Tag Archives: bookclub

SEAP Book Club Report: “Good to Great”

This is a liveblog of the SEAP Book Club Meeting on 7th July, where Gaurav Mehra, co-founder and MD of Saba Software, talked about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. The SEAP Book Club meets on the first Saturday of every month at 10:30am in Sungard, Aundh.

This book is the second in a series of books. The first was Built to Last which talked about why some companies survive for more than 100 years – while others die. Good to Great talks about what makes some companies special enough to jump far higher over other successful companies. The 3rd book was How the Mighty Fall – This talked about why some companies, which seem to be doing great, fail. And finally, Great by Choice, their latest book, pulls all these threads together.

Interesting points made during the talk:

  • Good is the enemy of the great. If you’re good enough you will not strive for greatness. Need to be constantly wary of falling into this trap.
  • What you need is disciplined people, followed by disciplined thought, and finally disciplined action which will result in breakthrough greatness
  • This book is based on a study over 30 years of some great companies, deliberately compared against very similar companies which were successful but fell short of greatness. The suggestions on the book are based on what they found empirically.
  • Level 5 Leadership:
    • Personal Humility combined with Professional Will
    • Darwin Smith of Kimberly Clark: “I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job”
    • It’s always we not _I_
    • Usually not media heroes – not many articles will be written about them
    • Have ambition for company, not for self
    • 90% of such leaders come from within the company
  • Larger than Life leaders (Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca) are not good for a company at this stage. Characteristics of such leaders:
    • Took existing large/great companies – did not create the greatness
    • Set up successors for failure
    • Personal ambition trumps what’s best for companies
    • Large acquisitions, which might not make sense for the company
    • Note: the names mentioned above are not bad leaders. But they’re not the leaders who can take a good company to greatness.
    • Data shows that bringing a larger than life outsider into a company is negatively correlated with performance
  • Set up successors for success
    • Humble leaders with ambition for company, not self, do this very well
    • Larger than life leaders usually fail at this
    • Henry Singleton, co-founder of Teledyne was a good leader, built and ran Teledyne for a very long time, but the company did not do well after his retirement because he wasn’t able to groom a good successor
  • Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus
    • The great leaders did not focus on what to do. They focused on who should be in charge, and great things happened automatically
    • Having a genius at the top, with a thousand helpers (e.g. Singleton at Teledyne) is a bad idea. When the genius leaves, the helpers don’t know what to do.
    • It’s about whom you pay, not how or how much. The people should be there because they are passionate about what you’re doing, not focused on the salary. “Hire five, work them like ten, and pay them like eight.” This will lead to a lot of turn over, especially in the early stages, but in the long term, this will work best.
  • When in doubt, dont hire
    • Hire only A+ people. As Steve Jobs pointed out, if you hire B people, they will in turn hire C people and your company will go to the dogs.
  • Give your best people where the opportunities are – not where the problems are
    • The CEO of RJR Nabisco put his best person in charge of the international business, which accounted for 1% of the business – because that’s where the growth was. He went from controlling 99% of the company to 1% of the company. The result – RJR Nabisco became a world leader before becoming the leader in USA.
  • Confront the brutal facts

The Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept idea is one of the most interesting parts of the book.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows only one thing. Focus on just that one big thing.

What you do, should be an intersection of these:

  • What you are deeply passionate about
  • What you are the best in the world about
  • What drives your economic engine

In other words, something is worth doing only if you can do it, you will enjoy doing it, and someone is willing to pay for it. If one of these is missing, dont do it.

Learn to say “No.” Stay with your Hedgehog principle and do not run after the new hotness. Like you have a ToDo list, you should also have a “Stop Doing” list. Your best returns come from having an undiversified portfolio (when you’re right).


  • Disciplined People
    • Level 5 Leadership
    • First Who then What
  • Disciplined Thought
    • Confront the Brutal Facts
    • Hedgehog Concept
  • Disciplined Action
    • Culture of Discipline
    • Technology Accelerations

SEAP Book Club Event Report: MindSet presented by Gireendra Kasmalkar

(This is a live-blog of the SEAP Book Club meeting that happened on 4th Feb at Sungard Aundh. Gireendra Kasmalkar, MD & CEO of SQS India, talked about a book called “Mindset – The Psychology of Success.” The contents of this post are not directly related to technology, however, it is published on PuneTech since this was a SEAP meeting, and most of the people attending were senior members from Pune’s IT industry. Hence, we felt that it would be of interest to PuneTech readers to get an idea of what senior member of SEAP are talking about. Please note: this is a partial and incomplete account of what Gireendra talked about, and possibly has my biases. Also, since it is a live-blog, it will ramble a little and might contain errors.)

There are two different mindsets for humans: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset. People with a fixed mindset use events as opportunities for assessment and validation of what they’re already doing. Those with a growth mindset use events as an opportunity to learn. Thus, the potential of a person with a fixed mindset is known, whereas the potential of a person with growth mindset is not only unknown, but also unknowable.

The key difference between the fixed mindset and growth mindset is how they think about natural talent vs effort. In general, as a society, we tend to value natural talent, and effortless accomplishment. But what’s so heroic about having a gift? Effort ignites ability and turns it into accomplishment. Note: just because someone is talented and can accomplish things effortlessly, it does not mean that we should think less of them. But we shouldn’t give them more credit just because they did it effortlessly.

A person with a fixed mindset thinks that if you need to put in effort then you’re not talented. And they are terrified of putting in an effort, because what if you fail even after put in effort? Thus, failure is a setback, and they tend to blame it on someone else. On the other hand success is about being gifted and is validation of being smart. They have a sense of entitlement. They get a thrill from doing things that are easy for them, and their self-esteem comes from being better than others.

By contrast, a person with a growth mindset thinks of effort as the main driver of success. They are terrified by the idea of not capitalizing on opportunities. Failure does hurt them, but it does not define them. It is taken as an opportunity to learn and improve. So success is about putting effort and stretching yourself, thrills come from doing hard things, and self-esteem come from being better than yesterday.

So, in the long term, growth mindset brings more success, and also helps you stay at the top.

Benjamin Bloom studied 120 outstanding achievers over 40 years. After 40 years of research, they concluded that it is not possible to predict future achievement of a person from current abilities. Basically, that their research showed is that if one person can learn something then any other person can learn the same thing given appropriate prior and current conditions of learning (except for 2% of extremely gifted or extremely impaired people.)

Not performing up to standards should be seen as an indicator for further learning.

Psychological research shows that people who are told they were brilliant become more conservative (because they want to conserve their “brilliant” image) whereas people who are praised for their effort put in more effort the next time.

Bottomline: negotiators, managers, leaders are made not born. Any ability, including artistic ability can be learnt. And does not really take very long to learn.

Failure is the key to learning, and achievement, and ultimate success. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, gave a great commencement speech at Harvard talking about The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination. The basic claim is that success in school/college, resulting in a well paying job, is actually a deterrent to success – because you will no longer be willing to leave your comfort zone and take risks. Nitin Deshpande of Allscripts talks about an incident from the early part of his career: a person who was considering offering a partnership to Nitin asked Nitin whether he had ever failed at anything in life, and when Nitin said that he hadn’t really failed at anything, he was told that he was not qualified to be a partner.

Final thoughts:

  • If you think: “This is hard. This is fun,” then you have a growth mindset, and you’ll do well
  • Categorize people as learners and non-learners (instead of successes and failures.)
  • A fixed mindset will limit what you can achieve with your ability, whereas a growth mindset will help you realize the full potential.
  • You can and should train yourself to get into a growth mindset

SEAP Book Club Meet: “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” – Gireendra Kasmalkar

Software Exporters Association of Pune (SEAP) has a Book Club that meets on the first Saturday of every month, where one of the senior executives from the Software Industry in Pune gives a presentation based on a popular book.

This month, Gireendra Kasmalkar, Managing Director and CEO, SQS India, will talk about “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success”, at 10am on 4th Feb, at Sungard, Aundh.

If you are a professional in the IT industry, the SEAP Book Club is a good way to not only get a feel for the kinds of topics you need to worry about as you progress in your career, but also a place to meet some of the leaders of software companies in Pune.

More details about the book:

Mindset is one of those rare books that can help you make positive changes in your life and at the same time see the world in a new way.

A leading expert in motivation and personality psychology, Carol Dweck has discovered in more than twenty years of research that our mindset is not a minor personality quirk: it creates our whole mental world. It explains how we become optimistic or pessimistic. It shapes our goals, our attitude toward work and relationships, and how we raise our kids, ultimately predicting whether or not we will fulfill our potential. Dweck has found that everyone has one of two basic mindsets.

If you have the fixed mindset, you believe that your talents and abilities are set in stone-either you have them or you don’t. You must prove yourself over and over, trying to look smart and talented at all costs. This is the path of stagnation. If you have a growth mindset, however, you know that talents can be developed and that great abilities are built over time. This is the path of opportunity-and success.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. It’s on Saturday, 4th February, from 10am to 11:30am, at Sungard, Westend Center, Aundh. Register by sending a mail to rsvp@softexpune.org.