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Guru Cool

In the bedroom of Saharsh Damani, of Kolkata, West Bengal, you will find all the books authored by Aswath Damodaran -- and that is just one factoid among many you will find relating to the business guru, via the most random search on Orkut.

The Professor of Finance and David Margolis Teaching Fellow at New York University's Stern School of Business and who, in 1994, was rated by Business Week as one of
in his words
'It is true that risk exposes us to potential losses, but it also provides us with opportunities. A simple vision of successful risk taking is we should expand our exposure to upside risk while reducing the potential for downside risk.'
Photo: Aswath Damodaran
the top 12 professors on the subject in the United States, has a fan club dedicated to him at the social networking site that, at last count, boasted 80 members: tribute, in contemporary idiom, to the far-reaching influence the guru wields among students, and peers.

The holder of a doctorate in finance from the University of California has many claims to fame -- not least, those textbooks he authored that Saharsh Damani keeps next to his pillow. The books include Damodaran on Valuation, Investment Valuation, The Dark Side of Valuation, and Corporate Finance: Theory and Practice.

Orkut scraps are just one way of taking his temperature. A review of the awards conferred on him is another -- and by that yardstick, Damodaran is hotter than global warming.

The students of his MBA class have voted him Professor of the Year five times. In 1990, he was the youngest winner of the University-wide Distinguished Teaching Award.

He has won the Giblin, Glucksman, and Heyman Fellowships; a David Margolis Teaching Excellence Fellowship; and the Richard L Rosenthal Award for Innovation in Investment Management and Corporate Finance.

What makes him cool though, in the eyes of his students, is his modest shrug at all these accolades. 'I am,' he says on his Web site, 'lucky enough to be in a field where a little knowledge and some experience goes a long way, and achieving guru status seems relatively simple. What I do know is neither profound nor earth shattering.'

This marriage of an American drive for knowledge and excellence, and a typically Indian modesty, is what in the eyes of his students makes him 'guru cool'; dark good looks and a youthful flair don't exactly hurt, either.