In my teens, I read Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead — it was very fashionable then. It is not surprising to see Alan Greenspan’s influence on her writing and the underlying appeal of what she said over time. Two things stand out: Professional integrity and the value of creativity and innovation. I live in an industry driven by innovation, which this book exemplifies; if you are driven by innovation, it affects the way you drive and approach your business. The book can shape your value system and approach, and give you insight on sustainability of what you do and what you create.
The second book I really like is Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda, which I read when I was twenty. It gave me a balanced perspective on life and contextualised professional life as one part of it. It really opens your eyes on the inter-connectedness of life, and it tells you that your purpose is not just to fulfil individual objectives; if you have the opportunity to do more, you should.
You can do any job given to you in two ways: You get what you need or you build something that goes beyond your watch but creates value and it endures above time. It is about building an approach to life. For example in the mortgage scenario, if the banks did what they are supposed to — give the right kind of mortgages to the people who were the right profile — they would have enabled people to build houses and pay back. But in the hurry to build profits, they lent to people who could not pay back, and the whole thing collapsed.
(Coordinated by Nilofer D’Souza)
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(This story appears in the 13 August, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)