Mistakes Common to Business Tycoons and Petty Shopkeepers

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We are all vulnerable to emotions. Be it a tycoon, or the friendly neighbourhood shopkeeper, we all make mistakes. It is not the purpose here to prepare an exhaustive list. But to highlight that human frailty is all too pervasive. Tarun points out the common mistakes that business tycoons and petty shopkeepers make, in the regular column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Is it even possible? Can we, by any means, even begin to compare the two classes, or let’s say, the classes and the masses? As I sat down to begin my inquiry, I felt I was looking down an empty barrel, where I wouldn’t find any substance. But then, some shape began to emerge. Let me explain.

This topic was at the back of my mind, when, the chairman of one of the top admitted to his , one which saddled his company with a debt of a few thousand crore rupees. Then, I read about the suicide committed by a self-made German millionaire, in his early thirties, who invested his fortune in stock markets, lost in the 2008 downturn, and despaired. There were a few similar stories in our own backyard, of somebody gambling away at IPL, and then committing suicide. So, I decided to investigate.

There seemed some common emotions at work. An emotion to make a quick buck, or do one better than others, or simply a fear about present work conditions, which forced one to do one extra. Or it could be simple pleasure of adrenaline rushing when one does a big thing, a big bet.

We are all vulnerable to emotions. Be it a tycoon, or the friendly neighbourhood shopkeeper, we all make mistakes. It is not the purpose here to prepare an exhaustive list. But to highlight that human frailty is all too pervasive. There can be mistakes of emotion, logic, or even inexperience. Sometimes they become so huge or intolerable, that tragedy strikes.

But if the mistakes are common to hoi polloi and cognoscenti, then what is it that separates them? Why is the magnitude of so different? No business tycoon would tell you that. Right? Who would tell his/her secret? Or is it possible that the writing is on the wall, but nobody would listen? Meaning that lessons are there for all to learn, but the evolved ones pay special heed, while the majority get waylaid?

After going through an entire gamut of mistakes myself, and seeing those same problems in varying degrees around me, I was looking for a sustainable method of doing things. I read a lot of scriptures. They gave me light immediately, and I felt good immensely, though overwhelmed by their depth and magnitude. Then I was back to committing mistakes, though of a lesser dimension this time. This time, I went through psychology books, self-help books, and such. Again I felt better, but the problems of mistakes persisted. I began to have self-doubts and started to calm the mind. All through, without my knowing, I was learning to handle situations better, and to make fewer mistakes in my chosen vocation, in my and handling the people around me. I was growing from those mistakes!! At the same time, I observed people getting stuck in the same phase of life, never moving beyond their cocoon in terms of behaviour, response to external stimuli, the approach to their means of livelihood etc. That is when I had a revelation.

I realised that people from all strata go through problems, commit roughly the same mistakes-though the magnitude may be different- yet, some manage to learn from them, and move on to the next set of challenges, while many, (dare I say majority), simply stop trying, either through having bitten too much last time around, or simply, by losing their strength to keep trying. The average person would be too sensitive to the environment, while the evolved one would be inert to everything but his goal. It is as simple as that. Focus.

As Dhirubhai Ambani would say, “There can be hundreds of Dhirubhais ”.

Not that he didn’t tell anybody his secret. He showed to the world by doing. Only, if the majority were more attentive watchers.

P.S. Let me tell from my own studies, that most of the successful people didn’t do their work for money, but for passion for something. The money came as a byproduct to them. While the majority is still working for money. That is one mistake that is not common to the two sets of people.

©Tarun Gupta

Photos from the Internet

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Satyam Shivam Sundaram defines the belief and philosophy of Tarun Gupta, a Delhi-based businessman, with a passion for learning. He tries to locate the common thread in all learning – as Einstein identified energy as the base thing – and find creative, interdisciplinary solutions to problems, with special focus on economics. Behavioural economics is his special interest, which encompasses emotions as well as economic choices when identifying problems and the solutions.