[Year in Review 2019] The Top 20 author interviews of the year – on creativity, entrepreneurship, and storytelling

In addition to detailed book reviews, YourStory presents key author insights on their journeys, interpretations of successful leadership, and messages for aspiring entrepreneurs.

20th Dec 2019
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YourStory’s book review section features over 200 titles on entrepreneurship, innovation, startups, leadership, and tech trends. Also see our list of Top 10 Books of the Year for Entrepreneurs for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.


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Following up on our book reviews, YourStory has interviewed dozens of these authors over the years as well. Here is our pick of Top 20 Author Interviews of 2019, with direct insights and tips from the experts (see also our Top 10 Author Interviews of 2018). Click through on the list below for each interview, and follow through to see the full reviews of their books.


We thank all these experts for their compelling and informative books, and for spreading the creative movement far and wide. We wish the authors and our readers a Happy New Year, and look forward to more books and interviews in 2020!

Nandan Nilekani on startups, scale, and digital infrastructure for a billion people

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Business icon Nandan Nilekani chats about his investment strategy in Indian startups and his views on the right way of building businesses. The co-founder of India’s iconic IT services firm Infosys is also a well-known investor. He has backed over a dozen startups, including agritech startup NinjaCart, travel marketplace RailYatri, and startup research platform Tracxn. He is also the author of Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century and Rebooting India: Realizing a Billion Aspirations.

Why digital benefits need to be balanced with data privacy - Payal Arora, author, ‘The Next Billion Users’

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Digital anthropologist Payal Arora grew up in Bengaluru and graduated from Harvard and Columbia Universities. She is an Associate Professor at the School of History, Culture, and Communication at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Her book presents research on the online lives of poor people in emerging economies. In this interview, Payal talks about policy implications of digital media, data security, her research collaborations, new insights on how the poor are using online media, and her next book on ‘AI for Good.’

How curiosity and observation lead to innovation: Rob Walker, author, ‘The Art of Noticing’

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Rob Walker is the author of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday. He is a faculty of the Products of Design MFA programme at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Discovery is everywhere, and noticing what others miss is a key step to successful and original innovation, Rob explains in this interview. He expands on the importance of curiosity, resources on creativity, and the balance with satisfaction.

How to master ‘tweaks, twists and twinkles' - innovation paths from Giles Lury, author of ‘Iconic Innovations’

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Giles Lury is director at brand consultancy The Value Engineers, and the author of Iconic Innovations: 75 Business Tales to Help You Find the Next Big Thing. He has written six other books, including Adwatching, The Prisoner and the Penguin, and How Coca-Cola Took Over the World. In a chat with YourStory, Giles talks about the ‘3Ts’ of innovation (tweaks, twists, twinkles), challenges in bringing innovations successfully to market, and the importance of learning from failure.

‘Design is the layer between people and technology’ – user experience tips from Giles Colborne, author, ‘Simple and Usable’

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Without a clear focus on design and user experience, a tech startup is just a vanity project, according to Giles Colborne, the author of Simple and Usable. Giles helps innovators and product managers understand what simplicity can do for efficiency, return on investment, and identifying future design directions. In this interview, he shares his insights on customer focus, the importance of listening and conversation, and trends in interface design.

Excel today, but also explore for tomorrow – innovation tips from Scott Anthony, author, 'Dual Transformation'

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Innovation author Scott Anthony joins us for an interview on business changes unleashed by entrepreneurs, responses from large incumbents, and opportunities for collaboration. The core of the book revolves around the four mindsets of dual transformation: the courage to choose, clarity to focus, curiosity to explore, and conviction to persevere. Scott joins us in this interview on the competition between startups and large incumbents, emerging disruptions, strategies for innovators, and the importance of organisational culture for success.

Don’t be content with making only a small impact; aim for maximum scale: Ann Mei Chang, author, ‘Lean Impact’

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This innovation practitioner joins us for an interview on current challenges in the social innovation sector, how lean startup approaches can help, and why scale matters so much for social enterprises in a world full of hard problems. The author has spent more than 20 years at Google, Apple, and Intuit. She shares insights on the challenges in social innovation, insights derived from applying the lean startup approach, metrics for social impact, emerging models of funding, and scale strategies for social enterprises.

‘Version One is better than Version None’ – in conversation with David Nour, author of ‘Co-create’

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It is important to not just understand customer journeys, but to co-create solution experiences with them, as this best-selling author explains. His company’s website has a number of downloadable tools such as the Co-Creation Canvas and Customer Experience Journey. His other books are Relationship Economics, ConnectAbility, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital, and Return on Impact. David joins us in this chat on the importance of co-creation, customer experience journeys, the challenges startups face, new trends in innovation, and mindsets for tackling failure.

Why entrepreneurs need sharp storytelling skills: Gabrielle Dolan, author, ‘Stories for Work’

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Founder stories can connect with investors and stakeholders, but passion should not come in the way of the story. This bestselling author defines four types of stories: triumph, transition, tension and tragedy. She shows how they can be used in business stories across eight categories, with actual case studies in action. Gabrielle joins us in this chat on her current work in leadership, the importance of storytelling for entrepreneurs, stories in the digital world, and her new book.

Your story is your competitive advantage: Rob Biesenbach, author, ‘Unleash the Power of Storytelling’

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Rob Biesenbach is the author of Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results. The book covers company origin stories, the use of stories during presentations, and personal brand stories. Rob is also the author of books Act Like You Mean Business and 11 Deadly Presentation Sins. Rob joins us in this chat on storytelling tactics during startup pitches, impacts of stories, the habits and achievements of successful storytellers, and the role of digital media.

Failure is grief but not ‘game over’ – authors John Danner and Mark Coopersmith on how to put failure to work

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Failure lessons and coping strategies are offered in the book, The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work. The core of the book is a seven-stage framework on how to harness failure, called the Failure Value Cycle: respect, rehearse, recognise, react, reflect, rebound, and remember. The authors join us in a chat on how failure lessons can be taught and interpreted, examples of leaders who share failure stories, cultural attitudes towards failure, and tips for startup founders on bouncing back to success.

Deliver value, don’t just solve problems – design tips from Everett McKay, author, ‘Intuitive Design’

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Discoverability, affordance, comprehensibility, responsive feedback, predictability, efficiency, forgiveness, and explorability are key elements of interface design, as explained by this design expert. Effective design comes from a combination of usability testing, expert evaluation, and application of core objective parameters of intuitive design. Everett joins us for a chat on design education, design in startups, trustworthy UX (TUX), and even examples of non-intuitive design by Adobe and Apple.

Meet Chester Santos, the ‘International Man of Memory’ who quit Silicon Valley to coach others

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US Memory Championship 2008 winner Chester Santos’ friends and family thought he was “crazy” when he decided to quit his job as a Silicon Valley software engineer. He has a memory school, and has written two books: Instant Memory Training for Success and Mastering Memory: Techniques to Turn Your Brain from a Sieve to a Sponge. In a conversation with YourStory, we discover his roots, journey, and more.

Rejected 15 times and now a best-selling author – the incredible story of Ratna Vira

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Ratna Vira’s first book Daughter by Court Order, is a reflection of society and the way daughters are treated in families. In her second book, It’s Not About You, she highlighted the issue of bullying and the emotional upheavals that it sparks. The author has now published her third book, Why People Give: Interpreting Altruism – which was co-authored with her daughter, Suhasini Vira. Inspired by the founders and trustees of Genesis Foundation, Prema Sagar and Jyoti Sagar, the book delves into the need for empathy in our times.

Writing about mythology makes me more Indian: Amish Tripathi, author of ‘Shiva Trilogy’

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In this exclusive interview, author Amish Tripathi spills the beans on his latest release, Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, what brought him to Indian mythology, his inspiration in life, and his darkest character so far - the King of Lanka. A banker for 14 years and now a best-selling author, Amish has donned many caps in his nine-year-long writing career, and with panache. An IIM-Calcutta graduate, his debut novel was The Immortals of Meluha. A riveting mash-up of mythology and fiction, the novel was an instant hit.

Priya Kumar on why good storytelling isn’t about following a trend but creating content that is relatable

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After starting her career as a motivational speaker, Priya Kumar has donned many hats – as an author and screenwriter. She was just 22-years-old when she started her career as a motivational speaker in the mid 1990s. Later, she went on to become a business coach and author. She has also authored 10 award-winning books like The Wise Man, The Perfect World, and License to Live among others. In this interview, Priya talks about what makes a good story, how to capture the audience’s attention, and how to hold your own as a storyteller.

Top seven success secrets of doing business the Sindhi way

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In her book Paiso: How Sindhis do Business, Maya Bathija tells the stories of five Sindhi business families and how they have built their empires across the globe. They include Gary and David Harilela of the Hong Kong-based Harilela Group, Ramola Motwani of real estate investment and development company Merrimac Ventures based in the US, Harish Fabiani, one of the early angel investors and Chairman of Americorp Ventures and India Land, Dilip Lakhi of the Lakhi Group, and real estate Embassy Group’s Jitendra Virwani.

Stuti Changle pens exciting book with startups as theme, wants to inspire youth to ‘make a move’

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Inspired by YourStory, this author’s debut novel is On The Open Road - Three Lives. Five Cities. One Startup. It delves into fictional lives of three characters who are bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. She explores the lives of these young people as they attempt an empowering journey to start up a company. Will they succeed on the road less travelled? In this interview, Stuti tells us all about the book, her inspirations, and why she chose to write on startups.

Busting success myths: founders of Zomato, Freshworks, MakeMyTrip, and others reveal how they almost blew it

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Dentsu Webchutney CEO Sidharth Rao's new book, How I Almost Blew It: Incredible lessons from India’s most successful digital entrepreneurs, tells the stories of some of India’s earliest internet entrepreneurs and their near-fiascos, which make for great lessons. The rise and growth of the Indian startup ecosystem has birthed thousands of stories. In this interview, Sidharth points out that there is so much more that needs to be documented, discussed, and debated about the startup ecosystem in India. “I wish more people who have been inside the ring find time to do it. We owe it to the community,” he says.


YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).



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