Startups and Nomads @ BYOB Party in October 2019 (Part 6)

Abhaya spoke about The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz. The book is primarily targeted at CEOs. “It’s a polarizing read,” Abhaya said. “Just go take a peek at Goodreads. Horowitz has a tendency to idolize Silicon Valley and his love for rap music could be jarring for some readers. But he believes in telling like it is as a CEO should. If you do not share information, you are isolating yourself from solutions. Also your credibility increases if you are honest with the people who have been hired to help your business.

“In the over-advised world of startups, Ben manages to address some things no one else would address. And those things that come only from someone who has been in the trenches. Your key customer disappearing in a snap, right before you are about to make a big move, finding cracks in your accounting right before a deal, have the external world explode just when things were beginning to look good. If you stick around long enough, the question is not if these things will happen. Question is when.

I do not agree with everything he says… but I would suggest that every startup founder to read this. This is not a template on how to run your startup and you do not have to make the same choices but it will give you a taste of battles that lie ahead or remind you of those that you have yourself fought.”

You can read Abhaya’s Goodreads’ review here.

Another book Abhaya talked about was The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad a book that throws light on the nomadic people who live in the FATA area. Abhaya enjoyed reading the vignette style short stories that shared a story arc.

Quote from his Goodreads review: ” The author spent large part of his life as a civil servant in the FATA area and seems well acquainted with the area, the tribes, the history. The writing shows his love for the people but there is also a certain detachment. He describes both good and horrific as a neutral observer, never taking a judgmental tone, letting your own reactions and emotions to color the bleak landscape he is describing.

The stories show various facets of life in these areas. We get to see the disruption caused to nomadic lifestyle by the firming up of national borders, the strict tribal codes of behavior, interplay between the government machinery and age-old tribal culture and the status of women in the society.”

More books in Part 7.

Maple Syrup, Talent and the Joy of Cleaning@ BYOB Party in March, 2016 (Part 4)

There were many non-fiction books that readers discussed besides the classics and fiction discussed (Check Parts 1, 2 and 3)


Sudharsan read War Plan Red by Kevin Lippert, a book that begins with British rule in Canada.The book is about the secret cold war between the United States and Canada. Some motives for the plan: capturing all the world’s supply of maple syrup, ice hockey players and natural resources. Conversation veered to the upcoming elections in the US.

little book of talentMadhu Sagar talked about a non-fiction book by US journalist Daniel Coyle. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving your skills. This book takes you all around the world in search of the greatest talent.  It’s a manual in a world where performance is rated highly and it’s not self-help. The handbook contains scientifically proven methods that can help improve the skills of a child and an organization.

There are two kinds of skills- hard skills are acquired by repitive practise and soft talent is more organic and fluid. Madhu read out a couple of tips to us. For instance, if you want to have a genius in your home, you don’t need to get the child air conditioning. Spartan existence is conducive to innovation as necessity is the mother of invention. So we have thinkers like Ramanujan who wrote reams of theorums in his head because of an acute shortage of paper. And Russian coders who coded in their head. Watch Hackers wanted to understand this better.

RomanAjay got a biography titled Roman by Roman Polanski. The world famous director of great movies like Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown vindicates himself by writing his side of the story.  “Polanski writes in a very mater of fact style and there’s absolutely no self-pity,” Ajay says. He went on to narrate how Roman the boy who lived in Poland lost his mother and sister to the extermination camps. He survived as did his father with whom he reunited much later. But tragedy followed him even later when he was a director in the US. His wife and unborn child were murdered by the grusesome serial killer Charles Manson. Polanski later was charged with stauotory rape and he fled the country. If you are a fan of this controversial director and want to hear his side of the story, this book is a must read.

the hard thing about hard thingsNilesh picked up The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs. This book is based on his popular blog and talks about the stuff that business school won’t teach you. In the book, Horowitz shares insights and anecdotes about the problems running a startup involves.

“I completely agreed with author when he says that most of the advice that we get is not applicable. Horowitz provides simple solutions that are really not simple. For example, there is a misconception in companies that if you come to the manager with a problem, you need to bring in a solution as well. This makes absolutely no sense,” Nilesh said.

That was the business book of this BYOB party.

spark joy

Sumaa went by the recommendations of her friends and chose a highly unconventional  bestseller book called Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. This illustrated version of the KonMari method deconstructs the cleaning process with how to clean everything from folding socks to organizing pictures.” What worked for me as that the book is not preachy. It doesn’t touch on over-consumption, feng shui or spirituality. For Kondo, cleaning should create joy. You keep only what you need and what gives you joy. She also traces the emotional journey of many of her clients.It’s an unusual book and inspiring.”

What a list of books! Can’t wait for the next BYOB Party…..what are you reading now?