India’s most beloved captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and ‘Whistle Podu’ Thalaiva of Chennai Super Kings celebrate his 42 birthday today. So here’s wishing Captain Cool the very best year! For those of us who have rooted for Mahi, like, forever, can pause as we delve into his favourite butter chicken and naan, kebabs or chicken tikka pizza to celebrate his birthday, and look at money lessons Dhoni’s life in cricket teaches us.
The road to financial success is hard. Don’t give up! Stay focussed
Some of us traced Mahi’s steps by getting off at Kharagpur station to imagine what a young Mahendra Singh Dhoni was doing on the platform, and in trains, checking tickets. It has been chronicled how tough it was for him to get selected in the Ranji team, let alone be considered for the national selection.
One, because he was from Bihar (now Ranchi falls in Jharkhand), and selectors tended to favour lads from Maharashtra. Two, because there’s not much visibility for the games in Bihar and the selectors needed to be persuaded to travel to watch him play. And third, he did not have a rich sponsor to help him be ‘discovered’. But when he got a foot in that door, he shone, like the star he still is.
Most of us need to rely on our guts and sheer focus if we need to make our hard earned money work for us. He relied on his talent, and did not give up on his dream. Very few strike a lottery, and become rich. Most of us have to focus on where we are investing, how it’s going in order to succeed.
Try out different things, Dhoni did
Most of us belong to a traditional family where you are expected to study hard through school so you can get that admission in a professional college, and graduate with a dream job. That dream job often puts us in cubicles and what was supposed to be a nine to five becomes nine to nine, and you end up being just a salaryman. You could - like our parents did - invest in the post office, unit trust, life insurance schemes, or even the ever-trusted fixed deposits. But look at Mahi, yes, really ‘look’ at him, and you will be inspired when it comes to money matters. How, you ask?
From the dreadlocks he sported during his first International appearance in 2005, to the salt and pepper look everyone swoons over even today, you have to give Dhoni ten on ten for trying out different things, even if it is with his hair. Just like that you too need to figure out what kind of an investor you are. Most bank/investment apps will ask you to figure out your ‘risk profile’ and help you invest.
If you are like Dhoni of the year summer cut 2007 after the T20 win, you will invest in stocks of the season. If you have made a killing in the market and thanked the gods just like Dhoni after the ICC World Cup victory, then you may sport the bald look even though your stocks are like a full head of hair! But if you are not risk averse, then you’re like Dhoni with a mohawk, isn’t it?
You have to believe your coach. And you will excel
Everyone knows that young Dhoni was a goalkeeper at school, until his coach asked him to try cricket. It was frustrating for him, and his dedication to the game has made him one of the most beloved cricketers today! Dhoni credits his friend Santosh Lal who taught him the wristy shot made by using the bottom hand as the dominant force, but it took Dhoni to make that ‘helicopter shot’ his own.
When starting out as an investor, you too will need a coach. No point asking your rich uncle or your dad’s friend or relatives for guidance (not saying you shouldn’t listen to their advice), but it’s smarter to get a money manager who thinks for you, can answer all your questions and help you invest wisely.
If you are a specialist, you will win
There are rare instances when a machine gun approach to investments work,because something you invested in will make you some money. But be inspired by Dhoni. He made a place in the team because he is one of the best wicket keepers in the world. Bowlers can be dropped from the team, and batters too. But when you’re Dhoni behind the stumps, can selectors try another lad?
Dhoni is one of the fastest stumpers of our times. Three stumpings of the five fastest in the world belong to Dhoni (2018, Keemo Paul of West Indies; 2012 Mitchell Marsh of Australia; 2023 IPL Shubhman Gill of Gujarat Titans). Fans are still amazed by the lightning fast stumping of Shubhman Gill last year! Imagine if he can at 41, rely on his instincts, what you can do with your money!
Investing in the stock market is like being Dhoni behind stumps. Study the market so much, you rarely miss an opportunity on a great stock. Become a specialist in figuring out trends and swoop on hot new stocks before the price becomes unreachable.
Captain Cool is how you should be in your money life
Dhoni has been nicknamed Captain Cool for a reason. When you’re focussed on the game, do you get into sledging and lose it all? You can be torn between Virat Kohli’s aggression and wins and compare his style to Captain Cool. No doubt aggression is one way to handle money, but Suresh Raina will tell you Dhoni’s aggression and anger could be seen in his eyes. But Captain Cool made it fun.
Investing is a bit like Dhoni’s sledging behind the wickets: wicked fun. And these moments have been caught by the stump mic. ‘Oh Sree (Sreesanth) udhar girlfriend nahi hai, idhar aaja thoda (when adjusting field placements).
And when Dhoni has lost his cool on the field, it was to stop players like Mustafizur Rehman blocking the run by obstructing the batsman. I cannot forget how Dhoni elbowed the player out of his way! Sometimes you too have to be ruthless if someone is blocking your progress needlessly. But mostly know that when the markets go up, they go down too. Corrections happen. So, don’t forget to be Dhoni. Keep your cool.
Dhoni’s record wins can be yours too
The record books make Dhoni one of the most successful captains for India. Whether it is the ODI world cup, T20 World Cup, Champions Trophy, ACC Asia Cup, he created records and fans. Whether he played for India or as the ‘Thala’ of Chennai Super Kings, Dhoni always manages to make watching cricket a fabulous experience.
Of course he’s had really hard times on the field. No cricketer is always in form. But you just have to watch the 3rd ODi against Sri Lanka (2005) and be inspired. Tendulkar lost his wicket early, but then Dhoni made a whopping, unbelievable 183 off 145 balls winning India the game! This is just one instance when relying on Dhoni created a win for India. You suddenly realise that he’s a great team player to have on your side. We all need a team to get ahead in our money life. Choose wisely, and who knows, you too can spend your hard earned money on your other passions (Everyone knows that for Dhoni, it is motorbikes!).
Again, a very happy birthday to the best of cricketers! And yes, time to put on your gloves and catch that cool money idea before anyone else!
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.