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“Books are a great way to promote lateral thinking”

Raghvendra Tripathi, Chief Performance Officer, Ramco Systems, talks about his love for books and how they make him a better person, employee, and leader. By Satyaki Sarkar

At Ramco Systems, Raghvendra Tripathi wears a couple of hats, managing several functions pertaining to the HR, IT, and operations sectors. Prior to this he was at Mahindra Satyam, now known as Tech Mahindra, and was instrumental in setting up the company’s base in China over 10 years. Over the year’s Raghvendra has gained extensive experience in the telecom and business space, having started his career in a public sector enterprise during the time of the telecom revolution in India. An avid reader, Raghavendra turns to books on a daily basis to shatter the monotony of work, provide a change of pace, and cultivate a broader outlook.

An integral part of childhood
“Reading has always been one of my hobbies, right from my childhood,” says Raghavendra. “The content and matter of those books, however, used to be a lot different then, obviously. I’d read a lot of storybooks, including both fiction and non-fiction, apart from spending time playing outside as back then we didn’t have the Internet or even the kind of television shows we have today. Nowadays people are almost always glued to their laptops, smartphones, and tablets, but back in then we’d spend a lot more time outside with friends, or read books to entertain ourselves at home. Quite a few of my friends and family members were voracious readers, so they were partly responsible for my habit.”

They sharpen your intellect
“After a long day at work, reading helps me de-stress and relax. Plus it teaches me a lot of things. I find that books can even help with our thought processes. Even at the end of the day, our minds are usually preoccupied with the troubles and complications at work. So when you pick up a book after getting home you are immediately taken out of that rut and hit with a completely new scenario, which allows you to think in a different manner. Whatever you have carried home from work is left behind and you are transported to somewhere else entirely. I read a book every day after coming home, be it fiction, non-fiction, or even mythology. I try to read anything interesting that I can get my hands on. The next morning I find that the book I read has given me a new perspective and insight into how I look at a particular issue. Reading helps me come up with new ideas, solutions and ways to deal with old problems. It is one of the best ways to promote lateral thinking.

“When you occupy a senior position in any company, part of your job is to constantly come up with new ways of thinking, handling problems, and finding out solutions. In that aspect, books are incredibly helpful in giving a change of pace and provide insights that you can use to get out of a problem you’ve been stuck with for a while.”

Providing new perspectives
“I studied in a vernacular-medium school in UP. English wasn’t taught in the school, and I started reading English-language books only from Std 6. From then onwards, books have helped me immensely in increasing my vocabulary and shaping my ability to articulate my thoughts more effectively. Not only do they help shape our thoughts, but books are also massive sources of knowledge, giving us information on different topics that we can use to discuss with each other.

“There’s a very popular saying that every person who reads a book interprets it in their own way, and I completely agree with that. The lessons and perspectives a book shows differ from person to person. I might have a particular understanding of the story, while someone else might see it in a completely different way. That, I feel, is the real beauty of a book. Contrary to what people think, a book is extremely helpful in improving a person’s social skills, and equips us with the means to carry ourselves, put forth our ideas, and think for ourselves.”

Favourite authors and books
“I have always been a huge fan of W Somerset Maugham and used to read his books a lot as a child, along from Thomas Hardy’s, as I found their stories immensely gripping. I have read almost all the books ever written by these two authors. They not only allowed me to master the English language but also taught me a lot of things about life that parents or teachers did not teach. As far as non-fiction is concerned, it is difficult to name a particular author who I am fond of, as I have read so many books and by so many different writers.

“My favourite book, to date, is Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham, which I often re-read. It has left a huge mark on me about the themes it conveys and the story that is told. The kinds of books you read also have a lot to do with the kind of impact they have on you. Books by W Somerset Maugham or Thomas Hardy, for example, deal with the way things are in the regular world, in our day-to-day lives, and teach us how to deal with them. If you speak about the Gita, on the other hand, it is going to have a completely different impact on you. In spite of having been written hundreds of years ago, it has managed to have a profound impact on important figures throughout time, such as Mahatma Gandhi, and even Albert Einstein. Just a while back I finished a book called The Alliance by Reid Hoffman, the Co-Founder of LinkedIn, and it was one of the most riveting books I’ve read in a while.

“In life, learning is a constant and endless process, and book are an important part of it. But no matter what hobbies or passions you have keep at them. There is almost always something new to learn and understand. Not only does it keep refreshing your intellect, but it also teaches you new lessons and skills that come handy in life.” 

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