Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

Intrigued by the catchy title I picked this book from a book store in Connaught Place. I had heard this quote before. I remembered watching a Youtube video where Steve Jobs told the students to “Stay hungry and stay foolish” during his commencement speech at the Stanford University in 2005. Thinking of getting some more food for this thought I started reading this book by Rashmi Bansal.  A little more into the book revealed that Rashmi is a writer, entrepreneur  and youth expert.  She is the co-founder and editor of JAM(Just Another Magazine), India’s leading youth magazine in print and online and this is her first tryst with book writing.

I am fond of reading mostly fiction but  contrary to my expectations the book’s  Foreword written by IIM Ahmedabad Director indicated that I was heading for a different journey. After I finished reading I could not believe that a non-fiction would turn out to be a roller coaster ride and so much inspiring at different levels.  In this book, Rashmi, herself an alumnus of IIMA , has described the success stories of twenty-five alumni of IIM Ahmedabad  who chose the path less trodden and successfully built new businesses and organisations.  The book is a must read for those with an enrtrepreneurial streak.  It teaches us to  believe in the ‘Power of Dreams’.  All the individuals mentioned in the book shunned the option of a conventional high paying corporate job  and instead ventured into uncharted territories with fire in their bellies and stars in their eyes.  The book is divided into three category of achievers. First is the Believers, the people who knew entrepreneurship was the chosen path and took the plunge straight after MBA. Second is the Opportunists who did not plan but seized the opportunity when it knocked their doors.  The last category belongs to a few good men who had an alternate vision of creative expression and creating a social impact.  All the stories have been written in conversational style  with an apt  usage of B-school jargons and few dialogues in hindi which are never translated into English( Thus, giving the book a nice desi feel) . The book is not necessarily  a continuous read and each story can be made into a bestselling biography.  The struggles, the risk taking, the team building, the insolvency situations and the sacrifices have been cited very beautifully with utmost veracity.

Rashmi has taken a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs into account ranging from social sector and  hotel industry along with the obvious choices of people from Internet and IT.  It took 35 years for Chander Baljee to establish a brand name for himself with the Royal Orchid Hotels.  Strikes, debts,  9/11 – all these factors affected the growth plans of  Chander. An IPO which was planned in 1985 only became a reality in 2006.  Chander witnessed every possible ups and downs in his business but every time he just shrugged and said, “This too shall pass.” This shows that persistence and self belief is the key to suceess. I personally liked the  life story of Sunil Handa the most, whom Rashmi quite rightly calls The Alchemist. As an entrepreneur, Sunil spent 15 years  with his brother in Core Consultancy Services. For him business was the first and the only thing that mattered.  But an acrimonious split with his brother led him to question the value of  a one-track, build-your-business-at-any-cost kind of life. Sunil decided to create an impact on people’s lives and thus, gave birth to Eklavya Education Foundation.

However,  amidst all the positives  the book falls short in one aspect. All the successful people highlighted in the book had one thing common; they all were pass-outs from the most reputed institute of the country and had huge contacts. Even if their businesses failed at one point of time, they always had the safe  option of going back to a job. I would have loved to see the success stories of the common man, the mango people. The book has already sold more than one lakh copies and can be termed as a rare best seller in the non-fiction category. The book has been funded by Romesh Wadhwani, President & Chairman of the Wadhwani  Foundation.  Romesh says-” The economic greatness of a country is fuelled by the strength and vitality of its entrepreneurs .”

Himanshu Singhal

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