Reflections and The Best Of 2023

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Author Dr.Julia Shaw in her book, “The Memory Illusion”, wrote, “Memory is a hodgepodge of fact, fiction, and fantasy.”

Why am I telling you this?

It’s because we rely on our memories every day of our lives. And like every year, a lot has happened in 2023, whether in our industry/profession, or in our businesses, and/or in our lives. It is also the time of the year when you might begin to reflect on the year gone by (and plan for the year ahead). Therefore, it’s important to keep Dr.Shaw’s quote at the back of your mind as you reflect (and thereby rely on your memory).

Some prompts to get you started.

How was 2023 for you?

What went well?

What needs work?

What comes to mind instinctively when you think of this year?

Did you do something exciting? Was it a year full of action? Was it one where you did things you had always wanted to do?

Do me a favor: grab a piece of paper and a pen.

Come on… no excuses. If you’re sitting there reading this, you have time.

Got it? Good.

Write the answers to the above questions…

Write the high points and the low points…

Write the things you need to change…If you can’t do it alone, seek help…True progress and growth come from a willingness to learn and change.

Now make two columns.

Above the left column, write: Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do.

Above the right column, jot down: Things I’ve Done.

I have shared my table below.



Take a few minutes, no more than five, to populate each column. Write what comes to your mind quickly but feel free to take your time.

Then put that piece of paper somewhere safe, where you’ll see it often. Your office desk, the fridge at home.

Now pick something from the left column and do whatever it takes to get it into the right column.

Some things will take years, other months. You may even find that things like “skydiving” can move from left to right in a matter of days.

For many people, the only thing preventing them from doing what they’ve always wanted to do is permission. 

Consider this piece of paper your permission slip. Now you have no excuses. Time to make your dreams come true. Make 2024 your best.

Just Go For It.

But the secret of getting ahead is in getting started.

So, what are you waiting for?

At this point, I wish to draw your attention to some of the best posts of the year…While I love all of them (as I have thoughtfully produced them), I picked ten that many of you loved. These are also ones that I believe you might benefit from rereading again…

1. The New Day Resolutions

This post titled “Have you heard the headline before?” discusses the common failure of New Year Resolutions, with research indicating that 80% are abandoned by February. In this one, I write about the failure of the traditional approach of setting large, ambitious goals at the start of the year, suggesting instead the concept of “New Day Resolutions” accompanied by “micro-actions.” These are small, manageable actions taken daily, which cumulatively lead to achieving larger goals. The key argument is that focusing on daily, incremental progress is more effective than setting grand yearly resolutions.

The post emphasizes the importance of process over outcomes and suggests that by taking care of daily micro-actions, your larger goals will naturally be achieved. This philosophy can be applied to various aspects of life, including your personal and professional goals. The message for you is to start small, focus on the process, and let the cumulative effect of daily actions drive progress.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Power Of a…

The post highlights the immense potential of collaboration and urges readers not to underestimate its power. Collaboration isn’t just a series of transactions or memberships but a synergistic relationship that produces outcomes beyond individual capabilities.

Real collaboration is defined as a creative and transformative process that leads to unparalleled achievements and personal growth. I liken it to the synergy between legendary musicians like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, and emphasize the importance of choosing the right partners—valuing human connections over processes and technology. I further illustrate the point on the value of surrounding oneself with trustworthy people.

In essence, the post argues that true collaboration is about people supporting each other, especially during challenging times, and that this is the cornerstone for building a world-class firm or achieving personal excellence. You are invited to reflect on what might be holding you back from embracing the power of genuine collaboration.

3. Are you Mithunda?

This post emphasizes the critical distinction between succession planning and sale planning in the context of business. Succession planning is about the strategic transfer of management and client relationships to individuals with the necessary skills and passion, ensuring the business’s continuity and preserving its values and client experience. Sale planning, conversely, is simply selling the business, which may not guarantee the same continuity or service quality.

The urgency for succession planning is driven by the inevitability of change and the lack of immortality. The post argues that succession planning should be initiated from day one of a business, outlining its benefits of business continuity, growth, building enterprise value, edge over competition and so on.

The post advocates for proactive succession planning to secure the future of one’s business and legacy.

4. Straddling Your Strategy

This post discusses the peril of businesses trying to adopt competing strategies simultaneously, a concept known as “straddling.” The post warns against the temptation to serve every customer and offer every product without making clear trade-offs, which can lead to inefficiency, confusion, and ultimately, business failure. In this post, I encourage firms to define their identity, target clientele, services offered, and to make decisive strategic choices for the future rather than diluting their efforts and straddling different approaches.

5. Love, Purple Cow and Angavastram

The post discusses the fundamental importance of love in business, as expounded by Sudhanshu Mani at the IFA Galaxy’s Summit 2023. Mani emphasized that to achieve anything significant, one must first love their organization, their people, and what they do. I echo this perspective that a culture of love, care, and excellence is the bedrock of a world-class organization. I argue that love transcends products, economy, and the stock markets; it’s about making a real difference in people’s lives.

I also explore the concept of the Purple Cow, derived from Seth Godin’s book, that suggests that businesses must stand out by being remarkable — which is intrinsically linked to love and excellence. I conclude the post by illustrating how small acts of love, such as the Indian tradition of offering an angavastram (at IFA Galaxy’s Summit), contribute significantly to the overall experience, symbolizing respect and warmth. The essence is that the small things done with love and excellence are what create a world-class client experience.

6. CIQ and Chemical Components

The post emphasizes the importance of Conversational Intelligence (CIQ) in the financial services industry, particularly during the first meeting with a prospective client. It argues that while many professionals focus on showcasing their qualifications and products, the real key to success lies in the quality of conversations.

The post states that trust and credibility are built not through self-promotion but through engaging, high-quality questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in helping the client. It highlights that every conversation has a chemical component, affecting our brain chemistry and potentially influencing relationships for a lifetime.

The author suggests that mastering various types of conversations, from initial meetings to life planning and referrals, is crucial. To excel, professionals should focus on developing their CIQ, which will enable them to connect, engage, and influence others effectively, thereby transforming their professional relationships and practices.

7. The Big Marketing Mistake

Copying someone else’s marketing strategy, even if it has been successful for them, won’t necessarily work for another due to various reasons. Marketing should create an emotional connection with one’s own ideal clients, which requires a deep understanding of who they are and how one’s services solve their specific problems. The post emphasizes the need for marketing to reflect genuine personal and business values, targeting a specific niche for greater impact, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. It advocates for using methods that best represent one’s authentic self, whether that be through writing, videos, or other mediums.

8. The Ecdysis of Growth

The post titled “The Ecdysis of Growth” draws an analogy between the process of a snake shedding its skin, known as ecdysis, and personal and business growth. It suggests that growth necessitates discomfort and the shedding of old beliefs and practices. I use the metaphor to challenge individuals and businesses to reflect on what outdated methods or ideas they are clinging to that may hinder their progress. Like a snake that cannot grow without shedding its skin, people and businesses cannot evolve without letting go of the past and embracing change. This process can be painful and may challenge one’s identity, but it is necessary to avoid stagnation and to live a fulfilled life. The post encourages embracing the discomfort of change to achieve new levels of success and self-actualization.

9. Rs.1000 Crore Versus Rs. 500 Crore

This post “Rs.1000 Crore Versus Rs.500 Crore/ On Valuations” delves into the complexities of valuing financial distribution firms, challenging the assumption that a firm with higher Assets Under Management (AUM) is inherently more valuable. The true value, it argues, depends on a range of factors including asset mix, client diversification, revenue consistency, growth, client relationships, and demographic factors.

I emphasize that the economic value of a firm is driven by three main factors: growth, profit, and risk. A firm’s capacity to generate cash flows, the expected growth of these cash flows, and the risks associated with them are crucial to determining its intrinsic value.

The post critiques the simplistic reliance on market multiples for valuation, advocating for a more nuanced approach that considers the unique characteristics and potential of each firm.

In conclusion, I strongly urge that understanding these valuation drivers is essential for any firm looking to increase its economic value and appeal to sophisticated buyers.

10. The Unbeatable Edge

The post “The Unbeatable Edge” delves into the concept of competitive advantage in the financial services industry, sparked by concerns from readers about losing clients and facing stiff competition. I stress the importance of identifying and cultivating a unique competitive edge that goes beyond just having a larger Assets Under Management (AUM) or offering faster transactions and lower costs.

Competitive advantage is described as the ability to outperform rivals by delivering unique value that is sustainably yours, which could be your capacity to care more deeply for clients, innovate, adapt quickly, focus, unlearn and relearn, communicate effectively, or provide exceptional client experiences.

I encourage financial professionals to reflect on what sets them apart and to prioritize becoming the best version of themselves rather than simply trying to outdo competitors. This unbeatable edge is about knowing why clients should choose you, why they should refer you, and it’s intimately tied to how you understand and leverage your unique strengths and values in the market.