th March 1993 the places that it went off. It then goes back in time & tries to find out the reson why someone would plan something so ghastly for the unsuspecting public. It takes into account the exact reason why Bombay was bombarded! It also very boldy names the people involved in the blasts how they met where they mey & the kind of plans they made .

It also has fascinationg information about Indain terrorist visiting Pakistan for training without appropriate documents. It also details the kind of training they went through.

Where this book scores the most is how after the blast the police put every piece together to find the people responsible for the blasts.
The kind of detailing that has gone into the making of this book is really commendable & the writer has also explained the Sanjay Dutt angle in the book without any bias.

All in all a wonderful read for all those who want to know why their beloved city was attacked.

The Goal - Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox

I read this book when I was neither interested in knowing anything about Management nor had any interest in reading books! I read it because one of my dearest friends told me to go through it. And once I was through the first chapter I was engaged. It never felt like a management book. More like a guy whos in deep trouble at home and in office and how he gets over it both with effective time management and some advice from a person.

Its the story of a guy named ALEX, who is a plant manager. He is continually finding it difficult to meet commitments. His married life is suffering because of work strain, also at the plant he has to contend with infighting between various departments. Its then that he meets his guru Jonah. Jonah gives Alex simple advice on how to identify and manage the operations. What I remember is that he doesnt give it in the usual direct manner. Alex has to figure out the application of the message through introspection. I learned concepts of Bottlenecks from this book. How to overcome the bottlenecks, the place where the Work In Progress start stacking up? Alex finds this out and his Plant starts doing wonders. Through effective time management, his work and life gets more balanced.

I recently came to know that Goldratt has introduced his Theory of Constraints in this book. But the way he has blended it into an engaging Drama is amazing. Even Non-management book lovers will find this book really interesting.

It teaches a manager to do the following:
1) Improve organizational effectiveness and productivity,
2) Free up capital tied up in excess inventory,
3) Reduce customer frustration and
4) Reduce organizational anxiety.

In all a very good read and highly recommended for all wud-be managers.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Mckinsey Mind

by Ethan M Rasiel
Had to read this book as it was suggested by my guide for my summers , but it turned out to be nice experience. While the previous book was from firms view this book gives you handy advice about how to use Mckinsey techniques in daily work life for problem solving. It maintains the style and format of the previous book. Taking a step by step approach the book says about the way to manage, analyze and presenting a problem to a client involving multiple stakeholders like client, you and peers. So how to manage each step is what they are explaining through the book.

Framing the problem- The first step starts from framing the problem. MECE ( Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) is the way we should look at problems. The problem is not always out of blue. Some times similar problems have occurred and provide a good guideline for problem solving. We should be able to form an initial hypothesis in first sight. This will help us to focus , but also to save the time spent on the just forming a conception of the problem. This is based on intuition and works successfully. The last is that a problem is not always a problem, so decide what exactly is a problem.

Design the Analysis- Just focus on the key drivers responsible or the problem. Then look at the larger picture from different viewpoints. Don't strive hard to find that the stage you will find the solution. Sometime the solution just flow to you during the process.

Gathering the Data - Write a interview guide, find out the specific persons, decide on methods like interview, feedback from interviewer, thank you notes, careful planning of the interview process are important for data gathering. Just don't make your interviewee uncomfortable.

Interpreting your results- Find out the useful data. Usually 20 % of data will fulfill your 80% needs. Make charts for everyday progress, work according to your facts and be prepared to leave your solutions. Don't provide facts fitting the solutions. Just do the opposite.

Presenting the Data - Be structured, know your audience and act accordingly. Pre wire everything and just provide one message per chart. Avoid overloading the information.

Managing your Team - Get the right kind of people. Look for diversity, not in academic terms but also in terms of behaviour. Just keep everyone in the information loop, and always promote the team bonding. It helps in long run.

Managing your Client- Sell your solutions to clients without letting them know. Just be careful about structuring your promises and engagements. The client should be encouraged for participatory role than a listener.

Managing yourself - Most important part of is you , so just give ample attention to yourself. Find out your own mentor in the organization, make your boss look great, encourage your subordinates, lay down your rules for family and yourself and stick to them. Manage your work life and family life balance.

Thus all in all a guide for how to approach a problem. So follow these steps, try to think differently and let the success welcome you. I strongly recommend this for students and professionals. Happy reading........ :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007


by Taslima Nasreen

Taslima Nasreen was born in August 1962 in a Muslim family in Mymensingh, East Pakistan. Because the area became independent in 1971, her city of birth is now in the country called Bangladesh.

Islamic fundamentalists launched a campaign against her in 1990, staging street demonstrations and processions. They broke into newspaper offices that she used to regularly write from, sued her editors and publishers, and put her life in danger, a danger that only increased over time. She was publicly assaulted several times by fundamentalist mobs. No longer was she welcomed to any public places, not even to book fairs that she loved to visit. In 1993, a fundamentalist organization called Soldiers of Islam issued a fatwa against her, a price was set on her head because of her criticism of Islam due to release of LAJJA, and she was confined to her house.

The government, instead of taking action against the fundamentalists, turned against her. A case was filed charging that she hurt people's religious feelings, and a non-bail-able arrest warrant was issued. Deeming prison to be an extremely unsafe place, Taslima went into hiding. In the meantime two more fatwas were issued by Islamic extremists, two more prices were set on her head, and hundreds of thousands of fundamentalists took to the streets, demanding her death.After long miserable days in hiding, she was finally granted bail but was also forced to leave her country.

Taslima now lives in Kolkata.

Lajja (Bengali: লজ্জা Lôjja) is a novel in Bengali by Taslima Nasrin, a writer of Bangladesh. The word lajja/lôjja means "shame" in Bengali and many other Indic languages. The book was first published in 1993 in the Bengali language, and was subsequently banned in Bangladesh, and a few states of India. Taslima Nasrin, the writer of the book, has dedicated the book "to the people of the Indian subcontinent", and has announced the beginning of the book with these words: "let another name for religion be humanism." The novel is preceded by a preface and a chronology of events.

Lajja is a response of Taslima Nasrin to anti-Hindu riots which erupted in parts of Bangladesh, soon after the demolition of Babri Masjid in India on 6th December 1992. The book subtly indicates that communal feelings were on the rise, the Hindu minority of Bangladesh was not fairly treated, and secularism was under shadow.

The story revolves gives us insights about the culture, racism and politics of Bangladesh. It is narrated by means of one Hindu family living in post independent Bangladesh. Once prosperous and rich in culture nation, had majority of Hindus and Muslims. They together shared sorrows and happiness. Together, they fought the war of Independence, with the slogan “Joi Bangla!!”. But soon after independence the attitude of Muslims become different towards Hindus. Discrimination against them starts and reaches the peak. They are denied government jobs, right to practice the profession like doctor, right to property in certain places. Following this, there is exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh to India, mostly by illegal means. But the left out Hindus now become pure minority. And the story is about them.

In the plot, it has been described that how the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India further worsens the condition of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh. It vividly depicts the scenes of plundering of temples, burning of Hindu houses, raping of Hindu women. At this point of time, most of the Hindus left in Bangladesh are in dilemma whether to leave the country and move to Bangladesh or should die on their motherland.

It is one of the only three novels, after reading which I cried like a baby. While reading, I felt as if somebody is pushing dagger down my throat. What can be worst thing possible for any human being? I think being looted, raped, murdered…… in his own house.

So, I recommend this book to everybody who wants to understand the brutalities of Islamic Fundamentalists, the history of Bangladesh, the effect of riots on any human being. But, I will warn that the people with the weak heart should not read this.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

One Night@Call Center

By Chetan Bhagat

The latest book I read was ‘‘One Night at the Call Center’’ by Chetan Bhagat. The book is not recent, but I had the pleasure of reading it only a few days back. The book is set in one night. The story is about Shyam, Vroom, Priyanka, Radhika, Esha and Military Uncle, working in a Call Center in Gurgaon, who get a call from God one night, which changes their lives.

This book is quite different from Bhagat’s first book Five Point Someone that was about three IIT students. One Night at the Call Center really shows the way Bhagat has grown as a writer, his writing has better flow, and the novel moves at a good pace. It is a real page-turner and once you pick it up you cant put it down till you finish it.

The topic chosen also has a much wider scope than IIT, I mean who goes to IITs now a days, few geeks who have nothing better to do but cram all day for two or more years. But call center is something everybody can easily relate to. Our cousins, friends, and neighbours all work there, and the industry is catering to the job needs of most of our younger generation who have nowhere else to go.

This book presents a morbid picture of the life of call center employs. It tells of the hardships a call center employ has to face in his job, which might be just as cumbersome, or even more, than any other job. The book is real depressing at times but touches your heart with the emotions and the complex network of relationships of the characters. The love story of Priyanka and Shyam is portrayed in quite a realistic and enticing manner.

Although the guys actually working in call centers might not exactly agree with the book, but who cares, the book is great. I finished it in one sitting and that’s something considering I don’t usually sit idle even for ten minutes. The book is an eye opener. The story is so touching that it makes one think and reflect of the hidden truths in life. Things you know but you just don’t have the courage to face. It made me think of the aims I had in my life and whether they were actually what I wanted to get. It made me focus even more strongly on my goals. The experience was enlightening for me and it is a book I’ll always cherish reading.

In short Chetan Bhagat has done a fantastic job with the book and he is one of very few Indian authors who have made a name for themselves in a world dominated by the Haileys and the Archers. Three cheers for you. Keep it up dude, you are doing an excellent job!!!!

The Great Indian Novel - Shashi Tharoor

It’s not often that I would label a review as a eulogy. Bear with me because this is going to be one.

Some books you read and forget,
Some books you read and regret,
Some books, you wish you had read earlier,
Some books, you wish were more clear,
Some books you love at that instant,
Some books you remember from back to front!!
But there is one category of books which you would perpetually cherish,
Which, with time and age, would never perish.
Those are the epics, eternal like gravel,
One of which is “The Great Indian Novel”.

Yes, this is an epic – much like its NAME seems to depict. Novelists create magic by showing the brutal truth or by illustrating in words the most beautiful fantasies; but when the two are mixed together, you get something beyond magic, a piece of work which will go down in the annals of history as a piece of sheer brilliance. The Great Indian Novel is that piece of brilliance. Shashi Tharoor has probably written one of the most interesting Indian fiction novel, which is as much a satire as a reflection on our History of politics.

The book has an amazing mix of two of the most important topics in Indian History and Mythology – The Indian Freedom Struggle and Mahabharata. Yes, and you wont for one sentence feel that they are two disparate works, the blend is so complete. The amount of work that must have been put in actually going through various versions and interpretations of Mahabharata and our Freedom Struggle, must be tremendous. So, here Mr. VV or Ved Vyas starts dictating Indian History to Mr.Ganapathi! Gangaji – father of Pandu and Dhritrashtra - becomes Gandhiji, Dhritrashtra becomes Nehru, Pandu – Subhash Chandra, Duryodhini ( that’s the creative divert!) becomes Indira Gandhi and so on and so forth. Its not that each character has a freedom fighter or politician associated with him or her, but to each there is a purpose. The story starts from the birth of Ved Vyas, the rise of Ganga Datta or Gandhiji , to the great war between Duryodhini and the Pandavas, to the eventual fall of the Great Pandavas. If History was taught this imaginatively, I would have been a Historian!

Kudos to Shashi Tharoor, I bow to his divine skills. He effortlessly moves from subtle humour, to profound wisdom. He is as adept in writing a 100 line poem as in trivial banter. Some times you would really feel like giving the writer an applause for the sheer wit employed. This truly is a GREAT INDIAN NOVEL, figuratively and literally. I sincerely hope you pick it up and read as soon as possible. I think you would believe you have reached a completely different level of Reading when you start this one and then mediocrity will be easy to distinguish. Read 2 pages and you are transfixed.

Finally I quote the Indian Express – “Every sane Indian should buy a copy of this book” – I would like to tinker with it a bit – “Every Indian, sane or insane or otherwise, should not only buy this book, but read it!!!” Salaam, Shashi.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Breaking the Mould

Breaking the Mould is both innovative and quite unique - and is the story of Peter Hunter, a Managment Consultant, and the remarkable changes he has managed to bring about within different operations as diverse as dog -sled teams in Canada, to the jungles of Venezuela, to oil rigs in the North Sea. Quite simply, it is the understanding of when individuals are allowed to take ownership in the workplace, and the achievement, when doing so of a significant performance improvement, which is then sustained through the workforce themselves having made changes to the way they operate, resulting in working conditions that allow individuals to spark themselves, and in doing so, also spark their colleagues. (Peter has a Masters from Cranfield and works with organisations such as Shell, BP, and Deutag, and is an ex Royal naval Officer).
I am attaching herewith Comments on Breaking the Mould from Various Thought Leaders:

"Breaking the Mould is a personal and moving account of a management consultant on his experiences of empowerment, from the oil fields of Venezuela to Scotland. His anecdotal style is outstanding, and will help many of us enduring the problems of organizational life.....great read!"
Professor Cary L. Cooper, CBE, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School.

Peter Hunter has a relentless ability to move people towards improvement. This is no easy task on a site where there are language and cultural barriers as large as the ocean.
Peter got the groups he worked with to engage in the process and they found true value in what Peter was coaching them to do. He intrigued and he pushed them towards improvement. I saw them engage in the process once Peter showed them someone was listening. In addition, they went from being an intimidated silent front line work force to being one that was knowledgeable and proud of what they were doing.
Ana Ximenes CEO
RLG International, South America.
Peter's thinking and his book are excellent. It should be a bible for all those aspiring to be 'good' managers. Clear message, don’t' micro manage the people and personalities, manage the overall and the business will make progress.
If you get the chance read it, then print out sections on A0 and hang it round the office!!!
It can be done.
Dave HullFord, Essex
Fantastic read . Having worked in automotive manufacturing here for a number of years, I suffered through many different schemes, projects etc. The only time any real, sustained success was achieved was when the focus and empowerment was on the people themselves. I have always believed that no matter what business, organization you're in - - it's always about the people.
Paul SynnotCruise Control
Peter Hunter leant something years ago which, regrettably, most of us have still yet to learn. But, when we do - once we have understood the simplicity of 'Breaking the Mould' - it will transform our lives forever!
Vic Baxter
Director Business Workout.
Thanks for yet another jewel on performance management, Peter!
Your book 'Breaking the Mould' reaches me so deeply that I have stopped halfway to be able to reflect on its rich messages thus far. I will continue with it soon.
The challenge for me is how to be as patient as is obviously required in nurturing the changes to get the outcomes desired.
Evelyn Samuels
Director of Strategy Consultancy
You can buy this book Online at :

Doctor Series

By Richard Gordon

It is a series of comical novels involving a rouge doctor Grimsdyke who’ll do anything but practice regular medicine, surrounding him are a few central characters, of an old London medical College. A surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt, the dean SirLionel Lynchfield, and our very own Richard Gordon
The novels, about 20 odd of them, revolve around the life in the hospital in general add to it the rivalry of the two senior doctors and the various adventures of Grimsdyke.

The antics of the characters and the behaviour of doctors are presented in highly humourous tones and are made interesting further by the desire of Grimsdyke to go to any lengths and take up all sorts of odd jobs to avoid regular practice of medicine. Offcourse there are the odd girls and affairs etc. All in all it can be summed up the f`or anyone who likes Wodehouse, these would be a sure unputdownables.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Namesake

A lot of time to kill may prove a blessing in disguise as it sometime may take you beyond the realms of the obvious …as it may take a management student beyond finance ,marketing and operations…..and into uncharted territories of human emotions and sensibilities …
And I could not resist such temptations ..while casually taking a stroll in ..a book shop like a bull in a chinashop(the analogy bears no relation with my physical appearance ofcourse)…. and that’s how I fumbled over …’The Namesake’
The namesake is an exhilarating first novel by Jhampa lahiri whose Indian roots and western upbringing blend seamlessly into a prose that is beautiful and readable and much more commendable is the fact that how she guards against ostentation and how she beautifully depicts the otherwise ordinary moments in the lives of characters that are almost bought alive by her incredible work.
This is a story of a Bengali couple who leave Calcutta for academic pursuits ..Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli..Ashima is emotionally inseparable from her Indian roots and her early days in america are almost tormenting.
Ashoke actually is an avid reader and is a fan of ‘GOGOL’ a Russian writer and is even miraculously saved in a Railway mishap by a book of this writer he was carrying with him and decides to come to America to start his second life..
The couple Christian there first born son after the writer (accidently)but as he grows ‘Gogol Ganguly’ absolutely detests his name as it means nothing either in hindi or Bengali and he is tired of explaining this to his mates And more so when he comes to know that how ill-fated and short lived the writers life originally was and so he decides to rechristen himself …But he later regrets the decision when he comes to know ..what great significance the name has in the life of his father .
And as he ventures out to seek a career for himself with his new name as an architect and has a sibling in due course of time….he struggles to synergize the indian roots with western atmosphere and education…..and ends up being ABCD(American born confused Desi). All the more confusing are the trips to Calcutta(for which they have to get properly vaccinated) as they find themselves ad mist a truck loads of uncles, aunts and cousins who see them amusingly because of their strange American accent.
So the novel revolves around the fact that how his identity continues to pursue him wherever he goes and though he has castoff his name and chosen a new one ..he can’t really do away with who he really is…
His love life is about what major portion of the novel revolves …he has a couple of relationships..that are shortlived and has to end up with the daughter of a fellow expatriate….though she herself had her share of ..wild exploits before settling down with him and….an Indian spouse was last thing on her mind but they decide to please their parents and give in to their wishes….

And just when everything seemed perfect…..Moushmi’s (gogol’s bride’s) past catches up to her as she gives into the temptation of being with her college crush…
And as the inevitable always happens ..gogol find out about her affair and is left with no one but himself ….as he turns the pages of the book (by nikolai gogol)….a gift from his father that he ones received as a kid but never cared to open in his life time.
So ultimately he seeks solace in something that he had originally abhorred.
The book basically brings home the point that as we are running away from the values that are truly our own and trying to put on and ape the glittering and glamorous superficialities …we’ll one day have no choice but to admire and appreciate the legacy that we fail to value…
And before I forget ..the book is a prize winner…pulitzer prize in 2000 and has already been turned into a major motion picture…as some of you might have seen ……
I prefer the book….

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


This is an enthralling book which gives u a peek into the hallowed corridors of Investment banking and trading. The author has given a humorous tinge to this book to make it readable to ordinary mortals. It is a must read for anyone having a propensity in becoming a trader and make quick bucks. It describes the transformation of a trainee to a geek and finally to a well established trader or a salesman at an investment bank.

Michael Lewis (Author) succinctly narrates how he landed up a job at Salomon Brothers, the most profitable investment bank of the 1980's. He joins Salomon Brothers at a time when Investment banking is in vogue and is considered to be the only worthwhile occupation.

The author gives vivid pictures of the trading floor at an Investment bank with all the associated pandemonium. Salomon Brothers was a pioneer in bond trading and had a near monopoly in the bond market (except Junk Bonds).

Lewis is flabbergasted by the fact that the customers were treated such short handedly by the traders. The traders didn’t loose a single opportunity to seal a bad deal with the consumer. It is no surprise that this industry rests on the premise that "Buyer's Beware". Nonetheless he himself seals a one or two raw deals with the investors, which continues to haunt him during his tenure at Salomon Brothers.

Lewis is appalled to notice that there is no lucid management direction at Salomon Brothers which ultimately leads to its demise. The bonuses dispersed to traders at the year end are disproportionate to the amount of business he gets for the firm. This leads to a widespread discontent and unsurprisingly attrition of premier traders from Salomon. This not only leads to a loss of a prized asset but also to the loss of accounts associated with the concerned employee.

There are a lot of important concepts in this book like Junk and Mortgage bonds. Lewis gives a detailed description that how star traders smell an opportunity and develops a whole new business around it. The case in point is the mortgage trading which was invented by a Salomon Trader. Mortgage trading rose from nowhere to become a multi million dollar business. Of course there is no dearth of imitation at Wall Street. Salomon's success in Mortgage Trading was quickly replicated by other banks like Goldman Sachs.

Lewis also reflects on Milken, the guru of Junk Bonds. Milken revolutionsed the whole debt market and made it available even to the sub par investment grade firms. He was the pioneer in junk bonds and targeted new startups or older firms on brink of bankruptcy. Cheap and easy availability of credit lead to a wave of mergers and acquisitions which is the most profitable business these days.

Finally I would like to say that this book is indispensable for anyone who has dreams of making it big at Wall Street. This will give us a macroscopic view of the life at an investment bank and various positions available apart from being a trader. It takes you through the strenuous ordeal a trainee faces on his path to a star trader or salesman and raking in millions for firm as well as himselfJ.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Diary Of Young Girl

By Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank published in Dutch in 1947 (and in English in 1952), was composed of extracts from the diary she kept while in hiding during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands.
This is actually a diary written by a Dutch girl named Anne Frank since her thirteenth birthday on 12 June, 1942. She never knew that someday her diary will be read by the whole world with queer interest. It describes the girl as an introvert, who finds none so trustworthy to share her secrets with. She is a lonely girl, who feels that she is not able to convey her real emotions to the people she likes and is highly misunderstood.

She spends two years and a month along with her family and four more people from other family in a hidden compartment to protect themselves from being caught by Nazis and being sent to the concentration camps. The book depicts the terror and miseries in the lives of Dutch families.
She has a sister Margery older than her, who is not much compatible with her. Anne is also not at good terms with her mother. At some points of times she started hating her too much as she thinks she is too superficial and does not care for her. The only person she loves is her father. She has a strong bonding with him and feels heart broken if her father scolds her. But she conveys all these things only to Kitty, the name she has given to her diary, her best friend. She discusses with her all the incidents and events, her crushes, good female friends, and her thoughts including that of love, frustration, admiration, and those of inferiority complexes when her family members made her feel she is no good and used to blame her very often. The whole diary narration makes us understand the convolutions in her mind due to each and every happening around her.

One thing was quite obvious. She was a philanthropist, a person who wanted to see everyone happy and delivered humane touch to every incident however bitter and had a very optimistic view of the whole scenario amidst all the miseries and vagaries of life. They lived a prisoner’s life where they could not move out of the closed apartment for a year and a month. She was sad to hear that people were suffering so badly and felt miserable on the thought that they are saved from all this when their known ones are living a pathetic life and she is unable to do anything for them. She tried to make Peter, the boy from another family staying with them, happy by loving him in a way he was deprived of since then, as his mother was too showy and self centered. He was also lonely like Anne and quite melancholy and both of them used to find solace in each other’s love. She loved the gifts of nature and was missing them all this time. In spite of her human feelings, she was unable to convince anybody of her noble intentions. None of the people around her, including her father were ever able to understand what she wanted from them and her life. She was a actually alone.

In August, 1944, the betrayal of their known ones led to the discovery of their hidden place. They were sent to the concentration camps where they were tortured and all but Mr. Otto Frank died. Anne Frank died in 1945, very close to the release of Netherlands’s occupation. Later on, her diary was published and people came to learn the lessons of humanity and peace by a young girl who died so early but had tears in her eyes for the people she saw suffering in the concentration camps.The book is a must read for all those who are unable to share their feelings with people around them or their closed ones. It is the story of an introvert most of us can relate to sometimes. The book can also be read for the rich content of ideas and a sound, stirring thought process in favor of humanity and peace.

The McKinsey Mind by Ethan M Rasiel

Everyone needs a systematic sketch out for solving problems, then delivering and executing solutions.

If you read this book you will come to know the following broader strategy:

  • The problem-solving and management techniques employed by the consultants at McKinsey & Co.
  • Tips for improving communications and presentation skills.
  • How to adopt these methods to improve performance within your own organization.

The authors segue nicely from their former book, The McKinsey Way. The McKinsey Mind has the same chapters as the former, and with those chapters delves deeper in how employees of "the firm" actually go about getting the job of consulting done, at one of the most highly respected firms in the world.

The McKinsey Mind provided a wealth of resources which can be applied apply immediately after skimming through the book. Here are a few things what you can learn from this book:

The hypothesis is the base of all findings hence let your hypothesis determine your analysis - for every problem, you need an angle to approach from. This can be considered your hypothesis, which also goes to defining scope. Once you have this, you can decide what work needs to be done to reach resolution

Gathering the data - This wasn't so much a new discipline, especially for those of you that do a lot of research already, but I mention it because they have an impressive appendix called "Data-Gathering Resources" which lists nearly every business-related database and website that you could possibly need to do the due diligence on whatever problem you're working on.

Interviewing - To me, this was the most important, especially because I'm now in a company where there are a lot of veterans that know more than I, and I need to know as much from them about the business as possible. I've never had more productive meet & greets with leadership as I have since I started applying some of the McKinsey interview techniques.

"What's the So What?" - Ask yourself, in every analysis, "What's the So What?" This essentially means asking yourself what value have you generated for your client/stakeholders through your findings. Is there a nugget there that's worth your time? Do you need to adjust your hypothesis because the facts tell otherwise?

Managing Your Team, Client, and Self - Great advice, but nothing you haven't read before. It's interesting to see though how consultants that routinely work 80 hour weeks recommend your reclaiming some of your personal time. I found one quote "If the place isn't falling apart, go home at 5, enjoy the time and reenergize." I find myself using that every day. We could all stay well into the evening, but then what would we be?

The book adds additional value in that it summarizes the 'lessons' in appendices at the end, along with the data-gathering appendix I already mentioned. This alone was worth the price of the book because it gives me a reference that I can turn to until I get some of the better ideas committed to memory.

Monday, June 4, 2007

One Night at Call Center

by Chetan Bhagat

One Night @ Call Center, another delicious story by Chetan Bhagat who is the writer of a famous story called “Five Point Someone”. The story starts in a railway compartment, where in the writer meets a sexy blonde all alone in complete compartment on a very short journey of only one night.

The lady keeps the night alive by telling him a story about 6 people working in a call center. This story spans over a period of only one night on which they receive a phone call from god. The calls results in a big transformation, changing the life of all 6 and an interesting scene of slaps on a buggy boss’ face, who tried to use his team as a stepping stone to move to Boston, head office of call center company.

The writer uses one of those 6 people, Shyam as the narrator of the story, who fell in love with a charming girl, Priyanka, another member of call center team. How they fell in love with each other, how they perform a dexterous task in the back seat of cab on a cool night, how they broke off and then re-bond keeps a person abducted throughout the story. If someone is unable to complete the story in one go, its hard for him to stop thinking about it all the time.

Other 4 characters include Esha, Radhika, Vroom and Military Uncle. Esha, a beautiful babe who wants enter into modeling; Vroom, who wants to be the best rider has a strong love for bikes and feelings for Esha; Radhika, a married young girl and her married life; Military Uncle, who wants to be with his grandson.

Each and every single member of the story has his own key role without which the story would not have been complete. The story moves around falling call rates (Number of calls per shift) at the call center. How the characters realize the people’s behavior and then turn the situation reverse, making the call rates rise high within just one night. How they recognize their Boss’ plot of using his team as a stepping stone to move to Boston and then hit hard in his face.

Though the author is not so strong at English, but his story telling style is such that one feels as if a friend is telling his own story in a free style talk. A delighting story for those, who are frustrated because of their boss’ style of working.

Vivek Nagpal

Saturday, June 2, 2007

"Dante Valentine" series

By Lilith Saintcrow

For years I’ve heard complaints about a lack of Occult fiction portraying Witches realistically in a contemporary setting. And it’s true. As a Wiccan and novelist writing Occult fiction, I’m just as much a fan of the genre as any reader. However, I have found if you search carefully, there are dazzling gems awaiting discovery, novels that should be a part of your contemporary Occult fiction collection.

To find these novels I have narrowed my search criteria to dark urban fantasy novels set in contemporary times or in the near future. At least half the rituals, magick, or sorcery used by the main character must be based on real magickal principles. The main character must be human, and the plot not overshadowed by trendy leagues of vampires.

Having set those guidelines, I want to present my first recommendation for must-read Occult fiction. All I can say is if you’ve never read Lilith Saintcrow’s “Dante Valentine” series you are in for a treat!

Saintcrow is best known for her paranormal romance novels, the “Watcher” series, featuring elemental Witches and their handsome guardians. However, Dante Valentine was created from an entirely different cut of cloth!

There are five novels in the series. The first two, “Working for the Devil” and “Dead Man Rising” have already been published. The last three novels are scheduled for publication in 2007 and 2008.

Dante Valentine is a Necromance, who works for lawyers, raising the spirits of the dead when wills come into question. She also takes a few bounty hunting jobs on the side to help pay her mortgage. “Danny” is a wise-cracking whirlwind of energy with a haunting past that won’t quit.

Devoted to the Egyptian god Anubis, she entertains Pagan readers with plenty of rituals, spells, and magick. The series takes place in the near future, as the plot races from one high to the next at lightning speed. This is contemporary Occult fiction at its finest, the kind of book you can’t put down until you finish it. And one you’ll still be thinking about months later.

Saintcrow is a master at creating memorable characters and deftly plotted novels. If you’ve been searching for awesome Occult fiction to add to your personal collection, this should be the first series on your list. You won’t be disappointed!


Laura Stamps is an award-winning novelist and poet, as well as a Wiccan and a feral cat rescuer. The recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and seven Pushcart Award nominations, she is the author more than thirty-five books, including a popular series of magickal urban fantasy novels published by Kittyfeather Press (

McDonald's: Behind the Arches

by : John F. Love

If you have ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at every Mc Donald's restaurant this is the book for you. How does Mc Donalds have your order ready by the time you drive through from the order mike to the pick up window? What is the story behind the Clown Ronald Mc Donald and why is he so popular today (by some records he is second in popularity in the US only to Santaclaus) as the Mascot of Mc Donalds? This is the book to read.

The books starts when Mc Donalds was just a fledgling operation , a single store sun by the Mc Donald brothers who have discovered a better, faster and a more efficient way of running a Fast food Joint and then takes you on a Roller coaster ride of the history of Mc Donalds from day one till about 1986 when the books was originally published and Mc Donalds became the huge monolith that it is today. The evolution part is really interesting, for example why and how do Mc Donalds French fries taste the same all around the world, and what is the secret behind those french fries, with just the right amount of crispiness, the soft insides and the tasty golden crust. did you know the Mc Donalds fries are dipped in a light sugar solution just before frying to give that golden brown color.

The book gives you a good insight into the mind and thinking of founder of modern day Mac Donald's - the indomitable Ray Kroc and the hundreds of suppliers and franchisees who made Mc Donalds the success that it is today. The author is of course unabashedly positive about the company and the people behind the scenes but I guess that is the compromise you have to make if you want the inside view of such a business. After all why should people speak to you if you are going to write a critical commentary of their business.
But critical or not, the book is an immensely good read and with 450 + pages in pretty much detail. Should be a must read for anyone entering into a franchising / food business.

For Marketing fanatics the pages present very good lessons in how Mc Donalds initially stumbled and how it got back on track when the chain expanded internationally customizing to just the right amount to local tastes.

PS: This is not from the Book , Also have a look at the regional Mc Donalds dishes and the amount of customization they have done here. Copy of the original post here.

Retire Young, Retire Rich

Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter

I have been a fan of Robert Kiyosaki for a while now and so even before writing this review, I know in which direction this is headed.

Firstly I took a long time to read this book , this is not a book which you can just speed read and leave it at that, the main purpose in reading this is to get something of value. Something that you can take home and apply to your life.

Even if I don't get rich or retire young :-) reading this book did give me a different perspective to things. Time and again he speaks about leverage. in fact if you see the Table of contents HERE. You can see that 11 of the 21 chapters have titles beginning with "LEVERAGE" .

This book basically shuttles between his varied experiences over the past 20 years investing in real estate and changes that he had to do in himself and his thinking (or as per the book "Context") to get ahead in life.

I found the first half of the book very interesting, where he exhorts a possibility thinking, so that we do not limit ourselves by our context. I particularly like his way of putting things and dividing people into 4 classes depending on the stream of their income or cashflow> i.e the Cashflow quadrant > which defines whether you are an

1) Salaried employee 2) Self employed

3) Investor 4) Business man

Robert goes on explaining on why it is better to earn income from the latter 2 classes than the former, and why we must try to move to the latter two. Logically speaking he is not too off the mark but only if we had the GUTS.

In general I found this book pretty useful, and infact very motivating, especially some of the examples of real estate investing are really interesting. The latter part of the book was pretty DRAB, where he goes on to explain about the futures and options industry. Also he blatantly advertises his other books time and again in his writings.

If you want to read a scathing review of Robert Kiyosaki and his books have a look here. I do not agree with whatever he has written but it just gives you a counterview. Copy of the original post here.

Blink By Malcolm Gladwell

By Malcolm Gladwell

"Blink" as per the Webster's dictionary means ": A reflex that closes and opens the eyes rapidly" It is in what happens in this fleeting glance and a fraction of a second is what this book is all about.

For a moment close your eyes and imagine if you are in an interview, you go in and shake the hands of the interviewers and take your seat with the panel introducing themselves. Have you ever felt the vibe of a positive feeling that this meeting is really going to go well. Or conversely you might have felt Oooopps something is wrong. I have had this happen to me time and again, when I give an interview I am pretty sure in the first few seconds / minutes if I will be called for the next round / further discussions or when I have screwed up I know there is no point following up for feedback. Maybe its some little nuances of their facial expressions / the general tone of questions or something in the general pulse of the conversation.

This book is about all those times when you sub consciously assessed the situation in a very short time , call it gut feel, intuition, thin slicing, or any other fancy names. Blink is filled with anecdotes which are sometimes contradictory but nevertheless making a very good read about the varied applications of the subconscious process that goes on in the back of your mind.

Malcolm Gladwell the author has a really active and an informative website, he is a writer for the Newyorker and his website features all his old articles which has a fair bit of overlap with blink. To get an idea of what to expect in blink read this. Its an experiment conducted on the interview example that I explained earlier. The conclusion being that, the interviewers judge whether to accept or reject the applicant in the first 5 seconds and the rest of the half an hour is just a facade to justify the decision made in their subconscious mind.

Firstly I really appreciate the author for having opened up his blog for discussion on his various writings. He goes to great length to discuss his ideas and counter other opinions on his blog, in fact the comments section of his blog is perhaps one of the most intellectually stimulating conversations I have come across in a long time. Here is a very interesting debate about racism and an example used by Gladwell in his book. Please note that here is an author who takes time out to respond to the comments and discuss an issue till its end. and for me personally, he has taken the time out to respond to my mail as well so again he is as good and responsive as an author can get.

He has received fair bit of criticism and this is one of the most critical reviews Blink has received, though having read the book I don't quite agree with what Judge Posner (the reviewer) has to say, but this review might give you a different perspective of the book. Overall this is a very good read , and I have bought a copy of my own. Copy of the original post here.