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Monday, 30 December 2013

Cultural Revolution and Benchmarking


Anyone remember the story of that taxi-driver who shared he earned $7,000 a month?

Then it was discovered the $7,000 were his best months; not the average per month... 

Hold this thought.


It never fails to tickle me pink when I read about self-professed long term "investors" are so enthused into comparing annual performance returns, benchmarking this, benchmarking that.

It can become like during the Cultural Revolution in China. 

"Next year my annual production will be 10% higher than last year!" village A chief shouts. 

"Our village will hit 20%!!!" exclaimed village B chief with an even louder voice.

Village chief C stands up in a superman pose, one arm on his hip and the other pumped up to the sky, "Our village will strive for 50% increase!!!"  (Is this or-yi-or Tarzan power or what?)

Everyone claps; everyone cheers!


Long term benchmarking for long term investors

I often poke this CW qian-bei whenever he writes about goal settings and KPIs. That's because it's a wonderful tool used by land owners and puppet masters on their minions. But why would free man use it on themselves? (That's another story for another day)


Long Term Benchmarking for Long Term Investors



But I have to give credit where credit is due. His kung fu deep or what?

Do you judge the performance of a marathon based on the timing of the first 2.5 km?

Annual performance results are merely milestones; not destination.
 
The minimum period for CAGR is about 10 years - around 2 Bull/Bear cycles. 

Huh? So long... No fun one! 

Well, if you want bragging rights that you beat Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch last year, don't let me stop you. Like they say, face is what others give you; shame is what you brought upon yourself. Cultural Revolution benchmarking! Who shouts the loudest wins (just don't ask about delivery...)

Far from being a party pooper, if you starting your journey, just have fun and make as many mistakes as you can during the early stages of your journey. Numbers per se don't mean as much as the learning along this journey of yours.

Whether your strategy today is dollar cost averaging, buying into low cost index funds, dividend stocks investing, DIY value or growth investing; it's mostly based on trust.  

A day will come when you will have your own mind-flip, epiphany, paradigm shift, "a-ha" moment or whatever you choose to call it.

That's when you can verify the actual results of your trust

Trust but verify.

This is the time you either exclaim "This shit really works!", or you go dejectedly "I have to make a change... This is not working as well as I thought...."

If anyone and everyone can do it, we would have to import more foreign talent as no Singaporeans would be working after 40. Or?


Short-term benchmarking for short term traders

Traders are more practical. Especially if trading full-time. You can't buy anything with percentages, so it's always about "show me the money!"

Day traders are more interested on improving themselves from an average $50 per day to $200 per day, to $1,000 per day trader. 

Something is not right if day traders ask for annual performance returns in percentages...

For swing traders, it would be like our tax-driver in the beginning - how much we make on average on a monthly basis..


Who uses annual performance returns in percentages?

If long term investors and short term traders don't use annual returns in percentages as their main KPI, who the freaking hell use it?

1) Professional money managers. Duh? Their annual performance bonus is based on it. Have you heard of year end "window-dressing"?

2) Salespersons and promoters. I'll let you figure this one out yourself.





Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Saying Thanks for 2013 - Amazing Grace (Judy Collins with Boys' Choir of Harlem 1993)

This is the time of year many will be making new year resolutions and goals for the coming year.

Looking back, I've a lot to give thanks to.


1) Although mom has lost her peripheral vision due to glaucoma, I am thankful her normal vision is better than mine as she does not need glasses to read the eye charts. 

I am grateful to the good doctors and nurses of NUH eye centre for their care and attention to us during the past 2 years. I've seen interns becoming registrars; registrars becoming consultant doctors; and little girl nurses blossoming into young women. From the old Kent Ridge wing to the new towering NUH Medical Centre.

Progressing from 1 week several medical appointments, to weekly, monthly, quarterly, and now a followup review every 6 months. Phew! Mom and I can breathe easier now.

Tip: Readers who are above 50, and/or if you have family member history with glaucoma, do go for your annual eye examinations. There is no cure for glaucoma - we can only slow down or arrest it's effect upon early detection. 


2) Despite our fights and moments of separations; I am thankful the feelings of love and kinship have been strengthened - like aching and sore muscles after an exhaustive workout. 

I hate it when my elder sibling still treats me like a kid brother (I'm 46!), but do I treat my younger sibling similarly!? I tell mom my stomach is getting bigger, and the next moment she makes supper for me, like all moms do. Eat first! Don't go to sleep hungry... Who is taking care of who? I should be so lucky!


3) When everyday is Sunday, Sunday soon loses its appeal. I am grateful for my younger sibling for coming back during the weekends so I can take my "off-days" by working during the weekends.

Married women living with in-laws may understand this irony.

Thankful my new colleagues have accepted me into their team. Not the best of start when on my first day, people asked me: "We have enough staff oredi. Why you come here?"

I realised why after the first week. One month later, one of the full-time colleagues was fired. Grateful my street smart skill of reading people and business situations is still intact. Everything happens for a reason.


4) It's exactly 3 years today that I wrote my first blog post in Athens. Along the way, I've got the good fortune of getting to know some amazing people in cyberspace. Some of whom are complete opposites to me - be it education; work experience; spiritually; politically; and philosophically.

Wouldn't it be boring if everyone here is the same?

Like changing life stages, my blog posts have also evolved over the years. Thanks for the company readers!


5) Last but not least, I would like to share this Amazing Grace song to express my state of mind now.





Merry Christmas everyone! 




Friday, 20 December 2013

Covered Short

Have you tried shorting stocks?

If you interested, do be aware that only amateurs will use SGX's securities borrowing and lendiing programme (SBL).

How I know?

I was that "sotong" (dumb) amateur. 

If your portfolio is big as in landed class, and you want to borrow shares to short, ask your prime broker. The rates are way much better than SGX's!

If your portfolio is more HDB like, do check out CFDs instead.

Trust but verify 

Since I learn better by doing, I've done both SBL and CFD. I encourage you to do the same so you can form your own opinions. Come to think of it, "trust but verify" is recommended for all things in life! OK, except for spirituality...

There is also this naked short and cover on the same day technique used by day traders. That's for the "professionals". Don't play play with naked shorting. If you didn't cover on the same day, SGX will "punish" you. Try it if you don't believe.


Covered Short

We often see terms and conditions and caveats way down at the bottom in fine print for promotional and advertorial articles. (Hello, this is not an advertorial OK?)

I'll put mine here before you read further:

1) You own some core equity holdings for 3 or more years.

2) You are familiar with how they react during different market sentiments.
 

Examples leh!

OK, look at your core holdings during May 2013. On the suggestion of "tapering", notice some of your holding drop quite a bit, some drop only slightly, and some hardly moved at all. That was your full-free rehearsal on how your core holdings react during a change in "market sentiment".

Look again for the past 2 weeks. That was our 2nd mini full-dress rehearsal. Did your core holdings react in a similar way? OK, drop wasn't as big as in May but notice the similarities when it comes to volatility of your core holdings?

Now let's say market sentiments recovered and STI went back up to 3200 or 3400.

In 2014, if you notice another shift in "market sentiment", you now know which core holdings can be a good candidates for doing a "covered short".


Short the stocks you already owned?

You only need to "borrow" stocks to short if you didn't already own them. 

No need SBL, no need CFD. No naked shorting.

Just sell (short) the shares you already owned!

Simple right?

Then buy back the same quantity of shares you have sold at a lower price (hopefully).

Warning: It can go horribly wrong. After you sell, the stock can go ballistic up up and away!

Hey! Don't look at me! Now you understand my 2 caveats above. You have to have an edge over other newbies by intimately knowing your own core holdings. If you don't understand your own core holdings, blame who?


Financial Engineering

I own a core holding bought at $1.00

I "covered short" (sell) it at $1.20


1) If I close my "covered short" by buying-in at $1.05, I would leave my original position at $1.00 as an open position. I'll book the "sell $1.20 and buy at $1.05" as completed transaction with booked profit of 15 cents.

2) If I close my "covered short" by buying-in at $0.90, I would book "sell $1.20 and bought at $1.00" (my original position) as completed transaction with booked profit of 20 cents. And record $0.90 as the "new" entry price for my core holding. 
   

This is optional. I just liked the idea of seeing "green" in my portfolio. Hate to see "red" losses... Also, it's motivating to be able to lower my entry prices without resorting to "averaging down".


Nothing new at all!

Some of you maybe screaming now - that's nothing new! Just old wine in new bottle!

You are absolutely right!!!

Don't be fooled by terminology or labels. Some call what I've described as Rounds 1,2,3,4. Some call it buy sell; buy sell. Some call it Trading around a core position, etc.

A rose by any other names is still a rose.

So why I call it covered short?

Men would understand. Even when we are with our wives or girlfriends, when a pretty babe walks by, what do we do?

Many times when I sold a core holding with the intention to buying it back at a later date (preferably at a lower price), I get distracted and bought another stock instead or completely forgot to buy the sold core holding back...  (What a cad I am!)

After several bouts of seller's remorse, I now treat those core holdings I temporarily sold as "covered shorts". 

When we short, we have to cover it back. Since it's a "short trade", plus my financial engineering "incentive", I am now more focused and motivated to find a good buy-in price to complete the transaction.  


Protecting profits

This technique is mainly to  protect my unrealised profit.

New readers may want to read more about protecting profits here:

The 3 Ms Part 2 - Money (episode 2 of 2)


Remember: If the reasons you bought a stock are no longer valid, then after you sell, don't buy it back!!!

This covered short technique is when you still have faith in your core holding. You are merely seeking a short separation to make the heart fonder (婚).


Monday, 16 December 2013

How many more years do they have?

I came to know of a group of mainly retired teachers and ex-principals that gathers regularly at one of the food centres in Queenstown for coffee and chit-chat in the mornings.

Every alternate month or so, there will be organised "excursions" up north to Hap Chai, or down south to Batam. Wink, wink. 

Yes, they are all males.


Some on reading this may get their blood boil... How could these "educated" gentlemen, who should know better, do such things that may cause grief and shame to their families? At their age some more!

They should be role models or paragons to the young. Shackles of labels getting hurled out...




Shame



I once wrote that I no longer nag at my dad for smoking or drinking. I now even enable his habits by giving an allowance to do whatever he likes with it - there are no terms and conditions attached.

Despite taking medicine for high blood pressure, dad his outlived many of his friends and relatives who had healthier lifestyles than him - vegetarians, healthy living fanatics and all.

From him, I've learned life is not a straight line extrapolation. 


Morality, ethics, legality - many of these concepts I thought I knew have taken a new meaning once I put a human face on them. Something happened what I hit 40.

I begin to see things from the other side. Try walking in the shoes of others. And less seeing things from the "I am the centre of the universe" perspective. You can say I have discovered "religion"!?

Which is ironic since the acts I now "don't mind" from those retired gentlemen contravene with most mainstream religions' teachings.


How did I reconcile with myself? 

Just pause and think for a while before you hurl stones at these elderly gentlemen - how many more years do they have?


On another related topic, I've always wondered why people in their 80s still queue to buy Toto?

Now I get it.

It's no different from stories about retired people who had saved and worked hard all their lives, do all the proper "safe and secure" stuffs, no speculations. Safety first!

Guess what? 

When they get their hands on their retirement money, they start to "speculate" (of course they will call it investment) on risky stuffs with an all-in make or break mentality?

1) Overseas properties, land banking, etc.

2) Gold trading or other get rich quick "promotions". Ostrich farms anyone?

3) And of course after staying away from the STI for 30 odd years, they now fancy they can be profitable equities investors after reading a few books or taking up some seminars or courses. (Don't they realise the people taking the other side of their positions could have 20 or more years hands on investing experience over several stock market cycles than them?)

4) Or they suddenly discovered their "dormant" entrepreneur spirits and plonk down their entire nest eggs on new business "excursions". (It's never too late; but why now and all-in?)


It's called capitulation.

When you read the regrets of their stories for those who lost it all, one common thread appears:

These "safety first" retirees have had enough of seeing their classmates, colleagues, neighbours, and relatives getting richer than them by taking risks and speculating. At their advanced age, they see it as their last chance to "catch up". 

How many more years do they have?

Hidden behind those words, there's a needle in their hearts: 

"If others can get rich through XXX, why can't I?"




Saturday, 14 December 2013

Man in Pink Tutu

Got this from my friend's Facebook.

This guy travelled the country in a pink tutu just to make his wife laugh during chemo... 




Girls, guys like him are keepers.


Let's do our bit to share more uplifting stories of joy, happiness, and love. 

And drink Chicken Soup!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Gurkhas, Riots, and Emergency Funds

Mt Vernon crematorium is the resting place for my maternal grandma.

I visit her a few times a year; whenever I feel like saying hello. (I don't wait for Ching Ming; I listen to my heart. Visiting her is not an obligation)

This bond started way way back. 

I remember when grandma went back to China for visiting before I enrolled in primary school, the many days I've stood looking out the window crying for grandma to come back - especially after getting a beating from mom...

When I read stories of how children cry their hearts out when their maids have to return home, I understand that feeling.


Next to Mt Vernon is the camp for our Singapore Gurkha Contingent.

I often see these young warriors when I visit grandma.


After Sunday night's event, I am very glad and thankful we have the services of these professional warriors living amongst our midst.



 
Sometimes we forget the original purpose of an emergency fund, and through the passage of time, we may get too cute with it, without thinking through the consequences.

Imagine some smart aleck, doing a straight line extrapolation, may suggest this:

"Since there's no riots in Singapore for the past 40 years, why spend all these money in maintaining this Gurkha Contingent for an event that may or may not happen?"


An alternative example:

You own a car. 

You got bitten by the "passive income" flavour of the year bug.

So smart of you! 

Rent out your car to a car leasing company, while you switch to public transport. You earn the carry difference.

Now you go telling everyone how you turned a liability to an asset with positive free cash flow every month! 

Yes, enjoy that euphoric feeling while it lasts. Contrast it with the feeling of panic and frustrations when you need your car urgently back to ferry your sick child, injured wife, or aged parents during a medical emergency.


What is the purpose of an Emergency Fund?

We all have to answer that ourselves - depending on our personal situation and what we value more in life.  (Goals to reach financial success quicker versus people first?)

There will be whispers to our ears and well meaning advice on how much we can save by not having an emergency fund; or how much more we can earn by converting this emergency fund into an opportunity fund.  

You decide.


 

Monday, 9 December 2013

3 sisters

Last night, while working as retail sales over the weekend, I saw a sight that reminded me of what's really important and beautiful.

3 adult sisters came into the showroom. Early to late 30s?

One was in a wheelchair. She looked the youngest. 

The eldest one was pushing the wheelchair and being the "legs" for her youngest sister.

The middle sister is the "scout"; walking in front and looking out for things of interest.

There were also 2 boisterous young girls of maybe 7-8 years old. Very pretty. Running around the showroom, touching, fidgeting, and playing around with the merchandise. 

I soon figured one of the young girls belonged to the adult middle sister, and the other child belonged to the youngest adult sister in the wheelchair. Ah! Cousins!

From the way the youngest adult sister was moving (or rather not moving) in the wheelchair, I am guessing it's a neck down paralysis kind of injury...


"Mommy, mommy! Look at at this!" 

"Just tell me," said the mother in the wheelchair. She can't turn her head...

I felt a thug in my heart.

"No mommy see!"

"Just tell me, dear."


Maybe the child is too young to understand; but I am happy they have a normal mother and child relationship. Hope the young child will grow up not changing just because her mom is "different".

I felt ashamed. 

I was perfectly happy and glad my mom came to visit me during canteen breaks during my primary school days. Looking back, this is such a blessing as nowadays, not many children can have such a relationship as there are fewer stay-at-home moms now. 

But in secondary school, I started to feel self conscious to be seen with my mom in public. Mom not wearing the "right" clothes. Not talking in the "right" accent; etc.

I changed. 

 
My attention now turned to the 3 adult sisters.

How often do we go out shopping with our adult siblings? Young is one thing. But when we have our own families and careers, how often do do stuffs together? 

I guess other than lunch or dinner gatherings in restaurants, it's a rarity.  
   
The 3 adult sisters were being themselves. 1 will like an item; 2 others don't like. 2 like; 1 disagree. There is no our poor little sister is handicapped, so we give in to her crap pretentions.

As usual, surrounded by 3 ladies, I chipped-in with my offbeat brand of banter and flirtations (Hey! Their hubbies not around).

I did a small sale; but more importantly, I think I've given all 3 adults sisters some fun in their Sunday afternoon shopping. 

I am mirroring what the other 2 healthy sisters were behaving towards their invalid sister.
 

The more we treat someone "special", the more were are in fact emphasizing their differences.


Please hor! It does not mean we don't give up our seats to seniors or pregnant women. That's common (can be most uncommon in some people) courtesy.

Hard to express in words. But I hate it when people patronize me... Which usually begins with "You people..."  (Hence the "I hate labelling" in my blog) 


And I hate myself even more when I fell into the "you people" thinking (for that split second) this morning reading the paper on the riots in Little India last night.



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Go stand outside the classroom!

I am not naughty as a child; just playful.

And forgetful. And mind drifter (sitting next to class window how not to wander off?).

So during my primary school days from primary 1 to 3 at Hua Yi Primary School (torn down for HDB BTO), it's a common sight to see me standing on chairs, tables, or outside the classroom as "penitence".

Forgot to bring textbook - stand on your chair!

Forgot to do homework - you go stand on the table!

Mind wander off while teacher talking - chalk got thrown to my head!

Draw cartoon during class - Jared! You again! You go stand outside the class!

The worst is when teacher you like (she cared about me as a real person) walked past.... 

"What now Jared?"

"I draw funny picture of Ms Ong (old maid in her 50s; like to slap people. I don't like her). Got caught..." 

"You har!"


And during the 70s, we have to brush teeth at the drains every Monday. Of course I would forget to bring my brush and mug once in a while. This time power!

Those who forget will get "invited" on the school's stage.

There I am, standing on top overlooking the whole school down below. Every school mate kneeling (squatting) by the drains with foams spewing from their mouths.

That's not a punishment! That's the closest I've come to feeling almighty and all powerful!


But strangely, after primary 3, I don't get into such punishments anymore...

I think that's when I discovered shame. LOL!

Or may be that's when I started noticing girls....


You know what?

When I got my first standing ovation after giving a speech to my hundred odd co-workers in Shanghai, my mind suddenly flashed back to my primary school days standing on the stage...

Steve Jobs is right.

It only made sense connecting the dots looking back.

Little did I knew then I was getting "practice" on overcoming stage fright, how to give presentations without the audience's mind wandering off, and how to read people (try drawing caricatures of people you love/hate, you be surprised what you see). 

Hey! I did learn something from school afterall!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mea Culpa (Yes, it's the freaking Mind part again!)

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into English as "through my fault". It is repeated three times in the prayer of confession at the Catholic Mass: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa — "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault".

No, it's not me proselytising.

It's a nice phrase. The modern equivalent I guess would be - "my bad".

By the way, when was the last time you admitted you were responsible?

I guess as much...

It's so much easier to blame the alignment of the stars, the weather, your parents, big daddy, management, and of course your crazy dog that ate your homework!

And if you have not made any mistakes recently, it's probably you have not done anything new or gone outside of your comfort zone. You know - do less; make less mistake?

Even if we have made a mistake, we wouldn't have profited from that experience if we did not admit it's mea culpa. Just pause for a moment and review your life's story.


Now take a look at your trading journal or investing diary. 

Since it's the Mind part of 3 Ms, you have to do this on your own.

Well, don't you want to have an edge over other investors/traders?

 

 

 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sunk Cost Fallacy (The Mind part of 3 Ms)

Of all the psychological mental blocks, this one is one of the hardest to undo even if we are fully aware of it.

Sunk cost fallacy

Have you ever been in a movie where after the first half-hour you realised the movie is crap. What do we do? We stay till the boring ending when it would make better sense to just walk-out of the cinema. No? We have already paid for the tickets right?

How about that not so cheap shirt or blouse that we bought but it does not quite fit us now because we've gained some weight? That shirt or blouse is in the cupboard gathering dust as we tell ourselves we can wear them again when we lose weight. Yeah right!

Then there is that girl or boy you have been dating for 7 years now. You realised deep inside he or she is not that right for you... But to admit the 7 years have been a mistake is too much of a emotional baggage to let go. So you got  married anyway and go through the even more painful and hurting process of divorce years later...(You knew it all along; no surprises here. The only surprise is it took so long for your to finally "cut-loss"!)

There you go.

Now see if you can spot similarities between your day to day living and what you do with your investments or trading positions.

Knowing it is one thing. Willingness to change is another.

It's not easy. 

And it's definitely not anyone and everyone can overcome this sunk cost fallacy mental  block.

If you can, there's your edge over other investors/traders! Congrats!



Saturday, 16 November 2013

George Carlin - Euphemisms



Behind the humour, it shows the little lies we tell ourselves everyday, and the bull-shit we take from others.

Yes, I bull-shit myself by calling myself 46 years young. Who am I kidding?

Thank goodness the bull-shit of "ponding" was quickly thrown out!

Unfortunately, other extremes of political correctness have gone a bit overboard and is now common language... Visually challenged. Hearing impaired. What's that? I think I'll stick with the biblical versions.

Same goes for "investors" who care more about labelling and the nouns they call themselves, as if the unrealised losses will go away just by lying to ourselves.

It's never the nouns, its always about the adjectives:

Profitable or money losing

Good or lousy

Smart or clueless

Good friends are those who will call a spade a spade in your face. Treasure them!






 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sunbathing Naked in Singapore?




Time just blew by when I am having fun!

Found this pic of me at Marina Bay Sands last year sunbathing in the nude?

Just look at the expression of the big mama watching in disgust. You can almost hear her thoughts: "Eh hello! Put it back on you botak man! So kecil also dare to take it out..."

LOL!


Sometimes we can do with a staycation instead of travelling overseas on a vacation and coming back even more stressed and tired.

Singapore is a fine city!

A lot more to explore and experience in our own backyard you know?




 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Capitalism vs Socialism


 
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.

Here are possibly the 5 key points about such an experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.


Post borrowed with pride from Armstrong Economics

 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Risk Management - A little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge

A few years back, there was a posting in the papers by a person who was complaining that his mom was diagnosed with terminal stage cancer when she had gone for regular health screenings at a polyclinic for the past 20 years...

There is a common misconception that if I passed a basic health screening test, I am "healthy and fit".

Most of the "free" or "cheap" health screenings only check the cholesterol level, blood pressure, blood sugar, obesity, etc. These are mostly coronary tests as heart attacks and strokes are the top 5 killers in Singapore.

But if there's no chest X-rays or CT scans, there's no way anyone can know whether you have early stage lung cancer.

Same goes for the no.1 type of cancer for males in Singapore - Colorectal cancer. If there's no test for blood in your stool, the doctor would not have the early warning to recommend a more invasive colonoscopy test.

Yes, we have to do our part by asking questions and getting ourselves acquainted with what the health screening tests are for; and their limitations.

Plus we need to tell our doctor our family history of illnesses if you not sure which are hereditary or not. The doctor then can recommend what additional tests we should do as a precaution if we belong to the high risk group.

If you are a smoker and heavy drinker, and you lie to the doctor, well... it's your life; your problem!

And yes, more tests; more money. That's why it's better to have a conversation with your family doctor so you don't pay for tests you don't need.

 

I see the same misconceptions when it comes to the field of "investing".

Just listen to the blaming and finger pointing when "investors" lose money in MAS approved financial products and CPF approved stocks.   

I know SGX has a better reputation than some other regional bourses, but to assume all SGX listed stocks are "healthy and fit"?

Some even got the cheek to question whether Temasek or GIC got do due diligence on their stock investments? When these investors were freeloaders who piggybacked on the coattails of Temasek and GIC...

There's nothing wrong in following others like lemmings. Just as long you understand and accept the risks involved.

A little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge



 


Monday, 28 October 2013

Don't say "we" when you meant "I"

Have you caught yourself saying "we" when you meant "I"?

Why do we do so?

I guess it's a natural survival instinct to want to be part of a school of fish or a herd of wildebeest. 

Maybe it's part Asian cultural makeup where we put the group first before the individual, or perhaps at the back of our minds, we knew the nail that sticks out gets hammered down...

Another way of hiding behind "we" is to quote others extensively. Who and who said this, he said this, she said that. Sounds familiar?

If you are in a leadership position, try asking your co-workers for their feedback and you know what I mean.

I often have to repeat myself:

"Thanks for telling me what others think. Now what's your opinion on this matter?"

"Ah, ah, ee, ee, or, or..."



Of course defintely say "we", "us", "our team", etc; when its to share credit and compliments!

Guess what? Now everyone starts saying "I" - how "I" contributed with the idea generation, the hard work, blah, blah, blah. 

Sure! Now modesty and humility goes out the window. Right...



Notice the below 2 statements when it's said with "I":

1)  I liked what the management stands for, and have faith their interests are aligned with our  shareholders' value. I therefore increased my stake in this core position.

2)  The analyst's summary and target price of this company is in-line with my own analysis and homework. I initiate a new position in this company's stock.

By putting "I" into our investments or trading positions, if things don't work out, we can go back and review our judgement of people and analytical skills.

Steel gets stronger through the pounding between hammer and anvil.



What's worse than hiding behind "we"?

It's blaming "them".  




Friday, 25 October 2013

Every Sperm is Sacred




How on earth Monty Python gets away with such irreverence?

 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Timing is everything!


As little children, we learn instinctively when to ask daddy and mommy to buy as toys. We don't ask for a Sony Playstation when daddy came home bing bing bang bang cursing and swearing the sorry excuse of a boss he has... Nor do we ask mommy money for sweets when she had just lost at mahjong...

A bit older and dating for the first time as teenagers, getting the timing wrong at holding hands and stealing that first kiss is AWKWARD... Get it right and it remains such sweet memories till today. Aw...

During working life, we quickly learn when it's a good time (or not) to ask for a raise from the boss.

If you are into healthy eating or swear by the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, you don't go shooting your mouth to strangers sitting next to your dining table that eating meat is bad for them right?

You will only share the benefits of healthy eating to your close friends when they are ready to listen right?


Then there are those who have a bad sense of timing and no sense of empathy. I'm sure you have encountered such people around - if that's not already you!

Just because you believe in something and thinks that something is good for you, it does not automatically mean everyone should see what you see immediately.

At home someone nags. At work more people nags. Media nags. Big Daddy also nags.

This is good for you; that is even better for you! Nag, nag, nag.


Sometime it pays to be patient and sensitive to timing.

If your husband smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, what makes you think he will listen when he did not listened the first time round? Nagging repetitively will make it better?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

Who says so!? (Wah, so fierce!) 

Albert Einstein says so. (This is to pander to those who prefers to listen to big names than do the thinking themselves)

If you husband informed you that he has just gotten news that his classmate got lung cancer from smoking, NOW is the time.

"Dear, I need you. Don't leave me early."

Grab his arm or hug him.

"I love you. Our child loves you too."

If he doesn't get it now, he never will!
 

Cheh! 

Not what you were expecting from reading the title?

You are probably early in your investing/trading journey...

Patience.

In due time, you may realise it's everything to do with waiting for the trade to come to you - when the risk/reward ratio is in our favour.

And patiently waiting for the price/value gap to widen to the extent it provides us a good margin of safety to start nibbling.




Friday, 18 October 2013

Steve Jobs, CD shops, Nokia, BlackBerry, Kodak, and connecting back the dots

Imagine you are a business owner or CEO of a successful PC company.

I'm am sure you will have goals, aims, and a dream (vision) for your business.

Most CEOs and business owners will have the similar straight line extrapolation of their past goals - just add 20% and we are good to go! 

And how can you go wrong with a vision of putting your computer on the desks of everyone?


Now imagine an idiot in your company submitting a proposal to develop a MP3 player?  

The audacious plan is not about selling hardware per se. It's to take on the 4 major music labels like Universal, Sony, EMI, and Warner on a radically different way to distribute music?

And didn't this idiot know everyone is downloading music illegally from the net? Why pay when you can get a song for "free"?


Next, an even bigger clown now tries to sell you on this great business opportunity of attacking  the handphone market. We can take on BlackBerry on the corporate side, and Nokia, Motorola, Samsung on the consumer side. How? With one phone model!!!??? 


You almost choked on your coffee when your R&D buffoons developed this ridiculous tablet thingy - a new form factor, if successful, may take market share away from your existing desktop and notebook PC sales...

Don't these buffoons know we have KPIs to hit on our desktop and notebook sales? 


You now feel like doing a company purge to get rid of conspirators who are trying their best to undermine your goals, aims, and dream!

Seriously, we need to put blinkers on our co-workers and train them to march in step and sing in the same bloody tune! You pick up your phone to call your Chief Propaganda Officer...


We now know why Steve Jobs is so exceptional. 

Many of us only pay lip service to innovation and thinking outside the box. How many would engage in activities that do not contribute immediately to the goals, aims, and vision that have been decided during the company's annual kick-off?

I am pretty sure former market share leaders like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Kodak have goals, KPIs, vision and what not.  

So were their fall from grace due to lack of goal setting?  



The above is just an allegory to life in general.

The iPod can be the guy or girl that could have made you complete. You didn't treasure as you were wearing blinkers with single-minded focus. You have this and that to achieve before 30, and that and that to achieve by 40... 

The iPhone may be the child might have been. What? Take a year off for maternity? With those young bitches snapping at my heels and eyeing my position? No, child can wait...

The iPad could be that vacation that changes you. The food, the open spaces, the air! The slower pace of life and the beautiful people there - all smiling with contentment. Sure, the pay is 1/4 of what you are getting in Singapore, but with it, you can buy a landed property and car with change to spare. And the best part you don't have to wait till you are 40 or financially free!

    

It's what we decide and do in the here and now that influence the future.
 
The future us may connect the dots back and find meaning in what we do today.

Hubris is thinking we know the future.  
 

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