In late 1994, as I struggled trying to figure out what to do when my nascent ventures had repeatedly failed, I came across the just published “Competing for the Future” by CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel. I was on a longish visit to the US in search of my own future. As I read the book, each page resonated and spoke to me. And I engaged with a book like I never had. Over two days, I read every page, highlighted key sections and embellished it with Post-Its on which was written the IndiaWorld business plan.
When I was thinking about the set of activities for the 2014 election campaign in Niti Digital, I came across “Victory Lab” by Sasha Isenberg. That is where I learnt about political science and the use of data in campaigning. The ideas in that book became my business plan for Niti.
Books have had an amazing knack of appearing in my life at just the right time. That is perhaps why I continue to buy more books than I can read. I have always believed that books speak to us – if we are prepared to listen. Words come alive, a connection is made to the authors even if one has never seen or met them, and the ideas in there change our minds. Before YouTube videos and podcasts, there were books. And they are still there – waiting for us. It is just that in a world where time has fragmented to the space between notifications, reading books has become a rare use of our time.
And in my home life in late 2020, another book came written just for me and the moment.
Somewhere during the lockdown days of 2020, the idea of “building to last” started taking hold. For the first time in my life, I had started thinking of the long future. IndiaWorld had lasted five years before I decided to sell. Netcore’s first decade when I was involved was a period of low growth. In Netcore’s second decade when it grew, I was in a different world as a political and prosperity entrepreneur.
I was now thinking about what next for Netcore. We had done all the hard work in getting past the obstacles that young companies face to grow. Why give it up now? Why not continue building? As long as we could maintain a good growth rate, why not keep it going? If so, how could we do it? What did it take a company that could not just survive and thrive for a long time?
As I contemplated Netcore’s future, a new book entered my life.
Tomorrow: Part 3