Monday 31 October 2016

Perspective matters! You are your own shepherd

I was having my breakfast at the hawker centre this morning when I overheard an interesting banter between a quite youthful dressing "ah ma" with her granddaughter and another man in his late 60s at the next table.  

The senior man is single and was lamenting on his singlehood; while the ah ma was telling him she regretted marrying and its much better to be single...

It was kinda fun until I noticed the poor granddaughter sitting all quiet and staring at her food with a forlorn face...

Do not underestimate young children. They understand a lot more than we think! Poor girl must be thinking of the "squabbles" at her ah ma's home...

You know how it is.

If you marriage is blissful, children obedient and doing well, you would pity me on my singlehood. Each time we meet, you never fail to coax me to find some woman and get married already!

But if your marriage is on the rocks, and children just drain you out in frustrations, you would envy my "freedom" and praise me for my "wise" lifestyle decision...

In the investing arena, if you are lucky, you would get the same bipolar well-intentioned advice from people around you.

We'll leave out those vested interest "advices" (remember to treat them as sales pitches) as they need you to stay invested so they can continue to generate commissions and charge you fees. 

One group will be those "investors" who just happen to start their investing journeys in a bull market. They have never experienced a 50% loss at portfolio level yet. Since all they ever knew is making money year after year, of course they would want to share the "good news" with you!

Just invest lah! Anyone can do it!

The other group are those "unlucky" investors who went into the market near the market top and are still nursing their bruising losses... Some may have capitulated and sold at huge losses, while some maybe still wishing and hoping the market will recover so they can breakeven and recover their capital back...I'm a long term investor; surely one day I'll get all my money back!? They are no longer looking for compounded returns...

Investing not easy. Not everyone can make it.

Don't be a piece of white paper

If you are able to ascertain the perspective the person is speaking from, its the first step towards thinking for yourself.

But that's not enough.

Get yourself educated so you can form your own opinion. This way, other people's ink will not be able to influence you so easily. Only you can write on your own paper.

When people tell you to get invested, you of course agree politely. In your heart, you smile knowingly that buying winter clothes in winter is not the same as buying winter clothes during summer...

And when people lament on their disastrous investment losses, how market is bad and you should stay the hell clear, you nod sympathetically. But once you reach home, you put in your queue orders to take advantage of those who are capitulating at soul breaking prices to you...

You understand the essence of "Buy low; sell high".

Insultingly simple and obvious; but it may take 10,000 hours or trades to master. Wink.


  1. Hi Jared,

    Isn't life all about being yourself?

    But it is hard to be yourself in a world that demands conformity, rewards compliance and often punishes the man who refuses to accept the status quo.

    Yet every true genius the world has ever known has done things just a little bit differently. (My mantra: Different is better than better.)

    And most often, the real genius of those individuals is that they weren’t afraid to just be themselves in pursuing their own goals.

    According to that perspective you are a genius!

    1. Andy,

      As you have correctly pointed out, its not "natural" and "intuitive" to be ourselves...

      From kindergarten onwards, we quickly learn to "consequences" of not "fitting-in".

      Especially in Asian societies.

      Before younger readers get misled, I must reiterate that I know how to hollywood the "team player" role during my corporate days. I wore a mask remember?

      However, whenever I get an opportunity, I'll do something very different from the herd - taking a calculated risk.

      If I win, I am famous.

      If I lose, I am infamous.

      Either way, its heads I win; tails I win gamble :)

      My philosophy is:

      If I cannot be famous, then I'll be infamous!

      In a big multinational, how else to be noticed?

      Many have played it too "safe" during their corporate days...

      And that's one of the biggest hole in their hearts:

      Not to be recognised...

    2. A bit of acting skills do come in handy frequently in life. One can't act the entire life though. Too tiring.

      Well, praise and recognition. The two things which are more important than Sex and Money (oops, am I allowed to write this here). But who dares to admit it?

    3. Andy,

      Sex, religion, and politics - its all cool here.

      We are adults; we should know the out-of-bound markers ;)

      That's one reason I go back to "role-playing" during weekends.

      It's nice to get compliments from customers and acknowledgements from "competitor" promoter peers who were perplexed yet impressed with my style of "consultative selling" ;)

  2. temperament,

    I guess I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I guess you can call that "genius" in a way.

    Many do lie to themselves on their strengths and weaknesses. How else to explain the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different ending?

    Instead of the word "genius" - let's not get the fisherman started again - I would prefer to say I rely on occasional "sparks of brilliance" ;)

  3. Watch it! Too many sparks might cause a fire ...

  4. Andy,

    Fire is OK if that's needed to clear away the cobwebs of bureaucracy and the stagnation of "this is how's its done here" mentality ;)

    It was fun and invigorating being a member of the change management team.

    That's until I saw men and women with crushed dreams and ambitions - having found out they don't have a major role to play in the new organisation...

    I never planned it; but prioritising mom has led me to think for myself:

    If I so good at change management, why don't I use it for my own nano-hedge business to spot changing trends?

  5. As Charles Darwin rightfully stated: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

    That certainly applies to organizations as well as the people in those organizations. After all an organization is just an accumulation / collection of people.

    Everyone is dispensable in an organization, but indispensable to building one's own life.

    BYD - Build Your Dream

  6. Hi SMOL,

    Haha, I just had a post about buy low sell high too :) If i'm the grandkid sitting there, I'll be very interested. I can hear two sides of the story from people with skin in the game, and then form my own judgement. It's not possible to form your own opinions without having some base material to work on, so while it's good to not be an empty piece of paper where you soak up any ink you come into, it might be a good idea to be a semi absorbent piece of paper. You soak up some, repel some, and the whole piece of paper becomes a tapestry of artwork that only you can create in that unique combination of colours only you can know.

    Haha, how's that for not following others? I took your ideas, improvise it and made it my own LOL

    1. LP,

      I fully endorse it!

      Steal with pride but make it our own!

      Steve Jobs says Picasso "said" - Good artists copy; great artists steal.

      I not so sure Picasso said those same exact words, but credit to Steve Jobs - he is great at salesmanship ;)

      Being our own shepherd does not mean we don't take counsel from others. We all stand on the shoulders of giants before us.

      I like the American Idol example. Singing in the karaoke version (parroting) of your favourite singer may get you into the competition.

      But to get into the final rounds, the judges all insist the contestants must make the song their own by having their own interpretations.

      Sing with their own voice ;)

    2. I shall take the ideas of LP who took the ideas of SMOL!

      In the Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shared that "The test of originality for an idea is not the absence of one single predecessor but the presence of multiple but incompatible ones."

      Time to go stealing, oops, I mean learning from all the other bloggers and create my own investment style! A uniquely Unintelligent Nerd style!

    3. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Own time; own target!

      If "stealing" is not an appropriate word, try "benchmark with pride" instead ;)

  7. Andy,

    Charles Darwin's "survival of the fittest" is probably one of the most MISQUOTED catchphrases out there...

    Yes, the proper context and perspective to what Darwin said should be - "the one most responsive to change".

    Most Taiwanese and Hong Kongers aspire to be their own boss one day.

    Its a very Chinese thing. To be a king in our own dog kennel is way better to be a eunuch in the Royal Palace!


    Most aspire to work in MNCs or with Govt linked companies. Really can't make it then work for big daddy.

    But gloabalisation and technology have made this study hard; work hard strategy at risk.

    Hence this "fixation" with financial freedom in recent years...

  8. temperament,

    Then do something different...

    Like in not listening to others? (Try wah kali kong?)

    Or staying away from stock market? (Property r' us?)

    If I buy stocks and they frequently go down in price afterwards, why waste this "talent" of mine?

    I should switch to shorting stocks instead!


  9. temperament,

    If only I can apply my "fuzzy logic" to my academic studies...

    Somehow I can't convince my teachers that a blank answer cannot be considered "wrong" since it contains all possible answers!?


    Only in Art classes do my Art teachers accept me for who I am :)


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