Book Reviews in Academic Journals

I always get asked why I read so many books!

I always get asked what I get by reviewing so many books!

Most people think I waste a lot of time writing book reviews for academic journals – since it does not really add up to my ‘academic currency’.

As with most other aspects of life, I felt I got an answer last week. A fellow doctoral student of mine walked up to me and said – ‘Thanks for your review of this title in The Journal of Entrepreneurship‘. It helped me with my questionnaire construction.’

Most people told me very few read reviews and most of them never get cited. So thats reason enough why one should not waste time writing them. But the above statement from a friend gave me some argument against all those voices who are against wasting time writing reviews. I am beginning to feel that this is a kind of commitment to the profession. I am sure ‘reviews’ themselves will be of different levels – some letting others know that a books exists to the other end of the spectrum where a review places the book in a continuum of existing knowledge.

Whatever be it, as a bibliophile, avid reader, and lover of everything books, I am delighted that my book reviewing efforts have borne fruit (tangibly). Though I have reduced the frenzy with which I was writing reviews, I still do a few every year. I now want to raise the level of the reviews I write. It will help me and my fellow explorers with some compasses to tread the ground.

My 2nd Babson Conference

It was great being there at the 37th Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) hosted at the Michael F Price School of Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman. This was my second Babson (as people there refer to it). While the last time I was a doctoral consortium participant (competitively selected), this time I presented my first paper based on the thesis work.BCERC2017_Raj

I enjoyed my first paper presentation (Corporate Accelerators: A grounded study of its motives, manifestations and measures) at this prestigious conference. It was also my first paper co-authored with my mentor. I met a few of my fellow doctoral consortium participants – Mona, Jerone, Moyra, Beldina, Ida, Wei (hope I’m not missing anyone) and it was heartening to see their achievements and progress. You guys inspire!

I met many stars (Aldrich, Busenitz, Lumpkin, Landstorm, Patzelt, and others) in entrepreneurship research including Prof Robert Baron who won the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. His book ‘Enhancing Entrepreneurial Excellence’ was one of the first academic texts I read as a doctoral student. It was exciting to see his energy and enthusiasm.

I made new friends from across the world. All of them are scholars (some budding) with a keen interest in the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. We spent a lot of time laughing and chatting over trivia between sessions and during the social events.

The BCERC is a cool conference where you get to hear emerging ideas which will probably appear in journals a year or two down the line. It is also highly developmental with people giving each other feedback for improvement. Senior scholars are willing to give time and listen to our ideas and questions without any criticism.

As I told Georgia who is the most important person behind the conference – ‘I’m now a BCERC fan’ and hope to keep coming back to the conference every year (of course to present my research papers) and return ‘recharged and inspired’.

Thanks to the organising team of BCERC and Price School, Oklahoma for making this conference yet another memorable experience.

Seminar for Entrepreneurial Leaders

Seminars and Workshops are dime a dozen. Occasionally there does arise an opportunity arises to listen to a wise teacher. Here is one such opportunity at Chennai.

Swami Parthasarathy is going to be Chennai on 04th July 2017 (Tuesday) speaking on the topic “Venture with Prudence”. This will be a chance to listen to his wise words on a topic that has taken India by storm over the last few years – entrepreneurship. There is also a Q&A session.

Here is the brochure to the program. Table Seminar evite The contacts are in the brochure. Reach out if it interests you.

Best wishes

If you are an entrepreneur

You will not be reaching out to people and programs to find out if you are one. You will simply begin acting on opportunities. Once you realise you need to grind your axe, you will then find the right people and programs to support you.

The one who searches for programs to attempt becoming one will probably never become one. The one who becomes will naturally gravitate towards the right people he or she needs to become even more successful.

Entrepreneurship education must look at contributing at all levels:

  • Providing inspiration
  • Providing tools and techniques to start
  • Providing methods to sustain
  • Providing approaches to scale

Entrepreneurship research is growing leaps and bounds. Sadly, much of this research remains hidden from entrepreneurs. This I believe is due to the entrepreneurship educators who do not soak themselves in the literature before delivering their classes.

If you are an entrepreneur and wish to hone your entrepreneurial skills, then search for the right program and constantly evaluate the value of your skills – are you improving and in effect, is your enterprise growing? If yes, continue, else quit and find the next person or program.

Good Luck with your entrepreneuring!

Buddha Poornima 2017

Today is Buddha Poornima. When I think of the Buddha the thing that strikes me most is the peace visible on his face.

Let us not make it yet another ‘day off’ and ‘indulge’. This is exactly what Buddha warned against! He wished that we follow the ‘middle path’ and gain realisation. I am not even attempting to explain what that path is – figure it out for yourself either by reading the masters or if you are luckier, by finding a master. In any case, quickly get on that path.

My prayers on this auspicious day for everyone to attempt such a life. If you have not begun your search for the middle path, begin today! This may be the biggest startup you can do in your life.

How are you finding opportunities?

Having been involved in ‘entrepreneurship education’ for close to a decade, I can tell you one thing — the weakest part of any entrepreneurship program is the ‘opportunity’ piece. Let me illustrate with a recent experience.

I met up with a few students who had undergone a complete year of entrepreneurship education. They had to do a two month market research on a product / service and write up a report. Based on the discussions with their faculty, they narrowed upon two ideas: (i) food distribution and (ii) nutrition bars. After worrying about how to go about doing a market research, they walked up to me (not sure why!), and asked ‘Sir, can you help us choose one of the two ideas?’ I did what I normally do – asked how they arrived at these two ideas / opportunities? They said many things but ultimately accepted that it was through ‘imagination’. So what they basically now wanted to do was ‘validate’ (which meant) ‘prove’ that their idea / opportunity was worth creating a business on. I spent the next 30 minutes explaining to them why this was wholly wrong. The surprising part – the two kids quickly latched on the idea of searching for opportunities, rather than spending two months validating one. My belief that students are really smart was proven once again.

How do you (aspiring entrepreneurs) find opportunities?

Opportunities can be either created or discovered. Discovery means going out to the world and identifying gaps. Creation means coming up with a need/want that is not yet felt. As an entrepreneur you got to choose which route you wish to take to finding opportunities. My rule of thumb is – if you are trying to figure out which route, take ‘discovery’.

Discovering opportunities means finding out gaps. The easiest ways to begin is to start out by identifying gaps in the industry side or the market side. On the industry side one can quickly draw out the value chain and start looking at ways to fill / improve / disrupt / etc what exists. On the market side, one can identify which needs are not fulfilled, which are underserved, and what can be better delivered. While none of these are exhaustive ways to locating opportunities, it is a good beginning.

My advice to these students was – identify a sector of your choice (interest); look at it deeply from either the industry side and/or market side; use all available secondary information first; identify and speak to at least 30 people involved in the sector; analyse all the information; and create a list of 25 hot opportunities in the sector. Create the report.

Do you think they will have spent their summer usefully?

Do you think they will have located more opportunities than they knew off before?

Do you think this is a better way to deliver entrepreneurship education than quickly fixing the idea and evaluating / validating it?

Share you thoughts! It matters!

How long do you take to poop?

Yes, it is really about the ‘big job’ that I am asking. Surprised! Read on – I think it is important.

Most of us do not take excretion as a serious business. Many have challenges in engaging in this task. I have heard people say they sit for hours (not minutes) on end in anticipation. Too many exert much pressure to reduce the anticipation – after all we all are so busy that we cannot waste time sitting. But pressure over time leads to complications! Ask people who go to gastroenterologists seeking help with excretion.  Only when this becomes a problem do realise how serious doing the ‘big job’ is, to life and healthy living.

Hence when I came across this interesting study, I could not hold myself from sharing. It appears from the research referred to below that if you are taking more than 12 seconds to get done in the morning – you take more time than what most mammals do.

While this is not a prescription for healthy living, I definitely think being aware is the first step in that direction. Read about this interesting research and you will know much more about pooping and also about how interesting a life in research can be.

Short Overview: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/04/heres-how-long-it-should-really-take-you-to-poop.html

General Overview (slightly longer): https://www.newscientist.com/article/2129081-most-mammals-big-or-small-take-about-12-seconds-to-defecate/

Research Article (published in the journal ‘Soft Matter’): http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/sm/c6sm02795d/unauth#!divAbstract