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Collection: Mohnish Pabrai - #165 'Why Do I Keep My Calendar Empty & The Advantages'



Mohnish quick question, you are an active learner and an active reader, I’m just wondering how often – how many hours a week or day that you are spending reading and researching? And also what are some of your personal traits that you believe at contributed most to your success?


Okay, yeah that’s a good question.

Well, you know I don’t really have a set schedule in the sense, what I do try to do is I try to run an empty calendar. So the only thing I put on my calendar once a year is the Arvind talk and then I just keep the rest of the calendar empty.

And but basically I mean I think like this week I think for example Arvind is the only guy on my schedule, I mean I had Turkey earlier this week but I can’t think of anything on my schedule next week or the week after or the week after.

Basically I try to make sure that – you know, I don’t like I don't enjoy meeting very much, I do enjoy the – now I enjoy the company visits a lot because I think it’s just you’ve got great professors better than any professors in any business schools – other than Arvind.

And you got tremendous faculty and you are paying nothing you know, and these guys are teaching you all kinds of things which is great, like I love the cement lessons I got from the CFO in Turkey, it was a blast.

And so I think the thing is that the first thing I learned from from Buffett and Munger is that you run an empty calendar as much as possible so don’t clutter the schedule.

And beyond that, you know, I’m basically a gentleman of leisure so it depends on what shows up on the radar, I mean if I am hot and heavy, you know, looking at some business or something then I’ll drop all the other reading and just go into that. And if I don't have enough of that then I’ll go back to the general reading and so on, so it just goes back and forth.

And I think that the traits that have helped me, I think it’s very important to be excited about life and to be passionate about, you know, your day ahead or your week ahead or whatever else.

And so I’ll give you an example, let’s say – you know, I rarely do this but let’s say I go have lunch with someone, you know, and all of us are different but usually when I have these lunches after I come back, most of the time I’m not that excited about the way the time was spent, sometimes I am, most of the time I am not.

And so what I did over the years was I made those types of events very rare. So you know you kind of try on different gloves and you just see what fits and then based on what fits, you just kind of you increase what you really enjoy in your life and you decrease what you don’t enjoy.

So I think if you – so part of this you can get to with, you know, psych testing, Myers-Briggs and maybe with some industrial psychologists and such, it's to really understand who you are and the closer you are to acting out your inner traits, 2 things are going to happen; one is you’re going to accomplish more and the second is you’re going to be more satisfied.

And so I think it’s very important to, I mean all of you are I think – Arvind, are they mostly part time or full time?


Mostly full time.


Yeah so I think in most of your cases, unfortunately at this point in your lives, you don’t have much choice about your schedule, you know, you pretty much, you know you’ve got a busy schedule with a lot of classes, a lot things you’re learning, but hopefully it’s fun. I think it should be quite a bit of fun because you have some choice into what classes you’re taking.

But once you get out into taking jobs or in the real world and so on, I think then I think you want to be really careful about making sure that on a daily basis, you are very excited about life.

So if you go to work for people don’t take the highest offer, take the person or group or company that you’re most passionate or excited about. Also Buffett says that you know don’t say I’ll do X and then I’ll do Y and then I’ll do Z and after working for someone I’ll do something else. He says that’s like saving sex for old age.

So I think you want to get to where what your goals are relatively quickly in a straight path rather than circuit your path. So I think those are the important things. I constantly look at how I spend my day and I’m trying to always tweak it in a way that makes me energized and excited.

I mean I would say that if I – you know, one of the things that’s happening that I noticed now is that it’s hard for me to find enough companies in India to meet when I’m going to India now because I’ve met so many of them that now it’s the travel will get more intense to smaller cities and so on. Probably won’t be as much fun, I mean it was a lot of fun when I was meeting 7-8 companies a day in one city, that will probably drop to 2 a day or something and more flights and such. So not as much fun, but better than zero you know.

So I think just try to get to a lifestyle where the glove fits really well and tweak it to constantly ask yourself that are you energized and excited. I think if you’re passionate and excited about what you’re doing, by definition you'll do it very well.



[YAPSS Takeaway]

"You kind of try on different gloves and you just see what fits and then based on what fits, you just kind of you increase what you really enjoy in your life and you decrease what you don’t enjoy." ~Mohnish Pabrai

Without an empty calendar, it's very difficult to find what you really enjoy doing because we're too busy with our 'regular' schedules and not spending enough time for ourselves.

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