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BW Businessworld

Yateesh Srivastava, AEGON Religare Life Insurance

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What are you reading at the moment? What did you recently finish reading? What have you learnt from it?
I am currently reading The Temple Goers by Aatish Taseer. I have just finished reading Hidden In Plain Sight by Erich Joachimsthaler. It teaches one to look at known things in a different way and reach innovative conclusions and solutions. The book provides a fascinating insight into consumer behaviour and motivations and what organisations can learn from a deep understanding of who buys, or does not buy, their products and why.
 
The one book all leaders must read... and why?
Execution by Bossidy, Charan and Burck. I think most ideas fail to get off the ground, not because they were intrinsically bad, but because we do not have a plan in place to execute them efficiently. Execution is about diligently sweating the small stuff to get better results.
 
One book everyone in your sector should pick up... and why?
Dilbert comics. In a sector where Murphy's law applies it is extremely important to look at the lighter (ridiculous) side of corporate existence. We face a gamut of experiences from the sublime to the ridiculous that almost every day across channels and geographies; it pays to look at things in perspective.
 
What kind of books would you normally buy while travelling?
While travelling I normally tend to pick up a lot of pulp fiction; the kind that you can finish while circling over Mumbai airport waiting to land. I read a wide range of authors but some favourites include Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Vince Flynn, Harlan Coban and Jeffery Deaver. I buy management books as well but those are always to be read later.
 
Have you written any books? If not, do you plan to write in future?
No. However, I do feel there is a book hidden somewhere in me but I just have not looked hard enough for it. There are number of half-started and some half finished manuscripts lying on the wasteland of my computer's hard drive.
 
The books you grew up with? What did you like most about it?
Ever since I can remember there were books in the house courtesy my mother. She not only encouraged me to read but also put no restrictions on what I read. In my growing up years, I read books by Enid Blyton, Biggles, Williams, Hardy Boys, Nacy Drew, Phantom, Mandrake, Commando comics, Archies, P. G. Wodehouse, Billy Bunter. As I grew a little older Ayn Rand, Nevil Shute, Pearl S. Buck, Steinbeck all joined the band.
 
Your book shelf consists of....
It is a motley collection of literary fiction, world literature, comics, Indian writing in English, mythology, pulp fiction, marketing and management titles, biographies, cookbooks… just about everything!
 
Where do you shop for books?
I know online shopping is convenient but for me nothing beats the heady experience of touching and  feeling while browsing for books. The smell of paper and ink is just so heady. My favourite browsing destination is Landmark. With the amount of time spent travelling, airport bookstores are also favourite places. Online, I like to shop at Flipkart.com
 
 Have your reading habits changed in the past four or five years? If so, how....
They have changed a bit in the sense that now I find it possible to read two or three books of different genres simultaneously. Earlier, I used to read a book from cover to cover over a single or multiple readings before starting the other. Now I can read different genres and make the transition from thriller to strategy seamlessly.
 
One book you cherish that you received as a gift... and who gave it to you
I had misplaced my copy of To Kill A Mocking Bird and could not find one anywhere. A friend of mine finally managed to track down a copy and buy it for me, I really cherish that.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 30-05-2011)