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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Do you know your HAIR quality?

Big daddy was so impressed with the HAIR model of Shell in recruiting and developing talent that it adopted it for it's own Civil Service.

I've never worked for big daddy and I don't think I'll ever pass through Shell's gates. Although I did get to work as a technician at one of the petrochemical white elephants at one of our offshore islands during my "lost years" - that only lasted 1 month.

So don't worry about me asking you loads of psychological and aptitude test questions. I've no clue myself.

But that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun and see how much we know ourselves.

All we need is some empathy and powers of observation. OK, here goes!

H for Helicopter ability

Do you often find yourself focusing on more on MRT breakdowns than let's say the impact of China's burgeoning blue water fleet's impact on China/ASEAN relations?

How about this CPF thingy? Do you get all flustered with all this commotion about CPF - believing that when it's your turn to collect - there's no money there? Or do you spend more time on earning more; saving more - knowing this is what you can control?

A for power of Analysis

This one should be easy for investors and traders! Were you more often wrong or right in the triggers you have pulled?

I mean you buy or sell based on some analysis right?

If you only "followed" the analysis or others, then put your power of analysis as zero.

It works the same if your opinions are mostly shaped by what you've read or heard in the media, and by what others say or do.

Your favourite catch phrase when others ask you for your opinion is: "No comment."

I for sense of Imagination

When you see into the future, do you dream about it? You know those fuzzy, blurry, surreal visions?

Or do you see projections of black and white precise numbers and goals? Especially those SMART ones that were "drummed" into you.

By the way, have you wondered why no one has to be taught how to dream?

What to we call people  who dream big or have outlandish dreams?

Visionaries and Crazies.

R for sense of reality

We have our siblings; relatives; classmates; army mates; colleagues as benchmark.

Compared to them, after reading here, where do you think you rank when it comes to the HAIR model?

Now look at your chosen vehicle for financial freedom.

Is it still appropriate for you?


  1. the last time i took a hugh lost was in 2011, it last for quite a while and after doing some adjustment, i tell myself i'm not going to take that feeling again and play more safely.

    bloody hell! it hit me again, that same old losing feeling that i swear i will take every effort to avoid it.

    but this time it didn't comes from my trading, its got nothing to do with my trading.

    1. coconut,

      Let me guess. You had a gathering?

    2. i love gathering what!

      its losing or sinking feeling, well at least it reminds me of losing again.

      he loves managing s'pore just like i loves managing my trades, aga aga the same. that burning desire....

    3. Wow!

      I never saw that coming....

      So you are not unfeeling and a cold hardened trader after all ;)

      Good chap!

      Maye its my cultivation; I don't see it as a loss.

      He has lived a good life; I don't hold him back.

      He has always been our gain.

    4. well i see it the same way as you and say the same thing.

      but my heart say otherwise.

  2. Thought many traders gave up to become investors. No?

    1. no way, we are all traders one way or another, most people comes and go and comes again. a few will stay just a little longer. but we are all traders.

  3. The old man whom I personally know and used to work in Shell definitely has the HAIR qualities and much more. Funnily, he can solve PSLE questions that other younger scholars our generation can't ;P

    1. Joyce,

      Hey! You have a good sounding-board there! Envy.

      I can't solve most PSLE question then, and needless to say I am even more stumped with the PSLE questions of today- especially the Math questions!

      I would rank quite low on the HAIR qualities. Maybe I would do well under Imagination - I'm a dreamer and good at make believe.

      Who else would hire me as a nano hedge fund manager except me, I, and myself?


    2. Yeah even I was amazed when he could solve my nephew's PSLE maths question last year. We circulated it all the scholars of various generations in our extended family but only he could solve it! Aiyah, why manage other people's $$$ when you can grow yours ;P

  4. Hmm I think my strongest is I and weakest is H. But I dun Really like HAIR. Dun like to see people in silos neither do I think there are many who are multiple domains developed at the same time

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      We have the horoscopes, streaming in schools, and personality tests like Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), etc.

      It's natural to put people in silos or labelling - graduate, non graduate; guy, girl; successful, struggling; etc.

      I don't like it too; but it requires an effort in cultivation to see beyond labelling.

      And it's not easy.

      I won't complain we have too many FTs here as I have been on the other side in foreign lands.

      But dare I say below thoughts have never crossed my mind?

      1. Isn't he too young to have the experience to know what he is talking?

      2. Why is this girl doing in this industry?

      3. Shouldn''t this qian bei be retired? Its time he give way to more energetic younger blood...

      4. Why is this graduate here doing this job?

      I do like this HAIR model and the MBTI personality type tests. Especially if we use it to understand ourselves better.

      For eg, A person with weak power of analysis may be more suited for the Passive Indexing vehicle.

      While the person strong in Helicopter view may be more profitable if he engages in Macro top-down investing themes over micro bottom-up investing.

      Just saying ;)


    2. Hi SMOL,

      I am all for self discovery.

      But I am scepticial about traits or profile test. I myself have been through one in my old workplace. The problems is Mutiple folds.

      1) human traits are dynamics, how to ensure accuracy since effectively it is based on a survey and the way you answered might be colored by your mood of the day?

      2) assume it is fairly accurate, so? What come after? Deployment according to it? Is it really possible to deploy say a person who say big picture as leadership role? Ok, if u see potential and develop, u need a test to let you see someone's potential?

      3) dynamics among people. This is interesting, by profiling did not look at this area. So, I conclude the expensive and elaborated profiling done is a waste of money and time

    3. Sillyinvestor,

      I hear you.

      At the same time, I can understand the need for such modelling and profiling if a person is running a large organisation of thousands - as opposed to a small-medium company where the boss can mingle and meet with each and every single co-worker, and get qualitative feedback.

      That's why some people don't do well in BIG organisations but thrive when they move to SME settings, and vice versa.

      Subconsciously, we will do the above exercise when we are building our own teams. We don't like when others do it to us; but we do it to others ;)

      Of course it's more fun to do the hiring and making promotional decisions on others.

  5. To be frank, in my last 38 years working in a large corporation with good training budget, I have lost the count of attending such courses and tests. Some with pledge card, checklist, table card, pocket cards, project and presentation team, etc as learning aid.

    Are they just passing fad of Training Dept's KPIs. :-)

    1. CW,

      Why large corporations have so many trainings and workshops? To give the illusions of hope mah! All good HR depts would ensure there are at least 2 potentials being EVERY key positions. If your name not in that blue file, can attend all the trainings all you want, you still not in the blue file!!!

      If the organisation's culture is weak, then they may fall prey to the fashion of the month training just like everyone else - there's just as many snake-oil training consultants as there are trading gurus!

      You are looking at one now.

      When I were facilitating my Leadership workshops, I try my best to water down the hyperbole...

      Cannot be EVERYONE will be Leaders and do well in the organisation - never mind if you are a management potential or already a manager.

      1/4 will do very extremely well, 1/2 will be average (stuck at middle-management) and the other 1/4 will be under-performers.

      That's life - what we experience during our school days apply to our corporate lives, and the same apply in investing and trading.

      You'll never hear me say: "If I can do it; so can you!"

      I'm more the: "You walk your path; I walk mine. See you at the destination!"

      SMOL - The Laughing Arhat

  6. SMOL,

    I agree we are constantly "judge" by others. People are thinking and have a view on our competencies, temperaments etc, and whether we fit into a particular task or committee.

    That is normal. But to use a rubric to guide that decision is stupidity, especially if that rubrics is based on a one time survey. The survey can be part of the decision making.

    We still need human observation, if I cannot mingle with my staff,I need to trust their supervisors to give me honest feedback.

    Just my 2 cents worth

  7. Hi SMOL,

    What's this HAIR model? I seriously never heard before and when I tried to search more, all I get are hair models and hair quality. Nevertheless, let's try it:

    1. H - I'm the type that focuses on what I can control. I'm never a macro person.

    2. A - I don't know how to answer this. The short ans is to that I will reserve my comments until I have further information. I'm always reading about other people's comment in order to discover my own. Would you say that I followed others? My view points are also different from others because I try to be the blind man who touches several parts of an elephant. I think except for a few reclusive people, nobody really have isolated views. It's a matter of how well you hide your source of inspiration ;)

    3. I - I don't have imagination and I'm not a visionary. Imagination means having the ability to know what cannot be perceived by our senses. I know I'm not the type who will go forward to try something new, though I'm working on that. I'm still learning how to constantly expand my boundaries.

    4. R - I've problems answering this too. I normally don't compare with others - I try hard not to. I've mentioned I don't have imagination. I will work hard on what I have to make it work. There's no what if - this is it.

    I know my weakness, and it's important to have a partner that compliments. My wife is very macro person, has her own sense of analysis on things that matters to her and followed others when the topic is not of interest to her (how smart). Very good imagination, always troubled by the 'what-ifs' of life, often paralysed by indecision because of her off tangent ways of looking at consequences. I will say she is better than her peers but she often think she's worse off.

    Life is often a team game, seldom a solo game. I think if anything, these kind of psych profiling makes you understand your strengths and weakness, and to form a team that is balanced to take on the world.

    1. LP,

      Of course you never heard of it - you never interested or worked in corporate ;)

      But then, many graduates in corporates never heard of HAIR too!? LOL!

      My ex-company is quite unique. Not only do we have to develop business, we also have to develop people.

      And plus the fact I am a people person, HR is something that I enjoy. So when HR needed hands-on practitioners to share our experiences and facilitate workshops and trainings, I had fun!

      Some are just too caught up with all these "labelling". They get upset when they discover they do not have the Type A personality that most CEOs exhibit...

      I'm a believer of its not what cards you were dealt that matters; its how well you play those cards matters more ;)


  8. Hi SMOL,

    At one glance, I thought simi hair..... or is it color of hair that matters?
    Orh......Helicopter, Analysis, Imagination & Reality.

    H - normally comes when you progress higher in work into management or have more experiences in work or life. Exposure is important, expose to more different things / places / people in life not just repeat doing the same thing for your whole life.

    A - probably is also a bit related to Academics? Most Singaporeans have.

    I - This is where most Singaporeans are lacking, since we were paved what we should do since DAY one when we were born.

    R – Reality bites! Those who come from poorer background and more pain going through life experiences will understand this more.

    Maybe one recruitment criteria one neglects is the people interpersonal skills and relationship part.

    E.g. I was in a final phase in interview before. Instead of HAIR testing, I was interviewed by 3 of my key subordinates, to put a “yes” or “no” for my employment.

    1. Rolf,

      A is not so much academics. It's the ability to analyse and breakdown complex to simple and see the real essence. To a certain extent training can help; but I am of the view its mostly genetics.

      That's why we have tycoons with little formal education but can thrive because they can analyse and spot opportunities.

      Then there are highly educated people with lots of ABCs behind their names, but the moment they open their mouths, we are stunned by their lack of clear thinking!?

      Wow! Your company is interesting!

      Very rare to find subordinates choosing their team leader!?

      Your boss must be a fan and practitioner of Group Dynamics!

  9. Hi SMOL,

    Ok agreed on A. Not just academics though Stat board treats that to be true.

    Yes, I was really surprised then when I was told I need to approved by my subordinate. It was a company with >200 yrs history. Guess it's a very good practice!

    I was successful but it was not to be my current company. :-)


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