3 Autobiographies I've read this year and why you should read them too
I have always been a fan of autobiographies rather than those self proclaimed self-help book. This is due to the fact that they are written by personalities who actually got their hands dirty. They have seen the rough times and have braced the high tides. So reading biographies give me a different perspective of looking at problems around me and how I can tackle things when everything goes downhill. This year, I managed to read three autobiographies and I recommend them to everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur.
How I braved Anu Aunty and Co-founded a Million Dollar startup by Varun Agarwal
‘The key is to just get on the bike, and the key to getting on the bike…is to stop thinking about “there are a bunch of reasons I might fall off ” and just hop on and peddle the damned thing. You can pick up a map, a tire pump, and better footwear along the way.’
This is a quintessential read for any out-of-college guy in India who is willing to take the roads less traveled. In this humorous biography, first generation entrepreneur Varun Agarwal talks about the problems he faced while launching a startup. From the initial challenges everyone face such as logistics cost and funding woes to how anyone can market effectively on a low budget, everything has been brilliantly taken care by him. What makes this book unique is the funny tone of the author in which he has described the events unfolding around him while he is busy in establishing his venture. The poking Anu Aunty in the story who is hell bent on getting him a job and never leaves an opportunity to criticize his plans is exactly what level of support you can expect from the society. This story also touches upon various sensitive issues such as the expectations of our parents and the changing dimensions of friendship as we enter into a business, albeit in a funny manner. The story is gripping due to the fact that we start correlating it to what we see around us and the problems we face before even starting our ventures. Overall, this is a must read for every first time entrepreneur in India.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
'The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.''Sure, it would have been the cautious, conservative, prudent thing. But the roadside was littered with cautious, conservative, prudent entrepreneurs. I wanted to keep my foot pressed hard on the gas pedal.''Somebody may beat me—but they’re going to have to bleed to do it.'
I picked up this book because I was intrigued with the title and was wondering as to why of all the things in the world, someone will call himself a 'Shoe Dog'. And once it began, boy! it was one hell of a ride. In the words of Bill Gates it is "A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.” And that is exactly what it is. The story is filled with countless moments of grim hopes, when everything seemed to be doomed - only to be rescued by the persistence and perseverance of the author. Reading this book gives you an idea of how difficult it can be and how you just need to keep going when everything is squared up against you. Time and again, the story will give you the feel of Shawshank Redemption. If you ever plan of starting you own venture, this is the Bible you should definitely read beforehand.
Losing My Virginity by Sir Richard Branson
"My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently achievable, challenges and trying to rise above them."
I have always wondered how someone can excel in so many fields and this book was on my TBR since forever. Finally, it was this year that I managed to read this book and although it is an amazing story, but I somewhat didn't enjoyed one third of the book which seemed like more of his travel and philanthropy journal. Two important aspects this book teach (and the reason I recommend reading it) are the Power of Branding and Networking. This is a story of an entrepreneur who will go to any lengths to grab eyeballs and garner attention for his newest ventures. Throughout his life, he has participated in death defying adventure sports and ensured that the name 'Virgin' was prominently advertised by each of his expeditions. During the entire narrative, he has time and again proved that he is the David who is not afraid to take on the Goliaths of business world. The other aspect of business we learn from him is the power of networking and how we can leverage it to our advantage. Other important aspects of business such as diversification and finances have also been touched upon in detail. Overall, this gives us and overview of how we can run a business and grow it into a conglomerate of companies. The storytelling is slow at times, but it is indeed a fulfilling read.
Books play an important part in the development of our personality. They are even more important when we are venturing in uncharted territories and act as our pole star at the time of adversities. Do you also like reading entrepreneurial biographies like I do? Which ones are your favorite and you would recommend me to read ? Tell me in the comments and I will be happy to read them soon.