Sunday, October 12, 2008


Values –

I have always been fascinated and motivated by individuals and organizations exhibiting strong value system. Value means different things to different people. I will try and explain what it means to me and mention few of them who I think have successfully endured it.

Value for one should be measured on a vast time span… in our case maybe over a span of lifetime. It’s pretty easy to define values and stick to it in a short run but extremely difficult to sustain it over decades and life time. Value needs practice needs sustainability. Values are those that go beyond self, aim for larger goals, and sacrifice short term gains and pleasures through short-cuts. Values need great sacrifices to be made, endure prolonged hardships, perseverance and sustaining without giving up come no matter what. Value is making a promise and delivering on it, putting others first, aiming for the best, and self belief.  Value is in innovation, setting new standards, changing the rules of the game, being competitive though fair.

Some of the individuals and organizations that have shown a great deal of value are Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffet, Tata Group (Ratan Tata), Google, and Infosys (Narayan Murthy). Of course there are many more of them. But here I will just cover in short what I admire the most of these individuals and companies –

Mahatma Gandhi –

I think his principles and teachings are universal and immortal. They are as much applicable in today’s world as they were in the past and will remain to be so forever. The path of non-violence is probably more relevant in today’s age of terrorism than it was in the past. His book “My experiments with Truth” gives a great insight on his thoughts and principles. He spent his whole life preaching and practicing non-violence and firmly believed in the same. Most of the today’s problems like Terrorism and Global Warming could be easily solved by following and practicing his teachings.  Of course like any true value principle his teachings are very tough to endure. Through consistent self-restraint and non-violence he was able to successfully contribute to India’s freedom struggle from British rule.  Given two options for gaining Indian Independence, through retaliating and fighting by means of violence and on the other hand through self-restraint and non-violence he chose the path of non-violence coz he believed – “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind”. He believed nothing would come out of violence and would only end in loss of innocent lives and hatred all around.

I personally believe similar to the struggle of independence the current issues in the world such as wars and terrorism, nuclear threats etc are very complex issues. Violence and terrorist acts from both sides just cascade the issue further and drive them far away from point of negotiations and peace. It’s very important for everyone involved to sit back and think of non-violence and peace as a path to chose to put an end to the escalating chain reaction of terrorist acts all around the world.

Some of Ganhiji’s quotes that I like are -

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

“The earth has enough for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”

“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind.”

“A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word.”


Warren Buffet –

He is a strong proponent of value investing and a devoted student of Benjamin Graham. He is extremely disciplined about his investment and has made large sums of money not only for himself but for all his shareholders. He has consistently been amongst the top 5 richest people on the planet from decades. While the entire world is in turmoil currently over the financial credit crisis, he is one of the very few who is the least affected by it. His belief in value investing and his dedicated and disciplined approach does show results in such time. Though being a very close friend of Bill Gates, he has always stayed away from IT stocks coz he says he doesn’t quite understand this field to invest in it. A recent quote about him is that the US government should learn from him and follow his principles to avoid such financial disasters in the future because – “He is the man who knows how to make big money and more importantly how to keep it.”  In spite of being one of the richest people on the planet, he lives a very simple life and is very down to earth. He is not only the greatest investor ever but also a great philanthropist and has announced to donate more than 80% of his wealth for social cause. Behavioral finance is a very complex topic and there is not greater teacher than Warren Buffet.

Some of his memorable quotes on investing and life are –

"If you don't know jewelry, know the jeweler."

"I think it's much easier to predict the relative strength that Coke will have in the soft drink world than Microsoft will in the software world," Buffett said. "That's not to knock Microsoft. If I had to bet on anyone, I'd bet on Microsoft. But I don't have to bet."

"The market is there only as a reference point to see if anybody is offering to do anything foolish. When we invest in stocks, we invest in businesses."

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

“Only when you combine sound intellectual framework with emotional discipline, you get a rational behavior”.

“Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”

“Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

“Our favorite holding period is forever.”


Tata Group (Ratan Tata)



Tata group is the first truly Multinational Company from India. It currently has diverse and successful business across all major geographies. Tata Group has operations in more than 85 countries across six continents and its companies export products and services to 80 nations. The Tata Group comprises 98 companies in seven business sectors, 27 of which are publicly listed. 65.8% of the ownership of Tata Group is held by the charitable trust of Tata. The sectors it has presence in are - Information systems and communications, Engineering, Materials, Services, Energy, Consumer products, and Chemicals.  Companies which form a major part of the group include Tata Steel, Corus Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Titan Industries, Tata Power, Tata Communications and the Taj Hotels.  Tata group turnover is now estimated to touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore. The man behind all this Ratan Tata is a shy man and rarely features in the society glossies.

Some of the key highlights of the Tata group companies are -

·         Tata Steel is the world's 5th largest and India's largest steel company

·         TCS is the largest IT Company in Asia

·         Tata Motors is India's largest passenger automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturing company, it recently finalized a deal with Ford Motor Company to acquire their British Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) business

·         Tata Power is one of the largest private sector power companies in India

·         Tata Tea Limited is the world's second largest manufacturer of packaged tea and tea products. It also owns the Tetley brand of tea sold primarily in Europe

·         Tata Communications, formerly known Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited or VSNL, is India's largest telecommunication company in international long distance, enterprise data and internet services

·         Titan Industries is the world's sixth largest wrist watch manufacture

Tata Motors is soon coming up with their most innovative product the people car or the one lac car – Nano.  When Rata Tata announced his plans to develop a car for Rs. 1 lac, he was ridiculed by other car makers including the global giants and they had termed his dream as impossible and foolish. Today after Tata almost on the verge of launching it there is rush amongst all global car manufacturers to replicate it. It is being termed as the most innovative product after Henry Ford’s Model T in the automobile history by the same global auto giants.

Quotes from Ratan Tata –

“A Promise is a Promise…”

-          On launching the Tata Nano in the Auto Expo 2008 and keeping the cost within 1 lac in spite of rising raw material cost.




1.      Google is one of the most innovative companies currently in the world. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. They have so far lived up to their mission through sheer innovation, technology, and strong fundamental values. Listing Google’s facts would run into pages.  Click here to know more about the company.

Google's index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising of billions of web pages. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second.

To know about their value system and philosophy read here -

“Don’t be evil” is their fundamental value on which all their business decisions are made.  The ten principles of Google are –

  Focus on the user and all else will follow.

2.       It's best to do one thing really, really well.

3.       Fast is better than slow.

4.       Democracy on the web works.

5.       You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.

6.       You can make money without doing evil.

7.       There's always more information out there.

8.       The need for information crosses all borders.

9.       You can be serious without a suit.

10.   Great just isn't good enough.

Google main home page and its other sites in different languages are the most sought of web sites in the world. Google’s main revenues come from serving ads on their search site as well through affiliate sites. However they never defocus from their prime service that is to offer most relevant web search results and in the fastest time possible. Their home page which is probably the most valued real-estate on the web is clean without a single ad. The search results are plain text only that appear on the side bars with a separator and do not clutter the search results. The search results are unbiased and the most relevant based on their innovative page-ranking system. The ads too follow the same logic against conventional quick revenue generating methods.

I can go on and on writing about Google. I would recommend reading a book called “THE GOOGLE STORY” by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed to get deeper insight into the company.


“A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour. “

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner. For example, AdSense for content and Google News were both prototyped in “20% time.” Most risky projects fizzle, often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses. “


Infosys - Narayan Murthy



Infosys is one of India's largest IT companies with over 90,000 professionals. It has nine development centers in India and over 30 offices worldwide. Its annual revenues for the fiscal year 2007-2008 exceeded US$4 billion with a market capitalization of over US$30 billion.

Infosys was founded in 1981 in Pune by N. R. Narayana Murthy and six others. N.Murthy started the company by borrowing Rs. 10,000 from his wife Sudha Murthy. In December 2005, Narayana Murthy was voted as the 7th most admired CEO/Chairman in the world in a global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller with the Economist Intelligence. The list included 14 others with distinguished names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.

I admire him for the way he has built such a strong company and the way they conduct themselves. Infosys is admired by all software professionals for their work and the way they treat their employees. Infosys has created a lot of wealth not only for its founders but also for all their stakeholders and their employees. Its one of the very few publicly listed companies who gives forecast guidance and sticks to it. Its founders and top management including CEOs are known to generously vacate their positions after a period of time to make way and give chance for upcoming talent.  

Narayan Murthy himself is a very modest, straightforward, and a down to earth person. His wife Sudha Murthy has made equal sacrifices in making Infosys what it is today. Both Narayan Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy are known for their philanthropic work as well.

Some of Narayan Murthy’s quotes are –

“Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.”

“Performance leads to recognition. Recognition brings respect. Respect enhances power. Humility and grace in one's moments of power enhances dignity of an organization,”

“The real power of money is the power to give it away.”

“In God we trust, everybody else bring data to the table.”

“Progress is often equal to the difference between mind and mindset.”

"Ships are safest in the harbor but they are not meant to be there. They have to sail long and hard and face stormy seas to reach the comfort of a desirable destination"


iron_maiden said...

Dear Sandy,
I must say you are a man of diverse inclinations. The way you have worded this write-up about each and every ikon that you follow and their beliefs is awesome. Really one should endear all the principles that they stand for. And they are not to be compromised at any cost. Sandy its always a pleasure reading your articles because they are not only written with complete heart poured in but are well thought too. You really are a very good writer. You can cover everything from literature, to self-growth, to environment, sci-fi, investments, movies, practically every bracket of human interest. You Rock!


Sandy said...

Dear Ket,

Thanks so much for the feedback. Your comments are really flattering and I would be more than happy to even achieve little of that :)

I am really happy that you like reading my articles and so do I enjoy reading yours.

I do have a variety of interests and I keep writing and collating information on these topics in my free time. I write on more than 5 articles at a time bit by bit... Hope to complete and publish them often. :)