Mohnish Pabrai on How to be a Mentor

In The Education of a Value Investor, Guy Spier talks a lot about one of his biggest influences in the investment business — Mohnish Pabrai, who is a very well-known value investor. I’m a huge fan of Pabrai because of his simple, common sense way of looking at the world.

While Pabrai is something of a celebrity in value investing circles because of his investment performance, this passage from Spier’s book about how he has helped others over the years is what really stood out to me:

In countless ways, this relationship with Mohnish has been an eye-opening education for me. For example, over the past ten years, I’ve repeatedly observed how he looks to see what he can do for others, not the other way around. He never sat me down and explained the thinking behind this behavior. I simply witnessed how he acted with me and with others, and I tried my best to learn from it. I saw how he would focus first on creating a real relationship and would then constantly look for ways to give, not take. He wasn’t pushy. He didn’t put people under any obligation. He seemed simply to ask himself, “What can I do for them?” Sometimes this was a kind word or a piece of advice; sometimes it was an introduction to someone else; sometimes it was a book that he would send as a gift and as a way of saying that he was thinking of that person.

It’s such a simple thing, but you get the sense from Spier’s memoir that the little things like this can really make a big difference on others over time. It’s easy to take a cynical view of the world these days. I like reminders like this that show how impactful the act of helping others can be.

One of the best qualities of a good mentor is someone who leads by example.

The Education of a Value Investor

Further Reading:
An Education From Guy Spier
Guy Spier on the Power of Thank You

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My new book, A Wealth of Common Sense: Why Simplicity Trumps Complexity in Any Investment Plan, is out now.

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  1. Old School Value commented on Aug 04

    Great point. Another person that promotes and does the same thing is James Altucher.

    One of his other ideas is to come up with 10 new ideas a day exercise is strenghten the idea muscle. Then to give away the good ideas without expecting anything in return.