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A Poet amid Business Books

Why Khalil Gibran is a must for corporate leaders


Name: Deepak Puri
Designation: Chairman & Managing Director, Moser Baer India

I enjoy reading books of all kinds. Among business books, it is nice to read autobiographies or incisively reported stories of great companies. Let me put down a few that I have loved reading and can say that have influenced me in direct and indirect ways:

Parkinson’s Law
By Cyril Northcote Parkinson
A seminal work. It is difficult to think of another book that is as much fun to read as it is spot-on in its observations. Work, it says, expands to fill the time allotted to its completion. I do believe that the busiest man is the one who has time to spare. You will find great scientists, businessmen and writers have the time to pursue completely unrelated passions — from watching films and listening to music to cooking and gardening.

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?
By Louis V. Gerstner
Gerstner is the man who saved IBM from going bust in the 1990s. It is part of corporate folklore and in this book Gerstner tells the story compellingly. He draws from his experience in other organisations like American Express and provides great insights into leadership.

The Complete Works of Khalil Gibran
By Khalil Gibran
To include the Lebanese-American poet in my list of business books might appear strange, but for me, reading Gibran’s thoughts is a must for all corporate leaders. At one point he says words to the effect that sometimes ‘adversity’ is a huge favour. Against strong winds, the kite rises into the sky. No wind and the kite won’t fly. You need occasional jolts to shake you out of staid thinking. Or he talks about the need to create happiness in all aspects of life and we in the corporate world talk about satisfying multiple stakeholders. His profound words often seem like those of a great management guru.

Hot, Flat and Crowded
By Thomas L Friedman
Friedman has that rare ability to be lucid and anecdotal about complex issues. After his book The World is Flat, this book is a masterly treatise on Code Green, the biggest innovation project in human history. In a world that is getting hot, flat and crowded, the task of creating the tools, systems, energy sources, and ethics that will allow the planet to grow in cleaner, more sustainable ways is going to be the biggest challenge of our lifetime. I am passionate about this issue and this book makes great sense to me. Everyone should read it. As Friedman says, we need to change things and do it fast. Change is required if we want things to stay habitable on the planet.

Barbarians at the Gate
By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
It has got to be one of the most dramatic business narratives. It has the kind of quality, fly-on-the-wall business journalism that deserves the title of ‘great’.

Forbes Greatest Technology Stories
By Jeffrey S. Young
It is a fascinating compilation of stories that have brought about the digital revolution. Technology innovation — of which we at Moser Baer know a thing or two — fascinates me and this compilation chronicles several decades of technology innovation: IBM, Apple, Microsoft, et al.