Financial Advices to 25 year old myself

In the COVID era in 2020, at the age of 35, I started investing for the first time in my life. I wish I was told the importance of investing when I was younger. I cannot go back and its never too late to get started, but here are some lessons I would tell myself if I could go back:

1 – Save Emergency fund – $1000-2000 OR if you can save for next 6 months <in case of Job loss or life incidences>. …. but #2 first!

2 – Pay down highest interest Credit/Loan first. Looks a no-brainer and yet people fall in for paying the interests. Pay down credit card fully each month – even better if you don’t use the credit card!

3 – A penny saved is 1.5 pennies earned – look for discounts. Example, you saved $1000 on a buying a car, saving this money is equivalent to getting a raise of $1500 in your paycheck – because of taxes !

4 – Start investing as early in life as you can.

5 – Earning profits is slow and losing money is fast – look for minimizing losses. Warren Buffett said – Get Rich Slow! Example – to make $500 out of $100, you need 400% profit; however when losing – $500 to $100 is only 80% loss.

6 – Invest in Roth IRA, if you qualify and maximize it. If you don’t, invest in IRA and transfer money to Roth account. No tax in Roth earnings although money you put in is after tax while in IRA the money is not taxed while earnings when you take out are taxed.

7 – Diversify – Invest in Mutual Funds, ETFs, S&P 500, Multiple Sectors, Bonds, Gold, International Funds, International Funds.

8 – Create monthly budget – If you are single, great! If not, do it with your partner every month. Stick to it and know where your money is going.

9 – Detach emotions with money – No need to celebrate the profits or mourn the losses. Just keep learning – repeat what has worked, stay away where your hands have burned!

10 – Think longer term – Keep a significant chunk of your investments towards retirement, while keep a play-money to invest in the growing market. Generally – Investments pay higher when untouched for long term (3-5 years or more!) Day trading is stressful, do it only as a professional else work-life balance will be jeopardize.

11 – Limit to 3-4 gurus – There are tonnes of advisors and news flashes from all around. Find 3-4 investors who have proven themselves for last 5-8 years and stick to them. Although, this doesn’t mean they will be profitable in future too, but the likelihood is higher and it is less stressful to invest! I had followed ChickenGenius (Youtube), ARK Invest, traderstewie (Twitter – Art of Investing) , and looked for emails from Scott Redler.

12 – Dollar Cost Average – Pour slow, take out slow – For longer term, Invest every month/week and when you need money take small amount you need every month/week. This way you dollar-average out growing or falling market.

13 – Dont invest in more than 10 companies at a time for swing trades.

14 – Set Stop losses, but if you trust a company, then dont set’em! When the rate of a stock falls, Stop losses are triggered and the selling increases and rates go down further, then buyers take over. Be cautious with your Stop losses.

15 – Multiple streams of income – Even if it is 5% of your main income, try to generate a parallel stream of income (and it could come from Swing trading).

16 – Best college? – I did the perfect analysis on where to go for Masters and nothing could have gone wrong! Well, my decision went south! Your aptitude will take you to places. Your curiosity and problem solving will work harder for you then your degree. People from average colleges have impressed me while the professionals from E&Y, Microsoft, Harvard, etc. were biggest STUPIDs I have met !! College does matter but only for the kick-start. From the same schools, with same education (sometimes off the siblings – Mukesh and Anil Ambani for example) – kings and pawns are made!

17 – Fraud is common/normal in the Corporate World. Don’t go by ratings and reviews, ask difficult questions, test assumptions, and only when you are fully satisfied – follow a firm/Executive!

18 – Read, Read, Read – Read at least 3 books on the topics you want to know more. Make reading a routine.

19 – Options Trading is a No, No for newbies!

20 – Buy the hype, sell the news!

Break the Introvert shell – piece by piece

When I started public speaking, I noticed that in some speeches, I was very confident, while some speeches I felt like leaving the stage in the middle of my presentation. Here are some take-aways that have helped me as I struggled and survived through my speeches. This is not a comprehensive list, but a sure shot starter package. You will have your own list as you grow!

1. Start out loud

I noticed that in my few speeches, I started soft and my energy level only went down from there, my confidence only faded from there, my message only lost the impact from there. Then, I had a different opening of my same speech, for which I had to speak my first few sentences aloud … I noticed that audience gave their 100% attention and were with me and understood my message. This gave me confidence to continue and complete my speech without worrying about am I making an impact?

2. Prepare Well

Work on the material that you intend to present. Know which line, statement, gesture is there in the speech and why? Get all the data and numbers corrected and verified; know the sources. Give your speech to a mentor, friend, or a relative for a quick review. Once, you know that your material is ready and is going to add a bit to the audience knowledge, you are ready to practice.

For all my big platform speeches, I do thorough research, do a spell check, get my grammar corrected, get a proofreading done; this help me improve the quality /standard  of my speeches.

3. Keep an easy structure

Structure/organize your speech in an easy to follow format. This will help you memorize your entire speech and not worry (too much) about forgetting it. E.g I have three steps to address this problem and they are A, B, C. We will now go in detail of each of these steps to see how it works! OR have an acronym defined, E.g: SWIM, S stands for …. Strength, W-Wellness, I- Integrity, and M- Mindfulness. Take note cards with you for back up.

I usually keep a transition line when moving from one topic/story to other and I also keep a body gesture that go along with that line (mostly a walk across the stage or in certain character!)

4. Practice

 My mentors told me that there is nothing called over-practice when it comes to public speaking! Practice hard. The more you practice, the better you would feel about your speech. Practice it alone, in front of a mirror, in your car, in front of someone whom you are comfortable with. Record the audio and listen to it as frequently as you could. Maybe a watching a video of yourself. Sometimes I just watch my video on mute to observe some body-language patterns or any habits that I must address! Before delivering the speech to the big audience, practice in front of dummy audience (be it your family members!)

5. Don’t judge yourself while delivering and … continue till the end

Never evaluate yourself while delivering your speech. Your hands and legs might shake, stomach might churn, heart rate increases; but audience does not notice that. Don’t worry about a little mud on the shoes, or if your make up still on or if you have gained some weight or is your outfit wrinkly? You got my point, right?  Audience (most of them) do not care about how you feel about and within yourself; instead they just look for what advice/message you can give to them. Remember, even if you are stuck, take a deep breathe, glance into your notes and step into the presentation with the same confidence. Remember, your audience would appreciate if you complete your speech instead of leaving them hanging !

Finally, relax – you are ready! Just do 2 minutes of Square breathing (In-Hold-Out-Hold), and walk up to the stage with full swing !

In the prison

This is a continuation of the post: Do the right thing

After this speech, I was taken to the prison.

Couple of my toastmasters friends offered me to visit the club that they were running in a MD prison for 9 years and deliver this speech. Very noble people – since last 500+ weekends they are serving this club. The prisoners were calling them :King: and :Queen:

I would not lie, I was afraid to step into a prison, we walked through 7 locked doors. They patiently listened to me and were kind with their words.

The words from the prisoners after this speech had made me feel the power of a simple speech. I couldn’t win the contest but I was over the top of the world when I heard from one of the folks “I wished I had heard you speaking before I came to the prison ………………… I might never have come here.” 

The prisoners asked me to come again and share more. I promised that I would visit them soon and I did, for the second time. This time I gave them an hour long session – 30 minutes on Story telling Process and 30 minutes session on How to craft your speech. Very well received.

After a month, I got call from my friend, who invited me to the jail, he said – “One of the prisoners has passed on his thanks to you. He used the techniques you explained to write a song and had presented that song to their club.”

Toastmasters is all about, sharing your knowledge and thoughts, and the organization must be proud that it is able to mark its presence even in prisons and their goals and motives are perishing and improving lives of those who need it the most!

Do the Right Thing – District 18 Toastmasters International Speech Contest -2014

What an experience this was to share the stage with world-class speakers on the Toastmasters District 18’s stage. Couldn’t won the contest, but learned a lot during the contest. I was a second runner-up in the contest and here is the video of that speech. I plan to continue competing and producing my best speeches.

With this speech I validated that the runner-up at Humorous Speech Contest was not a fluke!

Feel free to critique and highlight what you liked.

After this speech, I was taken to the prison

Settling the rivalry

Speech delivered in Maryland Advanced Toastmasters Club – The Entertaining Speaker Manual – Speech #1

So far my the speech I enjoyed most — Never felt this relaxed on stage …

Dedicated to my best friend — Lallu/Lalla/Lovee/Lui/Lalwani — all five of them !!      🙂

Kind of messed up the last dialog  — “All that remained were siblings !!”

International Speech Contest — Round 3 Speech take-away

Hi,
This is for polishing the story/speech for Round 3. I and my coach/mentors met for few hours and we decided one of my experiences we want to use for next round of International Speech Contest Round 3. We have the script, but it needs to be polished. What I request from you is:
  1.     What is your take-away message after reading this story?
  2.     What, if any, questions is unanswered or any question you have and is not covered in the story?
  3.     What are your suggestions to improve the script
      Please overlook grammatical errors as of now, just concentrate on the message strength and quality. 
      Thanks for your comments, 
      Pulkit

The Transition

Life is a journey, you travel from place to place, in this journey you sometimes meet people whom you just can’t forget. Among these unforgettable ones, there is always that one person who takes away your hopes and spirits, who always sees a glass as half empty but never fill that glass. And when you try to fill that glass, they drink water from that glass to make it half empty again?
                On my way to 21 years of age, I was the most pampered child of my family, well most because I am the oldest one, oh wait, the youngest one, no wait ….. I am the only one child of my parents, youngest in my generation and slimmest of them all. I was all set to begin my next journey; I was so excited when I got my ticket for LAX Airport for 6th of August, 2007. All my excitement turned into a big question mark when this 5 feet, 2 inch tall, fat lady said to me – “All life-long you lived like a prince at home, in US you will just become a guttery boy. Get ready to do work like cooking, laundry, cleaning restroom, driving, and studying – umhmm, you are the only child of your parents, you have never left home, don’t you have enough to eat and earn here? Why do you want to go? You won’t find Indians there. You won’t be able to make it. Don’t go or you will regret forever.” I thought – “I have no answer for you now lady but hey Indians and potatoes are everywhere.”
                August 6, 2007, when I reached at the airport, I realized there was no one to carry my bag outside the airport, I was further upset, how will I go on? I reached home, next day when I cooked – O My God, I made Indian food which tasted like Australian – tasteless and yucky. She was so right, I never cooked even once in India- my Mom used to feed me. Next week, I cleaned my clothes and ironed them – back in India, I had servants and cleaners – back at home, I never had washed a cloth, not even folded them, no cooking, no cleaning dishes, not even driving – I had driver for our family. She was so damn right – I was such a failure at everything. This journey of my life changed my life entirely ! I continued to live like this, ended up getting a good job, position and independence. 
                January 24, 2012 – I got chance to meet her again, in India. She said with a pride– “So, You are still your own servant – you still cook, clean, iron, drive, earn, do the dishes for yourself – its so funny, I told you these things 5 years back, you never listened and still doing these menial jobs.” How could I have replied to her, she was damn right that I was cooking, cleaning, ironing, driving, earning, doing the dishes and all other jobs which she called menial. Even though, I completed my Masters, I earned my own job and getting independent, I could not answer her. Because the answer there was not for her, the answer was for myself <Long Pause> This was the time when I had realized the value of hard-earned money my Dad used to earn, the value of food which my Mom cooked for me. But more than that, I realized the value of efforts of my maid made in cleaning and keeping my home shining, the value of sweat my cleaner shed for washing and ironing my clothes, the value of labor my driver put-in to drop me in any and every condition on time and safely. No work is menial but importantly, no individual is “menial.” If I would not have wear their shoes, I would not have felt their pains, if I would not have done the same tasks which they all were doing for me years after years, my connection with them would have been – me and a maid, as me and cook and as me and a driver. I realized that I no longer see them as maid, servant, cleaner, cook or driver – but I now see these people as PEOPLE. This was my transition from I and You to “WE”.
                More often than not, we distinguish a person based on their work, as a person of other color, as a person of other country, as a person of “OTHER CATEGORY”. But there is just one CATEGORY- People, rest all are just the borders between our hearts. We are people first, and then we belong to a workgroup, race, religion or country. The world can survive with the borders among the nations but this border between our hearts needs to be erased. I have erased mine – you are my people, Am I Yours ? 

Too2 Yesterday to Too2 today – International Speech Contest Round 2

Rehearsed, Recorded, Re-wrote and Rehearsed again this speech more than 50 times and then I heard those magical words — “Please welcome Pulkit Gangwal, who will compete in next round of International Speech Contest on April 29th, 2012.” I am on my dream run !! 🙂 
Thanks for your support by far, my next speech should be ready by 31st March, please continue adding your valuable feedback and suggestions on this or on future projects. Following is the script of my story which I presented on March 10, 2012. 😦 I wish they would have recorded it because this was my best speech by far 🙂 My comments/expressions are in red. 
Pulkit


August 1991, St. Paul School, an audition for Parents Day Function Speaker, among first graders is about to begin. In their classroom, Murga voice, Meow, Bow bow Gun – dhiskhiauu, Bomb-boom.  “Silence!” The 6-foot, bald Head-teacher enters the class. “You First graders are behaving like first graders. You fat boy! <Pointed to a fat lady in the audience> Come over and start Audition. This boy nick-named as Too2 came forward for the audition. “Good Morning Teachers, Parents and all my dear friends — ”
Fellow Toastmasters, Madam Contest Master and most welcomed guests – this was not just a failed audition for Too2, who always wanted to become a good speaker. This was the beginning of his journey of leaving the speeches incomplete, the beginning of his journey of reading the speeches verbatim from the page, the beginning of his journey of participating in all speech contests that he could and never qualify. The journey which continued for 12 years and then he made a decision which all of us make at least once in our lives. He decided that he is not going to face it anymore.
February of 2003, teenaged Too2 and his tall dark handsome father were having an after dinner-conversation, on a day before Too2s graduation and farewell from St. Pauls –
Too2 – “But Dad, we talked about 4 times and I told you that I am not going to give a farewell speech tomorrow. Do you want me to be the guy who started with an incomplete speech and ended with the same?
Dad – You know Too2, often times we don’t regret what we lost, but we regret when we realize why we lost it? We regret when we realize that we could have made it, only if we would have faced it. We regret when we realize that we could have won the game only if we would have played the game. If you won’t speak tomorrow, it will not matter to you that you never completed a speech in your school, but then someday you will realize that you never stepped up to complete it, and you will regret it. Prepare the speech Too2. Don’t lose the game without playing. To win, playing is mandatory – so, Just Go and Play the game.”  Too2 was afraid but he still started writing and practicing for speech next day.
Next day when he reached school, he begged, pleaded and finally convinced the angry bald, head-teacher to give him a chance to deliver a farewell note. He was invited on the stage – “Will I be able to complete my speech? What was my first line? Shall I read from the notes? No, what will I tell Dad then?” Nervous, but he started speaking, slowly and shaky, then he was calm and confident and finally he delivered the last line of his speech and completed his speech. He made the graduating batch stood up on their feet, applaud and make the same wacky noise which they all were making in the audition room in 1991. That day Too2 realized that if you want to win the game, then you have to play the game.
March 10, 2012 – After that day Too2 continued to speak even till today. If he would not have spoken that day, he would not have had the courage to walk the stage and speak and I know this, I know this very clearly and clearer than anyone else because because my nickname is  2-2 Often times we come to a stage in our lives, when we decide that we are not going to face it anymore. Often times we regret not what we have lost, but why we have lost. Often times we lose the game, not because we did not win, but because we have not played. If you don’t play the game, you cannot win. Play the game Fellow Toastmasters, just play the game.