Friday, November 30, 2007

Basic principles of economics are simple and commonsensical

The Economic Naturalist
Robert H. Frank

Have you wondered why female models earn so much more than male models? Or, why do stock analysts seldom recommend selling a company’s stock? Why do 24-hour shops have locks on their doors? Why do humanities professors often write so unclearly? To these and more questions, Robert H. Frank has clear answers in The Economic Naturalist (

Less-is-more is a good approach to learning, be it language or economics, he says right at the start. Start slowly and see each idea in multiple contexts, the author guides. And allow the ‘naturalist’ in you to observe and ask questions.

‘Smoothing’ earnings can be a giveaway

Corporate Governance: A Financial Perspective
Scott C. Newquist and Max B. Russell

Managing earnings is a tricky business, write Scott C. Newquist and Max B. Russell in Corporate Governance: A Financial Perspective ( “It may start out as a well-intentioned effort to reduce price volatility and, in a certain sense, to protect shareholders’ interest. Unchecked, those good intentions can become the proverbial paving stones to a far more sinister place.”

When a company walks the road from ‘earnings management’ to ‘earnings manufacture’, you can see the signs, the authors say. For example, ‘smoothing’ earnings can be a giveaway. “Execs don’t actually exaggerate total earnings growth, but by lowering the likelihood of earnings surprises, they can mitigate quarterly stock price volatility and bolster investor confidence in the company’s future prospects.”

'You can combat price concessions and commoditisation pressures'

Value Merchants
James C. Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar, and James A. Narus

You believe that your products or services deliver superior value to customers, but you have difficulty in persuading customers of this. Help is at hand in Value Merchants by James C. Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar, and James A. Narus ( ).

CVM or customer value management is their prescription, to guide you into ‘a philosophy of doing business based on demonstrated and documented superior value.’ They define CVM as “a progressive and practical approach to business markets that, in its essence, has two basic goals: one, deliver superior value to targeted market segments and customer firms; and two, get an equitable return on the value delivered.”

'ALM is something that evolved out of banking and insurance history'

Handbook of asset and liability management
Alexandre Adam

Can ALM (asset-liability management) be piloted automatically? Will large non-financial corporates develop their own ALM teams? Does the ALM segment face a human resource shortage?

Alexandre Adam leaves these questions open in Handbook of asset and liability management ( ). But the 500-plus-page book explains “all the written and unwritten rules of ALM in detail, making it easier for everybody to understand the business.”

'Look beyond the obvious'

Book Mark
The Seven Lost Secrets of Success
Joe Vitale

You’re talking to a parade

Can you advertise today and not tomorrow? No, you can’t, says Bruce Barton. Because, you’re not talking to a mass meeting, you’re talking to a parade, he reasons. For starters, Barton is the second ‘B’ in BBDO, the famous advertising agency, and is “credited with naming General Motors and General Electric,” as Wikipedia informs. Retrieving the wisdom of the ‘forgotten genius’ is Joe Vitale’s The Seven Lost Secrets of Success ( Such as this nugget of Burton-speak dating back to 1920: “You think that you have told your story to the world, and that therefore your task is done. I tell you that overnight a new world has been born that has never heard your story.”


The principle of deception

The 7th Sense: Primordial strategies for personal and corporate success
Kalyan Sagar Nippani

Kautilya, the ancient Indian strategist and the author of Arthashastra, says, “Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be one.” This is called vigraha, deterrence by a symbolic display of power, writes Kalyan Sagar Nippani in The 7th Sense: Primordial strategies for personal and corporate success (

Nippani cites numerous examples of the principle of deception in operation. Such as Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain with more than 15,000 stores and nearly $10 billion revenues.

Monday, November 26, 2007

'Translation is at best an echo'

David Remnick

“There’s matter in these sighs, these profound heaves: You must translate: ‘tis fit we understand them,” demands King Claudius of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. Translation, though, isn’t easy, despite Blanch’s saying “I can with ease translate,” in King John, and Brutus speaking, in Coriolanus, of translating malice into love.

“Without translators, we are left adrift on our various linguistic ice floes, only faintly hearing rumours of masterpieces elsewhere at sea,” writes David Remnick in Reporting (

'Teach less, prepare less and punish less’

Learning from Children What to Teach Them
Malavika Kapur

All that Malavika Kapur remembers about her childhood is that she played and drew pictures or simply did nothing except wander around in the forest land that surrounded her home, observing the trees, birds and small animals, most of the time till the age of 10. “I went to school only when I thought it would be nice to have company!” she writes in Learning from Children What to Teach Them ( ).

“Teachers and the school system have been traditionally viewed as the ‘reservoir’ of learning. The purpose of this book is to draw the attention that the child is the ‘learning capital’ or ‘the scientist in the crib’,” reads the intro. More on the Web:

'Your company can grow by doing more with less'

The Antidote
Anand Sharma and Gary Hourselt

To do business amidst the extreme challenges of the 21st century, you need ‘a new management system that supports your company’s need for speed, agility, quality, innovation, and growth,’ say Anand Sharma and Gary Hourselt, in The Antidote (

Their ‘transformational management system’ involves everyone “in squeezing out waste, adding value to your processes, improving reliability and reducing variability in your processes, learning and responding to customer needs, and developing creative solutions to your – and your customers’ – most pressing problems.”

The full story of the controversial low-cost airline’

Siobhán Creaton

A Dublin-datelined posting, a few days ago on, was about Aer Lingus filing EU lawsuit seeking removal of Ryanair as its top shareholder. Ryanair, Europe’s no-frills leader, became the top shareholder in Aer Lingus after the Irish government privatised the previously state-owned airline in September 2006, the story informs.

Interestingly, Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair began his career as a clerk in Aer Lingus. His role “included working behind the counter dealing with customers — he described himself as a ‘counter jumper’,” writes Siobhán Creaton in Ryanair (, a book that recounts ‘the full story of the controversial low-cost airline’.

Hardcore accounting phrases

Technical Guide on Internal Audit in Upstream Oil and Gas Companies
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India ( ) has brought out Technical Guide on Internal Audit in Upstream Oil and Gas Companies. It begins with ‘important definitions and terminologies’ from A for ‘abandon’ to W for ‘wildcat’.

You’d learn, for instance, that ‘bottom-hole contract’ refers to ‘money or property paid to an operator for use in drilling a well on property in which the payer has no property interest’; the contributions are payable when the well reaches a pre-determined depth, regardless of whether the well is productive or not. ‘Christmas tree’ refers to ‘a series of pipes, valves and fittings assembled at the top of a well to control the flow of the oil’.

'Substitute an eco-friendly input for the polluting input'

Ecotaxes on Polluting Inputs and Outputs
Raja J. Chelliah, Paul P. Appasamy, U. Sankar and Rita Pandey

A Re 1 ‘deposit refund scheme’, incentive for rag-pickers, and removal of CENVAT on biodegradable plastics are among the suggestions in Ecotaxes on Polluting Inputs and Outputs by Raja J. Chelliah, Paul P. Appasamy, U. Sankar and Rita Pandey (

“As per the Justice Ranganath Mishra Committee recommendations, a deposit of Re 1 per bottle should be levied on PET bottles at the time of sale,” explains the book. The deposit can be refunded when the bottle is returned, and manufacturers should ‘set up a network of collection centres to collect the bottles and send them for recycling.’

'A city made for speed is made for success'

The Culture of Speed
John Tomlinson

Sings the Bard, in one of his poems, “Heart is bleeding, all help needing, O cruel speeding…” But in ‘The Winter’s Tale’, he would allow Camillo to say, “The swifter speed the better.”
Contradictions are perhaps good at latching on fast to speed, as John Tomlinson explores in The Culture of Speed ( Speed offers apparent opposites: ‘pleasures and pains, exhilarations and stresses, emancipation and domination’. The author, finds these aspects so intertwined that it seems impossible for us to say whether an increasing pace of life is, in essence, a good or a bad thing.

The PPC framework

A Guide to Organisational Creativity
Neville Smith and Murray Ainsworth

When idea-generating groups are at the job they are good at, it may be a good idea to use the PPC framework, suggest Neville Smith and Murray Ainsworth in A Guide to Organisational Creativity ( “The first P represents ‘the positives’ associated with the idea that has been put forward.” Explore the positives and record them before any negative judgments are allowed, the authors advise. The second P is for ‘the possibles’ — that is, ‘the extended ideas or opportunities which the idea could lead to, or which grow out of it’. Explore the possibles too before allowing space for judgmental expressions. Finally, the C, for ‘the concerns’, allows time for the negatives to surface.

The ‘zany idea’

Managing Change
Shelly Lazarus

At a time when the ‘Big Blue’ was having a tough time in the market, it wanted to launch an ad campaign. The creative journey started with a 26-year-old who had only been in the business for about two years, reminisces Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, in Managing Change ( “He had this really zany idea to do commercials in many different languages — not usual ones; he started with one in Czech — and to run subtitles on the bottom, as a way of saying that technology is universal and that the solutions that technology is coming up with actually bring our world together and are present everywhere.”

Four benefits in financing SMEs

Bank Finance for Small & Medium Enterprises
S.K. Bagchi

There are at least four benefits in financing SMEs, according to S.K. Bagchi in ‘Bank Finance for Small & Medium Enterprises’ ( One, the SME sector has been growing in its contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product); two, entrepreneurial interests would be encouraged and growth in the number of SMEs made possible; three, new products/services would be increasingly available for consumers; and competitiveness in business would rise.

'Nine steps to a deal’

Negotiating Outcomes
Harvard Business School Press

BATNA is the first of four key concepts that you must remember when negotiating, says Harvard Business School Press’ Pocket Mentor ‘Negotiating Outcomes’ ( ). The acronym, as you may know, stands for ‘best alternative to a negotiated agreement’ – the options when your negotiations fail to result in an agreement.

“This term was first used by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Program on Negotiation in their famous book, ‘Getting to Yes’.”

Eight rules of luck

Barrie Dolnick and Anthony H. Davidson

Puck talks of ‘unearned luck’, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Falstaff hears, in King Henry IV, of ‘lucky joys, and golden times and happy news.’
So, what is luck? “A vast subject that is extremely personal,” say Barrie Dolnick and Anthony H. Davidson in ‘Luck’ ( ). Luck can evoke a spectrum of feelings, ranging from enthusiasm to annoyance and frustration, they add. “No one can avoid using the word luck in everyday language. It seems to be as embedded in our lives as breathing.”

'A deep and long-lasting relationship'

Ethics in Marketing
Shel Horowitz

Joining the league of apparently oxymoronic phrases, such as “truth in numbers”, “fairness in justice” and “honesty in politics”, is Ethics in Marketing by Shel Horowitz ( “People do matter!” begins the intro, on a thumping note. “Too many businesses see marketing as a weapon of war. They think that to succeed, they have to climb over their competitors, fool their customers, and herd their employees into constricted conformity. I think that’s just plain wrong,” declares Horowitz.

Unity in diversity

The Indians
Sudhir and Katharina Kakar

If you find the Indian mind inscrutable, try The Indians by Sudhir and Katharina Kakar ( The notion of a singular Indian-ness may seem far-fetched, yet from ancient times European, Chinese and Arab travellers have identified common features among India’s peoples, the authors write. The underlying unity in diversity, perhaps, escapes our ‘modern eyes’, which are “more attuned to spotting divergence than resemblance,” they rue.

The four quadrants

The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication
Alan T. Belasen

To those who routinely spin words and push papers in ‘corp comm’ departments amidst much carping around, here is something from Alan T. Belasen that should sound sweet on the ears: “Corporate communication is like the conductor or the maestro, and the decentralised communication operatives are like the musicians in a symphony orchestra,” he writes in The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication (

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A perilous operation

Ambarish Satwik

Ambarish Satwik, a Delhi-based surgeon, begins Perineum ( on a matter-of-fact note: “On December 15, 1742, Bobby Clive, formally trained in bookkeeping and penmanship, entered the service of the Honourable Company of Merchants of London trading to the East Indies, as a clerk and was selected to serve at Fort St. George (Madras), the headquarters of British commerce on the Coromandel Coast.” Immediately thereafter is an extract from the medical record book of Dr John Rae, the Fort’s civil surgeon…about a perilous operation that Bobby had to undergo!

Chapter 2 moves fourteen years ahead, to 1756. “The siege of Calcutta. Cossimbazaar had been captured by the Nawab’s forces. The assault on Fort William was mounted by Siraj-ud-Daula’s army of 50,000 men…”

10 rules of thumb - Guidelines for responding to unethical adversaries’

Ethics, Integrity & Responsibility edited by J. Carl Ficarrotta
Richard T. De George

Good intentions and personal integrity are not enough to get one’s job done, writes Richard T. De George in an essay included in Ethics, Integrity & Responsibility edited by J. Carl Ficarrotta (

As ‘guidelines for responding to unethical adversaries’, De George lays down 10 rules of thumb, beginning with the diktat that you should not give in to the temptation to retaliate in kind. For example, “a company must counter a competitor’s lies with the truth, not with lies of its own.” Principles cannot be turned on or off at will, and victory at the cost of one’s principles will be hollow, the author reminds.

Dealing with terrorism

Global Business Environments: Understanding multicultural behaviour
Kamal Dean Parhizgar

Dealing with terrorism is problematic for multinational corporations, writes Kamal Dean Parhizgar in Global Business Environments: Understanding multicultural behaviour ( “MNCs annually spend a lot of money training their expatriate employees how to behave and cope with terrorist events and acts.” He mentions, as example, the $2-million rescue mission organised in 1979 by Ross Perot, the CEO of EDS, when two of his staff were taken hostage in Iran.

No country is willing to appear weak in the context of international relations

Risk Balance & Security
Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot and Leslie W. Kennedy

Who are the terrorists and what threat do they pose? For an answer, visit the Web site of the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), advises Risk Balance & Security by Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot and Leslie W. Kennedy (

The site’s database, one learns, “contains information on more than 20,000 incidents, the groups that were involved, and trials that took place.” This ‘up-to-date public inventory’ can be sorted by characteristics such as ‘group, location in the world, type of attack, perpetrator, and victim characteristics.’

‘Nuclear winter, Kargil spring’

Words, Words, Words: Adventures in Diplomacy
T. P. Sreenivasan

The younger generations of Indians in the US were more proud of India and its accomplishments than their parents, writes T. P. Sreenivasan in Words, Words, Words: Adventures in Diplomacy ( ), reminiscing on his days in the US after India tested nukes in May 1998.

“Unlike their parents, who have some grievance against India on account of their old experiences with the government or the social system, they look at India with clear eyes and are generally willing to help India overcome its present difficulties,” he reasons, in a chapter titled ‘Nuclear winter, Kargil spring’.

'Man has always been wolf to man'

John Bowe

Hard to believe, but slavery still exists in the US, says John Bowe in Nobodies ( ). “Free people benefit from slave labour. Not just big corporations, but ‘regular people’ — like you and me,” he writes. “We buy car parts made of steel fired with charcoal made by slaves in Brazil. We buy binders, cell phone chips, and leather purses manufactured by slaves in China, and shirts from Wal-Mart made by slaves in Burma.”

Man has always been wolf to man, rues Bowe. “The simple desire to get ahead in life can become a monstrous impulse… This impulse lurks in a million invisible ways in even the nicest people.” There is a dark side to globalisation, the book argues.

Rumours can be, and often are, substitutes for news

Rumors in Financial Markets
Mark Schindler

What can be everywhere, at any time, at any place? Rumour, says Mark Schindler in Rumors in Financial Markets ( Rumour is something mysterious, almost magical, he explains. “A rumour frequently produces a hypnotic effect. It fascinates, overwhelms, entraps and stirs up people’s minds. Rumours are the oldest mass medium in the world and their na ture is still difficult to grasp.”

In Macbeth, you hear Ross bemoaning the cruel times, “when we are traitors and do not know ourselves, when we hold rumour from what we fear, yet know not what we fear, but float upon a wild and violent sea each way and move.”

Strategic answers

The SBI Group Vision and Strategy
Yoshitaka Kitao

In the age of the Internet it is no longer good enough to offer a product in line with its value alone, says Yoshitaka Kitao in ‘The SBI Group Vision and Strategy’ ( You need to offer ‘network value’, he adds.

“For example, let us say that there is a fellow who wants to buy a house. The first thing he has to do is look up real-estate information, or obtain housing loan information such as what a financial institution offers, the most reasonable interest rate, and so on.”

‘Live’ e-learning classes offer plenty of interaction

Online Training
Laurel Alexander

Can computers replace human contact in learning environments? Opinion on this has been mixed, writes Laurel Alexander in Online Training (

A common culprit contributing to the ‘loss of touch’ for the e-student is the lack of bandwidth. “Limited bandwidth means slower performance for sound, video, and intensive graphics, causing long waits for download that can affect the ease of learning. The problem is greater over the public Internet, where more traffic jams occur.” Fatter pipes, greater compression of data, and hybrid CDs can be effective as antidotes.

A software to calculate the length and cost of a project schedule

How to Do Everything with Microsoft Office Project 2007
Elaine Marmel

For managing a project well you need to “define tasks, set task durations and dependencies, and assign resources to tasks,” and, well, do a lot more. For the ‘more’ part, though, you may take help from How to Do Everything with Microsoft Office Project 2007 by Elaine Marmel (

The book is about how Microsoft’s software can assist you in applying project management concepts to finish projects within time and budget constraints.

Four thinking techniques

Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown

Do you feel weighed down by the past, even as the rush of the present blinds you? Take a break, to read FutureThink by Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown ( “Future can be grasped only when you combine objective information about change with clear-eyed thinking,” they declare.

First, shed ‘educated incapacity’, they exhort, especially those who have too much information to see clearly. “As you become more experienced, ‘forgetting curves’ become much harder to navigate than ‘learning curves’.”

'Computer programs are protected as a literary work'

The Law of Patents – With a Special Focus on Pharmaceuticals in India
Feroz Ali Khader

Do computer programs qualify for a patent? To answer this question, the UK courts have relied on a variety of approaches, writes Feroz Ali Khader in The Law of Patents – With a Special Focus on Pharmaceuticals in India (

For instance, the verdict of the Court of Appeal in Aerotel Ltd vs Telco Holdings Ltd spoke of three approaches, viz. contribution, technical effect, and ‘any hardware’. The last is about ‘whether the claim involves the use of, or is to, a piece of physical hardware, however mundane (whether a computer or a pencil and paper)’. This approach was adopted in three cases – Pension Benefits, Hitachi and Microsoft – the author elaborates.

Suggestions for travelling executives

Managing Knowledge Security
Kevin C Desouza

Senior executives of an emerging biotechnology company had to travel to parts of the world that were not the most secure. And they “often carried highly sensitive corporate material with them while travelling,” narrates Kevin C Desouza, about a client of his, in Managing Knowledge Security ( His suggestion to the company was simple: “Do not carry sensitive material during travel.”

If you wonder if that is possible, here is the process, as the author describes: “Travelling executives would meet with a local computing vendor in the country of interest, purchase a laptop, and download the requested material from their home office using a secure telecommunications channel. Then they would conduct their business…”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

‘Regular, good quality power at the desired time’

Governance of Rural Electricity Systems in India
Subhes C. Bhattacharyya

The question whether farmers should be given free electricity can easily evoke high-voltage discussions, often leading to more sound than light. But were you to pause to look at the economics, you may notice that “electricity is not the most important or costly input in agriculture,” as Subhes C. Bhattacharyya writes in one of the essays included in Governance of Rural Electricity Systems in India (

“Land preparation, fertiliser, pesticides, cleaning/weeding, harvesting and processing before final sale contribute to the total cost of production. Some of these costs are significant compared to the electricity cost.”

‘Life planning for two’

The True Cost of Happiness
Stacey Tisdale and Paula Boyer Kennedy

‘Awareness + ? = Successful financial management.’ For an answer to this puzzle, you need to read The True Cost of Happiness by Stacey Tisdale and Paula Boyer Kennedy (

Awareness is not a thing but a place where transformation occurs — the space where we have that intuitive flash, explains the book. “The kind of heart-piercing awareness that brings about change is a glimpse of the truth itself…That life-changing, no turning-back moment.”

Patent law

Biotechnology, IPRs and Biodiversity
M. B. Rao and Manjula Guru

When did the US Patent Office issue the first patent for a living animal? In 1988, to the ‘Harvard mouse,’ a transgenic one, informs Biotechnology, IPRs and Biodiversity by M. B. Rao and Manjula Guru ( ). Though created by researchers at Harvard University, the patent holder is Dupont. And, the patent, one learns, is an extremely broad one, covering “almost any species of non-human mammal containing recombinant oncogenes and its offspring.”

Ten ‘absolute life-saver’ functions

From New Recruit to High Flyer
Hugh Karseras

It all starts with your attitude, begins Hugh Karseras, in a book of ‘no-nonsense advice on how to fast track your career’ from Viva ( ): From New Recruit to High Flyer.

At the top of the list for attitude is your work ethic, he declares. “There’s no substitute for hard work and, let’s be clear here, hard work is not only about working long hours; it is born of a deep desire to get your work done to the highest quality and in a timely fashion.”

Performance budgeting

International Handbook of Practice-Based Performance Management
Patria de Lancer Julnes, Frances Stokes Berry, Maria P. Aristigueta and Kaifeng Yang

In the post-Enron and WorldCom era that we currently endure, ‘corruption appears to have gone mainstream in the private sector,’ rues Barry Leighton. And quite worryingly, “These events have spilled over into the public sector by serving as a tipping point for public trust… giving rise to calls for more oversight,” he adds in an essay titled ‘Recognising credible performance reports: the role of the Government Auditor in Canada’ included in International Handbook of Practice-Based Performance Management from Sage ( ).

The riches-to-rags story of a man

How Starbucks Saved My Life
Michael Gill

After losing a fortune, Michael Gill, aged 63, goes for some comfort in a latte, at a small table. “Would you like a job?” asks an attractive young African-American woman wearing a Starbucks uniform, from the next table. And Gill, the former creative director of J. Walter Thompson Company, the largest advertising agency in the world, says, “Yes.”

That’s just the start of a fabulously-written account: How Starbucks Saved My Life ( A book you’d relish with your favourite coffee at hand.

‘Analytical, driver, amiable and expressive’ customers

How Customers Like to Buy
Steve Deery

What matters is not what you want to sell, be it floor brushes or executive jets. Rather, the secret of selling is the title of Steve Deery’s book: How Customers Like to Buy (Westland). Answering this question demands that we know the customer, he says. And, to help know, he proposes ‘the personality grid’, with four styles as quadrants, named ‘analytical, driver, amiable and expressive’, with connected words, ‘control, tell, emotive and ask’.

The analytical customer likes to ask lots of ‘hard fact’ questions, and spends time checking for accuracy. “In extreme circumstances they may become embroiled in the minute details which have nothing to do with the broader issues at hand,” cautions Deery.

China 2005 = India 2015

We Are Like That Only
Rama Bijapurkar

Fed up with ‘popular methods used by consulting firms and business analysts to evaluate the Indian market opportunity,’ Rama Bijapurkar comes up with an alternative. “The top line of a P&L (profit and loss) statement is about co nsumer choices, not supply-side economics,” she writes in We Are Like That Only (

The book argues that emerging markets do not evolve the way the developed ones did, and consumption here takes off at far lower income levels, with low-priced innovations. The ‘Made for India’ proposition makes sense here, rather than “the conventional wisdom of ‘global standard’ benefits at global equivalent prices”, says Bijapurkar.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chanakya’s classification of people into five types

Why My Horse Doesn’t Listen
Vivek Mehrotra

Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chavaye, bin sabun pani bina nirmal kare swabhay. Vivek Mehrotra cites this line of Sant Kabir to stress the need for honest feedback, in Why My Horse Doesn’t Listen (

“Keep your critics close to you, let their hut be in your courtyard, that way you don’t need soap and water to cleanse your nature,” reads a helpful translation by, in a February 3-dated posting.

The paradox of high income and low expenditure

Focusing on Concepts
Malini Pande

Malini Pande’s Focusing on Concepts introduces students to marketing through 30 caselets. She begins with a case on ‘herbal beauty therapy’ to talk about brand and value; then come ‘South Indian Delite’, the case of a highly successful restaurant, and ‘Speed King’, a new mobike. The author deals with varied themes such as the paradox of high income and low expenditure, adapting to change, value-pricing, creativit y and relationship marketing. A section on ‘services marketing’ has Sanjay taking Leena on a dinner date…

A deceptively simple story

James Siegel

James Siegel begins Deceit ( with a deceptively simple story, thus: “Once there were two villages. One village where they always told the truth. Another village where they always lied. One day a traveller came to a fork in the road. He knew one road led to the village w here they always told the truth.

“In this village he would find food and shelter. The other road led to the village where everyone lied. In that village he knew he’d be beaten, robbed, even killed. A man stood at the fork in this road, but the traveller didn’t know which village this man came from…”

Monopolistic competition

Microeconomics for Business
Satya P. Das

Rajnish stays in the college hostel. His dad, who used to send Rs 5,000 every month for expenses, became generous for some reason, and hiked the stipend to Rs 7,000. Rajnish is now going to lot more movies than before, and eating less at the nearby dhaba.

“There are no changes in the movie ticket prices or that of the food at the dhaba. From this, can we say that both movies and food at the dhaba are normal goods for Rajnish?” Thus reads one of the questions in Microeconomics for Business by Satya P. Das (

The only way you can achieve anything is through other people, the local people.

Manage Mentor
Leadership Experiences in Asia
Steven J. DeKrey

You never stop learning as a leader

When faced with unique situations, leaders are often alone, with none to consult. “The leader has more information than any other person and often must decide quickly what action to take,” writes Steven J. DeKrey in the opening essay featured in ‘Leadership Experiences in Asia’ (

The book presents insights from successful leaders, to serve as useful inputs when you meet your own challenges. Do not, however, just model yourself after other leaders or famous figures, advises the author. Because: “Effective leadership is more than a function of the leader. Proper understanding requires analysis of who the followers are and what the leadership situation involves.”


Virtual universities

Education for Knowledge Era: Open and Flexible Learning
V.C. Kulandai Swamy

Virtual universities, which operate through the Internet and other telecommunication technologies, replace or compensate both the campus-based and home-based learning environments, writes V.C. Kulandai Swamy in Education for Knowledge Era: Open and Flexible Learning (

An example is the FernUniversitat of Germany; its Virtual University Learning Environment (Lernraum Virtuelle Universitat) provides ‘information, registration, payment of fees, distribution of learning materials, library services, lectures, seminars, submission and evaluation of assignments, taking exams, learner-learner interaction, both synchronous and asynchronous communication, and conferring of degrees’.

Possible job interview questions

Frequently Asked Questions in Quantitative Finance
Paul Wilmott

“A number of quants are at dinner, and start discussing compensation. They want to calculate the average compensation among themselves, but are too embarrassed to disclose their own salaries. How can they determine the average compensation of their group? They do not have pens or paper or any other way of writing down their salaries.”

This is one of the many brainteasers taken from, as an example of possible job interview question. “Some of these questions are simple calculation exercises, often probabilistic in nature…some have a ‘trick’ element to them… and some require lateral, out of the box, thinking,” introduces Paul Wilmott in Frequently Asked Questions in Quantitative Finance (

‘Never trust a computer you can’t lift.’

Presentations that Change Minds
Josh Gordon

A persuasive presentation is a persuasive event, not a slide show, says Josh Gordon in Presentations that Change Minds ( “Put your audience first. Start by thinking about what you need to do to persuade them, not what you want to put on your first slide,” he advises.

The book has tips for more than a dozen presentation situations, such as selling a new idea, changing a perception, building trust, offering a solution, and making a financial case.
One of the anecdotes Gordon narrates is of how Steve Jobs used a ‘kicker’ (theatrical surprise) to create excitement in his 1984 presentation, when introducing the Macintosh.

New art and science of collaboration

Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

We the people. Business, the remix. The dividends of collective genius. The power of us. Peer producing the future. Please register to participate. Your input needed here. Profiting from collective anarchy. Harnessing the power of your peers. The new world of collaborative production.

These are some of ‘the great suggestions’ that the authors of Wikinomics ( received, on public online discussion, in the first 48 hours of posting their request for subtitle ideas.