Having served in places around the word as Trade Commissioner of the United States, (including 10 years in Mumbai), Richard Rothman settled in India and launched OpenMind, the world's first and only Opportunity Consultancy. Over a span of 32 years, Richard has expanded business opportunities for hundreds of companies operating in 67 sectors spanning 41 countries.
Richard Rothman’s book Master Opportunity and Make It Big which was recently launched, shares inspiring stories and success secrets of 18 Indian businessmen who started with nothing, and captured opportunities to make it big. With little to their name, these businessmen took great opportunities and converted them into success stories — Uday Kotak of Kotak Bank, Harsh Mariwala of Marico, Dr. Yusuf Hamied of Cipla, Subhash Chandra of Zee, Aditya Puri of HDFC Bank, Nirmal Jain of India Info Line are a few of the personalities who find mention in the book.
Speaking to this correspondent, Rothman talks about the reasons behind writing the book and shares his insight into the Indian business market.
What gave you the idea for the book?
Is there any word in the English language that's more attractive than "opportunity?" Opportunity is absolutely universal - every individual and every business needs to choose and implement opportunities to become successful. Yet surprisingly, Master Opportunity and Make it Big is the first book in decades to be written on the subject of opportunity. There are many books on innovation and strategy, but these are generally written for use by managers of large companies. I wanted to create a book on opportunity that could be helpful for everyone who aspires to create a richer, better life.
Your book asks the question, “Does an average Indian businessman really know how to choose the right opportunities”. Why?
Unfortunately, the average Indian businessman does not know how to choose the right opportunities. That's because 99.9 per cent of Indian companies lack a proven, systematic process for identifying, assessing and choosing opportunities. You certainly wouldn’t trust a doctor or any other professional who didn’t use a systematic process. You wouldn’t run a factory without them. Unfortunately, because no systematic opportunity process has been available to them, Indian businessmen have had to rely on luck in choosing opportunities. I saw this as a huge gap that urgently needs to be filled. That is why I’ve developed the OpenMind Process, the world’s first process to uncover, recover and discover opportunities for sustained, profitable growth.
Would you say that the average Indian businessman lacks the desire or the ability to make it big?
Absolutely not! The average Indian businessperson strongly desires to make it big. Everyone would like to be rich and successful, but very few succeed. A lack of desire is rarely the reason for failure. Unfortunately, simply having a goal doesn't provide you with the path to its achievement.
Most people believe that money makes money, but that’s not entirely true. Money invested in the wrong opportunity will surely be lost. On the other hand, if you choose a great opportunity, you don't need any money to succeed. That’s because opportunities are absolutely free.
Better yet, great opportunities are like powerful magnets that attract all the money and talent you need to succeed. These days, 20-year-old kids are attracting millions of dollars in venture capital. It’s not because they have great track records. It's because the opportunities they are pursuing are big.
What kind of research did you have to do for it?
I have been researching the subject of opportunity for over 27 years. I've been fortunate to have had a very broad exposure to over 67 sectors of business, all types of companies large and small, all over the world. For 23 of those years, I served as Trade Commissioner of the United States in Italy, Indonesia and for ten years in India.
As Trade Commissioner I counseled literally thousands of companies of all sizes and all sectors of business to open up new markets. I also taught strategy and marketing in MBA programs in Italy and Indonesia. I found that many of the companies I counseled had a great deal of trouble identifying the right business opportunities, because they lacked a coherent process to do this.
I found that most “business strategy” books and consulting focused only on the needs of large companies, neglecting 99 per cent of the companies in the world. In any case, what good is a strategy, or an innovation, if it is not an opportunity? Opportunity is where it all starts. It is the seed from which all riches grow. I was fortunate to have easy access to hundreds of top businessmen in several countries, such as the people in my book. Over the years I met and learned from them, especially the ones who had leveraged opportunities to go from rags to riches. Over time, I developed and tested the OpenMind Process based on the things I got to learn from these men and women, who I dubbed as Opportunity Masters.
Why Indian businessmen? Is the Rags to Riches story not prevalent across the globe?
As I am based in India, I was determined that the book should focus completely on Indians who have gone from rags to riches. Traditionally Indians have relied on family and connections to get ahead. But this is changing fast. Millions of Indians would like to create their very own Indian Dream.
However, it's not enough to simply desire riches; aspiring Indians must learn how to identify and leverage great opportunities to attract the resources they need to succeed. My book provides both inspiring examples of Indians who have made it big, as well as practical lessons that anyone can follow to help them on their journey of opportunity.
Was there a particular reason you targeted the Indian audience?
I wholeheartedly believe in India, and I have made my home here. I have been married to an Indian woman for 33 years. When I retired as US Trade Commissioner in 2013, I decided to start OpenMind, the world's first and only opportunity consultancy in India, because I am completely convinced that India is the greatest land of opportunity in the world today.
How would you define your book? Would you say it is a self-help piece? How long did it take for you to write it?
This is entirely a self-help book. It can be effectively used by individuals, employees, entrepreneurs, or existing promoters to improve their opportunities.
The process of creating the book took about two years. After the book proposal was approved by Jaico, the first step was to personally interview the 18 Opportunity Masters in the book, after which I wrote the book and submitted it for editing.
In terms of business in the global scenario, where would you place India?
I am extremely bullish on India. I believe that over the next few decades, India will have the fastest rate of growth in the world, far exceeding China. India's greatest advantage lies in its bright young aspiring population — exactly the people who can benefit most from my book.
What next for you?
I will continue consulting Indian companies, using the OpenMind Process to help them to uncover, recover and discover opportunities for sustained, profitable growth. I am also developing training courses for both companies and individuals. Other than that, my mind is always open to exciting new opportunities.