My Pace

When I was studying at Gan Eng Seng School Anson Road, I had the good fortune of learning Geography (Sec 2) from a wonderful teacher Mdm Foo. She is still teaching at Gan Eng Seng by the way. I remember fondly what she told us "slower" students: "If others need 10 minutes to understand and you need 8 hours, so be it. Once you understand, there's no difference." Goal setting is fine … [Read more...]

Want Fish or Fishing Skill?

When you take up a course to learn something, be it cooking or new language, the desired outcome is that you have learnt a new skill after the course right? If we don't start preparing some dishes of our own, or use the new language learnt, guess what? We soon forget what we've learnt. It simply shows we were not that really into cooking or the new language in the first place. It's just … [Read more...]

Success is an iceberg

There's a Chinese saying: Success on stage for 3 minutes; 10 years sweat and toil backstage.   Living in our instant noodle fast food environment nowadays, like black-hearted China mainland food suppliers, we try to cut corners here, skip some testings there, add some additives here... All in the name of quicker, faster, sooner! Life is not just study hard and work … [Read more...]

Difference between Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge is knowing the answers to questions. Wisdom is knowing when to act blur; and when to apply what you know. Married couples or those living -in-sin together quickly learn the difference. Knowledge is knowing you are right and your significant other is idiot and irrational. Wisdom is agreeing with him/her.  Many veteran investors and traders are knowledgeable; a few are … [Read more...]

Can you teach me how to fish?

James is in his 60s. He owns a fishing tackle shop at the Beach Road area. Has been in this business for 30 over years now. A friendly face pops into the tackle shop as we speak. Peter, in his 30s and works in a bank as loans officer. "Can you teach me how to fish?" Peter bellowed out as he plonked himself on the stool in front of the counter. James looked up from his morning papers and … [Read more...]

Travel when young

There's a Chinese saying that travelling 10,000 miles can be more illuminating than reading 10,000 books. Do it when you are young. School vacations or after graduation are the best times to do so. If you do not have time at this age, pray tell when you will have time when you are running on the treadmill? After marriage with kids? Even better if you don't have much money! You will … [Read more...]

Fallen leaves, frostbite, and are you expendable?

The recent hot spell and "drought" in Singapore is causing our trees to shed leaves like crazy in order to minimise water loss through transpiration. I guess our trees are hunkering down till the rain comes again. For adventurers caught in a blizzard while mountaineering or traversing across our Arctic and Antarctic poles, our bodies do behave like trees do in a crisis. Body heat is … [Read more...]

Flexibility versus Lock-in

A common complaint by loyal customers of our telcos is that the latest promotions are only eligible for NEW customers only. You signed up for that 2 year 100 Mbps broadband plan with glee thinking how smart you were. Especially if you compare the savings you are getting in relation to the more flexible pay-as-you-go top up plans. You smart; others not stupid. From the "others" … [Read more...]

Efficiency versus Effectiveness

Have you noticed a difference in buying burgers from McDonald's in recent years to 5-6 years ago? Now it takes longer to have your orders filled right? But the burgers are now hotter ;) In the past, can you recall you can physically see pre-made burgers sitting in a queue behind the McDonald's counter? The quicker you move the customer queue, the more $ you make per minute or per hour … [Read more...]

The trouble with long lead-times

Once upon a time, I used to work in Supply Chain (self-taught through learn by doing). And one of the lessons learned is that shorter lead-times are preferred over longer lead-times, all things being equal. In a way, it's true. Take for example a factory for DRAM memory chips or LCD panels. Demand good with high prices, what do you do? Increase capacity by investing in a new plant of … [Read more...]

You mean you can learn from other people’s mistakes?

Maybe it's just me. You mean you really can learn from other people's mistakes? If you are a smoker, what do you see when you buy a pack of cigarettes? Do you learn from the mistakes of others that's pasted in graphic gory details screaming right in your face? If you are trying your luck at the casinos, you mean you never read or heard about stories how careers or families were ruined by … [Read more...]

You are shorting already!

For me, going long or short is no different from betting black or red at the roulette tables in the casinos Whether you call it an "investment" or speculative trade, it's just a directional bet - up or down. Nothing more; nothing less. Most traders don't have a problem with shorting - think about it, does it smell like a "rigged  game" if you are only allowed to bet black at the … [Read more...]

Have you noticed great investors are superb writers too?

Test! Who is your favourite investing guru? How did you get to know this person? (Face to face, books, print media, You-tube videos, documentaries, TV, etc.) Do you quote the famous sayings of this guru? Whether it be newsletters, annual reports to shareholders, articles to print media, or books written, have you noticed these investing greats have one thing in common - they write … [Read more...]

3 bananas in the morning, 4 in the evening

I think most have heard of this story where a group of coconut picking monkeys were not satisfied with their "wages" of 3 bananas in the morning and 4 in the evening. So off they went to confront the farmer and demanded a raise. The farmer though deeply for a while and gave the monkeys a "raise" with a wry smile - 4 bananas in the morning and 3 in the evening. The monkeys walked away … [Read more...]

Ultimate Risk Taking – Your Life

What's the worst that can happen to our trading or investment account? What's the worst consequence if we quit our job and embark on the path of a freelance existence? What's the worst case scenario if we start a business and it fails miserably despite we putting vision, mission statement, and lots of goals into it? Last night, 2 men made the news after a big "trade" they made went … [Read more...]

Queenstown Hawkers – Alternative Financial Independence

When I was in my primary school in the 70s, I had the impression that hawkers work 7 days a week with no rest days one - especially those that I frequent in the coffee shop near my place. The only rest days are the 15 days during Chinese New Year. Now after returning 2 years ago, I noticed quite a few hawkers in Queenstown close for 3 days of the week - work 4 days only!? The stall … [Read more...]

Cultural Revolution and Benchmarking

Anyone remember the story of that taxi-driver who shared he earned $7,000 a month? Then it was discovered the $7,000 were his best months; not the average per month... Hold this thought. It never fails to tickle me pink when I read about self-professed long term "investors" are so enthused into comparing annual performance returns, benchmarking this, benchmarking that. It can become … [Read more...]

Covered Short

Have you tried shorting stocks? If you interested, do be aware that only amateurs will use SGX's securities borrowing and lendiing programme (SBL). How I know? I was that "sotong" (dumb) amateur. If your portfolio is big as in landed class, and you want to borrow shares to short, ask your prime broker. The rates are way much better than SGX's! If your portfolio is more HDB like, do … [Read more...]

How many more years do they have?

I came to know of a group of mainly retired teachers and ex-principals that gathers regularly at one of the food centres in Queenstown for coffee and chit-chat in the mornings. Every alternate month or so, there will be organised "excursions" up north to Hap Chai, or down south to Batam. Wink, wink. Yes, they are all males. Some on reading this may get their blood boil... How could these … [Read more...]

Gurkhas, Riots, and Emergency Funds

Mt Vernon crematorium is the resting place for my maternal grandma. I visit her a few times a year; whenever I feel like saying hello. (I don't wait for Ching Ming; I listen to my heart. Visiting her is not an obligation) This bond started way way back. I remember when grandma went back to China for visiting before I enrolled in primary school, the many days I've stood looking out the … [Read more...]