What does it take to be a Tiger?

22 DECEMBER 2009


So, what does it take to be a Tiger?
To excel at what you do.
To be a winner.
And to be admired for what you are good at.

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In the field of sports, Tiger Woods is a golfing legend - at a very young age.
Roger Federer is a tennis legend - also at a young age.
Closer to home we have Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.

And, in the field of business, we have some Tigers, too.
Ratan Tata comes to my mind.
Narayan Murthy.
Warren Buffett.
Steve Jobs of Apple.
John Bogle of Vanguard.

In his own way, Mahatma Gandhi was a Tiger - though we don't normally associate such punchy descriptions to politicians, saints, or spiritual leaders.

A Tiger with a tail between his legs
So, based on what they excel at, we have this image of what a Tiger's personality should be.
The press and the media help create this image. And, many times, the Tigers do this for us too. It helps them achieve another financial income stream through sponsorships. Or it could be that it just makes them feel good.
We take that fact of how good a person is at what made him a Tiger in the first place and extend that to their many other aspects of his life.

So, if XYZ is a good cricketer, we assume that he is a good family person; a good parent; a good husband.

Mind you, he attained "Tiger-hood" because of his sport (cricket) but - because we see him endorsing so many watches or cars - we extend that image of excellence to the product he is being paid to endorse. Slowly, the image of perfection moves to his family and we pass a judgement: he a good father, a good husband, a good son.

Well, Tiger Woods got caught in a trap of his own making. He was invincible on the field. But he played a few too many strokes off the field which have thrown him off balance. The image of him as a "clean" person has disappeared. But he is still a great golfer - if he can focus back on his game

Sometimes, it is not what a person does, but what a person says that rattles the hero worship factor. I think very highly of Narayan Murthy. Not only did he have a vision but he had the courage, conviction, and ability to build a team to get Infosys to where it is. I see him as a straight-forward, no-nonsense, moral force in Indian business.

And then, on national TV, I heard him list Indian business leaders whom he believed had made a positive contribution to India. It was not a list of names I would have expected from him. The founder of Infosys is a hero in my eyes, but that list from him seemed more like a list of people who typify what is wrong with India. Was he being polite - another trait - or was it a possible that a person I look up to is, actually, not the person I imagined to be? Scary thought. Foundation-breaking. Earth-shattering.

Or Warren Buffett. Great man - and a great investor. And then he invests in Goldman Sachs at the height of the crisis last year. Sure he made money, but isn't he more than just about making money? He speaks against Wall Street and short term profits and then he invests in what many have described as the largest hedge fund in the world. Many commentators have said that Goldman is exactly what the world does not need.

And one of Buffett's other investments was in Moody's - the rating agency. Many argue that Moody's compromised its principles of rating so that it could collect fees from its clients - the Wall Street firms that created the junk bonds. Again, while talking against Wall Street, Buffett - unknowingly - was supporting its growth and greed.

We make our Tigers, we lower our guard
Narayan Murthy never asked me to worship him.
Nor did Warren Buffett.
Well, not directly. But the media stories and the "positioning" made me reach out and believe in a many other aspects of the individuals. We take our desires and hopes and find someone to pin them on.

Tiger Woods is a great golfer.
His photo ops with his family made us believe that he was also a great family man.
Well, we got one half of that correct.

Warren Buffett is a great investor.
But, as some have pointed out, his investments are not always based on principles and may not even reflect what he has spoken about so many times.

Narayan Murthy will always be honest and never take short-cuts to achieve an end objective. And there is nothing wrong with his list of people whom he admires or feels have contributed to India's development - but they are the exact opposite of him. He is a great man, but he may not be a great judge of what is great in others.

Life is full of imperfections. But we take one aspect of a person's perfection and hope - insanely hope - that we can find the anchor of perfection to hold on to in this deafening roar of a collapsing society.

There is a Tiger in each of us - for a little something that we are good at.

Alas, it takes more to be a Tiger at life than just a Tiger at golf.

It takes more to be a good "whole" person than it takes to be good at one sliver of what we do in life.
For all those who wish to be Tigers, or wish to follow a Tiger, the course just got a lot tougher: the golf ball landed in the rough.


Suggested allocation in Quantum Mutual Funds (after keeping safe money aside)
Quantum Long Term Equity Fund Quantum Gold Fund
(NSE symbol: QGOLDHALF)
Quantum Liquid Fund
Why you
should own
it:
An investment for the future and an opportunity to profit from the long term economic growth in India A hedge against a global financial crisis and an "insurance" for your portfolio Cash in hand for any emergency uses but should get better returns than a savings account in a bank
Suggested allocation 80% 20% Keep aside money to meet your expenses for 6 months to 2 years
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Disclaimer: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt. Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd. The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and has not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author, Equitymaster, Quantum AMC and Quantum Advisors do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site. To write to Ajit, please click here.


Suggested allocation in Quantum Mutual Funds (after keeping safe money aside)

Quantum Long Term Equity Fund, Quantum Equity Fund of Funds, Quantum ESG India Fund Quantum Gold Savings Fund Quantum Liquid Fund
Why you
should own
it:
An investment for the future and an opportunity to profit from the long term economic growth in India A hedge against a global financial crisis and an "insurance" for your portfolio Cash in hand for any emergency uses but should get better returns than a savings account in a bank
Suggested allocation 80% in total in both; Maybe 15% in QLTEF, 10% in Q ESG and 75% in QEFOF 20% Keep aside money to meet your expenses for 12 months to 3 years
Disclaimer: Past performance may or may not be sustained in the future. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, fluctuation in NAV's and uncertainty of dividend distributions. Please read offer documents of the relevant schemes carefully before making any investments. Click here for the detailed risk factors and statutory information"

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41 Responses to "What does it take to be a Tiger?"

reader

Feb 13, 2010

Sir, dying for your next article.. Can't wait anymore!!!

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nagesh

Feb 1, 2010

Awaiting your next article Ajit.. Been a long time!

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Kanishk

Jan 29, 2010

Hi Ajit, Love reading many of your insightfull articles but where have you disappered since inception of this year...waiting for your expert comments on recent market turmoil....

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Pankaj Vaidya

Jan 26, 2010

Ajit Sir,

Nice article where you showed how sometimes business decesions look like going against principles.

Request you to write a column on your opinion on the Google China tussle when you have time.

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kumar

Jan 9, 2010

ajith, very good article,
though it's a RIGHT ARTICLE BY RIGHT PERSON AT WRONG PLACE!!!!

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Joseph Philip K

Jan 8, 2010

Who benefits by this type of wild letters?We expect solid reserch and ideas where we can park our money without the fear of "capital erosion".Rest of the general knowledge we all get from so many other sources.Ajit Dayalji please try to provide what you promise and simply dont go beating the bush as if it is amust for you to write something every day.Why you charge us for reading all this type of letters?Sorry this is what many who take your service may feel honestly.Don't get offended but think it over.

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Panchu

Jan 8, 2010

Mr. Dayal:
Use correct spelling, INFY mentor is Mr. Narayana Murthy, not Narayan Murthy as you repeated at many places in the article.

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Amol

Jan 6, 2010

Good article ajit. more realistic and closer to life. lets blame it to ourself for making gods and superheros out of human beings and than cursing them for their imperfections and inabilities. Why do we forget that we appreciate a certain quality of a person because we think we dont possess it or we would like to possess it. I think one must understand that humans are not perfect and so does the icons. one should attempt to assimilate good qualities of his/her icons and leaving their imperfections behind.

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S N Shashidhar

Jan 5, 2010

Dear Ajit bhai,

When an icon falls, the world takes immense perverted delight in trampling all over him. It is sad that you have also fallen into the line taken by the majority of critics in lampooning Tiger Woods. He has consistently proved beyond doubt that he is THE BEST in his business. Tiger never claimed that he is a role model. It is WE (and the media) who have made him one super size idol and you cannot blame him for that.

See the irony of the whole issue - Tiger Woods has actually lived upto the brand's tagline that he endorsed for Accenture - 'High Performance Delivered'. Tiger has repeatedly proved to the world that he is capable of delivering high performance, anytime & anywhere, not just on the golf holes. And what does he get in return for this ? Instead of rewarding Tiger with huge bonuses for living through its brand tagline, Accenture has actually terminated its contract with Tiger Woods. What an irony and what a pity !!

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Lakshman Pardhanani

Jan 4, 2010

This is my maiden comment on your e-letter.
Your are right in observing that in the midst of a kind of spiritual emptiness in the lives of most people, we tend to look beyond ourselves and attribute to achievers(tigers) virtues they may not possess. Atheists will argue that this lies behind the belief in God.
Life is never black or white. It is always a shade of grey.How grey it is depends upon each one of us and whether we are willing to strive to achieve perfection.
I must say however, having lived in the West for most of my life, I regret to find that Indians in general are more one-dimensional in their character traits, which seem overly concentrated upon the making of money.I recogise that my observation offends conventional thinking on the subject.

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