Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

Business Maharajas (1996)

Business Maharajas (1996) is a book by Dr. Gita Piramal about seven Indian business moguls. Dr. Piramal introduces us to the life and works of Dhirubhai Ambani, Rahul Bajaj, Aditya Birla, R. P. Goenka, Brij Mohan Khaitan, Bharat & Vijay Shah, and Ratan Tata. These men either founded or succesfully managed some of independent India’s biggest business groups. The book discusses the challenges these business leaders confronted in managing their empires and makes an effective argument for why all Indians need to appreciate the success of these moguls who succeeded despite tremendous odds against them.

Gita Piramal is a PhD in business history, but it is her affiliation with a leading Indian business family that allows her an insider view into the lives of these business leaders. Her insider status is apparent in the book. Professor Piramal has trouble acknowleding and presenting the “dark side” of any of the business leaders in her book. This is not a shortcoming in itself, if Dr. Piramal acknowledged her privileged insider status upfront. Other than the obvious issue of bias, I was also surprised that Dr. Piramal avoided a discussion of why Indian business moguls have generally ignored or overlooked overseas expansion, unlike business people from U.S., Europe, and even China who have been more willing to and succeeded in expanding their business abroad.

The book is a good read. Dr. Piramal has a story-telling writing style that keeps the reader engaged by presenting interesting, if not always critically important, information on her subjects. Certainly worth reading, especially if you are considering doing business in India or with any of the companies discussed in the book.

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Giants of Enterprise: Seven business innovators and the empires they built

giantsofent.jpg Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built, by Harvard Business School professor Richard S. Tedlow, is the story of seven great American entrepreneurs of the last century who created new industries or new business from nothing. In this 528-page book, Professor Tedlow describes the lives and works of Andrew Carnegie (the steel magnate), George Eastman (the founder of Kodak), Henry Ford (the man who brought cars to the masses), Thomas Watson Sr. (the founder of IBM), Charles Revson (the man behind the success of Revlon), Sam Walton (the founder of Walmart), and Robert Noyce (the driving force behind Silicon Valley). Professor Tedlow is impressed by the contributions of these seven great American heroes. (as are almost all of us), but that does not stop him from critically exploring their personal and professional triumphs and failures.  

The book is very informative BUT it is long! I personally don’t have an issue with reading long books, especially when they entertain and inform me about highly succesful entrepreneurs who broke old rules and created new ones, but I know of many people for whom the biggest obstacle to reading this book is its length. Frankly, I think Professor Tedlow could write a much shorter version of the same book and likely find it to be more popular for use in business schools and entrepreneurship classes.    

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