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Two Birds in a Tree summary

Ram Nidumolu

Timeless Indian Wisdom for Business Leaders

3.9 (35 ratings)
18 mins
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    Two Birds in a Tree
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    Better business means being connected to the world.

    What do you do and how much do you earn? Simple, everyday questions, but ones that illustrate a crucial point: the vast majority of your worklife is based on doing and earning. So, what would it be like if you focused more on just being–the essential state that connects all living things?

    Well, that question will take you back thousands of years to the Upanishads. This cache of Indian wisdom comes from the Vedas, ancient texts of an 800 BC religion that formed the basis of Hinduism.

    They tell a tale about two birds in a tree:

    One is in the lower branches and the other is at the tree’s peak, looking out on the view. The lower bird represents the anxious ego, the one that jumps around doing things and trying to attain others, while being blind to the bigger picture. Meanwhile, the higher bird is perched serenely at the top, enjoying a full perspective of the world and its connections.

    Unfortunately, business tends to act like the lower bird and it causes a lot of harm. That’s because businesses often see themselves as separate from other areas of responsibility like those to humanity and nature. Instead they focus only on the ones that are explicitly in their domain, like stockholders and investors. Not just that, but it’s this logic that has been foundational in economic and environmental crises, things like the 2008 financial meltdown and climate change.

    Luckily there’s a way to change that and it’s called being-centered business. This approach is all about attending to the deep connection between a company and the world it operates in. All business leaders should adopt this approach and one that’s done so in stride is The Body Shop.

    For instance, Anita Roddick, the company’s founder, became famous by defending the environment as well as indigenous Amazonian tribes. In fact, it was this deep connection to the planet and its people that helped her build a billion-dollar corporation.

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    What is Two Birds in a Tree about?

    Two Birds in a Tree (2013) is a guide to holistic business practices, inspired by the ancient Indian text, the Upanishads. These blinks will teach you how to build a business that is good to its employees, customers and the environment while posting record numbers and garnering huge success.

    Best quote from Two Birds in a Tree

    We call ourselves living beings, we are neither living doings nor living havings.

    —Ram Nidumolu
    example alt text

    Who should read Two Birds in a Tree?

    • Business leaders seeking the inspiration to create a better world.
    • Managers who want to excel at leadership.
    • Start-up entrepreneurs who want to build their companies right.

    About the Author

    Dr. Ram Nidumolu, CEO of InnovaStrat has been a strategy and leadership consultant for 20 years. He has published writing on leadership in the Harvard Business Review and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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