10 Quick Tips on How to Make Investments in People – the ‘only’ thing that matters

Sometimes back I wrote about why people are the best investment we can ever do. Today I was thinking of how simple it is to make a conscious effort to show people they matter to us. I came up with these 10 simple points to show the people in our life what they mean to us –


Very true

Very true

1. Ask for their opinion on something important to us. It will give us some valuable ideas and leave them feeling valued.
2. Thank him/her for something they did for us, now or in the past.
3. Show interest in their lives, and look if there is any way we can contribute.
4. Respect their time. Always be the first one to reach for a meeting. Never make them wait.
5. Don’t do anything else while talking to them directly or over the phone. Give them your full attention.
6. Apologize when you make a mistake. Ask what can you do to make it up to them?
7. Show your faith in them, even when they themselves don’t. Tell him/her – “I believe in you”.
8. Share your dreams, plans, crazy ideas with them. And listen to theirs.
9. Celebrate their successes and victories.
10. Make what is important to them, important to you

If you have to do only thing, love people

If you have to do only one thing, love people

Life is about relationships and not things. And a strong relationships is built day by day, like any strong building or organization. So let’s make daily efforts to show people that they are special and we care about them.

P.S.These are not a set of tips we can use to manipulate others. Believe me, people are smart enough to sense out the fake from the real and genuine.

Things That Do Not Matter vs People Who Matter

In our day to day lives, we very often loose the bigger perspective and be consumed by many small issues which don’t matter too much in the long term. In the heat of the moment, it is not uncommon for people to see other people with a ‘what can you do for me?‘ attitude only. Placing undue attention on materialistic things weakens our ability to see the value of basic human to human bonding. There is also a famous quote by Spencer W. Kimball

“Love people, not things; use things, not people. ”

If we take the bigger perspective of life into the picture, people are always more important than anything materialistic. All materialistic things have been created by humans only and never has any materialistic thing created a human being. Remembering the value of human life and relationships can help us realize that things can always be replaced – houses can be rebuilt, lost possessions can be regained but the people in our lives are not replaceable. And during tough times, it is always the people in our lives who help us weather the storms and never our possessions. Yet in our good times, how easy it becomes to become attached to our jobs, money and ‘what we can buy‘ when the real joys of life are always free.

"People were created to be loved, Things were created to be used, The reason the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved, and people are being used."

"People were created to be loved, Things were created to be used, The reason the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved, and people are being used."

Decide What is Important, the Person or the Matter
Before getting into any conversation, we should always ask ourselves “Who is more important, the person or the task at hand?” and then never forget this during the conversation. There might be times when our ego can drive us to say mean things which could harm the relationship, even if we get the desired outcome. But is it worth it? And at what cost? It is very important to recognize when we are driven by our ego, and then STOP.

What if we are right?
Even if we strongly believe that what we are saying is right, we should not hurt the other person’s ego by trying to prove him wrong, or acting in an aggressive and rude manner. What one ego is saying can never be countered by the ego of another, but the other person can always be brought to reason by being compassionate and patient. The point I am trying to make is that if we realize that the conversation is driven by ego, we should allow the other person to get away with it, in the better interests of the relationship. Sooner or later, that person will realize it too.

Materialistic Things are Important too
All this is not to suggest that we should stop using our brain to design and manufacture new machines, factories, industries, ideas and services. All these materialistic things have been the greatest achievement of human beings. In the last two centuries, first with the industrial revolution (factories, cars, electricity, assembly lines) and the progress in science we made with that, and now with the knowledge revolution (computers, internet, globalization) we have totally changed the quality of human life on earth. So while materialistic things must be the output of our ever growing and creative mind, but they are only created to serve us and make our lives better, not the other way round.

In conclusion, love for others creates happiness for us and for others too. It’s easy to believe that money and things bring happiness, but they don’t. Happiness is a habit, and not an outcome of something. It is therefore much wiser to love people and use things, than to love things and use people.

Let go of the need to be right

If I have to pick up one thing I learned in the last few years which has made the most impact on me, I would not hesitate to say it has been the way I see and judge things to be right and wrong. We all have a strong sense of righteousness about certain matters in our life. It could be related to how we live our lives, or how we run our business or something else. It could be in matters as big as relationships and business, and as small as being a vegetarian or speaking the truth. Letting go of my perception of what I thought was right (and wrong) in this world has been the best thing I have done (and have to do every single day).

There is no right or wrong
When a child is born, there is no right or wrong for her. But as she grows up in this world, based on her parents, surroundings, culture, religion and numerous other factors she begins to develop a sense of right and wrong. Everything she does has to conform to these norms and she starts to despise everyone who doesn’t conform to those standards. This is very evident when people of different religions clash with each other, or people from different cultures find it difficult to stay and work together. Only if they realized that they are doing exactly the same as the other side, the only thing difference is their view of what is right and what is not? And that if they had been born and brought up in the opposite side, they would have turned out exactly as the person on the other side.

Your beliefs are not you
As a child grows up, he begins to associate himself with thoughts such as his gender, his possessions, nationality, race, religion, and later on, education and profession. We also associate ourselves with roles such as son, a brother, a parent, a friend and so on. There are many other such things which give identity to each one of us as we grow up. But the biggest problem arises when we start identifying ourselves with these labels. We are not our gender, nationality, religion or the different roles we play. We relate all these to ourselves by using words like ‘I, me, mine‘, but what is very important to realize here is that all these are just labels and not the real us. A child doesn’t have any such labels, and see how happy we are as children. But as we grow, we start associating ourselves with these labels and they become a part of us. What if one were to loose his nationality, religion, job, education? How would one react? People would go crazy because the things they have worked so hard to identify themselves with during their life has suddenly disappeared. Because they mistake these labels to be themselves rather than just what they are – ‘labels’.

Choose being kind over being right, and you'll be right every time. - Richard Carlson

Choose being kind over being right, and you'll be right every time. - Richard Carlson

Is being righteous wrong?
As I am advocating the need to let go of certain ideas about what is right and wrong, having such beliefs is not ‘wrong‘ in itself. What is important is to see them for what actually are, just our beliefs and not mistake them with ourselves? It is our ego (which is very very unconscious in nature) that makes us identify ourselves with things and beliefs. Once we see these beliefs as just beliefs, we can free ourselves from this trap. When this reality hits upon us, we may even laugh in disbelief. Because due to this illusion of mixing our beliefs with ourselves, men have fought wars, killed each other and continue to do so.

Nobody ever achieved anything by being right
So the next time you feel the urge to prove someone wrong and want to take pride in being ‘right‘, just realize that your ego is owning you in such moments. Once you are present to this, the ego loses its hold over you and you will feel free and light. It is the same reason that sometimes the poorest of people seem really happy (because they don’t have anything left to identify themselves with). It is also the same reason some people reach great heights after hitting bottom, when they are taken away of their so-called possessions and realize the futility of all of them in the first place.

So the next time you are caught in a clash of opinions, remember that these are only opinions and the unconscious ego at play. People don’t defend their opinions, they defend their identities. Sometimes, it means to take a step backwards, saying sorry even when you are not at fault, because you can see the bigger things at play (the fight of egos). Seeing people separate from their egos and built-up identities can free us from this trap of proving ourselves right and we can move on to more productive things in life.

People are the best investment

Throughout my life, I have seen my parents struggle for money due to some business decisions gone wrong or for health reasons. Due to this, we never had money to spend on anything which was ‘not necessary‘. Most of what my parents earned were spent in our (the two brothers) education and other long term investments, and rarely on movies, entertainment or traveling. Maybe due to this lack of financial resources, all of us made up for that by focussing on little things like spending quality time together, always helping anyone who is in need and getting connected with people on a personal level. I have seen and observed my father chatting and getting along very well with one and all. I very vividly remember my father taking me to his office sometimes and everybody, from the security guard to the peon to the street vendors outside to the receptionist inside, greeting him warmly. It felt like my father was friends with everyone in the building. This article is about people, and how they are the best investment opportunity for us.

Acknowledging and Greeting

Normally, as we go through our life we tend to focus only on what is important and ignore everything else. Think about how many people we passed through today from the time we left our home till we reached office. And to how many of these people did we stopped and said “Good Morning”. It is such a simple thing to do, and a good morning wish leaves both parties smiling, still we ignore it most of the times. Very often we forget that how good it feels when somebody appreciates us and believes in our abilities. So isn’t it natural that we should thrive to do the same to others?

It Always Come Back

We invest our time and money in our jobs, stocks, mutual funds and real estate. We buy cars, phones and other gadgets and take pride in owning them. But I have always believed that the best investment we can make in are people. You might or might not get your returns from the stock market or the real estate market, but investing in people always come back. If somebody needs our time and attention, nothing can be a bigger investment for us to help that person with honesty and compassion. There is no better sight in this world than seeing somebody smile and knowing that we are the reason behind it, that we could be of some help. And even if we talk in terms of returns, investment on people always tend to come back in life, and in proportions we can’t imagine. I am a witness to how many different unknown people have come forward to help my parents in times of need, without even their asking for it.


Myself and friends at Noida in 2008

Myself and friends at Noida in 2008

It is a Challenge, but a Very Rewarding One

Now it is easy to say that we must invest in people, but it can get really challenging and daunting in real life. Many times we will come across people who are very easy to ignore, or who trigger our temper and we might want to shout and yell at them. But on the other hand, empowering someone and taking time to listen to them can sometimes surprise even them. Many a time people will realize this and thank you for the extra effort you are putting, and that is always a very rewarding experience.

Have Fun, make Them Laugh

If we try to remember the times when we have been angry, upset, frustrated or just unhappy, we will realize that we have been taking things too seriously. All the life’s so called problems occur mostly when we are lost in a moment and lose the bigger perspective. If we look at things in perspective, an annoying boss in office might not be as important in the picture of your ‘whole life‘ as important as we might have made him/her. So it’s always good to loosen up, and treat people as human beings first, rather than good or bad resources. Have some fun, crack some jokes and laugh. For many, this period of fun might be the best part of their day, and you can be glad you were a part of it.

Be Genuine, Truthful and Trustworthy

All what I have written above is not some trick and people are smart enough to find out whether you genuinely mean your affection or if you are bluffing. So what I am advocating is to really become the person who cares about others, whom others can trust and who doesn’t break promises. It takes effort to ingrain these features in our character, but if we can do that, we will reap the rewards. As I said before, compared to our bank balance, stock portfolio or real estate, if our investment in people start giving results, it can dwarf all other investments we might have.

How my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results?

Time Management and prioritizing things have always been one of my biggest strength. First, as a student, and later as a professional, I have always tried to be ahead of time, and plan things in advance. I can’t remember how it started, maybe I just inherited this from my parents or my knack of doing something ‘extra‘ always made me manage my time properly. However, in the last one year, I have realized how this strength of mine has stopped me in achieving more and better results, and what I had to do to not let this strength become a barrier.

The earliest example of time management in my life came from my parents. I still remember my mother used to wake me up at 6 AM every morning while I was 7-8 years old and how my parents made me study for 30 mins every morning before leaving for school. The same used to continue after coming back from school with homework in the afternoon, some playtime in the evening followed by one hour of TV at night. I think the same planning of time carried on when I went to college in Jaipur and later when I started my career at Noida.

Now, as a student, and as a professional who was just starting his career, most of the work I did was individual in nature. It means I had the responsibility of doing something on my own, and I always enjoyed it as I was good at prioritizing and scheduling my time. Most of the success I tasted at work was primarily because of my ability to manage my time and schedule. All this was going well till I started handling the 99acres tech team. This moved me into a leadership role for the first time and I was responsible for the work of the whole team, and it was a team job rather than an individual job.

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

During that one year in Noida, I found that I made good friends and had a good relationship with people who were good in their work and finished their tasks timely. On the other hand, I felt anger and frustration whenever someone was unable to complete their work timely. I started treating both sets of people differently. In other words, I enjoyed working with people who shared the same traits of time management and resented working with whom ‘I considered‘ poor performers. At that time, however, I was totally unaware that this was stopping me from achieving more results.

Only in the last one year, when I have taken some projects in the social space, like Waste Management and Anti-Corruption, that I have realized how my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results. As my work grew from personal to interacting with people and teams, it was obvious (not to me 😉 ) that there would be differences in the way people think and work. Different people will be good at different skills, and for the success of any task or project, it is very important to leverage the complementary skills of people so that the output is bigger than the sum of its parts. Instead, what I was doing is aligning people with same sets of strengths and weaknesses together, making the project difficult and more prone to failure.

When I finally realized that how easily I used to get worried and upset when somebody did not replied in time, or doesn’t do what I expected him/her to do, I made a conscious effort not to let this become a show-stopper for the project, and for me. It was not easy in the beginning, as I was more concerned with somebody not replying in time rather than thinking about the project as a whole. The day I stopped seeing this behavior as ‘it should not be happening‘, life became a lot easier and I realized how this way of being has impacted my previous projects too.

Once I realized this, I started building systems, structures and processes that provide necessary help to the people to empower them so that delays can be avoided, or their impact be cushioned at best. This helped in creating a win-win scenario with the team working together with each member contributing in his/her own way and without any resentment, worries, etc. There is still a long way to go for me in this area, and I think the best learning will come when I encounter such situations in future, and how I choose to react to them.