Virtuous individual: Richard
Branson sees youthful opportunity in old dilemmas
are needs. They're the same on the other side of the globe. Ergo,
business must go global. Voices too. This has had its moments of
fun. 'Better dead than red,' ran a slogan in the US once; people
across the Pacific heard it as 'Better dead than led', scratched
their heads, and resolved to lead instead. 'We're always consensual-your
elections are silly,' went a cross-ocean rebuff some years later;
people back on the other shore heard something else, griped awhile,
and invented Viagra.
People and places differ. Even in the internet
age. According to Diamond Jared's Guns, Germs And Steel, human differences
can be traced to earth formations, survival strategies and so forth...
it's a long story. Anyhow, even now, people from seafaring countries
often prefer to 'trawl the net' online, fisherman-like, while inland
folk like to 'crawl the web' spider-like, sometimes even laterally.
Meanwhile, the very 'web' imagery evokes differing thoughts. A superhero
fantasy for some, a camouflage to others. Yes, people differ.
21 LEADERS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
By Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner
Price: Rs 395
Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner, who wrote Riding The
Waves Of Culture, are consultants on 'intercultural management'.
Now this is a tricky subject; going about sticking labels on groups
of people could have nasty effects. As diversity experts, however,
these two are quite careful, even keen on passing the 'global test'
of approval. They avoid simplistic this-or-that binaries, and speak
of values as continuums with contrasting ends, without dropping
hints of what's good or bad. Yet, they have heaps of research on
differences that can be used to club people together as 'cultures'
on the world map.
Americans, for example, like universal rules
('no booze, buddy, is no booze'), while East Asians tend to go case
by case ('okay, well, just this time'). Americans are individualistic
('gimme my own spaceship controls'), while people further east are
relatively collectivist ('we're all in it together'). Some folk
like precision ('we won'), others are fine fuzzy ('depends what
you mean'). Some express themselves volubly ('bleep'-expletive deleted),
others contain their emotions ('uhm'). The differences go on.
To the global leader, each of those contrasts
is a 'dilemma'-a word strewn liberally around the pages of 21 Leaders
For The 21st Century: How Innovative Leaders Manage In The Digital
Age, the latest work by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner. The job
of a global leader is to reconcile dilemmas. And this can be done
so long as one is ready to call what's false 'false', and do what's
needed to prove the point.
So far, so clear. It's the '21 leaders for
the 21st century' who get the lips pursed. At first glance, the
list screams 'oversell'. Sure they've all shaken businesses up,
but would any of them make a list made a hundred years from now?
Could they really hope to grab the imagination of kids who've not
even been conceived yet?
Yet, it's not entirely absurd. So long as people
continue to read, they could possibly lead. At least in some fuzzy
way. The specific successes of the 21 may be far from historic,
but there is something universal in their rejection of 'either-or'.
And in their passion for value synthesis. They have all dared to
think beyond the 'box' defined by current thought limits (set by
Take Virgin's Richard Branson. This young man
started by selling music that the big guys were too scared of, and
has gone about resolving one dilemma after another by refusing to
take himself too seriously. He has created a big business poking
fun at big business, and revels in being a rebel against his own.
He sold condoms turning people pink in the face, started Virgin
Bride stores on the brainwave of a flight stewardess, and was once
found by a survey to be the favourite for the job of editing the
Should one be jealous? Who knows. Is this book
all ra-ra all the way? Yes. Or maybe not. There must be a way to
By Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya & S. David Young
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Price: Rs 1,372
capital is a finance function, right? Well, yes and no. For even
while beancounters remain indispensable when it comes to the nuances
of internal-rate-of-return (IRR) or return-on-capital-employed (ROCE),
attracting investors has become as much a marketing function as
selling a bar of soap or that foreign holiday package.
So no matter who you are, a CEO going in for
private placement, a small business owner running into a cash flow
problem, or a young entrepreneur on the trail of a venture capitalist,
Attracting Investors is just for you. The authors, marketing guru
Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, and S. David Young, take you
through the process of raising capital by winning over investor
mind, heart and marketshare, using the marketing techniques of prospecting,
targeting, segmenting, differentiation, positioning, brand building
The book even has a crash course on sources
of capital-from angel finance, private equity and vendor financing
to financial institution loans. And what's more, the book takes
you, step by step, into the mind of your potential customer, clearly
spelling out the inherent risks and strengths with every capital
partner. What, for instance, motivates business angels? How do they
differ from one another? The authors sum up by concluding that to
attract and keep investors, you should stick to the value-creating
principles and discipline of everyday brand marketing, customer
service and process-orientation.
CREATING REGIONAL WEALTH IN THE INNOVATION
By Jeff Saperstein & Dr Daniel Rouach
Price: Rs 595
valley, Taiwan, Ireland, France, Sweden, Israel, Munich, Cambridge
and Bangalore. Places that have little in common. Yet, Jeff Saperstein
and Daniel Rouach in their book Creating Regional Wealth In The
Innovation Economy: Models, Perspective And Best Practices show
how these assorted "entrepreneurial hotspots'' have become
powerful magnets for talent, money and ideas, and powerful incubators
for tomorrow's best companies. They also explain why some locations
succeed in their quest for innovation and sustain their competitive
advantages, while others fail.
While the success stories of Bangalore and
Silicon Valley are already well documented, there's much to gain
from the chapters on Ireland's emergence as Europe's high-tech hub
and Sweden's transformation into a communications technology centre.
The Irish experiment, for example, has been one of dovetailing technological
progress and government policy. While the country attracted manufacturers
in the 1980s because of low wages and tax incentives, once this
edge wore out, the government shifted focus and repositioned Ireland
as a hub for internet and other creative businesses. It adopted
a proactive approach to e-commerce by enacting the E-Commerce Act,
July 2000, and deregulating the telecom market. All this has made
it the 'Celtic Tiger'-the fastest-growing of all OECD countries.
These stories could make this book a good reference for many and
a fun read for techies.