Every once in a while, you find a non-fictional book written in an entertaining yet insightful manner. Alok Kejriwals “Why i stopped wearing my socks” is one such great find.
One of the early flagbearers of India’s internet revolution, Alok chronicles his life story right from the time he started working under the wings of his maternal grandfather.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Alok Kejriwal is a born salesman. But to read about his perseverance and patience in cracking deals is inspirational for every reader, cause surely there may be millions who don’t succeed since they don’t put in as much effort as Alok did. And he puts it very well when he says “Sales is a Holy Science. After all it is the magic of sales that led me to create my startups, attract VC investments, hire people, woo customers an even find buyers for my businesses”. Kejriwal is also the brain behind contests2win.com and Mobile2win. Mobile2win was later acquired by The Walt Disney Company.
I have read so many business books written by entrepreneurs that spend so much time talking about circumstances in which they were born, their early years in school, including needless details of their stupid pranks in school etc. This book cuts to the chase. Every chapter from the word go, is a 3 page intriguing episode in his life followed by half a page informing the reader of his learnings. He charts his journey almost like a light storybook, sprinkling episodes with humane characters (like his Nana) throughout the pages. Each episode is very eloquently written with a ‘moral’ learning at the end of each summarizing it up… although sometimes I wish he would also give his book a more serious tone with hardcore entrepreneurial guidelines rather than stories, one understands a book can’t be all things to all people.
The following are some aspects of the book that I personally loved:
Proudly Indian – Alok is authentic and direct in this book. Most books related to internet and startups revolves around Silicon Valley where much of those learnings are really irrelevant in the Indian Context where the business culture and context is very different. But this one 100% homegrown and the journey of the Indian Startup entrepreneur is very relevant and Inspiring .
Knowing the machine – Loved the part where a business owner investing time to learn inside workings of a socks machine by going all the way to Florence to learn the technology of assembling and troubleshooting a machine on a shop floor. It emphasizes the need to understand the nuances of the business and what lies under the hood of the product or service that is offered.
Negotiating, deal making, rinse and repeat – Book is filled with stories of negotiation and deal making with various different stakeholders like VCs, customers, brand managers, parents, grandparents, uncles, employees and so on.
Handling unreasonable people – Loved the examples how Alok handled unreasonable family members, overpowering customers, VCs, employees and so on.
Politics in family businesses – If you think big corporations are infected with politics and personal motivations, family business could be even harder. Clash of personal goals with family business motivations could be really hard to deal with and this books covers this often ignored aspect really well.
Raising money from customers than VCs – While Internet could be full of stories of companies overly depending on VC money, this book shows another way to keep the wagon running with real revenues and profits from business.
Personally, what really stood out is how such simple language can tell such an engrossing story without being unnecessarily wordy or ornate. Plus, Alok made sure he was as equally honest as possible whether it was his wins or losses. If someone decides to turn this book into a movie, I’d watch it.
My rating : 4/5