The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Published in 1988, this magical fable about a shepherd’s journey in search of a great treasure talks about “listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all following our dreams.” As I read it, I couldn’t help relating many incidents in my life to the book. There are connections between events, a reason why things happen and when they happen. If you like me believe that there is mission why we are all on earth for, and all the various things (good and bad) happen for a reason, this book is definitely for you. Here is an excerpt from what one of the characters in the book says:
[Destiny] is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destinyIt’s a force which appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your destiny. It prepares your spirit and your will; because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, whatever it is that you do, when you are really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earthTo realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. And when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
Will and Vision: How Latecomers Grow to Dominate Markets by Gerard Tellis and Peter Golder
The book’s premise is counter-intuitive. We have always been led to believe that “the early bird gets the worm”, that the first-mover advantage is one of the critical success factors.
This had become all the more so during the early Internet years. The book, through a detailed analysis of various industries and many examples, “debunks the myth of pioneering advantage and reveals the real drivers of enduring market leadership: Vision of the mass market, managerial persistence, relentless innovation, financial commitment, asset leverage” – a combination, as it were, of vision and will. Here’s an excerpt on the authors’ view on envisioning the mass market:
The mass market is something that marketers tend to shun, especially for mature products. Strategists stress the importance of segmentation and differentiation. [For managers, the mass market] is synonymous with cutthroat competition, low margins, and low profits.
The mass market bears an entirely different perspective for a new product introduced by a visionary. At the time a vision is first formulated, competitors either may not see any market or may focus on a niche.Why focus on the mass market? Such an orientation has three important benefits for a market entrant.
First, reaching out to the mass market requires one to target a price that would appeal to this market. Second, tapping the mass market allows for economies of scale that lead to low unit costs. Third, the large scale of operation that comes with serving the mass market can easily support a big research effect.
The scale and profits from tapping the mass market allow even a late entrant to surpass the technological lead and experience of a pioneer that focuses on a small segment of the market.