By Gokul Bhagabati
With a powerful combination of brainpower, entrepreneurial energy and favourable demographics, India is the world’s greatest land of opportunities, says American author Richard M. Rothman, who has come up with a book that aims to help ordinary Indians do extraordinary things.
Rothman believes that the time for every Indian to think big has arrived, and his book, “Master Opportunity and Make it Big” (Jaico Publishing House; Pages: 249; Price: Rs 350), which draws on lessons from some of the most successful Indian entrepreneurs who have gone from rags to riches by grasping opportunities, can show the way.
“I think it is the first book of its type which is designed completely for Indians. All the other self-help books that Indians generally buy are about Americans — including the number one selling book ‘Think and Grow Rich’, which was written some 80 years ago,” Rothman, who has settled in India after living and working around the world for decades, told IANS in an interview.
So if you are one of them blaming lack of money, knowledge, or luck for not realising your full potential, this book wants to tell you that you have been barking up the wrong tree all this while.
Rothman, who had served as the Trade Commissioner of the US for India for 10 years, seeks to drive home the point that all you need to be the person that you always wanted to be is the right opportunity, and the really great ones are like powerful magnets that attract money and talent.
What is more, opportunities do not come with a price tag on them. So the most important thing that you need to succeed is out there — all for free — for you to grab.
And if that sounds unbelievable, Rothman gives the examples of not one or two, but 18 Indians who were not born with silver spoons in their mouths.
He shows that one does not need to be the Tatas or Birlas to be super achievers in India. Nor do they need all the so-called “connections” that many tend to assume.
All the people mentioned in the book started small, but they leveraged opportunities to build great businesses. And today they have together created wealth of well over Rs 100,000 crore.
Some of these entrepreneurs are so well-known today that readers might find it hard to believe that they had such humble beginnings.
When, for example, Subhash Chandra, the founder of Essel (Zee) Group, moved from Hisar, a small city in Haryana, to New Delhi to start a business, all he had in his pocket was Rs 17. And although he launched satellite television in India, at first he did not even know the meaning of the word satellite, according to Rothman.
“There is no need to know it all,” says the author, who founded “OpenMind”, a Mumbai-based opportunity consultancy that helps companies discover opportunities for sustained profitable growth.
Similar is the story of Rafique Malik, who transformed Metro Shoes into India’s second-largest shoe retailer. Son of a shoe salesman, Malik started with a single store and now owns about 350 stores spread across the country.
Although not biographical in nature, Rothman extracts important lessons from the processes that made some of the stalwarts of India Inc. what they are today.
Included in the book are also the success secrets of Uday Kotak, Founder of Kotak Mahindra Bank; Vijay Mansukhani, who co-founded and built Onida, once one of India’s greatest television brands; and of the renowned hotelier Vithal Kamat, among others.
While success stories of 18 individuals who have attained success in different types of businesses constitute the first part of the book, the second part is dedicated to elucidating what Rothman calls “Opportunity Sutras”, important lessons that can help readers capture and leverage breakthrough opportunities.
In Rothman’s terms, opportunity is, however, not a magic pill that one can gulp one day and wake up successful the next morning. Opportunity, according to him, is a journey — not a destination — that requires constant engagement.
He highlights the processes that are needed to keep finding opportunities to stay relevant in changing business environments. This is the reason why the book could be of immense help even to those who have already started their ventures but do not want to bite the dust in the storms of innovations brought about by new entrants.
Strangely, though, all the successful people in his list of 18 are men and one wonders why Rothman did not find it essential to tell the story of even one successful woman in a book meant to inspire millions of Indians. This omission perhaps reflects the unfortunate disparities in Indian society that has historically deprived certain sections of the population from having access to equal opportunities — be it on the basis of gender, or caste.
(Gokul Bhagabati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org