5 of 2016

I am borrowing the idea of writing an annual letter from Shane Parrish and Vishal Khandelwal. Writing the annual letter, gives me a chance to reflect on the year one by, revisit the learnings, the hits and the misses. And I plan to write a few lines on what I plan to do differently in 2017.

In order to keep this interesting, I will try and name 5 of each category. But as you will see, I have not really stuck to the number 5.  The number gives me a sort of an anchor; by putting 5 in front of me, I am forced to recall at least 5 of those. In some cases, I was easily able to recall 5 or more and in others I had to dig deeper to find some.

5 Books

  1. Antifragile by Taleb. The book has great ideas on what is fragile and what is antifragile and how we can all be more antifragile.
  2. Education of a value investor by Guy Spier. I first came across the video of Guy Spier at Google where he spoke about his book and I decided to read it. The way he describes his struggles and shortcomings really struck a chord with me, as it would with any one who has ever struggled.
  3. How to get lucky by Max Gunther. This book was recommended by Anil Tulsiram on twitter and hence I decided to read it. It lays out 13 techniques for bringing good luck into our lives. Life is too short to figure everything out ourselves and if somebody is giving 13 techniques that have worked, why not use them.
  4. The Outsiders by William Thorndike. This book was recommended by none other than Buffett himself and it explains the concept of Capital Allocation through 8 CEOs who allocated capital in the best interests of the shareholders. I plan to write a review of this book as I simply loved it.
  5. Free Capital by Guy Thomas. This is a book about 12 private investors in the UK and their investment strategies.
  6. Peak by Anders Ericsson. Anyone wanting to master any field must read and re-read this book.
  7. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. While a friend of mine loves this book to bits and is into his fourth reading of it, I found it funny and humorous. The chapter on assertions is fantastic and can be practiced for great results!

5 Videos

(Just too many to name. So I am going to list them by category. )

  1. All of Mohnish Pabrai’s videos. He makes investing seem easy!
  2. Coursera course – Learning How To Learn. (You should do this course along with the reading of Peak as they both complement each other.)
  3. Coursera course on Accounting. This is the best free course on investing and everyone who needs to understand accounting must do this.
  4. Manual of ideas interview of Arnold Van Der Berg.
  5. All the Investor talks at Google. Just a suggestion- read the books first and then watch the video. This helps distill the lessons nicely. For example, read the Outsiders and then watch the talk by William Thorndike.
  6. Vijay Mallik’s presentation at Moneylife. (Paid video)


5 Hits

  1. Attending Prof. Bakshi’s course at Flame. This was a rare chance to interact with Prof. Bakshi and learn from him. And this opportunity came to me, through sheer luck and attending Prof.’s classes helped accelerate a lot of life’s and investing’s lessons.
  2. Attending the Twenty Twenty Investors’ summit at Chennai. This opportunity came through a Whatsapp group. I got into the Whatsapp group because of some blog that I wrote which generated some interest.
  3. Getting to meet some fantastic people through them learning many a things about investing and life. (I wont name them, as I dont have their permission.)
  4. John Huber’s site- Basehit Investing.
  5. The blogs of Dr. Vijay Mallik.
  6. Prof. Bakshi’s book recommendations on Good Reads.


5 Misses

  1. Not being ready with a buy list. Demonetization offered a great opportunity.
  2. Not analyzing enough businesses and hence not being ready with a buy list.
  3. Spending too much time worrying about the future


5 Of the biggest ideas/ lessons

  1. Morality/ Law of Karma. Don’t look at companies in isolation. Instead see if what they sell benefits the society at large. If you take a long term view, you will understand, that you should make the random elements work for you rather than against you. Creating goodwill amongst friends, family, co-workers can provide unexpected benefits in the long run. Likewise, companies that create goodwill, will have lesser court cases, customer or employee complaints and so on.
  2. Kantian fairness. I didn’t understand this concept well until Prof. Bakshi explained it better at Flame with examples of Lee KY and others.
  3. Write, write, write.
    • In the book- “All I want to know…”, Peter Bevelin writes that in the process of writing the book he himself has learnt a lot and that one must write for himself/ herself. And Issac Asimov had the following to say:

      Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.- Issac Asimov

      I struggle to express myself while speaking. This is a known limitation with me. All these years, I somehow made it up, through the written word as it gave me more time to put my writing in simple words. Hence, in all my working years, I had started preferring writing as a means of communication over speaking. But when I came across Asimov’s quote so beautifully expressing what I had known at a subconscious level, it was a wild a-ha moment for me. Now, that this has been figured out, I wish to simply put this idea to work for me.

    • I plan to write as I read, as I watch videos- because there are always some small nuggets of insights which keep coming our way and I plan to capture as many as I can.
    • Keep a notepad next to me at night to write down any weird thought that comes to my head.
    • I plan to blog more frequently as it gives me an opportunity to collect and organize my thoughts. In fact, my goal for 2016 was to write 50 blogs, I think I managed just 6 or 7! Which shows you how difficult it is to write.
    • I plan to write book reviews of some of the best books I come across as it will give me a chance to deep dive into the book and by writing I get to put 2 senses to work- sight (reading) and touch (writing). Jana had once written that when he loves a book- he buys, the hard copy, the kindle version and the audio book version of it. I think doing it that way, allows you to experience the same book through multiple senses (reading, hearing and touch) allowing you to get different insights and make newer connections in your brain.
  4. If you bring better people into your life, you can’t help but get better. This lesson came from Buffett to Guy Spier and it has worked for me. For example, I follow a set of gurus, people I admire on twitter and no celebrity or news or noise makers. So firstly, anything that the gurus share (books, blogs, articles), I get to read, see and learn.Secondly, the algorithms in Twitter recommend other people that I didn’t know existed. For example- John Huber and Connor Leonard are two value investors and fund managers in North Carolina. John writes an excellent blog- Basehit Investing and I loved it. So now, I follow John on Twitter and frequently read his blogs which give me additional insights. Thirdly, I get to interact with some admirable people and through them other admirable people and so on. I am not making any of this up. I am just amazed myself  that for someone like me who never believed in the Laws of Attraction, how this has worked out.
  5. The power of Assertions. Default setting. Laws of Attraction. In Mohnish Pabrai’s office, there are pictures of Gandhi, Buffett, Munger and I think there is even a small statue of Munger (or is it Ben Franklin?). In Anshul Khare’s home office, there is a picture of Warren Buffett right at the center of his office (from a picture he had long ago shared). Vishal Khandelwal, I think has a statue of Buddha. There is a story of how Conrad Hilton had a picture of the Waldorf Astoria in his wallet for years before he could one day buy it. These people, clearly understood/ understand the laws of attraction and being in the force field of people they admire or object they desire so that they move in the right direction. A very similar, concept is assertions- writing down your deepest desires every day. This helps in wiring us to see opportunities that we may have otherwise missed.

5 Things to do in 2017

  1. Research more companies. Jana had once mentioned in one of his blogs, that Value Investors build their competence in about 100 companies and buy them only when the price is right. I plan to work on this by reading at least 200 Annual Reports to get insights on companies.
  2. I plan to have a buy list for companies that I have researched and I like. This was a huge mistake in 2016 and I plan to correct it.
  3. I plan to write more blogs and research papers. Unfortunately due to restrictions by SEBI, I won’t be able to share my research papers with the public, but I plan to share it with a few friends.
  4. I plan to put Law of Karma to work. I intend to avoid being hurtful to anyone with the spoken or written word.


And finally- to you, my reader- wish you a very happy 2017 and hope you achieve everything you dream of! Thank you for reading my blog.


6 thoughts on “5 of 2016”

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