Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

Cover of Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

First, a rant…

When I was reviewing this book last week, my cousin brother (of age 11) saw the title and asked me about it. He asked if this book suggests we should not eat and become a fool. I didn’t know how to explain the meaning of the title to him in simple words. He is quite sharp, that’s true but it still takes some effort. I am going to take that effort now.

I started reading this book about the time I successfully divided my life in two parts: home and office. Earlier, there was no distinction between the two. I worked from home and could not afford to have a time-table set for work and personal time. Of course, I can’t afford to divide them even now but ever since I have got myself an office to work from, I try and make sure that I only do everything else I ever wanted to do at home.

Stack of my books

I have loved books from as long as I can remember. I have a decent collection but sadly, I haven’t been able to read most of it. I have got many more books since the photo was taken but I had hardly read them. I wanted to but couldn’t.

Finally, after getting the office, I was suddenly able to read all the books I wanted. Now, my schedule is to get home, freshen up, have dinner and sit back with a book to read picked up randomly. The first book I picked up was one of the most recent books I bought: “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish”.

When I first saw this book in the store, I thought that it sounds interesting but what value will I get out of it. I mean, the book is a collection of stories of MBA’s from IIMA. I don’t have anything in common with them. How will the book help me in my dreams of wanting to do something of my own? I gave it a skip at those times but then an offer came up at one of the stores and I bought it.

My thoughts on the book

I started reading the book planning to finish it quickly so that I can get to other books. I hit upon variety of experiences, tips and strategies and I wanted to be able to get back to them easily later. I bought a highlighter and started marking phrases that I thought would be useful to me sooner or later.

In some of the stories, such points would appear frequently whereas in some, they were few and far. All in all, the book is worth even for those few places where such points appeared. Apart from this, the text is mostly filler and sometimes, downright boring. Each story begins with childhood of the person and goes on to his education, career and life in general, not necessarily in that order. It is mainly at these places where the stories get boring.

The childhood experiences, in my opinion, just serve to indicate that an entrepreneur can come from anywhere. It is very much like Ratatouille film’s punch line: “Anyone can cook”. In the movie, Anton Ego elaborates on this line saying that “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere”. Entrepreneurs, like many other artists, can come from anywhere and often from the most unlikely places. The collective experience of twenty-five childhood stories show how different each person’s history is. This fact is further emphasized in the sequel “Connect the Dots” but that is for another post.

Further, the book also shows that apart from a MBA at IIMA, these twenty-five people have very few things in common. In fact, the only thing I found common to everyone was their passion. Some started their venture with partners, some alone. Some started with millions or rupees in capitals whereas some started with a few thousands or even lesser. In fact, one amongst them does not even own the company but still calls himself (rightfully) an entrepreneur. This goes to show that entrepreneurship is nothing but a state of mind. It is a thought process that is distinguished by its insatiable thirst of doing something new and their hunger of something more from life. It is also characterized by an apparent foolishness in doing things; something which we call eccentricity in the people we like.

What I like most about the book is not just the success stories; but the fact that all this happened in India and all of them are related by an Indian Institute. The hard work, honesty and commitment described in the book is exactly what is needed more in India.

The book’s title essentially sums all the stories in one phrase: “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish”. All the people in the story left high-paying jobs to enter the bittersweet world of entrepreneurship and they did not give it up when it didn’t work out for a first few years. They were always hungry for more to come and did things many would call foolish.

More about the book

The book is written by Rashmi Bansal, who herself is a MBA from IIMA. It contains twenty-five stories of various people who graduated from IIMA and at various points in their life took it upon themselves to do something different. The stories are broadly classified into three sections:

  • The Believers – This section contains ten stories where the people knew that entrepreneurship was the way to go. They took the plunge straight after MBA or after a few years of work.
  • The Opportunists – This section covers eleven stories where the people did not plan on it but snatched the chance when they got it.
  • The Alternate Vision – This section covers stories of people who are using entrepreneurship for social impact or their own creative expressions.

This is the list of the twenty-five stories:

  • Sanjeev Bikhchandani, naukri.com
  • Shantanu Prakash, Educomp
  • Vinayak Chatterjee, Feedback Ventures
  • Ashank Desai, Mastek
  • R Subramanian, Subhiksha
  • Narendra Murkumbi, Shree Renuka Sugars
  • Chender Baljee, Royal Orchid Hotels
  • Madan Mohanka, Tega Industries
  • Sunil Handa, Eklavya Education Foundation
  • Vardan Kabra, Fountainhead School
  • Deep Kalra, makemytrip.com
  • Rashesh Shah, Edelweiss Capital
  • Nirmal Jain, India Infoline
  • Vikram Talwar, EXL Service
  • K Raghavendra Rao, Orchid Pharma
  • Jerry Rao, Mphasis
  • Shivraman Dugal, Institute for Clinical Research in India
  • Shankar Maruwada, Marketics
  • Ruby Ashraf, Precious Formals
  • Deepta Rangarajan, IRIS
  • Cyrus Driver, Calorie Care
  • Venkat Krishnan, GiveIndia
  • Anand Halve, chlorophyll
  • S B Dangayach, Sintex
  • Vijay Mahajan, Basix

I am planning another (short) post on Connect the Dots. I am being kept busy by various things but I will try and write it soon. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful.

Update: I have written a post on Connect the Dots. Follow the link to read it.