Book Review: Titan

The Book ‘Titan: Inside India’s most successful Consumer Brand’ is written by veteran journalist Vinay Kamath.

The Book traces the path of Titan which started as a “Watch Project” at Tata Press to the Consumer behemoth it is today.

The Book is a thrilling read and one marvels at the twists and turns the company’s fortunes took over a period of 30 years.

The book is full on anecdotes which makes it an awesome read.

One of my heroes is JRD Tata and the Book brings out his “Management by Affection” philosophy. He didn’t have much knowledge or interest in watches or jewelry but he backed Titan’s plans because of his faith in Xerses Desai. It was a classic bet on the jockey and not on the horse.

There are many anecdotes about JRD in the book which are lovely…for instance, the first watch presented to him by the Titan management team turned out to be defective ! Another anecdote of how he pushed the Titan management to do more in CSR brings out the greatness of the man.

Another legend associated with Titan was Xerses Desai. He was the extra-ordinary man who had the vision, determination and the leadership skills to build Titan.

Some aspects of his personality reminded me other business successes such as:

  1. Setting international standards– From the very beginning, Xerses wanted the Titan products and showrooms to be world class. He sent designers to Europe to study the showrooms there and implement the same for Titan showrooms here. Reminded me of Dhirubhai Ambani who used to benchmark Reliance always with international standards
  2. Imbueing Quality – Steve Jobs of Apple was fanatic in his belief that every aspect of the Company which touches stakeholders should imbue quality. So not only the product, but the packaging, communication etc should of the highest quality.Xerses was extremely fastidious about the aesthetics,design etc of each and every aspect of the company, even if it was v minor. He used to spend hours checking the color proofs of the print ads so that readers could do ‘window shopping’ sitting at home. One amusing anecdote related to this was when the ad agency made an ad where the husband gifts a watch to his wife. The gift card said ‘To my dearest wife‘. To this, the Oxford educated Xerses quipped “Dearest? How many wives does he have?”. The chastened ad agency changed it to the correct grammar ‘To my dear wife‘ !
  3. Talent Magnet – Like JRD Tata, Xerses roped in the best of talent, gave them freedom and got the best of them.This open and smart culture that he created still exists in Titan today

The Book covers how the different brands of Titan evolved – Tanishq, Fast Track, Skinn, Taneira etc

I must compliment the author on a fantastic job done. After a long time, I read a book on an Indian co and felt ‘Maja Aa Gaya’ !

I would strongly recommend this Book to all investors

Book Review: Bridgital Nation

The Book ‘Bridgital Nation’ is written by N Chandra, the Chairperson of Tata Sons and Roopa Purushottham, the Chief Economist of the Tata Group.

One would think the Book is about Technology.

But the Book is actually about India and its colossal challenges in providing healthcare,education,jobs, credit, judicial access etc to its citizens.

The Book is divided into chapters related to healthcare, entrepreneurship etc

Each chapter has a real Indian explaining the challenges he/she faced which makes it very relatable.The authors then expand the anecdote to include global studies, statistics, analysis, tech solutions etc

Normally we would assume that technology (Robots, AI etc) would replace jobs. But this is a false choice usually put forth in advanced societies. In India, a Bridgital approach -a relationship between citizens/technology- can not only improve lives of its citizens but create millions of jobs.

The Book has case studies of AIIMS, Kolar hospitals but one such case could have been the Passport Seva Kendras. Not only thanks to technology has getting passport become easier, but it also has created thousands of jobs.

The Book is written in a lucid and digestible format…the authors seem to have gone out of their way to make it an easy read.

I would recommend this book to policy advocates and policy makers.

Book Review: Principles for Success

The Book ‘ Principles for Success’ is written by Ray Dalio, the Billionaire Founder of Bridgewater Associates.

The author wrote this book for his grand children. Hence the book is a simple 15 minute read with pictures so that kids of all ages can understand easily.

The point that Ray tries to make in the Book is that every person should have principles to help navigate the ups and downs of life.

His own principles are ‘Think for yourself while being radically open minded’ , ‘Know what is true’ etc

I would recommend this book to kids.

Book Review: A Safari in the Equity World

The Book ‘ A Safari in the Equity World’ is written by Ritesh Dhoot, who is an Investment Professional based in the UAE.

This book was gifted to me by the author and hence I feel a bit obligated to write about it.

One of my biggest grouses is that most of our investment literature is US based and hence does not capture the full flavors of the jungle that is the Indian Equity markets.

This Book takes the analogy further and compares various facets of animal/bird behavior and applies it to the markets.

So you have chapters like Frozen Flamingo (on cyclicals), Kori Bustard (On Special Situations), City Monkeys (On Diversification) etc

The Book has lots of case studies and examples from the Indian markets which make it interesting.

One grouse I have of the Book is that the examples seem to have hindsight bias…it would have been nice if they were current ones.

The Book is written in a very light manner and is an easy read.

I would recommend this book to those starting out in the Indian Equity markets.

Book Review : Markets Never Forget

The Book ‘Markes Never Forget’ is written by Ken Fisher , the Billionaire Fund Manager and Lara Hoffmans.

The basic premise of the Book is that people don’t do enough homework to test their hypothesis or biases.If they go back in history, they would have found that markets would have behaved differently to their assumptions.

Some of the different assumptions he tackles are related to recessions, political biases, bull runs, volatility etc

Nearly all the data etc in the book are related to US markets and hence a bit of a bore.

The key takeway of the Book is “Go back in history and see how the markets behaved in similar conditions”

For example, if a new Govt is sworn in at the Center, go back and test how markets have behaved in the first year/second year etc. Or if you are a fan of a political party, check how the markets have behaved when they were in power . And so on…

I would give this book a miss…you can buy me a beer instead !