Friday, April 01, 2016

Singtel bought out 8% for S$200m

Dear readers, it is a pleasure to make a splendid announcement today. Singtel has bought over this site for S$200m and all readers whom liked us on Facebook will get an equal share of the profits i.e. around SGD 500,000 per person. Woohoo!

Just kidding. Today is 1st of April after all.

Today we would like to share insights into some of the stocks that were discussed previously here. One of which was Colgate, the blockbuster toothpaste maker that dictate how Singaporeans brush our teeth. (Darlie is also owned by Colgate). It was reported that Colgate sales surged today as consumers found a new use that exhausts one tube in one hour.

Don't to this to your kids.

Another stock that caught the attention of readers was Herbalife. The firm that tricked users to buy tonnes of nutritional drinks to help lose weight. Alas, it didn't really work for most people nevertheless they continued to buy, deluding themselves that they will slim down someday. But when the nutrition was accidentally scattered on desktop PC keyboards, a strange phenomenon occurred.

Herbalife nutrition on keyboards

Herbalife stock spiked from $40 to $60. Again, please don't ever play this kind of jokes on colleagues on April's Fool. This is bad karma.

Okay, let's be serious. This is after all an investment blog where readers come to learn something. Today we discuss this issue of mind capacity. Investing is about having mind capacity. In this modern world, in today's time, we have to juggle much more than anyone in the history of humankind. We have to maintain jobs, health, family, friends and community and finally know more about investing and finance. We are parents, workers, subordinates, superiors, friends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters as well as volunteers at the same time. There is so much to do yet so little time. Investing and finance usually comes as an after-thought. There is simply no time to manage portfolio, grow the nest egg and all the gimmickry talk about going for financial freedom and what not.

Or is it? Do we really have no time for anything?

The answer is not really. If we look hard into the details, like what we do when we analyse stocks. What we lack is mind capacity. Most of the "work" today does not need physical labour. We have it toughest when we are in the gym, probably. Most of the time, we operate in a sedentary mode. We write emails, make phonecalls, go for meetings. All these does not require physical effort. It requires mental effort. Our brains are wired to try not to think too much. We space out easily after some real mental work. In fact usually during real work and really important meetings. Most people cannot focus and concentrate for 30 minutes. We crave distractions. Actually some surveys showed that most office workers spend 30-40% of their time surfing the net and doing really non-work related stuff. Our minds simply lack the capacity to function a full day and carry out all the tasks that is required.

Think about it, most tasks usually do not take more than 1-2 hours. Be it writing an email to our CEO or Chairman or presenting to a group of 100 people. But our minds make it so dreadful that we can't even sit down properly to draft the email or the powerpoint. It's our limited mind capacity. For most people, accomplishing 2-3 real tasks per day seemed like the max. Some good ones can do 4-5. But in reality, shouldn't it be 10 or even 18 since we have 10 working hours per day and 18 waking hours per day?

Our capacity can definitely be increased. The question is how.

In the world of finance, this has been recognized for some time and there has been various methods mentioned to help people cope. We shall discuss three today.

1. Beginning the day with good intentions
2. Reducing distractions
3. Yoga and meditation

The start of the day is actually very important but the modern society has seemingly moved away. Singapore has a culture of starting later following Hong Kong and Tokyo. Most young people sleep to the last minute possible reaching the office just in time before 8 am or 9 am depending on when the firm starts. Parents are bounded by the primary school bell ringing at 7:30 am. But what's really productive could be starting way early like 5:30 am, have a good wake up routine that sets the tone for the day. Be it an early morning run and then spending a few minutes thinking through the tasks of the day and setting the best intentions to accomplish them. As the day flows, the mind capacity will diminish, hence it is important to work on the hardest stuff early on. The end of the day will be for winding down with light reading, playing with kids and so on.

Waking up at 5:30 am? Yes start the day early!

As such, investing and finance might need to come early in the day, provided it's an off day and work is set aside. If not, then it has to come during the weekend mornings. Do make it a habit to think through investing and personal finance maybe once a fortnight or at least once a month. Slowly building our knowledge over time. Let's hope to see traffic bump up on this site on Sunday mornings!

On reducing distractions, this has be taught for some time. It is about cutting ourselves off emails, phones, chats, Facebook when real work needs to be done. These are powerful distractions and we can hardly resist them in this day and age. We reach for the phones during meals, walking, driving, and needless to say during meetings when it gets bored. This is our cravings in control, not us. So do away with all these. Stipulate time for checking emails and whatsapp or Facebook. Do the real work when it is required.

Yoga and meditation relates to the first point. Some people put this into their morning routine and it works well for them. It might be worth a try. Both yoga and meditation are the modernized versions of very traditional Buddhism practices to calm the mind and free it up for more capacity. Our mind capacity is like an engine, it needs a good warm up daily. It is also akin to rebooting the computer when it is running out of memory. Hence lunchtime yoga is also very popular. There is also a growing trend for other religions to follow meditation given its benefits e.g. the meditation movement in Christianity. Also, praying is actually very similar to meditation as it focuses the mind on doing one very important task - connecting to the Ultimate Being. This is essentially the same as calming down the monkey mind.

Our monkey minds cannot stop jumping. We are constantly thinking anything and everything. We think about the past, the future, the next task, the last argument, the meal tomorrow but rarely about what is happening now. This is our nature. In order to increase our mind capacity, we have to tame it first. With every successful reset, be it a yoga session, or praying or meditation, the capacity increases a little. Hopefully over time, we can do ten tasks a day, one of which is thinking strategically about our investment portfolio.

Happy April's Fool!

PS: For those who haven't figured out, sorry Singtel is not buying this site YET.