Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: ‘CUT THE CRAP & JARGON’

If you really want to understand how & what it takes to build a scalable real business, you should be reading this book. I am glad that finally someone from Indian start-up eco-system is NOT just giving advice (usually called as #gyan) but practical inputs on:

  1. What it takes to build a start-up.
  2. How to build a high-performance culture.
  3. How to improve the processes of raising money, hiring, goal setting, leadership development, compensation and incentives in start-up context.

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Who should read this book:

  1. Founder, senior leadership & HR heads of early-stage start-ups. Read the book if you want to improve your people operations & practices, how VC eco-system works and how NOT to raise the money and most importantly what it takes to cover the journey from start-up to scale-up.
  2. Everyone who wants to understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. The book actually talks about things, which you might not enjoy doing being an entrepreneur, but you have to do.

This book is not for: This book is not for those who understands and believes that they can build a lifestyle business by just focusing on chasing funding.

My learning from this book:

  • It’s ok if few things are broken in your start-up because few other things are way more important. You have resource and bandwidth constraint, unlike the large organizations. By the way, even in the large matured organization, there are many things which are broken(mainly how to enable people to deliver their best at work) which is very difficult to fix.
    • The BEST LINE: What differentiates start-up from mature firms: “Substance trumps style every day”
  • Start-ups are different from large organizations because decision makers are working close to problem solvers & quite often one and the same. Free tip for matured organizations: Reduce your hierarchy if you really want to bring the start-up agility in your eco-system.
  • Finally, someone in Indian eco-system is talking about organization culture and its importance. Culture matters and right culture can swing the business results by 30%.
  • Founders need to understand the behaviors and habits they need to inculcate to build a successful business. Behaviours will drive culture, execution, and will keep agility in your start-up.
  • Liquidity preference is the single biggest clause you have to get right when you are raising money.
  • Building and hiring team is a time taking process. Don’t leave the hiring process to your recruitment team, get involved and make sure that people getting-in your system are aligned with your culture and vision.
  • Stories of Alan copper and Viral Shah was narrated in a very engaging way. Your goal/purpose of building your start-up should be so big that your ego and team tussles should be small in front of it.
  • It is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to pitch the story right every time by understanding whom they are talking to.
  • When hiring a person in a leadership team, give them autonomy to execute the way they want to do it. Founders don’t want to lose the control, but if you want to scale, you have to do that. The right people at top levels will result in right hires at lower levels too.
  • Another best part of the book is the interview with Sanjeev Agarwal(founder of Daksh, a BPO start-up that was acquired by IBM in 2004). Sanjeev, Narayan Murthy, Shiv Nadar and likes of those leaders were part of 1st entrepreneurial cycle of Indian start-up ecosystem. Sanjeev talks about achieving alignment within the organization with goal-setting, sugar-free feedback and continuous review. And overall how to create the overall high-performance team and organization.
  • Last few chapters of how and whom to fire, the importance of internal communication and how to do that, continuing the innovation while doing execution, founder/CEO compensation, ESOP’s and organization structure are worth reading and giving time. Founder give far less importance to these topics while chasing top line numbers. Generating revenue is of course number 1 priority for any organization (be it a start-up or large company), but all these topics mentioned here are enablers of revenue & growing your organization.
  • The best chapters at the end talk about how to improve your incentive planes and hiring your sales head.

My biggest learning from this book is: If within your meetings & discussion if you as founders and your people underplay on discussions on what feature you should build in your product, where you should sell, whom you should sell to, whom to hire; you as an organization are bound to doom.  Don’t create a culture of soft-pedaling on difficult conversations relating to performance and accountability.

At the end, I must say that if you don’t enjoy reading this book, don’t think of becoming an entrepreneur.