I Just Lost a Friend

By the time you read this, you may have seen many obituaries of my friend Parag Parikh — who recently died in a tragic road accident in Omaha.

Parag, some of those obits say, was a contrarian value investor and money manager who took the high road in serving his clients, first at his firm’s PMS and then at his mutual fund. I want to focus instead on Parag, the remarkable human being who transformed many lives.

“Parag” in hindi means nectar which is appropriate because I know of many people who drank the nectar of Parag’s generosity and kindness. Let me tell you about just three of them.

Back in 1998, I was struggling to become a successful value investor. Having returned from England in 1994, and being bitten by the value investing bug, I had started my investment boutique with a very small corpus contributed by friends and family members. It would take many years before I achieved any real success, but in the meantime to make ends meet, I used to write columns in The Economic Times and a few other publications.

One day I had the opportunity to meet Parag who, it turned out, had read a few of my articles. He was running a PMS scheme at the time — something I thought I might want to do one day and so I was excited to get an opportunity to meet him.

Without my telling him anything, Parag saw my “situation,” understood it, and invited me to write for his firm. I accepted his offer and wrote thirteen columns for him on topics such as a (hypothetical) leveraged buyout of Bajaj Auto, the rigged market in PSU stocks, special situations investing and why value investors should stay away from IPOs. Those articles got me a lot of recognition in the investment community which was very helpful to me at the time. So, even in my early days as a value investor, Parag had propelled me forward.

He never stopped.

Over the years, we had stayed in touch and Parag had kept himself abreast of my progress as a value investor and also as a teacher.

Then, in 2011, he reached out to me with an idea. He was going to hold a symposium comprising of value investors. Titled “OctoberQuest,” the event would seek to be an “intellectual hotspot for exchange of thoughts and sharing of experiences among like-minded peers.”

Parag wanted me to address my peers in the value investing community many of whom were much older than me! When I read his mail, the nervous and introverted part of me took over. Speaking in front of students who know little is nothing as compared to addressing peers who know much more. That thought made me supply Parag with one excuse after another to somehow escape from all this.

It didn’t work.

After reading a series of email exchanges, Parag called me and said: “Sanjay, you can do it.” He talked me into it and on 28 September, just a few days before the conference I wrote to him: “Your persistence got me! If it’s ok with you, I will move my timetable a bit and come to attend your wonderful conference.”

Parag replied:

“Dear Sanjay, thank you so much. Your presence means a lot to me and also to the value investing community. We will schedule your speech first thing in the morning after the keynote address by Mr.Chandrakant Sampat.”

Shit! I was going to speak immediately after the legendary Chandrakant Sampat! Images of tomatoes and eggs being thrown at me immediately came to mind. It was too late though to back out now as a commitment to a friend had been made. So, I gathered all the courage I had and went on the stage and spoke something unremarkable to my peers. Afterwards, Parag came up and announced that from now on I will be the keynote speaker at his conference.

Parag was doing it again. He was propelling me forward.

Of the next three OctoberQuest keynote talks I delivered, two went viral on the net. (The third one remains unpublished.) I still get mails from people from around the world about them and have made many friends and earned a lot of respect because of those talks — something that wouldn’t have happened but for Parag.

Arpit Ranka is one of my brightest students. He dropped out of college to study from me and ended up topping my class. When the course finished, he came to me for career advise. I told him to go get a college degree. Thankfully, Arpit didn’t listen. Instead, he went to Parag, who immediately hired him. Over the course of next few months, Parag mentored Arpit and invited him to collaborate with him on his second book. That book, on behavioural finance, contains Parag’s accumulated wisdom of more than three decades.

Arpit recalls the experience:

“Sometimes a gesture remains with you for your entire life. One such gesture on his part, which greatly exaggerated my contribution was him sharing 25% of the royalty of his book with me. I consider myself blessed to have worked under somebody like Parag bhai, who not only inspired you immensely but then went out of his way to recognise your contribution, which was effectively fruit of his trust more than anything else!”

Years later, Arpit went on to become a very successful value investor and I was delighted to learn recently that one of the world’s largest University endowments reached out to him to explore a working relationship with him. Unfortunately, Parag didn’t get to know this. Had he known, he too would have been so proud of Arpit.

Like Arpit, Megha More is also a bright ex-student. She went to work for Goldman Sachs and after a while when she found herself drowning in that ocean she sought my help. She had an interest in behavioral finance so I sent her to Parag who immediately hired her. She recalls:

“I would sit with him in his office for about 30 mins to an hour daily and just rake in all the wisdom that he so freely and happily imparted.”

Megha’s story is inspirational because it shows how one thing can lead to another. She recalls how Parag encouraged her to stay fit:

“When I informed him that I have joined a gym, he was elated. He knew I had almost an hour long commute to work. He immediately said, “I will allow you to leave one hour early daily if you promise you won’t skip the gym.””

Megha went to Chicago to be with her husband and ended up running the Chicago marathon. A few years ago, she returned to India and started a fitness company which was recently funded by a venture firm at a multi-million dollar valuation. She recalls:

“I had tears in my eyes when I informed him about my personal decision to move to US, but he spoke to me like my father would and said “This is the first of many sacrifices that you’ll make in your marriage. Don’t start this beautiful journey with a regret. You were meant to be here with us for this limited time only.”

There is no other way I can justify losing Parag than by quoting his own words to Megha: He was meant to be here with us for this limited time only.

Note: And edited version of this post will be published in the forthcoming issue of Outlook Business.

Update: Outlook Business Link.

19 thoughts on “I Just Lost a Friend

  1. Dear Professor,

    You have written about Paragbhai so beautifully. I do not exactly recall but I have this feeling that Paragbhai used to publish a monthly magazine called Odyssey. I had read your articles in that publication. I was sad when Paragbhai stopped publishing it. I still may have all those copies along with old OIDs.

    I had the opportunity to meet both of you in Oxford Book Store. I was introduced to Parahbhai by Chetan. He sounded very humble.

    May his soul rest in Peace.

    Recently I was in Mauritius and remembered you and Chetanbhai. The driver over there informed me that one US based investor worth crores visits Mauritius and reads books there whole day!

    He did not recall his name but he has taken my email and said he will send me his email.

    Warren n Charlie Read a lot.

    Paragbhai will be remembered for his writings and wisdom he has spread to many.

    Best wishes,


  2. vsivagnanam says:

    The great ending of this article and the sad ending of Parag Sir’s life both made my eyes wet. RIP PP.

  3. Beautiful Sir, really inspiring.. thanks

  4. Dear Sanjay Sir,

    Thank you for sharing with us – what a remarkable man Mr Parag was.

    With qualities that are a rarity in the investment world.

    A true inspiration !

  5. jaithecloner says:

    May his soul rest in peace…You continue his tradition of helping others… His helping thoughts will live for ever through people like you…

    I received a note from PPFAS… But learnt that he died here in USA from your article… I am really upset why God cannot give long innings for kind hearted people like Parag…

    Looks like this happened in a street😦



  6. Pankaj Mohta says:

    Paragbhai is inspiration to value investor community here in India. Its a tribute to the person who put his friends, employee and investor ahead of him. Salute to him…..

  7. Muthu says:

    Thanks for sharing and highlighting excellent qualities of Mr.Parag Parikh. He was a great human being. You have a generous and kind heart to praise your peers. That’s a rare quality.

  8. explorer71 says:

    The news was shocking. A fitting tribute to towering personalities like Paragji would be for us to work hard to get more common investors in the value investing fold and away from the crazy dance of capital that keeps happening daily under the name of stock markets. This will create true wealth for common people. To this end, please do post here all your writings you mentioned, as well as Paragji’s magazines mentioned above, other old articles, etc. I am sure there is rich learning. Paragji’s memories will live forever this way. RIP.

  9. Excellent article about a great man. May his rest in peace.

  10. mayur dvivedi says:

    Sir A wonderful post for the great man. I never met him but i have followed his sayings and teachings over the years. I request you to pass on my condolences to his family. They should know what AN INSPIRATION PARAG PARIKH IS and will continue to be to behavioral and value investing. regards Mayur Dvivedi M^~()R

    “It is not important where you stand but rather in which direction you are moving”

    “GOD isn’t the greatest inventor but rather the greatest invention”. So believe in the greatest inventor- MAN and Keep the Faith in GOD.

  11. Thanks for sharing your association with the Great personality.Proud to have his book on value investing. Let his books and articles be the guiding force for the future generation.

  12. zayan says:

    I don’t know know what to write as comment for this article. The article is too heart touching. Thanks for sharing.

  13. B.G. Prasad says:

    ” There is no other way I can justify losing Parag than by quoting his own words to Megha: He was meant to be here with us for this limited time only ” …….very well quoted fundoo professor Sanjay Bakshi…..I asked for an investment advice once he declined to give saying he has vested interest. I prodded , as you are invested in , it is better to advice about your belief at least personally ,….he asked me why do you ask then and signed off …..My respect of him went up manifold ….

  14. Truely an inspiring life led by Him. Hope everyone of us is able to have a mentor like him and dwell from their learnings and experiences.

  15. sir , i am really inspired by this article and one thing i really feel about you as a person who has got great humbleness in sharing your knowledge about stockmarket is due to inspirations from persons like parag bhai.

  16. It touched my heart. Truly … we can only console ourselves by quoting his words “you were meant to be with us for this limited time only”, but gap by his absence will be felt for long long time.

  17. Hey Sanjay,thanks for sharing your treasured memories of Parag…A few years ago when we met while catching a week’s breather in the Nilgiris he spontaneously suggested we co-author a book and though we brainstormed a few ideas I had declined for some reason…we ran into each other occasionally at our Club and would share brief bytes of outspoken and frank views on capital market issues of the day….we never worked together though we had common clients…With his untimely demise our World has lost ‘Value’ early

  18. where go says:

    Dear Sanjay, Can you share more details on the lectures at Flame Pune. No details can be found anywhere apart from your tweet. Thanks, Prashant

  19. where go says:

    By lectures, I was referring to the Parag parikj memorial lectures favouring Dakshana foundation. Thanks.

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