Friday 28 November 2014

It's dark in here

A woman takes a lover during the day, while her husband is at work.

One day, her 9-year-old son hides in the closet during one of her romps. Her husband comes home unexpectedly, so she hides the lover in the closet.

The little boy says, “it’s dark in here.”

The man whispers, “yes, it is.”

“I have a baseball,” the boy responds.

“That’s nice.”

“Want to buy it?”

“No, thanks.”

“My dad’s outside.”

“Okay, how much?”



In the next few weeks, it happens again that the boy and the mom’s lover end up in the closet together.

“It’s dark in here,” the boy begins.

“Yes, it is.”

“I have a baseball glove.”

The man thinks about the last time they were in the closet together, and decided to cut to the chase — “How much?”




A few days later, the father says to the boy, “grab your ball and glove. Let’s go outside and play some catch!”

“I can’t. I sold them.”

“How much did you sell them for?”

“$1,000,” the boy replies, smilingly widely.

His father responds, “it’s terrible to overcharge your friends like that. That’s way more than those two things cost. I’m going to take you to church to confess.”


The two go to church, and the boy’s father escorts him to the confession booth. Once inside, the boy states, “it’s dark in here.”

The priest replies, “don’t start that crap again!”

Monday 24 November 2014

Verbs, Adjectives, and Nouns

The joy of blogging for me is the scintillating engagement with readers.

It's a two way street.

It's the adjective silly! Never the noun.

When I wrote the above post, I was feeling  quite smug until a girl with the cutest dimples put me in my place at another post months later:

"Without the verb, how do you get the adjective?"

Her comment showed she had a deeper understanding than me.

She is right. Without the action to verify, how do we make an assessment to derive the adjective?

When someone says "Stop speculation", it's a loaded statement based on bias. Which rendered it quite meaningless for its not advice but accusation...

As if investing is always the right thing to do? For all people? In all circumstances? Just ask those people we know who lost money "investing".

Again it's the adjective that matters - whether you are good at or lousy at what you do.

And that adjective comes from your past actions and track record.

If you are wondering should you continue what you are currently doing, who else better to remove the bell round your neck than the same person who tied it there in the first place?


Friday 21 November 2014

The Wolf and the Goat

A wolf, who was out searching for a meal, saw a goat feeding on grass on top of a high cliff. Wishing to get the goat to climb down from the rock and into his grasp, he called out to her.

"Excuse me, dear Goat," he said in a friendly voice, "It is very dangerous for you to be at such a height. Do come down before you injure yourself. Besides, the grass is much greener and thicker down here. Take my advice, and please come down from that high cliff."

But the goat knew too well of the wolf's intent.

"You don't care if I injure myself or not. You don't care if I eat good grass or bad. What you care about is eating me."


Another tale from Aesop's fables.

Many of us have known the bitter price of "advice" from acquaintances, ex-classmates, distant relatives, ex-NS mates, colleagues, etc.

Then it dawned on me!

Can I recognise a wolf when I see one?


Sunday 16 November 2014

Live to Achieve; Live to Escape

Between Ying and Yang, between Good and Bad, and between Right and Wrong, there's a thin line that divides the 2 halves.

The trouble is finding it to know where you are standing....

Live to Escape

The usual tell is after having an experience, we don't want to experience it again.

A childhood of lack.

A broken family. 

A failed relationship.

Career going no where.

Disgruntled with how much you are earning.

And so on.

The journey to escape involves acquiring more.

More is needed to fill the hole in your heart.

Live to Achieve

The usual tell is after having an experience, we want to experience more of it again!

Being there when your child spoke his first word, took his first step.

Family dinners.

Holding her hand for the first time.

Enjoying the greater responsibility at work.

Having the means to help a stranger in need.

You fill in the rest.

The journey to achieve surprisingly may involve "letting go"...

Putting your own career on hold to be a stay-at-home dad to support your wife's dream.

Getting a big pay-cut to do something you love so you can whistle to work everyday.

Forgoing that promotion so you can have more time for family dinners.

Taking on pro bono work or volunteering your time for a cause you believe in.

Less is needed when you are feeling good.

Friday 14 November 2014

Finance Trained Equals Financially Literate?

Let's have a fun exercise!

Especially if you have studied Finance at tertiary level - Poly or University; or working in Finance in the corporate world.

If you are not Financially trained, you may want to play this exercise with your Financially trained friends, colleagues, or neighbours.

Warning:  Must choose your playmate carefully OK? Wait they punch you I not responsible hor!

Exercise 1
In you day job, you make analysis like whether it's better to buy or lease an equipment.

When you bought your car, did you do the same analysis?

You know, whether it's better to rent/lease your car over buying?

Exercise 2

As a newly minted accountant, you scored brownie points by proposing to your Board of Directors and CEO that it's good, better, best to sell the building your company owns to a REIT, and lease it back for 20 years. This way, you can monetise the capital gains in this asset sale (pump up the EPS - shareholders happy; CEO happy) and re-deploy the cash into projects with higher Internal Rate of Return.

(Your CFO is sweating bullets soon you may usurp his job!)

Now back home, your dad asks you whether it makes sense to sell the remainder of his HDB lease to HDB so he can monetise the asset value to pay for his retirement, what would you the accountant do?

Proof of the pudding is in the eating

The answers are not important. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Notice I italic the words do? 

I didn't use the word say.

What I am after is whether these financially trained individuals practice what they have been trained or taught?

Did they do an analysis first (like in their day job), or did they straight away acted/say out their bias?

Q1. Why do you think we act one way in corporate life and do the complete opposite in our private lives?

Q2. If the same people who have spent 3-4 years getting their Finance diplomas or degrees behave like that, do you still think Financial Literacy can be taught?

(Please don't be so serious; its just a rhetorical question. And it's Friday!)

Sunday 9 November 2014

Thinking about it is not enough

If you have 1 hour to spare, you may want to take a look at this excellent TV interview with Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs. The Lost Interview

1) Life is a series of chance encounters. 

Where would Steve Jobs be if he had not met Steve Wozniak? 

Can you name a person who made a difference in your life? If it was planned, then you are very Machiavelli... Remember to remind me to keep a distance from you.

2) Opportunity by stumbling along

How did Steve Jobs discover the potential of assembled Apple 1?

There's no Vision, Mission Statement, Goals, Business Plans right?

It was pretty much like: Crash got sound.

When you were travelling overseas, have you ever thought this new product or shop you discovered will do well in Singapore?

It's just a thought, and you soon forget it when you get back. Months later, you discover this same product or shop being introduced in Singapore by another Singaporean!!! What were your thoughts there and then? 

Thinking about it is not enough right? 

3) Business is not rocket science

OK, those of you with vested interests (spent years studying at business schools) may disagree.

If entrepreneurs have to know "business" before they start their enterprises, who will start anything? 

Perhaps its precisely entrepreneurs have no concept of what cannot be done?

You can never have too many theories and parrots telling you how it could not be done without a proper business plan (and these are the same people who worked for others). Wink. 

4)  Marketing/Sales People versus Product People 

You figure this one out yourself. I'm doing navel gazing now. 

And I'm not complaining!

5) Process versus Content

Am I more process or content?

Back to navel gazing. See? I have to struggle with the real me and what I want others to see in me too!

6) Your work is shit!

I think by now you understand why I like to banter with and poke at readers. 

When we grind rocks together, we get beautiful polished stones!

Be aware if all you get are compliments and "I so agree with you" comments, you are either being surrounded by sycophants, or you are one big bully and everyone is terrified to disagree with you! 

7) Many other gems

I've been talking too much already! 

What interesting titbits or learning lessons have your drawn from this interview?

Friday 7 November 2014

It's better to teach than to trade

When I came back to Singapore 3 years ago, I attended this big forex conference where many of the foreign and local bucket shops spot forex brokers were gathered in a love fest to attract new cannon fodder to the community. 

I quite like the format. 

There are mini-tents with seating where you can just walk-in and listen to the snake oil sales pitches by the different brokers. And there's a main auditorium where invited speakers would spin their "A better tomorrow" dream to willing converts.

One local trainer caught my eye. 

He spoke well. Dressed in a "different" attire to make himself stand out. He's only 28. A natural salesman.

The "free" training was not much different from what you could have gotten from reading Trading for Dummies on your own. But you should see the faces on some of the audiences - they looked enthralled as if this young man was talking about the "Holy Truth"!?  

Towards the end during the Q&A session, this young trainer got too excited and let the cat out of the bag (he is a newbie in this training industry after all) - not that most of the audiences noticed:

1.  He told the floor that his forex training academy is one year old.

2.  Before setting up this academy, he started trading and took forex courses for 2 years. 

3.  He is very pleased as he made his 1st million through this training academy.

Can you see what I see? Hear what I hear?

I walked away smiling. 

Was happy for this young trainer. You took forex courses he took forex courses. He now earned his first million and you still struggling to be consistently profitable in forex trading? 

This young man got the "answer" real quick!

Funny thing though. I can't find his training courses in the local papers anymore. Maybe he has moved on to greener pastures? Or gotten so good it's pure word of mouth now. Who knows?

I would like to introduce you to a new trading blogger in our community with an interesting insight to this matter too:

Talk is cheap

I'll leave it to you to verify whether this new blogger is indeed an insider or making everything up. (You never know....)

If you can't verify, it may reveal something about yourself. Just like if you can't tell a fake Prada bag from the real thing, you are not much of a fashion connoisseur....

For those of you below R21, please don't visit his blog. (This is pure marketing - tell someone not to do it, lagi the more they want to!)

P.S.  I've never understood this R21 rating. At 18 for men, we are trusted with a rifle to blow the brains out of our enemies, but NOOOOOOO.... We can't be trusted to handle a bit of violence and nudity until we are 21!?

Got logic meh?

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Can Financial Literacy Be Taught? Yes and No

Thanks for the comments and your feedback to my previous post:  

Can Financial Literacy Be Taught?

You know what? This exercise is already an answer by itself. Sort of.

How many of you who commented had attended a "proper" Financial Literacy class?

I'll bet none.

But that didn't stop you from knowing what you know now. Wink.

Preaching to the choir boys or pagans?

There are some frustrated "investors" who wished schools had prepared them better, thinking their lives may be better if they had gone through a "proper" Financial Literacy class...

Anyone done Civic Classes in school? How about Home Economics? Technical workshops?

Are we practicing what we have been "taught"? You don't return trays at fast food outlets and hawker centres, do you?

Me? I worked for IKEA and got do technical workshops during my junior secondary school days; yet when it comes to assembly of furniture, I'll gladly pay someone to do it for me!

The only technical thing I can do is to change a light bulb. And if the sink is choked, I'll scream: "Ma! The sink is overflowing. Call the plumber!"

Saving more

Everything we need to know about basic Financial Literacy is already taught during the first 10 years of our school life.

You got learn about simple and compound interests during math class right? Can count right?

The virtue of savings and waste not. You never read fairy tales or attend Sunday spiritual classes?

At best, a basic Financial Literacy class is simply an aggregation and amalgamation of things we already know into one nice cookie-cutter "recommended" textbook. 

You know, for those too lazy to do mental exercises on their own. Have to be told what to do, where to go. Some need to be herded; yet at the same time complain big daddy interfering too much into their lives!?

So yes,  the low level skills of Financial Literacy can be "taught". Especially if its under the category of "Saving more".

But it's effectiveness is probably as good as Morality classes...

Earning more

When most people speak about Financial Literacy, what they are really after is: "How do I make more money?" 

And that is up to the individual whether these higher level skills can be taught - depending whether you are faith based or evidence based in your reasoning skills.

This is right up the same alley as:

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Are super salespersons the result of nature or nurture?

Can everyone make good investors?

I mean there's really no harm to attend a fiery seminar and get all fired up with "If you think you can, you can!" kind of preaching. Pocket a little lighter that's all.

But after the adrenalin rush is over and come Friday afternoon, I'll bet you would have forgotten your new goals and resolutions made during the weekends...

Do read the comments in my previous post by readers. It seems most are of the opinion you have to be your own cheerleader.


Sunday 2 November 2014

Can Financial Literacy Be Taught?

My spontaneous view is that teaching "Financial Literacy" makes as much sense as teaching "Entrepreneurship".

Of course there are certain aspects that can be taught - those housekeeping stuffs. But that's already "taught" in our schools or in our homes as part of growing up.

The secret desire that most people seek when they use the term "Financial Literacy" as a cover, that I don't think it can be taught - its something we have to discover or learn on our own.

Before I go on and put my foot in my mouth, I would like to hear your opinions and views on this topic. 

What do you think?

Convince me whether I am completely bonkers, or you have similar ideas like me. 

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