I cried

Few facts first.
  • I am 34. Will be 35 this year. In other words, I will be past my prime in a few months.
  • My bank balance as we speak is 39000 and change. And no, I dont own a house. Or a car. I do own some stock.
  • I have no clue what I want to do in life. At different times in life I have wanted to make software, produce movies, become a travel writer, be an investor, teach, play poker professionally, play cricket, become a politician, make documentaries, be a twitter celebrity, become a publisher author, an adrenaline junkie and I dont even recall half of the things! A bucket list is here
Why am I talking about all this? Because I just a documentary on Warren E Buffett and at a point in the documentary, I cried. Will come back to it in a bit. 

For the time being, if you are alive and you think you want to be a better person, you have to see it. Its on youtube here. Dont know how long its gonna stay there. Do see it while its around. Content like (expensive to produce, insightful etc) belongs in the public domain. Never know why museums are ticketed so high. In fact one of the things that I want to do in life is to create such things. That allow humans to learn more. 

Am digressing. 

Coming back to the documentary. I've known of WEB since 2004 (atleast) when Prof. Bakshi first talked about him at MDI. And since then I have consumed numerous pieces of text about him. I am, what they say, a fan. And I adulate him all the time. 

So, when I heard about the documentary, I did not think much of it. After all whatever WEB says can be easily summarized in few lines. I was half-expecting it to be boring and yet another "fan" made documentary that will recycle facts and snippets from other previously published pieces of text. 

But I couldn't be more wrong.

The documentary had original footage and interviews with the most important people in his life - Charlie, Melinda & Bill, his children and couple of friends (including Carol Loomis). I got the rare look into his office. There were pics from his family album, footage from his personal archives and above all - interview with him, on things that are important to him. For the first time, I saw WEB as a human being. I saw his private life like I've never seen before.

It just made the demigod more human.

So, in the documentary he talks about things like Coke, Float, Bill Gates, Philanthropy, Moats, See's Candies, his family, his team, various companies that he's bought and most importantly, about himself.

While watching and I could be wrong here, I realised that the relationship with his wife probably was strained. After all he was busy reading all the time. And she admits that she and WEB differed on their respective approaches towards philanthropy. She believed that she had to give more money, sooner. He believed in the power of compounding and wanted to wait out as long as he could, before he gave it away. In the end, he got what he wanted, like he has always had.

And when the documentary talks about his decision to give his wealth away. And when they showed that press conference when he signs those letters to give away his wealth to his children and Bill Gates, I broke. I cried. With tears and flowing nose (despite my nasal polyps) and all that.

I dont know why I ended up in tears. Probably the gravity of the decision? The impact that his life would have on the world? Probably it was his greatest gift to his wife (that I think came too late and WEB would say, came just at the right time)? Probably because his life is in contrast to mine and Ive been thinking a lot about mine lately.

This is where I talk about me. Rant.

Compared to WEB who is super-focused at what he does, I am all over the place. And not that I havent tried to come back to one thing, its just that it feels stuffy when I do that. I am not myself. May be I am not supposed to be focused. And like Sheldon says, "we will never know."

I dont know what I want to do. I am competitive but I am not like WEB. I want to make the money - to use it as a tool to work towards making the world a better place. And how do I make the world better? I dont know yet. Neither did WEB. But WEB had the tools - reading and focus - and the understanding of things like reputation, compounding and other things. And most importantly he was in the game to come out a winner. And he knew what game he wanted to play. So, he played the game. And everyday he trained himself along the way (and continues to do so, even at the age of 86). And eventually he reached a point where money became unimportant. And then he figured (thanks to his wife and other things in his environment) how he planned to make the world better. Wow! What a life! What a person! 

For me, it I need to know the game I ought to be playing and then honing the skills till I have a superior, unfair disadvantage over others. So that I can make money.

Except that I am 35 and I have bills to pay. 

The other thing. Do I even need to do this? Do I really want to do this? Why do I even want to make money? If my memory serves right, I have always wanted to be the richest man in the world. I wanted to be a dollar millionaire at 25 and a dollar billionaire by the time I am 35. I actually told this to a friend at MDI (Saumya J - hope she remembers). Another 5 odd months to go. I am worth about 15000 dollars. About a gazillion times less than what I had planned. 

Compare me to 2 of the 5 people that I spend most of my time with. Last night I went on a drive with them. Both are pretty successful, on all counts. Happily married (to two wonderful women), each(family) has a kid. Both own cars, properties that run into crores (almost dollar millionaires), they have fulfilling careers, are reasonably fit and suffer from no large, life-threatening ailments to speak of. Days are full of mindless action that a high-performing naukri entails and weekends are spent with family and watching movies and running errands and there are holidays twice a year. And they both seemed pretty oblivious to fact that life could mean more (they are, as WEB says, "sleepwalking through life" - which is not wrong, but that is not for me). And I seemed lost for words to explain what that more could be. 

I saw this glimpse into WEB's life and I immediately knew what that more is. More is spending time doing things that you are uniquely positioned to do - outcome of Ovarian Lottery. In my case, more time I spend with life and things, more I realise that my purpose is teaching. Its mentoring. Its entertaining. Getting people to achieve their dreams. Ideally a combination of all four. I just need to find a way to reach a point where I could do it at a scale that impacts billions of people. Lately, I have started saying that by the time I die, my work has to impact a billion people. I dont know the shape of my work and I hope I will find it as I go along. Just that it sucks that I am 35 already and there is that looming threat of an unpredictable end. Often when you expect it the least.

Anyhow, a few other things that I am taking away from WEB and the documentary are:
  1. Health. He gives an analogy that if you could get just one car for the rest of your life, how will you take care of it? Your body is that car. Will you not take care of it? 
  2. Focus. Though I am not sure I best exemplify this. So I am going to leave it at that.
  3. Relationships. I need to have a Susie around. Though I am not sure about kids. 
  4. Compounding. If there is one thing that you could take away from his life, it would be compounding. Not just in terms of money but other things. You write everyday. You workout everyday. The key is everyday. Build on top of other work.  I dont know if there is anything that I own that is compounding. 
  5. Reputation. Enough said. 
  6. Purpose. WEB made all the money in the world that he could. And then he gave it all away. Why was he doing it? What made him tick? I think the answer is that he was super competitive. More than anyone else. And he enjoyed it. And thats what made him do what he did. And when he gave it all away, he would have thought of no other, better way to use that money. The best part? Rather than he getting into things, he gave it to people he thought were best suited to use it! (circle of competence).
  7. Death. Mortality is a very very real thing. And with each passing day, we are getting closer to it. And that means, each passing day, you have to try harder. And we ought to do things that make us happier, better and more fulfilled. 
That's it.

Do see the documentary. Its worth its weight in gold. 

No comments:

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?