Wednesday 29 October 2014

Evening with Pamela Chng from Bettr Barista

It's with 50 other persons at Young NTUC, Crossroads last night lah!

And I never say no to free dinner if you are wondering why.

2 takeaways from last night's talk I would like to share with you:

Learning again

From working in the corporate world (SPH) to co-founding her own boutique web consultancy, and to starting Bettr Barista, it has been a journey of small transformational changes and personal growth each step of the way.

There was no one single momentous mind flip moment or epiphany.

For those of you who have left school more than 5 years ago, have you learned anything new since leaving school?

Not learning a new word or discovering a new cafe has popped up in your neighbourhood kind. But something to add to your personal growth? 

How about those who have been trading/investing for more than 5 years now?

Yes. You know what I am after,

She looks better in real life

Mastery of a craft and self esteem

To transform underprivileged women and youth-a-risk into skilled baristas, the 12 weeks course would break the trainees physically and emotionally down before rebuilding their confidence and self-esteem back through mastery of this barista skill. (I personally would prefer the word craft)

Men who went through Basic Military Training would understand. They break us down as individuals and rebuild us up as a unit. Going in we swore and cursed. But at passing out parade, there's a bit of pride that we made it through, didn't we?

What I'm impressed with is Pamela shared 80% of the trainees pass this course. 

If something anyone and everyone can do, what's the point again?

It shows the training at Bettr Barista's Coffee Academy is vigorous.

For those who are not motivated with your day job, you may blame the pay, your boss, your back stabbing colleagues, big daddy, and god knows what!?

Do take a step back and reflect. 

Maybe all the unhappiness is due to lack of self-esteem or confidence?

Can it be due to the lack of mastery in your craft?

I noticed some readers are trapped by words. Can't seem to read beyond words. Mention the word craft they will have mental picture of workshops, yellow hard hats, etc. 

What lawyers and doctors do is also a "craft".
If we see what we do do as a craft, only then can we appreciate "Kaizen" - continuous improvement.

And the inner peace and happiness that comes from mastery of what we do.

Now you know why I say some invest/trade to escape; some invest/trade to achieve.

Friday 24 October 2014

Goal setting on things you can't control?

The old days

I remember getting poked when I submitted my first business goals and plans to my Steering Group many years back. 

During my tour of duty in Shanghai, when I became part of the Steering Group during my final years there, I had fun returning the favour back to the team leaders so eager to please and impress us - them with their bombastic goals together with shock and awe business plans...

It's so interesting to see the progress and adjustments (or none) these team leaders made during our quarterly reviews. 

Some "get it" very quickly. Some take more time. Some will never "get it". 

And that's how some names get into the "High Potentials" file, some into the "Potentials" files, and if your name is not in any file, it means you are "condemned"....

Losing weight

If you want to lose weight, there's basically 3 ways you can do it:

Eat right - diet to reduce calorie intake way.

Exercise - burn more calories way.

Eat right and exercise - why choose when you can do both?

A goal to lose 5 kg in 12 months with a corresponding plan using any one of the 3 processes is believable. 


It's because it's controllable by us. To diet or to exercise is what we can control.

The discipline to follow through with our plans is not influenced by the weather, geopolitics, or anything external with the exception of illness or accident.

Questionable goal settings

Now pause and think about the X amount in Y years financial goal settings you may have done up. Especially when they involve investing or trading in the markets.

Do you see the fly in the ointment here?

If you get it, don't have to read further. You very the good! One tiny pin poke and you see blood immediately!

Holding your hand

For those that need more time, let me ask you some verification questions like what we used to do in the Steering Group:

Can you control the markets?

Is your position so large that when you sell or buy, you can influence the market prices?

If both your answers are "No" - you can neither control nor influence the markets - pray tell how you will achieve your goals then?

Depending on pure dumb luck? 

Or is your goal setting purely an exercise in randomness?

People smarter than you

If you want to be more successful in your investing and trading journey, isn't it better to focus on what we can control?

Like in our weight loss example?

Improve your buying process - a merchandise well bought is a merchandise well sold. 

Improve your selling process - no selling means you are a "stamp collector".

Improve both your buying and selling processes - duh?

LP the butterfly guy is the only one I've read that talk about the buying and selling processes in his blog posts. I guess his engineering background helps!

If in your day job you are constantly talking about systems and processes, and you never apply it to your own investing/trading journey.... 

See that wall over there?

Yes, you can go bang your head against it.


Wednesday 22 October 2014


I realised I have shared Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Japanese, and English songs.

But no Teochew songs? How can!?

OK, I don't listen to Teochew songs except when they were sung during getai.

I'll share this Teochew song that's hilarious.

Older Teochew readers may have heard of it. At least heard of the title. It's one of my Ah Ma's sayings to me when I was little.

Come to think of it, isn't it Trend Following for traders?

Less thinking; more 地块凉地块坐!

Friday 17 October 2014

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Spot the leopard

Can you spot the leopard in the picture?

Confirmed it's not a trick.

If you spot it, please don't spoil the fun for others in the comments section.

Just say you found it or can't find it.

You can pretty much throw pattern recognition out as part of your technical setups if you take too long a time to find the leopard. 

Don't worry.

There are other technical setups like counting waves, Fibonacci sequences, oscillators, and other myriad voodoo techniques.

Some people just aren't wired to see recurring patterns. 

Self knowledge means we don't set ourselves out to fail by using tools not meant for us.

Want to learn more about yourself?

Come visit us: Personal Financial Investment Seminar

Sunday 12 October 2014

Lai Liao? Zhun bo? 有影无?

Long time no speak Hokkien liao.

Ah! Refreshing!

I grew up in the 70s when Singapore was a Hokkien and Ang Moh world.

For those investors/traders who started their journeys after 2009, you may only know a higher high and higher low market.

Life is easy. Just buy the freaking dip and average down. Wait long enough you'll be made whole again!

That's why for the newbie, your strength lies in not knowing what cannot be done!

(By being all-in, you most probably have beaten most veterans in % terms.)

I still tak boleh tahan CW's many powerpoints (especially those on targets and goal settings), but this one I like: 

STI major data points

You know what they say - if you can't beat them, join them!

So to help those who started after 2009 get some perspective on a macro level, here's my complementary chart to CW's:

This chart is not to aid you in your buy or sell decisions.

It's more a gentle reminder to those with a day job, with housing mortgage, children to feed and educate, 2 sets of parents to take care, etc....

If you are a landowner, and you know one shepherd is busy doing "his own thing" on the side, and another shepherd is working diligently taking care of your flock, who would you retrench in a recession?

Bet you didn't see this coming. Did you?


Friday 10 October 2014

My Virgin Speaking at this Personal Financial Investment Seminar

First things first.

Date: 17 Jan 2015, Saturday

Place: NTUC Auditorium (Walking distance from Raffles Place MRT)

Time: 12 - 5:30 pm  (See programme)

Remember to enter at the coupon code: MLFRIEND
This way, you'll only pay $8 per person if you register before end Nov 2014

Heard got some free packet food and drinks provided during the break.

(Hello! Don't come for the food only OK? It's not an AGM!)

Free that day? Do come with your significant other or with friends on the same financial journey as you.

Want to learn more?

Alvin from BIGfatpurse has done a good write-up on the background and the purpose of this event:

The Inaugural Singapore Financial Bloggers Seminar

Back to me

OK, now I've got the Aladdin magic lamp spin out of the way, I can revert to my normal talk.

Look, I'm no bleeding heart, and I've already said I hunt alone. So I am definitely not doing this for "World Peace".

But I do want to contribute my small part for our warm and cosy financial blogging community.  

To this end, I'll contribute by doing what I do best - having fun!

I'll be the warm up act for the other main speakers. I do foreplay.

Just come with an open mind and I'll tell an interactive story where you - the poor captive audience (I'll tell them to lock the doors) - will participate with me.

It's an old Jedi mind exercise I used during my old snake-oil salesman days. (Let's see whether kung fu will depreciate when not in use)

Speak to me 

Please hor, don't come and ogle me like I am Kai Kai or Jia Jia.

But come with your pokes and questions for me during our Q&A session at the end. I'll love to hear from you.

Just don't ask me anything about money. I'm just a pretty face you know!?


For the purpose of transparency, I am not getting paid for doing this speech.

And I don't get a single cent if you register and enter the discount coupon code: MLFRIEND

Don't believe feel free to go to Alvin's or CW's blogs and register using their discount codes.

My plan is to rush out during the break and grab the free packet food and drink.

This way, I don't go home empty handed.

So give way to hungry bald man OK?

Life is hard.

I'll do anything to get a free meal!

Thursday 9 October 2014

The words not spoken

For those of us who are in sales or purchasing - where we do a lot of human interactions and communications - we are quite attuned to the hidden message of words not spoken.

Women in general are better than men in this regard as women are more in tuned with the little subtleties of a gesture, a changed inflection of the voice, or the raising of the eyebrow.

Men on the other hand can be so clueless when you tell him "Oh, you don't have to buy me anything", he really comes home empty-handed!!!???

Next time you read an article or talk to another person, try and have some fun deciphering the hidden message of those words not spoken.

No, not just so you can read CEO messages or Central Bankers statements better, but so we can be better in building relationships.

Unless of course you want to be a rock or an island.


Monday 6 October 2014

The Key to Success?

Watch this 6 minute video:


You know what? Sometimes the same idea can be stumbled onto by two separate persons miles apart and yet having similar conclusions. The interesting thing is that they are both educators.

The similar idea in local context:  Persistence and Grit triumphs Talent

I've a great Geography teacher at Gan Eng Seng School during my secondary 2. 

She told me, "Jared, don't give up. Others study 10 minutes, they understand. If you need 7 hours, so be it. Once you understand, there's no difference."

Mdm Foo is still teaching at Gan Eng Seng and still very much loved by her current students and past students; judging by the comments in Facebook.

Compared to some teachers who take the easy way out by encouraging students to drop subjects (don't mess up their KPIs), how not to love and respect teachers like Mdm Foo? 

And that's pretty much the story of my life. Others have i7, I'm stuck with Pentium 386....

When I cross the finishing line in life's marathon, there's no cheering crowd, no organisers to give me a certificate, no cameras, no nothing.

But if someone asks me whether I have completed life's marathon, I can answer proudly with head high chest out, "I did."

And the answer is no different than if you ask the one who finished in 3 hours.

Friday 3 October 2014

Me Time; Family Time

Last night, I ended up at this round table discussion whereby Young NTUC has been gathering feedback from the many youths on their concerns between the balancing of social and economic priorities in Singapore, while maintaining the family as the foundation.

Wait. How did I ended up there again? I'm not exactly a spring chicken...

Oh! It's for the FREE dinner. (I'll do anything to get a free meal nowadays.)

Hey! Lim Swee Say was there! Excellent speaker. Adept at using stories to put ideas across too.

But enough name dropping!

And  no worries, I won't bore you with the details; I'm not an activist or mouth piece.

When I signed in, I saw there's an "Activist" designation next to my name. I crossed it out and wrote: "Pacifist".  Wink.

3 informal sessions were already held with singles, newlyweds, long-time married couples, single parents, etc.

Last night was the presentation of their collective feedback and asking us at the round table to give inputs.

I noticed one glaring omission - Time.

The presentation was peppered with benefits and money, and the usual wish lists. I suspect those they interviewed must have been office executives working from 9-6 in 5 day work week.

So I spoke up for those of us who are working in the service industry - from retail shop floors, to supermarkets, from fast food outlets to restaurants, from resort theme parks to hotels - 5 day work week for us too?  

Below is the internal thought process why I said what I said last night.

Got money no time for what?

More leisure time means more consumption - good for economy. (OK, those bloggers who advocate saving more will hit my head!)

More rest and me time helps to reset the body and soul - less stress, less headaches; less headaches, more babies! (You need imagination here.) More babies, less dependence on foreign talent; less foreign talent, less angst! Less angst; less bile on internet. Better social cohesion?

Everything is bullshit if our values are out of whack! 1 day off a week can do what? If our service comrades (and ALL Singaporean workers - foreign or local) have 2 days off a week, one day is rest - simply do nothing to re-set body and soul - then we have another day for family.

When was the last time you had dinner with your siblings? How about ah kong and ah ma? They no longer around? How about mom and dad? What kind of values are you transmitting to your children through your actions? You have "no time" to have dinners with your parents and siblings, you think your children will have time for you when they grow up and have families of their own?

Family as foundation is not something we put on our lips or what we "plan" to do at a later stage... Like when we have achieved financial freedom? We can wait; not sure our aged parents can...

P.S.  Just to add about Values.

I read the other day that a 18 year old young man wanted to achieve $1 million by the tender age of 25 through investing and trading. Hey! I'm a cheerleader and the last thing I would do is to pour cold water. 

But it gives me pause if too many young people think having money is the end all and be all of living. 

Thankfully, there were some entrepreneurs and CEOs with their own businesses and social enterprises present last night. Phew! Evidently we still have people with passion to build real products and provide tangible services to meet society's needs.

Good, good.

Now I need a hug badly. I feel like I'm a parasite of society being a full-time investor and speculator....

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Have you participated in a protest march?

First, a shout-out to our fisherman qian bei who after spending several weeks of happy planning for his third trip to Hong Kong, has found himself in a situation that was "not planned"....

See: Planning is useless??? 

Qian bei, stay safe and have fun!

His experience brought back fond memories of my first "protest march".

Flash back to March 2005 where Beijing passed the Anti-Session law, whereby if Taiwan declared independence, Beijing would have no choice but to take Taiwan forcibly by military force. 
I was in Taipei for a business trip then.

It was one of those lucky business trips where I had a free weekend in between.

Our Taipei office were divided into the Green camp and Blue camp. Chen Shui Bian (Green camp) was President at that time, and doing his best to rile Beijing up from time to time with his rhetoric.

There was a weekend protest march organised by Chen Shui Bian's Green camp to voice their displeasure over Beijing's threat. 

What do you know? Part of the protest route was near the hotel where I was staying - 中山北路.

(Girls, if you want to check out nice bridal gowns or give your boy boy some gentle hints while vacationing in Taipei, you can check out this Taipei Bridal street. Wink, wink.) 

What started out as a curiosity look see look at first, turned out to be something I had not planned - I joined the protest!?

Zhong Shan Bei Lu is a lot like our Orchard Road with shady tress on both sides of the road. I got sucked up into the carnival atmosphere, and walked for 1/2 hour with the cheering and ever so friendly protestors. It was peaceful, and not the violent kind.

It was "fun" for me. 

There were busloads of farmers from the South with their straw hats, students with their printed T-shirts, adults with their various affiliations, and people like me with no freaking idea what we were doing - just soaking up the atmosphere.

Some of the chantings were catchy; I joined in.  

I think I sauntered with the protestors for about 1/2 hour before deciding to rest on the road kerb for a while.

"Sir, can I interview you?"

I was ambushed by a group of super energetic and enthusiastic university students. Did I tell you I have a soft spot for pretty? Well, 3 young pretty girls and one boy doing the video taping.

They asked who I am, where I come from, why am I here, etc.

When I told them I was from Singapore, you should see the how the girls' eyes light up. LOL!

I think it's universal. Add "foreign" to anything and all of sudden, there's an extra halo over local local...

Let's say the interview took a divergent turn, and I don't think the poor boy doing the camera work was too pleased. I guess he had to do extra video editing after my interview.
Ah! Taipei mei mei....

I like Taiwan.

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