Two books in a month is fast reading when compared to my regular pace. It also means that my regular spend on money is actually yielding some returns.The latest book i managed to finish is another biography, written in a friendly and fast pace. In 'Go Kiss the World', Subroto Bagchi writes about his life, what has shaped him and shares several useful nuggets for any young person.
Several things about Subroto and his book immediately struck a chord as i share the same background or context. I too spent most of teen years in Orissa, changed four schools and loved the experience. The open spaces at our township in Paradip, my schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya, the library that exposed me to great English novels which eventually helped me crack b-school exams with ease. I have sometimes wondered if that was a blessing or a curse since I was not exposed to enough competition that led to spectacular failures in competitive exams right after my Class XII. Fortunately things turned for the better once a stint in big city academia and the ruthless competition there exposed all my weaknesses. I think most people who grow up in small towns indulge in this self doubt.
Bagchi admits that he was not cut out for a military career and though he was selected as the best NCC Cadet in the country, stayed away from it. He was fortunate to get some frank advice from a military person he later calls an angel. Later his first job was as a Lower Division Clerk (LDC) in the Orissa government. If not for some perhaps misplaced overconfidence, I too would have ended up as an LDC in my first job. After my own experimentation with a military career, one of my relatives was keen that I take up some job and sent me several application forms for exams conducted by the government for selection into LDC positions. I promptly said No, though at that time i was not aware of what i would end up doing. I had no angel like Bagchi's when I was teenager and ended up wasting a couple of years of my academic career! But I found my angel later in final year of graduation (one Capt. Parthibhan of Pentafour Software in 1995), and this man who had then just returned from Singapore pointed me in the right direction. The book underscores the need to find good mentors and also be available to others as a mentor.
On a TV interview I happened to see while reading this book, Bagchi answered to a question, that one company that he really admires is Infosys. He calls Infosys an institution and not just a company. Building a company is not a big deal, but building an institution is! I couldn't agree less having seen this company for quite some time now.
One of the things I liked is the perspective of a career spanning thirty or forty years and not a few years or the current job. I found myself giving similar advice to a group of youngsters couple of days ago! He also debunks the romantic myth several IT professionals hold about early retirement; I take that as a timely advice. I really wish I had read a book like this before I started my career - could have done a few things differently.