An Ode to Retiring Rich

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I have seen senior citizens in India struggling 5-10 years post-retirement because they didn’t have enough savings. Their financial freedom is ultimately compromised as they become dependent on their children.

One example is my own father.

My dad was the only earning member of the entire family. My mother derived her happiness by not involving herself in financial matters. Numbers made her anxious, and she was fine letting dad make all the financial decisions. He enjoyed a plush job in the Middle East, and we had a wonderfully privileged life. I am eternally grateful for everything that he has provided for us. I went to the best of schools/universities and worked for a bit in the Middle East. Then we all decided to pack our bags and head back to India after dad’s retirement – a much-needed rest for him after 30+ years of service.

Everything went on fine until the 5th year of my dad’s retirement. His anxiety was apparent; he was concerned whether his corpus would last his entire lifespan. I had already started working by then, and I started pitching in. Slowly his mental health deteriorated. It may have been due to a combination of stress and disappointment in his financial matters and his physical health issues. The doctors were unable to help him. My dad, who was an active, cheeky, energetic man, turned silent, desolate, and serious. Since I stayed near my parents, I was a witness to all that they went through concerning their finance. My dad wanted to resume work in his mid-60s, despite his physical limitations, no thanks to his depleting retirement corpus.

I am unsure what went wrong because I never discussed it with my dad. He’s no more (he passed away a couple of years back). When I look at his bank balance, I have so many questions. The most glaring one was – “Where did all the money go?” Then there are others “Did he not save?” “Maybe he saved, but it was not enough for inflation?” “Did he make any bad investment choices?” “Did he not invest in the right retirement schemes?” “Would it have helped if he had invested in some equity, mutual fund, or pension scheme?” My dad had only invested in Fixed Deposits.

You learn by observing the people around you. It was only after I saw my dad’s financial condition that I became aggressive with my own savings and investments. I have no idea whether my plan will work for me in the long run, but I can try. I do not have many lifestyle demands, and I am a minimalist, so that helps.

In the quest to achieve financial independence, I have been reading a lot of personal finance books. My initial few reads were meant for the American audience and they did not help me much. I wanted to read books specific to India. That’s how I first landed upon Monika Halan’s Let’s Talk Money. This has to be my favorite Indian personal finance book so far. Everything is explained clearly and concisely. I have re-read it a couple of times in the hope that her words would sync in deep and become second nature for me. She offers instructions on how to invest for each age group.

The next book that is good for Indians looking into learning personal finance is PV Subramanyam’s Retire Rich. He is a Chartered Accountant who gives some good, solid, no-nonsense advice on how you can carry about your investments. His policy is investing in yourself first, before anything else. Keep aside some money for your retirement and invest in other people and things only after that.

A non-Indian book that greatly impacted me was “The Psychology of Money.” My favorite quotes from the book are also listed on this blog.

Retiring rich is undoubtedly a priority for me. Keep in mind that the word “rich” is subjective. I want to retire “rich” enough for my own needs, but that amount might not be “rich” enough for you. So the first step is to calculate your retirement corpus based on your annual expenses. There are enough online retirement calculators to help you out. If you are in your 20s, start saving/investing now. I am in my 30s now, and my only regret is that I did not start sooner.

An Ode to Wise Words From Ian Tuhovsky on Improving Communication Skills at Work and Otherwise

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Ian Tuhovsky’s Communication Skills book is more than the quotes on this page. He mentions tips and tricks for effective networking, creating a unique personality in business, remembering names, giving a great presentation, and so on. But more than all the how-tos, it’s his need for us to understand our fellow humans better, which truly resonated with me. He wants us to acknowledge the fact that everyone has a different mental model uniquely formed by their own experiences and that it’s not fair to judge them through our personal filters. Only a deeply empathetic person can write this way.

The most intriguing part of the book to me was his take on reading people’s eye movements to analyze their thoughts better. I have never tried it out, so I can’t really say for sure if it holds true. As we all know, non-verbal communication speaks as much (if not more) as verbal. By keenly observing others, we can improve our communication skills.

Here are some of my favorite quotes, stories, and thoughts from the book. They provide a lot of insight into how and why we need to communicate in a certain way at work or in our personal lives to achieve desired results.

We all are programmed to give and receive love, fulfilling our needs at the same time. When someone is not doing that and behaving in a way we don’t like, it’s not natural. They’re probably suffering and that’s what makes them hurt other people. The reason for that is they just don’t get it. They don’t have the skillset to cope with the situation, they don’t have the right tools or they don’t know how to use them. Very often, when you change your perspective, the things you look at literally change.

When you accept and understand it, you notice that every human being has a different map of the world. Eventually you’ll come to the realization that every person on this planet has different life experiences, different beliefs, different values and expectations. Interpretation of the same information may be completely different when made by different people. There is no one objective truth. Everyone is right according to their own map of the world.

What people say to you—it’s about them. When you say anything, it’s about you. It reflects who you are. It’s all about the way we are perceiving the events, the reality.

Anything people say to you doesn’t have any meaning except for the meaning you give it.

Our brain does not really recognize negations—a proposition not to think about pink elephants will end up with failure, because what you hear (despite the negation), the brain will process anyway. Next time, when someone tells you, “I do not want to get at you, but…” you will know that they most probably want to get at you. Instead of saying to your employee: “Don’t respond to a customer that way,” explain how exactly you want that person to respond. Rule number three: what you say must be positively formulated.

When someone isn’t seemingly very intelligent and has never acted too smart in many areas of life according to your opinion, then you can’t really transplant their brain, can you? However, what you CAN do is refer to their behaviors, because these—as opposed to inborn capabilities or personality traits—are quite easy to change. Additionally, it’s much harder to offend someone when relating only to their behavior. Instead of, “You are stupid,” say: “When you go to meet your client next time, please read much more about their company so you really know what you are talking about, okay?” Instead of, “You are so intelligent!” it’s sometimes better to say: “When you expressed your opinion about that book yesterday, it was so immersive and well-detailed, you really inspired me to read it!”

The problem is that when someone thinks they have done something wrong, they will not have the opportunity to empathize with your pain. They will allocate all of their energy into defending themselves. Therefore, there is no point in blaming others when we feel bad. It makes no sense at all on a practical level of reason. If we want to solve the matter constructively, we have to allow that person to understand what is going on inside of us, how we really feel. To express your anger wisely, it is worth it to restrain yourself from throwing swear words, plates, cutlery and photo frames.

The mere act of smiling, even artificially, causes the release of endorphins in the brain. Activity of the muscles responsible for smiling is so strongly associated with our well-being that it works both ways. So if you want to feel better in a second, just smile a couple of times, even if you do not have the desire to. Try it yourself, even now.

You should never look people in the eyes for more than seven seconds, non-stop. It’s a typical communication-newbie mistake, kind of a creepy thing to do, even though we’ve been conditioned to look people in the eyes in our Western culture. Also, remember not to open your eyes too wide (the same thing, sign of aggression…or psychosis).

Don’t treat people the way you like to be treated, treat them the way THEY want to be treated. That’s a big rapport take-away to remember!

In his book Introducing NLP, Joseph O’Connor writes: “A good speaker forms his message the way it fits the other person’s world. He uses language compatible with their metaprograms, changing the shape of information in advance and making sure that they will be able to understand it easily.”

An Ode to Microsoft Edge’s Immersive Reader

I am not sure how many people actually know of this sleek user-friendly tool on Microsoft Edge. It is called the Immersive Reader. Staying true to its name, it is a great tool for readers to indulge in.

Take a look at this article with distracting elements (navbar, widgets, ads).

Article without immersive reader enabled

Now, click on the Immersive Reader option next to your URL bar.

Click to enable

And, voila! You can now read the article peacefully.

Immersive Reader Enabled

I feel this is great for reading long articles. It has a very Kindle-like experience to it. You can increase the font size using the “Text Preferences” tool. You can change the theme as well. There are many options which I have not yet explored. As a reader, I want to focus just on the article, with the freedom to increase its font size if need be. This tool offers all that and more.

You can also use the “Read Aloud” feature if you want the article to be read out to you. The voice is as natural as it can get, not sounding robotic.

The Immersive Reader is still in its early stages. It does not always render the correct page, and you have to wait till the page loads completely to see the icon. But so far, I am extremely pleased.

If you do not see the Immersive Reader icon on Microsoft Edge:

  • Make sure you are viewing an article and not the home page
  • Wait till the page loads completely
  • If you still do not see the icon, use read:// before the URL. For example if the URL is 𝚑𝚝𝚝𝚙𝚜://𝚠𝚠𝚠.𝚖𝚜𝚗.𝚌𝚘𝚖/𝚎𝚗-𝚒𝚗/𝚗𝚎𝚠𝚜/𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛/𝚌𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚕-𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚖-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-𝚏𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍-𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚜-𝚒𝚗-𝚋𝚒𝚑𝚊𝚛-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚜𝚎𝚎𝚔𝚜-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎/ then use 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚍://𝚑𝚝𝚝𝚙𝚜://𝚠𝚠𝚠.𝚖𝚜𝚗.𝚌𝚘𝚖/𝚎𝚗-𝚒𝚗/𝚗𝚎𝚠𝚜/𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛/𝚌𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚕-𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚖-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-𝚏𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍-𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚜-𝚒𝚗-𝚋𝚒𝚑𝚊𝚛-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚜𝚎𝚎𝚔𝚜-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎/ to launch the article in the Immersive Reader.

An Ode to the Most Underrated Career Skill

Googling.

Before you laugh, hear me out.

How is Googling a skill? Anyone can search on Google, right?

Yes, but not everyone does. Why? Because most people do not like to research or read.

In the tech industry, many of the answers are easily available online. Just a search away. It is very rare that you are the first one to face an issue. For a lot of coders, Stack Overflow is like a second home.

Whichever industry you are in currently, Googling is a good skill to have. It is right there, all the details, 24×7, for free. If you are able to research and find out an answer on Google for most of your problems, then in my opinion, that IS a skill. To learn more, to be self-reliant, without being overly dependent on others, is a skill.

Even if you get help from someone, you should STILL Google about it to learn more. Most people are too busy to get into in-depth teaching. They will just touch the topic at a high-level. I always make it a point to do some Googling when someone offers me a solution. It has helped me a lot in building on my base knowledge.

Why Do So Many People Dislike Googling?

People are hesitant to Google for an answer even if it is much easier than waiting for an answer from someone.

We are all naturally lazy (including yours truly). We just want all the answers to come to us without effort. We like to be spoon-fed without lifting a finger (even if it is for a search engine that automatically does the rest of the work for you). But growth happens (as cliché as the next line might sound) – “outside our comfort zone.”

I realized many people are bad at Googling when I posted snippets of some random articles on my Instagram story (with the title, website name et all), and my friends still asked me for the link instead of searching on Google using the article name. Mind you, to provide them the article link, I had to go through the exact same steps – search using the article name on Google, copy the URL and paste it on our chat. I did not have the link stored anywhere for easy access.

It continues even today.

Even after explaining to them how to search on Google.

I am not a passive aggressive type, so I find it difficult to use the infamous “sure, let me Google that for you” when someone asks me something that can be easily Googled.

Some Neat Googling Tips & Tricks

Most of the time, we can get what we want by just entering the search query on Google.

But what if we want something extra?

Well, for the curious cats, here are some cool Google search tips and tricks you can use to get a desired result.

  • Double Quotes

My most favourite.

Use double quotes if you want the exact phrase in the same order to appear in your search results.

For example, “I want to live in New York” will give results where the phrase appears in the exact same order.

Remove the quotes, and you will have the keywords scattered all over the article, and not exactly in the same order.

Using double quotes is also a great way to search for articles using just their titles.

In the example below, I want to search for posts that have mentioned “I want to live in new york” in the exact same order.

Using Double Quotes to Search for the Exact Phrase on Google
  • Define

Defines a word and also includes an audio clipping on how to pronounce it correctly.

Use Define: followed by the word.

Use Define: to Find Out How a Word is Defined and Pronounced
  • Search

Searches for results on a specific site.

Use Search: followed by the website URL and search query.

In the example below, I want to search all recipes for apple pie on YouTube.

Use Search: to View Search Results from a Specific Site
  • Asterisk *

Use the * asterisk symbol to let Google do the guessing work. This allows you to see the most popular search phrases that match a part of your query.

Insert * wherever you want Google to add in the most popular search words/phrases. In the example below, I have used how to * money, so it will consider popular search phrases like how to make money, how to earn money etc.

Use Asterisk (*) to Search for Missing Words
  • Related

If you find a website you really like, and wish to see similar ones, use Related: followed by the URL of the website you liked.

In the example below, I want websites similar to Udemy that offers courses online.

Use Related: to Find Related Websites
  • Tilde ~

This is a great way to include synonyms.

Use ~ before the word that requires synonyms.

Use Tilde (~) to Find Synonyms
  • Location-specific

If you wish to see search results only related to a specific location use location: after the search phrase.

Use Location: to Find Specific Location Results
  • File Type

In case you are looking for content in a particular format, use filetype: followed by the type of file (example: pdf).

Use Filetype: to Search for Specific Formats
  • Exclude

Exclude something from search results by using dash .

For example, let us consider the example below, when you type -money, this means you want Google to exclude the word “money” from the search results. I have additionally added another exclusion, that is the website YouTube.com.

Exclude Certain Words & Sites from Results (Potato Milk?! You learn something new everyday :))