March 30, 2016

Unmistakable Signs You are Working in a Company of Toxic Clowns

Working in a company full of toxic clowns is quite an amusing experience.

A clown is "a person whose words or actions provoke or are intended to provoke amusement or laughter".

A toxic clown does amuse but spreads lot of negativity and instills a political culture in the organization.

The toxic clowns are utterly unprofessional, carry big egos and generally roam around in the company in a distinctive style.

Here are some unmistakable signs that you are working in a company of toxic clowns:
  • The clowns at senior and other positions have been there since the very beginning. They are unfit to find a job elsewhere and are stuck (doing what they have been doing all the while).
  • The clowns form a close-knit coterie and go for lunch together discussing silly things in a silly manner.
  • The senior clowns are epitome of foolishness and narrow-mindedness. Their lack of exposure to varied organizational cultures is evident and obvious to any outsider but to them.
  • The senior clowns make unfair and non-transparent decisions. Their behavior and actions are shrouded in secrecy and ulterior motives.
  • The head clown sees it all, but is master of hands-off management or no management style and chooses to keep quiet.
  • The senior clowns protect each others' backs unlike a professional company where senior executives protect the organization's back.
  • Some of the senior clowns are totally disconnected from the ground realities and are adept at saying "yes sir" to the other senior clowns.
  • Some of the senior clowns push their responsibilities to the others in the company. They play behind-the-door politics to show the lesser mortals in bad light.
  • Some of the senior clowns carry a holier-than-thou attitude. They think of the lesser mortals as lowly pests and show off their arrogance in every possible manner.
  • Some of the senior clowns act like behind-the-back cry babies and brain-wash other senior clowns as well as the head clown against some the folks they have personal grudges against.
  • Some of the clowns assume that the company is there because of them and, more dangerously, for them.
  • The senior clowns carry out unnecessary surveys in the name of initiatives and are always desperate to create ways and means to take the credit for any initiative in the company.
  • Some of the clowns use expletives and unprofessional language. That is supposed to be a cool thing to do and shows the rotten culture of the company.
  • Some of the clowns give silly feedback such as "you don't take the cake" which shows the utter lack of professionalism and childishness of the clowns in such a company.

March 23, 2016

Jaipur, Ajmer and Pushkar - Some Photographs

Here are some photographs from a recent family trip to Jaipur, Ajmer and Pushkar.

These capture some of the historical monuments, tourist spots and landscape that is so very unique to this part of India.














March 13, 2016

Your Life is Lucky If You are Getting to Live It as You Would Want to Live It

The title of this post "Your Life is Lucky If You are Getting to Live It as You Would Want to Live It" looks to be too simple. It, however, carries a subtle yet very profound meaning.

Lot of people who are born, live their lives in "some manner" and finally die and depart.

At the point in life when a person is staring into the eyes of death and can sense the impending end of his life, imagine the person thinks of his whole life as a flashback scene at the end of a movie. If the flashback makes the person regret that he would have wanted to live his life in a manner other than the "some manner" he lived it, then it is clear that his life was not lucky.

A lucky life is one which embraces death happily and has no regrets at the point of death.

It is important, therefore, for you to find your true calling in life and work towards living it the way you would want to live it.

Unfortunately, you have to grapple with the harshest financial reality of life - you got to pay your bills. So if you can't find your true calling in life at this moment because of financial reasons, you should first work towards becoming financially free and then work towards finding your true calling in life and get to live it the way you would want to live it.

In case you haven't still figured out how you would want to live your life, don't fret. Carry on with whatever you may be doing right now. Use your current job to collect the seed capital to get financially free while you continue to search for your true calling in life. And the moment you find it, quit your current job and get going with the way you would really want to live it.

Remember though, your time in this universe is finite and would come to end some day, not too far distant in the future. Also try to visualize how you would feel if you were to die today and play the flashback of you life at the point you would be dead.

The above will help you to stay positive and look at whatever maybe happening in your life right now with a broader perspective with the end-game - your death - constantly staring at you. You entirely owe it to yourself to have a lucky life where you get to live it as you would want to live it.

Any perceived loss or embarrassment in your life in pursuing to live it the way you would want to live it is, in the real or any other sense, totally irrelevant at the end.

So just go for it. There is nothing more true than this that "Your Life is Lucky If You are Getting to Live It as You Would Want to Live It".

March 9, 2016

What Makes Minimalism a Powerful Way to Live Life?

In the last few decades, and especially so in the last few years, many people have experimented with minimalism and shared their wonderful and life-changing experiences.

So what is minimalism?

The meaning of minimalism is given below
(courtesy: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/minimalism).

minimalism

(ˈmɪnɪməˌlɪzəm)
n
1. (Art Movements) another name for minimal art
2. (Music, other) a type of music based on simple elements and avoiding elaboration or embellishment
3. design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect

The above does not directly explain the meaning of minimalism.

However, it does provide a good insight into the underlying essence of minimalism  - "based on simple elements and avoiding elaboration or embellishment".

In the above phrase "simple" should be read as "essential" and "elaboration or embellishment" should be read as "clutter".

So minimalism is a way to live your life  based on essential elements while avoiding clutter.

It is important to note that what is essential and what is clutter needs to be defined by you based on your unique understanding of life and your unique life situation.

And what makes minimalism truly a powerful way to live your life?

The key point in minimalism is to focus on experiences rather than accumulating stuff.

Another idea is to cut down the clutter in your life, adopt a simple life, consume less of stuff all around us, stay out of debt, become financially free and eventually enjoy life in a relaxed way.

The true purpose of life is not to accumulate stuff but to experience the journey of life such that when you reach the point of your death, you carry no regrets and are more than happy to embrace death.

Minimalism makes it possible for you to reach a state of mind where you can depart with a content mind and a free spirit. And this is perhaps the true purpose of your, and everybody's, life.

March 6, 2016

Book Review - The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

This book is a highly recommended reading in the area of personal finance. It's a great book that goes deeper into the way some very basic and simple principles of personal finance can be used to become financially free.

The book basically dwells upon what it calls as "Seven Cures for a Lean Purse" and then suggest ways to turn a lean purse into a fat purse. Acquiring fat purse in this context means becoming rich.

Here are some excellent paragraphs from the book that also summarize the purpose and some of the key lessons for its readers.

The First Cure - Start thy purse to fattening

For every ten coins thou places within thy purse take out for use but nine. Thy purse will start to fatten at once and its increasing weight will feel good in thy hand and bring satisfaction to thy soul.

This, my students, was the first cure I did discover for my lean purse: For each ten coins I put in, to spend but nine.

The Second Cure - Control thy expenditures

Therefore, engrave upon the clay each thing for which thou desireth to spend. Select those that are necessary and others that are possible through the expenditure of nine-tenths of thy income, Cross out the rest and consider them but a part of that great multitude of desires that must go unsatisfied and regret them not. 

This, then, is the second cure for a lean purse. Budget thy expenses that thou mayest have coins to pay for thy necessities, to pay for the enjoyments and to gratify thy worthwhile desires without spending more than nine-tenths of thy earnings.

The Third Cure - Make thy gold multiply

Gold in the purse is gratifying to own and satisfieth a miserly soul but earns nothing. The gold we may retain from our earnings is but the start. The earnings it will make shall build our fortunes. I tell you, my students, a man's wealth is not in the coins he carries in his purse; it is the income he buildeth, the golden stream that continually floweth into his purse and keepeth it always bulging. That is what every man desireth. That is what thou, each one of thee desireth; an income that continueth to come whether thou work or travel.

This then is the third cure for a lean purse: to put each coin to laboring that it may reproduce its kind even as the flocks of the field and help bring to thee income, a stream of wealth that shall flow constantly into thy purse.

The Fourth Cure - Guard thy treasures from loss

Misfortune loves a shining mark. Gold in a man's purse must be guarded with firmness, else it be lost. Thus it is wise that we must secure a small amount and learn to protect them before the Gods entrust us with larger. 

This, then, is the fourth cure for a lean purse, and of great importance if it prevent thy purse from being emptied once it become well filled. Guard thy treasure from loss by investing only where thy principal is safe, where it may be reclaimed if desirable, and where thou will not fail to collect a fair rental. Consult with the wise men. Secure the advice of those experienced in the profitable holding of gold. Let their wisdom protect thy treasure from unsafe investments.

The Fifth Cure - Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment

Then will thy heart be glad because thou wilt own in thy own right a valuable property and thy only cost will be the king's taxes. Thus come many blessings to the man who owneth his own house. And greatly will it reduce his cost of living, making available more of his earnings for pleasures and the gratification of his desires.

This, then, is the fifth cure of the lean purse: Own thy own home.

The Sixth Cure - Insure a future income

Therefore do I say that it behooves a man to make preparation for a suitable income in the days to come, when he is no longer young, and to make preparations for his family should he be no longer with them to comfort and support them. He should plan certain investments or provision that may endure safety for many years, yet will be available when the time arrives which he so wisely anticipated.

This, then, is the sixth cure for a lean purse. Provide in advance for the needs of thy growing age and the protection of thy family.

The Seventh Cure - Increase thy ability to earn

In learning to secure his one definite small desire, he hath trained himself to secure a larger one. This is the process by which wealth is accumulated: first in small sums, then in larger ones as a man learns and becomes more capable. As a man perfecteth himself in his calling even so doth his ability to earn increase.

Thus the seventh and last remedy for a lean purse is to cultivate thy powers, to study and become wiser, to become more skillful, to so act as to respect thyself. Thereby shalt thou acquire confidence in thy self to achieve thy carefully considered desires.

March 4, 2016

10 Quick Rules to Become Financially Free Fast

What is financial freedom? How to become financially free? How to attain financial freedom? How to break free from financial worries? What are the ways to achieve financial freedom? What are the steps to reach financial freedom?

These are some of the questions that often get asked by someone who is looking to quit the rat race.

Being in a position to be able to quit the rat race without impacting the standard of living you are used to is a strong reason why you (and in fact most people) would want to become financially free.

Financial freedom, in addition, is also thought to lead the way to a better quality of life, more time at your disposal, ability to choose whether or not to work and a full stop to living in the constant fear of loosing your monthly paycheck.

About paycheck Nassim Nicholas Taleb so rightly said, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

While it is certainly important to become financially free, it is, however, many times more important to become financially free fast.

What's the point in becoming financially free when you become 80 or 90 years old. Ideally, the goal should be reach financial freedom by the age of 40 to 45.

Here are 10 quick rules not just to become financially free but also to become financially free fast.

Rule 10. Adopt minimalism and cut down needs

From this very moment onward in your life, stop buying anything. And anything means anything. If you only want it, you can actually live without it and hence do not need to buy it. You should actually need it before you buy it.

So buy something only if you really need it. Also see if you can cut down your needs too. The lesser needs you have the better placed you are to become financially free fast.

Rule 9. Cut expenses on needs to bare minimum

This is slightly different from the above as it refers to buying what you need but at the lowest cost you are able to get it. However ensure whatever you buy is usable.

Throwing away something that is not of good enough quality would eventually lead to loosing money.

Rule 8. Protect the accumulated capital

Guard your capital from losses and erosion. Making less profit is always better than loosing capital in the quest for higher returns. Diversification can help in this matter greatly.

It is useful to remember that a bird in the hand is worth more than two birds in the bush. Slow and steady wins the race is as true today as it ever was.

Rule 7. Remain physically and mentally fit

Physical and mental health would allow you to not only cut down unnecessary expenses on doctors and medicines but also the time saved can be used to increase your earnings.

The opportunity cost of physical and mental health can make a huge difference to your net worth over several years time-frame. In addition, it is always better to enjoy the wealth you accumulate for as long as you can and good health will allow you to do that.

Rule 6. Spend only the returns from your investment

Never  spend the money you earned first time. Invest it to earn some returns and spend only the returns. For example, if you buy a stock and get some dividend, spend only the dividend and not the invested capital.

You should let the capital grow gradually to give increasingly higher returns. However, do keep in mind Rule 8 always.

Rule 5. Save part of the returns from your investment

While Rule 6 says spend only the returns, Rule 5 says don't spend all the return, save some. The retained earnings should be invested to augment the invested capital.

This also ensures the gap between what you earn and what you spend keeps on widening over time and hence in case of a situation  where your earning from some sources stops, you would continue to be financially free and would never be forced to return to rejoin the rat race.

Rule 4. Become philosophical about money 

You should reduce your craving for more and more money and adopt a philosophical outlook about money. It is true that "the more money you have the less it seems" which means there is no end to how rich any person can become.

The purpose of money is to make sure you can spend it on things you need to. Money by itself cannot be consumed directly.

Rule 3. Stop comparing with others

Focus only on your needs and never get swayed by how much money others have and what their needs are. What is a need and want for one person may be different from what is a need and want for another person.

So stop comparing and focus on what your needs are and how much money you need to fulfill those needs. 

Rule 2. Live as simple a life as possible

If you live a simple life you would anyway need less money. No expensive holidays, no costly hotels, no fancy dresses, no swanky cars is just a beginning of how you can start living a simple life.

Remember, however, if you want to splurge and spoil yourself at times (though not too frequently) the money has to come from what you get from Rule 6.

Rule 1. Track where your money comes from and goes out

Maintain detailed records of where money comes from and goes out. You should know how much money would come to you every month minus your job earnings.

Your monthly expenses, accumulated capital, remaining life (in number of months) and likely interest rate can be easily used to derive whether you are financially free or not.

You should track this number very closely to calculate how many more months you need to suffer before you can quit the rat race, hopefully forever.

Rule 0. Build the seed capital fast and start early

And, last but not the least, there is this hidden rule, Rule 0, that should never be forgotten.

Money begets money so you should focus on building the seed capital first. You aim would be to build a big corpus gradually and eventually but the starting point is the seed capital.

In addition, time and interest rates are the two biggest friends of any investor as both drive the compounding effect.

Interest rates are driven by market but you can choose to drive the time factor by starting early the game of investing so as to be able to play it over a really long-term which will certainly provide you an edge and undoubtedly work to your advantage in the end.

And as you do this never forget Rule 8!

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