The books section is a small attempt to help you find some great ideas from the books that I have read. The section will be updated regularly with short summaries from books as long as I believe it can help you have a positive impact on the planet.
“All it takes is one small idea”
Making atomic habits stick for professionals
Atomic Habits by James Clear is a best seller and as the name suggests there are multiple micro-steps that can turn into habits if we act on it daily. The book builds on previous research around habits and draws particularly from Charles Duhigg‘s work in the book, ‘The Power of Habit’. The basic system of habit from the previous work was the process around Cue, Routine and Reward. In the new one from James Clear it is around Cue, Craving, Response and Reward. The four laws to form and make a good habit stick are to make it obvious (Cue), Make it attractive (Craving), Make it easy (response) and finally make it satisfying (reward). Likewise practicing the opposite will help break the bad habits.
Screw It, Let’s Do It
The autobiography of Sir Richard Branson is an inspiring story and recently after listening to his interview with Reid Hoffman on the ‘Masters of Scale’ podcast around his motto of “Screw it, lets do it” I went back to my top 3 takeaways from his books, the autobiography, ‘Losing my Virginity’ and ‘Screw it, lets do it’ .
Simon Sinek’s book and work around ‘Start with Why’ is quite popular.
Why is our inherent belief in the work we do
How are the actions we take to realise that belief and
What are the results of those actions
But, there is a good take on the Law of Diffusion of Innovation in his book which should be considered for mass market success.
“Focus on winning the business of the early adopters. It is the percentage of people who share your beliefs and want to incorporate your ideas, your products and services into their own lives. They believe in what you believe. The early 15% is not an ordinary set of customers, once you get the left most section, the rest will follow. Don’t market your products directly to the middle of the curve”.
Couldn’t agree more, but Geoffrey Moore had a little different take in his book ‘Crossing the Chasm’.
It would call for a separate post altogether, maybe for some time in the future.
Lessons in Project Management
The justification of the title ‘Karma Yogi’ for the biography of E. Sreedharan is very straightforward. He accepted the most challenging projects in his life, the Konkan railway line and the Delhi Metro after officially retiring from Indian railways just because he believed that it was his ‘Dharma (duty)’ to contribute to these projects.
The 3Ds of his working style
Deadlines – He installed reverse clocks at project offices at Konkan railways and then at DMRC to remind colleagues of the project schedules. He is known to remind them of the economic impact of project delay, (1 day of delay in DMRC phase 1 would have resulted in a loss of INR 1.5 Cr).
Decisions – Take a decision and move forward. He in fact accepted and overturned an earlier decision of recommending broad gauge over standard gauge for metros. This principle is in sync with today’s entrepreneurial mantra of ‘A bad decision is better than no decision’.
Delegation– Empowered people working in the organisation to take initiatives. He believed that the leader is only needed to help the team overcome setbacks.
Highly recommend picking up this book which is also a good documentary of India’s big rail infrastructure projects over the years.
To pick a book 15 years after its release and still finding it relevant to today’s times, tells a lot about ‘never eat alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi. The fundamentals of relationship building remains the same, “ Always look to what you can offer the other person without any immediate expectations, relationships take time to evolve, put in the conscious effort”
Another good takeaway is the need to build a personal brand around your mission with an example of Donald Trump. Again, Keith has put in the example of the current US president in his 2005 work as a perfect example of brand building. Should we say more on the impact it could have?
The First 90 Days
Every professional goes through transitions in their careers, typically multiple times and no matter how much effort one puts into the transitions, a few of them fail. Even for professionals who have been a ‘lifer’ spending their entire career in one organisation, transitions are a part and parcel of the game. I found the book, ‘The First 90 Days’ a good guide for professionals as they plan their career moves. After all, a good first impression in a role goes a long way. The overarching theme of the 90 day guideline is that you should reach what the author Michael D Watkins calls the breakeven point quicker.