Rishad Tobaccowala is an advisor, author, educator, and speaker with 40 years of experience in change, innovation, and re-invention. He currently works as the chairman of Tobaccowal Foundation and as a board member and advisor to a range of start-ups and venture capital firms. Tobaccowala is the author of Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in India and had a wonderful family life and came from a family that was well to do for India so I had a great education and home. The biggest two learnings came from my parents. First, they gave me the love of reading and words. Second, they insisted I learn mathematics which helped me think. This helped me 50 years later write a best-selling book called Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data which is about marrying stories and spreadsheets. Art and Science.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Time dissolves more problems than man solves.

Which means, do not fret about things.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Maximize networks. Maximize wealth. NO! Maximize how you can keep learning.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

My wife had cancer twice. She is now been cancer-free for 6 years. What I learned was how amazing science can be and that time is the only thing we have.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Amazing bosses and mentors who guided me.

Luck to being born to my parents and getting a job at a company I liked so much I spent my entire career there

Getting married to my wife.

It’s all those three. If there is one it’s being born to the right parents at the right time.

What is your morning routine?

I get up at 4 AM. After coffee, I read for an hour. I then go to the gym and work out for an hour. I then make breakfast and eat it with my wife (our daughters have grown up and live in different cities). By the time I sit to work the day is a success. I have taken care of my mental, physical, and emotional operating system.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Working out every day and sleeping for 7 hours

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I have written an entire chapter in my book called Deepen Time Usage and I share some key thinking in this blog post.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The four great plays (Lear, Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth) and the Sonnets by Shakespeare

War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy

Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education by Flaubert

These books make you understand what it is to be human and provide you with the empathy needed to live by understanding other people. They are filled with insights and writing that teaches you how words and observing details matter. They are life captured in print.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“ There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes its so” by Shakespeare. It’s not the situation but how you react to the situation that makes the difference.

Where can we go to find out more?

You can check out my website or subscribe to my weekly thought letter.