What Indian CEOs/Founders are Reading – Arun Jagannathan

Arun Jagannathan is the founder of CrackVerbal (GMAT / GRE coaching for MBA / MS) and English for India (Corporate English training programs). At CrackVerbal, he is responsible for academics (content & delivery), marketing, and new product development. “English for India” is his second entrepreneurial venture, in which he helps businesses meet their business outcome through clear and effective communication. When he is not at work, Arun likes to read about his twin passion: digital marketing and productivity. He also mentors some startups on pro bono basis. As part of our new initiative to map the reading habits of Indian business leaders, The Seer spoke with him about his reading rites and more.


What’s the book you’re reading at present. Tell us what the book is all about without giving out any spoilers.

The book I am reading right now is sort of nerdy. It’s Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. You might wonder: why would an English teacher be reading this book. You know that English is the primary form of communication in today’s world. And I believe that it is vital that you have an in-depth understanding of the language–more so when you are a teacher.


Physical books, Kindle or just your mobile device – where do you spend most of your reading time?

I want to add Audible to the list. You know, I noticed something funny about my reading! I actually use multiple platforms/sources. On Audible, I probably hear a book when I am working out, and then when I’m in the car, I look something up to read and mark it on my Kindle. Then there are the tangible, physical books. You might ask why books. Sometimes, after a long day, you just want to get away from all your digital devices. Flipping through a book is a different kind of pleasure.


How many books do you read in a year on an average?

Now I really wish I could say a 100 books because I come across like I have this hack on how to read multiple books (laughs). But I get to read about 12 to 15 books. I am very conscious of the kind of books I read. So I use the Blinkist App, where I can read the premise of a book, and only if it appeals to me do I go out and get it. I also buy books if they come highly recommended by my friends. A friend who works at Amazon recommended this book I am reading right now. He said, at Amazon, English language skills are so important that if you can’t express yourself with clarity, after a point, you are probably not going to be promoted.


Who are your favourite authors?

Malcolm Gladwell and Dan Ariely come to mind. If I were to pick one, I’d go with Dan. He is probably my favourite.


A book you wish you had written.

I definitely wish that I had written some of Gladwell’s books! For example, Blink and Outliers. I love reading them. What interested me most about these books was how the author compiles all this data, analyses them and gives meaningful insights about the world around us.


How does reading help you?

I don’t read cover to cover anymore. I pick up a book, and I usually read it in bits and pieces. Whenever I find a compelling part, I reflect on it to see if there is anything that could be done with it – if I can implement it in my business or day-to-day life.


From all the literary characters you have read, whom do you relate to most and why?

Okay, I have got some bad news for you (laughs). I don’t read fiction. I usually read non-fiction! I tend to read books on language, business, etc.


Are you waiting for any book to be made into a movie? Any favourite film adaptation from the past?

You know, when you think about the kind of books that I read, you probably don’t want to see a movie based on it (laughs). But I also read biographies. Then again, not like ‘Super 30’ or anything jingoistic. I prefer movies that portray the truth about a person. A good example of this is ‘Steve Jobs.’ It showed Steve Jobs in all his complexity, you know–as a visionary, but also revealing his slightly eccentric side.


What’s your favourite time of the day for reading?

To be honest, any time of the day. But, I would probably pick sometime in the evening or at night because I’m just more relaxed at that point.


Suggest a book that every business leader should read.

This is a book that came out a very long time ago. It’s a short book, and you can just read it in one go. The book is called Who Moved My Cheese. The book is very simple, but it’s a metaphor for something a lot larger. It says you have to keep moving and what you did yesterday may not be good enough for today.


Do you write? Where can we read your writings?

You can read a couple of articles that I wrote on LinkedIn –
Executive MBA New Year Resolution
3 Life Lesssons before you seek an MBA