The Watertight Doors

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.

What do you think the headline means? Isn’t this a little bit cryptic? While it surely is cryptic, nonetheless it’s a powerful concept for you to not only understand but also implement in your practice/business.

Author Alan Weiss in his book “Value Based Fees” wrote (something deeply insightful), “I once asked a group of coaching clients what they would do if they unexpectedly gained $600,000 via a new client, or a lottery winning, or an inheritance. Most spoke of partial savings, some philanthropy, some personal acquisitions, vacations and so on. But one woman said to me, ‘I wouldn’t touch a cent of it, it would sit in the bank!

Thus, we experience people with significant growth and prosperity who continue to act as if they were desperately trying to gain a foothold, to keep their heads above water. They act as if they are poor. I call the need to change based on true prosperity securing the watertight doors.

Isn’t this true of many affluent and rich people too? I bet you have come across such people. Many extremely rich people by any financial standards believe they don’t have enough. I am not making any judgments here but just making an observation that there is no number that can make one feel secure…because money = feelings. But that’s not the point here.

What’s the point then?

Look at this visual and reflect on it for a few minutes in the context of your journey in this business.


Source: Value Based Fees Book – Alan Weiss


In the above figure you can see your progression from trying to survive to being ‘alive’ to having ‘arrived’ and finally to thrive.

When you started, you did everything you could to survive. You took on any client that came your way. As you cross the Survive phase and enter the Alive phase (which in our industry means crossing Rs.25-50 Crore), you are no longer worried about day to day survival. You are an ongoing concern. Even accountants will tell you that. You then Arrive when your AUM crosses the Rs.100 Crore mark. The numbers can be different depending on which city you are. This is when people in your city/town start recognizing and talking about you. It is at this stage that you might acquire selective business. There are some posts written about you and your accomplishments. And ‘Thrive’ is when you are considered an expert and a thought leader, one who sets the pace and is used as a reference point for excellence.

Does this ring a bell?

Alan further wrote, The problem is that many people to the right of this chart still act as though they are on the left, never having been able to abandon old habits. To transit from left to right, we must be willing to change our beliefs, image, self-talk, expectations, affiliations, and so forth. That’s the only way to create watertight doors that don’t permit us to slide back.

I talk to people who too often tell me in the same sentence that they are having the best year but can’t afford to invest in their own self-development. You may see this as hypocrisy, but I see it as an inability to leave a poverty mentality that enabled them to survive but not enjoy their arrival or beyond.

Are you able to enjoy your arrival or beyond?

What I mean to ask are the following questions:

  • Are you selective about the clients you work with?
  • Are you selective about your marketing (focusing on a few who you can do your best work for)?
  • Are you investing in yourself? Are you investing in your business?
  • Have you really created watertight doors for your business?

If you have, how have you created them?

Reflect on these questions for a few minutes or write them down for some quiet reflection later. You can also discuss this in your study circle if you are a part of one or feel free to write to us about your specific situation.

The truth is that you might find it challenging to come out of that mindset that helped you survive or be alive. I continue to see people who can market selectively and exclusively but continue to market to everyone. In the process they end up appealing to no one. I also continue to see people who can take on selective business, yet they take on anyone and everyone who comes their way. In the process, they end up with too many clients. Some of the best clients are often ignored as there is too little time to invest in these clients. Thus, they end up with too many clients, too much work and too little money for the work they do. And despite the transformative work that they do, they still feel the need to justify their value.

I continue to see people who can invest in their business and invest in themselves, but they don’t end up doing it. The most common excuse – I can’t afford it. Another excuse – I don’t have time…I don’t have enough to invest in my business or myself.

But the truth is – No matter how much you have two things will always be simultaneously true:

  1. You don’t have enough.
  2. You have more than enough.

It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about. Time, money, love, energy, resources, etc.

Not only are both things true, but there’s also nothing you can do to change the situation.

What you can change, on the other hand, is your worldview (and your mindset). In particular, what kind of mindset do you have? One of scarcity or one of abundance?

And there are two things true about this too – Changing your world view (and mindset) is Easy and Changing it is super difficult.

But you can choose, you know. You can simply decide (overnight or NOW) to focus on the fact that you have enough. Or, if you really want to, you can fixate on the fact that nothing will ever be enough.

Developing watertight doors in your business will enable you to change based on your true prosperity. It will enable you to invest in yourself…work with clients you enjoy…believe and appreciate your own value and worth for others (not to mention the transformative work you do).