[Year in Review 2020] The Top 20 Author Interviews of the Year – on Entrepreneurship, Digital Transformation, 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.
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Launched in 2012, YourStory’s Book Review section features over 280 titles on entrepreneurship, innovation, startups, leadership, and tech trends. See also our list of Top 10 Books of the Year for Entrepreneurs for 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

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 2020, with direct insights and tips from the experts (see also our Top Author Interviews of 2019 and  2018). Click through on the links below for each full-length interview, and follow through to see the full reviews of their books.

We thank all these authors 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 ahead, and look forward to more books and interviews in 2021!

From idea to investment: entrepreneurship tips from Dhruv Nath and Sushanto Mitra, authors, ‘Funding your Startup’

Dhruv Nath and Sushanto Mitra are the co-authors of Funding your Startup, a guide to entrepreneurs on startup journeys and fundraising (see my book review here). Their framework goes by the apt acronym PERSISTENT, for creating successful and investible startups. In this interview, the authors talk about the rise of angel investing, resilience strategies during the pandemic, and the journey from launch to growth.

From resourcefulness to resilience: entrepreneurship insights from Evian Gutman, author, ‘Coming back from COVID’

The biggest development of 2020 was, unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic. Evian Gutman is the author of Coming Back from COVID (see my book review here). The book provides business recovery tips in six categories: people, operations, product, marketing and sales, growth, accounting and finance. In this interview, Evian talks about the journey of an entrepreneur, resilience beyond the pandemic era, digital transformation, and ecosystem support for entrepreneurship.

‘Everyone is experimenting, and that reduces the risk’ – pandemic resilience insights from Patrick Schwerdtfeger, author, Pandemic, Inc.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger describes eight trends that have been triggered or accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, in his new book Pandemic Inc. (see my book review here). The trends are captured in the catchy acronym SALVAGED: self-sufficiency, analytics, liquidity, virtualisation, automation, government, exponential thinking, and decentralisation. In this interview, Patrick shares examples of resilience, the experimentation mindset, and the importance of embracing uncertainty.

Startups around the world can help solve the most intractable problems – in conversation with Alex Lazarow, author, ‘Out-Innovate’

Alexandre Lazarow is the author of Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs – from Delhi to Detroit – are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley. The global canvas of the book shares fresh insights on startup successes from Asia, Africa, and Latin America (see my book review here). In this interview, Alex discusses pandemic resilience, VC trends, and founder tips. “Startup culture is globalising and access to capital is democratising,” he explains.

If one can’t talk about anything that doesn’t toe the line of the majority, where is the space for creative freedom, asks author Perumal Murugan

Author Perumal Murugan’s life and work has been steeped in greatness and controversy. In this interview, he talks about his book Estuary, his influences and creative freedom. Nandini Krishnan, the translator of the book from Tamil to English, describes the nuances in translation and working with Murugan on the book. “The origin of a book is quite like the origin of a river,” Perumal says.

From start to scale: tips for social enterprises from Madhukar Shukla, author of ‘Social Entrepreneurship in India’

Madhukar Shukla is the author of Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism (see my book review here). The book draws on 120 organisational examples, and is a must-read for aspiring social entrepreneurs, innovators, academics, policymakers, and impact investors. In this interview, Madhukar shares insights on resilience, growth strategies, and the impact of digital technology on entrepreneurship.

From persistence to pivots – tips for social entrepreneurs, from Elisa Birnbaum, author of ‘In the Business of Change’

Elisa Birnbaum is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SEE Change Magazine, which has been covering social entrepreneurship for over 10 years. She is the author of In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual (see my book review here). In this interview, Elisa talks about the journey of a social entrepreneur, problem solving, and resilience in the pandemic era.

Founder-author Vrunda Bansode on why entrepreneurial thinking is even more important today – and how it can be taught effectively

Vrunda Bansode is the author of Become a Junior Entrepreneur – a very different kind of entrepreneurship book, written for school students. (see my book review here). In this interview, Vrunda talks about the importance of entrepreneurship education, changes in India’s education policy, and the need for broader ecosystem cooperation to empower future generations.

‘Bad luck’ now can be ‘good luck’ later – mindsets tips for resilience and creativity by Christian Busch, author of The Serendipity Mindset

Christian Busch is the author of The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck (see my book review here). The book explains that individuals and organisations can make luck favour them by cultivating the serendipity mindset and “serendipity field”. Christian joins us in this interview on how entrepreneurs can cultivate serendipity, keep an alert eye for surprises, co-create with customers, and even find opportunity in adversity.

Life, loss, and love: how author Elizabeth Gilbert dances around the great mysteries of the universe

At Jaipur LitFest 2020, bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert of 'Eat, Pray, Love' fame speaks about her belief in ‘Quest Physics’ and the laws that govern it. Everything in her life, she says, revolves around the great dance of the universe, where she is not in control. She laughs at the insinuation that after her popular life-changing books, her latest one has been likened to a chick-lit by some.

How to harness accelerated digital transformation – in conversation with Steve Brown, author, ‘The Innovation Ultimatum’

Steve Brown is the author of The Innovation Ultimatum: How Six Strategic Technologies Will Reshape Every Business in the 2020s. These technologies are artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, the Internet of Things, 5G networks, and autonomous machines (see my book review here). Steve joins us in this chat on digital transformation, responsible AI, and the entrepreneurial mindset.

AI will do the ‘dirty, dull, difficult and dangerous’ work and give us more time to be human – in conversation with AI expert Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh is the author of 2062: The World that AI Made. It shows how the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) poses serious philosophical, economic and social questions for all of us. AI is making a major impact in healthcare, education, manufacturing and politics (see my book review here). As part of the Tata Literature Live Festival 2020, YourStory had a chat with Toby on AI and ethics, the scope of regulation, and future trends in AI (see video here).

‘The best days of the digital world still lie ahead’ - David Moschella, author, ‘Seeing Digital’

David Moschella is the author of Seeing Digital: A Visual Guide to the Industries, Organisations and Careers of the 2020s (see my book review here). It charts the wave of change in the post-PC, post-smartphone and post-cloud era. In this interview, David talks about digital transformation, voice applications, geopolitical dimension of the tech sector, and outlook for India as a third industry center of gravity.

From product vision to customer insights: how storytelling is a powerful tool for innovators

Jean Storlie and Mimi Sherlock are co-authors of Once Upon an Innovation: Business Storytelling Techniques for Creative Problem Solving (see my book review here). The book shows how story approaches can be embedded throughout innovation, from visioning products to understanding customers. In this interview, the authors talk about the journey of an innovator, the power of failure stories, storytelling in the pandemic era, and the business impact of storytelling.

How brands and innovators must humanise their messages – Miri Rodriguez, author of ‘Brand Storytelling’

Miri Rodriguez is the author of Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand. The handy business communication book brings together insights and practical tips blending storytelling, marketing, branding, design thinking and employee advocacy (see my book review here). In this interview, Miri talks about the importance of authenticity in storytelling, the role of vulnerability, and humanising brands in the era of the pandemic.

The ‘3 Cs’ of business success during the coronavirus crisis - Commerce, Customer and Conscience

Giles Lury is director of brand consultancy, The Value Engineers, and author of From Ideas to Iconic Brands (see my book review here). He has written six other books, including Iconic Innovations, Adwatching, and The Prisoner and the Penguin. In this two-part interview, Giles talks about recovery curves in the pandemic era, repositioning of brands, and re-assessment of life priorities (see Part I of the interview here).

Author Rohini Nilekani on her new book The Hungry Little Sky Monster for Juggernaut, and the importance of reading for children

The Hungry Little Sky Monster by Rohini Nilekani is for children between 2-5 years old, and ponders why the moon wanes. As the co-founder of Pratham Books, Rohini is consistently working towards fulfilling its dream of seeing a book in every child’s hand. “When children read different types of books, they learn about the complexities of the world that is not just black and white but also grey,” she explains, in this interview.

Anticipate change, don’t just adapt to change – Madge Meyer, author, ‘The Innovator’s Path’

Madge Meyer is the author of The Innovator's Path: How Individuals, Teams, and Organisations Can Make Innovation Business-as-Usual (see my book review here). Her useful book describes the eight disciplines of innovation: listen, lead, position, promote, connect, commit, execute and evolve. In this interview, Madge talks about balancing experimentation with risk management, effective partnerships for innovation, and leadership ability to spot contradictory and weak signals.

Improving startup success – how founders can tap the accelerator ecosystem and build resilience strategies in these tough times

Richard Busulwa, Naomi Birdthistle and Steve Dunn are co-authors of the book, Startup Accelerators: A Field Guide (see my book review here). The book is packed with research analysis and first-hand interviews with founders and accelerator managers. In this three-way chat, the authors talk about the global outlook for accelerators, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and tips for aspiring founders.

I think more people are reading and writing because of me, says India’s best-selling author Chetan Bhagat

Love him or hate him, but you cannot simply ignore the fact that Chetan Bhagat is India’s best-selling author. He also aims to listen to the “voice of the youth” and bring about change in the country through his columns and opinion pieces. His latest book, One Arranged Murder, is a killer-thriller. In this interview, Chetan talks about the new book, the murder mystery genre, having a voice, and dealing with criticism.

How sharing lessons learnt helps overcome failure – Robin Banerjee, author, ‘Who Blunders and How’

Robin Banerjee is the author of Who Blunders and How: The Dumb Side of the Corporate World (see my book review here). In this interview, Robin talks about the importance of customer trust, business brand, and an open culture of discussing failure. Entrepreneurs in their scale-up journey should pay special heed to management issues, intercultural differences, and cash management.

Journalist-author Puja Changoiwala’s new book explores the life and transformation of gangster Rahul Jadhav

Gangster On The Run – The True Story of a Reformed Criminal tells the story of Rahul Jadhav aka Bhiku, the man who outran his demons. In this interview, author Puja Changoiwala says she wrote this book because as a crime reporter, she has seen murderers turn their lives around. It took immense research and numerous conversations before the sources agreed to share their time and their lives.

Watch: Author Srishti Chaudhary on the art of fiction writing, and her latest novel ‘Lallan Sweets’

In this candid video chat on the art of fiction writing, Delhi-based author Srishti Chaudhary explains how she creates well-rounded characters, builds an engaging plot, and interweaves them into engaging and heart-warming stories based on familiar themes. She gives budding and existing writers actionable insights into the art of fiction writing.

Why startups and corporates need to guard against loss of core knowledge – Dorothy Leonard, co-author, ‘Critical Knowledge Transfer’

Dorothy Leonard is co-author of Critical Knowledge Transfer: Tools for Managing Your Company's Deep Smarts (see my book review here). She refers to an organisation’s critical, experience-based knowledge as ‘deep smarts’. The book presents a range of techniques for mapping such knowledge, and transferring it via smart questioning, assisted capture, and accelerated transfer.

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).