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super documentary on the world’s greatest investor.  lot of subtle points to take note of. a must watch.

About a year and a half ago, Town Essentials started a direct to home service, supplying grocery and vegetables. In various conversations with Town customers,  realized that customers were benefiting in many ways.  Some of these benefits, can be  classified as tangible and some intangible.

Would like to share some of these benefits, they are:

Time, Time, Time:  For the Indian professional and especially working couples, time has become very scarce, long working hours, lengthy commutes, whatever little remains is personal or family time.   If any free time is available,  the last thing on anyone’s  minds is grocery shopping.

Even, if  one liked shopping, you have to hustle, take out your car or two-wheeler, drive to the store, finding parking, then shop, wait for your turn in lengthy check out lines,  settle the bill,  then carry grocery to your vehicle,  drive back home,  last lug your grocery from the parking lot into your home. In addition to all the hassle your vehicle has burnt some scarce fuel also. All this can be eliminated by a click of the button and the goods are delivered to your doorstep.  The hassle and the time you save, is an intangible, true cost should  be accounted for, some call it the welfare surplus or quality of life surplus.

Eco Friendly: A brick and mortar grocery store, needs a of lot of energy to sustain the infrastructure. Air conditioning, packaging and the fuel consumed to travel to the store. If there are 100 customers for 100 orders, each customer’s  travel to and fro from the store has to be accounted for. In the case of online purchase, these orders will be delivered with a smaller number of vehicles, reducing traffic on city roads and lower fuel consumption.

Accounts: Keeping a tab of how much you spent by order, day, week, month, year etc can all be tracked. When you go shopping unless you store the bill and remember to capture it, very unlikely you will have the full picture. Using staff for cash purchases has leakages associated with it.

Special Purchases: Party Shopping can be hell, get this from this shop, get that from that shop, already arranging a party is stressful, getting everything together only adds to the stress.

Quality: the vendor is able to supply the same quality across the city. Else you really have to depend on your corner store and you don’t have a choice when the quality is bad.

Choice: Physical stores are limited by space of how many products can be stored. An online store can have an offering that is always larger than the physical space. The store can always deliver slow-moving items, without stocking them.

Repeat: 80% of a monthly grocery list is generally the same as last month. So you can reorder from the last order or most frequently ordered items.

Finally, there are some who just enjoy shopping, for them grocery shopping is a priority,  they love going to markets, touching and feeling the vegetables before purchase. For this category of people, online grocery service is a firm no for sure.

We compiled a few of the best quotes from the Oracle of Omaha.

Master the basics.

The best time to buy a company is when it’s in trouble.

Don’t buy a stock just because everyone hates it.

Stocks have always come out of crises.

Don’t be fooled by that Cinderella feeling you get from great returns

You don’t have to be a genius to invest well.

Always be liquid.

Think long-term.

Forever is a good holding period.

Buy business that can be run by idiots

Be greedy when others are fearful.

Buying a stock is about more than just the price.   “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”

You don’t have to move at every opportunity

Ignore politics and macroeconomics when picking stocks.

The more you trade, the more you underperform.

Price and value are not the same. “Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”

Bad things aren’t obvious when times are good. “After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”

There are no bonus points for complicated investments.

A good businessperson makes a good investor.

Higher taxes aren’t a dealbreaker.

Companies that don’t change can be great investments. “Our approach is very much profiting from lack of change rather than from change. With Wrigley chewing gum, it’s the lack of change that appeals to me. I don’t think it is going to be hurt by the Internet. That’s the kind of business I like.”

This is the most important thing. “Rule No. 1: never lose money; rule No. 2: don’t forget rule No. 1”

Time will tell. “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”

BONUS: On Wall Street advice. “Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls-Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.”

full article  >>>>>

The top 10 article in 2012 based on twitter activity basically retweets

Our most popular article of the year on Twitter was about the future of 3-D printing  >>>>

Number two in our countdown is an article about Mexico and the legalisation of marijuana    >>>>>

Number 3 in our countdown is the Where to be born index 2013  >>>>>

Number 4 in our countdown is an article about Mexico’s relationship with America  >>>>>

Number 5 in our countdown is the article in which we endorsed a candidate for the US election   >>>>>

Number 6 in our countdown is an article about the Mystery of Mitt Romney  >>>>>

Number 7 in our countdown is an article about the LIBOR scandal going global >>>>>

Number 8 in our countdown is an article about understanding why exercise is good for you   >>>>>

Number 9 in our countdown is an interview about intelligence with Satoshi Kanazawa >>>>>

The tenth most popular article to be posted on Twitter by the Economist in 2012 was about the demise of Kodak  >>>>>

Pause and Decide!

via Prakash Iyer, executive coach and MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever

Swaroop Kishen was an unlikely hero.

He was an overweight, portly guy who looked like the jovial Hardy — from the Laurel and Hardy duo. His girth made him instantly recognisable. And quite lovable too.

As a cricket-crazy kid, I remember getting Swaroop Kishen’s autograph at a game.

While most fans were clamouring for the players’ autographs, I was keen to get the umpire to sign in my book. And he did — prefacing his signature with three words:

“Pause and decide!”

These words were not only an articulation of an umpire’s philosophy– they were also a masterclass in effective decision-making.

Every time I need to respond to something, or take a decision, the umpire’s words flash in my mind.

Many times, we take decisions in haste. And we end up with impulsive responses. Someone says something to us — and we immediately react. Either with words that come back to haunt us. Or with actions that we live to regret. If only we’d make it a habit to heed the late umpire’s advice to pause and decide!

Next time you are angry or hurt, or need to take a decision, good idea to take a deep breath — before saying a word. Next time something goes wrong and you feel like reacting — just hold it. After the moment passes, you will find the turmoil settling down. The mind gets clearer. And the decision that follows is usually a lot better than what you might have done in that instant.

Very often our decisions are more like a negative vote — rather than a positive choice. We change jobs — because of one tough appraisal feedback session, or a missed promotion.

We make career choices, break relationships, commit to investments — all in the heat of the moment. And in an era of increasing download speeds — we seem to be in a hurry to take decisions. In most cases, a cooler head — and the passage of time — would have made for far better, more reasoned decisions.

Whoever said “Decide in haste, repent at leisure” was right. He may have said it a long time ago, but we clearly haven’t learnt our lesson.

There’s an interesting story of a spiritual master who went on a pilgrimage with his disciples. The wise man felt thirsty and wanted some water.

A disciple quickly went across with a jar to a nearby stream to get some water. The water was crystal clear and he could see the sun’s rays dancing on the water. As he was about to fill the jar, a bullock cart crossed the stream.

As the wheels churned through the soil at the bottom of the stream, the water suddenly became muddy. It didn’t look good enough to drink and the disciple went back to the master, empty-handed, and explained what happened.

The master asked him to wait a while, to allow the mud to settle — and then fill up the jar. When the disciple went back a little later, he found that the water was crystal clear again.

As the master took a sip of the water — he exclaimed: “Our minds are like that stream too. An external event or stimulus — like that bullock cart – can cause our minds to look all muddled up. When that happens, all you need to do is relax. Just wait a while and allow the dust to settle. And the mind will be clear again.”

Next time you are feeling agitated or stressed and want to respond, just think of the bullock cart and the stream. And remember the good umpire’s advice. Pause and decide!

“Life is not fair”, goes the popular saying.  Some have luck on their side and those that don’t, are generally consoled “bad luck”, better luck next time.

Andy Grove, former CEO Intel Corporation, a visionary in his time, penning his pearls of wisdom, recognized the existence of luck.  One of the pearls from many he coined,  “There is something called luck, recognize it and make the most of it”. Another successful silicon valley based entrepreneur, Prakash Bhalerao, at a recent talk conducted by TIE Pune, noted that there is something such as “right place, right time”. He attributed success to be 51% luck and 49% hard work. He recalled many immigrants who arrived in the valley during the 80s and 90s became rich, because so much was happening  then.

However only a lunatic will believe it is all luck and no hard work. Casing point, my own uncle, extremely capable, handsome, a Tamilian who could be easily mistaken for a Punjabi and  above all a very nice human being. He was the living example of someone who believed  “all is luck”.  HIs daily routine included 2 hours of Puja, before that a bath that resulted in a unusable bathroom (bath was a ritual that included splashing water all around), count his steps to anywhere and everywhere and a regular gambler at the races. On many occasions, he put his family on the brink of financial disaster, it was my aunt who basically ran and managed the home. A case of a very capable person, hardly motivated to work.

I have this very basic equation, that highlights the equal importance of hard work and the contribution of luck. If anything, it is the prerequisite for success.

performance = motivation * capability

success = luck * performance

luck = time * place

Then there is this story about Napoleon, who used to evaluate promotions of his direct reports based on luck coefficient. At the time of appraisals, he observed that they are all great soldiers, high caliber, but what will differentiate in the future  is their luck. He had this firm belief that luck played a major role in winning wars.

Lucky people exhibit two kinds of behaviour, arrogance and humility. The arrogant insist that it was all due their hard work, capability and tenacity. The others acknowledge that luck had a role to play in their achievement. Standing in the balcony of a high rise in Mumbai, slums on one side and an imposing skyline on the other, a thought crosses your mind, for you could have been born on the other side and life would have been very different. That for many successful people is the source of their humility.

Is there something called luck ?   The ball is in your court now.

Sanjay Dutt MD, South Asia of Cushman Weikfield makes a few interesting and relevant points on Indian Realty

The affordable model in Indian Realty is totally abandoned

Indian developers are not aligned with the needs of India and Indians

Most developers believed access to land banks was a competitive advantage

Went on a building spree creating a string of unviable projects

For residential projects credibility, saleability and viability are key prerequisites

PE players have come a long way, they are no longer looking for return on investment but return of their investment.

Affordable model is totally abandoned because there is a fundamental infrastructure and structural problem.