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Archives for April 2015

Latticework of Mental Models: Occam’s Razor

This article is the second of this new weekly series called Latticework of Mental Models, which will be authored by my friend and partner in writing the Value Investing Almanack, Anshul Khare. Anshul will write on various mental models – big ideas from various disciplines – which can help you think more rationally while analyzing businesses and making your stock investment decisions.



Have you ever wondered why Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) always wears the same grey t-shirt? Do you remember Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck that he wore for all his stage appearances?

These billionaires could afford anything in the world. Then what’s going on here? I’ll give you a moment to think about it and come back to it later in this post.

Last week, we delved into the characteristics of complex systems and discussed few ideas to protect ourselves from unintended consequences produced by complex adaptive systems.

However, just because we have discovered a tool to address a problem doesn’t mean that we should go on using it for every problem. Charlie Munger nailed it when he said –

To a man with hammer everything looks like a nail.

We don’t want to be that ‘man with hammer’. So what am I suggesting here?

Perhaps you have heard it numerous times before but let me just make you read it once more – “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

How about dealing with a situation just by avoiding it?

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Dear Jealousy

Dear Jealousy,

I ask for an apology in advance because you may not like what you will read in this letter below.

You see, we have lived together in peace for years now. But, off late, I have started feeling dizzy having you on my side. Please don’t feel bad because I will soon explain my reasons for what I’m feeling now with respect to our relationship.

I remember you as early as the age of five, when you clouded my mind as soon as I saw my richer cousins with remote-controlled cars, nicer clothes, and bigger houses.

You stayed with me even as I was passing through high school. Those years, you made me jealous of my friends who scored higher marks then me and thus got a greater appreciation from the girls in the class. Then, when I was in college, you held my hand tight as I saw other classmates who arrived in their own cars while I took rickety buses. When I saw them also having cell phones, I felt your hug even tighter.

There were also times I found myself jealous of people who had no conscience and were famous for that. You made me think that I should become just like them. Thank God I didn’t!

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Latticework of Mental Models: Complex Adaptive Systems

This article is the first of this new weekly series called ‘Latticework of Mental Models’, which will be authored by my friend and partner in writing the Value Investing Almanack, Anshul Khare. Anshul will write on various mental models – big ideas from various disciplines – which can help you think more rationally while analyzing businesses and making your stock investment decisions.



Let me share with you two very interesting case studies. The first one is set in the time of British India.

The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. The government therefore offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse. (Source – Wikipedia)

Now there is no way to validate the authenticity of above story but the second one is very recent and a true incident set again in the city of Delhi. It’s equally amusing.

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Measuring the Moat – Part 1

“We like stocks that generate high returns on invested capital,” Warren Buffett told those in attendance at Berkshire’s 1995 annual meeting, “where there is a strong likelihood that it will continue to do so.”

“I look at long-term competitive advantage,” he later added, “and [whether] that’s something that’s enduring.”

According to Buffett, the economic world is divided into a small group of franchises and a much larger group of commodity businesses, most of which are not worth purchasing.

He defines a franchise as a company whose product or service (1) is needed or desired, (2) has no close substitute, and (3) is not regulated.

Individually and collectively, these create what Buffett calls a ‘moat’ – something that gives the company a clear advantage over others and protects it against incursions from the competition.

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Poke the Box: There Are No Silver Bullets in Investing

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Just in case you missed any of this on Safal Niveshak over the last few days…

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Mastermind Value Investing Course: 4th Batch Admission Now Open!

Admission to the fourth batch of The Safal Niveshak Mastermind – my eight-month online course in Value Investing – is now open, and will remain so for the next 10 days.

Click Here to Join Mastermind Now

My idea through Mastermind is simple – to help you with a simple, common-sense approach to successful investing, so that you can avoid the uncertainty and outlandish time you would otherwise spend doing it all alone.

I’ve lined up a lot of things that you will receive when you become a part of The Safal Niveshak Mastermind. Here’re the key ones…

  • 50+ lessons and few hours of video classes that will help you learn the nuances of Value Investing and how you can apply it to create long-term wealth through stock investing.
  • Lessons on identifying moats and analyzing specific sectors to help you build your circle of competence.
  • Lessons on building a latticework of mental models – the Charlie Munger way – to make better investment decisions.
  • Lessons on calculating Intrinsic Values of stocks.
  • Lessons on creating a portfolio of high-quality stocks.
  • Exclusive Forum to participate in learning exercises and discuss practical examples so that you can gain experience in doing your own independent analysis.

Over the past few years, I’ve sifted through a mountain of amazing books, documents, lectures, websites, and the last twelve years of my personal experience as an investor – to ensure that I bring the best ideas and lessons for you in investing and building wealth.

The goal of The Safal Niveshak Mastermind Course is simple – To help you get richer every single day.

This is your opportunity to become a simpler, sensible, long-term investor, and avoid the uncertainty and outlandish time and pain that you would otherwise spend doing it all alone.

Here are the key features of the Course –

  • 100% online, self-study course
  • Convenient 24X7 online availability of all lessons
  • Downloadable basic excel models and templates
  • Members-only Forum for discussions and performing exercises after each lesson
  • Quizzes to test your understanding of key concepts
  • Premium access to the exclusive Mastermind website

Now, if you are willing and ready…

Let Me Offer You a Deal
The Safal Niveshak Mastermind, with all its invaluable contents and benefits as I have mentioned above, is priced at Rs 12,500/- (incl. taxes).

However, if you are among the first 100 subscribers, you can claim an early-bird discount of Rs 1,000.

Click Here to Join Mastermind Now

By the way, here is what a couple of Mastermind students have to say about their experience with the Course…

I am very humbled by Vishal’s approach in the Mastermind Value Investing Course. The course is created to strengthen us in our investment skills and techniques, allowing individuals to know which stocks are fundamentally sound.

One thing that really differentiate the Mastermind course from the other investing courses is the emphasis and build up on the mindset of an investor which is really very important. I highly recommend anyone who wants to build his wealth in a wise way to be part of Vishal’s Mastermind community.

~ Sean Seah

This is one of the best courses I have ever done. As a true value investor, this is one of the best investments I have made. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would be happy to recommend the course to anyone who is interested in value investing.

Your course is the true example of ‘The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.’

~ Antony Sakkariyas

If you have any further question(s) about the Course, please write to me at vishal@safalniveshak.com, or call me at +91-8097073918.

How to Handle Your Money

Benjamin Graham was one of the most successful investors who ever lived and remains the most influential investment thinker of all time.

He was the one who taught Warren Buffett the art of investing, and was also his first boss.

Graham worked on Wall Street for more than four decades, ran a market-beating mutual fund, taught finance at Columbia Business School and wrote two classic books on investing.

Security Analysis (1934) is still the bible for professional money managers. The Intelligent Investor (1949) is, in Buffett’s words, “by far the best book about investing ever written.”

In June 1955, Graham gave an interview on the basics of handling money. Almost 60 years have passed since then, but a large number of investing ideas that Graham talked about then, remain valid to this day.

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The Story of a Fraud IPO

A tribe member shared this video with me some time back. This is a hilarious take on how a lot of companies that come out with their IPOs really operate and sell their shares to public.

You must understand Hindi to understand this video.


If you can’t watch the video above, click here.

The underlying lesson is simple – Avoid (most) IPOs.

Over my 12 years of experience in the stock market, I have rarely come across an IPO that was launched keeping in mind the interest of minority investors. In fact, a majority of them were launched in the form of legalized looting by company promoters and their investment bankers.

Warren Buffett says this on IPOs…

It’s almost a mathematical impossibility to imagine that, out of the thousands of things for sale on a given day, the most attractively priced is the one being sold by a knowledgeable seller (company insiders) to a less-knowledgeable buyer (investors).

If the stock market continues its climb and the IPO line lengthens, I’m afraid you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see that Buffett’s right.