For those that didn’t make it to the event, we’ll share Rohith and Pooja’s speeches and photos.
The goal of our website and books is to help enable our readers become the best versions of themselves. We believe this lofty goal is not that lofty. This is due to our observation over the last few years we have seen ordinary people achieve seemingly extraordinary feats.
A confession here is that majority of the people we have studied in the subject of Intelligent Fanatics are business leaders; even though we believe the learnings can be applied to other fields as well. The reason is that like most of you here, most of us at intelligentfanatics.com are students of businesses and stewards of capital.
And to be really honest, the study of intelligent fanatics in businesses appeals quite a lot to the lazy guys in us. It helps us kill two birds with one stone. As Sean said, we consider the people we study to be our mentors, they teach us how to think better and take better decisions. Thus, we believe studying fanatics makes us become better versions of ourselves over time. At the same time, it helps us in deploying capital entrusted to us in a manner that we believe is prudent and intelligent. This reminds of something a mentor of mine told me - initially, we shape our portfolio, slowly our portfolio shapes us.
Now coming to the book, we have covered seven entrepreneurs across different sectors - Aravind Eye Care as evident is in the eyecare industry, Naturals as we all know is in the ice cream business, Mafatlals today are primarily in the Chemicals business, House Of Anita Dongre is in the women’s clothing niche, Kochouseph Chittilappilly’s group is in consumer electrical and electronic, amusement park, real estate and inner-wear businesses, Furtados name is known to anyone who is into music in India and TT Jagannathan runs TTK Prestige the largest kitchen player in the country.
We deliberately chose entrepreneurs who are not as well-known as perhaps the Tatas, the Bajajs, and others. The choosing of different sectors is similarly deliberate. We hoped to show that the framework of intelligent fanaticism, first described by Charlie Munger and then later developed by Sean and Ian in their two previous books is applicable across countries, across business sizes, and across sectors.
Now what characterizes an intelligent fanatics led business. We believe it is the culture. But that begs the question, what is culture?
The culture of an organization is analogous to the character of an individual. Culture is the character of an organization, the values that bind it; it is the way a business interacts with the various stakeholders.
And we believe culture is composed of many elements. These elements of culture are the individual parts that make up culture as a whole. We believe many leaders struggle because they are not familiar enough with all the elements. They rely mostly on one or two of them. Intelligent fanatics, on the other hand, intuitively or deliberately use all the elements.
To know what the elements are we would suggest you read the book.
But let me share our thoughts on one element - that of long-term thinking.
A major key to success in a business is to exploit an inefficiency. The longer the inefficiency persists, the better it is for the participant exploiting the inefficiency. The most powerful inefficiencies, in our opinion, are those that are obvious but continue to persist.
We believe thinking and acting for the long-term is a sustainable inefficiency. There is a reason for this. As the brilliant historian Yuval Noah Harari describes it, during our time as hunter-gatherers, our focus was on the next meal; we did not plan far ahead. It is only with the advent of the Agricultural Revolution did our species begin planning ahead—for the crops in the next season, to store enough food in the granary if the crops failed, and so forth. In short, it is short-term thinking that is hardwired into our DNA, not long-term thinking. And the recent consumerist trends driven by the most successful firms is only encouraging this short-termism.
Let me end by sharing one example of how a company profiled in the book took advantage of this inefficiency.
Due to the issues in Chinese chemical industry, the chemical price shot up globally. Many compliant chemical companies benefited tremendously. Nocil, run by Hrishikesh Mafatlal, wrote this in its annual report - “Your company continued its ethical business strategy and all regular customers were served in a timely manner without abnormal price escalations.” A short-term oriented leader would have salivated at the opportunity of earning quick abnormal profits. But Hrishikesh Mafatlal and the team at Nocil are focused more on the endurance and long-term sustainability of the business.
Tire manufacturers have factories across geographies; where in the list of preference do you think Nocil will be when a customer sets up a factory in a new location?
(Leftmost: Srinivas Kunte, (Moderator), Next: Srinivas Kamath, son of Raghunandan, Next: Raghunandan Kamath (Founder Naturals Ice Cream), Next: Siddhant Kamath, son of Raghunandan)
(Anthony Gomes, Director of Furtados group of companies)
(Mukesh Sawlani (right), co-founder and MD, House of Anita Dongre in conversation with Srinivas Kunte)
Entrepreneurs From The Book
Three entrepreneurs highlighted in our book shared stories and lessons with the audience.