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When I Felt So Small

What an amazing weekend I just had!

First it was the Mumbai Open House, where 16 of us tribesmen met at my home to talk about our experiences and mistakes as investors, as also discuss our top stock ideas (which I won’t be sharing here :-)).

When I was an analyst, I always had this feeling that individual investors invest based on their gut and outside tips, but never based on their research.

But ever since I started Safal Niveshak and met so many individual investors, I’ve had a paradigm shift. Like at the Open House, I was amazed to see the amount of research the tribesmen had done before talking about their respective stock ideas.

They were also honest to share their mistakes and were open to learn from others, which I find as the most amazing thing about this tribe.

Here is what Gaurav Mehrotra, a participant, had to say about the Open House…

The event was great. Apart from the ideas, it was good to hear about everyone’s investing experience, especially the mistakes. It adds on to your list of “places I know where I am going to die” and helps you avoid them in your investing journey.

I look forward to more such events in the future to share our learnings.

Overall, it was a great session of learning and knowledge sharing that went an hour beyond the schedule time.

From left to right: Suhail Kazi, Himanshu Shah, Snehal Dani, Vikas Agarwala, Saurabh Shankar, Vinith Jain, Rajiv Shah, Manish Madnani, Vijay Gawde, Gaurav Mehrotra, Ashish Patel, Abhinav Mansinghka, Prateek Chaudhary, Anirudh Mehta, Mayur Jain

The next Open House is in New Delhi on 29th December (Saturday). The location is yet to be finalized.

Anyways, this was not the big idea about today’s post.

The big ideas is the TEDx Gateway event, which I attended yesterday, and which literally swept me off my feet given the amount of talent and dedication I saw among some amazing human beings.

For those who aren’t aware, TED is a non-profit initiative devoted to sharing ideas worth spreading.

Essentially, it’s a platform where speakers from around the word – with ideas spanning from technology, design, social services, and entertainment – come together to give the talk of their lives (even I harbour a dream of giving a TED talk at some point in my life 🙂 )

I won’t go into much detail but just share with you that yesterday, among many others, I heard…

  • Cynthia Koenig, who is bringing safe water close to rural households through her product called Wello water wheel
  • Shree Bose, a 17-year old girl, who is involved into cancer research
  • Neil Harbisson, who was born completely colour blind, but has created a technology that helps him “hear” colours
  • Arunachalam M, an inventor from rural Coimbatore, who has created and patented a machine that manufactures low-cost sanitary pads serving the need of the rural women
  • Daniel Kish, who can’t see through his eye but through his mind, and helps the blind learn the ways to live life as if they could see through their eyes
  • Ruma Roka, who teaches sign language to the deaf and helps them get gainful employment
  • Karthik Naralasetty, who has created a social networking site, Socialblood, which connects blood donors to those who need it
  • Evan Grae Davis, who champions the cause of the poor and exploited, especially the girl child, and has directed a documentary called “It’s a Girl

The event was rounded off by Usman Riaz, a 21-year old musician from Pakistan who learnt his art via Youtube videos, and believes that anyone can learn anything if he/she is willing to learn it.

While I don’t have Usman’s yesterday’s video, here he is playing at a recent TED event in Scotland.

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

I felt so small…
The reason I am writing about these amazing beings is that I felt small (very small indeed!) hearing these wonderful human beings.

These people inhabit the same planet as I do, breathe the same air, and live on the same kind of food. But they are doing such amazing things in their lives that I have always “thought” of doing.

One of them said, “All you need to live a meaningful life is a problem,” and that said it all.

These people have identified some real problems that face humankind, and have dedicated their lives as the solution to these problems.

The thought that I am doing some good work by educating people to become sensible, long term investors – and thus touching their lives in some way – brings me some respite.

But the fact remains that we tribesmen are a lucky lot. We have our homes filled with everything we need (and don’t need), our plates full with everything we can eat (and not eat), and our lives filled with enough happiness…and despite all this, we continue to want more, at least more than the other person has!

Life is short, and precious. And there are so many important things we must do in the short time we have on this planet than to chase a few extra percentage of returns.

Mahatma Gandhi once said and one of the speakers shared this yesterday, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

I am not sure how, but if each one of us can pledge to live a life by finding a problem that needs to be eradicated – a problem that concerns the society – and then go about actually eradicating it, that would be a live well lived.

By the way, they also showed a recorded speech of Candy Chang who has started an initiative called “Before I die I want to…”, where a board with the sentence “Before I die I want to _______” is kept at a public place and anyone walking by can pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations with others.

Just reflect on this thought, “Before I die, I want to ______”, and notice the difficulty you face in identifying that one thing you really want to do before you die.

I think one simple way to get an answer to this “before I die” idea is to cut the clutter from our lives and focus on just the things that matter the most.

Then we may be left with just a few things that we “really” want to do before we die.

Like, before I die, I want to…

  1. Sponsor 100 underprivileged children
  2. Write a book (not on investing)
  3. Run a marathon
  4. Travel the world
  5. Speak at the TED

Believe me if you will, but by writing this out for the first time, I felt a sensation down my spine.

If I can focus on just these things from now on, life would be so much simpler and beautiful!

Anyways, you tell me – What is that one thing you want to do before you die?

Think hard, and then share here. You will feel a sense of amazement. I bet on that!

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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. Excellent Vishal,
    Yes, many things come to mind, not one 🙂
    Thank you so much for writing this.


  2. Manish Sharma says:

    Yeah TED is a wonderful and unforgettable experience for anyone who attends it. Though I haven’t attended any TED event myself, but have watched a few videos and have subscribed to its page on facebook, its truly a humbling experience I can understand your feelings. If you can then also watch Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s talk at one of the events a few year ago. Its truly amazing.

    Although, I don’t have a bucket list, but if I would jot down a few thing I want to do, they are:

    a) Run half-marathon
    b) Learn to play a music instrument
    c) Hearing you making your speech at TED 😛

  3. Manish Sharma says:

    Also, can you put the name of the people who are there in the picture? Just to put a name to the face 😀

  4. Nice writeup, I am sure you will be able to do beyond your wishlist, heard a lot about TED, so far never got an opportunity to be part of any of their events.

  5. There are many things which I would love to do…
    In my investment journey, I would love to meet Warren Buffett 🙂

  6. Sanjeev Bhatia says:

    Great Post. And an amazing experience it must have truly been.

    Its a fact (well, an Unfortunate fact 🙁 ), that we become so engrossed in our day to day life that we totally forget about unfortunate those whose miseries can be eliminated to a great extent by our simple contribution, not necessarily monetary.

    I didnot know much about TED initiative earlier but googled it reading your yesterday’s post and Mr.Manish’s comment on that. It truly is a great achievement for you. Kudos.

    My List, I would like to:

    1. Donate blood atleast 2oo times. (reached 55 last year)
    2. Teach financial literacy to school kids.
    3. Do something about increasing female foeticide. (Punjab has dubious distinction of being at forefront here 🙁 ).
    4. Pick up my forgotten hobby of photography again. (had won national awards earlier, lost in jungle of life 🙁 ).

    Thanks once again.

  7. Whilst each one takes his own lessons and had his own objectives in life, I believe (i) life in the form and manner handed out to most of us is simply beautiful (you just need to appreciate it) (ii) we are, by living responsibly (consuming what is needed instead of what is desired, living harmoniously with nature and one another) and lovingly are contributing to life and its objectives (iii) doing our own jobs in an efficient manner are all contributing to the way of life in our own little way.

    Also while we may feel small by watching events like TED there could be people feeling small watching some of you, so it is all relative. The mere realisation that you need to be good and loving and contributing to the good is very powerful.

    Do take a look at KarmaTube (a parallel of youtube but to do with spirituality) which was born out of this desire to give by some very talented people.

    Also do appreciate some have better faculties (mental, social, physical) and some work very very hard to get there and then there is this huge element called chance (Fooled by Randomness is a very interesting book to read).

    So do your part well and be happy !

  8. On Karma tube see Nick Vijucic’s videos. He is a guy without limbs, no legs no arms. I was dumbstruck.

  9. Good job Vishal.
    Do you have any plans to conduct a similar session at Chennai.

  10. Thanks for planning a workshop in Chennai. Please let us know in advance.


  11. Sunny Gupta says:

    Indeed an excellent and simple idea that we forget in the rat race…my ‘wish list’

    – Open a Gurukul where children (under-privileged, rich, whatever…no distinction) study, self-study and learn basics of life…I really feel current schooling system world over doesn’t teach many basics all right…some of them being – rationality, about money, about how to not run behind money, about values in life, about sustainability, about giving back…and so on…

    – Extend the Gurukul into a self-sustaining institution which can ‘build’ young people who have a vision in life, the capacity and zeal to fulfil the vision and build many such institutions that can solve problems world over, and thereby make the world a much better place to live – for everyone, animals and plants included…

    – Go on a world tour 🙂

    – Spend at least 5 full years NOT WORKING, spending time with family, listening music, reading, writing, touring, photography, learn singing and playing guitar, drums and mouth organ 🙂

    – Build a self-sustaining home in a peaceful place which is very close to nature, and it ‘lives’ in harmony with nature and surrounding 🙂

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