Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review - No Holy Cows in Business...

Authors Kiran Bhat, Sekhar Seshan
In 1992, an advertising agency, Xebec Communications Pvt Ltd was started by a young lady with a Masters in Industrial Psychology, from Pune University. Over the next 22 years the Agency grew from ‘just another name’ to a name to reckon with. The owner, a first generation entrepreneur tells her story in the newly released book, “No Holy Cows in Business...” along with Sekhar Seshan, Senior Journalist from Buniness India. The book is matter of fact and the writing is direct – it appears that the author is speaking to you, even as you read the 9 Principles of entrepreneurship, which she lays down, pretty simply.

  1. Love what you are doing
  2. An organization is the reflection of the promoter’s energy
  3. Focus, focus, focus
  4. Get financial literacy
  5. Add a new revenue stream every year
  6. Keep costs under control at all times
  7. Enrolment of key people for the next level
  8. Continuous learning
  9. Pull the plug when it does not make any sense
Each of these principles is duly enhanced with Case Studies which make the reading very interesting. Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group, tells his story of how he broke away from his family business to start his own, Padmasri Chandra Mohan, Founder Chairman, Punjab Tractors, C Parthasarathy, Chairman, Karvy Group, Dr Anil Lamba, Founder Director, Lamcom School of Management, Vikram Kirloskar, Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, G V Krishna Reddy, Chairman, GVK Group, Suhas Baxi, CEO, Pennar Industries Ltd, Nishit Kumar, Founder MD, NOTRA Group, T Muralidharan, Founder Chairman, TMI Group – and many more names, you might have heard about, or you might not have done so, but these are stories/Case Studies of people who through extreme grit and belief on holding a large dream, started from scratch to become household names and who, fell many times, but did not give up on themselves or their vision of their Company. The book is a veritable joy when you think about the pains and strains, the never-say-die attitude of a true entrepreneur, who through thick and thin; come hail, come high water, strives to realize and spread his dream. It talks of struggle of a different kind, which is not really individual. When you have 50 people or 150, 2000 or 5000 people who work in your Company, the loss is only the proprietors, while that gain belongs to all. The financial health of the Company is THE most important watch you will ever care about.

In a world where outsourcing has become the business norm and coming out of business school does not mean getting the best job that pays the highest salary, if one is bitten by the entrepreneur bug while at school, the world belongs to him or her. Hence this book serves as a handy tool to keep along from a connoisseur who has known it all, scaled heights and bitten the mud to come up like a phoenix over and over again.

Most of the Case Studies, which have all been done by Sekhar Seshan, prove that industry does not necessarily belong to those who come from rich backgrounds, or those who were trained for it. Indeed, it is a passion, a driving need to excel and keep doing better, reinventing oneself and the organization, over and over again, that keeps a healthy business house going. It is heart, head, strategy and a mind that is clear and can hold a vision that finally wins the world.

Like Arjuna’s focus in the great big battle field of dog eat dog, keeping the mind held strongly to the goal can be the only weapon that keeps the creator of a vision going. The rest is co-creation with his team.

Surgically cold with precision to be able to hack and cut down on manpower if the need arises, the entrepreneur must execute like a Zen Master and yet at the same time, enroll personnel for growth to the next level. Above all, the entrepreneur must be endlessly on the ball, never tiring of it and yet, be distanced enough from it, to hold the vision and launch it to the next level.

A game of skill, knowledge, strategy, meditation and above all, the hunger to create, is the story you will read of in this book.

If you are an entrepreneur or want to be one, all you need in your hand is this book of inspiration and the fire in your belly that propels you to be your own Master.
Good Luck to the book and the zillions of humans, across the globe, who want to be their own business persons.

The book lacks examples of women entrepreneurs, except the shining example of the author herself and two other, like Geetanjali Kirloskar and Uma Chigurupati of KRSMA wines. Also, being more an academic book that will be read in business schools and by people with a mind for business, a digital version would be excellent as most academic books, shopped from abroad, are in digital format.

Case Study: Booked! (pg 30)
“T Narayan Shanbhag who started Mumbai’s ionic Strand Book Stall in November 1948 and ran it till he dies in 2009 at the age of 85, was a personification of the principle this chapter enunciates – An Organization is the reflection of the promoter’s energy – Here is an extract from a biography written in 2003.”

Read on here:

Publisher: Viswakarma Publishers
283, Budhwar Peth
New Post Office
Pune – 411 002
Authors: Kiran Bhat, Sekhar Seshan
Pages: 147
Price: Rs 200

Monday, August 04, 2014

The English Papers V - God Save The Queen!

The day Jilli came home looking devastated; I knew something was terribly wrong.

“He has ruined the entire apple orchard with RoundUp, which I warned him against. The apple orchard with sixty trees in full bloom, are finished for this season. I shan't be able to use them at all!” She said with indignation.

Indeed, the pictures in her camera proved what she meant.

The farmer just about half a kilometer away from her house was a source of eggs for us, at £1 for 6 hens eggs and £1.20 for 6 duck eggs, but with the RoundUp, we were now reluctant to buy from him, because, despite warnings, he had done the RoundUp thing and we certainly felt that if the chicken were feeding on the land, then, their eggs would be dangerous for human consumption, no matter what Monsanto said.  

“It now proves that if I want to grow organic apples, I must own my own land.” Said Jilli.

Acres upon acres of land lie in silent pondering, with only cows and sheep to talk to. They have a tale of sadness to tell. With not a farmer’s plough to toss and turn the soil, England’s landscape remains an idle waste like a damsel all dressed up and nowhere to go.

So what do you do when you inherit money in England? It is wise to buy land because in a country where the interest rates are 0.03 percent, for pounds in the account and by smart investing you might get 3% over time, it is best to use the money in other ways than let it sit in your bank account. But then, there it is once again, sitting pretty, with nowhere to go, oh oh!

But then, you may not have the money to look after the land. Buying is easy and a one time affair as most Sales people will tell you, it is the maintenance that is what you pay over your lifetime or as long as you have the land or property with you. 

However, you may decide to prove smarter by investing the money in a business like a Pub. But you might have to work sixteen hours in it, for profits.

The English are very hard working people. And if one is slogging away at the Pub, then someone else is pushing himself on the ship at Mousehole, and of course, others are not really honeymooning, staring at the moon. Except sometimes.  

Yet, you can’t say, there is a degree of dissatisfaction. They love it, going that extra mile to make life the best they can ever have. Although at the end of the day, they may all be lying on a tired pillow.

Said a friend in Hull, “The English are hard working because they have to be so; the economy makes them such. On the one hand you have people from other EU countries coming to England to have babies so that they can benefit from our Social Security and Health Benefit Schemes and on the other, you have people who can’t find jobs!”

Of course nobody tells you that if people came from other poorer EU countries to take advantage of the situation in England, the English could jolly well go to Germany and do the same. But, they are English. Precisely, why they won’t!

We now know that Lords and Ladies are selling off their inheritance because they can’t maintain it. The awesome story of land at The Fells in the beautiful Lake District of England going out to Lakshmi Mittal, steel baron of Indian origin, is worrisome for the English, I would imagine, as even the bid by local bodies to keep their own land failed. In India, The Times Of India, Ludhiana, reports -

Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal's bid for the 2,850ft-high Blencathra Mountain has left residents feel both proud and inquisitive. While they are elated that Mittal has achieved the unthinkable, they wonder what he is going to do with this iconic mountain.

This mountain was put on the market by Earl of Lonsdale Hugh Lowther in May, with a 1.75 million pounds asking price.” (Ref:

Photo credit:
Who in India would sell inheritance, may I ask? It is an heirloom we would never part with, unless forced by circumstances to. Perhaps the plight of the Earl of Lonsdale Hugh Lowther, is indicative of the state of England, they would hate to admit to themselves. And with headcounts increasing from all over poorer nations of EU, who have willy-nilly found their way to the once Great Britain, the government has more in its mouth than it can chew.   

God Save the Queen!

Sri Lanka who had earlier banned RoundUp, caves in to ‘restrict’ use.

Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed here are purely the author's, Julia Dutta