Will Smith was clearly one of the big stars at the HT Leadership Summitlast week. The packed hall of suits and saris at Taj Palace Delhi went a little crazy when he bounded onto stage emitting war cries to get the energy of the room up. That prompted actor Farhan Akhtar who was moderating the conversation to say: we can do this for 30 minutes and then take questions, to another round of mass hysteria in the room. But jokes apart, Smith the star came across as a feet-on-the-ground person who found his spotlight the minute he got himself into a plan. In fact, some of the one-hour talk was around money and I found lots of money lessons in that time. Here are five of them.
Expense Account, Mint
Indu makes the world’s bestaloo parathas—thin, crisp and dripping in oil. Many economists shrug off their cholesterol worries at our doorstep to sample my housekeeper’s fantastic breakfast treats. So when Indu asks for a morning off when another macro being is planning to drop in for a micro bite, I want to know why. She’s been summoned by her son’s teacher to sign on some forms. What forms, I ask, even as the mental image of the planned breakfast pops and dies. It seems that government schools in Delhi give Rs500 twice a year for assorted school-related expenses to parents of disadvantaged children. Now, the government was getting each child to open an account, with the parent as a joint holder and would henceforth directly credit the account. But the child would only get the money when he finished school. Thinking that Indu would be upset at this reduction in money in hand, I was surprised at what she said: “We don’t get the full amount. The teacher sometimes gives Rs200, sometimes Rs300—she gives the full amount to kids of a minority community and those of lower castes.”