Halfway Mark.2021

Almost half way through the year. Read some great books and some not so great.

My year, until now, in books. From the must reads, to the hmm, to the ho-humm to the why-did-I-buy-it.

The absolute stunners and must reads.

  1. Confessions of the Pricing Man by Hermann Simon An absolute must read for marketers, you can find read a detailed review a summary on my blog here.

2. Disrupted by Dan Lyons What happens when a fifty-something journalist loses his job and lands up at a start-up. Outrageously funny. And a true story.

3. No Filter by Sarah Frier Chronicles the birth and rise of Instagram. The book’s genius lies in bringing alive the cultural impact of Insta. Also serves as an excellent commentary of the Valleys culture.

4. How to avoid a climate disaster by Bill Gates This book is both an excellent primer on climate change and a summary of key technologies that can help us combat it. You will find a more detailed review and summary on my blog here.

5. Can’t Sell won’t sell by Steve Harrison A ‘smell the coffee’ kind of book that urges the industry to take pride in selling again. Opinionated and provocative.

6. Rethinking Competitive Advantage by Ram Charan The section on new revenue models left me wanting for more. But when the Master speaks (or writes), you listen.

7. The Branded Mind by Erik Du Plessis a great introduction to neurology of the human brain and the science of memory formation. (And the penny drops when you combine this information with concepts from How Brands Grow viz. ‘mental availability’ and ‘distinctive brand assets’)

The hmms.

  1. The Right Choice by Shiv Shivakumar Unique subject, packed with great advice for young professionals. Read a more detailed review on my blog here.

2. Cumulative Advantage by Mark Schaeffer. Great insights about generating advantage for yourself, your ideas and to be heard above the din of infinite options available today. Includes great practical advice.

3. The Ministry of Common sense by Martin Lindstrom is a funny and breezy read. While it does not reveal anything you didn’t know. It’s like that cup of coffee you got your hands on, sitting through a boring three-hour meeting. Read a more detailed review on my blog here.

4. Measure what matters by John Doerr Introduces the concept of OKRs, a method of goal setting and executing great ideas & strategy. (John introduced OKRs at Google when they were a fledgling startup.)

5. The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson while Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna is the central character, the book chronicles gene editing and the race amongst scientists for the finish line. The science and the details of how RNA works can get a little overwhelming, though.

6. A Dominant Character by Samanth Subramanian a biography of JBS Haldane, a geneticist who laid the foundation to the study of genes. A fascinating account of a genius, his politics in a troubled times.

7. A patchwork quilt by Sai Paranjpye a breezy autobiography of a filmmaker who gave us endearing films like Katha and Chasme Buddoor. Without its overdose of film and play scripts, the book would have been more concise and a better read.

8. Method in the madness by Parameshwaran Iyer Yet another IAS officer reminiscing, but what makes this a half-a-decent read is the details of how Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was conceived and rolled out.

9. Impossible to ignore by Carmen Simon the books is about creating content that’s impossible to ignore. Contains many examples, simple to use and do ideas but somehow doesn’t seem to stitch it together.

The ho-hmms

  1. The Practice by Seth Godin a disappointing read, mish-mash of ideas and thoughts that were way to familiar.

2. How to win in a winner take-all world by Neil Irwin The biggest takeaway of How to win is that in today’s economy one should become something the author calls a ‘Pareto Optimal glue person’ for your industry. Having depth in an area, a wide range of other skills and the ability to ‘glue’ other skilled people to evolve the solution.

3. Despite the state by M. Rajshekhar The book’s full title is Despite the state, why India lets it’s people down and how they cope. A depressing account of the State’s abject neglect of it’s people, the “systems” failures and how people cope with it. Reality stings.

Why did I buy it?

Quantum Marketing by Raja Rajamannar The title was a dead giveaway, but I hoped to be surprised by the contents. The book was an opportunity to remind all of marketing’s strategic underpinnings & to not get distracted by fluff. To teach how to grow both brand and business, But in the end, all I can say is Et tu, Brute?