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BW Businessworld

Sanjay Modi,

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What are you reading at the moment? What did you recently finish reading? What have you learnt from it?
At present I am reading Two Lives by Vikram Seth. I recently finished reading Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment written by Thich Nhat Hanh's. One of the key takeaways from the book is how to train ourselves to effectively create the conditions for our own happiness; both personally and professionally. Often life puts us in challenging situations, faced by difficult people with tough decisions to make. Such times put our will, resolve and determination to test. The book motivates us to remove ‘dispersion' which normally tends to deflect our energies making us emotional, prey to confusion and lack of clarity. However in such times one should rely on their  inner strength and will power  to remain buoyant, focused and centred.
The one book all leaders read... and why?
I would recommend Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. As leaders move higher in their career graphs, they are faced with difficult conversations at work. The book is a manual for handling difficult conversations and other communications.  Another book would be The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction by Rebecca Shafir.  One of the most important communication skill for every leader is the art of listening. However in current times one faces many challenges and distractions which make it difficult to remain focused. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey answers the need in individuals to overcome personal chaos thus propelling them from negative co-dependence to ideal interdependence.

One book everyone in your sector should pick up... and why?
Based on a five-year research project, Good To Great written by Jim Collins, identifies the three critical factors for running a great business of any size. Another book that I strongly recommend to my peers is Blink by Malcom Gladwell. It explores the experience of making quick, impulsive decisions. Gladwell introduces the concept of "thin-slicing," being able to filter the important information from a multitude of variables. The book emphasises that it is the passion for the idea that we can achieve a better world if we understand and adjust our modes of decision-making.
What kind of books would you normally buy while travelling?
At all times, I simultaneously read 2-3 books which could be fiction, management and spirituality. However when travelling I prefer to read something on philosophy; Nine Lives by William Dalrymple, Freedom In Exile by Dalai Lama) or an autobiography  such as My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi).
Have you written any books? If not, do you plan to write in future?
Yes, currently I am grappling with the thought of penning down something. There are a couple of aspects that I would like to explore such as human behaviour or spirituality (who we are and why we are here). I think in next 12 months, I will possibly zero down on the topic.
The books you grew up with? What did you like most about it?
Being a big thriller and mystery fan, I have always enjoyed reading books by Agatha Christie and P.G. Woodhouse.
Your book shelf consists of....
It consists of books on travel, management, spirituality, philosophy, autobiographies among others.
Where do you shop for books?
I buy books from bookstores at airports as I travel frequently.  Also, I love to spend time in the bookstores like Landmark on Sunday afternoons.
Have your reading habits changed in the past four or five years? If so, how....
Yes, my reading habits have changed gradually over the years with books on spiritual leadership and management coming to the fore. Starting from fiction and management, I now enjoy reading more of philosophy, religion and spirituality.
One book you cherish that you received as a gift... and who gave it to you.
My wife gifted me Many Lives: Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. Many lives, the book  transcends the man made boundaries of time and spirituality and enters the realm of super sub consciousness; where this life time passes in the blink of an eye. Experiencing the unexplained is phenomenon close only to the self. It was wonderful experience reading and travelling the journey along with the author. It has changed my perspective to life.
Another book that I cherish is Totto Chan by Tetsuko Kuroyanag gifted to me by my daughter. The book is about an extraordinary teacher Sosaku Kobayashi who was firm believer in freedom for expression and activity. The book elaborates on his great love for children and how he set about educating them. It taught me that every child is unique and a gift of God and deserves care to help him/her bloom.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 02-05-2011)

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