ECONOMIST, professor, writer Arindam Chaudhuri, 40, has concluded his selfhelp series on management. Sitting cosily in a brilliant blue office smacking of success, Chaudhuri talks to Janani Ganesan about his latest book Cult that he has co-authored with A Sandeep, strategic management professor at IIPM
Excerpts From An Interview
What is Cult about?
It is for the CEOs. Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch was the first book on management. Thorns to Competition was the second one for mid-level managers. Cult completes the tool kit. I call it leadership and business strategy ruthlessly redefined. At this level, goody-goody things don’t work.
So if one reads all the three books, are they likely to become successful leaders?
I wrote believing that people will benefit. Not to fool them.
The cover page of Cult reads: “Fire the guy who suggests CSR, don’t have a woman CEO, and don’t invest in R&D”. Could you explain this?
We have redefined 36 key issues that CEOs have to face. Women can be good CEOs, but research shows that announ cing a woman CEO has led to 664 percent more stock market price erosion than announcing a male CEO. This book is from a shareholder’s wealth maximisation perspective. It has nothing to do with what I personally think. Women do better in targetled roles. But at a CEO level, it is open-ended. It is not a nine-to-five job and women have many other responsibilities. As for CSR, many companies worldwide have started dumping it. It erodes profits and shareholders’ wealth. Do CSR only for publicity. It is the government’s job to do good for the society. What a businessman can do is create more jobs. As for R&D, companies that invest the most in R&D get the least returns.
So why do management books sell like hot cakes?
Because there are a lot of individuals who feel like they haven’t achieved much.
People don’t like to be preached to. What is the tone that you adopt in your books?
I use a lot of examples. I don’t say anything directly.
Is there any Indian author that you like?
Indians don’t write. Only semi-successful people write books. A multibillionaire never does, nor does he allow anybody else to write on him.
Have you read Suhel Seth’s Get To The Top?
How did you manage to write at this pace? Thorns to Competition came out just three months ago.
I have been writing these books for a few years now. I write books simultaneously.
What is your take on India’s FDI policy?
It is inevitable. India chose the FDI route. There are countries which did not go this route, like South Korea. Twenty years ago, we had a choice. We could have decided to make Indian products world class and then open up the market. But now, let’s capture the Indian market first and beat Wal-Mart at their game. Once someone pointed out that in the Forbes list of billionaires, there are many Indians, but in the Fortune list of 100 top brands, there is not one Indian brand. He asked me, “How do you guys become billionaires without making brands?” Nincompoops have become billionaires here, and if Wal- Mart beats them, I will be happy. Indian companies don’t understand marketing or branding. They only understand bribing.
You are a fan of Ernesto Che Guevara, but you still embrace the corporate life and promote it. Isn’t there a clash?
Corporations are ruling our lives, and I am a part of that. While my previous book explains how to survive in the corporate jungle, it also says that we need to be aware that we are forced to function as irrational beings.
Janani Ganesan is a Trainee Correspondent with Tehelka.