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Think of clothing as an investment
October, 04th 2007

For professional productivity.

Your shirt pocket is not a pseudo handbag and should not be the storage point for a selection of pens, notepads, cash and other items, chides Clare Maxfield. "You really only require one or two pens at most sitting in your jacket pocket for a truly professional look." Pens should be carried in your suit pocket, she advises in Getting Handsome (

The author, an image consultant involved in the fashion industry for over 20 years, has among her clients `ANZ Bank, Telstra, National Australian Bank, Ray White and PricewaterhouseCoopers'. And her book, `the result of three years of research, a lifetime of observations and the hands-on dressing of over 400 men', has `simple answers to everyday questions'.

Maxfield dispels a common notion that clothing is expenditure, and urges you to think of clothing as an investment. "The better you buy, the longer it will last and the greater return you will get for your money. This comes back to the quality over quantity argument," she reasons. "Consider a jacket that costs $400 and is worn consistently for up to ten years versus the $150 jacket that has lost its shape within 12 months, the fabric has started to ball and the pockets are hanging out of shape. Which is the better investment?"

To those who are keen on climbing the ladder, a simple tip the book provides is this: `Dress as if you belong there'. Start dressing the part and before long no one will expect you to be anywhere but the top, assures Maxfield.

Essential makeover suggestions.

* * *

Sarpanch Pawar

After finishing M.Com., Popatrao Pawar was searching for a job when the youth of his village requested him to contest for the gram panchayat elections.

Quite reluctantly, he agreed, but not before telling the villagers in a long speech that he was accepting the invitation not for the power it would bring, but for the possibilities of improvements that he saw for the village, Hivre Bazar, located in Ahmednagar district. He was elected unopposed to the gram panchayat and as sarpanch in 1989, narrates Community-based Natural Resource Management by Ajit Menon et al (

As sarpanch, Pawar began by choosing issues that faced the least possible resistance and were felt needs with the potential to garner large support within the village. "The first issue he took was that of drinking water. There were two hand pumps in the village that were not functioning and women had to walk 2-3 km to fetch water. In 1990, he managed to get the panchayat samiti at the taluka level to install new hand pumps in place of the two that were beyond repair." But what really got the village firmly behind him was his initiative for the village school.

Empowering read.

* * *

Risk examination

A shipping company owns an ocean-going steamer valued at Rs 32 crore, and insured with three insurance companies X, Y and Z. The amount underwritten is: X (Rs 6 crore), Y (Rs 10 crore), and Z (Rs 6 crore). One stormy night, the steamer met with an accident and the loss suffered was Rs 4 crore. Now, what is the liability of each insurance company in this case?

"This is based on co-insurance agreement. The loss has to be shared proportionately," explains Suggested Answers to DIRM (Diploma in Insurance Risk Management) Technical Examination November 2006, from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India ( The post-qualification course DIRM, as you may be aware, has four papers, viz. principles and practice of insurance, technical aspects of insurance, risk management and reinsurance, and business strategic planning and information technology.

For the wannabe insurance specialists among accountants.

Quench the questions

Which is the most venomous creature on earth? Thankfully, not the accountant; it's the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), informs The End of the Question Mark (

"In the advert for Sony were the bouncy balls real or computerised?" reads another question. No computer graphics in the Bravia ad, one learns. "An entire block of San Francisco was closed off for the shoot, which used 2,50,000 balls."

How much did a 3-minute telephone call between London to New York cost when it began in 1927? $75. What do they call the dot on `i'? Tittle.

Check if you know the answer to these questions: How far do ants walk in a day? Who was the six billionth person born in the world? How much money does the royal family contribute to the UK economy? Why does it say 562 on pint glasses? What are the three most used lies in the world?

Enough posers to kick-start the neurons.

* * *

Productivity triangle

If you compare productivity to dieting and imagine that each minute is like a calorie, then television represents many empty calories, bemoans Donald E. Wetmore in The Productivity Handbook (

The book discusses `new ways of leveraging' three things, viz. your time, information and communications, because the three are interdependent, as the author explains in the intro.

"You may be good at managing your time and absorbing information but not be as good at communicating your information. You may have strengths in absorbing and communicating information but be weak in managing your time." In today's world, you can't afford to cover one or two bases of the productivity triangle, argues Wetmore. "You have to practise and master all three."


* * * Stock `winners' and `losers'

There are two ways of looking at stock - as asset and liability - says Peter Fleming in A Guide to Retail Management ( When customer demand is strong and vibrant, "the retailer who has substantial stocks may consider it all an asset, providing the opportunity to beat sales targets with some ease." But the reverse may suddenly become also true, such as when demand falls and high stocks seem like deadweight.

"In reality, a varied merchandise range conceals true `winners' and `losers' - and it could be argued that the `winners' are the assets and the `losers', the liabilities," observes Fleming. "The successful sales manager is able to exploit the `winners' by promoting them - at the same time, seeking fair exposure of the less popular lines in the expectation of moving those items within the stock accounting period or season."

Apt read, in the context of the ongoing retail boom.


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