At times you come across people, who change the way you think. Such people show you the way of living your life with less stress and distress. Mehrab Irani turns out one such person for his readers. Currently working with Tata Investment Corporation Ltd. as General Manager- Investments, Mr. Irani brings his readers on a journey of financial nirvana. He introduces Ten Commandments of Money to let his readers avail freedom from the financial slavery. Here, I have tried to ask few questions while representing all of my readers. I hope your queries will go resolved in Mr. Irani’s answers if not then you can ask more questions in comments.
Anant – Your book familiarizes people with the ten commandments of money. Why do you think people do not like reading about finance?
Mehrab Irani – I have been working in the finance field for the past 15 years, both on the buy and sell side, in equity and in debt, in research and in fund management as well as in dealing, in mutual fund as a Fund Manager and also as an investor in mutual fund products and more. In my this experience I have seen that even today there is lot of misconception about money, finance and investments. Infact, in the good old days there used to be barter system – good and services used to be exchanged for goods and services. However, then man created money as a medium of exchange and store of value. However, over a period of time – the creator himself became a slave of his own creation – wage slave of the employer, tax slave of the government and loan slave of the bank. I felt very pained when I saw humans being turned into financial slaves. And therefore I thought that I have to do something in this regards.
To this effect, I wrote my first book called “10 Commandments for Financial Freedom” in the year 2013. It is a simple straight forward book wherein I have brought out 10 principles like earning, protecting, budgeting, saving, spending, investing, leveraging, insuring, common financial mistakes and rules of money which I believe if anybody follows will lead him / her on the path towards financial freedom. It’s a very simple book and I believe anybody reading it will be able to understand it. However, still it is a non-fiction book and people have to actually sit and do the hard work of reading it. After this book, when I used to meet lot of people in seminars, conferences and used to talk with them, I realized that there is lot of apathy towards financial thinking. When we ask a housewife that what are you doing with your money the typical answer is that, “I don’t know my husband or father is looking at it”; when we ask a young educated professional who has just started working that what are you doing regarding your future marriage, children the general answer is that, “I don’t know just now I am busy concentrating in my career”, when we ask a middle aged experienced professional in a senior position earning very good income that what are you doing about your retirement, children marriage then the normal answer is that, “I don’t know I have invested in that mutual fund or given my money to such a fund manager”. I am not stating that we should not go to professional fund managers, if we don’t know how to invest in specific stocks we should surely take the help of professionals but what I am trying to stress over here is that we should atleast be aware what is happening with our money. But there is total ignorance about it. And people are generally afraid about the word “money”. And it is not their fault – during school or college we have been taught everything like math, science, history, geography, engineering, medical, law etc but nobody teaches us about the most important thing with which everyone in this physical world has to deal i.e. money. Yes, whether it is a King or a beggar, a CEO or a peon, a Minister or a normal party worker, a man or a woman, educated or uneducated – everybody in this world has to deal with money. Journey in this physical world is incomplete without money. And if we don’t know how to deal with money – many times our this journey becomes like mad. Hence, although everybody deals with money, nobody wants to read about it is because it’s perceived to be a difficult and dry subject. Therefore, I made it a thrilling journey by combining finance with entertainment.
Anant – How did youget the idea of writing Mad Money Journey?
Mehrab Irani– We are all born geniuses. Sadly, most of us die in mediocrity. We all are going to someday shed our earthly bodies and leave for another voyage – the journey of the soul. But then, does the journey of the soul begin when we actually die physically. Is the soul actually alive when we are here on this planet? A child knows what it wants to accomplish in life. At that point, everything is clear and everything seems possible. As children, we are not afraid to dream and yearn for everything. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince us that it is not possible. By repeating the same pattern again and again, are we moving towards the death of our very soul?
Everybody has a ‘personal calling’. This is the promise between God and us. It is the promise each one of us makes to God before embarking on our earthly journey. Whoever you are, you have a personal calling, a desire that originated in your soul. This is clearly your mission on earth; the purpose of your very existence on this planet.
In this physical world, financial slavery is one of the prime reasons which prevents humans from achieving the purpose of their soul. Take the example of a young teenage boy who is very good at cricket and wants to become a cricketer. May be his very purpose of embarking on this earthly journey is to play cricket and entertain others. However, the whole world, including his parents, teachers, elders and all are busy advising him to quit playing cricket and concentrate on his studies to become a doctor or engineer and live a “safe secure life”. In the name of this so called illusion of “financial security” the boy is pushed into leaving his dream and living a life of slavery. This is what pains me a lot. I got the idea of writing “Mad Money Journey” as I wanted to free humanity from financial slavery so that they can then achieve their true higher purpose and fulfill the very reason of their existence on this planet.
Anant – How did you manage to portray a subject like finance in an entertaining way?
Mehrab Irani – The two most important things in this world are – entertainment and money. I thought why not combine both of them. Most of the people are afraid of the term money. So, I thought to present money in a thrilling suspenseful entertaining form. We all like to learn from stories and fables because we have been taught that way since our childhood. So, why not learn the most important subject also in the form of a fable? And that is when I got the idea of writing a “finance fiction”. My book “Mad Money Journey” is a completely new refreshing book which combines finance and fiction in a manner never done before. “Mad Money Journey” combines the principles of money, finance and investments on one side and of life and its wisdom on the other side in an inspirational, motivational and intuitive manner bringing out the relationship between man and money, entertaining in a thrilling suspenseful manner, promising to be a page-turner, helping and guiding its readers on a new path towards self-discovery, a financially free life wherein everybody, rather than being slave to money is actually able to live a happy successful life achieving their highest self and fulfilling their very mission of coming to this planet. The readers taking the “Mad Money Journey” will permanently change their journey by putting themselves in the right path wherein they will be introduced to their own inner self and true path.
Anant – The characters are quite realistic in nature. Did the idea behind these characters come to you while sitting on your desk or your visits across the world?
Mehrab Irani – Certainly yes. The theme and message from the book is that life’s most important lessons are learnt from the most unconventional people and in unexpected circumstances. Life is uncertain and always has its own methods of teaching us. In school, we may have defined subjects like math, science, history, geography and known teachers who just teach what is in the curriculum. However in real life, the subjects are unknown while the real teachers are a mystery; they appear when the disciple is ready to learn their lessons.
Actually, the fault lies not with the teachers or parents but with our education system, which is based on the system of elimination – the focus is not on advancing the stronger ones but on holding back the weaker ones. It makes them believe that there is not enough for everyone to win. It is an attitude born out of the fear of scarcity – it makes future generations fear everything as they start believing that the world is full of scarcity and for them to win, somebody else has to lose. Instead of teaching them to work in harmony, the education system actually creates rivalry, jealousy and hatred amongst children. Rather than developing the very best in each and every person, the system has conveniently pitted people against each other in this wild game of education where there is nothing but the survival of the fittest. It is a game in which winners just get the degree but many times eventually lose the game of life because the greatest teacher of all is life itself. However, life is mysterious and nobody knows what its curriculum is. It’s only when the student is ready, the master automatically appears and many a times from a non-expected place and in the least expected form.
Anant – Which character is closer to you as a person – the Doctor or his friend?
Mehrab Irani – Both the characters are close to my heart. This is simply because both the characters are a reality in today’s world. However, the sad truth is that there are more of the characters like the doctor and less like his friend while actually it should be the reverse. My whole aim of writing the book was to convert the doctor like character to that of his friend. The doctor, although very well educated, earning excellent money, highly respected in society and having a loving family is still somewhere struggling from within and is a slave to money. On the other hand his friend is not so well educated but is very successful in his life, is financially free, is a role model for others and doing great philanthropic activities. Therefore, boththe characters are real and exist in today’s world but the very purpose of writing this book was to encourage the doctor like character to convert to the friend like people.
Anant – Do you really think people will believe that insurance isn’t an investment product and will they not call their consultants to confirm the same?
Mehrab Irani – One should not expect something in return for their insurance premiums except the protection which the insurance intends to provide to the person. Also, we should never combine investments with insurance. Don’t forget that insurance is always a bad investment and that investments should not provide with any kind of insurance. If one were to just subscribe to a plain vanilla pure term insurance policy which is available at a fraction premium to the famous money back or endowment policies and just invest the premium saved on it in a regular fixed income instrument then invariably over a period of time the return of such a combined scheme would be better than just subscribing to a pure money back or endowment scheme. Remember that insurance companies charge high fees for providing sub-standard investment advice. Hence, one should never combine insurance with investments as both are totally distinct products serving very diverse needs of a person.
Anant – Would you like to share the idea of your next book in this interview or marketing and promotions for the book is eating away your time?
Mehrab Irani – Yes, I am certainly busy with the marketing activities. At the same time I am thinking and pondering about the idea for my next book. I have not yet decided on what would be my next book but it might be something which will further delve into the relationship between man, money and his / her dreams. It will further explore and investigate into the life of various characters who are going through some kind of mental, physical, emotional and psychological struggle because of money. Take the example of a housewife. She might be educated, reasonably rich, having a loving family – husband, children, in laws but might feel attracted to a neighborhood man who is financially more successful than her husband. This physical attraction because of money might be draining her emotionally and physically. What is the solution for her? I would like to dig deeper and deeper into such struggles which we humans face in our daily life because of the interplay between man, money and our dreams.
I would always like to connect with other people. Books is the primary medium but there are others also like talks and speeches, TV and Radio shows, press and media as wells as movies. I myself learn while connecting with people. And connecting with people helps me to understand humans better and then produce want is the real need. And I want to connect with the masses. That is why I write articles in press, appear on various TV shows and now books. However, after a certain point books have a limit of penetration since there are some people who would simply never want to read. Hence, to connect with those people I am exploring other mediums like movies and TV shows. I expect to talk with people to explore the idea of converting “Mad Money Journey” into a movie. I am also planning to do a TV show on money and finance which will be very different from the rest. It will be a thrilling yet emotional show which will explore and connect people with their dreams and show them how money and finance is preventing them from achieving their highest self in life. The show will not just teach to earn money, it will help to fulfill dreams.
Anant – How can an author go on getting honest feedbacks once s/he done with writing the first draft?
Mehrab Irani – It’s very difficult for an author to get honest feedback on the first draft which he /she has written. The author has to essentially rely on family members, friends and editors for the same. However, the most important point for the author is to pay attention to their inner voice. If the author strongly believes in the idea, if the author thinks that he / she would like to read such a book, if the author thinks that he / she is fulfilling the very purpose of their coming to the world by writing the book and if the author believes that he / she is answering their true calling in writing the book then only they should move ahead with the book.
Anant – Which promotional medium has helped you most – Social media or print media? Please share your experience on both.
Mehrab Irani – Media and publicity play a vital role in any product including a book because finally how will the target audience know about the product if the correct message is not sent to them. Nowadays there are different kind of publicity and marketing platforms available. I have used all different kinds of media for publicity. I am fortunate that my book “mad Money journey” has been widely covered by all kind of media – print, TV, internet, radio, social media, bloggers (like you) and much more. The idea of combining entertainment with finance has clicked with the media and common man alike and hence the interest in the title.
Also, the book has received endorsement and advance praise from great respected people in the business, investment and entertainment world like Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr.Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Mr. Cyrus Broacha.
Having got attention from the media and great personalities, what is equally important to me is to connect with the common readers. I am confident that when a person reads the book he / she will be able to relate with lot of the characters in the book. They will somewhere feel their ownselves in those characters, they would have sometime in their own lives gone through the situation what the character is facing in the book and then they will see what the character does and what did they react to in their lives. Hence, I want to draw a chord between the reader and the book’s characters. If I am able to do that then I feel that my purpose for writing the book will have been achieved.
Anant – What’s your advice to young authors, who are giving their day and night to become a celebrated author attaining celebrity status with a great bank balance?
Mehrab Irani – If you think that reason for writing a book is money — then, yes, one of the reasons for writing a book should be money because money is an important factor in this physical world and if an author is struggling physically then how will he / she express his / her inner feelings and thoughts through writings. God has given everybody a gift and we have to use that gift to our maximum advantage. I have the gift of writing and I am using it to my advantage. However, I would like to add one more point here. We have to use that gift of God not just for the purpose of earning money or pleasure; we must also use it for a higher purpose — for the service of mankind. If we use our gift just for the sake of earning money, wealth or fame then I am sure very soon we might lose our gift and not succeed in our mission. Therefore, while one of the reasons for writing a book is certainly to earn money but there has to be a higher purpose as well. And, remember, there are easier ways of earning money than writing a book!
Anant – Any advice you want to give to your readers to let them achieve financial nirvana?
Mehrab Irani – The world is moving forward technologically but we humans are moving backwards financially. We may have all modern facilities like online banking and investing, credit and debit cards, access to financial information, easy loan facilities but our financial knowledge is diminishing. Today, we see young educated people earning very good income but then not able to protect their money from financial predators, they pay everybody like the government, banks, electricity bills, telephone bills, children school fees etc but forget to pay themselves via surplus budget, don’t know when to cut spending and when to spend to get rich, have no protection in the form of financial insurance, are not aware of the difference between saving and investing, buy liabilities mistaking it to be assets with negative leverage which puts them in the web of unnecessary avoidable recurring expenses which then sadly makes them “slaves of money” for life – wage slave of the employer, tax slave of the government and loan slave of the bank.
Working for money is the sad way of trading one’s time, which we have limited, for money, which is available in abundance. People spend their time earning money which they don’t value, take loans which they can’t repay, to buy things which they don’t require to impress people who don’t matter. Money should be important only to the extent that it provides one with financial emancipation. Earning money is meaningless unless one is able to achieve financial freedom. And financial nirvana according to me is reaching the state where a person does not have to trade his / her time in exchange of other person’s money, a person is not required to work for money, a person is free to achieve his / her higher self-actualization goals rather than just merely toiling for a living.
Money in itself can never give happiness to a person. However, unfortunately most of the people spend their time on earning money which they feel will give them true happiness and when it doesn’t they then spend their time on earning more money thinking that will give them happiness which also doesn’t and then they spend even more time on trying to earn even more money and the viscous cycle continues. Remember that even if a person wins the rat race, he still remains a rat. Sometimes a rich person is actually so poor that besides money he does not have anything else. He is empty from within which many times leads him to depression, anxiety and many more mental, psychological and even physical problems which might eventually and unfortunately culminate into suicide.
Also, one should seek money only as long as it helps the person in answering his soul calling and fulfill his mission on earth. If a person just keeps accumulating wealth without actually understanding the real meaning of money than it’s a very sad way to spend their life. Time is a limited resource which we have to utilize very judiciously to earn money which is anyway available in abundance in the world. Today we see there is only one Sachin Tendulkar, one Amitabh Bachan and one ShriNarendraModi while each one of us have the talents and capacity to become someone like them. God has given each one of us some special gift, a unique talent, its upto each one to recognize their gift, develop their talents and then utilize it for the common benefit – money should only act as a facilitator of it. Money should never be an end; it should be the means to achieve the end.
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