#283 Money Shouts, Wealth Whispers [Guest Blog]

A hedge fund billionaire may be able to spend a bomb on a bottle of fine wine, but if you make him do a blind taste test with an inexpensive supermarket wine, I’ll bet he will not be able to tell the difference. He is basically buying into the lifestyle of the affluent, sophisticated consumer, without being able to understand what he is paying for.

Came across this wonderful article in The Wall Street Journal, written by Devita Saraf. She writes about differentiating wealth from money, and how the neo-rich class of Indians have everything but values and rightly so! Read the complete article on The Integral reproduced as-is from the Wall Street Journal.

Money Shouts, Wealth Whispers

- Devita Saraf

devitaProfessional In the new India, lots of people have made millions on stocks, real estate, technology, diamonds or any number of booming industries. Few, however, have been able to acquire class.

Too many of the recently rich, desperate to flash their new-found wealth, are on a crazy splurging spree. Yet with all the money they have acquired, only a few have been able to cultivate a discerning taste in what they purchase.

A hedge fund billionaire may be able to spend a bomb on a bottle of fine wine, but if you make him do a blind taste test with an inexpensive supermarket wine, I’ll bet he will not be able to tell the difference. He is basically buying into the lifestyle of the affluent, sophisticated consumer, without being able to understand what he is paying for.

There are many wealthy families in India that have class and remain subtle in their taste. They are able to sniff out the best without making a pomp and show of their choices.

At the same time there are some very successful businessmen who have grown large industries as pioneers in their fields, but are doing inane things like paying film stars to hang out with them in public to bolster their images.

Unfortunately for them, they can only fool a few.

Good taste and good manners are a part of a person. It comes from sensitivity and self-confidence. Dressing well and speaking well does not automatically come from earning well.

At my company, Vu Technologies, we had a young employee who worked in our retail store as a cleaner. His job was to mop floors and serve water to customers who asked for it. He knew about our products and was courteous to clients. He always showed up at work in an ironed shirt and with neatly-combed hair. Today, three years after he started with us, he has been promoted to a salesman at one of our biggest stores. He had sophistication, even as a poor boy from the countryside.

“We have a rich culture of art, music and cuisine that is centuries deep. It’s sad that few of us are able to imbibe in our own history of refinement.”

Of course the nouveau riche around the world and throughout history – whether it is football stars in Europe or dot-com billionaires in the U.S. – have been known to flash more cash than class. But it still upsets me when I see the richest and most educated people of India speaking rudely, dressing badly, dripping with bling and hurting the country’s reputation.

We have a rich culture of art, music and cuisine that is centuries deep. It’s sad that few of us are able to imbibe in our own history of refinement.

This insensitivity to quality spills over into the business world. We should demand quality in our products and services, yet too often we accept poor quality simply because there is a shortage of supply.

In India you can pay millions of dollars to build and furnish a fancy house, only to find the carpenter has left rough edges on the furniture or that the bathroom leaks.

Too many products available here have been made with low quality materials despite a premium price tag. Not being able to recognize and promote quality is going to cost us in the years to come.

Manufacturing in India, except for a few exceptions, cannot match what China has to offer. When I look for parts for our products, I find that the quality of a widget made in a small Chinese factory is almost always better than one made in India.

Yet, India is ahead when it comes to handmade goods. The quality of many Indian handicrafts cannot be matched. Why can’t we extend the same expertise and fine eye to manufacturing when it is so obviously there in our handicrafts?

If we want to build worldwide, world-class brands, we have to develop the taste to target to the demanding global customer. With our lifestyle as well as our products we need to understand the old adage "All that glitters is not gold." We need to focus more on intrinsic quality and refuse to be dazzled by bright packaging. When you make a fine product it shows through and through but in a subtle manner.

Money is important, but it is only part of wealth. Wealth is also about values, health, happiness, social responsibility and prosperity for the individual as well as the country. Money comes and goes so we have to build the wealth in our minds and our hearts and our nation so that we are good to go for the next few centuries.

Devita Saraf is CEO of Vu Technologies and Executive Director of Zenith Computers in Mumbai.


This article has been reproduced as is from The Wall Street Journal India with permission from Devita Saraf.

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2 thoughts on “#283 Money Shouts, Wealth Whispers [Guest Blog]

  1. Articles like these ones help clear my doubts about my own philosophies…thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

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