Two Birds in a Tree: Timeless Indian Wisdom for Business Leaders (Paperback)
The health of business is inextricably linked with the health of humanity and nature. But our current approaches to leadership treat business as entirely separate—and the result has been recurring economic, environmental, and human crises.
In this extraordinary book, Ram Nidumolu uses evocative parables and stories from the ancient Indian wisdom texts, the Upanishads, to introduce Being-centered leadership. This new kind of leadership is anchored in the concept of Being, the fundamental reality that underlies all phenomena. Being-centered leaders are guided by an innate sense of interconnection—the good of the whole becomes an integral part of their decisions and actions. Using the experiences of over twenty trailblazing CEOs, as well as those from his own life, Nidumolu describes a four-stage road map every aspiring leader can use to reconnect business to the wider world—to the benefit of all.
About the Author
Ram Nidumolu is the founder and CEO of InnovaStrat, which provides strategic consulting services to global corporations. He is also a scholar at Stanford University’s Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory and a former professor at leading US business schools.
“This book provides a timely—and eloquent—reminder that business does not operate in a moral vacuum and that tomorrow’s business leaders will need to be driven by a deeper sense of purpose. After reading it, no one can doubt that business can—and should—become a giver and not a taker in a system that gives it life in the first place.”
—Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
“Two Birds in a Tree beautifully describes principles that enable leaders to give back to humanity and nature while running successful companies. It is a book filled with wonderful images and stories, both ancient and modern, that are worth savoring.”
—Casey Sheahan, CEO, Patagonia
“Two Birds in a Tree helps open up our minds to the importance of leadership that is anchored in our interconnection. As leaders, we need to listen more deeply to each other, find purpose in our work, and commit to making a positive change in the world.”
—Eileen Fisher, founder and CEO, Eileen Fisher, Inc.
“If we are to make a transition to a humane world where business restores equality, ecology, and equanimity, it will be based on the principles revealed in our ancient collective wisdom as so beautifully portrayed herein.”
—Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce and Blessed Unrest
“Through an illuminating journey into ancient Indian wisdom, Two Birds describes a new type of leadership that can help us manage our businesses successfully and sustainably, rather than at the expense of the planet and people. It beautifully shows that the true sustainability of humanity is actually a matter of the heart and mind, compelling us to act consciously for the future rather than continuing to ignore today’s realities.”
—Jochen Zeitz, Director, Kering; former Chairman and CEO, Puma; and cofounder of The B Team
“Two Birds provides unique insight about the balance needed between our roles in meeting the financial goals of our business and in improving society. The reader can quickly identify with each bird and the branches we all navigate in our career and personal lives to enable continuous learning and adapting.”
—Kevin Kramer, President of Wiring Division and Vice President, Stoneridge, Inc.
“Ram Nidumolu has done a beautiful service by reintroducing us to the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads. Far from being out of date, this wisdom is a contemporary, brilliant lamp that both exposes our current destructive ways and illuminates the way out of this perilous time. For those who yearn to offer meaningful leadership in service to this time, this book offers clear guidance.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and So Far from Home
“A brilliant and inspirational look at how business—which today controls global economics and politics—can fix the messes it created. Two Birds encourages those responsible, now and in the future, to take the reins of leadership and truly lead.”
—John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
“Those who read Ram Nidumolu’s remarkable book on the future of leadership will find a deep well of inspiration and wisdom. Both are things they desperately need at a time when so many of them are being forced to draw on their deepest selves to provide their people with purpose and a sense of direction.”
—John Elkington, cofounder of SustainAbility and Volans and author of The Zeronauts
“Nidumolu’s use of the Upanishads weaves an ancient story about Being that is still deeply relevant today but has been hidden by our Western ways of thinking. Being must be reawakened if we are to find our way out of the havoc our thinking has produced.”
—John Ehrenfeld, former Director, MIT Program on Technology, Business, and Environment, and coauthor of Flourishing
“People forget facts and figures, but they remember good stories. It’s no accident that the world’s great spiritual leaders all teach by storytelling. Great business leaders know this too. Ram Nidumolu is a master storyteller. Read him and reap—great results!”
—BJ Gallagher, coauthor of A Peacock in the Land of Penguins
“The most compelling executives today have mastered not only business strategy but the philosophical realms of social and environmental responsibility. Two Birds in a Tree cleverly explains how today’s business leaders can leverage ancient Indian wisdom to achieve holistic corporate and personal success today.”
—M. R. Rangaswami, founder of Corporate Eco Forum and Indiaspora
“The conversation about a new level of consciousness in business leadership is overdue. Two Birds in a Tree not only informs this important conversation. It inspires us with powerful stories rooted in ancient wisdom. I will share these beautiful allegories with colleagues and clients for years to come.”
—Larry Dressler, author of Consensus through Conversation and Standing in the Fire
“A brilliant story-based approach to effective leadership, Two Birds in a Tree takes a very different path. Rather than offering the latest-and-greatest management theory or practice, it draws on insights from the world’s oldest recorded wisdom, making it enormously relevant to today’s business challenges.”
—Dr. Chris Laszlo, coauthor of Embedded Sustainability
“Two Birds draws from the universal well of ancient wisdom and offers us stories and modern examples that literally change our minds about business. We imagine and live out of the idea of a separate self at our own peril and that of future generations. With this book, Dr. Nidumolu has provided the key that inspires and empowers us to change the mistaken idea of separation. It is a must-read for every person in an organizational leadership role.”
—Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, Spiritual Director, Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
“Two Birds in a Tree is truly inspiring. The writing style is beautiful and authentic, attributes that are rare for a book intended for business. The balance between personal experiences, personal observations, stories of business leaders, and stories from Upanishads is just exquisite and quite a feat. This is a book I will read and reread, since a book like this is a highly personal journey.”
—Mohan Sodhi, Professor of Operations Management, Cass Business School, London