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Monday, January 13, 2020

The Power of Opportunity - Richard Rothman



Long before the present publishing boom began in India, Richard Rothman, then a bureaucrat with the United States Government in India, published a collection of short stories that was breathtakingly original.

Then, being the maverick that he has always been, Richard kicked his comfortable job to launch his own consultancy – in an area nobody would've thought of as a business proposition – Opportunity.

His second book on the subject The Power of Opportunity is being launched in Bombay later in January. In a short, e-mail interview, he talks about his book and ‘Opportunity’.

Richard’s consultancy Open Mind Consultancy has teamed up with the Penguin India team to create a very India-centric roadmap to both individual and business success.


What is this book about?

The Power of Opportunity presents a thorough methodology of thought and action on personal and business opportunities. It is the first book to attempt to do this since Edward DeBono published his book Opportunities in 1978.

Why is the book titled The Power of Opportunity?

Because opportunities have tremendous power to change our lives for the better. They are the seeds from which all success grows. For example, a couple years ago I met a 20-year-old entrepreneur, still a boy really, who had dropped out of college to develop an internet app. This boy, from a very modest background in Bihar, had managed to raise $20 million from Tiger Global, a major US venture capital firm.

This example highlights two fundamental things that give opportunities tremendous power:

1) all opportunities are free. You can't pay for them even if you want to. There is no “opportunity shop” where you can buy them. That means that opportunities are available to even to penniless boys from Bihar.

2) the best opportunities are like powerful magnets that attract all the resources needed to scale them. Why had Tiger backed him? Was it because of his track record? Obviously not. Tiger was pouring resources into the opportunity, not the entrepreneur.

But resources flow only to the best opportunities, what I call golden opportunities.
Therefore, it is crucial to consciously choose opportunities by using a systematic process, and not rely on luck, as most people do. Unfortunately, most people end up pursuing Nopportunities, which are not opportunities, because they don't use a systematic process to choose them.

This is the second book you have written on opportunity. How is The Power of Opportunity different from Master Opportunity and Make it Big?

My previous book, Master Opportunity and Make it Big, presented the stories of 18 "Opportunity Masters" who had started with nothing and made it big by taking advantage of excellent opportunities.  Although all of these people had succeeded, they did not necessarily understand why. In The Power of Opportunity, I present a methodology of thought and action which is based on my experience with the over 2,000 businesses I have consulted with over the past 30 years as both an Opportunity Consultant and Trade Commissioner. Therefore, it is an original theory which I have developed.

You're probably the only Opportunity Consultant in the world, what exactly do you do or can do for corporations and for individuals.

As the first and only Opportunity Consultant in the world, I offer companies a systematic process to uncover, recover and discover opportunities for sustained, profitable growth. How am I different from other management consultants? Most follow the principles of strategy developed by Michael Porter and others, which uses “competitive advantage” as the main filter through which to view opportunities. I’ve found that using competition as a filter can lead to increasing market irrelevance over time. After all, do your competitors buy your products? Are they part of your team? Of course not. I focus instead on providing useful service to stakeholders.

You have worked in India for the last 25 years, in terms of your specialisation (Opportunity) how has the Indian market changed? Are there more tangible opportunities at present then there were in the early years of economic liberalisation.

On a macro level, I firmly believe that India is the greatest land of opportunity in the world today. Half of India’s population are still subsistence farmers, a business model which is fundamentally broken in the modern age. Over the coming decades, they will move to cities and take better opportunities as wage earners and entrepreneurs. Since the demise of the License Raj in 1991, the Indian opportunities landscape has liberalized - but it still has a long way to go. The government has got to focus less on ideology and more on growth through opportunities.

In your sphere of expertise (identifying opportunities) what changes have you noticed in India over the last two decades?

The Indian mindset is gradually shifting from the pre-license raj mode of opportunity through connections, bribery and extortion, toward a modern rules-based system that rewards opportunity based on merit. This migration to the rules of the modern era will take decades, but the trend is in the right direction, and India will benefit from it.

You have published an amazing collection of phantasmagorical short stories and a novel.  Why did you abandon writing fiction?

I haven't abandoned fiction. I plan to resurrect and publish my novel eventually. But at this point I'm focused on spreading the mantra of Opportunity.

You may buy the book here (in India): The Power of Opportunity

Kindle edition is available here (in Canada): The Power of Opportunity


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