The mark of a good student, an excellent learner is the questions he asks. When you ask a wrong question, the answer is useless. But asking the right questions requires you to stop asking the wrong questions. It’s as simple as that. The most-asked question in investing is ‘which stock should I buy?’ and this desire to be told the answer is the single biggest reason why people fail to enjoy success in investing. Why is it so, what is the right question to ask and what is an incomplete answer to this?
I never imagined myself writing a book on Investing. I am not a finance person by education, so I am naturally constrained by lack of mastery on the subject. Then why the hell am I writing this book?
And only yesterday my wife told me for the nth time that she thinks I am wasting my life on MoneyWorks4me-our site on investing and making your money grow etc etc. She added that it’s not important enough and it’s not me.
Without batting an eyelid and without being defensive, (shows how much I have changed and so has our relationship to have a sane conversation which starts with one being accused of having wasted his life and damnit I am 61) I told her it is me 100% because Freedom is on the top of my list of values, has been and never lost that position. And having enough money & therefore Investing, is the route to ensuring Freedom in our lives, a necessary condition, meaning without it you cannot enjoy Freedom in the true sense. And frankly most people suck at Investing.
Then it hit me hard that I am forever talking about investing – the act, the verb, and that’s quite different than finance and investments - the subject and objects, the noun. And I hate nouns- it happened when some wise man said “Don’t ask stupid questions like What is Life? There’s no life; only living”. That was f... insane. No matter how much we pretend to know about life, it’s how we live that counts. Go ask your kids and don’t be surprised if they tell you to go, get a life.
There’s a whole population at work that talks about nouns like life, it’s called academics and we all know that their lives suck. The same thing is rampant in the world of investing. Simply put understanding different investment options and finance inside-out does not necessarily mean one will invest successfully. I think it works the other way round. Ask Warren.
But like most people I sucked at investing for decades and I am probably in the top 1% in India on analytical abilities, numerical skills, reading, taking action and probably a few more things. But I sucked at investing for 30 years after I graduated from the top-notch engineering college in India and probably the world-IIT Kanpur (and yes, I am very proud of this) and starting my career as a Management Trainee with Hindustan Lever back in 1983 (when it was really a coveted job). So, if you suck at investing your money, you are in very good company. But don’t plan on staying that way for too long and you won’t if you continue to read this book and act on what it asks you to do.
Well, did the wife agree? She said “Yes even Sri M says that if you think money does not matter, you are wrong. Even Ashrams need money to run, etc etc. But……” So, there I have the endorsement from Sri M and thankfully many spiritual masters actually and a qualified endorsement from my wife that I am doing something useful. I will accept it, gracefully.
I know what she wanted to say after the but; that it’s necessary but not sufficient (yes she is a math person and teacher at that) and that having the finances sorted out does not lead to many or most people experiencing Freedom. And her other point being that you can experience freedom with much less money than what you think is needed. Agreed, good for her and me. And more importantly, the push back that I must ensure I do tell you a little bit about the ‘other stuff’ that is required to experience the joy and lightness that Freedom brings in our lives. That’s brings me to the topic that all of us in India rave about and want to eventually achieve, Nirvana.
Trick question: Which one are you more likely to accomplish, Investing Successfully or Nirvana? I was all for Nirvana because most Spiritual Gurus say the same thing, ask you to do the same thing, so I am guessing the path is clear and it’s all a matter of time; sit cross-legged long enough, breathe and you will arrive. The Finance and Stock market Gurus on the other hand are all over the place with widely different recommendations and many contradicting each other. Many times, while searching for answers, I have had this simple thought; why can’t someone just tell me how the heck to invest. It’s taken me 14 years to be in a position to write the answer. Makes me think if there’s so a serious divine reason why Ram had to go into vanvasa for 14 years. I had worked for the same period of time before starting on my own and two data points is 100% better than what gurus provide for their theories.
So, I thought while I am at it, writing the answer to ‘How the heck to Invest?’, let me have a go at solving the other problem facing much of mankind - how the heck to achieve Nirvana. If you are not enthused by this question yet, you will be after cracking the code of how to invest successfully and your money is growing faster and bigger than you imagined. And more importantly, even if you don’t achieve this you would have discovered so much about yourself that Nirvana will seem just a few more steps ahead. So, this book is about how to make ‘enough money’ from investing that you don’t have to worry about it and then sit cross-legged and have a real go at Nirvana.
If that didn’t answer your question “why the hell should you read this book?”, you need to read on, but don’t expect me to be very nice about it.
Whenever someone starts to invest the first thing, they want to know is what should I buy now. At least this is an open question. There are closed and leading questions, poor variants of this, eg Should I buy this stock at current price? These are the most common question asked and no one feels embarrassed about asking them. You should be embarrassed because it shows your ignorance, that you are naïve and gullible, a fool who will be soon separated from his money, literally if you go and buy the stock based on the answer from a person you don’t know from Adam. Worse, if you know the person is biased, then you are either seeking an endorsement about a stock that you have already decided to buy or you are a bigger fool because you could be asking a barber whether you need a haircut. And there are many barbers waiting with their arms, shops and sites open.
Sometime, I find the person answering the question is embarrassed by the questioner’s foolishness. And they usually provide some explanation, maybe a justification or whatever. If you were capable of understanding and appreciating the wisdom behind the explanation you would not be asking the question in the first place. So, you are looking for answers with or without explanation so that you can go ahead and do your thing. Maybe, just to be able to say you also tried investing.
The other place I have seen this happening rampantly is at the race course. Everybody is asking everybody which horse to bet on. Depending on whom they know they ask the jockey, the trainer, the owner, the chap who is grooms the horse, the punter who picked a winner in the last race, the veteran who is foolish enough to be at the races after losing a ridiculous number of times. Some will go and check the horse in the paddock as if they are some geniuses at identifying the winner. And the educated study the track-record, which may or may not help because this game is easily rigged. The jockey can make a horse loose and so can the trainer and the owner. The name of the game in horse racing is picking winners and at odds that make money for you and cover the bets you lost. It’s gambling but some fools don’t think so and others think it is a bloody sport.
The mindset of people asking which stock to buy is the same, they believe success is all about picking winners. Isn’t this what you are thinking? Tell me the next multi-bagger - is a more stupid version in the same genre of questions. As if after picking a winner you are planning to bet big on it.
In my webinars last years, I asked if people thought that success in stock investing is all about picking winners. And the overwhelming answer was yes. Then, I asked them if they had the talent, the competence to pick winners. The answer was no. Then how does it matter, you are doomed to lose in this game anyway and should find some other way of making money. Maybe try horse racing-at least you will know almost right away that you have lost. In stock investing, you could have picked a loser and you will not know it and put some more money on the loser, till you sell it at a massive loss eg half the price and after which you may feel really stupid when it rises by a whopping 10% from your sell price.
In short, you better read this book if you still ask questions like these or want to ask them but are afraid you will look stupid and wait for others to ask it for you. Once you completely prevent yourself from asking such questions, there is a chance you will ask the right question – How the heck to invest? And while you are at it reach Nirvana.
Now, when you ask this question, you are most likely to get answers about a method of investing to follow-value, growth, momentum, small-cap, multi-baggers or something else. Or whom -which hugely successful investors’ way of investing should one follow. Or how to invest in real estate, alternate investments and crypto currencies – anything that promises fantastic returns.
Or if you’ve burnt your fingers in one of the above ways or you are just starting, then you will be persuaded to invest in Mutual Funds, Index Funds, ETFs and to follow some way of doing it.
Yes, there’s already a lot on what to invest in and how to invest in them. And yes, some of the stuff out there is good. Usually investing based on a method is better than the lack of a method simply because a method will work in some situations. But the fact is that most investors, especially retail investors don’t realize the benefits of investing including investing in mutual funds. So, there is more to investing successfully than a method. This book is about how to manage your investing in a highly effective way and achieving whatever you set out to achieve and maybe even Nirvana. Method-based answers is like joining a gym and learning an exercise routine. What we are talking about is you managing your health and well-being through whatever is necessary. That’s why you should read this book.
Still need some reasons to read the book. Read on.