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Category: money

NWL

In the amazing Netflix show The Crown, there’s an interesting scene. The show itself chronicles Queen Elizabeth’s life and her ascension to the throne at a relatively young age. I don’t know if that’s what the entire show is about – we’re only on season 1, and there are three more to go at least. But soon after her coronation, her mother (now the ex-queen Mary) feels quite suffocated and heads off to Scotland to be with some friends and to get some air (riding horses by the seaside, hiking in amazingly scenic landscapes, you get the drift). In this particular scene, the ex-Queen is asked by her friends, “Has it been very difficult?” To which she replies thus:

"I don't want to sound self-piteous but loss has followed loss. First and foremost, the loss of a husband.
Then the loss of a home, having to leave the palace. The loss of motherhood, as daughters become adults.
Loss of a routine, a sense of purpose. The loss of a Crown. Imagine, 17 years' experience as Queen and being the head of the family. Bertie was a wonderful husband and father, but he needed a great deal of help as King.
And then we lose him and, at precisely the moment when they should be giving me more to do, stop me falling into despair, they take it all away... They put it all into the hands of a girl who's totally unequipped for it."

If this were to be on Twitter, people would tag it as #firstworldproblems. Of course, a bereavement is never easy. But it also shows that power – especially got from position – is impossible to let go of. What she went through, every human being must go through as they age – whether queen or not. It begs the question – do we even realize when our needs becomes wants, and our wants become luxuries?

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Not just a librarian

We learn and discuss much about giving and its importance. Yet we may be gnawed by doubt at the time of the act. Are we giving away too much? Does the recipient really deserve my generosity? What if s/he uses it for the wrong reasons? What if they turn out to be a fake, a hoax amongst hoaxes?

Meet Mr Palam Kalyanasundaram from South India. Probably around 75 years old now, he worked as a librarian for 30 years, and donated every single rupee he earned from it to charity. 100% of his income – wow what a feat. How did he sustain himself? By waiting tables at a nearby restaurant, and doing other odd jobs.

He was awarded the title of Man of the Millennium by the USA, being the first person in the world to give away his entire earnings for social causes, and given a gift of INR 300 mn. All the money was of course immediately donated to orphanages and to children’s educational funds. He had earned INR 1 mn as pension, which too he donated to the needy.

Mr Kalyanasundaram in an interview has said that there is nothing in this world that is more fulfilling or brings more happiness than donating one’s own hard earned income to charity. When he can do 100%, despite not being a billionaire or millionaire, surely we can do 10%?

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Bubble territory

The financial markets have gone crazy, is the view that many people share today. Excesses of all kinds have made their way to the fore. Bubbles and manias are in the pink-paper headlines often.

The base is always strong. It’s what piles up, that can be…way off. Say a company worth $100, has a 100 shares each worth 1$, and 99 of these do not trade. But that 1 remaining share that does trade, has now found a new buyer. That buyer is willing to pay 50$, for just that one share. You know the new value of the company now? Even though only that 1 new share was traded at $50, all the 100 shares are now implied to be worth $50 as well. This makes the value of the entire company = $50 x 100 shares = $5,000! All because of one trade. The same is true on the downside too. If just the one share was exchanged at $0.5, the company would be valued at $0.5 x 100 shares = $50. This is how extremes get created in the market. A few crazy trades, and suddenly the tide of sentiment has seen a tectonic shift.

It’s not too different with human beings. We too have a solid base. But we let the most recent events – like someone shouting at us, or not believing us, or our inability to clear an exam or such – to define our whole lives. These stray incidents should be seen exactly as that – one-offs. But we extrapolate this to our entire existence, and go into insane levels of depression and anxiety. The opposite is true as well, as we may extrapolate some recent success and take it to the moon, with no ego in check.

We are a sum total of all our life experiences, not just the ones we came across today or yesterday. This is good to keep in mind, so that our moods are always cheerful, and balanced.

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Oh killer!

A slow-walking saint hit a metal box with his walking cane. He looked down to see what his cane had touched, and realized it was a treasure chest, partly open. He immediately exclaimed “Oh killer!”, and then went along his way.

A few hours later, two men came there from opposite directions, and laid eyes on the chest at the same time. Each knew that the other had seen the treasure too. What to do? They decided to divide the contents amongst them. “Total 100 coins, 50 for you, 50 for me.” Great, that’s settled. Then they realized that the treasure chest itself had not been divided. How to divide it? Not possible. They bickered for a while, and then decided to resolve the matter the following day because it was already getting dark.

One man said to the other, “Hey, it’s getting dark, and we’re both hungry. Why don’t you go to the nearby town, eat some food, and pack some takeaway for me as well? I’ll safeguard your 50 and my 50 till you are back.” The other man retorted, “You think I was born yesterday? I’m not budging from here. If you want, you go and get the food!” The first man relented, went to the town, had his fill and came back with some food. As soon as he arrived, the second man stabbed him with a knife. The bleeding wouldn’t stop, and soon enough he lay dead. The stabber sat down relieved that all the 100 coins were now his, and ate to his heart’s content the food brought to him by the other man. In a short while, he too lay dead, as the food had been poisoned.

Hours later, the same slow walking saint came by, looked at the 100 coins, and the two dead bodies, and exclaimed, “Oh killer!”, and walked on.

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Divorced from reality – part 2

Twitter has been awash with memes and posts on the recent divorce announcement of a tech mogul.

No more comments on that.

But one thing that did come up was an interesting thread written on the “gradations of the rich”. The premise is that we usually think rich = awesome = same benefits. But one guy has gone into more detail. All ‘rich’ is not equal. Pretty interesting:

  1. Net worth US$ 10m to 30m – all needs met, fly first class, 4/5 star stays, some business stress, not yet ultra HNI
  2. NW US$ 30m to 100m – fly private jet, multiple global residences, own big company, own cool cars, socialize with elite
  3. NW US$ 100m to 1bn – all of above + socialize with movie stars, corporate elite, any car you want. But very hard to find family and friends who love you for who you are, i.e. irrespective of your money
  4. NW US$ 1bn+ – You can literally buy access, influence, experiences, impact, respect and even time (by saying no to things/anyone that were otherwise not possible). But even at this level, one thing you cannot buy is love. Why? Because to love someone means to sacrifice for that person. But all the money you have means you never need to sacrifice anything. Probably explains why the top 10 richest people in the world have 13 divorces amongst them

In any case, it is not easy to be at the top of this list, always having to look over your shoulder. Thoughts?

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Divorced from reality

The world’s richest man? Divorced.

The world’s second richest man – divorced thrice previously.

The world’s third richest man – also getting a divorce now.

No this is not to suggest that if one is super rich, then hanging on to the spouse is difficult. It may very well be the case. But that is besides the point.

Each of these individuals must have gone through some pretty trying times – having a rough relationship can make one just feel like running away from it all. To where? To nowhere, but just away from everything. Can you imagine running away from everything when the whole world is watching you, tracking your every move?

The questions we need to ask are – how much money is useful in success? what is success to us? If we make a lot of money, but struggle with family life, is that still considered success? Is your success defined by you, or by those around you? Do you define your success based on what you want, or based on what you think others want for you? Do others really want anything for you? Time to ponder…

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