Two entrepreneurs turned academicians, Mukesh Sud and Priyank Narayan, have co-authored this book, ‘Leapfrog – Six practices to thrive at work’. While Mukesh, Associate Professor at IIM Ahmedabad, has three decades of professional experience divided between academia and entrepreneurship, Priyank, Founding Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Ashoka University, started his career with IBM and subsequently was an entrepreneur for many years.
Their experience in corporate life and entrepreneurship led them to wonder why certain people showed a greater propensity to succeed over others despite coming from similar backgrounds or having similar skillsets or qualifications. Their questioning led them to come up with six practices to succeed in the workplace or as an entrepreneur packaged into this book under review. The major objective is to help people lead their professional or personal lives happily.
The book is divided into six chapters, one for each of the six practices viz., Develop grit, Nudge yourself, Be intellectually humble, Dance with disciplines, Curate the chaos, and Think entrepreneurially. The introduction tells you what to expect with the snapshot on page xvi giving a visual overview of each chapter.
The treadmill test
Interestingly, each chapter has a “So What?” section that shows the reader how exactly that practice can work out in life. Example, the chapter on Develop Grit talks about a 1938 Harvard University study on psychological health where students were asked to run on a treadmill for five minutes. The participants were tracked and interviewed every two years regarding their careers, marriage, and even bank balances! Data was collected over seven decades. Key finding: “Those who managed five minutes on the treadmill earned more, had happier marriages, and lower rates of depression”. Takeaway: Perseverance or grit counts for more than intelligence or talent!
As an entrepreneur for many years, I looked at the chapter Think entrepreneurially with greater interest. It starts with three stories all of which have one thing in common: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. The authors stress the need for effectual thinking – doing what you can with what you have, an approach that can be used in any sector or setting.
The epilogue has more than a glimmer of hope for late bloomers. Your time under the sun too can come and you can leapfrog! Nirad Chaudhuri wrote his first book only at the age of 54 for instance.
For those wanting to use a framework for professional success, this book could serve as a useful guide. It offers a set of practices to navigate through the rough and uncertain world that real life presents. For instance, the chapter on Nudge Yourself has the EAST framework to help implement behavioural change. The way a request is phrased (or the choice of beverage!) can lead to startlingly different outcomes even in a management consulting company like McKinsey.
Trove of information
The notes and references at the end of the book are a whopping 64 pages; that is one-fourth of the book! That too is a trove of information and additional knowledge.
There is also a website that is rather useful – www.leapfrog.work. It covers the six practices and has a toolkit where you can create your own Personal Journey Map. It also links to videos to illustrate each practice. There are also other resources like resume templates in the section on Be Intellectually Humble. This website is a welcome addition as it complements the book plus it has the possibility of updating the book without necessarily bringing out a print edition.
Style-wise, the authors have plumped for the storytelling format, with plenty of anecdotes, examples and experiences to drive home their point. Luckily, the academics in them haven’t gained dominance; the book is written in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Several diagrams, tables, and questionnaires/ scales interspersed within the book also enhances its readability.
This book can serve as a useful guide for those embarking on their career or seeking to find new direction.
(Chandu Nair, an IIMA alumnus of the 1983 batch, is an entrepreneur, advisor and angel investor)
Click on the link to check out the book on Amazon.