Why have a reading plan

Reading is an activity fraught with choices and distractions. You know how it is when you walk to a book shelf at a library or a book store. Too many books call out to you and you are paralysed. Reading online is more difficult. Apart from millions of articles on a single topic, articles often have a rabbit-hole of hyperlinks leading to other articles or even other topics. In the post, Get more out of your reading, we explained how to avoid distractions and focus on what you are reading. We even suggested that you discard all content that isn’t relevant to your life. We gave you some good habits to follow to keep your reading fun.

What if you can fine-tune your reading even more, so that you get the best results from your sessions? What if you walk into a library and know exactly where to start and how to proceed in your next few visits? What if you set reading goals for your upcoming year? What if you set seasonal topics that you will stick to? What if you are more proactive with your reading, using techniques like note-taking and deliberately practising the skills introduced by your books. This post takes your reading experience to a new level where you will start mastering a few skills that you have always wanted to learn. Continue reading Why have a reading plan

Why thrifty saving is not the same as investing

‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ is an adage you will hear so often that its sheer repetition will make you believe it to be true. But is it really true? Sure, money not spent right now is sitting to be spent on something else later. Economics defines this as opportunity cost. But in this article, I am going to argue against ‘thrifty saving’ as a way to ‘grow your money’ or to ‘get and live rich’. Continue reading Why thrifty saving is not the same as investing

Book Summary: The Richest Man in Babylon

This is one of the oldest books on investments and personal finance that has survived time and covers all the basic knowledge required for a beginner wealth builder. The fable covers simple advice to start wealth building to most common mistakes committed by those in their journey to financial independence.

The seven simple rules of wealth building:

(1) Start your Purse Fattening: Save money
(2) Control your expenses: Don’t spend more than you need
(3) Make your gold multiply: invest wisely
(4) Guard your treasures from loss: avoid investments in which you have no knowledge. Beware of promises that sound too good to be true.
(5) Make your dwelling a profitable investment : Own your home
(6) Ensure future income of your dependants and post retirement: Obtain life insurance
(7) Improve your ability to earn : Learn from the best in your field and obtain advice from them.

Stories of Wisdom from Babylon

The story anecdotes also covers the most common situations that we face in money – both lack of money and surplus of it without knowledge to handle them.

(1) Unexpected wealth brings with it many unreasonable requests from close relations and friends on business ideas that they have no experience in.  The story gives a clear framework on how to evaluate such project ideas and to reject the unreasonable and yet salvage the relation.

(2) There is a discussion on luck by the learned men of Babylon which bring out the probability of becoming wealthy by sheer luck such as gamble as against through proven principles of wealth building.

(3) The helpless feeling of having worked all our lives but yet end up with no savings and how to overcome such a situation.

(4) Relevance of insurance is discussed through Babylon’s impenetrable wall which saved its citizens from being invaded by neighbours, compared to real life unforeseen circumstances.

(5) The story of the wealthy camel trader who was once a debt ridden slave and how he redeemed himself through hard work is told as an inspiration.

(6) The story of how wealth created by hard work can be spent away in a few generation by children and heirs that have no respect for hard work.

(7) A story discusses how a professor of the current day who discovered the tablets followed the principles and got out of debt.

Warning and Limitation: Narrative style

The stories are a great read with a message. An excellent way to communicate simple but important truths over simply uninspiring prose. The language used though is archaic and  often distracting from the message itself.

Recommendation and Conclusion

This is a good first book to start for someone who is starting their journey of wealth building . Also suitable for someone who finds themselves in one of the financial trap stories above. This book is the only one most will require without having to go into the nitty grittiness of the ever growing complexity of the financial world. This book could be your step stone to wealth building.


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Book summary: Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass SunsteinBook title: Nudge
Author: Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
ISBN-10: 0141040017
ISBN-13: 978-0141040011
Buy on Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Nudge is a book written by American behavioural economist and nobel prize (Economics) winner Richard Thaler and lawyer Cass Sunstein, who takes deep interest in behavioural economics and ethics in law-making and government policies.

The premise of the book is that one can highly influences choices and decisions that people make by subtly modifying the way that choices are presented. In doing so, they describe a role named ‘choice architect’, whose responsibility is to carefully design choices so that choice-makers can be protected from bad choices and led to good choices. Continue reading Book summary: Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein


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What’s your story?

This was a story narrated by Anthony Robbins in ‘Awaken the Giant Within‘. Reproducing the same from memory.

Life Stories
Life Stories

The Story

A drunkard father had two sons. He was a wife abuser and constantly beat his wife and his sons.

The sons grew up and moved away.

One son grew up to be a wife beater, frequent domestic violence and was hardly able to keep his jobs. He said, ‘That’s how my dad was, that’s all I have seen..and that’s all I know !! What else would you expect of the son of an abusive person like me’

The other son grew up to be a fine gentleman. He treated his wife and children with immense love and respect. He was in a respectable job and was a good citizen. He said ‘I know what it is like to be abused…and I’ll never let that happen to my wife or children.’

Same Family. Same circumstances. It was the narrative that made all the difference.

What is your story ?

I once met a farmer from Himachal Pradesh. He was in my group as part of an ambitious entrepreneurs journey called the Jagriti Yatra. We were introducing ourselves to the group. There were people from IIT’s, middle level managers in IT companies like myself, Doctors who had served in tribal area, UN worker from Jamaica etc. This humble farmer’s proudest moment was that he had completed his Post graduation. To me and to several others it sounded too simple and too obvious. After all, most of us knew we will graduate and complete post graduation in our lives.

Until we know his story. The nearest primary school was 5 Km’s from house. Even at the age of four years, he walked 5 Kms everyday to go to school. In Secondary he had to walk around 10 Kms across the hill to get to the next village to go to school every day. Higher secondary was even further away at 15 Km. College and post graduation at almost 25 Kms away in two buses everyday. He came home and helped his parents with their farms everyday and worked his way through school and college.

Dalailama on choice
Dalailama on choice

After listening to the story I admitted if I had to walk that further I would have probably never studied beyond Kindergarden. We don’t realise our privileges till we see someone who had been deprived of them. At that moment, I realised what a privilege it had been for me to have been born into a family and circumstances I could take so much for granted.

The privilege of legs is known only to the lame, the sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, family to an orphan.

We make our stories and then our stories make us. Choose Well.

The magic of a manifesto

Let’s start with a cliché. Our protagonist, Asha, is usually untidy, leaving her backpack on her bed and throwing her shoes in the middle of the hall after she comes back from work. Usually one of her socks finds its way under the furniture. A few pens spill out of the half open zipper of her backpack and fall on the bed. Asha has a hard time clearing out her bed every night she wants to sleep and an even harder time finding a matching pair of socks when she is in a hurry to leave for work. She is irritable and often harasses her mom to find her things for her.

Bunty wants to shed that extra fat from his tummy. He has enrolled for the gym and goes occasionally. But most of the time, life happens and Bunty either finds himself overeating while celebrating with friends or not going to the gym because he has something else to do. Even at the gym, he ambled around from machine to machine, getting a few reps, but doing anything effective.

On new year’s eve, both Asha and Bunty set resolutions. They vow to get tidy and get trim respectively. For the first week, everything works great. But, just after a week, things are back to what they were. Asha’s shoes are in the hall and Bunty is binging on extra large pizza, not having gone to the gym for two days.

How can we help Asha and Bunty stick to their resolutions? There are many solutions, but some of them work better than the others. My favourite is a method that political parties, engineering standards organisations and committees follow religiously. Writing and referring to a manifesto.

Continue reading The magic of a manifesto

Book Summary: To Sell is Human: Daniel Pink

to sell is humanTo Sell is Human Daniel Pink

  • ISBN-10: 0857867202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857867209

Buy from Amazon.in or Amazon.com

Dan Pink in this book discusses the changing landscape of Selling where buyer is now the King and all of us are sellers in one way or other. He challenges a lot of accepted norms of selling. He also proposes new ways that has worked for people who thrive in this new environment. Dan has divided the book into three parts. Lets us now examine each part of the book individually.

Continue reading Book Summary: To Sell is Human: Daniel Pink


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600 minutes for your most productive day

I have talked about how to intentionally schedule your days here and here. The first post talks about chucking a simple to-do list and using a calendar to put a date and time to activities. The second post mentions that the activities in a single day should strictly follow a theme, such as book-writing on Mondays, marketing on Tuesdays, etc.

To help you really boost your productivity, I talk about the rule of 3 x 200 to take control of your day and get the most important things done effectively. Continue reading 600 minutes for your most productive day

In Praise of Effort

Fact vs Fiction

Baijnath, a small town in Uttrakhand has a complex of 18 temples of Lord Siva and other Gods. The temples may have been built by the Katyuri rulers during the time they ruled this part of the kingdom. The temples are extremely beautiful and are a sight to behold.

Several local myths regarding the temples exist. One that our driver told us was that the entire temple complex was built over night by magic. The ASI and Uttrakhand tourism boards proclaim the different temples in the complex in completely different centuries. This published fact ofcourse never bothered our driver for he totally believed in his story of the over night creation.

I have also heard the same story in Tabo monastery where a local insisted to one of the visitor that the paintings were created by magic in a single night by the grace of Buddha.

Baijnath Temple
Baijnath Temple

Continue reading In Praise of Effort

Wind-down routine: The perfect lullaby

I have talked about a morning route to rouse your day here. However, finishing your day with a routine is as important as starting your day with one. As with a morning routine, a wind-down routine is an excellent way to get you from wakefulness to deep sleep. Being an long time insomniac and a light sleeper, I can say that a wind-down routine has worked very well for me. Continue reading Wind-down routine: The perfect lullaby