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Shad Mirza
Shad Mirza

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How books shape our life ft. Priyadeep Sinha | Episode 1

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In episode 1 Priyadeep Sinha, Director at Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) joins Tanay to talk about how books can guide as well as provide transformative experiences.

The show begins with Tanay explaining why he has chosen Teacher’s day (5th September) as the day of the launch of his podcast as well as the topic of books for the first episode.

He follows by introducing Priyadeep Sinha as the most well-read person he knows and how Priyadeep has inspired a generation of entrepreneurs in Manipal.

Priyadeep introduces himself and what he is currently involved with. He then shares an exciting story of how he picked up the love for books. In the show, Priyadeep touches upon his favorite books and the main lessons he drew from each one of them.

"Tanay starts the conversation by asking Priyadeep's favorite book."

1. The GodFather by Mario Puzo

Priyadeep describes "The GodFather" as his favorite book of all time. The Godfather is a crime novel written by American author Mario Puzo, detailing the story of a fictional Mafia family based in New York City (and Long Beach, New York), headed by Vito Corleone. The epigraph for The Godfather is, "Behind every great fortune there is a crime. - Balzac." Priyadeep talks about how Vito Corleone, who is actually a mafia ended up doing more good for the society as he took a stand against someone who wanted to bring drugs into his city and denied to let him spoil the city. What really struck Priyadeep with this story is how someone even after being from a mafia background helped people and society. It serves as a purpose of motivation to "try and do more for people."

"What's your favorite books on Startup?", Tanay continues the conversation.

2. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

The central theme of the book is the business of literally delivering happiness while living a life of passion and purpose. Delivering Happiness (2013) tells the story of Tony Hsieh and his company Zappos, demonstrating how thinking long-term and following your passions can not only lead to profits but also a happy life for your employees, your customers, and yourself. The book describes an alternative approach to the corporate culture that focuses on the simple concept of making people around you happy, and by doing so increase your own happiness. "Delivering happiness describes how Zappos built a complete customer-centric organization and that stayed strongly with me" - Priyadeep said.

3. Hard things about Hard things by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an inside look at the tough decisions and lonely times all CEOs face, before showing you what it takes to build a great organization and become a world-class leader. Priyadeep tells us how as a startup founder, he went through a lot of hardships and this book stayed as a ray of motivation and confidence in all those times. This book talks about how Ben Horowitz survived through all the hard times. It states that the startup CEOs are "Wartime CEOs" and they have to be focused all the time. It also states how you can't put all the burden on your shoulders alone, and you have to learn to share the burden with more brains to successfully run a company. Few more important lesson that Priyadeep describes how the book describes that "What happens inside you when you're about to sell your company?" and "A good CEO always know when to layoff people and how to talk to them?" which PD himself have experienced in his life earlier.

"What books would you recommend to someone who wants to start a startup?"

4. Hooked by Nir Eyal

Hooked describes how to build a habit-forming product that people want to use. A habit-forming product is a winning product, and the ultimate goal of habit-forming products is to solve a customer's problem (pain) by creating an association, so the customer sees the product as relief or a solution. The book talks about how extrinsic motivation leads you to seek a reward from a product and then extends that reward further. This forms an intrinsic motivation and this spiral continues. "Every product that has scaled to extremely large numbers has been able to do that and create a rewarding experience,'' Priyadeep added.
"Not all entrepreneurs come with a large amount of Intrinsic Motivation, there is some of it but it needs an unlocking mechanism and you need and Extrinsic Motivation to do that." - Priyadeep said. These two books are great in these terms.

5. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs is the most detailed and accurate account of the life of the man who created Apple, the most valuable technology company in the world. The skill that allowed Steve Jobs to create this huge vision for Apple out of nothing was not his obsession for detail, nor his sense of design, simplicity, or aesthetics. Priyadeep talks about that Steve Jobs had a tendency to observe humans really well which enabled him to build an extremely human-friendly product like iPhone and iPad.

6. Elon Musk by Ashley Vance

Elon Musk is the first official biography of the creator of SolarCity, SpaceX, and Tesla, based on over 30 hours of conversation time between author Ashlee Vance and Musk himself, highlighting his complicated childhood, the way he makes decisions and navigates the world, and how he managed to disrupt multiple industries, all with the goal of saving humanity.

Elon Musk is a truly fascinating character. "Elon Musk got bullied as a child and he would take refuge in reading books" is one of the parts that I deeply relate to, Priyadeep said. An important advise Priyadeep gave is to "Take the good elements of the persona and not to romanticize everything". There is always an insight into the vision of the person which is worth observing.

7. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup shows you how to break free from the shackles of 9 to 5 by combining your passion and skills into your own microbusiness, which you can start for $100 or less, yet still turn into a full-time income, thanks to the power of the internet. Chris pulled out a step-by-step framework you can use to find where your passion meets your skills and turn those into an income from your couch. Using nothing but a laptop and some wifi in most cases, you can build a thriving software, freelance or education business and scale it as far as you want. "It's short, quick and really good to read while you're starting up," Priyadeep said.

8. Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness explains how our worldview has been distorted with the rise of new media, in which ten human instincts cause erroneous thinking, and how we can learn to separate fact from fiction when forming our opinions. Priyadeep describes how this book enables you to see the reality overshadowed by the fiction which is created by the media advertising and modern internet era and "You should not romanticize the problem and think that you're a hero trying to save the world but you are working towards making incremental gains to make this world a better place."

"What books would you like to suggest which will help you with anyone who reads and improve as a person? Tanay continues the conversation with his next question"

9. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Priyadeep says that storybooks contain a lot of really good messages that you can take. It focuses on a group of scientists embarking on a dangerous voyage in a submarine piloted by the eccentric Captain Nemo in search of a giant monster. As the journey wore on, the crew encounters dangerous life forms, but the biggest threat to their safety may be their increasingly mad captain. Considered one of the greatest science-fiction novels ever written, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea explores themes of culture, class, grief, and the preservation of the environment.

10. Journey to the center of the earth by Jules Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth tells the story of three adventurers who undertake a perilous and ill-advised expedition to the center of the earth. On the way, the men encounter prehistoric "marine monsters" and brave the volatile conditions under the earth's surface. The theme of the book is perseverance, continuing on the journey despite hardships, despite doubt, despite even reason. Jules Verne has done a tremendous job of showing us what human beings are capable of which in turn serves as a source of motivation.

11. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asimov's trademark.

12. Murder in Mesopotamia by Agartha Cristie

Murder in Mesopotamia is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie. The story revolves around someone who is mysteriously murdered. There are several possible suspects. Hercule Poirot who is a great detective figure out who the murderer is. The best part about this book is that it is unpredictable, sparking the reader’s curiosity, and you can not guess who is actually guilty.

13. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien tells the story of the War of the Ring in the fictional world of Middle-earth. The long novel, commonly published as three volumes and mistakenly called a trilogy, centers around the magical One Ring, which was discovered by Bilbo Baggins in the earlier novel The Hobbit. Now, the free peoples of Middle-earth, such as Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits, must overcome the dark power of Sauron by destroying the Ring. As Priyadeep said, fiction stories teach us important life lessons. This book teaches the importance of “Unity, Persistence, Purposeful Life, Counting your Blessings, Watching before Saying, and Loyalty.”

So these were the books that will help you grow as a person, teach you about life, and aspire you towards success. Go on, grab one and start reading!!

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
― William Styron

Priyadeep’s Recommended Books

You can never read enough books so here are some more books for startup enthusiasts that you will help you in your journey.

Editor’s Picks

Originally published at on September 5, 2019.

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