Finance and consulting, these are the main themes for the second week of NY module. We listened to guest speakers who are successful in their areas and visited several companies, including some big names such as Ernst & Young and General Atlantic. Of course, listening and seeing those professionals who are fighting and survive in one of the top cities is always instructive. But this should have been more exciting. Personally, I did not find it more interesting than the first one. Perhaps this is partially because people used to put too much attention and effort in finance and consulting so that the operating models and philosophies are widely spread and copied.
One of my key takeaways from this week is not about any investment know-how or management method, but some advices for career development and life attitude. During our visit to Zephyr, the lecture that Mr. Thomas Barry and Mr. Stephen Canter gave us a lecture, talking about their experience and business. While for almost half of the time, they were kind enough to teach us how to manage our careers and lives. That could be the most impressed part for me so far.
#1. You are not the smartest and you don’t have to be.
#2. You just have to have a relative advantage in your market. So find a market in which you have advantage.
The whole idea can also be seen in their investment philosophy. They chose niche market to grow rather than compete in a highly penetrating market. For example, they are investing in Sri Lanka rather than in China, or in Indian SMEs rather than big multinationals. Granted, every company has its own way, but it has to be made according to what you do and who you are. I think it is the way that should be for Zephyr. Is this actually what is happening around us? People are trying to find or create a blue ocean to compete and survive. This has been proved to be not only wise, but successful as well.
#3. Rising tide lifts all boats.
Business is not only about effort and talent. Sometimes a little bit luck would be of great help. I am not encouraging going along with the ride. But we have to admit that a wise choice makes different.