Title: Disrupt Yourself – Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work
Author: Whitney Johnson
Most of the book reviews I post here contain the cover image, but today’s image is special. This is because I am reviewing a book I received as a gift from the author for New Year 2017. Hence I post the signed page from the inside of the book instead of the cover!
Thanks Whitney Johnson for sending me this signed personal copy.
I have always found ‘Disruptive Innovation’ an interesting concept. But the phrase remains muddled in colloquial usage. And now that I research in the area of ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ I understand the grave misuse of the term by professionals and novices. This is one of those books which does not distort the meaning.
While many books relating to this topic are written with the firm / organisation in mind, this book is clearly intended for the individual. The principles of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ are powerful and can be applied to one’s individual life. The author uses number of cases as well as anecdotes from her personal life to show us how we can all lead a life full of disruption.
I made a lot of notes and also during the process shared much of this knowledge with my students. In fact reading the book so fascinated me that by the time I completed it, I had almost created two new courses for my students on entrepreneurship – but ones which hopefully, will disrupt the way I teach. I think I will enjoy teaching these new courses as much as I enjoyed reading this book.
The book’s principles are so simple and straight that if I summarise them here, you will feel that you know it all. That is after all the beauty of good writing. The challenge is to put these simple principles to practice. I hope many more will read the book, put its principles to practice, deliberately, and enjoy the fruits of a disruptive life.
Title: Trailblazing in Entrepreneurship – Creating new paths for understanding the field
Authors: Dean A Shepherd and Holger Patzelt
This is not a review of the book. I am sharing this book for a number of reasons:
- I got it from one of the co-authors (Prof. Dean Shepherd) who and whose work I admire a lot
- It is a great resource on where entrepreneurship scholars can look at for the future of entrepreneurship research
- It is a great resource on literature in entrepreneurship research from two highly respected scholars
- The authors have been generous to make it freely available so that a lot many scholars who cannot access expensive resources can gain access to good material
- It is an ‘open access’ book and freely available. Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8gg18ojh-w_SzZWcHc2Y0JZQWM
- More than everything else I feel it is only fair that young scholars must read the right literature in entrepreneurship and identify promising areas of research for themselves
I have already started reading it and I have shared it with a few colleagues who have good words for the book. Hence I am sharing it with the blog’s readers so that all of you will have the opportunity to trailblaze through the wilds of entrepreneurship research.
Good Luck and Happy Reading!
Book Title: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
I love reading biographies and autobiographies. It is one of those genres of non-fiction that I enjoy. When I came across this non-fiction book by the author of several award winning works of fiction, I was tempted to try. I even thought it might be bordering on her life – but I was in for some surprise!
The book is brilliant. It exposes our limitations as human beings and how we don’t even recognise them. The book was actually written by Jhumpa Lahiri in Italian and translated into English by Ann Goldstein. Hence it is actually not a book that showcases her English which is her strength.
The book is a brilliant example of how people should live their lives. Instead of continuing to write more books in English for which she is celebrated, Jhumpa Lahiri takes the entrepreneurial route to experimenting with something that struck a cord with her – Learning and Writing in Italian, a language that touched her on the inside.
Using the experience of learning and writing a new language Jhumpa Lahiri exposes how we are all limited to our little worlds. There are so many places in the book where I paused and was sent into a reflective mood – something that happens usually when you read philosophy. Some of those sentences in the book caught on to me so much that I have marked them for re-reflection. If you are one who loves philosophy, even tangentially, you will not miss these reflections in the book. The book clearly highlights the limitations of the human mind, how we stay stuck to comfort zones, the fear of getting out of comfort zones, and what one goes through to get over the fear of moving out of the comfort zone.
I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to re-reading it again.
Book Title: The Blue Umbrella
Author: Ruskin Bond
I am carrying a ‘blue umbrella’ with me this monsoon. Someone passed a comment on it. It made me remember this book. So, I picked it up again. This little gem got delivered by Amazon earlier this week and I ended up reading it that very night. I felt I was reading it for the first time. This little girl, her brother, the cows, the hillside, and everything almost visually coming to life in front of my eyes. I was literally seeing the story unfold in front of my eyes. It shows the power of simple writing. It shows the emotions of village folk. It displays village life and values.
As I was telling a professor of mine during lunch the next day, ‘The most difficult word I saw in that book was – petulant’. Isn’t that amazing?
I love Ruskin Bond’s writing. His books are for children. But I have come to believe that his books are for the child within every one of us. Hence I will continue to regularly pick up his titles, especially these little stories for children and read them over and over again. I am extremely hopeful that this will impact my writing too.
At times during the reading, I was consciously slowing myself down, keeping the book on my chest and looking into my white ceiling visualising what some character would be doing or feeling then. I enjoyed every bit of it, as I have always in the past with Bond’s books.
So, if you are looking for some really high quality writing, pick this book up. If you have young children, expose them to Ruskin’s writing as early as you can. While I go finding the next title to read, pick up ‘The Blue Umbrella’ and,
Book Title: The Launch Pad – Inside Y Combinator
Author: Randall Stross
Its an unusual book. Its a page turner. Its an experience.
It is not a dramatised version of a science fiction novel, but a matter-of-fact story of a real happening. ‘Y Combinator’ was the world’s first accelerator. Though Paul Graham does not refer to it as an accelerator, the phenomenon has really caught on.
This book is more like an ethnographic account of what makes ‘Y Combinator’ a celebrated place in the valley. The author gained access to spend time through one cohort and write a detailed account. The story gives us an idea of how a startup is selected, what they go through and how they prepare themselves for growth. While acceleration seems to only speed up the process of testing and going to market, there is no assurance of success or a sure-success pill.
I enjoyed reading the book. It seemed more fiction than non-fiction. There are interesting anecdotes and experiences that startups, ecosystem stakeholders and policy makers can learn from. Though Silicon Valley itself has enormous lessons for building entrepreneurship ecosystems, places like ‘Y Combinator’ provide equally compelling models of creating ecosystems for catalysing entrepreneurship.
I read the book because of my interest in the phenomenon of accelerators. But startup founders, policy makers, entrepreneurship ecosystem support stakeholders – all equally have interesting take aways from the book. If not anything else, it is a well written story of what happens in the world of startups.
Enjoy – happy reading!
Book Title: Don’t Buy this Book Now! The Art of Procrastination
Author: John Perry
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, with an entire case to be edited before night, I was reading this book. The very fact that I was not at my table editing the case, but browsing the racks (with guilt) of my library is reason enough to have stumbled onto this little gem.
The well-made, hardbound, nicely created book is a quick read. One can finish the book in an hour or two. Once you finish the book, you will first and foremost be guilt-free from ‘procrastination’. You will also come away learning a few tools to fool yourself into a more productive day. Every time I read a book by a philosopher, I wonder about the equipment called ‘the mind’ sitting inside each of us. Whoever said – ‘the enemy is within’, was totally right.
It is no surprise that the author of this little book won the Ig Nobel Prize. Thanks to this book, I learned about these awards and their quirkiness too. I don’t want to share anything about the content of this book for two reasons: (i) book is too short and (ii) the crux of it is so simple, yet so profound.
If you are reading this post instead of making your days count you should read this book.
Why would I want my entrepreneur folk (students/colleagues/clients) to read this book? Answer: Because without their own knowledge they keep procrastinating their most important tasks. While they remain busy, they get frustrated that their key tasks remain pending. This book will provide some unconventional tips to get focus back on what matters. This suits entrepreneurs best.
Happy Reading! Happy Procrastination! Happy Productivity! Happy Living!
Secret: Tips in the book.
Book Title: The Design of Business
Author: Roger L Martin
I am fan of Prof. Martin’s writings. Though I have read and reviewed his earlier book on strategy, this one eluded my consumption since sometime. During a recent discussion with one of my entrepreneur clients in the design space, I casually asked her to refer something to read on her subject. She told me since I was from the business strategy arena, I may like to see the work of one Roger Martin. I smiled and issued the book as soon as I came back to my base.
It is no surprise that ‘design thinking’ is taking the business world by storm. The examples quoted in the book showcases the benefit of using this approach to strategy making. While some aspects of it are intuitive and some may be using it too, Prof Martin has made it structured and repeatably usable.
Being an academic myself I enjoyed the philosophical underpinnings of design thinking. I was introduced to a philosopher I had only heard in the past – Charles Pierce. I actually consumed the book like how a child eats ‘ice cream’ – ate slowly so as to not get done with it; and felt bad when it actually got done.
But the nice part of a good book is the number of triggers it provides for furthering its thoughts. It also leads you to more reading. This book did both.
Thanks Prof Martin for providing an inspirational read on ‘design thinking’ and leading me to read more on this subject. I am so convinced that this approach to thinking will guide me in my scholarly life as well as in helping the thousands of entrepreneurs and students I interact with everyday.