The Dose you and your business cannot Live without
Answer these 2 questions truthfully:
- Have you ever seen a pessimistic person starting a business?
- Were you a pessimistic person when you started yours?
I am sure each one of you would have responded “No” within seconds. It is because a business rests on optimism (that things will turn out fine or good will win). You would have started your firm hoping to do something for the better. You would have thought that things will be fine and that you will do well. Yes, you did well but then you started hitting roadblock after roadblock. Suddenly for many in this profession, pessimism seems to have taken over optimism. The best part is no one likes to admit this. I think of my story when I see people not admitting things that must be corrected.
In 1998, I had just returned from Leeds, UK with a different look (long curly hair but most importantly, I had put on some serious weight). My mother told me nicely that I had put on weight. I was like “Where? I am fine. The clothes are just fitting fine”. I was not the one to admit it. It did not matter to me that my wardrobe had changed or that I had put on a lot of weight. I went for a passport size photograph to see how I looked and trust me the photo did show clearly that I had gained a lot (the one gain that everyone wants to get rid of). I know all about being comfortable with your body, but I am not discussing that here or being size zero. However, I blamed the photographer and told him he did not click it properly. I then went home, changed my shirt, came back for a new photograph. That photo was even worse. From there, I went straight to Talwalkar’s. I started working out for 90 minutes minimum 6 days a week and eating properly (no starving). I lost 7.5 kgs in the first 30 days and 16 kgs in 2 months while making a record of losing the most weight at Talwalkar’s. I then had to go to the US, and many thought I would make a new high (like the Sensex) with my weight. To everyone’s surprise when I came back after 2.5 months, I had lost another 18 kgs. Overall, I had lost 34 kgs in 4.5 months. I had stuck to what my gym coach and dietitian had told me (working out daily, no starving, and eating 5-6 meals a day). Enough about my story but I had to get across the point, the day we start admitting to ourselves about our problems is the day we start looking out for solutions.
One of the fundamental things to remember is that we are in the business of Optimism. Optimism is the necessary fuel that keeps every business owner going despite all the roadblocks and challenges she/he faces. However, given the nature of the Investing world, which itself is about optimism, you need truckloads of Optimism for yourself (and team) and for your clients as well as prospects. If you are short on this fuel, it is time to fill your Optimism tank up. However, get your supply from people who have loads of it and who are willing to share it with you. Run away from pessimistic people as you do not want even an ounce of your optimism to be wasted or drained. Preserve every ounce of yours and thus avoid large gatherings (even virtual ones) if there are more pessimistic fellows hawking their wares.
Doing Business is and will always remain full of challenges. Sadly, some in our profession want a smooth ride of markets going up and an era of easy money (2004-2007). Did you think your business would always replicate those years? Did you think doing business would be a cakewalk? This business will always be full of challenges (despite the structural advantages of the revenue model) and will test your Optimism regularly. If you cannot be optimistic in general and excited about the work you do, maybe you are in the wrong profession. It is perfectly fine to feel beaten and low sometimes. We all do but then we just get up and start doing what needs to be done. This is what real professionals are made of. They do it even when they least feel like doing it. I had shared this brilliant Nick Murray quote that fit’s here properly “At moments like this, amateurs obsess about how upset their clients are, and that tends to paralyze them. True Professionals make the conscious decision to obsess instead about how upset everyone else’s clients are.”
Is there something for all of us to be Optimistic about? Yes, there are countless things for us to be optimistic about such as the following:
- Size of the overall industry and profession. The Financial Planning Profession in the country is not even an Adult whereas the Asset Management Industry is 1/10th today of what the US Asset Management industry was in 1994 (26 years back). I can quote many numbers but do not want to drown you in statistics and numbers.
- Size of our consumer base and the purchasing power of our middle class. Additionally, the number of people getting into the middle class will keep growing and by 2030 we will have the biggest middle-class purchasing power of all countries (Source: Professor Mauro Guillen in Global Turning Points). Professor Guillen says Follow the babies and our country is blessed with a young and dynamic workforce.
- The investments that institutional investors are making in the country. I am not just talking about FIIs but also private equity and venture capital. One of the private equity investors invested Rs.5.5 Lakh Crore in India in a couple of transactions. Do you think they would do this if they did not believe in the long-term potential? Additionally, closer home, look at the gradual increase of the SIP book. Yes, it would have gone down slightly but will be back up at some point of time.
- Despite everything, more and more people need your help. There are very few qualified people, and this signals opportunity.
I can go on and on, but I am sure you get the point. Finally, the whole world, businesses and life run on Optimism. It is time you do too.
P.S. Let me know if you need a Healthy dose of Optimism. We are always there to help.