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My 3 Recommendations to Change Your Life in 2013 and Beyond

I know you opened this post to read about two stock recommendations that can change your life in 2013. Right? 🙂

But sorry, this post isn’t about stock recommendations. It’s about recommendations that are much more important for your life and investing, as you’d soon find out.

But before that…

Whenever I take extended leaves from Safal Niveshak, I get a few emails from tribesmen who are seemingly worried about my whereabouts (maybe they try to ensure that I keep off for a few more days). 🙂

It wasn’t different this time as well, as I took a break starting Christmas. Now if you are wondering where I have been and what I’ve been doing all these days, here’s the short story.

I’ve been on a tour of “extremely cold and foggy” North India, including a long stay in the land of Lord Shiva, Varanasi. Those who know a bit about me also know that I take such “religious trips” a few times every year.

My idea for these trips is not to spend time in temples pleading God to grant me a great life (life’s great already!).

The idea is to explore some peace away from the hullabaloo of a big city life and get some time to explore the inner self and read books in solitude.

The trip to Varanasi was thus a great retreat as I got a chance to sit quietly on the banks of the holy Ganges and read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

I picked up this book after I read a post on Steve Jobs’ reading list, which mentioned that this was the only book Jobs had downloaded on his iPad 2…and had first read as a teenager, then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since.

If I were to describe this book in one sentence, it would read – “This book explains the subtle but definite laws behind both the ordinary events of our everyday life and the extraordinary events we commonly term as ‘miracles’.”

One specific excerpt from the book that I liked relates to the life of Mirabai, a medieval Rajputani princess who abandoned her court life to seek the company of sadhus.

One great-sannyasi refused to receive her because she was a woman; her reply brought him humbly to her feet.

“Tell the master,” she had said, “that I did not know there was any Male in the universe save God; are we all not females before Him?” (A scriptural conception of the Lord as the only Positive Creative Principle, His creation being naught but a passive maya.)

Mirabai composed many ecstatic songs which are still treasured in India; I translate one of them here:

“If by bathing daily God could be realized
Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;
If by eating roots and fruits He could be known
Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;
If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him
I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;
If bowing before stone images unveiled Him
A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;
If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed
Many calves and children would know Him;
If abandoning one’s wife would summon God
Would not thousands be eunuchs?
Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One
The only indispensable is Love.”

Even in the book’s final chapter, Paramahansa Yogananda writes…

God is Love; His plan for creation can be rooted only in love. Does not that simple thought, rather than erudite reasonings, offer solace to the human heart?

The core message that Mirabai and Paramhansa Yogananda share through their simple words is that all we need to do to find God in our lives is to find love.

Nothing but love will get you to closer to the Almighty. Not temple visits, or idol worship, or following those self-proclaimed gurus with massive followings…a clean heart with love for others will see you through God’s path.

This is such a simple, but powerful idea.

But like all simple ideas, most of us will junk this.

Like in Varanasi, I saw some relatives paying the priests thousands of rupees in return of the latter’s prayers for peace and wealth in their lives. But these very people chided me when I asked them why they don’t spend an equal amount of money to buy and distribute blankets to the poor lining up outside the temples!

I see this kind of irony in all aspects of life.

People would spend lacs of rupees to provide formal education to their children. But they would not have time to teach their kids the free and simple lessons in living a life of love, compassion and integrity.

In investing, people would pay thousands of rupees to buy biased and dishonest stock advice but will rarely use their own free thinking to select quality stocks.

I can go on and on with these thoughts that disturb my mind day in and day out, and most possibly yours’. But that’s not important here. What’s important is that we spend our time thinking, loving, caring and giving…for that would give us the maximum happiness.

Anyways, I would suggest you read “Autobiography of a Yogi” for I believe it would change your life for the better.

I don’t believe middlemen like priests and gurus can help you in any way in your pursuit of spirituality (a majority of these priests and gurus are running a scam industry anyways).

But Yogananda and his ideas are on an altogether different plane, and you’d realize this only after reading this amazing book.

From love…to luck and skill
Another book I picked up recently is the one I saw lying on the desk of Warren Buffett via a clip on CNN Money.

It’s Michael Mauboussin’s The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing

The core idea of this book is that we have to understand the relative roles that skill and luck play if we are to make sound decisions, whether in business, sports, or investing.

Sometimes the distinction between the roles of luck and skill are obvious.

If I buy a lottery ticket and get the first prize, it’s purely out of luck. But if I take on Usain Bolt in a 100-metre race, I am guaranteed to lose in the most humiliating way because of the huge gap in skill.

However, most of the time, skill and luck combine to contribute to a given outcome, like in investing.

If you don’t recognize this or fool yourself into thinking that simply by learning how to invest like legendary investors (earning the skill), you can achieve great success, you will make huge mistakes of commission that will lead you to heartbreaks.

The truth is that trying to succeed in investing requires more than little amount of skill and luck.

A very interesting and important aspect Mauboussin stresses upon is…

…in activities where luck plays a strong role, the focus must be on process. Where skill dominates, performance is a dependable barometer of progress. But where luck is a stronger force, the link between process and outcome is broken. A good process can lead to a bad outcome some percentage of the time, and a bad process can lead to a good outcome. Since a good process offers the highest probability of a good outcome over time, the emphasis has to be on process.

The importance of “process” over “outcome” is what I’ve been stressing for long on Safal Niveshak. Whether it is the checklists that I use in my company research reports or ideas I share through my reviews of lessons from Warren Buffett, the stress is always on the process.

Overall, The Success Equation is an amazing book on the role of skill and luck in your life. I’m sure you will definitely find something in this book that either you hadn’t thought about before, or that you thought about incorrectly (like I did).

My 3rd recommendation
If you haven’t done it already, make 2013 as the start of a lifelong journey in reading and learning. Yes, that’s my third recommendation for you.

Make what Benjamin Franklin said as your guiding star this year – “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Autobiography of a Yogi and Success Equation are two great books you can start with (you can call these my “hot tips for 2013).

Another book I’m looking to pick up soon is Carol Loomis’ Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book.

I’ve heard rave reviews of this book, and will share with you my learns as soon as I read it. Till then, I suggest you grab the above two books and start your 2013 learning on a great note.

Let the tribe also know your book recommendation(s) for 2013 in the Comments section below.

Note: Seats for the Kolkata Workshop are filling up fast. If you are in Kolkata on 16th February 2013 and want to attend my Art of Investing Workshop, kindly click here to register.

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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.

Comments

  1. Excellent Vishal. Sharing with others with love is what your articles are.
    Thank you for the crisp gist’s and for the names of more books.
    Happy New Year and I am sure you enjoyed the cold.
    It is chilly here in Delhi to say the least.

  2. 1. Eckhart Tolle’s “The power of now” – Life changing !
    2. Robert Cialdini’s “Influence” – Charlie Munger gifted few BRK shares ($100k+ each) to the author after reading this book !
    3. Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” – Behavioural biases explained in very entertaining and simplified way.

  3. Thanks for referring these books Vishal…:) Will definitely go through those..

  4. I got introduced to this site few weeks back and have managed to read few posts that you have written. You have a gift for conveying a message in a simple but wonderful manner. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I bought ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ few years back but did not manage to read it. After reading your post I am going to pick it up again and will read it for sure.
    I am great fan of Michael Mauboussin’s have read two of his previous books. Did not know about his latest book, will definitely read it. Last but not the least, you have been doing great work by disseminating you ideas about investing. I hate to say ‘value investing’ because I believe value is embedded in investing so why add prefix?

  5. Prateek Chaudhary says:

    ‘Fooled By Randomness’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Seemed a little difficult to me in the beginning due to the sudden burst of thoughts of Mr Taleb. But as one reads , the thought provoking jewels are uncovered, and one slowly starts to realize the value of this particular book (thats what happened with me). It talks about the hidden role of chance in life/markets and the uncertainties involved. Its really interesting to read on how he takes on the academic world with a sharp attack on some of the widely used concepts and theories in the financial world. This book has the power to radically change one’s way of thinking and it renders itself as a mirror to reflect upon the biases and emotional defects that humans are born with.

  6. ‘Richest Man in Babylon’ by George Clason
    Though just 100 pages long, it is a must for those who want to become wealthy, but don’t know how…

  7. I agree with the above commenter..Richest Man in babylon is a must read

  8. Saurav Jalan says:

    Thanks Vishal for sharing your thoughts in such a candid and wise manner. I really appreciate the meticulousness with which you observed that video of ” Warren Buffett’s office tour ” . Also, it’s praiseworthy that you have a spiritual angle to your personality. May ‘Almighty’ grant you success in your spiritual quests.

    One thought which I would like to share on process vs outcome about which you have mentioned in the post. Actually, those who have read and understood some wisdom of ” Bhagavad Gita ” (it’s an ocean of wisdom) would tell you that all the ‘intellectuals’ are preaching the same thing(process vs outcome) in different format. It’s like an old nectar in a new bottle which ‘Michael Mauboussin ‘ is trying to tell when he talks about process and outcome.

    Lord Krishna very clearly says that one should focus only on doing one’s duty or karma (process) and not worry about the results or the fruits of the karma (outcome). The results are not in our hands and we should focus only on doing our duty (with detachment from results) with such honesty, intensity and passion that it becomes spiritual in calling. I would highly recommend “Bhagavad Gita As It Is ” by Srila Prabhupada to all those who want to become a better investor and a better and wiser human being. One can connect with everything which one has read till now and after if he reads this book with humility, diligence and sincerity.

    Thanks and Best Wishes for the New Year
    Saurav Jalan

    • Thank you so much Saurav for sharing your views and the recommendation for Gita. It indeed is the numero uno book for understanding everything about life. I’m so glad you wrote about it. Regards.

  9. other book on WB’s desk is japan company handbook 😉

  10. Amazing post Vishal, I follow Art of Living Sri Sri Ravishankar and just changing the little things in your life mentioned by these holy persons, your life changes drastically.
    I would like to recommend Yoga Vasishtha by Swami Venkatesananda to all readers.
    It is this love that has brought all of us together, life is a joy, let’s enjoy!!

    Thanks,
    Nikhil

    PS – Your post has urged me to read Autobiography of a Yogi again. Here is the link to read it online.

  11. Thank you for wasting my time with this drivel.

  12. Anoop Sharma says:

    My Book Rec/Reading list for 2013 is

    1) Kaizen Way (thanks for sanjay bakshi’s interview, he suggested the book in the interview, it’s amazing)
    2) The Chimp Paradox
    3) The Power of Habit
    4) Mastery
    5) Talent is Overrated
    6) Deep Simplicity
    7) What makes your brain happy and Why you should do the opposite
    8) ofcourse Antifragile 🙂 (Once i got past taleb’s diatribe saw amazing insights in the book)
    9) The Antidote

  13. Dear Vishal,

    I’m glad that you read the “Autobiography of a Yogi” in a perfect setting.

    I remember reading this book 8-9 years back and it was also a revelation to me. Actually I read it several times, it also made me read other books by Yogananda: Man’s Eternal Quest and Divine Romance. Afterwards, I took Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship lessons for many years and practiced meditation back in NY.

    There are still some Gurus (Living or Gone..doesn’t matter) that are indeed a big help in the pursuit of spirituality and Yogananda is one of them. I agree it is very frustrating to see the corrupt priests/temples but this doesn’t mean that all are same or a better alternative is to help materially to the poor. The deity worship is a Science like Meditation.

    Like you said “But like all simple ideas, most of us will junk this”. It is likely that you will also junk what I shared. “The Science of the Soul/Spirit” does seem confusing and frustrating at surface. But I encourage you to find the answers for yourself like you have already by reading Autobiography of a Yogi. Paramhansa Yogananda emphasizes : “Meditation is the Highest Activity for a Human Being”..now how many of us will agree with this?

    It is like saying: people always lose money in stock markets. You and I know (who have practiced value investing for long) that it isn’t true.

    I agree with what Saurav Jalan said “if he reads this book with humility, diligence and sincerity. ” Humility is probably the most important quality for making progress on the path of spirituality.

    Vikas

  14. R.K.Chandrashekar says:

    Dear Vishal and fellow tribesman
    At the outset let me wish you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR

    I have a problem when it comes to listing out the books i like/have read/wish to read-Let me unabashedly admit that I am a voracious reader- ask my children or wife- i keep reading all the time- car/auto, first thing in the morning and last before going to bed!! This habit started a long while ago with a princely pocket money of Rs 10-15/month in the late 60’s and 70’s!- P.G. Wodehouse/Sherlock homes series, Arthur Hailey and Leon Uris . In the last few years it has been:
    1. Deepak Chopra- Ageless body , timeless mind/ 7 Spiritual Laws of Success
    2. Steven Covey- 7 Habits of highly effective people
    3. Jack Canfield: How to Get from Where You are to Where you Want to be
    4. Mitch Albom: Tuesdays with Morrie/ The five people you meet in Heaven
    5. Robin Sharma- Monk who sold his Ferrari
    6. Thomas Friedman-World is flat
    7. Daniel Pink-Why Right Brainers will rule the Future- ( Current reading)
    I keep buying more books than i can possibly read and there is always a lag of 10 books yet to be read!!
    Regarding Investment books- I have read: Warren Buffet Way and Peter Lynch- One up on Wall Street.
    I have also read/my library- The Heavy stuff of Gandhi/Nehru/Tolstoy/Tagore,Time 100, Life Magazine-Our Century in pictures, Readers Digest Encyclopedia, to name a few.
    Let me end by this quote: ”Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested”

  15. Thanks Vishal, I’m glad that you took it in a positive spirit.

    Below are some other fascinating books that will quench thirst of the heart:

    1) Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama
    2) The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
    3) Story of My Experiments with Truth – Mahatma Gandhi
    4) Tagore’s Gitanjali
    5) Tagore’s comprehensive biography

    When one is done with the above and many others, have practiced different paths and now serious about going back Home..then read Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupad in a humble mood.

    Rest we can keep for 2014..:-)

  16. Vishal, I have been reading your articles for a while. You come across as an open-minded, sincere and conscientious person. And since you are also spiritually inclined, I have one question for you: Is it ethical to invest in stock markets?

    My argument is: The basis of capitalism and the industrial economy are rooted in principles that are often conflicting with all the spiritual ideals that you have presented. The kind of business monopolies that Buffett and Munger love are often exploitative, psychopathic monsters that intensify the rich-poor gap by creating concentration of wealth. And how about the harm caused to the ecology because of use-and-throw products, concentration of resources, reckless exploitation of nature and dehumanization of people. Large corporations are doing to the ecology what the 6 men did to the girl in Delhi. And these are the very corporations that are excellent shareholder wealth creators. These guys have financial muscle and bargaining power. Does sheer power condone rape, the victims in this case being the environment and tribals? Do you think producing more and consuming more is development?

    Secondly, why should investors earn unlimited profits simply because they are providers of capital? How about the other stakeholders in society? How do you think Naxalism was born? Tell me honestly, are we not simply trying to be opportunistic and vying to grab a share of the profits? Don’t you think we need to rethink our presumptions?
    Of course, I am not putting you to test. These questions are not directed at you alone but towards all who care about the world that we live in. If we cannot honestly think about these things then we are all armchair philosophers, massaging our egos with profound small-talks and grand theories.

    (Apologies for the long monologue)

    My 2 book recommendations:
    Small is Beautiful by E F Schumacher
    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

    My third recommendation:
    Avoid reading too much. Real learning is experiential. Maybe, try Vipassana meditation. 🙂

  17. Anoop Sharma says:

    Hi, there is an interesting book in circulation “The hour between dog and wolf” by johncoates who is investment banker turned cambridge neuroscientist..

  18. While I agree with you,Indians cannot be complacent as our Nation is at cross-roads.,,There are “creatures” out there, who are out and out materialists and want to usurp Power the whole world.Indians,while being compassionate,towards their fellow Humans,animal,insects etc etc ,have to guard against being enslaved for the nth time.
    I request you to google for the following,and especially, view as many videos as possible:-
    1.International Bankers
    2.One World Totalitarian Government
    3.Bilderberg
    4.Trilateral Commission
    5,Council On Foreign Relations
    6.Wall Street Bankers
    7.Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act
    8.The $ 1.5 Quadrillion derivatives Bomb
    9.M M Singh and the Rothschilds
    10.M M Singh the economic hitman
    11.Gold Tungsten scam
    12.Club Of Rome
    13.Club Of 300
    14.Gladio

  19. satheeshkumar says:

    Hi… recently i got to know your blog and it has TON’s of information.Consuming on my priority..Good

  20. bharat shah says:

    very interesting the post and the comments .i am not a vivid reader as you all.

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