Thursday 28 May 2015

Think "Win-Win" my foot!

As both a snake-oil salesman and purchaser, I've been at the table of negotiations more times than the average person sitting in the Comfort Delgro bus has assembled an IKEA furniture!

Don't you believe a single word when you hear "Win-Win".

We will only reach across the table with our hand and utter "Win-Win" when we are confident:

1) We have the lion share of the benefits from this deal.

2) We are negotiating from a position of strength.

3) We are stealing our counter-party's lunch.

Pause and think for a while. Who first came up with this concept of "Win-Win"?

Cannot be from a loser right?

OK, most of us are not in sales or purchasing. So how do we verify?

Remember we have one important negotiation every year? Salary talks anyone?

When was the last time you offered your boss a "Win-Win" proposal?

It's mostly the other way round right?

If you had "Win-Win" said to your face during the salary talk, do you walk out of the meeting room with hands pumping to the sky and wishing to hug everyone in sight? 

Or do you walk out hating yourself a little bit for not being more forthright in how you really feel during the salary talk?

What? There's no negotiation? You were just told what you would get. No discussion; no nothing.

Well, at least you know how your boss sees you. Especially if he/she does not even feel the need to make you feel you have "won"....

This post is not about being cynical. 

It's about those catchy one-liners or phrases that many of us throw around. Very often they sound meaningful and quite logical. 

But when you think about it from another angle, the "truth" is another matter altogether.

Monday 25 May 2015

A night time visit to Jurong Frog Farm

I went on a free tour of Jurong Frog Farm organised by Young NTUC last Friday evening.

Upon reaching Lim Chu Kang and Kranji area in the night, it struck me it's been ages since I was last out in "ulu" forested area ever since my reservist 13 year cycle ended when I hit 35...

Feeling nostalgic of those 3 days 2 nights field camps - free accommodation (you build yourself ), free food (I always barter the biscuits for chocolates), free flow of mosquitoes and red ants to leave souvenir marks on our bodies, and of course the free night time symphony of a battalion men snoring in perfect unison!     

Finally reach the Jurong Frog Farm, 45 minutes behind schedule... I gave my "poke" on the feedback form at the end of the visit. Those who care tell it like it is; those who don't just say say, "I like you; I like you 2!"

Took a back of head group shot while waiting. See the moonscape in the foreground?

I like the style of Jurong Frog Farm - no aircon. I respect the authenticity.

Many places "market" nature; but air-con everything and that's spells commercial fake!!!

There she is! The princess of Jurong Frog Farm - Chelsea Wan.

She is expecting her first child so boys, "Heads up!"

Guess where I was sitting? Definitely not in the middle or the back of the herd... 

Singaporeans are interesting. We are very "kiasu" and want to be ahead of others (remember Hello Kitty?); but when it comes to seminars, talks, or presentations, most would gladly give way and hide at the back... Strange huh?

I won't share Chelsea's story as its already widely reported in the numerous media interviews she has given. Just google if you're interested.

It's quite a privilege. It's Jurong Frog Farm's first time conducting a tour of their premises in the night! Lucky us!

Spot the guy wearing magenta polo? I took picture of him; he video taped me.

Have you ever wondered who are those people that are taking the opposite side from you when we buy/sell our investments or trading positions?

No? Never? You narcissistic you! 

Hey! Spotted a professional investing/trading frog! 

Retail investing/trading  frogs. You follow me; I follow you. Who is facing "True North?"

Interesting fact.

Only 10% of the tadpoles born in the wild will survive till adulthood. (See my Sea Turtles post)

It's the complete opposite for domesticated cousins raised in the farm; "only" 10% of the tadpoles will die. 

Which would you rather be?

To be raised in a frog farm with 90% survival rate as tadpoles; or born in the wild with only 10% chance of ever reaching adulthood?

Entrepreneurs and traders have no problem chosing as it comes almost 2nd nature. It says a lot about the debate between nature versus nurture.

Well, my math not powderful but I have the imagination to know one thing - those 90% that survive till adulthood in a frog farm have a 100% chance of ending up on the menu of restaurants. Wink.

Wednesday 20 May 2015




人总喜欢管, 强求, 把自的意愿强加在别人身上。






Monday 18 May 2015

Want to visit Jurong Frog Farm for FREE?

I've registered for this FREE event organised by Young NTUC.

Never been to a frog farm before. Curious.

Throw in free refreshments and transport to and fro, what more can one ask for?

It' this coming Friday evening from 7-9 pm. Click on the above pic for the registration details.

Before you groan its Friday night... Think about it. Instead of the usual movie and dinner, why not surprise your significant other with something different?

Just one small request though. 

Please don't act too lovey-dovey in front of the bald single guy. Tone it down OK?

P.S.  This is not an advertorial. Just helping out a pretty lady to spread the awareness. I'll do anything for a free meal!


Sunday 17 May 2015

The allegory of warm blooded and cold blooded

Self-propelled or external engine required

If you had a hobby or sport that you loved, and competence in your passion has no bearing whatsoever to your academic results or corporate climbing - that would take away playing golf for the sake of networking with your bosses - can you remember where you got your motivations?

I remember when I picked up photography just before going for NS, I never read so many books and experimented with different styles of photography - close-ups, portraits, nature, candid, night shots, and architectural to name a few. 

Shsssh... Wish I had that same passion when it came to my academic studies!

You know why? All the work and time I poured into photography was not "work" or for goals, milestones, nor KPIs; its just pure fun and enjoyment!

There's this internal combustion engine inside of me pumping all the adrenaline and energy to move me forward. To borrow a phrase I've stolen with pride from the butterfly - I'm self-propelled

There was no need for external catalysts or motivational speeches or "education" from others on why I need to pick up photography - and the myriad of benefits it offers.

Hollywood or for real?

You can verify it yourselves if there's a difference between things that you do because you want to - versus those that you do so because someone else has done that thinking for you and passed it off as "advice" for you. And you've swallowed it line, hook, and sinker.

Let me give you some examples:

1.  You took computer games development not because you like gaming, but because a recruiter or a survey sold you computer games development will be the next big thing and graduates will be highly in demand and thus well paid. (I seem to recall that's what they say 20 years ago about computer science. How's that turning out for you?)

2.  They say an excellent ECA record will be looked at favourably during scholarship applications and talent scouting by MNCs. So you joined the "easiest" and "least time consuming" sport and/or uniform group. (Somehow I don't think you'll make team captain or group leader with that "passion" of yours...)

3.  You learning to play the violin, was it you who bugged your parents into letting you play; or was it another one of those numerous "Its for your own good" well-intentioned others decide for you "interests"? (Do you still play the violin as an adult or is that violin left gathering dust?) 

Inspire or educate?

Does not matter if you have adopted a trader's path or the journey of an investor.

Can you recall were you inspired to this path/journey; or were you "educated" into this arena.

OK, both inspire and educate came from outside in. But you know the difference. 

Inspire is someone helping to kick-start that internal engine of yours. The running and maintenance is all you. You are likely to say, "In my humble opinion... This is what I think...."

When things go horribly wrong, you search for answers and solutions from within.

Educate is you latching yourself to the external engines of others. At forums or at blogs, you are likely to say, "Who and who said this... My guru told me...Everyone is doing it what...."

Yes, we do stand on the shoulders of giants before us - that's humility. But if things don't go as expected, and we start "blaming" the same persons whom we have just revered a minute ago, that's free-loading at its best!

Warm blooded cold blooded

For those who are educators, I think you can spot quite quickly amongst your students who are "warm-blooded" and who are "cold-blooded".

Same goes for land-owners (entrepreneurs) and shepherds (managers) for the co-workers you've hired.

We value those who are "automatic" right?

Have you had that face-palm moments when a co-worker acts like he/she is the boss - we must constantly inspire them and educate them on how to do their jobs?

"Company no good. No support. No training. How to do my job like that?" Sounds reasonable if you are uneducated, but with a poly diploma or degree...

"It's my manager's fault! He is so boring... No inspiration to do my best." I think I've heard that before about our grades no good because teacher's teaching so boring...

I think I better stop here.

The sun is shining outside. I need to go for my tan now.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Warm-blooded Cold-blooded


While walking on the pavements during the early morning sun, have you spotted some lizards sunning themselves in the open?

OK, for those who have already given back biology to their teachers, lizards are reptiles and reptiles are cold-blooded animals.

Which means they do not have their own "internal combustion engine" inside their bodies to generate heat. They need to "sun" themselves to warm their bodies up. That's is why on cloudy days, you don't see reptiles running around...

What's the benefit in that?

With a lower resting metabolism rate, reptiles need less fuel to sustain their bodily functions. For eg, a crocodile needs only 1/7 of what a lion of the same weight needs for food, and can go half a year without eating.  


Mammals are warm-blooded animals. And yes, that include us. In contrast to reptiles, we have our own "internal combustion engine" inside us. 

We generate our own heat.

It's an advantage whether we are a predator chasing after our food, or as prey running from our predators.

Can you imagine when you need to act immediately, and you go, "Wait, give me 2 more hours in the sun and I'll be good to go!"

Either the opportunity has passed you by or you are already dead meat...

The drawback? We mammals "eat fuel heavy heavy". We are fuel guzzlers compared to reptiles.

Hence the need to constantly look for food and prey every day due to our higher metabolism rate.

The constant hunger...

The allegory

(Please fill in the blanks yourself)

There! You now know whether you are cold-blooded or warm-blooded! Wink.

Monday 11 May 2015

What's the purpose of Education? (Give youths a break!)

What's the purpose of education?

I'm not qualified to speak about education beyond the secondary school level. So I'll stick with the purpose of the first 10 years of basic schooling.

Is it not so we can read, write, and count? And hopefully, with the ability to think for ourselves?

This is a time for encouragement of dreams, to explore the world around us, and an internal  journey of self-discovery of who we are, and how we shall fit into the grown-ups world as we approach adulthood. 

It's a time of joy and pain as we waltz into dalliances with the opposite sex. And a time for spiritual awakenings.

Anyone remember the angst of our teenage years?

We forget we were young once

Remember if you had an interest in sports or cooking? Music, or the Arts? As a hobby it's OK; try telling your parents you want to make a future career out of it!

Now "vested parties" want youths to be more interested in "personal finance" - with good intentions of course!

Isn't it synonymous with study hard, get good grades, go to "atas" schools, and work for a MNC and your life will be forever and ever happy - like in fairy tales? 

(As adults and if you had followed that advice from your parents, are you happier now? What's with that hole in your heart?)

Youths are not stupid

The last thing they want is to be like us! 

Can you recall that epiphany you have become just like your parents?

Was that a moment of joy or sad resignation?

Look, youths can tell if you are struggling with your corporate career, and using financial freedom as a means of escape. They don't listen to what we say; they listen to what we do.

It works better if you are already financially free, doing what you love, and genuinely happy. No need to use a loudhailer. 

And youths are intuitively aware being financially free does not have to come from the route of investing or trading only. 

Who is kidding who?

Monday 4 May 2015

Why you don't set goals for the long term

Accountability - You can't touch me! 

Have you noticed most organisations don't set corporate goals that exceed more than 5 years?

OK, one of my ex-company had a strategic 10 goals for 10 years plan...

Most of us "shepherds" just snigger amongst ourselves as we put on a show and dance to rally the troops forward.

Come on! We have to be in the same job description for 10 years to be accountable. For that to happen, we have to be sheep.

Most of us shepherds are either on contracts or have no intention to stay in the same job for max 5 years. And true enough, the CEO left before he got to review what's the end result of his "baby".

Look! Water ahead! (望酶止渴)

Do you know the art of selling unpalatable Wholelife insurance?

You project the benefits as far off to the future as possible! That' why snake-oils always highlight the benefits after 30 or 40 years - it plays into the basic human emotion of greed.

It's simply a mathematical trick where the effect of compounding is only sexy at the last few years of multi-decade projections using single digit % compounding. 

Of course the snake-oil will conveniently gloss over the fact that for Wholelife, you LOSE money for the first 20 years from the get go!?

Yup, if the snake-oil senses the sheep is not so good with "seeing the whole forest", can even throw in the dumbest insurance of all - Wholelife for Child. 

If 30-40 years looks good, try 50-60 years of projected benefits!!! And if we throw in what our unborn and non-existent grandchildren may benefit... Hey! We have some extra decades to play with!!! How's that for the win!?

Is that how Angel or Private equity investors do when evaluating their investments? 

OK, maybe this would be easier - how many years do analysts use for their discounted cash flow models to arrive at the "fair" value pricing for stocks? How come no one uses 30 or 40 years?

Poor goal setting - Time to move the goal posts?

If a person finally reaches his/her goal of hitting $1 million in 20 or 30 years, there's a quick way to evaluate his/her goal setting skills.

1.  Moves on to the next stage of his/her journey. Do as you say.

2.  Moves the goal posts. Say say only. 

Of course must cut some slack to those who move the goal posts!

Afterall, a lot can happen in 20 years!!!

We can have wars, regime change, natural disasters, etc.

OK, maybe too drama since Singapore has remained "untouchable" for the last 50 years. Hmm, I seem to recall someone did say Singapore was an "impregnable fortress" once...

How about something as mundane as discovering the 3% factor we've used for inflation is "only" a projection? A projection is another word for guess, and guessing does not really fit the S.M.A.R.T criterias for goal setting, does it? 

And how confident are we in projecting our lifestyles and health conditions 20 years into the future?

In the short term, the gap between those with goals and plans over those without can be wide. But over the long term, is the gap still visible?

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