Successful Malaysian Entrepreneur Vijay Eswaran Shares His Reading Habits

Vijay Eswaran is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist.

Vijay Eswaran is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist. An economist by training, he is the founder of a multimillion-dollar global business and the author of several books.

A well-known thought leader in Asia, he has written and spoken extensively about business, leadership, personal development, and life management. When not traveling the globe on business, he is a passionate advocate for improving the quality of higher education in South East Asia.

Vijay Eswaran is also the recipient of numerous awards for entrepreneurship and business leadership and has been featured in Forbes as one of Asia’s Top 50 philanthropists.

His latest book Two Minutes from the Abyss is now available as an eBook on Amazon.

Here’s my interview with Vijay Eswaran where he shares his reading habits and favorite books.

Tomas Laurinavicius: Why do you read?

Vijay Eswaran: In today’s hyper-digital world where videos and pictures dominate our newsfeed, being able to read a humble paperback sometimes feels like a luxury. My mother inculcated in me a love of the written word at a very young age and for that, I will be always grateful.

“When I read a book, it allows me to walk into another person’s mind.” – @VjayEswaran

The way I see it, reading is the closest experience to a telepathic connection between two individuals: the reader and the writer. Even if the author has left us centuries ago, we are still able to experience the world as he or she perceived it at the time of writing. No amount of modern audiovisual reenactment can ever replace the power of this connection. When I read a book, it allows me to walk into another person’s mind.

Reading has given me power – the power of imagination, the power to learn, the power to gain and share ideas, the power to shape my thinking.

I believe that the inherent human need for knowledge and understanding will always prevail and the written word will always transcend.

Laurinavicius: What are 5 of the most influential books in your life?

Eswaran: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

What I love here is that Bach writes with such great depth and feeling, yet in such simple language about self-perception and life itself. It ignites your imagination, and makes you want to stretch your own wings to fly. My favorite quote – “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I feel there is no greater art of delivering great truths and life lessons than storytelling. While The Alchemist is also a fable about following your dreams and listening to your heart, it serves as a wonderful reminder that failure is not the end. It is part of the journey. Favorite quote – “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler

This book is often benchmarked as one of the turning points in management and corporate literature in the last three decades. What attracted me to this book when I first read it more than 20 years ago is the novel way in which Ricardo Semler, the scion of an aging Brazilian family manufacturing corporation, approaches problems as well as their solutions.

He takes the idea of participative management to a different level and demonstrates through the evolution of his company, Semco, that a new democratic way of working is possible. Through the lessons in this book, he has changed the nature of employee-employer relationship, probably forever.

John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President by John A. Barnes

I’ve always admired Kennedy for his seemingly effortless manner of leadership. He made it look easy. But what went into making him the accomplished, charismatic leader the world came to love? The hard work, the pain, the challenges… as I started reading more about Kennedy’s life and legacy, the five key principles detailed in his book stood out.

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