The Concept Of Answerlessness

Context Einstein once remarked: “I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.” Well, just like Physics, life is a subject of inquiry too. But, most of us are uncomfortable in handling complex questions about life.  A … Read more

How Our World-Views Shape Our Behaviours

Context Different people live their lives differently. Some go on to change there own lives and the world for better (e.g. Steve Jobs). Some are mainly interested in driving politics in their organizations; while some others mainly follow and give support to these leaders. Some others keep on hoping for good luck, while others believe … Read more

Baajirao’s Mother’s Answer To: How Can Strength Be Defeated?

Most people often take Strategy for granted. To them strategic solutions seem very simple and obvious. This mindset suffers from what I call the IIT-question syndrome: The question is very difficult to solve initially. But if you see the solution, the question feels damn easy. The IIT-question syndrome applies to the mass perception of strategic frameworks … Read more

0-to-1 Or 1-to-n: Which Type Of An Entrepreneur Are You?

A 0-to-1 guy is interested in creative, innovative, disruptive ideas. Example: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos. A 1-to-n guy is interested in replicating proven business ideas. Example: Indian entrepreneurs running companies such as FlipKart, Ola, etc. I would (albeit hesitantly) put even Dhirubhai Ambani in this category. Both types of businesses require very … Read more

Great Men Are Masters Of Their Own Education

Context The middle class believes a little too much in formal learning. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all model can never make you excellent. Hence, most excellent people focus on self-chosen learning. Examples: Leonardo Da Vinci, Edison, Einstein, James Watt, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Dhirubhai. Let me also take a fictional example … Read more

How An Irrational World Holds You Back From Excellence

Context A friend told me his personal story: He is a good badminton player. So he also spends some time playing with his son in their housing society, in the evening.   He teaches his son the virtue of patience and right technique, in order to serve well. He guides his son when he is … Read more

Jack Bogle And His Independent Thinking

At Growtist, one of my objectives is to curate articles about great men. Their professional domains do not matter to me. They may come from Finance, Strategy, Sports, Music, Politics, etc. What matters is their common mental qualities. Qualities that we can borrow and apply to our own lives. I hope that this will motivate … Read more

The Elephant And The Rope

Context When still a baby, the elephant is tethered by a very thick rope to a stake firmly hammered into the ground. The elephant tries several times to get free, but it lacks the strength to do so. After a year, the stake and the rope are still strong enough to keep a small elephant … Read more

Basing Decisions on Bottom-line Is A Bad Idea

Bob Lutz is known for his intuition and his contributions to the US Auto industry. He has spent 47 years in the auto industry, and he ended his career as Vice Chairman of General Motors. What follows in an excerpt from Bob Lutz’s book ‘Car Guys vs Bean Counters‘. It was in 1979 in the … Read more

Are You Biased And Don’t Know It?

A lot of people are biased, and they don’t know it. So, how can one reliably discover if he has such a blind spot? Well, the answer lies in following this simple method: Integrate all the context available to you! Example. Let us assume you play Tennis and that you are a biased person. So, … Read more

Do You Have A ‘Learning Mindset’?

Imagine you are playing Tennis or Badminton with another opponent. What is your state of mind when you hit the ball/shuttle in your opponent’s court? I feel happy when the opponent makes an error–because I win the point! I feel happy when the opponent is able to return the ball/shuttle nicely–because that challenges me even more! … Read more

Are You ‘Stuck’ In An Orbit?

Lot of us are in sub-optimal orbits of life, irrespective of whether we are a professional, an entrepreneur, or a house-wife. We remain stuck in monotonous morning-to-evening ruts. I wrote about Dhirubhai Ambani’s Theory of Orbits a few months back. Please check here. We are in a sub-optimal orbit when it feels as if we can … Read more

Dear Co-founders, Have You Identified A Leader?

In our team’s first meeting with Paul Graham, I was sharing our confusion about what to build. After ten minutes he stopped me. “I think the real issue here is that you don’t have a clear leader. I think you should figure that out first.” The above excerpt has been taken from an intriguing book: Chaos Monkeys. … Read more

An Insight On Jack Ma’s Amazing Insights

Jack Ma is one of the most successful Chinese Internet entrepreneurs. I came across this post that captures several of his insights on business as well as life. A few of them that I liked a lot are: “You cannot unify everyone’s thoughts, but you can unify everyone through a common goal”. “Money and political … Read more

The Zen Of Steve Jobs

Zen Buddhism shaped Jobs’s design sensibility and business philosophy. One of the Zen principles that be borrowed was that of Ma. Ma states that a thing is defined not just by what it is, but what it is not — that a sculpture is beautiful because of both the rock taken away and the rock left behind. A few … Read more

Why Intelligent People Often Doubt Their Strengths

Context Confidence and Wisdom have a very interesting correlation: Foolish people are often very confident. Above-averagely-wise people are often under-confident. Very wise people are often very confident.  In fact, this is a well known cognitive bias and is known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.  This bias is due to a meta-cognitive inability of low-ability people to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their ability … Read more

How Steve Jobs Saved Nike With 1 Simple Advice

In 2006, Nike’s CEO Mark Parker called Steve Jobs for advice. Steve Jobs gave one simple advice: “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.” Nike took the advice and … Read more

Why Yahoo Could Not Be ‘Great’

The nature of the issue Successful businesses are of 2 types: Good and Great. Good businesses generate good results. Great businesses generate excellent results. But, what separates the Good from the Great? I think it is: The ability to sacrifice smaller short-term gains for a bigger long-term gain. An example of ‘Great’ Zuckerberg was able to take the … Read more

Do You Have A Products DNA Or A Services DNA?

I was consulting to a client a few years back. The founding team was made up of 2 highly educated people. They had created a software, and were selling it to Banks. Despite their software product being great, the company was not being able to grow much since past 3-4 years. It took us a while … Read more

Don’t Start A Business Unless There’s ‘A Wrong That You Want To Right’

Context A lot of people would ask Steve Jobs how to become an entrepreneur, but that they didn’t have a business idea yet. He’d tell them, “I think you should go get a job as a busboy or something, until you find something you’re really passionate about.” Then, “You’ve got to have an idea, or a problem, … Read more

How Chasing A Wrong Growth Metric Almost Screwed Up Starbucks!

The metric was same-store sales growth. Starbucks used to track quarter-on-quarter same-store sales  comparisons (a.k.a. comps). Stock Analysts expected this metric to be reported publicly. The stock market expected the comps to be positive. Fortunately, the company had witnessed a consistent and long period of positive comps. Its stock price was high too. This was … Read more

Disobedient Kids Often Do Better in Life!

Context Around age 11, Bill Gates started to become a problem for his parents. He refused to do the things his mom asked of him, like cleaning his room and showing up on time to dinner. Research suggests that there is in fact a connection between defiance and rule-breaking in adolescence and earning a high … Read more

How MBA-Style Leadership Killed Sony

Sony was once a company to watch. Under Akio Morita, the company kept looking for advances in technology–and hence was able to create new markets and dominate “consumer electronics”. Stories about Sony management meetings revealed a company where executives spent 85% of their time on technology, products and new applications/markets, 10% on human resource issues … Read more

A Tale Of GE vs. Apple

Have you ever seen 2 badminton players focus so much on aggressively hitting that shuttle back towards each other, that they often fail to notice the gaps in the court? Competing is emotionally intensive. Competing is ego-boosting. Male ego likes competing. But, we often confuse what is intensive and ego-boosting with what is valuable. GE … Read more