The Re-education of Nikhil Pahwa

Well, now that the exams are over, it’s time to get back to reading and education (as opposed to studying). After college finished in October- after a heavy duty, 14 hrs a day saturating workload during the capstone course – I took a break from management studies. Eight months of abstinence, and I’ve forgotten many many things. I thought I’d prepare a list of books(from the ones that I have) I have to read and sites I have to go through to get back on track:

K@W: Major backlog of reading.
HBS: The Magazine and the Working Knowledge site.
McKinsey Quarterly: Major backlog of reading.
Mankiw on Economics : ’tis a blog I am addicted to, and have been reading it regularly, in spite of the exams. What I love is the way Prof. Mankiw discusses current events and simplifies the concepts that Indian texts make complex. Highly recommended even if you’re not interested in Economics.
Trendwatching and Springwise: Business trends and ideas
Adrants: Ad fun da. 😀
PSFK: Marketing updates

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: Yeah. I STILL haven’t read it.
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell: See comment above
The Stock Market Wizards by Jack Schwager. I also need to read a basic intro to Futures and Options. I’m aware that its a form of hedging, but it’s a little too risky for me to attempt to trade without an adequate foundation.
The New Buffetology by Mary Buffet: had this book for three years now and still at the basic level. This book, still, is among the most useful that I’ve come across because it approaches investing in a logical, simplified manner. A beginners guide to investing, I guess, and not for trading.
The Witch Doctors by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge: On making sense of Management Gurus. Recco’ed by Shekhar
Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar: On the hostile takeover of RIR Nabisco. Again, recco’ed by Shekhar.
How to read a balance sheet*: These are little known ILO publications that are very useful. There seems to be only one copy at Amazon, and at $31. I’ve got an ancient copy that my dad bought 20-30 years ago, and another on marketing. Still, these books are possibly the best for studying. If anyone knows where I can get them in Delhi – do tell.

So, this is what I plan to read. There’s lots more, but it can wait. Now about what I really really want to read –

Big Trouble by Dave Barry
Memoirs of a Mangy Lover by Groucho Marx
“Rommel? Gunner Who?” by Spike Milligan
Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard
(This is going to be a long list, so I’ll stop now)

*- ‘Balance Sheet’ reminds me of something that Dad had told me about a few years ago: when prohibition was enforced in India, several small breweries went out of bijiness. Vittal Mallya (Vijay Mallya’s father) began buying them on the basis of the value that their balance sheet held. A contrarian call. 😀


  • Wikipedia has a list of popular business books. Reminds me that my brand new copy of 22 Immutable Laws of Branding book on branding by Al Ries got burnt. There’s so much that can be read, and so little time.
  • Prof. Mankiw had posted a summer reading list. He says: Here are ten very different books I like that are fun enough that you would not be embarrassed (well, not too embarrassed) reading them at the beach
  • I’m now accepting (business) book recommendations.

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  1. very true. F&O- are just like double edged sword. one needs huge cash to pay for the mark 2 market margin if your view misfires. but is a big addiction. you made hell lot of money in very short time and start to think same would happen every time. one lesson that i have learnt- if long in futures always buy a put option.

  2. if you can get it, david halberstam’s the reckoning. a superb account of how the jap screwed the american car industry.

    more on cars. “where the suckers moon” by randall rothenburg. subaru has just entered the us. and is looking for an ad campaign that can save them from automotive anonymity. the book is partly an account of the ad pitches the company sits through, each from an agency that exemplifies a certain approach towards advertising — long copy vs mnemonics vs edgy… and then, about the process of creating the campaign itself. the best book i have read on advertising. bar none.

    on manufacturing. 21st century jet. making of the boeing 777. the first plane to be designed entirely with CAD.

    anything by drucker.

    the predictors. you will love this. a bunch of chaos theory whizkids use that to crack the stockmarkets.

    anything by michael lewis (especially since you seem to be liking barbarians at the gate).

    hope this helps…

  3. whitelight: man, I’m not taking any risks. I think the media focus is going to scare a lot of people off the markets forever, at a time when they should be looking at a long term. I’M on the verge of panicking now, and my dad’s also remained in the market only because of me. I still believe that the market will fall to and fluctuate around a fundamentally justifiable level in relation to developed markets.

    Shekhar: Thanks. Suddenly things gone out of whack and all the reading has been put on hold for research and study.

  4. Dude, if you are a real investor you should never get spooked by falling markets. Like you said you have been in the market since the last five years. Do you think it is worth panicking and getting out now, when we are so close to the bottom!? My dad has been in the markets since 1985. He has seen some hellish times and has never sold. Stocks like Gujarat Ambuja, SBI, Hindalco, Saw pipes, Shree Cements & Jindal Steel were bought at issue price by my father. All these stocks have compunded annually by average 32-35% in the last decade and a half!!!! 25,000 rupees of today’s money(after adjusting for inflation) invested 15 years back is worth 10 lakhs now(and was 16 lakhs at 12500 levels). Nothing can match equities in the long term. And trust Peter Lynch when he says

    “I’ve found that when the market’s going down and you buy funds wisely, at some point in the future you will be happy. You won’t get there by reading ‘Now is the time to buy.”

    Not only happy, but very proud too.

  5. �It’s absolute crap that people need to spend 60 hours a week analyzing companies, … All you need are a few stocks to make money. If you find one stock a year, that’s plenty. When I was running Magellan I had to find one a week but that was because I had billions of dollars. The average person needs only a few good stocks in a lifetime.�

    Another Lynch classic

  6. My initial reaction is one of panic. Then I call up my RM and get his take, which is always a short term one. Then I think to myself – “I’m already in the green. Whatever I have is a low-risk blue chip. The advantage of a correction is that the when it recovers, money that had moved out of mid caps and small gets transferred to the heavy weights.”

    I keep going back to a statement I read in the ‘the new buffetology’ – if you own a business that is solid and is doing well, why would you want to sell off?

    I’ve realised that I’m more of a bear than a bull. I’m keen on bottom fishing, but for the life of me, I don’t know what the bottom is. I don’t think anyone does. The earlier perception was the mutual funds can’t sit on cash for too long, so the market is going to recover. Just wondering – have redemption pressures hit Indian MF’s?

    At the end of the day, this is a consequence of global meltdown and fast money being pulled out. We’ll survive. Thanks. 🙂

    My dad bought Hero Honda at the IPO, and we sold it a couple of years ago because we’d set a target. I got badly burnt because of hasty selling after the pre-budget KP Rally at the beginning of this century, where I bought in without much thought. I keep hearing about tuiton fees to the market, and I guess that was where I paid mine.

    As much as I’ll panic, I’ll probably only take the money out if and when I need it. Still in the green… and very very very proud of my faith in Reliance, when I picked it up at 479 at the height of the Anil-Mukesh cold war.

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