Dream with Your Eyes Open by Ronnie Screwvala is one of the best books I have read by an Indian entrepreneur. Written straight from the heart and mind, without using the jargon that most business people like to use. He gives stress to common sense and a can-do attitude – the book can give you a lot of practical advice. Stories about Ronnie’s journey often appear in the media. So, personally, I already knew a lot of what he wrote in the dream with your eyes open. I also follow him on Twitter and quite like his common sense driven approach to business.
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What this book gave me is a little more organized information about Ronnie’s journey as an entrepreneur. Right from the time, he sold balcony seats in his grandparent’s balcony for a fee to the beginning of his second innings. He does not talk much about the second innings or his plans for his Swades Foundation. I am quite keen to track that and see how he inspires entrepreneurs at the grassroots level.
Throughout Dream with your eyes open, he talks about his dilemmas at various points in time and the choices he made. What I like about him is that he does not give credit for all his success to the choices he made. He also accepts that other choices could have been better too and there is no way one can ever say that this choice is better than that. You make the best choice at any point in time but then stay with that – give it your best. I like the fact that he emphasizes that you need to take risks and responsibility for your choices. Consequently, success and failure would belong to you but never underestimate the need for a good team.
In a very polite way, he is critical of consultants who do not add much value to the business but to prove their own value eat up a chunk of productivity. He gives multiple examples of this. Similarly, without discounting the value of B-schools, he lists the limitations this education brings to the minds of MBA graduates. MBA professionals refuse to look beyond the few frameworks that they read in school.
I could not have agreed more with him based on my own experience. Not many people have said it so clearly and firmly. I think B-schools should take this feedback and make their learning more open-minded. Similarly, his take on mentors is very sensible – he clearly tells you whom you should and should not consider for a mentor.
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Ronnie Screwvala writes in a light and entertaining manner. I guess the professional storyteller traits help him here too. The author sprinkles Bollywood anecdotes and behind the scene stories of popular Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan keeping the reader interested.
He also brings in himself and his family every now and then. This brings him out as very much a real person. Language is extremely simple – any layperson can easily understand it. I would see this as a prime factor contributing to the success of the book. If you do not have time to read the whole book, which is quite small, read the last section where he answers ‘frequently asked questions’.
I have rarely seen myself agree so much with an author. So I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is or wants to be an entrepreneur. The only place I raised an eyebrow was when he said – he is a Parsi – not a Gujarati or a Marwari. He probably meant they inherit business traits in their genes, but so do Parsis Ronnie Screwvala.