Book Review: Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
In the current market scenario, where the term Recession finds its way in any and every conversation, job security is no longer an idea that professionals cling to. In order to set up a well-established career & to fulfill their requirements (both professionally as well as financially), the number of people jumping from one organization to another is on a steady rise. However, there are an equal number of professionals who are now leaving their cushy jobs to venture out in the different business arenas. Entrepreneurship has become a rising trend in India as the idea of giving up a 9 to 5 job and starting one’s own albeit new setup from scratch has become very lucrative amongst not only the youth but also professionals from various age groups.
Rashmi Bansal’s debut novel – Stay Hungry Stay Foolish (SHSF) is one such read based on the journey of 25 successful entrepreneurs who come from India’s leading Business School – IIM Ahmedabad. Bansal aptly uses these last words spoken by Steve Jobs during his 2005 commencement speech in Stanford as the title of her read in which she traces the success story & the challenges faced by the IIM-A graduates who opted to move out of the Corporate Rat-Race. The author, who is herself an entrepreneur as well as an IIM-A alumni is also a youth expert and writes extensively on youth, careers and entrepreneurship on her popular blog: Youth Curry. After the success of SHSF she went on to pen down four more books on entrepreneurship – Connect the Dots, I Have a Dream, Poor Little Rich Slum, Follow Every Rainbow and Take Me Home.
As I said earlier, entrepreneurs today are becoming a distinct creed. The lure of following one’s own passion, giving shape to our own idea and thus, taking the entrepreneurial path to realize that dream is hard to resist. However, such journeys are not just a cakewalk; in fact they are the ones that are almost always cluttered with roadblocks and potholes. Every entrepreneur has one such journey and I believe that the story behind each is worth sharing. SHSF delves down into the stories of 25 such people, the stories from the germination of a business idea to its realization to the traversing of the road less chosen to achieving success but most importantly the stories of their survival.
The entrepreneurs in this book have been classified into three categories: The Believers, The Alternate Vision and The Opportunists. The Believers – as the name suggests, knew that entrepreneurship was their Final Calling and hence plunged right into action as soon as they got their chance i.e. just as they graduated from IIM-A or after working for a couple of years. In the second category were The Opportunists – they were the ones who never planned on taking the entrepreneurial path but once they saw an opportunity, they not only seized it but also capitalized on it. The third category was the one with The Alternate Vision – these were entrepreneurs who not only explored the financial arena but also aimed for social development. The Believers held on with their belief until they succeeded, The Opportunists proved that entrepreneurial mind set could be developed if one had the right inclination towards it while ones with The Alternate Vision used their creativeness on a social platform.
The author has followed a very interesting format for each of the 25 stories – each of them kick start with an introduction to the entrepreneur, their background, their business arena followed by their story of success & the challenges that they faced. The author then has a conversation with the entrepreneur after which each entrepreneur chips in a word of advice for the budding entrepreneurs. A point worth noting here is that the author has covered a wide of range of business arenas – from education, engineering, agriculture, hotels, business process outsourcing, investment banking, clinical research and a lot more. Also, as opposed to popular belief, the individuals covered in this book are not just the youth but include graduates from the 70s and 80s. This is an interesting point as it goes on to prove that there is really no age or a fixed business arena to start afresh & plunge into entrepreneurship, if you have the passion. Needless to say, SHSF is a work of extensive research and filled with practical wisdom and concise pointers for aspiring entrepreneurs.
While the read provides a lot of strategies, the one fact the author brings out straight is that there is no consistent formula for success. The only way to move ahead is to learn from one’s own mistakes and have a staunch belief in one’s ideas. Also, while persevering to prove yourself, one must also keep their options open and learn to acknowledge every opportunity as it knocks your door. The most inspiring & optimistic story for me was that of entrepreneur Sanjeev Bikhchandani, who founded Naukri.com. Needless to say, this is a motivating read that encompasses an array of individuals who come from different backgrounds and have different interests but have one thing in common – determination and commitment to their beliefs.
Overall, this is a well-structured book with easy language and compact format but after a certain point the read tends to get monotonous. However, it is one of those tell-all reads that can be termed as the “book of facts” on Entrepreneurship.
If you are trying to find your feet beyond the world of placements and salaries then this might be a good read to start.
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