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Safal Niveshak’s 2015 Annual Letter to Tribe Members

Note: The genesis of this idea lies in the annual letter that Shane Parrish of Farnam Street wrote to his readers few days back. I have shamelessly cloned the idea here because, like Shane, I find great relevance in mastering the best of what others have already figured out. 🙂

Dear Tribe Member,

Trust you are doing great.

2015 was another tremendous year for Safal Niveshak. The tribe doubled to cross 20,000 members by the end of the year. Our Twitter count also crossed 10,000 followers. We conducted five workshops during the year, meeting 200+ tribe members in the process.

The Mastermind Value Investing Course count crossed 1,500 students. We launched a new premium newsletter – Value Investing Almanack (VIA) – in March, which is now 400 members strong, and has gotten great reviews from its subscribers, including Prof. Sanjay Bakshi. The idea to launch VIA came from the need I felt of a detailed value investing newsletter in the Indian context, which had deep insights on the subject, business analysis, and interviews with practitioners of the art. I had always missed such a product in India, and could not find a better way to get it than to create it myself. Anyways, when we opened membership in February, I expected less than 100 people to join. But the final count after ten days was an overwhelming 250+.

One big moment for Safal Niveshak came in June, when Anshul Khare formally became my partner in taking this initiative forward. Anshul had been supporting me in writing the VIA newsletter since March, but it was only in June when he finally decided to join me full-time as a partner.

In Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Warren Buffett shared this advice on the choice of a partner –

Look first for someone both smarter and wiser than you are. After locating him (or her), ask him not to flaunt his superiority so that you may enjoy acclaim for the many accomplishments that sprang from his thoughts and advice. Seek a partner who will never second-guess you nor sulk when you make expensive mistakes.

Look also for a generous soul who will put up his own money and work for peanuts. Finally, join with someone who will constantly add to the fun as you travel a long road together.

All of the above is splendid advice. In fact, it’s so splendid that I set out in 2013 to follow it slavishly. And I found Anshul in 2015 (though I knew him since 2013 when he attended my Bangalore Workshop) as he fit my bill of particulars in every way. Though I am still not sure whether I fit his bill in such good ways.

But I have asked him not to flaunt his superiority so that I may enjoy acclaim for the many accomplishments that would spring from his thoughts and advice. 😉

Now, there’s one thing I know for sure – I’ve been extremely lucky to find one of the most honest, trustworthy, and simplest humans to work with me in taking Safal Niveshak towards a better, brighter future.

Anshul is a chemical engineer from IIT-Bombay, a voracious reader, and has special interest in the areas of human behaviour and value investing. You’ve already read him through his wonderful series on Latticework of Mental Models, and his other writings at Value Investing Almanack.

By the way, another BIG moment for me personally in 2015 was when Peter Kaufman, the author of Poor Charlie’s Almanack sent me this – his book, autographed for me by Charlie Munger – for my work at Safal Niveshak…

I can now proudly claim that the greats, Peter Kaufman and Charlie Munger, know about Safal Niveshak. 😉

Journey So Far
Safal Niveshak will complete five years of existence in July 2016, and it calls for a little reflection on what has transpired during these years.

I started Safal Niveshak in 2011 with an idea to help small investors learn how not to lose money in the stock market. The journey started with the free newsletter ‘The Safal Niveshak Post’ (that remains, and would remain, free), and few readers – most being my family members and friends who signed up more out of courtesy than to show any real interest in my writings.

The list grew so gradually in the first few months that I told my wife with extreme happiness every time a new subscriber joined in. A lot of my friends advised me to advertise to get more people in, but that was not the route I wanted to go. Advertising (especially online) does bring in a lot of new audience, but also a lot of wrong kind of audience who are more interested in the freebies that they might receive in return of showing their interest than the main product that’s on offer. Plus, I believe it’s difficult to advertise “investment knowledge” as compared to “investment/trading tips.” Thirdly, as I have realized, the true beneficiary of Safal Niveshak would be a person who is seeking knowledge on his own instead of whom I am seeking to come and receive the same.

And thus, I have never advertised Safal Niveshak on any platform, except that I love to talk about it whenever I am giving a lecture to an audience that’s from outside the tribe.

Anyways, moving ahead, the big inflection point for Safal Niveshak’s readership came one year after I launched, and when Prof. Sanjay Bakshi carried his interview with me on his website. It was a multi-bagger moment for me, as the subscriber count that I had accumulated in the past one year doubled in just one day. I am sure a lot of readers coming via Prof. Bakshi’s website would have been disappointed reading Safal Niveshak (contrast effect, you see), but I have also found many good friends who tell me now, “Oh I came to know about you when Prof. Bakshi shared the interview in his site.”

Safal Niveshak has evolved beyond my imagination from the time I posted my first blog post in July 2011 and when I conducted my first workshop on April 2012. While we have launched several premium/paid content like Mastermind and VIA since then, what we write for free on Safal Niveshak remains our biggest focus area, simply because that is what impacts the lives of most people connected to this initiative.

A vast majority of content on Safal Niveshak will remain free forever, and you should only expect an improvement in the variety and quality of the same as we move forward. As far as premium content is concerned, apart from keeping mine and Anshul’s homes running, it helps us keep the website free of any external advertising revenue and also helps us constantly upgrade and improve the free areas of the site. So our incentives are 100% aligned to the work we do on Safal Niveshak, and nothing else.

Eye on the Long Term
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said this in an interview in 2011 (emphasis mine) –

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.

In some cases, things are inevitable. The hard part is that you don’t know how long it might take, but you know it will happen if you’re patient enough.

What a wonderful and sustainable moat this is – long-term thinking. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an investor, by thinking and acting long-term, you can create a wonderful proposition for the society at large (as an entrepreneur), and great wealth for yourself (as an investor).

This is exactly our thought process as we work towards building Safal Niveshak into a greater cause going forward. There are several ways in this business to make a lot of money in the short term – and we see a lot of people already doing that. But our horizons are pretty long and, more than that, we take our integrity and your long-term interests very seriously.

As a business philosophy, Anshul and I live and breathe what Charlie Munger so often says – “Tell me where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.”

Best Posts of 2015
Here is a list of our best posts from 2015, based on the number of reads and comments –

Goals for 2016
Well, if I were to listen to Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, we should be working in a system and not goals. And thus there are no specific goals or targets we have for Safal Niveshak to achieve in 2016. Just that here are a few systemic things that Anshul and I will focus on in the next few months, which include –

  • Improving the quality of content on Safal Niveshak – both free posts and premium ones (Mastermind and VIA);
  • Increasing the breadth of content by getting deeper into annual report analysis, financial statement analysis, and industry analysis; and
  • Improving the breadth of content delivery by adding audio and video content.

We welcome your suggestions in the Comments section of this post on what you would like us to do as far as content on Safal Niveshak is concerned.

Our Wish for You
In 2016, we wish that you get back to the basics, both in your life and investments.

As far as knowledge is concerned, Charlie Munger says – “The more basic knowledge you have, the less new knowledge you have to get.”

Edward Burger wrote this in his book Five Elements of Effective Thinking –

Don’t face complex issues head-on; first understand simple ideas deeply. Clear the clutter and expose what is really important. Be brutally honest about what you know and don’t know. Then see what’s missing, identify the gaps, and fill them in. Let go of bias, prejudice, and preconceived notions. There are degrees to understanding (it’s not just a yes-or-no proposition) and you can heighten yours. Rock-solid understanding is the foundation for success.

Again, as Charlie says – “Take a simple idea and take it seriously.”

So keep learning and start (or re-start) with the basics. Aim for a broad-based multidisciplinary learning of the world’s most profound yet basic ideas (building the latticework of mental models, as Charlie Munger asks us to do), that have lasted for ages and would continue to do so.

Talking about life, getting back to basics is so important in this world mired in complexities. And the best way you can get back to the basics is to first slow down. Rushing is rarely worth it. Your life is too short to be wasted in the fast lane. Life is better enjoyed at a leisurely pace. I can vouch for that.

“Life is long,” wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca, “…if you know how to use it.”

In his brilliant treatise written 2,000 years ago, Seneca wrote –

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

So, while there’s a huge mass of time ahead of us, it passes much faster than we think. Our kids grow up fast. We get gray hairs before we’re done getting our bearings on life. It’s so ironical that it often takes us a lifetime to learn to live in the moment…to just ‘be’ in the moment.

We seem to think that we’ll live forever. We spend time and money as though we’ll always be here. We buy stuff as though it matters and is worth the debt and stress of attachment.

We put off “living happily ever after” for another year, because we assume we have another year. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow.

But then, Seneca wrote –

No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.

Stop being so busy, I must request you here. You won’t get this life again. Try to spend some time with yourself and your loved ones.

So in 2016, try to do less, be more. That’s a great process to be happy, and that’s the only way you can live wide.

Finally, as you progress towards 2016, here is a beautiful poem I read sometime back that should help you slow down and get back to the basics…

Slow Dance
by David L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?

When you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a friendship die

Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi?”

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race,
So take it slower.

Hear the music
Before your song is over.

Anshul and I are lucky fellows to have you as tribe members.

Vishal Khandelwal and Anshul Khare - Safal Niveshak

With respect,

PS: Best Books We Read in 2015 – Here is a list of the best books we read in 2015. This is apart from the usual supertexts we re-read during the year – stuff like Poor Charlie’s Almanack, and Warren Buffett’s letters.

Disclosure: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, which simply means that if you purchase a book on Amazon from a link on this page, we receive a small commission. The book does not cost you any extra. We give away 100% of the commission for the betterment of the under-privileged.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.


  1. Fantastic article Vishal. I am grateful to 2015 for the opportunities it provided and equally excited about 2016. Of course I have a huge anti-library lying in front of me, but I am happy that I am wiser that I was in 2014 (if I was any). Sometimes I too have observed that time is abundant if I manage my affairs properly and set priorities clearly. I am very happy to have developed a couple of habits which I believe would go a long way in leading satisfactory life. All the best to you and Anshul and have wonderful 2016.

  2. Rajat Gupta says:

    Thanks for enlightening us all! What I liked most is when you say that “you want subscribers who are seeking knowledge on their own”. I want to take this opportunity to find out how can the self-learners’ queries be answered by you/team? Like if I have some questions after I go through your posts etc then how do they get answered?
    I tried asking some doubts after I read your posts on Margin of Safety etc but got no response. So my feedback is may be you can chalk out some mechanism to make this more interactive.
    Thanks & keep doing the good work. Have learnt some bit in 2015 & hope to keep learning as I believe one needs to be an inquisitive student at Investing!!

  3. Hi Vishal,

    As always fantastic article. Also, congrats for getting a book on Charlie Munger signed by Charlie Munger himself.

    Some features I feel which could be useful are :

    1. Search box on safalniveshak website. Bookmarking the articles helps but not as powerful as a search feature.
    2. Profile management for registered users. I would love to be able to bookmark, revisit, follow my favourite articles (comments/discussions etc).
    3. “Send To Kindle” button. This could be a blessing for those who read on the go. While there are browser plugins which do this, they are sometimes clumsy.
    4. If 2 and 3 above are combined, it could deliver the new articles directly to my Kindle. That would be seriously awesome.

    I know above would sound like a lot of wishful thinking. But lets see what other tribe members have to suggest.

    Finally, thanks for running SafalNiveshak. I find it more useful than I can express in words.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Prakash!

      1. Well, the Search box exists on the site – see the right sidebar. It’s a bit lower on the page and that’s why you may have missed it.
      2. Let us see how we can take this forward.
      3. Will try.

      Thanks again! Regards.

  4. Freeman Rodrigues says:

    Congrats Vishal & Anshul !!

    Merry Christmas & Very Happy New Year

  5. connect2hcb says:

    Thanks, excellent blog post. The ideas captured in this article are really inspiring both for investing in particular as well as life in general. Below points so powerfully capture the essence of life.
    “Life is long if you know how to use it.”
    “Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course.”
    “Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.”
    Thanks again for sharing these thought-provoking points through this wonderful post.

  6. Thanks Vishal sir & Anshul , Great article & best wishes to ahead of life n Safal to achieved what you want . Just one thing i urge to your team any initiate to serve for our environmental issue for some good work it for global warming so any platform you provide it , if anybody want to participate it

  7. Thank you Vishal and Anshul for this wonderful article. Would like to stress on the below phrase that is stuck in my mind, and will try to follow the same onward.
    “Be brutally honest about what you know and don’t know. Then see what’s missing, identify the gaps, and fill them in. Let go of bias, prejudice, and preconceived notions.”
    Wishing you and Anshul a Safal 2016 ahead.


  8. R K Chandrashekar says:

    Dear awesome twosome!!
    As we look back on 2015, it has been duly momentous for each one of us in their own way(daughter’s marriage in my case). Let the new year bring happy tidings to the tribe of Safal Niveshak. Keep enriching your lives as well as ours. Cheers and blessings.

  9. Manish Chandra says:

    Thank you Vishal & Anshul for the wonderful post, as always.
    Your articles are very informative and there are lots of things which i need to learn from you both.
    Looking forward for a long and healthy relationship.

    wishing you & your family a very happy & prosperous New Year.

    Manish Chandra

  10. Many Thanks Vishal ji and Anshul ji.
    Infact Vishal ji, here I should take this opportunity to thank you in person as I accidently came across you blog one fine day some 3 yrs back & found it very interesting and lucid. and since then I have been following it religiously everyday morning.
    Secondly thru your blog only I came to know abt S Bakshi sir blog and other good books and sites. I am indebted.
    May you get all the success in your journey and I wish to be a part of that for long.

    Sir, I wish you both should plan to visit (attend Berkshire AGM) Faram street , Omaha…and meet the Bigger Duos….Mr. Buffet & Munger.

    In indian context you are our duo.


  11. Baji s khan says:

    2015 is the best year i have tasted this is the year i clicked safalniveshak blog and thank you both

  12. Murali Krishnan says:

    As usual super article vishal. I am grateful that i attended your first workshop in chennai and subscriber to your first mastermind course.Wish you happy and successful new year to you and your family.

  13. rakesh rathod says:

    After reading the letter i can just say one word.Respect .
    Thank you.

  14. DEnotDB_search says:

    Hello Vishal. Wonderful interview of Mr Ian Cassel. Found the link in your 2015 annual letter. Best wishes
    I also practice value investing (distress equity not distress b/s). Will stay in touch. Thanks.

  15. DEnotDB_search says:

    is there a microcapclub for indian equity investing.. would love to be a member in it and hopefully will be able to few cents of my 15 years of experience in the capital market.

  16. Vivek Krishna says:

    Hi Vishal,

    Great article and very inspiring as always!

    Wishing you, Anshul and both your families as well as all SN Tribesmen a Very Happy New Year 2016 🙂


  17. These two are must have for 2016:

    Increasing the breadth of content by getting deeper into annual report analysis, financial statement analysis, and industry analysis; and
    Improving the breadth of content delivery by adding audio and video content.


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