Welcome to the first edition of Outside the Box, Safal Niveshak’s new, free newsletter.
Now, what’s new here? Well, this newsletter will not be authored by me (you must be thanking goodness!), but a few of my friends in the value investing circle.
I have been connected to these people over the past few years, and highly respect their thoughts and ideas about investing, decision making, learning, and life in general.
Now, who are these people? In an alphabetical order, they are – Arpit Ranka, Gaurav Sud, Jatin Khemani, Neeraj Marathe, Ninad Kunder, Samit Vartak, Shyam Sekhar, and Vitaliy Katsenelson.
While these gentlemen are well-known in the value investing circles, I would introduce them better as we move forward and also have a few others join in.
Anyways, Outside the Box won’t be just about investing. In fact, I see it evolving into something much bigger and wider and covering ideas around learning and decision making, and existential topics.
Like the inaugural post today that comes to us from Vitaliy Katsenelson , is not on investing, but on one of my favourite subjects – that of being a father.
I loved what Vitaliy has written below, and I am sure you would agree with me after you read through it.
Being a Father
by Vitaliy Katsenelson
As I get older I find that I value material things a lot less. I am still partial to gadgets, but soft things like conversations, walks – experiences – have started to matter to me a lot more than things. My writing was supposed to be about investing, how to make $2 out of $1, but existential topics have lately had a greater appeal for me than discussions about stocks or the economy.
Writing this scribble that I’m about to share with you was very difficult, because while I was writing it I kept asking myself “Am I a good father?” and I was not sure of the answer.
Being a Father?
Dana Carvey on when you most feel loved in your life:
When humans started to call me Dad. That is the word that gets me. You are famous to a billion people but only three people call you Dad!
I have a client. Her husband was a second-generation American, a Yale-educated lawyer who worked in the family business that was started by his father, a Russian immigrant. Four years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. He put up a great fight, but cancer won, and a year later he was gone, at 66.
He left $100 million, which went to his wife, son and daughter (the kids are in their late 20s). I had a meeting with the family recently. The son’s wife was a few days away from giving birth to a baby girl. As the son and I were talking about his upcoming fatherhood, I asked him what kind of father he wants to be. He said, “I don’t want to be like my father.” I was a bit surprised and asked why.
He said –
After my father passed away, his friends would tell me how he was this larger-than-life, gregarious man. I never saw that man. My father worked 16 hour days, seven days a week. He worked in the basement – he’d come up for dinner and go back down. He never spent time with me or my sister. My mom did everything, from driving us to school to taking me to football practice. I always felt like I was raised by my mother. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be there for my kids.
He went on –
My father thought till the last moment that he’d beat the cancer, and so he never expressed his true feelings to me or my sister. A year later my father’s friend told me that my father confided in him that he wished he’d spent more time with us kids.
Listening to him, I felt a sudden urge to run home and hug my children. I also felt enormous sadness. I was thinking, what if he had worked eight or maybe even ten hours a day instead of 16 and had left his kids a $10-million pile rather than $100 million? Would it really have made a difference for his kids’ lives? They are wonderful, thoughtful young adults who don’t have pretentious lifestyles (they live in $200,000 houses and drive modest cars). His son would probably trade all his money for a father who was there for him.
I was deeply impacted by this story because, as a father who runs a business, I was asking myself, am I doing the same thing to my kids? I shared my worry with a good friend. He has a struggling website design business that has not moved out of the startup phase, ten years on. He is anything but wealthy. But his bills are paid and his family doesn’t go hungry. He works eight hours a day and spends all of his free time with his three young kids.
As I was mentally comparing these two dads, my definition of what success means got completely redefined. It’s not how much money you are going to leave your children; it’s the memories you’ll leave them with.
Our appreciation of material things has a very short shelf life. We value the experiences and memories they create exponentially more. His kids may not have the fancy toys and big houses that some of their friends do. But to them those things won’t matter much; they’ll have the warm glow of love their father gave them.
As an entrepreneur you always want to grow your business larger. Your current revenue and profit are never enough; they just set the bar higher for next year. We always want more. But this “more” has a cost, a cost we don’t see at the time: time with our family. It’s my core responsibility to provide for my family, but at some point I (and maybe some of my readers) may say that more is not worth it.
P.S. An additional thought. Sometimes work for us is a game, a real-life version of Candy Crush , where money is not a currency that buys us material stuff but chips that we never intend to spend but are just there to keep count of our successes – they are the currency that moves us to the next level, and the next level. Just as we can mindlessly spend tens of hours playing Candy Crush , our work can turn from being something we do to live into an addiction.
As I am writing this I keep thinking that on one hand I was incredibly fortunate to discover my love for investing when I was in my early twenties, but also that there’s a danger in this love, which at times can conflict with my love for my family.
My own father often quoted from The Little Prince , by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
You become responsible , forever, for what you have tamed.
About the Author: Vitaliy Katsenelson is the CEO at Investment Management Associates. He is the author of two books – Active Value Investing and The Little Book of Sideways Markets .
Thank you so very much! Thank you.
It is tricky not as simple as explained above.when you have lots of money then time us valued a lot and vice versa.
I myself left a job.got into passive income spending time with family. But till the time there is a great contrast seen within the family such things are not even noticed.average middle class family still wants the money n material things.such realisation are of consequence when your networth is more than 10 cr in indian context.otherwise its chakki peesing for all.the family has to appreciate the decision.if they dont then there is no point.
I am floored absolutely by each and every word thats bring written..thanks to the author fir stirring up every possible emotions in me…thanks you.
Aayush Srivastava says
nice thoughts by Mr. Vitaliy Katsenelson.
I really appreciate Safal Niveshak’s continuous efforts to give broader meaning to “investment”. Like many others I came to this site 3 years ago looking for methods to grow my money. That I am definitely getting; but beyond that “Safal Niveshak” has immensely helped me broaden my perspective on “investment”; and keep me grounded while thinking and learning about “investing money”.
keep the good work going.
Mukesh Tolani says
As someone once put it.. “The best investment you can do for your kids is to give them time.. “
Innovative approach by Vishal to get the best from other Gurus of field- immense value add. Regardless of the difference b/w Indian and US social, economic differences, we can surely take the clue of importance of devoting time to family specifically in formative years. Thanks
Money still talks. I listen and keenly await Vishal or Vitaly because they are rich and famous. Would anyone listen to either of them if we knew that they earn a small fraction of what they currently earn. Don’t get me wrong and I am not disrespecting them. Fact is we like to listen to them because they are rich. In all likelihood, if similar advice were to be given by a man on the street, we would mostly ignore him.
This seems to be PERSPECTIVE of person who was AFFLUENT (in terms of money). I saw more ppl who complained that their Parents didn’t send them to good college or didn’t inherited them sufficient money as they didn’t earned that much. But never saw a person who said “Oh What my Father didn’t Earned much money. He spent with me a lot of time” 🙂
There are many ppl who slog > 12 hrs a day but just earn hand-to-mouth & can’t spend enough time with their children. So EARNING & SPENDING TIME with children are two diff things & can’t be related.
As some of the commenters have already pointed out, this is only one side of the coin. Until your basic necessities like food, water, shelter, clothing and Education are taken care off, there is no other option but to slog it out and work 16 hours a day as it is the most practical way.
Also there are a few who consider their work as their purpose in life. They have found passion in what they do, and it is not the money or fame that drives them, but rather the feeling of satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment that comes out of creating something new.
All these factors have to be considered before one decides to reduce his/her work time and devote more time to either his family, friends, hobbies or other entertainment pursuits.
Considering that this was the first post, I do really appreciate the initiative and have some suggestions as well :
– The post lacks a bit of completeness. It “feels” something is missing. If Mr.Vitaliy can provide more examples or scenarios and include a bit of humour, it may make the post more interesting.
– Mr. Vishal has written the introductory post but the actual post “Being a Father” should be on a separate page and not included here.
– The image on top should not be of Mr. Vishal but rather the Author’s.
Keep up the good work. And All the Best !
Karan G says
大圣电竞 is truly the one who can balance money and family
M J Mirza says
A difficult choice in life is allocating time to work or family? Sometimes life does not give you a choice to allocate more time to family, as you may need to work harder to earn more and meet the needs of the family. I worked for United Nations and got postings in Gaza & Kabul (2 years each, both being No family Duty Stations) so my 2 daughters could study in London, as they wished. Now they tell me that I was not there with them when they grew up. I could not be at both places same time, is my argument. Yet, I know they don’t love me any less. So, my take is that a Father knows what is better for family – more time or more money. Both choices are not bad.