Lala Company by Rajiv Gupta


The Good Indian Employee’s Guide to Survive a Lala Company is the full name of the book by Rajiv Gupta. The author’s name is as common as the Lala companies which contribute 70% of the GDP in India. I picked this book up to understand the nuances of family-run businesses.

Lala Company by Rajiv GuptaThe choice of title and the cover image did tell me that it is a rather satirical take on the Lala companies. As a reader, you do enjoy books that tell you the serious issues in a lighter vein. I was still looking for insights and did I get any – am not sure.

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The book is organized along various characters that typically play a significant role in a family-run business. The owner or promoter is obviously the most important of them. The rest of the star cast revolves around him and derives power from their relationship with him. I am using Him, as women are mostly missing from the book except as a secretary in one-off stories.

Written in a case study mode, the author presents different scenarios in a Lala Company. He portrays situations where promoters are whimsical and have no regard for others. They can change their decisions by the minute or under a new influence. They have no regard for the vendors as they think giving them business is enough reason to make them feel obligated. And they delay or hold payments and have no regard for employees.

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Personally, I have very small experience working with a Lala company. As a professional, I could not survive it for more than a couple of months. The Lala ji changed his stance the moment I joined his company, though he chased me for a few months to join him. So, I see the truth in what the author says. Has he exaggerated situations and personas – maybe yes, for the dramatic effect?


The characters that surround the promoter are very real, again maybe a bit exaggerated. The sycophants and Munimji definitely rule the roost. They have Lala Ji’s ears and know precisely how to influence him. The control of allocated expenses and small thefts here and there are mostly accepted facts.

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An important question that the author just touches upon is – Do we see these behaviors only in Lala companies only? Or, do they exist in the professionally manages corporate world as well? The answer is – these behavior patterns exist everywhere. In the corporate world too, it is impossible to rise beyond a level unless you align yourself with certain groups. In Lala company, it is one person dictating the show, in the corporate world be a professional. The level of sophistication may differ as would the handling of the situation.

How are these companies doing well then? Is this behavior really impacting their business or business network? It does not look like it. In many situations, that on the surface do not sound palatable when seen from an employee’s perspective, Lala ji is actually making quick decisions, without a need to justify his actions to anyone. In his head, he is experimenting and as soon as he can sense failure, he stops investing and cuts his losses. He negotiates hard and is within his rights to do so.

Good Practices

There are many good practices too that many traditional businesses follow. For example, at a Mathura Peda unit, the milkmen who delivered milk on time are rewarded with better rates. Paying on time to get better discounts is a practice followed by many companies.

There are many such practices that probably demand another book.

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Now coming to the long title of the book, which claims to be a guide for the employees to survive in a Lala company. Well, this is addressed only towards the end, and that too with suggestions that are too generic. I am not sure if they add any value or help.

Illustrations are nice, but it would have been better if they added to the content rather than replicate them. The cover is interesting and intriguing.

Overall, you would enjoy reading the book, and relate to its content if you work in such a company. It can help you prepare for one if you plan to work with them.

Take your Call.

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