Saturday, 31 October 2015

Know yourself and define your own success!

I wrote this article as an after thought and response, after I received a comment from LP – a fellow great blogger in my last article “What can we learn in stocks from boxing?”. LP is a great blogger in his own ways, that I had learn many things from, in my blogging journey. He is owner of “Bully the Bear”  where you can find so many excellent articles in life and in financial education. In LP comments to my last article, there are 3 HARD questions. Not only are the questions hard, it let me think so HARD as well. I decided to post “my response in this article instead. I also want to express my sincere appreciation to LP, because those questions asked are really good ones.

Why are questions and answers good?

While it takes a fair bit of my time off my usually super busy weekend to respond, having these wonderful questions help us to think and learn more. It’s fantastic and I appreciated it!

In fact, some questions do not have right or wrong answers. Likewise an answer is not concretely correct or wrong. What it really matter is if the question allows the person to start thinking on the subject in a different perspective from what we thought in the beginning. This is because learning together going forward is more important than getting the answer correct in the first place.

So whatever my response may be interpreted in the following article, I emphasize that the ultimate goal is to learn and move forward together. :-)

Question 1

1. What if Ali didn't win this match despite adopting the rope-a-dope strategy? What if he had a plan and waited for the right time but still failed? Is the strategy wrong? Is it that he lacked patience? Or is he simply employing the wrong strategy against the wrong opponent?

Take Action
Of course there is always a flip side. If Ali went in this match only keep thinking about the "what ifs he will loose", he will not even want to participate in the match then. Unless he was only attracted by the price-money, which I think he is not.

Irrespective of if Ali win or lose (which is not important to me), first and foremost, I already admire his ability to challenge an opponent who is deemed so much stronger than him during that time. He takes ACTION and PARTICIPATE, which most people do not even have the guts to do it per se!

I came across so many people who are so good in theory and giving some fantastic talks, but when it comes to the real thing, the action is limited. Knowledge alone does not propel a person, you require organizing it into a specialized knowledge, putting it into an action, and possibility fail, learn and move forward. And repeat this process. So I guess Ali is already a winner with the guts to fight the younger Foreman at his peak.

A strategy is better than none
What if the strategy does not work?  

Who cares!!! Guess first having the guts and then having a strategy is better than no action no strategy. Which strategy always works? 

The great Joe Frazier and Kenny Norton who fight in their usual styles against the monstrous Foreman lost in a pathetical manner, knocking out in early rounds. In fact Joe Frazier fought Foreman twice. The first time was when Frazier was the world champ and was complacent and was knocked down 6 times and finally KO within 2 rounds. Then there was a rematch, Frazier became slight smarter this time and survive more rounds. Still KO but at least performance improved. And Frazier is a man with HELL LOTS OF GUTS!

As for Ali, he has a strategy! He is clever and understands not only himself really well, but also his opponent’s strengths and weakness. Ali will then deploy the appropriate strategy against his tougher opponent. Ali could be wrong, but to me, its not important! It’s the flexibility to adapt, to change and evolve. If wrong, ADMIT it, re-think and then come back stronger.

Establish true strong belief and be consistent
If your belief is so strong after doing so much research and continuous improved yourself, you could have stick to your belief even if it means decades to get just that one success right. Look at Steve Jobs when he was ousted from APPLE, and then started NEXT. He faced so many rejections in NEXT, and it will take him more than ten years before he become even more successful with blossom with so plenty of wisdoms rather than pure hot headedness before!

Look at Jim Rogers. For so long, he has been talking about commodity and eventual China success and USA failure. To me, even if USA will not collapse in next decades or so, and even if China is not going to be successful which means Rogers is wrong, but so what? Are we then going to LABEL Jim Rogers as a failure? Not for me, at least he is convicted to his belief (which to some extent do make sense), and he stick with it all this while. And at least his daughters will be BILINGUAL even if he is wrong.

Another example is Marc Faber a Swiss Investor in his 70s who published the Gloom Boom Doom report. As per Wikipedia "

“In 2012, Faber claimed that there was a "100% chance" of a global economic recession later that year or in early 2013.
On September 23, 2014, Faber said we have "bubbles everywhere".
On January 14 2015, Faber predicted that gold prices will rise by 30% in 2015.
On July 23 2015, Faber stated that investors must hold cash for better buying opportunities after correction.”

So there is no crash in 2013 and gold prices did not rise 30% in 2015. Faber is WRONG. But so what? At least this guy is so strong in his belief and he dare to speak what he believes. And at least what he says makes a lot of sense to me, rather than many political leaders of today. Faber continues to predict the upcoming crash. When….. ? Ask him… haha!

It does not matter what is the outcome – either one I win!
Honestly for me, it isn’t important when is the crash or if it is really going to come. It is more important to me that if there is a crash, I will NOT be wiped out!  And the only way to stay resilient now is to be prudent and make the right preparations. Remember bad things sometimes do come in a bundle, stock crash, job loss, health problems etc. If it does not happen, I am even happier! J. Regardless of the outcome, either ways, I will not be beaten down terribly. It is even more important for me at this stage of my life as a father.

Another example is Pacqiao vs Mayweather boxing match. To me, Pacqiao wins the heart of many even if he lost the match. He still win!  To Mayweather, he gets what he really wants, which is money and undefeated record. So getting strategy wrong and losing the match does not necessary mean a bad thing.

Question 2

How do we know it's the high point of his career? I thought career high is only determine when you start falling and falling and never recovered. In other words, a career high is formed went you reached a high of your career and then start falling. But how do we know he won't recover? So how can we be certain it's the career high and not merely a minor 'correction' in his career?

High point is not the highest point
I apologized that I mentioned highest point in my previous article, which essentially means high point not highest point.

My definition of high point is not necessary the highest point, and it need not mean that the next instance, it started falling. So career high, by all means DOES NOT necessary means you started falling next and never recover.

Now, I cannot possibly tell when is the highest point. But I can reasonably identify when is a high point for myself. For Eg. In careers, it's not difficult to define high or low points making ref. to remuneration and promotion/demotion. Of course you may want to debate that is not necessary the high point, but I am talking from a tangible point of view and this makes sense!

In health, we somehow know what is low point where symptoms show. In stock markets, there are signals as well. Whether it will recover I do not know. All I know for myself is if there are signals, I stop worsening my health and stay prudent. Same for stock market, I cannot define what is bull or what is a bear situation. What I know is when there are signals that I think it is going in a certain direction next, I take action to prepare. So that either way it goes, I stay resilient and my ultimate goal is to be sustainable throughout a long period of time. Of course you can choose to continue drink lots of alcohol if your health worsen, or continue to delve into the stock market when it hits its all time high. The decision is really up to individual. But not me!

To recover depends a lot on mental strength and not just physical strength in life.

For example Foreman lost his mental strength after the loss to Ali and 3 years later he collapsed and retire. During his retirement, he regained his mental strength with the help of religion and come back 10 years later and will then become the world heavyweight champion at age 45. He also became an Entrepreneur and in fact his entire character took a change for the better after 1977 retirements.

For Ali, winning the Rumble in the Jungle is one of the high points in his career, but his even higher point (to me), is when he experienced Parkinson's disease (low point?) and continue to stay strong.  Thereafter he became a truly different person both on personality, behavior and more important mentally. That to me is his higher point and not necessary means he need to fall from there. 

Therefore ability to recover is related to one’s mental well-being. Mental well-being is all about balance and accumulated life experiences which translates to knowledge and wisdom. Once you have that, the fall can be less painful each time we do the same time again.

Question 3

What if we reached the lowest point and never recovered? Do we write it off and say this experience is not for me?

Your must know your own high and low points
Again I do not know when are the highest/lowest points in my life only until when the day just before I die and I look back. This means that I do not know whether if I will recover if I reach my lowest point. What I am sure is as of today, I definitely has not reach my lowest point, because every of my low points, I already recovered and become stronger. I am not sure about you or others, but for me, I am very clear the definition of high or low points in my life now using my own H2F3 theory. E.g. I think I am now living in high point, because I am healthy, family and career intact, no financial problems and able to enjoy my hobbies regularly. The reverse is true for low point. In my high point, therefore I cannot be complacent and continuously upgrade myself to prepare for a possible low point.

Qn: When do we say it's a good learning experience and we move on from now on?

Focus on what you will do when you hit a low or high point
When is not important, how and what I will do is more important.

I went through many low points in my life. Family problems since young; relationship problems leading to bloodshed; health problems facing impending death; career tumble at high point…

Therefore, using all these experiences, if one day I reach a low point in my life, I will CRY over it and yes, really loudly for a long time. Maybe also isolate myself to think really carefully. As an exercise lover, I will also sweat it out as often as I can. Then I will pour out the troubles verbally by talking to people close to me to let the “steam off my chest”. The more I talk, the better I feel. Next, I will seek help and talk to people who had successful gone through the low point that I experienced, and learn from them. With all the aforesaid ways, I believe that I should be able to get over the low point and re-start again. I don’t know?

So the key factors are the mental strength and more importantly focus on what you will do during the low point and to be able to move on quickly. Rather than pondering so much if this experience is for me or that experience is for you. After that and after a while, let nature takes its course to tell you if it is a good learning experience or not. For me, most of my failures after I look back are good learning experiences. If I have the mental strength and focus on what I should do during the low point, DOES IT REALLY MATTERS then “When do we say it's a good learning experience and we move on from now on?”

Qn: I think a lot of success seems like it's a rationalized story. This happened and that happened next, and then we have this success. In truth, for all the failures and success that is happening and unfolding RIGHT NOW, we don't know anything about it. And I doubt we will ever know. Is success therefore dependent on results? If we have the results, then we can talk about how we planned out well and strategise and then we reach this result?


Fooled by randomness!

Define your own success
Just like defining high or low points, I already define broadly my success using my H2F3 as mentioned earlier. Then I will further refine it into more details for each element of H or F.

In my opinion, it is totally not important whether success is a rationalized story or not? What is important is I KNOW MY OWN DEFINITION OF SUCCESS. Furthermore, I need to define the boundaries of my success and boundaries might change over time, depending on which stage of my life.

Success is dependent of results
Answering to your question if success depends on results? My answer is YES! But the results are what I want to achieve in my own definition of success. It is different for different people. For E.g. let’s say I am very pragmatic and has a highly result or goal oriented personality, then I will always set my own objectives and try to achieve it.

For me, I set my PURPOSE/MISSION in life, and then continuously EVOLVE to achieve it!  

To evolve, I will always need to have new experiences, failing, recover and move forward and repeat this process. Then I will probably NOT die with regret.

And that is only for me! My wife always says I am more different compare to her. She and possibly many others (I think) prefers a much simpler life.

Fooled by Randomness
I read the book from Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness. And thanks a lot LP for recommending this book to me. For more about Fooled by Randomness, refer to my earlier blog post here.

For Ali and Foreman, they both have their successes and failures. While there were much painstaking training to bring them to their successes, I also believe at certain points of their career, they were “Fooled by Randomness”.

Again, it depends on how each individual define their own life. Some people prefer a simple life and never in their life to be ever fooled by randomness of successes. It is perfectly fine and admirable too in their own ways.

Some think it is BETTER to have at least go through that “Fooled by Randomness & delusional situation” in our life than not.

At least for Ali or Foreman, it is a remarkable experience to be “world heavy weight champions at least two or more times!” They worked hard for that, and from this aspect, it is not fair to just label them as randomness. And how many people can have that kind of Randomness experiences to speak of.

Therefore “to be Fooled by Randomness” sometimes is not really a bad thing in itself, if we later realized it is a random event, so that we can come back even stronger.

What can we learn in stocks from boxing?

Exactly 41 years ago on 30 Oct 1974, a historical boxing event took place in Zaire (now Congo). It was the world heavy weight championship nicknamed "The Rumble in the Jungle" between two of the greatest boxers of all time – then 32-year-old Muhammad Ali and 25-year-old George Foreman.

George Foreman was the undefeated champion and overwhelmed favorite to win the match. He was the most intimidating fighter then with punches that KO veterans champs such as Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, both of whom beaten Ali before.

During the match, the underdog Ali adopted “Rope-A-Dope” technique, leaning on the rope and choosing to defend and shield. Foreman will then throw his heavy punches in all directions without much accuracy, and each time when he tires down, Ali will find seize opportunity to counter punch with precise accuracy.

After 8 rounds and wearing out his younger opponent, the older and wiser Ali will need just ONE OPPORTUNITY to knock Foreman out, and became the first and only person to ever stop him.

The underdog Ali won with a well-planned strategy - be patient, conserves energy and wait for opportunity to strike with precision and perfection.

Just like when stock market is hitting highs. Have a plan and get ready a watchlist and warchest.  Be patient and deploy only when the right pricing/value arises. It is also the same in life. Do not be too eager for success in a short time. You ought to have the patient for success to evolve over time, slow yet sustainable.

Foreman was defeated at the highest point of his career by Ali and would later retired from boxing three years later when Jimmy Young defeated him in 1977.

It taught us to remember that the highest point in the stock market (or life or career) is always the most dangerous if we are arrogant and complacent. This is the point where you think as if you are on top of the world and as fast as you climb to the top, you will tumble even faster down to the floor.

While the fall from the top can be really painful, it should be a significant event for us to seriously reflect our mistakes and become wiser and smarter the next time.

Looking back for me, the low point in my life is actually the high point in my life, because this is the time when I learn the most. It can sometimes also prove to be the turning point of our life and we will then make significant changes to improve afterwards.  

George Foreman made a comeback 10 years after he retired and will later become the world heavy weight champion at the age of 45. Not just that, he also become an entrepreneur and founded the George Foreman Grill which will then go on to sell more than 100 million units.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

What you should do if not investing in stocks?

2015 – a year to be forgotten

It's nearing end of the year. To recap, I am sure 2015 is not a fantastic year as far as most investors are concerned. 24 August this year aka “Black Monday” is the day when hundreds of billions were wiped out in stock markets worldwide. The horrendous sell-off in equity was a result of China’s devaluation of the yuan due to economy slowdown. The STI benchmark was not spared. From above 3500 points in April, it dived below 2800 points in the month of September. My stock portfolio shed considerable weight as well.

Yet, swings up and down is not an uncommon sight in the world of investing. Investors who owned superior companies at reasonable prices should still stand to benefit over the long term and should not be distracted by the short term upheavals in the financial markets. The market has since rebound. STI rise above 3,000 points this week.

The rally in stocks is further heightened when ECB hinted on more monetary easing to come, while China PBOC had cut interest rates for the six times in a year. 

Is this exactly good news for investors? 

I am not sure. What I am sure is there are no guarantee which direction the market is heading next. Given the uncertain roads ahead, I prefer to do very little for now (not exactly nothing though) in equity investments until more visibility. However I am not suggesting that you should follow me. If you are confident of your investment strategy, please go ahead with no stopping. 

What I am doing now, if not investing in stocks?

Below are some of things I did lately, amid my fewer activities in the stock market.

Go for a tour

Take a deserved BREAK. Go tour to recharge. This is what I just done. Refer here.

Started meditating - find inner peace!

I had started meditating since a while back. It is a fantastic spiritual exercise, aside from my regular physical exercise routine. While still a beginner, I have yet to master the art of meditating. Guess the more important thing to do now is to instill the discipline to meditate daily, which I am still struggling to achieve. 

Burst training - anti-ageing!

I was recommended “Burst Training” from one of my friends for anti-ageing. Yes, I am nearing big 4, and definitely have phobia of ageing. :-)  An American consultant to doctors, – Dr Pompa, initiated this type of exercise regime. I tried it for awhile now and it seems to work perfect for me. The idea is to spend less time in my exercise and yet achieve maximum health benefits by increasing our growth hormone. All you need is approximately 15 minutes for each session of workout. For 1 minute, I will push myself “hard” until I am gasping for breath. Then rest for 2 minutes. And repeat 4-5 times. Any type of workout is ok, as long as you are pushing your body hard during the 1 minute of bursting. You will need to rest on the next day, for your body to recover, and more importantly, "to burn fats!"

Remember, “Fats isn’t bad in itself. It is the inability to burn fats, that is bad!”

For more information, see video below to understand more. 

More focus in work 

Year end is normally the time for companies to dish out bonus (if any) and performed job review. Time bias indicates people or bosses tend to remember the recent events better. Therefore this is the best time for you to work even harder to score some extra points for your work performance report card. 

While my industry is getting quieter with lesser new projects, I continue to be relatively busy at work. Visiting clients, overseas colleagues visiting, traveling, internal training, conferences etc, still take up bulk of my time. I reckon this is the best time that I can deepen my relationships with clients and colleagues.

Stay engage to the financial world 

2015 is a dismal year, but we should never be disappointed and completely detach ourselves from the stock market going forward. Instead, I continue to read financial news each day. In the morning, I read Business Times and Today. At night, I watch Bloomberg TV and find time to read financial blogs/articles. During travel, I also read books.

Other financial products

For me, this is also a good time to set sights or learn other financial products. For instance, I bought Singapore Savings Bonds which I think it is a great financial instrument. It gives almost risk free return of > 2.5% over 10 years. Precious metals are also catching my attention. 

Create a stock watchlist and plan before market plunge

It is important to create a stock watchlist and a plan, to take advantage of market plunge, when it happens. Refer to Motley fool article “what I plan to do when the market crashes.” I created mine, how about you? 

One thing lead to another – New tap of income!

I started this blog with the intention to sharpen my writing and share my thoughts and experiences. Recently a friend was looking for a freelance Oil and Gas writer for her company. Since I am working long enough in the industry, I was approached to help introduce writers to her. 

Bingo! I recommended myself instead. After seeing some of my O&G articles here, I am now their freelance writer.  I had since written several articles over the past months and manage to generate an additional “tap” of income!  It is a classic example of how one thing can lead to another without "over planning" sometimes. 

So maybe at times, it pays to “JUST DO IT!”

Rolf’s H2F3

Ultimately, I am still very focus to have a balance H2F3. Read my earlier article here on what exactly is Rolf’s H2F3! Family time with my kids is extremely important.

So there you have it. This is almost what I had been busy with lately!

How about you?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Taipei Trip - Perfect Break from Work & Stock Market!

What should I do when there are so many uncertainties in the world today? 

Answer : Take a good break and recharge my battery! 

This is precisely what I had done in the last week. I took a short 5D4N trip to Taipei with my wife. No noisy kids, no work from office, no investment of stocks, no blogging... just the two of us relaxing, eating, drinking and shopping etc. 

It was a perfect getaway! 

Nevermind this is our fourth trip to Taipei in the last ten years. We are still very much in love with this place. People are always friendly, weather is nice during this time, goods and services are value for money, quality of the food is great, streets are bustling and so many nice sceneries at the other side of the city. 

Superb weather

22 to 27 degC, bright sunshine, no rain and reasonably windy. Shiok!

Our hotel 

Subway station at doorstep and very good service from hotel staffs

Comfortable bed 

Nice balcony

Perfect bathroom with jacuzzi, TV and view of balcony

Food, food, food...

Coffee coffee, coffee...

Shop, shop, shop...

Shilin night market

Ningxia night market

Jiufen old street



Deja Vu Restaurant by Jay Chou and Liu Qian 

Stunning decor 

Fine dining with amazing good food at just less than S$100.00 bill for two. 


So many weird characters on the streets...

Live music at famous EZ5 house...

Hear nicer singing from me and wife at KTV...

And breathtaking sceneries... 



Lovers Bridge

Fisherman's Wharf

Cannot bear to bid farewell! 

Having our last bites at airport lounge before boarding 

Cya Taipei!