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Monday, May 26, 2008

Lessons for life from Benjamin Graham

4:51 PM Posted by Deepak Nayal No comments
I recently finished reading "The Intelligent Investor" from Benjamin Graham. For those who do not know Benjamin Graham, he is father of value investing and is more popularly known as the teacher of Warren Buffet (one of the richest persons in the world and the greatest investor till date). You can realize how good this book is from the fact that it was first published in 1949 and is still considered (after almost 6 decades) by many as the best book ever written on investment.
Though this book normally talks about investment [in stocks, bonds, etc.] I found some really valuable lessons that we can practice in other aspects of our lives, and thought of sharing those with everyone. These lessons are obviously no secret or different than the ones we have heard till date but what impressed me the most was the simplicity with which Graham conveyed these trying to show that waters are calm, even in the extremely unsettling environment as the stock market; we just need to train our eye to look for it. Here are some of the ones that impressed me the most (remember while reading these that Graham was not a philosopher but an investor)
  • Do not something just because everyone else is doing it. Though people generally consider "following the crowd" a safer option it is not always the correct one. This is where carving your own niche comes in.
  • The devil is in the details. This obviously does not mean that one should do micro management; what it means is that in order to carve your own niche you need to make sure that you are aware of the depths of the problem/situation (this is an especially important lesson to those people who make "I am a big picture guy" an excuse).
  • Have patience, your time will come. But do not just sit there and wait for it, do something else till that time and be prepared for the opportunity.
  • Performance cannot be carried over. Just because something (or someone) performed well in the past does not mean it will perform good in the future as well. One cannot sit on one’s laurels.
We may not become as successful as some of Graham's students (such as Warren Buffett, Irving Kahn and Charles Brandes) by following these lessons but these will surely help us achieve our goals in life.

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