Ashok Vaswani

Lockdown reading: five books to challenge your thinking from Ashok Vaswani

With the cold winter weather and another lockdown, what better time to hunker down with a riveting read. Find out about Ashok’s recent reads:

For me, reading is a great way to continue my learning and fuel my curiosity! As we face a challenging start to 2021, I’ve been asked to share a view of my recent reading list…

1. First on my list is ‘The Courage to be Disliked’ by Japanese authors Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi. It uses a conversation between a philosopher and a young student to explore the theories of 19th century psychologist Alfred Adler around freeing ourselves from the expectations of others and from the pressures we put on ourselves. It’s a provocative read and really shifted my thinking. It’s my top read right now!!  

2. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Vivek Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur from Silicon Valley and Ismail Amla, Capita’s Chief Growth Officer, about the themes covered in their new book ‘From Incremental to Exponential: How Large Companies Can See the Future and Rethink Innovation’. Focused on how big companies must innovate to survive and grow, the writers use case studies from a range of organisations demonstrating those with successful innovation strategies as well as those whose tactics failed. I feel it’s so important that we talk about our failures as well as successes.

3. Next is ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. It’s about the power of the mindset and she shows how success, in whatever field you apply it, is based on how we as individuals think about our talents and abilities. People with a growth mindset believe they can develop new skills and abilities and are therefore much more likely to succeed than those with a fixed mindset. Her idea is simple, but very effective and one that left a lasting impression on me.

4. I’m currently reading ‘Beyond Great: Nine Strategies for Thriving in an Era of Social Tension, Economic Nationalism, and Technological Revolution’ by Arindam Bhattacharya, Nikolaus Lang and Jim Hemerling from the Boston Consulting Group. Covering the latest disruptive forces transforming the world such as data, digitalisation and environmental concerns, the authors use compelling case studies from real companies to show how leaders need to adapt and focus on nine key strategies in order to build successful global businesses. Really practical ideas that inspire me to do more!!

5. Last on my list is the book I’m going to pick up next. It’s called ‘No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram’ by Sarah Frier. It was recommended to me by a colleague John Daly, and I’m looking forward to getting started.

In these uncertain times, taking time out to read is something that keeps me motivated - I really hope you find the time to enjoy some of these books, and if you have any you recommend, please let me know.