Business Today

BT MindRush: 'Successful firms like Apple, Toyota, Coca Cola, have stories that are synonymous with them'

Author Ashwin Sanghi draws lessons and parallels from mythology and modern business

Team BT | December 13, 2019 | Updated 20:25 IST
BT MindRush: 'Successful firms like Apple, Toyota, Coca Cola, have stories that are synonymous with them'
Author Ashwin Sanghi speaking at Business Today Mindrush event in Mumbai on Friday.

"If you must read, read a balance sheet." This is the advice that popular author Ashwin Sanghi got from his father's munim ji, who thought young Sanghi was wasting his time reading books. As an acclaimed author and a businessman, Sanghi did both.

With numerous popular titles to his name, including The Rozabal Line, Chanakya's Chant, The Krishna Key, Private India (co-written with James Patterson) and The Sialkot Saga, Sanghi has sold close to 2 million copies.

The Economics graduated from St Xavier's College, Mumbai, started writing when at Yale School of Management pursuing an MBA. Speaking at Business Today's 7th edition of MindRush held in Mumbai on December 14, 2019, Sanghi drew parallels between mythology and modern business - both subjects he has studied closely.

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"Just the way myth and history combine to become mystery, successful enterprises have their stories," Sanghi said. Most have a single story that has become synonymous with the company, be it just in time inventory and Toyota, moving from radio to walkman and Sony, or the sale of Coca Cola's formula to pay off debt.


Even the lifecycle of an enterprise has parallels with the two trinities of Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv and Goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. A start-up is about creation, while growth and preservation are needed to make the business grow. After reaching a certain level, there is need for renewal and transformation.

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Chanakya's Arthashastra is also a particularly relevant treatise that enterprises can draw references from. Just the way Kautilya wrote about the structure of a state and the roles of its various parts, business leaders can define roles for the CEO ('king'), advisers ('mantris'), shareholders ('janpad'), capital ('kosh'), human resources ('bal') and even allies such as vendors, dealers, banks and others.

The Mahabharat and Ramayan hold lessons too. Building the bridge to Lanka is an example of organisation and teamwork in Ramayan, while the Pandavas building an army is an example of strategic alliance.

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