I had a chance to hear Pullela Gopichand speak at the #ARIA #ASPIRE event a couple of days ago in Mumbai. One of the most heartwarming and soulful sessions I have personally witnessed. Here are a few highlights from the session. Once you read this, in the next section I will relate these insights to the world of investing.
Insights from Gopichand’s Talk on Life
On Success & Perseverance
- Believe 100% in your ability to win; even if you are down 0-20, know exactly how you will win the game and match back. If you lose, then tell yourself that you will come back and beat the guy in the next match. Never for once doubt yourself.
- Stay sober when success charms you; don’t be too elated. When you fail, don’t lose heart. Equanimity.
- Give all of yourself to ‘Work’ or ‘Goal’ or whatever it is. If it doesn’t work out, then trust your intuition to know when it’s over. Recognise when something is resulting in a dead end.
- If you are hanging from a cliff and can’t climb back then be brave to LET GO and jump to a different place, bounce back and start a new journey afresh. Gopichand had to stop playing active badminton at a young age due to injury and plunged into coaching.
- The winners set rules that favour themselves. For example, swimming medals are numerous in the Olympics because some countries tend to win those. Not so with say, running events. India needs to work harder at sports.
- A nation becomes great when a talented few can become the best in the world in their chosen field (quoted JRD Tata).
- Children should go for sports early on. Even though only 1 in 100 will win; the remaining 99 still gain a lot with life lessons in failure. They get the explore the length and breadth of their physical being. They get to build their character. (Aside from me, this is why I am building a startup though the failure rate is high; it pushes me to my limits, something that a cushy corporate job would not have).
- Sport is a great leveller; the boy coming in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes wearing Nike shoes learns a thing when he loses to the slum kid running barefoot. Every child must learn such lessons – respect talent, and effort, and have gratitude for one’s privilege.
- What matters is not how bad you fall, how deep you fall; what only matters is how quickly you get up. His Chinese coach told him.
- “Don’t simply trust whatever the media says.” This applies to celebrities and us general public too.
- When things are not going your way, lie low. Prepare for when the tide rises. When it does, be brave; seize the opportunity with both hands. Sky is the limit. My take: So similar to how you must seize when markets are down and not complain when they fall.
- He declined a lucrative sponsorship of a soft drink in 2001. Why? He stopped drinking soft drinks in 1997 due to health hazards; how can he sleep well by endorsing something he wouldn’t do himself? Epic and a slap on the face of those fake celebrities and sportspeople.
- He had no “Plan B”. Puts you squarely in the present. Unleashes all your energy. This is a corollary to the “what happens if your plan fails” point above. Basically don’t plan to fail. Hence no plan B. But if it fails then don’t kid yourself, recognise and move on.
- Take good care of yourself – eat well, sleep well… think well. Do your journey well. Enjoy the process/journey. Be happy wherever the journey takes you – to success or failure. It really does not matter.
- Tenets of Health (the most basic thing, in addition to happiness, and gratitude): eat well, sleep well, breathe well and ensure movement of the body.
- Be hungry at work, and happy at home. Don’t mix the two. Learn to be happy and satisfied at home no matter what happens at work.
- Even the worst situation does mean that life is still good. Have gratitude for having walked the path.
- His friend Pradeep told him (at his height of success) – a 6 ft tall person can have a 6ft bed; 7ft is luxury; 8 ft is a super luxury. But don’t hanker for a bed bigger than the neighbour’s bed.
- When his proteges left him: It is key to evaluate how things are; not the way you want them to be. A great lesson in getting real. My take: Don’t fool yourself, or don’t begrudge anything.
- If God takes away something from your life; don’t worry; He is sending something else on the way.
These are amazing life lessons from a coach—in fact, the best India has seen. Once you listen to Gopi or even simply watch him, you don’t need a “life coach.” He left a mesmerising effect on the audience which was full of wealthy and successful ‘people’ in their own right.
What Does a Smart Investor Take Away from This?
That is all great stuff on life and sports. Let me examine what this means to an investor. I will list the top 10 insights from the section above and map them to the world of investing.
Believe 100% in your ability to win; even if you are down 0-20, know exactly how you will win the game and match back. If you lose, then tell yourself that you will come back and beat the guy in the next match. Never for once doubt yourself.Investors who have a strong belief in their own abilities are more likely to make successful investment decisions. This requires doing thorough research, understanding the market and the company you are investing in, and having a long-term perspective. For example, Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in history, is known for his unwavering belief in his investment approach. He has said, “We try to buy stocks in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them because sooner or later, one will.” This reflects his confidence in his own ability to identify quality companies that are undervalued by the market.
Stay sober when success charms you; don’t be too elated. When you fail, don’t lose heart. Equanimity.Investors should maintain a level head both during periods of success and failure. When markets are performing well, it can be tempting to become overconfident and take on too much risk. Conversely, when markets are performing poorly, it can be easy to become discouraged and abandon a sound investment strategy. Maintaining equanimity requires discipline and a long-term perspective. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused global stock markets to plummet in March 2020, many investors panicked and sold off their holdings. However, those who maintained equanimity and stayed invested have since seen strong returns as markets rebounded.
Give all of yourself to ‘Work’ or ‘Goal’ or whatever it is. If it doesn’t work out, then trust your intuition to know when it’s over. Recognize when something is resulting in a dead end.Investors need to be fully committed to their investment goals, whether that is generating long-term wealth or achieving a specific financial objective. However, it is important to recognize when an investment is not working out and to have the discipline to cut losses and move on. For example, if a company’s financial performance deteriorates significantly or the market conditions change, it may be time to sell the investment and look for better opportunities elsewhere.
If you are hanging from a cliff and can’t climb back then be brave to LET GO and jump to a different place, bounce back and start a new journey afresh. Gopichand had to stop playing active badminton at a young age due to injury, and plunged into coaching.Investors should be prepared to make bold decisions when necessary, even if it means accepting a short-term loss or a change in direction. For example, if an investor has held a stock for a long time but the company’s growth prospects have diminished, it may be necessary to sell the stock and invest in a new opportunity. It is important to avoid being anchored to past investment decisions and to be open to new possibilities.
The winners set rules that favour themselves. Example: swimming medals are numerous in Olympics because some countries tend to win those. Not so with say, running events. India needs to work harder at sport.Investors should identify and focus on opportunities that are most likely to generate the best returns for them. This requires understanding their own strengths and weaknesses and identifying investment opportunities that play to their strengths. For example, if an investor is particularly skilled at analyzing technology companies, they may want to focus on investing in that sector rather than trying to be a generalist.
Sport is a great leveller; the boy coming in a chauffeur driven Mercedes wearing Nike shoes learns a thing when he loses to the slum kid running barefoot. Every child must learn such lessons – respect talent, effort, have gratitude for one’s privilege.In the world of investing, this lesson can be applied to the importance of humility and recognizing that wealth and success do not necessarily equate to superior investing abilities. Just because an investor has a lot of money to invest or comes from a privileged background, it does not mean they will be successful in the stock market. Respect for talent, effort, and gratitude for one’s financial privilege can help investors maintain perspective and make wise investment decisions.
What matters is not how bad you fall, how deep you fall; what only matters is how quickly you get up.In investing, losses are inevitable, but what distinguishes successful investors from unsuccessful ones is their ability to bounce back from those losses quickly and learn from their mistakes. Successful investors do not dwell on their losses but instead focus on adapting their investment strategies to minimize future losses and increase their chances of success.
When things are not going your way, lie low. Prepare for when the tide rises. When it does, be brave; seize the opportunity with both hands.In the world of investing, it’s important to recognize that markets are cyclical and that there will be periods of volatility and uncertainty. Rather than panicking and making rash investment decisions during times of market downturns, investors should prepare for these events by building a diversified portfolio and holding a portion of their portfolio in cash or other safe assets. When the tide turns and markets start to recover, investors should be brave and seize the opportunities presented by undervalued stocks and other investment opportunities.
Declined a lucrative sponsorship of a soft drink in 2001. Why? He stopped drinking soft drinks in 1997 due to the health hazards; how can he sleep well by endorsing something he wouldn’t do himself?This lesson can be applied to the importance of ethical investing. Just as Pullela Gopichand refused to endorse a product he did not believe in, investors can choose to invest in companies that align with their personal values and beliefs. For example, an investor who is passionate about environmentalism may choose to invest in companies that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness.
Have no “Plan B”. Puts you squarely in the present. Unleashes all your energy. This is a corollary to the “what happens if your plan fails” point above. Basically don’t plan to fail. But if it fails then don’t kid yourself, recognize and move on.In investing, having a well-defined investment plan is crucial to achieving long-term financial goals. However, it’s important to recognize that plans can fail and unexpected events can occur. While it’s important to have a plan, investors should also be prepared to adapt and pivot their investment strategies when necessary. This may mean cutting losses on underperforming stocks or shifting to new investment opportunities that better align with their financial goals. The key is to remain focused on the ultimate goal and not get too attached to a specific investment strategy or plan.