BOOK REVIEW | GIVE TO GET | VISHAL AGARWAL
Finally, I get to write something about a book written by a person we can consider a Kenyan author but by a very long short.
Although, there is nothing Kenyan in this literature, just the fact that Vishal lives, works and has invested in Kenya.
Forewords inform you things about the author no other source can, here is one from the book,
“With this book, Vishal Agarwal is the mentor everyone wishes they had in the corporate world. He demystifies the social dynamics of the global corporation through apt metaphors that quickly cut to the attitudes and behaviors essential to the success of the ambitious young manager. Read it and learn how to hack your path in the corporate jungle without putting out an eye.” -Kate Sweetman, Author, Leadership Authority, And Former Editor at Harvard Business Review
Yes, the book is about leadership and climbing the corporate ladder and not just any corporate ladder but the upper echelons. It explores the actions that, you, as a budding proficient executive need to take and in a manner deeply rooted in values and strategy. He tells you what to do to keep flying among the eagles and most importantly how to take care of the people who look up to you for direction, inspiration and mentorship.
You cannot review a book like Give to Get, you write about it. There is a difference because this is not a story where you can say some sections were anticlimaxes, or a certain character was unfairly unutilized, or the writing style was not okay. The best you can write on these kinds of books is qualify them as either self-help books par excellence if they are good or impractical narratives out to waste readers time if the book is that bad.
A book like this, you read with a curious mind, the mind of a child sitting on a grandfather’s feet by the fire place listening to the wisdom of ages, tales of valor or mockery or experiences and experiences cannot be beautified, instead they are served fresh and reflectively, it is a narrative you cannot change. It is a lived story.
Vishal has lived the best and worst of an apex executive working in the most important organizations on the planet; Price Water House Coopers- where he made partner and GE Africa. You can deduce he gained mind boggling skills on leadership, management and of course invaluable in-depth knowledge on what it takes to succeed at both career life and family life.
This book is pure mentorship and of course its laden with personal skills that we should all work hard to attain at some point in our lives. He has served this mentorship in eight sections;
- The lion and the goat — He challenges you to be a lion, a goat is only good in a curry stew.
- A culture-within-a-culture — There is obviously a broader culture within an organization, but there is also a kind of a sub culture in the team you find, how do you win hearts in your team for them to accept you as a team mate.
- Mapping out your stake holders — You get to learn no man is an island, after all, a shop keeper cannot sell to himself or herself, right?
- Actions are louder than words — Learn to fight in the trenches with your team, you are not creation’s special gift than the rest. This section is also very helpful in understanding friendships too.
- Taking your credit to the bank — In short don’t sweat the small stuff with people who sweat the small stuff, be smart about credits, there are more effective ways to achieve win-win.
- No place to go but up — (There is this Chef I was watching the other day, Magnus Nilsson from Sweden, he said, if we are here so that we do something, let’s do it excellently then, lets succeed. This is the lesson on this segment).
- Overcoming Underwhelm — the importance of internally working on ourselves and improving ourselves to surmount external challenges.
- Overcoming Burnout — The ever, urgent and extremely important factor of them all, figuring out your _WHY_
This book is a treasure because we are always looking for people who have fought the war, lost and won, lost again and won again, over and over until they grow a thick skin. Over time they have fortified themselves with grit and they become uniquely qualified to advice you on the pitfalls to avoid.
Potentially they help us evade years of aimless drudgery in trying to figure out which is the eagle, and which is the osprey and Vishal in terms of leadership, personal grit, empowerment, business, corporate life, is the person to tell you, “that’s an osprey, eagles behave and look like this…”
To read a book, you need to think a bit differently, this is the main reason why we read, to build our critical thinking faculties, otherwise, we would all think the same and do the same old boring shit. The point I am driving at here is, Vishal’s book is deeply corporate, excellently executive living, but there is no reason why you as a leader in your own unique way, or a business person should not read the book. You simply take in the lessons in one area and try to modify them to perfectly fit into your daily grind. Furthermore, millions have read the art of war by Sun Tzu not because they are planning to lead armies to a real war right?
He ends the book by advising you to be a lion in all your years ahead, never a goat.
Do I own the book? no, it was lend to me by her, I say thank you.