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Zen and the art of pathmaking
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Zen and the art of pathmaking

Subroto Bagchi’s Zen Garden looks at leadership as meta matter revolving around one or two core strengths, writes Manvi Sethi

book-review-marchSubroto Bagchi’s Zen Garden is a compilation of the author’s conversations with influential pathmakers. It is an immensely well-written book that talks about a set of qualities which sets a pathmaker apart from a follower.
In his Zen Garden, Subroto Bagchi has spoken to renowned pathmakers like Nandan Nilekani, Cherie Blair, Rana Kapoor, Dalai Lama, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Jagdish Khatter, V.G. Siddhartha, Ekta Kapoor, Rajeev Samant and the likes to decode the core qualities that best describe pathmaking. Post the conversations, each featured guest has been presented in twelve clusters of distinct defining qualities of pathmaking. These qualities are determination, vision, courage, displacement, love and competence, innovation, new paths, new economy, the power of two, compassionate leadership, pain, altruism and wisdom.
The first cluster talks about the quality of determination. The author brings to light individuals with an idea complemented by strong determination. He goes on to say that this quality gives focus which in turns gives the power to remain undistracted. Next up is the cluster of vision. The author speaks to guests who advocate the power of vision, innovation and volunteerism as the key to being a great leader. Leaders should have the capacity to see problems as opportunities in order to make a difference.
Courage is the next cluster he presents. According to him, entrepreneurship is not an exercise in risk-taking but is an act of courage. It is that quality that gives an 140-aindividual the power to confront the ups and downs of life. The next cluster is that of displacement. According to the author, displacement is often the first sign of progress. It comes in various forms – physical, intellectual and emotional. People with this quality have the will to create something significant and build a legacy for themselves.
Love and competence, the author feels, are qualities which enables someone to be persistent and helps fulfil the set goals against all odds. They help to find a reason beyond profit and loss to go to work. Innovation is next in line. Subroto Bagchi describes innovation as creativity and simplicity. He emphasises on the concept of ‘Innovation creates values for the customers’ which further enhances customer experience. Guests listed under this Zen Garden innovate and invariably look beyond gratification.
A very interesting quality of New Paths, New Economy is listed next. In this cluster, the author speaks to guests whose basis of entrepreneurship is creative talent. The author states that guests listed under this cluster have been credited with professionalising a chaotic, temperamental and ‘creative’ industry. They are not just creative entrepreneurs but are turning the industry on its head.
Up next is what the author calls The Power of Two or in simple terms – spouses working together to create successful organisations. He states that partners who join hands to work together should have a lot of mutual adjustment. They should be able to cover up for each other and negate each other’s weaknesses.
In the next cluster, the author brings to light three unusual physicians who bring forward a major lesson – that professional training can make a huge difference. On one hand, it could be a source of personal livelihood while on the other hand it could be a force of change to deliver long-lasting values to the society. This quality is termed as compassionate leadership by the author.
Subroto Bagchi takes up the quality of pain in his next cluster. He describes it as an endlessly fascinating subject. No one consciously covets pain but in some way, some time, pain touches you with the consequence of suffering.
In his next Zen Garden cluster, the author has spoken to spiritual leaders who have contributed to social change and provided succour to individuals and communities in distress. He says that these leaders wield power with their unique charisma and their sheer ‘presence.’ From this flows the inevitable following that they enjoy. They put this to use by providing solace to people in distress.
In the last cluster of his Zen Garden, Subroto Bagchi begins by saying that he is fascinated by people and not just entrepreneurs. When you come into contact with someone, that someone leaves a little part of himself that stays with you.
The book reflects a beautiful concept of having conversations with prominent individuals and deciphering the one unique quality that best exemplifies their path to success.
This book would appeal to a wide readership as Bagchi has focussed on diverse individuals from various genres.

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