Creating space for reflection

A roundup of the events we’ve hosted, the stories we wrote, the books we’re following and the podcasts we’ve been listening to

Founding Fuel

Dear Friends,

How often do you meet business leaders who believe in packing their calendars? Where every minute is filled with endless meetings, reviews and customer calls. Some of them don’t even have the free time to have lunch with colleagues at the cafeteria. Or think about new ideas that may have emerged out of one of the meetings.

I find this phenomenon pretty widespread. I’ve heard leaders saying their lives are consumed by activity, almost as if they’re on a daily treadmill. For them, activity is like a drug. As Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, said in a prescient article, we need more reflection, and less action. Yet the space for deeper reflection is being cut out from our lives. They’re afraid to step off the treadmill for a reason. Schwartz says it is almost as if we’ve come to believe that the opposite of action is inaction, and thereby, demonised it in some form or manner.

This ailment has struck most content businesses as well. We’ve been feeding this self-fulfilling prophesy that readers don’t have time for anything in-depth that requires concentrated attention and focus. If you seek a well-rounded perspective on any important issue, a tight 600 word story or a 25 minute noisy, raging television debate simply won’t cut it. This is how we’ve dumbed down media.

At Founding Fuel, we’ve avoided that trap by following the dictum: less is more. Every week, we give you a few well-researched, insightful articles, videos and podcasts that help you connect the dots, see the patterns or even challenge your established assumptions. And they demand your undivided attention. After all, it is only by slowing things down—and being more reflective—do we allow our best selves to emerge.

It is only by slowing things down—and being more reflective—do we allow our best selves to emerge

This week’s special Facebook Live was meant to do just that. Over the past two years, we’ve published a clutch of no-holds barred articles, webcasts and interviews on the state of e-commerce in the country. Sensing that we were on the cusp of yet another significant bend in the road, we put together a stellar panel and attempted to connect the past, present and future. It isn’t often that you get a panel that includes Amit Agarwal, the country head of Amazon India, Haresh Chawla, partner, True North and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the founder of Info-Edge. You’ll notice that our conversations are focussed on the issues that matter, where our panellists get a chance to express themselves without being constantly interrupted. And where the focus is on listening to different points of view about the future.

It is a 58-minute conversation. And I’d urge you to take some time off that treadmill of activity—and watch it, in case you haven’t already. It will help you see what’s coming up, ahead of the curve.

As always, we’d love to hear your views. And if you’d like your friends and colleagues to sample the fare on Founding Fuel, please ask them to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

We thank you for your time. We promise that we will try to make it worth your while every minute that you invest with us.

Indrajit Gupta

On behalf of Team Founding Fuel

The Special Feature This Week

The Big Indian shopping cart

A special Facebook Live on the future of technology-enabled commerce in India

A stellar panel decodes the key factors that will shape the e-commerce story. Can the Indian e-commerce giants heal themselves? How can disruptive technologies be leveraged to solve the key business challenges? What will the next wave of customers demand? How will the entry of Chinese e-commerce giants change the game? What business model innovations are we likely to see going forward? Discover the answers to these questions and a lot more. (Watch time: 58 mins)

The Gist: When Nike just did it

Quick takes from the book 'Shoe Dog'

D Shivakumar, chairman, PepsiCo India captures the essence of Nike founder Phil Knight’s account of what it took to create Nike. I found a treasure trove of insights. Here are just a couple that particularly resonated with me: “No brilliant idea was ever born in a conference room, but many silly ideas have been killed there.” Or, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and they will surprise you.” (Read time: 6 mins)

What Has Our Attention

Podcast: What’s Blocking Corporate Creativity

Author Jennifer Mueller explains how to embrace creativity

Our obsession with efficiency and a results-driven decision making process is the enemy of creativity at the workplace, says Mueller, a former Wharton professor now at the University of San Diego, in her new book Creative Change: Why We Resist It…How We Can Embrace It. 

In this special K@W podcast, Mueller shares a profound insight: “People and managers have been trained how to manage change, and that’s great. But those very best practices for managing change don’t work or go awry when you have creativity in the mix. Creativity is just a different animal because the psychology around creativity and how you recognise it is different. Instead, a way to think about creativity might be better served by not thinking like a decision-maker but like an inventor figuring out and getting curious about the answer. (Listen time: 23 mins)

Vodeo and Podcast: Vishal Sikka: Reaching for the Future without Abandoning Infosys’s Past

K Ramkumar, Founding Fuel contributor and founder & CEO of Leadership Centre shared a K@W podcast with Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys.

Sikka says, “The divide between people who truly understand the impact of the digitizing world and those who don’t is just becoming bigger.”

From Our Archives: Great Reads

3 Reasons Why Every CEO and entrepreneur must see or watch dramatic tragedy 

Tragedy helps us develop humility, teaches us how to handle growth and inspires us, says Baba Prasad (Read time: 5 mins)

Disquiet in Paradise

Arun Maira shares his provocative perspective based on three recent books that lay bare claims that the internet is a democratising and empowering force in society. Instead, new internet czars have concentrated power in their own hands, made us dumber—and spawned a more divisive society. (Read time: 12 min)

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About the author

Founding Fuel

Founding Fuel aims to create the new playbook of entrepreneurship. Think of us as a hub for entrepreneurs- the go-to place for ideas, insights, practices and wisdom essential to build the enterprise of tomorrow. It is co-founded by veteran journalists Indrajit Gupta and Charles Assisi, along with CS Swaminathan, the former president of Pearson's online learning venture.

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