How A Simple ‘Sensemaking’ Made Federer Self-confident

This is a brief article in which I want to show how sensemaking can help one know one’s own personality better, and build one’s self-confidence. No one expected Federer to become such a great player. Although he qualified as an early talent, he was never considered one who could ever dominate the sport. He may … Read more

Reliance Fuel Pumps: A Business Model Masterstroke

A typical Reliance fuel pump has only 1.5% market share by number of pumps, but 60% market share by volume of fuel sold. Unbelievable. Right? Let us delve deeper to understand. The market gap Let us take an 80 km radius (a.k.a. Trading area) as our unit of analysis here. This may not be accurate … Read more

How McEnroe Defeated Ivan Lendl 9 Times In A Row

John McEnroe’s and Ivan Lendl were great players of the 1980s. McEnroe was the #1 from 1981-94 and Ivan Lendl was #1 during 1985-87, 1989. In 1982, while McEnroe was on a winning streak with other players, he was facing a very stiff competition from Lendl. McEnroe writes in his autobiography: Lendl cleaned my clock once … Read more

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

The Best Insight On Singing

Each day common people sacrifice their potential to be excellent at the altar of their own ignorance. Just look around you in the evening, and you will see kids playing mindlessly: Cricket: They don’t fix their stump-position while batting Badminton: They don’t play with proper sized badminton rackets Tennis: They play tennis with worn out … 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

Steve Jobs Unique Answer On Apple’s Strategy

Growtist is a great admirer of both Richard Rumelt as well as Steve Jobs. Both these guys are no-nonsense independent thinkers. So, what happened when Rumelt asked Jobs about Apple’s strategy, way back in 1998? This is what Rumelt says: At that moment in time, Apple had less than 4 percent of the personal computer … Read more

The First Question To Ask Of Any Strategy

Strategy is about making choices. This much is already known. But, what really qualifies as a valid strategic choice? A strategic choice is a valid one if its opposite does not look stupid! Example: Consider a global wealth management business “Where to Play” choice below: To target wealthy individuals who wanted and were willing to … 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

Are You More Suited To Be An Ops Guy, A Strategy Guy, Or A Visionary?

The above question can be answered by introspecting a little and identifying your biggest strength out of the 3: Discipline Delaying Gratification Passion If you count Discipline as a much bigger strength over the other 2, then you are more suitable to be an Operations guy. If you count Delaying Gratification as a much bigger … 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

The Consequences Of Shutting Yourself Off

Context Most of us simplify the world around us not only by forming mental models, but also by choosing which information to ignore. A certain kind of information (e.g. criticisms, signals, feedback) can get challenging for our minds–and so we get in the habit of ignoring it. Even great sporting legends such as Tendulkar develop … 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

John D. Rockefeller And His Sound Business Judgment

In early 1880s, John D Rockefeller had reached the top of oil business. But, many were predicting his demise. Because the entire oil industry was getting in jeopardy. The Pennsylvania oil fields were running dry and electricity was beginning to compete with lamps for lighting homes. Russians were capturing Standard Oil’s (Rockefeller’s company) foreign markets. Some … 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

The Most Successful Decision Of A.G. Lafley’s Career

P&G former CEO A.G. Lafley, attributes the most successful decision of his career to a qualitative judgment: In 1990, as the general manager of laundry products, he had to decide whether to move to compact detergents, which were transforming the market in Japan. The new format would cut P&G’s production, packaging, and transportation costs as … 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

Bob Lutz’s Intuition About Dodge Viper

Business history is full of examples of decisions that were taken purely on gut feeling or intuition. Chrysler’s Dodge Viper (shown above) is a very apt example here. Bob Lutz, the company’s president, got the intuitive insight to build this car during a weekend drive. The car was a smashing success. It single-handedly changed the public’s … Read more

Reading Books Does Not Make You A Book-Worm

Context When I was a kid, I was told that those who read a lot of books are book-worms. They grow up to become impractical people. I did not get totally influenced by the idea, but it certainly did have some impact on me. And I believe that this myth has wrongly impacted a lot many … 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

The Secret to Learning Anything: Albert Einstein’s Advice to His Son

In 1915, aged thirty-six, Einstein was living separately from family. On November 4 of that year, having just completed the two-page masterpiece on the theory of general relativity, Einstein sent 11-year-old Hans Albert a letter with a simple insight on learning: “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment … Read more