Premium Value Investing NewsletterDownload Free Issue

Poke the Box: Believe in Yourself…and Please Like Me

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

  • Released second StockTalk 2.0 report…on India’s leading commodities exchange, MCX. See some interesting discussion in the Comments section of the report.
  • Answered five key questions on rupee’s depreciation, and whether things can get worse.
Mental Model of the Week: Liking

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” ~ William James

We want to be liked and accepted. We believe, trust and agree with people we know and like. We do things for people we like. We like the people who like us (check your Facebook now! :-)) And if we feel that a person likes us, we tend to like them back.

Now, likability comes in many forms – people might be similar or familiar to us, they might give us compliments, or we may just simply trust them.

Companies that use sales agents from within the community employ this principle with huge success. People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, from friends, and from people they know and respect.

Also, we like those who are physically attractive, popular, or those we have positive associations with. We also like and trust anything familiar.

Aristotle said – “Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of introduction.”

Studies show that we believe that physically attractive people have a more desirable personality than average-looking or unattractive people. Experiments show that attractive criminals are seen as less aggressive and get a milder punishment than ugly criminals.

But like the 6th Century Greek writer Aesop wrote, “Appearances often are deceiving.”

The best con artists always behave as though they are not acting in their best interest. The 16th Century Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli said in The Prince – “Princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles.”

Look at stock market investing. Most often, we like a stock after it has run up sharply (Titan, Asian Paints, Page), while we hate things that have dropped in price.

We are attracted to fast-growing companies and fast-rising CEOs, as we see our own aspirations in them, want to become like them, and want to associate with them. All this without worrying what that fast growth may lead to, which is often a rapid decline!

Now, while the “liking” tendency is deeply ingrained in our minds, to avoid falling deep into it, it’s important to…

  • Concentrate on the issue and what you want to achieve, not on appearances.
  • Not depend on the encouragement of others.
  • Not automatically mistake people’s appearance for reality. It may be a social mask!
  • Not automatically mistake fast-growing companies or fast-rising investments with great returns. They may turn out to be WMDs for your portfolio.

Better, seek an enemy or devil’s advocate who may dislike what you are doing and tell you exactly why he/she things so.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.”

Anyways, despite often reading nonsense on Safal Niveshak, I hope you would continue to like me! 🙂

At least, I wish you continue to like me on Facebook! 🙂

Book Worm
Seeking Wisdom from Peter Bevelin is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever come across on human behaviour and mental models. Here is an excerpt that Bevelin carries in this book where Warren Buffett is talking to analysts at the New York Society in 1995, about the three timeless ideas for investing

His [Benjamin Graham] three basic ideas – and none of them are complicated or require any mathematical talent or anything of that sort – are:

  1. that you should look at stocks as part ownership of a business,
  2. that you should look at market fluctuations in terms of his “Mr. Market” example and make them your friend rather than your enemy by essentially profiting from folly rather participating in it, and finally,
  3. the three most important words in investing are “margin of safety” – always building a 15,000 pound bridge if you’re going to be driving 10,000 pound truck across it …

So I think that it comes down to those ideas – although they sound so simple and commonplace that it kind of seems like a waste to go to school and get a Ph.D. in Economics and have it all come back to that. It’s a little like spending eight years in divinity school and having somebody tell you that the ten commandments were all that counted. There is a certain natural tendency to overlook anything that simple and important.

Stimulate Your Mind
Here’s some amazing content I read during the week gone by…

  • Next time I speak in public, I’ll hire a few dummy clappers! Why? Clapping is contagious, and the length of an ovation is influenced by how other members of the crowd behave. 🙂
  • Can Murthy 2.0 save Infosys 3.0? Forbes India tries to find the answer by asking five close Infy watchers.
  • Failure can hurt. If you’re feeling it deep within your heart, here’s Leo Babauta of Zen Habits on how to deal with failures.
  • Fear is an unavoidable part of being human. It’s a daily reality. But is fear our real enemy? Is fearlessness the way to go? Seth Godin answers.
  • You still haven’t read Cialdini’s amazing book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”? Spend the next 12 minutes watching this video to learn about the six universals that guide human behavior that Cialdini has written about in his book.

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

Poke of the Week – Believe in Yourself

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~ Honore de Balzac

Remember that voice you often hear in your head?

The voice that says – “You can’t do it! You’ll never be good enough! You’re going to fail!”

This voice scoffs at you whenever you set out to achieve something. It criticizes you when life gets difficult and you are down in the dumps. It holds you down when you struggle to get up after a fall.

You see, self-doubt not only bothers you when you have it, often it slips past your barriers and gets over you. And when you let it loose, it destroys your confidence, strips logic and reason from your mind, and steals happiness from your heart.

In return, it leaves you with only fear and insecurity.

I have faced such situations several times in the past, and continue to face them day in and day out. The more I fight my self-doubt, the more it fights back.

However, I have also realized that with self-knowledge and understanding, I can use self-doubt for my benefit…and I am learning to do just that.

Most often, in life, what should concern us is not the way things are, but rather the way we think things are.

If I think I can’t do a thing, I will act in such a way that I will never be able to do that thing.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: As I think, so I am.

You must have found yourself in similar situations in the past when you realized that you were not able to achieve some things because you believed from the very start that those things were unachievable.

When it comes to investing, despite the fact that Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett’s amazing ideas have been with us for decades, the reason most people don’t invest sensibly is because they think they can’t.

So we will remain in the comfort of the crowd, buy what others are buying, look for signals on forums, blindly trust others with their money, and rarely get down to do the independent homework of finding great investments.

Again the reason is that we would believe the world but ourselves, negating what Graham said years ago – “You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right.”

The critic in your head or outside of you won’t let you believe yourself…but you have no option but to believe in yourself if you really wish to live a life on your own terms.

Watch this video and you will know that anything is possible if you believe in yourself…

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

If you haven’t done it already, sign up here to receive Poke the Box in your email…and get ready for stimulating Saturday mornings.

Keep poking.

Believe in yourself.

Till next weekend…

Vishal Khandelwal
Chief Poker – Poke the Box

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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. Akhilesh Pathak says:

    Dear Vishal,

    Another amazing post 🙂 . Believe me, you are going to be liked more by your tribesmen after this post…. more likes on Facebook is a function of many other variables which are difficult to predict 🙂

    Just wanted to share something similar from Joshua Kennon-

    ” Several of you want to know how I come up with rational, detailed responses in a seemingly short amount of time. A few years ago, I developed a checklist of items that helps me think through difficult problems. I call them “five rules for serious conversation” and I strive to follow them in both business and my personal life.

    1.Know what you believe
    2.Know why you believe it
    3.Rationally support your beliefs with demonstrable evidence that can be tested and verified
    4.Examine counter-evidence and attempt to disprove your own ideas
    5.Be open to the idea that you might be incorrect, even if you think the probability is small. ”

    And on chasing Titan, Page etc, wanted to share what eminent constitutional lawyer, (Late) Nani Palkhivala once said, “Human nature is human nature and human nature would continue to remain human nature till human nature remains human nature.” 🙂


  2. “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt” – Quite Insipiring

    Thanks Vishal !!


  3. Hi Dear Vishal

    Very inpirational post and very incouraging post. I am here with sending one similar video which was made by my brother’s friends at the time of college function. i think it will quit helpful.

  4. Thanks vishal for another good posting . I have not read seeking wisdom D to C. Soon I will. As far as Influence read twice amazing book.

  5. Hello Vishal ji,
    many thanks for such a wonderful….stuff..
    i just wonder…how voraciously u read…..u r just posting the crux of what u have read throughout the week…..
    but i m not able to read…that stuff..that fast…..!
    your reading speed..and getting the crux out of it..and posting simply amazing..!!


Speak Your Mind