Wednesday, December 31, 2008

i-TFTD #180

i-TFTD #180

#180-1. Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.

-Shari R. Barr

#180-2. People who deliberately *fully* before they take a step will spend their lives on one leg.

-Anthony De Mello, author of One Minute Wisdom

#180-3. Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.

-Jawaharal Nehru


The quote is humorous but presents a harsh truth. It hurts to accept it because we, perhaps subconsciously, adopt good moral behaviour with an expectation of direct benefit from Life/God/Society. Somerset Maugham rubbed it in for many of us in our eighth grade English class with his The Ant and the Grasshopper. Logical resolution for this can only come from a higher level of consciousness, what some popular authors call universal principles or laws. A longer term perspective is useful. Another perspective was touched upon in i-TFTD #15: The Law of Giving.

Seeking perfect information of all decision parameters leads to analysis paralysis. Most of us would benefit by increased risk taking and action orientation. Incidentally, Tony De Mello's books are the lightest reads with the deepest spiritual and practical lessons, subtly conveyed through funny anecdotes. Some of his other books that are perennial favourites with me are: The Prayer of the Frog, Song of the Bird and One Minute Nonsense.

We do not choose our parents. In most cases we do not get to choose our bosses. What we do under given circumstances determines a lot of how our future will be and how happy we feel with our achievements. That should exclusively occupy our attention. In this context, what we do includes how we approach a situation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

i-TFTD #179: Christmas Special

i-TFTD #179: Christmas Special

#179-1. Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.

-Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist (1911-2004)

#179-2. The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

-Wilhelm Stekel, physician and psychologist (1868-1940)

#179-3. There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience had brought it home.

-John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, economist, moral and political theorist (1806-1873)


Christmas reminds us of an unusual hero. Many such heroes who influence humanity as a whole, for generations to come, make the supreme sacrifice of their lives. Often, their significance is understood much later.

For most of us, living for a cause is a better choice than giving up life for one. This is especially important in todays world where so many misguided youth are induced to kill themselves for illegal, immoral and destructive causes.

Growing without hurting otherswhat a noble cause to live for!

We cannot afford to wait for personal experience to understand every important advice and practise it so we need to garner useful nuggets repeatedly from multiple sources. Keep reading inspiring quotes and stories, gentle i-TFTD subscribers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

i-TFTD #178

#178-1. We say friendship is important to us, but increasingly choose lifestyles that make us too busy and distracted to cultivate or preserve it.
-Peter Vajda


#178-2. You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with.
-Wayne W. Dyer


#178-3. An organization is a network of conversations. People's behavior is a function of conversation - how they see the world and how they talk about it to themselves and others.
-Steve Zaffron


Having a few close friends with whom one can share any thoughts and who accept us as we are, is a blessing. The first quote is from a blog post that highlights the importance of real friendship developed in the old-fashioned way, that—ironically—may not necessarily occur in today’s highly connected, online networked world.


An interesting thought experiment: would you like to have you as a friend? This may lead in different directions: whether you are being the kind of friend you would like to be; whether your behavior is likely to attract the kind of friends that you would like to have; whether you are trying to ignore aspects of yourself that could do with change…


Modern theories of employee engagement, such as the view from Gallup, suggest that one needs to have at least one close friend at the workplace. As mentioned before in i-TFTD, we spend most of our waking hours at work so it is useful to build healthy relationships that help us in various ways. Another recurring point in i-TFTD has been the critical importance of how something is articulated and presented. Organizations that neglect this eventually pay a heavy price.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

i-TFTD #177

i-TFTD #177

#177-1. Everybody has difficult years, but a lot of times the difficult years end up being the greatest years of your whole entire life, if you survive them.

-Brittany Murphy

#177-2. Year by year we are becoming better equipped to accomplish the things we are striving for. But what are we actually striving for?

-Bertrand De Jouvenal

#177-3. We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.

-Jimmy Carter


In general, difficult situations offer more learning value than easy ones yet we do not seek them out.

Many unpleasant things seem trivial when I relate them with my important, long-term goals. How often do I focus on those goals?

The last one might seem too simple or a bit confusing. How do we do it? By being clear about core and non-core. Being flexible and adaptable could be my rigid motto for all time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

i-TFTD #176

i-TFTD #176

#176-1. People don't resist change. They resist being changed!

-Peter Senge

#176-2. Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.

-Theodore Roosevelt

#176-3. You can only lead others where you yourself are prepared to go.

-Lachlan McLean


It is said that the fashion industry and product designers in general, introduce apparently new ideas while carefully maintaining continuity with the old and familiar because people often say they want change but do not like real change. Peter Senge is the guru who coined "The Learning Organization".

The third one is about "leading from the front". Unfortunately we see exceptions in society where cult leaders are able to lead others to self-destruction and mass destruction while they hide in safety.

The words of American President Roosevelt, who was responsible for the creation of "Teddy Bear", can be interpreted in different ways. If you have a big stick to wield, its power is maximum when it is not actually used but it is available and accompanies soft speaking.

Monday, December 8, 2008

i-TFTD #175

i-TFTD #175

#175-1. He who praises me on all occasions is a fool who despises me or a knave who wishes to cheat me.

-Chinese Proverb

#175-2. Continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.

-Irish Proverb

#175-3. Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-African Proverb


Anyone who has subordinates should guard against "yes-men" and ever-appreciative ones. Healthy difference of opinion is a sign of intelligence.

Continuous cheerfulness, especially in adverse times, requires a level of maturity and wisdom. Interestingly continuous smiling or laughing is notit is likely to be seen as a sign of cluelessness or lack of confidence.

Many times we act as though we want to be labelled as skillful sailors without tackling rough waters. Either give up the desire for the labelaccepting the reality of risk aversionor venture out boldly. Often we surprise ourselves discovering what we are capable of.

Friday, December 5, 2008

i-TFTD #174

i-TFTD #174

#174-1. If you're never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances.

-Julia Sorel

#174-2. I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.

-Mike Todd

#174-3. It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.'

-Sam Levenson


Learning anything requires taking chances. Children do that a lot and learn rapidly: to walk, talk and everything else.

Being rich is not necessarily about the amount of money. Ask anybody you think is richtheir definition of a rich person would be someone else.

At least one pair of handsoursshould be working on our cause! Sometimes that is not the case because we are busy wringing them in frustration at not receiving support from others, or using them to point fingers. Recall if there have been situations in your life when someone did not act in the way you expected them to, and you figured out a solution yourself and eventually felt satisfied about your achievement. Maybe the person provided the best possible help by not helping.

Monday, December 1, 2008

i-TFTD #173: The Biggest Mind-Flip in Business Today

i-TFTD #173: The Biggest Mind-Flip in Business Today

by William C. Taylor (highlights mine)

William C. Taylor is the co-founder of Fast Company and the author of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, with Polly LaBarre.

October 05, 2006

There is nothing more powerful in business than a truly original idea -- a distinctive point of view that redefines an industry, a breakthrough design that transforms a product category. In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop innovation, the one sustainable form of market leadership is thought leadership -- generating better ideas and making smarter adjustments than the competition.

So where do great ideas come from? The traditional answer is the stuff of entrepreneurial folklore, the creation myth of the creative process. Big ideas come from big thinkers: the eccentric genius, the inspired founder, the visionary CEO. Business history is filled with tales of breakthroughs fueled by unique imagination and individual determination. In this old model of innovation, the leader did the thinking, rank-and-file employees did the executing. If you were in charge, you were the "smartest person in the room."

But what happens when rivals become so numerous, when markets become so unpredictable, when technologies move so quickly, that no individual leader, no matter how inspired, can possibly think of everything? Then it becomes necessary to invent a new model of innovation. Today, one of the defining responsibilities of leadership is to attract the best ideas from the most peopleto master a world in which "nobody is as smart as everybody."

This is, I believe, the most important leadership mind-flip in business today. According to Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, the computer-book publisher, and an evangelist for open-source innovation, creativity is no longer about which companies have the most visionary executives, but who has the most compelling "architecture of participation." That is, which companies make it easy, interesting and rewarding for a wide range of contributors to offer ideas, solve problems and improve products? Ultimately, he argues, the companies that are most likely to dominate their business are the ones most adept at harnessing the collective intelligence of everyone with whom they do business.

Leaders who embrace this new mindset ask different questions of themselves than other leaders. Questions such as: Can I exude personal strength, even charisma, along with intellectual humility? Am I the kind of person with whom other smart people want to work and contribute ideas? Can I conduct myself as openly and transparently as the participants in my project?

Find the right answers to those questions, and you’re likely find yourself at the center of exciting innovations -- many of them from contributors whom you’ve never met.


The crazy, creative person stereotype is being replaced by the incremental innovation by many good thinking people. The fact that small, continuous improvements outweigh occasional, big-bang breakthroughs was strikingly demonstrated by Japanese manufacturing companies. The innovation process requires different kinds of contributors for success: questioners, dreamers, modifiers, adapters, practical converters, action-oriented implementers, business-oriented managers...

Friday, November 28, 2008

i-TFTD #172

i-TFTD #172

#172-1. I love men who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.

-Thomas Paine

#172-2. The man who has gotten everything he wants is all in favor of peace and order.

-Jawaharlal Nehru

#172-3. If you do not have peace in your life, you, like many others, have probably not fully understood its message.  You receive exactly what you put out, or, "As you sow, so shall you reap."

-Thomas D. Willhite, Living Synergistically


Smiling and feeling positive when things are going well is easy. More admirable is to be able to do that when things aren't.

Lack of peace or order could be an indication of intolerable imbalances. It is the duty of leadership to probe that and address the root cause.

The simple but profound law of cause and effect operates at multiple levels. We know it but try to forget or ignore it. The heart-rending situation in the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008 makes many wonder, "Why? How to prevent such random killing of innocents?" While the authorities analyze and execute a logical course of action, I am struck by the statements of a spiritual guru (my paraphrasing): Nothing much has fundamentally changed in the forces driving the human mind. Unless we collectively do something about the violence inside each of our minds, disastrous actions by humans are likely to recur in different forms.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i-TFTD #171

i-TFTD #171

#171-1. Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.

-Sam Ewig

#171-2. A lot of our 'busy-ness' is a way for us to avoid thinking about what is most important.

-Kristen Lippincott

#171-3. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

-Hugh Macleod


The first one means, in order to build our character, we should gravitate towards situations requiring a struggle. I have many times experienced a discovery of my own strengths after facing a difficult period. Sometimes previously unknown weaknesses also become evident. Both are useful.

The second one resonates with me. We all practice degrees of mental laziness. One might avoid dwelling on aspects of health or family, instead plunging into work. When facing a setback I might concentrate on detailed criticism of others rather than asking what I could do better.

It is said that talent alone is not sufficient, but that is the subject of other i-TFTDs. One can use the third to assess one's progress. How often do I feel the need for extraneous support for my success, how many times do I rely on prayer (by itself, not necessarily a bad thing), how much do I attribute events to luck?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

i-TFTD #170: Children's Day Special

i-TFTD #170: Children's Day Special

November 14, the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, is celebrated as Childrens Day. Here's a special bonus edition of i-TFTD:

#170-1. If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.

-Abigail Van Buren

#170-2. You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.

-Franklin P. Jones

#170-3. Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

#170-4. First you have to teach a child to talk, then you have to teach it to be quiet.


#170-5. Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?

-Jane Nelson

#170-6. Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

-Michael Levine


Substitute children in the above with subordinates and parent with leader, to get useful insights on career development, leadership qualities and giving feedback. The last one is a killer: merely having people report into you does not make you a leader.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

i-TFTD #169

i-TFTD #169

#169-1. Careers, like rockets, don't always take off on schedule. The key is to keep working the engines.

-Gary Sinise

#169-2. Learn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.

-Doug King

#169-3. The best careers advice to give to the young is, 'Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it'.

-Katherine Whitehorn


The first sounds simple but it is worth remembering that "working the engines" does not include blaming, moaning and whining (doing this regularly would make us what some trainers catchily call the BMW personality).

An occasional thoughtful pause is more productive than the continuous running around that gives the comfortable feeling of action. It even applies to thinking itself. When absorbing new information or ideas, intelligent people are especially prone to quick judgement and conclusions. A pause often uncovers additional nuances.

If you do not consider yourself as part of the young category, learn to like aspects of what you get paid for, learn to increase  the proportion of time every week that you spend on activities you really enjoy. These often provide clues to your innate talents and strengths.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

i-TFTD #168

i-TFTD #168

#168-1. If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

-Abraham Lincoln

#168-2. Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.


#168-3. Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.

-Sam Levenson


The converse of the first quote is also true. If we look for the good in people, we will surely find something.

The second might sound negative but one positive way to look at it is, wisdom is not correlated with age so a young person might also come out with a wise suggestion.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

i-TFTD #167

i-TFTD #167

#167-1. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

-Hugh Macleod

#167-2. Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable. Real ones aren't. But you can't tell the difference when you have no real information. Fear can create even more imaginary obstacles than ignorance can. That's why the smallest step away from speculation and into reality can be an amazing relief.

-Barbara Sher

#167-3. Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh


The first one cautions us to beware of cynicism and mindless conformity ("sheep mentality"). Why are cynicism and conformity so popular - we all do it sometimes, isn't it? They give us a sense of security.

The third one gives the secret of achieving a sense of security -- dynamism.

The first two sentences of the second quote above are worth pondering. Try this thought experiment: How many of the obstacles (to success, happiness whatever) I perceive today could be imaginary?

Friday, October 24, 2008

i-TFTD #166: Festival of Lights Special

Wishing you and your near ones a happy festival season.

#166-1. There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or to be the mirror that reflects it.

-Edith Wharton

#166-2. A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the head and the heating system of the heart.


#166-3. Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.

-Shakti Gawain

#166-4. I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.

-Og Mandino

#166-5. If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person

If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house

If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation

If there is order in the nation, there will be Peace in the World.

-Chinese Proverb


Teachers and authors are like mirrors who can help the light of wisdom illuminate places that it cannot otherwise reach.

Smiling makes you and those around you feel brighter. It can also cause shadows of unsolved problems disappear.

Periods of darkness have their own value, they make us act, they also increase our appreciation and gratitude when light is restored.

Inner peace of individuals is a pre-requisite for a peaceful external environment.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

i-TFTD #165: Sometimes Newspapers Have Good Stuff

i-TFTD #165: Sometimes Newspapers Have Good Stuff

Some interesting snippets from contemporary events.

#165-1. (The Chandrayaan-1 mission) will also be a precursor to India's manned mission to space And it's just the right thing for the younger generation — it will get them out of a certain mundaneness. If the youth needed something exciting, this is it.

-U R Rao, Former chairman, ISRO in The Economic Times 22-Oct-2008

(Full interview at

#165-2. Can it really be a coincidence that within weeks of the Large Hadron Collider being switched on for the first time a financial black hole has appeared in the universe?

-Barclay Price (Letter to the editor published in The Economist dated 16-Oct-2008)

#165-3. Some mortgage broker in Los Angeles gives subprime "liar loans" to people who have no credit ratings so they can buy homes in Southern California. Those flimsy mortgages get globalized through the global banking system and, when they go sour, they eventually prompt banks to stop lending, fearful that every other bank's assets are toxic, too. The credit crunch hits Iceland, which went on its own binge. Meanwhile, the police department of Northumbria, England, had invested some of its extra cash in Iceland, and, now that those accounts are frozen, it may have to reduce street patrols this weekend.

-Thomas Friedman in The New York Times 18-Oct-2008

(Full article at


I found it interesting that the space scientist has chosen to highlight the impact on youth in terms of excitement. Bright young people always look for getting out of mundaneness so the onus of guiding them to achieve that clearly falls on the experienced folk who either succeeded or failed in achieving that in their youth.

Funny remarks apart, there are no easy answers to the dilemma of letting scientific research venturing into risky territory (such as cloning) and peoples fear about damaging consequences. Even if laws do not permit certain experiments, what prevents a rogue scientist to pursue a purely scientific, morals-free action?

Tom Friedman has a way of describing trends that helps make sense of disparate items of news. His article starts with, Who knew that Iceland was just a hedge fund with glaciers? And goes on to say, We’re all connected and nobody is in charge. The award-winning journalist and author has written a few bestseller books. I enjoyed From Beirut to Lebanon and The World is Flat though some might find his American-style, breathless bombardment irritating.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

i-TFTD #164

#164-1. Blowing out someone else's candle doesn't make yours burn any brighter.



#164-2. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.


#164-3. All of us have desires

Some small and some tall

We may not have it all together but

Together we can have it all




Too many people miss opportunities to improve their situation doing things that they can, wasting time instead in spoiling others’ prospects. Lighting someone else’s candle actually makes ours burn brighter.


At least once every decade we see examples of highly educated and economically well-placed people forgetting basic human values in their quest for more money, fame or power.


The antidote to this cannot come from regulation. It has to originate from moral and spiritual sources. That calls for a more inclusive, holistic perspective.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

i-TFTD #163: The Cure for Procrastination

i-TFTD #163: The Cure for Procrastination

The Cure for Procrastination

by Earl Nightingale

Have you ever noticed that the longer you look at something you should be doing, the more difficult it seems to appear? That the longer you put off something you should do, the more difficult it is to get started?

A good deal of frustration and unhappiness could be avoided if people would just do what they know they should do.

The great newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane once wrote, "Don't exaggerate your own importance, your own size, or your own miseries. You are an ant in a human anthill. Be a working ant not a ridiculous insect pitying yourself." Strong language, maybe, but there's a lot of sense in it.

Sometimes it must seem to everyone that things have piled up so high that there's just no way of digging out. But there is. Pick the thing that's most important to do, and simply begin doing it. Just by digging in, you'll feel better, and you'll find that it's not nearly as bad as you thought it would be. Keep at it, and before long, that pile of things to do that seemed so overwhelming is behind you finished.

What overwhelms us is not the work itself. It's thinking how hard it's going to be. It's seeing it get larger every day. It's putting if off and hoping that somehow, through some miracle, it will disappear.

The Chinese have a saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. And that step accomplishes two things. First, it automatically shortens the distance we still have to travel, and, second, and just as important, it makes us feel better, more hopeful it strengthens our faith.

If you'll think back, you'll remember that you've always been happiest, most contented, after having finished a difficult project or faced up to a responsibility you were worried about. It's never as bad as you think it's going to be, and the joy that will come with its accomplishment makes it more than worthwhile.

Work never killed anyone. It's worry that does the damage. And the worry would disappear if we'd just settle down and do the work.


I have not met anyone who claims to have never procrastinated. It could be something on the personal front, too busily engaged in work. The antidote is simple and known to us intuitively but we need periodic reminders such as the one above. Here's my resolution for today: I will finish one item from my list of long-pending To Dos before the end of this week. Not too ambitious but a start.

Monday, October 6, 2008

i-TFTD #162

i-TFTD #162

#162-1. When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.

-Napoleon Hill

#162-2. Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

-Helen Keller

#162-3. When one is trying to do something beyond his known powers it is useless to seek the approval of friends. Friends are at their best in moments of defeat.

-Henry Miller


When we work to achieve worthy purposes, that is, aims that our conscience clearly tells us are in line with fundamental values (or universal principles or laws as Stephen Covey and Deepak Chopra like to call them), then we are able to discover hidden strengths within ourselves.

At such times friends may support us but we are completely independent of that. We would proceed even if friends oppose us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

i-TFTD #161: Mountains of Inspiration

i-TFTD #161: Mountains of Inspiration

This bonus edition of i-TFTD is inspired by my two-week vacation a couple of years ago, amongst the snow-clad mountains of Himachal Pradesh in North India:

#161-1. It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

-Edmund Hillary

(Another variation is:)


#161-2. You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.

-James Whittaker

#161-3. Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.


#161-4. In a flat country a hillock thinks itself a mountain.

-Turkish Proverb

#161-5. You cannot see the mountain near.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

#161-6. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?

-Kahlil Gibran


All these have little to do with mountains and everything to do with ourselves, our perspectives.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i-TFTD #160

#160-1. Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.
-Glenda Cloud

#160-2. Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off! But if you don't have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.
-Amelia Earhart (first woman to fly across the Atlantic)

#160-3. Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.
-Malcolm Forbes

This could be correlated with i-TFTD #129: Purposeful Growth. For intentional growth we should busy ourselves working on our future state with respect to our current state, without wasting time comparing with others whose current state could be different from ours.

Also, the study of successful persons in any field shows that they made the best of the cards life dealt them with, without moaning about what cards were missing. This could be correlated with the Strengths Approach we talked about in i-TFTD #79: 3 Tips to Be a Prime Mover, i-TFTD #99: Listen to the Whisper, i-TFTD #115: Only One Move, i-TFTD #20: Motivation + Talent = Strength and i-TFTD #10: Abolish SWOT Analysis.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

i-TFTD #159: Wall Street Special

i-TFTD #159: Wall Street Special

A special bonus edition of i-TFTD in the midst of the unprecedented financial crisis gripping many countries of the world. Very few dispensers of wisdom appear wise at this juncture but here are a few thoughts, the first one from an unconventional source, and the rest from three people whose unconventional views have depth and longevity.

#159-1. Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.

-Carl Fox (played by Martin Sheen) in the 1987 movie 'Wall Street'

#159-2. I like buying companies that can be run by monkeys - because one day they will be.

-Peter Lynch


You should invest in a business that even a fool can run, because someday a fool will.

-Warren Buffett

#159-3. We humans are naturally gullible — disbelieving requires an extraordinary expenditure of energy. It is a limited resource. I suggest ranking the skepticism by its consequences on our lives.

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb

#159-4. A pin lies in wait for every bubble and when the two eventually meet, a new wave of investors learns some very old lessons.

-Warren Buffett

#159-5. The government-sponsored institution Fannie Mae, when I look at its risks, seems to be sitting on a barrel of dynamite, vulnerable to the slightest hiccup. But... their large staff of scientists deemed these events "unlikely."

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in 2006

#159-6. The banking system (betting AGAINST rare events) just lost > 1 Trillion dollars (so far) on a single error, more than was ever earned in the history of banking. Yet bankers kept their previous bonuses and it looks like citizens have to foot the bills. And one Professor Ben Bernanke pronounced right before the blowup that we live in an era of stability and "great moderation" (he is now piloting a plane and we all are passengers on it).

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb

#159-7. Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon.

-Peter Lynch

#159-8. (When you don't have an explanation) it takes a lot of courage to keep silent.

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb