Be an optimist and an opportunist

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 12 Aug 2021, 9:00 AM

I consider myself fortunate as I always got valuable advice from senior traders. I still remember the day when I earned the first profit of my life. I would purchase the spices at a wholesale rate from Deira in Dubai and sell them later in retail at our shop. Once, an experienced Bangladeshi trader named Mullah Chacha insisted that I purchase a bag of quality red chilli powder. Since I had no money left to buy it at once, I declined his offer. Then Chacha gave me a valuable business tip by saying, “Son, I know your struggle. All days are not equal. You will also overcome the challenges, but always remain an optimist and an opportunist. Don’t let good things slip out of your hands.” I followed his advice and purchased the chilli powder on credit. When I sold it to my customers, they liked it and demanded more. I got a considerable profit, which boosted my confidence.



I remember an anecdote from an Indian businessman in the 19th century. His name was Panchanan Das. Those were the days of British rule in India. Das was a poor orphan living in a small village in the Bengal province. In his early youth, he shifted to a small port town named Khansama and began his career as an assistant to a tobacco trader. Once, it so happened that the prices in the tobacco market had fallen heavily. Das’ master started worrying as he had huge stock stored in the warehouse. Das kept reassuring his master. One day he had gone to the port as usual and saw two ships anchored there. He came to know that they were loaded with a large stock of tobacco. Das knew the price volatility in the market very well. He purchased the entire stock at a throw-away price on his master’s name.

When he returned to his office, his master happily told him that the rates of tobacco in the Calcutta market had begun to soar. Das immediately rushed to the port again and sold the stock he possessed at a higher rate. He earned a huge profit of Rs10,000. He honestly gave all the money to his master and told him about his adventure. The master was so pleased with Das, that he awarded the entire amount back to him and said, “Young man, I see an able businessman in you. You should no longer remain anyone’s servant. Business favours adventurous people, who smell and grab opportunities well in time. You are one of those. I relieve you from my service. Go and start your own business with this money.” Das obeyed his master’s advice and started his own business. Later, he became one of the richest traders in the entirety of Bengal. The words of that tobacco trader or Chacha are time immemorial.

A quote by Winston Churchill is worth remembering — “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”


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