Month: February 2016

Planning My Europe Trip

I’ve been having the idea of a Europe trip for a very long time.

I have a friend from Veldhoven (small town near Eindhoven) whom I’ve known since 2004 / 2005. We met through a game called Space Federation Galactic Conquest, a very text based game, where we were first opponents before joining forces together in the same alliance.

But our friendship extended beyond just gaming.

He introduced me to the world of professional association football, and got me hooked on supporting PSV Eindhoven when I heard about the warm stories he shared about PSV being a very family club that really cared about its fans.

He also, unsuccessfully, tried to get me in the dating scene when I was in Secondary, haha. It failed miserably not because of him, but because the person I liked never was interested in me to begin with. But I’m forever grateful for his encouragement and support throughout the whole ordeal.

And he’s taught and shared a lot with me on other things too, but most importantly, his optimism in seeing a way through has always inspired me when I see the set of troubles he’s been through before (and believe me, they are not easy).

And the surprising thing is, this friendship has been going on even though we haven’t met before! So I’ve decided to use my Regret Averse Fund to go visit him considering I can afford the trip to Europe since I have so much left over from last year and haven’t used much this year.

I don’t want to regret not seeing this friend when I have the ability and opportunity to do so.

And since I’m going to be in Europe, I figured I might visit a few other friends in the European continent.

So let’s talk about the logistics.

In terms of the cities, I’ll be going to Eindhoven, Preverenges, Lausanne, London and Glasgow.

In terms of dates,

  •  I’ll be in Manila Apr 27-29th and can fly from Manila on Apr 29th or fly back to Hong Kong before flying to Eindhoven on Apr 30th
  • I’d like to be in Eindhoven in time for the last home match of the season, which is May 1st.
  • I’d like to be in London after May 2nd since one of my London-based friends is free after May 2nd.

Using this wesbite called Rome2rio to plan my overall trip, I’ve realized the whole trip will cost around 16.6K HKD – 17.3K HKD on transportation alone (depending on if departing from Hong Kong or Manila), which I should be able to cover with my 12.2K HKD Regret Averse fund, 2.6K HKD half a month budget, and 5K HKD lucky draw money from a recent company event.

That leaves me with 2.8 – 3.5K HKD for everything else.

Considering the trip to and from Europe will take ~24 hours and each European trip ~12 hours, I can expect to use 84 hours for travelling.

Which means if I left on Apr 30th, I won’t make it to Eindhoven before May 1st and the PSV Eindhoven home match.

So I have to travel from Manila.

Assuming I left Manila Apr 29th 23:55 on an Emirates flight, then I’d arrive at Apr 30 13:15 at Amsterdam to get picked up by my Dutch friend.

I’d spend a full day in Eindhoven on May 1st (PSV Eindhoven home match and sightseeing).

Then I’d spend the whole of May 2nd to get to Preverenges and meet up my Finnish friend.

Then I’d travel to Lausanne (on the way to London), have lunch with my Hong Kong friend, then get to London at May 3rd (fingers crossed have dinner that night with my Italian friend and my Malaysian friend).

Then I’d probably have a day to check out London before I have dinner with my English friend on May 4th.

I’ll spend the whole of May 5th to get to Glasgow and meet up my other Malaysian friend.

Then I’ll head back to Asia on May 6th 13:30 on a KLM flight and arrive at Hong Kong at May 7th 10:20.

Then I’ll proceed to reverse my jetlag over the next 2-3 days.

Not much sightseeing, just maximizing my opportunities to meet up with my friends. But I can so see myself being very exhausted by all the traveling…

The only question left is do I have a place to crash at London. If I don’t have a place to crash at London, I will take London out of my trip, which would make my trip more relaxing and potentially reduce the budget required as well (although I may use the extra money for the extra days).

Anyhow, the plan sounds good and I’ll go ahead and submit my annual leave request to my line manager. Once places to crash and annual leave are confirmed, I’ll go ahead and make my bookings.

Advertisements

Getting Hit By A 8,000 Tonne Train… 2 Times

By Russell Sekeet [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had lunch with my previous line manager’s line manager, and I was asking him for career advice, and he punched me in the gut with the question, “What do you want in life?

He didn’t literally punch me in the gut, he metaphorically punch me in the gut. Without knowing too.

And it hit me like a 8,000 tonne train (probably one of the heaviest trains ever), because that’s the question that people have kept asking me one way or another in similar wording.

What do I want in life? What is my end game objective?

And these two questions are just depressing since I’m an Absurdist, and I don’t believe it’s humanly possible to answer those questions.

But as a good Absurdist, I will go ahead to answer it nevertheless despite the futileness of such an exercise.

I want to surround myself daily with people I truly respect, admire and love; and I want to work towards making Earth a more sustainable environment for the human species.

In life it’s really the relationships that drives most of my happiness, it’s what I’m passionate about. And if I love my relationships enough, I just feel compelled to protect the environment we all live in since it heavily affects the happiness or survival of the relationships I truly treasure.

Oh and I forgot, the reason why my line manager’s line manager’s question hit me like a 8,000 tonne train is because of what he said prior to his question. He explained that in terms of career direction you should always ask yourself whether your current role and potential next move can get you to where you want in life.

Which is why he delivered the question, since it logically slid right in after his statement. And which is why I got punched two times in the gut, without him knowing, by a 8,000 tonne train twice.

That’s a 16,000 tonne train impact.

And the reason why it’s another 8,000 tonne train is because I just don’t see how my current role or potential next move is getting me to where I am besides just providing monetary benefits (as in allowing me to survive and save money).

I’ve basically out learned what I need for my next goal in life, which is to invest and engage in making Earth a more sustainable environment. Nothing I will do from now on in this company will provide much marginal utility to my skill set or provide progress for this endeavor.

And that fact was just depressing. Here I am, making a decent but not spectacular living, having good work life balance, but not growing as fast as I want. And this was made even worse when I was going through resumes for potential hires, and some very impressive resumes made me question whether I’m stagnating.

Sure, I really don’t think I have that drive to aggressively build my resume anymore (never was that type of person to begin with, relationships and work / life balance has become more important, don’t believe in “saving up sex for your old age“), but I obviously could be more aggressive with my career in going ahead and dive into fields that contribute to a sustainable environment with heavy impact.

I don’t need get promoted (power isn’t a huge motivator for me, and money only motivates up to a point of not needing to survive), I just need to have meaning in my job, and I need to have my career align with my end game objective.

What I’m seeking is Christoph Waltz’s expression, “You gave me my vocation back, to Quentin Tarantino when he won his award in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

And for me at this stage of my life, my vocation seems set on anything related to a sustainable environment.

For investing , I definitely don’t see it as my vocation. As a hobby it’s a fun game to play by being able to be above-average by just being rational and disciplined in only making a few moves when favorable odds are present. But as a career, I can’t see myself spending most of my day just analyzing annual reports of essentially junk companies (that’s where the really big money is earned).

I like being above-average, but I have no desire to be over the top above-average for no reason, and achieving that goal by doing stuff that I really don’t enjoy.

I essentially want to prevent myself ending up having the same regret as Charlie Munger regarding his early career, where he said, “Early Charlie Munger is a horrible career model for the young (aggressively getting wealthy by running a hedge fund) because not enough was delivered to civilization in return for what was wrested from capitalism”, especially when considering I can’t even imagine myself having that much fun spending that much time on investing.

Which makes me even more miserable, for two reasons.

Firstly, I may be putting too much of my sense of purpose onto work, and maybe duly disappointed when I finally get there.

Secondly, even if it makes sense to align my purpose with my career, I’m in a dilemma because of three questions / issues:

  • How much is loyalty worth,
  • Do I have a duty to my company, and
  • How to make a potential departure painless.

To a certain extent, loyalty and owing my company is linked together, since I can discredit loyalty to just win-win transactions that are going on. You could say my loyalty to my company is not warranted because my company needed me as bad as I needed my company when I first graduated for various reasons.

You can always argue from a process-driven perspective whether or not I should consider loyalty into my decision making, but you cannot argue from a consequentialist perspective that I’m treated well. And I feel compelled to repay my company, even if I know I’m falling for reciprocity bias and that I’m just a cog in a well oiled motivating machine.

But the fact I know I’m just a cog in a well oiled motivating machine makes me want to leave, because I think I’d regret not going all out to pursue a more meaningful career just because I feel that I have a strong sense of duty to do something unpleasant.

Duty is important, especially in being consistently on-point in commitment through the ups and downs of life, but not everything deserves that level of commitment. My relationships do, but my career doesn’t, especially when you consider that of the 4 aspects in life (career, friends, family, health), the only thing that can be lost and regained is career.

As for whether I will be duly disappointed when I get to where I want to be, I think the dilemma is easily solved.

If I’m going to feel the grill of meaningless in my next job just as I feel the grill of meaningless in my current job, I don’t lose much in the sense that maybe I’ll have a slight deterioration in work / life balance or relationships at work (which I can remedy by changing companies again) and money (which isn’t too big of an issue right now).

But if I change to my next job and really find the meaning in my life, then I basically got a “That’s a Bingo” moment. I also don’t have to regret on my deathbed that I never tried to find out whether it’s possible to have a fulfilling career filled with meaning.

So essentially the downside is limited but the upside is unlimited.

Which logically leads to questions, when and how do I leave my company? And where do I go?

I think I’m going to leave only after my current project if I have the right job offer. My current project puts so much global and regional exposure to the Hong Kong subsidiary that I just cannot let it abruptly end mid-way because of my departure, lest I make the Hong Kong subsidiary look very very bad at all levels globally. My loyalty is worth at least that.

So to make the transition process less painful when I do get the right job offer, I’d probably give my company a heads up a few months beforehand when they start planning my next position after the project.

And where would I go? I’d probably look into finding a job in any company that’s directly involved with sustainable environment / energy. That could mean established companies like BYD or Tesla, or startups in Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks.

The next question would be, how would I get to where I want to go? And I think I’d do it two ways.

I’d join as many career events related to companies involved with sustainable environment / energy to know what kind of positions they hire and what kind of candidates they look for. Hopefully I can also build my network.

At the same time, I’m going to launch a separate website called Snowball Blessing. I’ve been having Snowball Blessing in the back of my mind for a long time, and have talked about it on several occasions on this website (here, here and here). It’s about time to put my thoughts to action and test out how strongly I feel about doing this.

And I think the Snowball Blessing project’s a great way to test out whether my interest in sustainable environment / energy is just a fleeting thought or a long term thing. That’s what I did with technmark which helped me realize I wasn’t as into Marketing as I thought I was.

So we’ll see. I’m looking forward to see how the mystery of my next phase of journey unravel.

What Not to Do for Cover Letters, CVs & Resumes

By Dawakhuu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Just a few frustrating things I encountered as a recruiter that I think most people should avoid. Some points will have many people disagree due to personal preferences, but see if you agree or not:

  • Don’t assume people know what you’re talking about. Organization or job roles that aren’t obviously clear for a non-specialist should have a brief explanation, and the recruiter is almost always a non-specialist (we can’t possibly know everything about everything).
  • CAR (Context-Action-Result) everything. Make it easy for the recruiter to answer the question “So what?” by showing context of why the situation was impressive, what actions you took, and what impressive results you delivered as a result
  • Quantify your results as much as possible, it’s the easiest way to make the recruiter go “Wow”.
  • Follow-up to the two points directly above this point – Make it very clear why the grades are impressive. Different universities in different countries have different grading standards, so make it easy for a non-knowledgeable recruiter know where you stand in terms of the bell curve if you’re going to list your grades.
  • Don’t show GPA if you’re not going to show your cumulative GPA. Showing GPA or course grades for only a selected few period(s) or course(s) makes it easy to think that you sucked on the other semesters and courses.
  • Cover Letters are great, but don’t assume that both Cover Letters and Resumes / CVs are read together. Make sure your Resume / CV can be read and understood independent of the Cover Letter.
  • Seriously, typos are a no no. Grammar issues are kind of okay considering not everyone in Hong Kong speaks perfect English, and many recruiters don’t have the English proficiency to note grammar issues. But typos? Just reflects laziness / lack of attention to detail
  • Don’t show your address. It’s not necessary (recruiters will ask for it if they really need it) and it could easily provide info. that could cause some recruiters to have certain biases towards you
  • Don’t show your photo, similar point to point directly above. Make it easy for recruiters to not make a biased decision on you.
  • Don’t have a summary at the top of your Resume / CV. You’re supposed to demonstrate who you are already in your Cover Letter and back it up with specifics in your Resume / CV, so a summary not only doesn’t provide any additional useful information, it’s a waste of precious Resume / CV space.
  • Make sure your Resume / CV is 1 page only, unless you have tons of job experience (we’re talking veterans, not fresh grads). Recruiters simply don’t have that much time to go through 2-3 pages of Resume / CV without feeling frustrated.
  • Don’t kiss ass too much in your Cover Letter. I know you want the job and want the recruiter to feel very positive about your enthusiasm for the company, but focus on why you are a great fit for the role rather than praising the company. Recruiters are more concerned about how much value you can bring to the table after all.

How to Navigate the New Born Global Bear Market

By Mark Betram [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

An index of global stocks closed the day more than 20 per cent below its record high last May, satisfying the definition of a global bear market

The first question you need to ask is what’s your investment universe and how are the fundamentals holding up versus the stock market’s sentiment.

For example, I invest primarily in stocks in the S&P 500. Even though “Foreign sales accounted for 33% of aggregate revenue for the S&P 500“, it’s safe to say that of the 3 major economies in the world, USA is actually doing surprisingly good versus Europe or China. And one thing to note is the US economy is very self sufficient, with only 13% of US GDP export based and <8% exports shipped to China.

In other words, I’m not very worried since the underlying environment that my stocks perform is doing not bad.

If you were invested in China or Europe… then I would start worrying and would dig deep on how the underlying economy’s weakness would potentially affect the fundamentals of your stocks.

The second question you need to ask is where is the stock market in relation to historical valuation and market sentiment.

I covered very extensively before how you can hedge or leverage based on historical stock market valuation and market sentiment using the Samuelson Share, but I never explained why this is important.

The reason why this is important is because timing + price paid determines return.

It’s why in the book “Margin of Safety”, Seth Klarman talks about the danger of investing too soon into a bear market.

Sure, you can lock in a very certain return at a certain price if you do your analysis correct, but why be in such a hurry to lock in a very certain rate when it’s very likely you can get a better bargain very soon?

Even if you’re not risking permanent capital loss, it’s prudent to always be aware that it’s far harder percentage wise to gain than to lose (50% loss requires 100% return to break-even).

Many times, the opportunity cost of investing immediately is far higher than holding cash in times of a fresh bear market.

The third question you need to ask is how much of your portfolio is already in stocks.

If it’s mostly in cash already before the bear market began, that’s great news. I suggest dollar cost averaging the total amount of cash you intend to invest in the stock market over 18 months (assuming the cash makes up 30+% of your portfolio when you start deploying cash).

What you’re trying to achieve is take advantage of increasingly lower prices without prematurely running out of dry powder.

And the act of gradually entering the bear market is important because if you don’t possess the ability to forecast the bottom of a bear market like me, gradually entering the bear market means that you would have a high or maximum exposure at the bottom (Thanks to Whitney Tilson’s sharing for that insight).

If it’s mostly in stocks already before the bear market began, ask yourself whether the existing stocks you own were bought at a price that already has a very certain excellent / good return locked in.

If the price bought already locks in a very certain excellent return, sit tight and hold on.

If the price bought already locks in a very certain good return, check to see if you’ve made a profit or not.

  • If you’ve made a profit, sell
  • If you’ve made a loss but you are unable to find investments with much better prospects during the bear market, hold
  • If you’ve made a loss but are able to find investments with much better prospects during the bear market, sell

With the amount of cash you’ve raised from liquidating existing positions combined with any extra cash you already hold or plan to add upon through income streams or debt, gradually move back into the stock market over 12 months as mentioned earlier.

[Disclaimer]

Not advice. No offer. Do not rely. May lose value. Risky. Conflicts hidden/obscured. (Borrowed from Terrence Yang‘s Disclaimer on Quora)

How Can Snowball Blessing Help?

By Corey Matsumoto [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

10 days ago I wrote an article called “Snowball Blessing Structure“, outlining the different ways I were to drive positive change through sustainable energy, namely:

  • Active Investing (Startup Investments and Hands-On Involvement)
  • Passive Investing (Public Equity / Bonds Investments)
  • Donations (Advocacy and Effective Altruism)

3 questions naturally emerge as a result:

So onto the 1st question. Should climate change be the only pursuit of Snowball Blessing in the quest to improve “the probability of human species’ survival” by creating a more sustainable environment “before we become a multi-planetary species“?

The answer is a clear no. There’s absolutely more to climate change in creating a more sustainable environment.

I’ve cross-referenced the United Nations, inter-continental organizations and private organizations (references below) in identifying what are the main causes that we should keep note of in the quest to create a more sustainable environment, and the causes that were brought up include:

  • Water
  • Land, Water and Food Production
  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity (eg. Forests)
  • Energy
  • Financing Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Climate Change
  • Waste
  • Consumption
  • Science of Public Health Issues

These causes can be further consolidated into:

  • Sustainable Production
    • Land, Water, Food, Energy
  • Sustainable Consumption
    • Consumption, Waste, Science of Public Health Issues
  • Sustainable Environment
    • Climate Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

I think for now, all of the aforementioned causes are important and should be addressed for if within the capabilities of private organizations like Snowball Blessing to effectively drive change.

The only cause that was left out was “Financing Environment and Sustainable Development”, but it’s safe to say that the establishment of Snowball Blessing is to finance such development over the various causes mentioned above.

Which leads to the 2nd question. How to prioritize funding / efforts over the different causes that help create a more sustainable environment?

The first issue to solve is to identify causes that are within the capabilities of Snowball Blessing to effectively drive change in, before we move onto the issue of how to prioritize funding / effort over the different causes.

Out of Sustainable Production, Consumption and Environment, the causes that Snowball Blessing can effectively drive change in would be:

  • Sustainable Production
    • Land, Water, Food, Energy
  • Sustainable Consumption
    • Consumption, Waste, Science of Public Health Issues
  • Sustainable Environment
    • Climate Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

 

The effective changes that Snowball Blessing can drive will namely be in investments (companies that create more sustainable energy alternatives and that incentivizes people to consume and waste less) and donations (non-profits that drive sustainable food and plant trees).

As for Land, Water and Science of Public Health Issues, the only things that I can see Snowball Blessing really do for now is Advocacy (policy rights and public awareness), but as these things are notorious for being resistant to change and hard to quantitatively measure effectiveness, Snowball Blessing will spend less funding / efforts in focusing on these.

And as for how to prioritize funding / effort over the causes highlighted in red above, I will adopt a know nothing mentality akin to Index Investing and just equal weight funding / effort over all the above causes. This is because since the environment is a complex adaptive system, it’s hard to measure with precision which causes are more important than others by what specific % in its effect of making the environment more sustainable.

But before I go ahead and equal weight my funding / effort, I would take out “Climate Change” from the list of causes to support since “Food”, “Energy”, “Consumption”, “Waste” and “Ecosystems and Biodiversity” all tackle the issue of Climate Change. I will also consolidate “Consumption” and “Waste” together since they are akin to each other.

So with all of this in mind, Snowball Blessing will equal weight 25% funding / effort towards:

  • Food – 25%
  • Energy – 25%
  • Consumption and Waste – 25%
  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity – 25%

Now that that’s clear, let’s move onto question 3. How much funding / efforts should I gradually invest into Snowball Blessing.

Of the 3 ways I will drive change through Snowball Blessing, Passive Investing and Donations remain the hardest questions to answer in terms of how much of my personal funding / efforts should I gradually invest in.

This is because for Active Investing, I am required by law to be an accredited investor (1+ million USD) to partake and required by my employment contract to not get involved hands-on with other companies without permission of my employer. On both regards, I am ineligible as I don’t possess the wealth nor the interest to leave my employer yet.

For Passive Investing and Donations, the question becomes how to balance funding / efforts needs with current lifestyle needs and prospective future returns.

But I think I do have answer for that, and that’s following Peter Singer’s formula in “The Life You Can Save“, which at most only suggests people to donate 14.3% of their income to combating extreme poverty (and that’s for people with 1+ million USD income!!).

That’s absolutely reasonable for someone like me, even if it were to be a double punch in terms of funding (for every % that Peter Singer’s formula suggests I donate to extreme poverty, I will also fund the same % for Snowball Blessing).

So in the words of the Hunger Games, “Let the Games Begin!”

[References]

 

Examining My World View Using John Stuart Mill

George Frederic Watts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been having lots of conversations, video viewings and book readings about philosophy lately, and one of the figures that have captured my fascination has been John Stuart Mill.

John Stuart Mill captured my fascination because the girl I’ve been seeing has kept telling me that my thinking is very Utilitarian, and of the two figures that epitomize Classical Utilitarianism, I prefer John Stuart Mill over Jeremy Bentham.

And the reason why I prefer John Stuart Mill over Jeremy Bentham is because even though on principle I strongly believe in maximizing pleasure for the maximum amount of people, I do believe that there is a distinction of Higher and Lower pleasure since I find sacrificing the minority’s aggregate pleasure for sake of the majority’s aggregate pleasure just to pursue pleasure itself is abhorrent.

Although for me my definition of Higher and Lower pleasure is different to John Stuart Mill, which is that I believe pleasure is split into pleasure that is necessary for survival of the majority (killing the least amount of people in the Trolley problem) and pleasure that isn’t necessary for survival (feeding Christians to lions purely for entertainment).

This idea does resonate with John Stuart Mill’s idea that “we should maximize utility, not case by case, but in the long run.” [1]. To focus on maximizing pleasures necessary for survival of the majority just makes sense since it applies long term orientation in our decision making and enables us as individuals or humanity overall to be able to live to reap out benefits.

Some may argue that as long as we maximize pleasure that one can possibly experience in a lifetime, it doesn’t matter if we’re going to survive as individuals or humanity overall due to a short term orientation. The flaw however lies in the assumption that the human’s dopamine system has no cap for pleasure.

The human’s dopamine system must have a cap for pleasure since most pleasures in life see marginal utility take place (eg. If you’re hungry, the 1st doughnut would give you immense pleasure, but the 20th doughnut would probably make you want to puke).

Hedonism is simply not the path to sustainable pleasure, and it’s an extremely inefficient way to maximize pleasure since most pleasure that could theoretically be gained over a long period of time is wasted due to the excess amount of pleasure our dopamine system isn’t designed to handle.

Which is why I strongly believe that there’s a huge distinction between pleasures.

And I also strongly agree with John Stuart Miller’s idea that “respecting individual liberty will lead to the greatest human happiness” [2], but only to the extent that that would be the most ideal long term game plan, since if humanity’s survival is at peril, it would be prudent for you / leaders to focus on maximizing your / humanity’s chances of survival by sacrificing certain individual liberties in the short term.

The keyword being “short term”.

But if there comes a point where any decision you make is definitely or very likely to still lead you / humanity to eventual doom (eg. Telltale Game’s Game of Thrones Episode 1) or where the situation will never improve to the point that you / humanity can emerge from pure survival mode, then the focus should be on maximizing pleasures related to respecting individual liberty.

There simply is no point in being an asshole and killing off people’s individual liberty permanently just to continuously delay the inevitable or just to purely survive. To me, the point of life is to enjoy life while you’re alive, so what would be the point of living if you no longer are able to enjoy individual liberty anymore? To be able to enjoy your individual liberty is what defines us as humans.

If this distinction is not made, then it can easily give excuses for governments or organizations to constantly oppress its people in the name of survival, which unfortunately is what’s happening to many places in the world today.

[Reference]

[1] Justice (Michael Sandel) Page 47

[2] Justice (Michael Sandel) Page 48

Striking Hard at the Fat Pitches

GREELEY, Colo. (AFPN) — outfielder Dale Kasel had his finest baseball game as a Falcon, going 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs. The Air Force Academy baseball team (5-14) split a midweek doubleheader with the University of Northern Colorado (13-8) on March 16 at Jackson Field here. Photo by Danny Meyer.

We have this investment discipline of waiting for a fat pitch. – Charlie Munger

For investing, I remember having an epiphany, realizing that to be very very honest about my Circle of Competence, that there was only one company where I was really comfortable in concentrating a majority of my wealth invested in.

And that company was Berkshire Hathaway – I simply knew its management, business model, competitive advantages, financial health and valuation extremely well compared to any other company in the world.

Just as Charlie Munger compares every investment opportunity to Wells Fargo, I now compare every investment opportunity to Berkshire Hathaway.

And that’s important, because knowing Berkshire Hathaway very well means that when the Fat Pitch comes, I know when to hit it extremely hard.

For other non-Berkshire Hathaway investments, demanding an even higher hurdle rate on top of Berkshire Hathaway’s prospective returns means that if I were to venture beyond my true Circle of Competence, the large margin of safety would truly insulate me from grave dangers as long as I stuck to Wide Moat stocks.

For relationships, I wrote a checklist 6 months ago of 18 things that I look for in a potential partner. I wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship at the time and I even planned to be single for life, but I figured it would be a tragedy if one day a 10 passed by that would change my mind and I wasn’t able to recognize it and let the opportunity to connect slip.

Those 18 items were:

  • Instant chemistry
  • Consistent
  • Honest
  • Speaks up (Doesn’t play mind games)
  • Humanitarian at heart
  • Thinks critically on how to solve the world
  • Comfortable in her own skin
  • Makes me comfortable in my own skin
  • Good listener
  • Enjoys comedy/humor
  • Materialistic minimalist
  • Enjoys and respects personal space
  • Open to idea of no marriage and no kids
  • Smart
  • Kind
  • Reliable
  • Understands what I mean in English
  • Accepts an absurdist (me) that thinks the world has no inherent meaning yet rebels against it

Deep inside of me though, I was very skeptical. There’s no way in hell anyone could fit all 18 things I look for in a potential partner.

Until I did.

Sensing an once in a lifetime opportunity of meeting a 10, I just knew I couldn’t let this opportunity slip lest I end up on my death bed regretting letting a great opportunity slip because I didn’t have the courage to go for it, so I chose to be very honest and direct with initiating the relationship the moment I confirmed I met my 10.

And as an extremely lucky guy, when I confessed my feelings to her, she also reciprocated.

So at this stage of life, I’m grateful I know what I want in opportunities such as investing and relationships, am patient when no great opportunities show up, and to have the gumption to strike hard at the Fat Pitches when they do pass by.