(4 / 4)
Entertaining and Inspiring
Alok Kejriwal’s debut book “Why I stopped wearing my socks” hits all the right notes.
One of the early flagbearers of India’s internet revolution, Alok chronicles his life story right from the time he started working under the tutelage of his maternal grandfather.
I have read many autobiography type books where the authors don’t stop blabbering about their triumphs and rarely turn the spotlight on their failures.
But Alok is different. He shares his pitfalls with the same aplomb as he does his moments of success.
From recounting his first brush with the stock markets – where he lost and eventually made money – to making detrimental decisions in his startup venture, he tells his story warts and all.
Oh, just in case you are wondering, the intriguing title of the book comes from the socks manufacturing business of his father. It was at his father’s factory he learned the ropes of business and entrepreneurship.
A family squabble pushed Alok to venture out and start something of his own. A newbie to the world of the Internet, he did not let lack of resources become an obstacle to giving wings to his dreams.
Here’s Alok’s rule of thumb on entrepreneurship:
“No matter how uninitiated an entrepreneur is in a new business, one can win customers by focusing on innovation and actual problem-solving.”
He is a bare-knuckle salesman who unabashedly calls himself an apologetic seeker of business.
“I believe that a market is available to anyone who has the persistence to keep knocking on doors and asking for business.”
He has a strong sense of time and place and keeps every chapter riveting without letting in a dull moment.
Throughout the book, the reader can glean several pivotal learnings. You get insights into the importance of choosing the right investors, meeting new people and staying calm in critical situations. Here’s his big idea on networking:
“It’s comfortable and convenient to skip events, meetings, and boring parties and stay comfortably at home, but often, it’s in those places that bright ideas germinate in your mind.”
The book teems with stories of close shaves, brave decisions and lucky escapes he had as an entrepreneur.
There is this painful account of an internal mutiny which resulted in Alok’s ouster from his own company. Two of his confidantes with whom he built the company crawfished on him and sided with the VCs to throw him out.
He avers that you can’t expect forever loyalty from your employees. Luckily, this wasn’t long before Disney bought one of his other ventures.
When he is not talking about his out trials and triumphs, he philosophizes a little. In one of the chapters, he talks about attention to detail and echoes what people like Gary Vaynerchuk are also saying:
“God is in the details. Without getting into the micro, there was no way I could manage the macro.”
One thing is clear – this book will light the rocket under aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s both inspiring and exhilarating.
It’s not a definitive book on entrepreneurship. It is more of an encapsulation of Alok’s trials and tribulations as he scurried into entrepreneurship.
“Why I stopped wearing my Socks” works because:
a) It has a brilliant storyteller at the helm. Alok writes in a clear and straightforward style sparing readers unnecessary complexities. Except for the chapter where he explains the nitty-gritty of a machine in his father’s factory, he keeps it simple.
b) It takes you back to the pre-internet days. There is a charm in knowing how things used to work before the internet. how hard it was to start up something back then.
c) There is no high falutin’ gyaan nor does the author pretend that he is Mr big dog. He had his share of struggles; struggles that beset the path of every newbie entrepreneur. And, he candidly shares the stories of these struggles with the reader.
In a later chapter, he teases the reader about his most successful venture in his own words but stops right there. As a reader, I was left wondering about the fate of games2win.com or what made it a success. Anyway, that’s not a reason for me to not recommend the book.
Go for this book.
It will leave you lingering in its afterglow.
If you want to take something away from this book, let it be its author’s overwhelming desire to succeed under the most trying of conditions.