Publisher: Penguin Books
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As I was drudging along the well trodden path of a soon-to-be graduate, Zen Garden by Subroto Bagchi was a pleasantly inspiring read for me. Aptly subtitled ‘Conversations with Pathmakers’, it is exactly that – a collection of conversations with the entrepreneurs who helped shape India’s dynamic future. I took a special interest as I began reading this book as the dedication goes out to one Shrutee, my near-namesake.
The book is divided into sections with titles matching the focus of the interviews grouped under each of them. ‘Determination’, ‘Vision’ and ‘Courage’ start off the sections which also include a few unique ones like ‘Pain’ and ‘Altruism’. Originally published under Bagchi’s column in Forbes India, these conversations are succinct and easy to follow, which make them a very approachable read even for those disinterested in business and entrepreneurship.
The first chord that strikes in the mind when one talks about any new venture, small though it may be, is that of money. The very first conversation in Zen Garden proves the importance of things beyond simple money. As the founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards states, almost in passing, “…I also started online trading and made myself a couple of hundred thousand dollars. That was to become my seed investment in Sula.” This casual, almost throwaway reference to the foundation of his company had me reading it over multiple times in astonishment. Philosophical literature has pages abound dedicated to the importance of aspects beyond the material, but this statement made it all real. The seemingly simple power of dedication is highlighted as a core value beautifully.
Why does this book, some may ask, deserve more attention than others written on similar topics? I would say that the charm of this collection lies in its honesty and directness. The author himself has very less to say. Bagchi has left the conversations as they are, or has simply narrated them and has summarized each section – leaving the voices of the book to stand strong without any scope of distortion. The reader is free to take away innumerable gems from these open conversations. This “power to receive”, as Bagchi calls it, can be exercised by the reader throughout the journey of the book.