Sunday, December 07, 2014

Author Interview: Mehrab N Irani: 10 Commandments for Financial Freedom and Mad Money Journey

MEHRAB IRANI is General Manager, Investments, at Tata Investment Corporation, Mumbai. He has diverse experience in both equity and fixed income markets, including research, dealing and portfolio management. Mehrab is fired by an almost missionary zeal for spreading financial knowledge among investors. His ability to connect abstract concepts to real life situations using his powerful imagination and plethora of skills reverberates through all his work. He is a prolific writer for newspapers, websites and his blog: He also appears regularly on CNBC, ET Now, NDTV Profit, Bloomberg and radio.

Welcome Mehrab. It was pleasure reading your book Mad Money Journey. I really enjoyed reading it. Here is a video below of Mehrab N Irani with Bloomberg Channel.

 Your real name and pen name?
I believe in my own self, my real self with only one name –Mehrab Irani

About your education
CA, CS, CFA (Level I) – Education is only a necessary factor and not a sufficient factor.
However, we have to be careful of the education system. Although education is certainly important in the overall development of an individual and society but its role is very much over-rated. 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 puts the dangerous idea in the tender minds of young children that for someone to win in this world, someone else must lose. 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. And the irony is that in this game of winners and losers, the winners also lose because they acquire their degrees by defeating fellow students in exams but lack the knowledge, understanding, wherewithal and the wisdom to face this world. They learn about medicine, law, accounting, marketing etc., but not about money. They win the insignificant test of school but lose the all- important exam of life.
Education teaches people to be slaves of money – not masters of it. Education teaches children that failures are bad, but life is full of failures. Education labels a student a failure, instead of the circumstance. Education does not allow a person to learn from its mistakes when in life, one’s biggest teachers are one’s mistakes. Education teaches children to acquire degrees and keep working for money while in reality one has to learn to make money work for oneself. Education teaches people to be puppets and always dependent – first on their teachers, then their degrees, their companies, their bosses and finally the government and retirement plans. In short, education makes young students enter a vicious cycle of working hard for money, paying more in taxes, depending on other people for their livelihood and finally on the government for their retirement. It transforms people into lifelong slaves – wage slave of the employer, tax slave of the government and loan slave of the bank. And I don’t want my daughters to be slaves.

What career did you plan during your education days?
A career which will help make an impact to this world, help others realize their higher self, show them how small a life they are living when they are born for greatness, remove the hurdles between man and his dreams, make everyone realize their true self potential and encourage them to answer their soul calling.

What languages you can speak and write?
I can speak the language of the heart and soul. I can speak that language which comes from one mind and goes into another mind. I can speak the language which the whole world understands – the language of love.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
People and their dreams. The difference which can be made to this world simply if people were able to realize their dreams and live their highest self, achieving self-actualization.

What hurts you most in this world?
We are all born into genius. Sadly, most of us die in mediocrity. I am going to die one day. 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? The thing that hurts me the most is our soul dying while we are still physically alive.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge which I have faced is my ownself and how to overcome my own shortcomings and the problems which I might have myself inadvertently created for my ownself. And I feel that is the challenge which most of us actually face – we can win the whole world if we are able to win over our ownself. 

What is your favorite genre and why?
My favourite genre is fiction because in reality nothing is fictitious, they are simple creations of creative minds of people, events or situations similar to which have already existed in time or will exist in time.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
I started writing when something within me told me that having some knowledge, perspective or vision and not sharing that with others is selfish. So I thought of sharing my ideas with the world. The purpose of writing is to connect with everyone and make this world a more better place to live.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
I wrote my first book called “10 Commandments for Financial Freedom” last year in 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 used to realize 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 maths, 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. So, the idea of “Mad Money Journey” came up.

What are your forthcoming writings?
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 or 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. 

What keeps you motivating towards writing?
The need to make a positive difference to this world keeps me motivated towards writing.

If Writing a Book is taken as a project, what are the key essentials you take care of in Project Management?
When one is writing then he / she has to just concentrate on writing. The person has to be pure and honest to one’s ownself and write what he / she actually believes in. Once the manuscript is ready then let the editor do their work with full independence. The editor is the first person who is reading the manuscript and brings a whole new perspective and thought process to it. Don’t interfere with the editor’s work. After that the copyediting, book title, cover design, production and many other items go into it. Once the book is ready then that is your final product. Now, we have to go all out in creating awareness, branding, publicity and marketing of the book. A writer writes because he / she wants the world to know of his / her idea. Wants to connect with the world, wants the world to read his / her work and that can happen only when the book actually sells. So, if writing a book is a project then I would say that it has two components – the first being writing, editing, title, designing, production etc. and the second being branding, publicity, marketing and sales. Without the first one being good there is no hope for the book to succeed but just because the first part is good does not automatically mean that the book will succeed unless the second part is put in place.   

How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments?
I don’t need to plan or schedule my writing. Ideas flow in my mind, writing moves in my veins, I just need a pen and paper or should I say a computer or laptop to sit and write.

What are your future plans?
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 fulfil dreams.

What is generally your preference in reading – a paper book or ebook? And why?
My preference is reading a good book which makes a difference to myself, the people around, society, country and this world. Paper book and ebook are just medium of disseminating information. If the information (book) is good then the medium (paper or e book) does not matter.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
The top four things which I take care while writing are - being honest to God, being honest to myself, being honest to humanity and being honest to the universe.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?
A large part of fiction is actually real life. If an author is able to conceive or imagine something then it has either occurred in the past, happening somewhere in the present or will in most probabilities occur in the future. A writer is just making the invisible, visible.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?
Writing is a combination of fact and fiction. Whatever genre a writer might be writing, he / she has to first get the facts correct of what he / she is writing and then the author has to convert the fact into fiction or into a presentable format wherein the reader is able to understand, read and connect with it.

Your dream destination on Earth?
Wherever I am at peace with my oneself

Your favorite time of the day?
That time when I am honest to myself and able to connect with the vast universe.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?
The last book which I finished reading and the current book which I am reading is my recently released finance thriller “Mad Money Journey”. I am again and again asking myself whether I have been truly honest with my work and whether the book will indeed fulfil the mission for which it was created – to introduce people with their dreams, to bring out the principles of money and finance 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.

Your favorite food?
That which nourishes one’s mind and soul.

Your favorite sports?
That which keeps one’s mind, body and spirit lively, active and young.

What is the force that drives you?
The same higher force which drives the whole universe

What comes to your mind when you think of India?
A country which has such incredible people that you put them in a pit of rubbish and then they will not only come out of that rubbish but also convert that rubbish into gold. I salute India and its wonderful people.

Some quickies: 
Sun or Moon – Moonlight reflecting the sunlight
Laughter or Smile – Smile leading to a good laughter
Morning or Evening – Happy evening after peaceful morning
Coffee or Tea – Makes no difference
Mountain or Sea – Mountain in the middle of a Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive – Short drive leading to a long drive
Silence or Conversation – Silence breaking into an healthy conversation
Water or Fire – Fire of passion burning in the serenity of water
Air or Earth- Earth filled with clean air
Mars or Jupiter – Wherever there is heaven
Left or Right – My right to be left
Glance or Stare – glance after a stare
Fame or Money – Fame can give us money and money can make one famous but none of them worth for the real peace of heart
Boy or Girl – Anyone who has been created by the Almighty
Day or Night – restful night after long day or peaceful day after black night
Love or Passion – Passionate Love

First thing you do in the morning after waking up?
Connect with my inner self

Last thing to do before sleep?
Connect with the Creator

If one fine morning you wake up and find your sex changed to opposite, what will be your first reaction?
The same when I was first allotted my current gender

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote
You can’t win if you are afraid of loosing

The last line of your autobiography would be…
He lived forever in the hearts and soul of the people whose lives he touched.

Links & other relevant details:
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Twitter handle: @RealMehrabIrani

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