How should an Investor measure his Life?

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

My favorite author and one of the most amazing thinkers on Innovation and Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen passed away on January 23rd ,2020. He was just 67 but I am sure that besides his family and friends, he left his mark in the lives of his students, colleagues , readers and many others.

I have read all his books including the one that he is so famously known for “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. However his real masterpiece is the book “How will you measure your Life?” I have read it multiple times and have gifted this book to our clients as well. Each and every person has loved this gem. I instantly connected with the book as this is exactly how I have made choices in my life and built purposeful businesses that aim to make a happy difference in the lives of people.

Ask yourself this question “How will you measure your Life?”. Think and Reflect on this question for sometime…

Prof.Christensen wrote in his HBR July –August 2010 column ( about the importance of Choosing the Right Metric.

Choose the Right Yardstick

This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.

I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.

I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

Now let me ask you another question “How should an Investor measure his life?”

Some answers could be  based on

  1. Size of the Portfolio
  2. Returns Generated
  3. Beating the Benchmarks or Beating Everyone.
  4. Being the smartest one in the Room

I am sure there will be some more but none of these capture the true spirit and meaning of the question.

We all know that money is a means to an end …Not an end in itself. However, Money has the power to transform lives. People have derived immense satisfaction and happiness by making a happy difference in the lives of others.

Like Spiderman said “With great power comes great responsibility”, I say that “With Money too comes great responsibility.” The responsibility of making a difference. I am not preaching just give (yes spend on yourself on things that you like or enjoy) but you should make Giving a Financial Goal just like any other Financial Goal.

All of us would have come across stories of people who have made a meaningful difference with their work but they never get recognition for their work unless some Western country appreciates them (Point in case Kailash Satyarthi – No one had heard of him till he won a Nobel Prize)

I have seen people do the following (by setting Giving as a Financial Goal)

1.Paying for the Education of children (Whether Domestic Help , Drivers or People who they didn’t even know)

2.Paying for Medical Emergencies and Life Saving Surgeries. Doctors and Surgeons regularly do free camps, surgeries and many other things to help needy patients.

3.Building a school for the underprivileged.

4.Helping special children with their monthly living expenses.

There are many others and the world is actually a beautiful place because of all the good deeds and phenomenal work of people. Sadly we are exposed to the worst 2% of things that happen.

With giving goals that people have set and followed through, I have seen many achieve their financial needs (home, children’s education, marriage), financial dreams and aspirations. Giving is all about impacting lives and helping people live their happiest financial lives.

I have seen elderly people sleep well at night because of someone’s help. I have seen families not having to face any financial hardships (despite losing a loved one – yes the emotional loss cannot even be measured) because of you.

So the real purpose of our life is not to earn a 15% return or not even beat the benchmark or to choose the best stock / fund or to choose as many products as possible or to show how intelligent we are.

Our real purpose is to make a happy difference in the lives of people who matter to us  as well as those who might not matter to us – which means helping everyone live their happiest life….

The true metric then to remember  is “How many Lives have I made a happy Difference in?”

P.S. I would strongly recommend that you read the book “How will you measure your Life?”


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My objective here is to help you live your happiest life possible  Let me know your thoughts and if there any topics that you would like me to cover.