parallax background

I     to write

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Right people at the right time

This video is a heartwarming clip of Roger Federer, who becomes emotional when he remembers his coach and mentor Peter Carter.

The reason is due to Peter’s untimely death; he did not see the rise of Roger. Roger also says how important it is to have the right people at the right time.

This reminds me of how we all need a few key influencers/coaches/mentors to appreciate this fact. We can never make it alone. At the end of the day, humans are a social animal. I have written about ‘shoulders of giants’ there is a close group of people, my inner circle, who work on me and ensure my blind side, my weak side is kept in check.

In my professional life, too, my blind is protected by a dedicated team.

And the one thing that we need to do is to make these people aware of how much they mean to us and our gratitude towards their efforts. To acknowledge and appreciate the people who help us, is a real sign of a leader.

Process vs common sense.

There was an issue with my 2-factor authentication (2FA). I was unable to reset the mobile number to which the one-time password (OTP) is sent. I called Amazon’s customer service to help me.

They tried for 20 odd minutes, and the only solution to resolve it was to submit a request to disable the 2FA whilst sharing any Government identity. The time to reset using this route would be around 24 hours. I was not impressed as I wanted this resolved quickly. I understood there was nothing that can be done.

I was not happy, but with a calm and composed voice, I said thank you to the customer service advisor. Before he ended the call, he said, “is there anything else I can do?” And this is when it hit me. This is a routine statement that these guys have been trained to say before closing a call. And I believe this is outright stupid!

I came to you for a solution, you couldn’t help. Instead of saying “is there anything I can do” a more appropriate response could have been, “I’m sorry I could not help. I wish you a pleasant rest of the day” or something around this line.

Can I do anything else just does not make sense? My bin needs to be taken out. My laundry needs doing. Can you help me with it? NO!


It is high time companies empower their client/user facing team to be more human and not just follow the letter of the process but the its spirit.

Alan Turing is one of my heroes. A brilliant mind was discriminated because of his sexual preference. He was subjected to chemical castration. The society was at its hypocritic best. We were OK with the man cracking the Enigma and saving millions of lives, but when he served his utility, he was imprisoned for the choice that was very personal.

Alan Turing took his life, we not only lost a kind soul but imagine what he could have done if he was allowed to be! His contribution would have scaled new heights, and we could have got further insights into algorithms.

This is a gesture too late but one that I wholeheartedly support. You will live on Alan ❤

Bull! – Maggie Mahar

Bull by Maggie Mahar is a long but easy read. The story is about the history of boom and bust from 1982-2004.

The book is an excellent account of how the market swings and how these have played out in the periods before.

There are a lot of incidences which the book covers, and as mentioned earlier, it is an easy read. Hence I will not share the ten learnings/points from the book here.

It is sufficient to say that the history rhymes and it is good to be prepared and this book does exactly that.

Snippets from the letters of James Grant are very telling and are like prophecy. Below is an example,

Without miscalculation there would be no price action, no capital gains, no losses and no commissions. Determining the ideal price, the market would sit on it, preening.

Chapter 8 titled Behind the Scenes in Washington is fascinating, to say the least. The struggle between who does the government care for? The public or the elite few who run the corporations? I will let you draw your own conclusions.

If you want to be aware of how we got there, Bull is a fascinating read which will engage you as well as enlighten you.


Quote – Annie Dillard

“He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.”

– Annie Dillard

From Barron’s – History Says Apple and Amazon Probably Won’t Be the Next Decade’s Best Stocks

Barron’s is one of the primary sources which gives me investing related information. It is central to my investing education.

The snippet shared below is a quote from Louis-Vincent Gave of Gavekal in an article titled History Says Apple and Amazon Probably Won’t Be the Next Decade’s Best Stocks by Connor Smith which appeared on Barron’s on 9th July 2019.

The Mayans used to believe that history was made up of recurring cycles of 52 years; a notion which fits nicely with the popular belief that people avoid making their parents’ mistakes, only to repeat their grandparents’ errors. . .


PhD – Poor, hungry and determined.

An inspirational story itself. Ignore the title and result, focus on the journey and how Richard Montañez did not give up and always was himself. Inspiration to say the least. The question is, have you got PhD? I am hungry and determined, but my father ensured w never felt the poverty, he worked his ass to ensure we never experienced what he did whilst growing up. So I do not have a PhD, but I am very well aware of my roots.


The Great Economists – Linda Yueh

The book does exactly what it says on the cover! Linda Yueh explore the lives and work for the greatest economists, the times they lived in, their personal situations and how they would have adressed the situation we find ourselves in at present.

▶ Adam Smith’s magnum opus, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, took a decade to write. It sets out the concept of the ‘invisible hand’, which refers to the unseen market forces that set prices by equating supply and demand.

▶ When countries grow, they tend to industrialize, so they move out of agriculture and into manufacturing, which has higher productivity or output per worker and thus generates higher wages. Industrialization is how countries become middle class and prosper. Deindustrialization then follows.

▶The 2008 crisis revealed the downside to having an economy with a large financial services sector. Banks had become complex and interconnected, and their business became harder to understand and to regulate. Their responsibility for causing the worst recession in a century prompted calls from the public to regulate the banks more tightly in the US and UK.

▶ Every individual … neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it … he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

▶ China remains a communist state governed by the Chinese Communist Party. It’s therefore unsurprising that the rule of law and other market-supporting institutions, such as private property protection, are weak, as there is no independent judiciary.

▶ Winston Churchill observed in 1945 speaking in the House of Commons of the British Parliament: ‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries’?

▶ During the economic boom of the 1950s in the United States, the top 1 per cent did only a little better than the rest, gaining some 5 per cent of the increased income. But since the Great Recession, the top 1 per cent have accounted for 95 per cent of the income gain, leaving the bottom 99 per cent with just 5 per cent of the gain between them.

▶ For instance, a CEO of America’s largest listed (S&P 500) companies earns, on average, over 200 times that of an average worker in the same company. In the 1960s, it was twenty times as much. Why has this happened? Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich gives decreased unionization weakening the bargaining power over wages of workers as one cause.

▶ Alfred Marshall’s process of creating eonocmic theories:

  1. Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry.
  2. Keep to them till you have done.
  3. Translate into English.
  4. Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life.
  5. Burn the mathematics.
  6. If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This last I did often.

Shoulders of giants. Planting trees.

I am fortunate to live a great life. I can perform at the peak and deliver excellent results, and this is all because of the team that I belong to. It always is. I see further because I stand on the shoulders of giants. This quote by Sir Isaac Newton keeps me humble.

I also appreciate the stalwarts who have left a body of work, which helps me to draw from their experience and the body of work they have left behind.

The two quotes below help drive the message better.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

– Sir Isaac Newton


Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a treet a long time ago.

– Warren Buffett

Smile makes you beautiful

A smile makes you beautiful. Have a nice day.

What a simple and powerful message. And the guests who enter or leave the Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg get this see it and feel wonderful.

I have never seen such a great use of this space until now.

Well done to the team that thought about this.

“Stronger than an Army is an idea whose time has come.”

– Victor Hugo

Timeless advice

Morgan Housel is one of my favourite authors out there. His clarity of thought and his ability to write those thoughts in a meaningful way is what draws me to him. Below is a recent post which should serve as timeless advice for anyone.

The biggest take away for me was. . .

How much you make doesn’t determine how much you have. And how much you have doesn’t determine how much you need.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Winston Churchill, House of Commons speech 22 October 1945

The Intelligent Options Investor – Erik Kobayshai-Solomon

I have recently changed my investment strategies from stocks to options. I have a relatively small pot, and I want to build the pot. I believe options are the right way to go about doing this. I have read 3-4 books on options, and most of these were about the strategies you can use to trade options. Needless to say, I was not happy with these.

The cool thing about Amazon is, it uses your shopping data and recommends you relevant products; in this case, The Intelligent Option Investor book. Amazon got it right. This is an incredible book which details the who process of options and how to think about options intelligently. It does cover a lot of strategies but these are easy to understand a smaller in numbers compared to all the books which claim you can make money trading options.

My favourite section of the book is – A sound intellectual framework for assessing value. This section talks about how to value a company! It is simply brilliant.

Key takeaways

▶ You can make a lot of mistakes when investing, but as long as you are right about the ultimate direction a stock will take and act accordingly, all those mistakes will be dwarfed by the success of your position. Good investing, then, is essentially a process of recognising and exploiting the directionality of mispriced stocks.

▶Intelligent investors should be very, very happy that the BSM is such a poor tool for pricing options and predicting future stock prices. It is the BSM’s shortcomings and the general market’s unwillingness or inability to spot its structural deficiencies that allow us the opportunity to increase our wealth.

▶Human decision makers do not, it turns out, act as perfectly rational economic animals as the EMH posits but rather are swayed by emotion, illusion, and ingrained prejudice that cause their decisions to be made in consistently flawed ways.

▶A good theory must be simple, but it also must be provably correct under all conditions.

▶Individual investors, by and large, do not receive training in the basic tools of valuation analysis—discounted cash flows and how economic transactions are represented in a set of financial statements. Professional investors are exquisitely trained in these tools but too often spend time spinning their wheels considering immaterial details simply because that is what they have been trained to do and because their compensation usually relies on short- rather than long-term performance. They have all the tools in the world but are taught to apply them to answering the wrong questions.

▶Understanding the interplay between selling more stuff and selling stuff for more is essential to understanding the first driver of value to a firm.

Focus. Laser sharp focus.

Warren Buffett once said,

You can hold a rock concert and that’s OK. You can hold a ballet and that’s OK. But don’t hold a rock concert and advertise it as a ballet.

That is the key. Your talk needs to match your walk. It is not that difficult.

This is a long read about Aldi and how its purpose drives its actions – click here. No nonsense, cheapest grocery shopping experience out there.

The principle is universal. Define a purpose. Stick to it. Have a laser sharp focus. And repeat this, day in and day out.

Infusing life in T&Cs and email

Emails have become mundane. Talking about marketing or corporate emails; they suck the life out of you.

When you put enough care to create a body which people will engage with, the experience is magical. Below is such an example of Revolut.

Screenshot of an email from Revolut.

The copy brings a smile. And that is the crucial objective of any marketing campaign and any touch point – to create a lasting positive impression.

Revolut go even further, by publishing their Terms and Conditions, the legal bit, in plain English. How cool is that!

I have tried and failed many times to work with our legal team to make the legal stuff easy to understand to a layman. It becomes boring because it is not easy to assimilate to people who are not lawyers by profession. Lawyers surely understand the legal bit, that’s their specialisation, but for the average Joe, it makes no sense at all. And I am sure, your audience is not all lawyers. So why confuse the audience? The focus should always be on users! Keep it simple.

Revolut’s plain English Ts&Cs can be found by clicking here

Never normalise an exception.

Just like real pornography tries to make specific sexual fantasies seem more common than they are, financial pornography tries to make specific financial outcomes seem more common than they are.  The goal of both is to make the exceptions look like the rule.

Follow your passion?

A good response why ‘follow your passion’ is not a sound advice. Very few people get paid for their passion. For most of us finding a career which pays a decent wage.


Pick a career that may not be your passion but pays a decent wage.

Chris Rock’s advice for kids – you can’t be anything want; you can be anything you’re good at, as long as they’re hiring – is good. Scott Galloway’s advice – people who tell you to follow your passion are already rich – is great. It’s unpopular to say, but a career that isn’t your passion yet earns a good income can be preferable to the alternative. This is less about money and more about freedom: A low-income passion job may breed resentment as you age and have kids, mortgages, all kinds of higher bills that become burdens large enough to suffocate the joy you get from working in your passion. But a job you merely like that pays a decent income – provided you live below your means a save a chunk of that income – can eventually offer a level of financial flexibility that lets you pursue passions as hobbies, purely for their pleasure.


Original article below.


Law of diminishing returns applied to information

Diminishing returns is the decrease in the marginal output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.

This fundamental law of economics plays out in most aspects of our lives. From an investing perspective, gathering more information does not help to make better decisions. And the amount of time effort and money put into acquiring this extra information eats into performance (cost of buying the information eats into the profits).

Sure, you do need to research and study before you can invest. But what to study. And what is the crucial information; the two questions you need to answer instead of trying to gather every bit of information that is out there.

And in the darker times, remember – in our hearts their light is strong. So everyone we think of them their memory shines.

Evolution is playing catch up

Being an avid investor and a marketing professional I see this our behavioural biases is play every day. These biases are as a result of evolution.

The key here is evolution took millions of years to design human. The pace at which we were changing was slow. Since last 150 years or so the rate of change is unprecedented.

This is where disconnect happens. We no longer live in a society where we hunt and gather. Yet our preprogrammed instsict is based on these very conditions.

Thus what we are supposed to do based on the present situation is way different to how we react based on how we have evolved.

Decision making – McKinsey&Company

I feel decision making is science as well as art. The more you learn about decision making, the better you get. It is a skill. Below is an article which looks at company-wide decisions. It gives good examples and how to overcome common problems. This is a must read.


Link to the original artcile on McKinsey & Company

Mental Model – 30 tools to master logic and productivity by Kevin Wagonfoot

Charlie Munger talks about inversion and mental model – an abstraction or simplification of a system. These are the two core tenets to which he credits his wisdom.  I  am yet to read a comprehensive book on inversion, but I stumbled upon this book in one of my booklists on Amazon.

I have been reading on Options a lot lately, as a result, have been unable to post any books that I have read recently. I believe the options post in the future will contain the couple of books I have read and reading as I type.

The Mental Models book is an easy and a short read by Kevin Wagonfoot and gives you a flavour of how mentals models can help us form an informed view about the world.

The book covers themes such as

  • Decision making
  • Dealing with others
  • Explaining and understanding
  • Creativity
  • Reasoning
  • Negotiating
  • Learning
  • Business

The below passage from the book summarises what the book is about.

Each model is a simplified version of some aspect of reality we want to learn more about. Imagine a map, it is a simplified abstract way to understand physical space.  The map isn’t exactly like the land it represents, but it can tell us valuable information area it represents.


Apple’s FaceID is cool. Just as a fingerprint, it scans the contours of your face. Maps it and uses it as your password.

It’s very secured. So much so that the £30 per transaction limit on contactless payments.

FaceID creates a scan/map of the contours of your face; hence, Apple can be sure it’s you; it is intelligent enough to distinguish between a picture and a live face. And as a result, you can pay using Apple Pay without any restrictions.

What surprises me is that FaceID does not work in landscape mode. Sure it is a map; and a map is a map, irrespective of its orientation.

It’s always the people.

I saw this quote in our local Costa Coffee.

It is never about the business. It’s always about the people. People driven by purpose. Working together as a team. Profits are always a by product.

If you focus on finding a purpose. Hiring people who align well with your purpose. Have processes that support the people. Then you will have an a rewarding business. A profitable business which is an integral part of the community.

Qauntity or quality?

In life, personal or professional, one needs to make a choice. Are you going to run for the quantity or you will go slow and steady but will not compromise quality? You can always strike a delicate balance, but otherwise, these two are mutually exclusive. You can only have one.

Monster featuring its new swipe gesture to apply or to pass job applications.

Above is a screenshot of an email I received from Monster. They are a job portal, and from what it appears they now have a swipe gesture which allows you to swipe to apply for a job or to pass it.

Fair choice. Tinder brought this innovation to life. You swipe pictures left or right to choose a potential date. It’s fun. The question is, does it serve the purpose of finding a partner? I do not know the answer. I found my partner the ‘old’ way — a friend of a friend.

In Monster’s case, if I were the product leader, my focus would be matching the right candidate for the role. And you only need one candidate to fit! You may interview 4-5 candidates, but that is about it. So my focus would be geared towards the quality of the applicants and matching their abilities with what the hiring company is looking for. Gathering as many CVs/applicants as I can never be on the top of my agenda. It is a waste of time for all the parties involved.

It is not about being right or wrong. You need to find your purpose. I share mine all the time on this platform. 😇

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson

Innovation, in its purest form it getting from A to B where B is making it – process/product/service – better. And the journey you take to arrive at B is innovation. I like to read as much as I can on innovation and Amazon knows and it recommended this book.

The work is an awesome and an enlightening read by Steven Johnson. It is an easy read and explains a lot of concepts in a clear and concise way.

There are seven exciting chapters which cover where good ideas come from.

1. The adjacent possible

2. Liquid networks

3. The slow hunch

4. Serendipity

5. Error

6. Exaptation (you pronounce it as Ex-zap-tation 😬)

7. Platforms.

The book is filled with annecdotes and makes for an interesting it. The chapters mentioned above themselves are the key take aways.

Few interesting insights

▶ Scientists and animal lovers had long observed that as life gets bigger, it slows down. Flies live for hours or days; elephants live for half-centuries.

▶ One lovely consequence of Kleiber’s law is that the number of heartbeats per lifetime tends to be stable from species to species. Bigger animals just take longer to use up their quota.

▶ West’s power laws suggested something far more provocative: that despite all the noise and crowding and distraction, the average resident of a metropolis with a population of five million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of a hundred thousand.

Newspapers reaction to TV boradcast in colour

The New York Times, in typical language, called it a “veritable bevy of hues and depth.” “To concentrate so much color information within the frame of a small screen,” the Times wrote, “would be difficult for even the most gifted artist doing a ‘still’ painting. To do it with constantly moving pictures seemed pure wizardry.”

▶ Call it the 10/10 rule: a decade to build the new platform, and a decade for it to find a mass audience.

▶ When we look at the history of innovation from the vantage point of the long zoom, what we find is that unusually generative environments display similar patterns of creativity at multiple scales simultaneously.

▶ If there is a single maxim that runs through this book’s arguments, it is that we are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them.

▶ Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.

▶ Sometime in the late 1870s, a Parisian obstetrician named Stephane Tarnier took a day off from his work at Maternité de Paris, the lying-in hospital for the city’s poor women, and paid a visit to the nearby Paris Zoo. Wandering past the elephants and reptiles and classical gardens of the zoo’s home inside the Jardin des Plantes, Tarnier stumbled across an exhibit of chicken incubators. Seeing the hatchlings totter about in the incubator’s warm enclosure triggered an association in his head, and before long he had hired Odile Martin, the zoo’s poultry raiser, to construct a device that would perform a similar function for human newborns.

▶ Good ideas are not conjured out of thin air; they are built out of a collection of existing parts, the composition of which expands (and, occasionally, contracts) over time. Some of those parts are conceptual: ways of solving problems, or new definitions of what constitutes a problem in the first place. Some of them are, literally, mechanical parts.

Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, the academics who developed the theory, argue that trial jurors are more likely to be persuaded by evidence if it is presented in the order of a logical story [iv] than if the same evidence is shown in random order. What’s more, the story each individual develops around the evidence will be unique and dependent on their own characteristics, beliefs and experience.


It is so true. We need a logical sequence of evidence, but the interpretation is unique to us based on our past experiences.

QWERTY works.

The debate is not whether QWERTY keyboard is better layout or not. The reality is most of us use that layout on our phones, laptops and desktops.

The non-standard keyboard layout creates a poor user experience and can result in long queues during busy periods.

So why should a parking meter be different?

The above parking meter needs you to put your car registration number before you proceed to enter the number of hours to pay the fee.

There is no rhyme or reason to have this odd keyboard layout and to catch people out.

This not only ruins the overall user experience, but people also become irritated, and the queues build up.

When there is an existing system that works unless the cost to benefit ratio exceeds there is no point breaking the routine.

The product manager for these machines should have known better and just gone with a QWERTY keyboard.

It is easy to complicate things but difficult to keep things simple.

DNA and Coffeehouse

As a student of Molecular Biology, the nature of molecules and how they function within our body has always fascinated me. A central molecule that one studies is DNA. How the DNA is synthesised, to how it replicates, how does it create the RNA messages needed for protein synthesis, etc.

The discovery of the structure of DNA was central to our understanding. The popular culture credits James Watson and Francis Crick for the double helix structure of the DNA. Two others played an important role, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin.  According to me, it was Rosalind who is the unsung hero. Maurice did win the Nobel Price with the Watson and Crick for the discovery of the nucleic acid structure.

My belief, along with the peers of Rosalind is she was a genius scientist, but as she was a woman, men would have been intimidated by her sheer brilliance. Also, four people sharing the price would have been too crowded. Who knows?

I always felt, women have drawn the short straw and have been lost in the background whereas men hogged the limelight. I feel ashamed the scientific field of discovery suffered the syndrome too.

Interesting though is how the story appears in the book Where Good Ideas Come From. Maybe it was just the Rosalind did not spend too much time in the coffeehouse. Below is the section of the books which talks about why Watson and Crick were able to jump through the conventions of the time and make a leap into the what now appears obvious.

The model of weak-tie exaptation also helps us understand the classic story of twentieth-century scientific epiphany: Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. As Ogle and others have noted, in the small scientific community working on the problem of DNA in the early 1950s, the person who had the clearest and most direct view of the molecule itself was neither James Watson nor Francis Crick. It was, instead, a biophysicist at London University named Rosalind Franklin, who was using state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography to study the mysterious strands of DNA.

But Franklin’s vision was limited by two factors. First, there was the imperfect state of the X-ray technology, which only gave her hints about the helix structure and base-pair symmetry. But Franklin was also limited by the conceptual island on which she based her work. Her approach was purely inductive: master the X-ray technology and then use the information collected to build a model of DNA. (“We’re going to let the data tell us the structure,” she famously told Crick.)

But to “see” the double-helix in the early 1950s took something more than just analyzing it in an X-ray machine. To solve the mystery, Watson and Crick had to piece it together with tools drawn from multiple disciplines: biochemistry, genetics, information theory, and mathematics, not to mention Franklin’s X-ray images. Even Crick’s sculpture metaphor proved crucial to cracking the code.

Next to Franklin, Watson and Crick seemed almost dilettantes and dabblers: Crick had switched from physics to biology in his graduate years; neither had a comprehensive grasp of biochemistry. But DNA was not a problem that could be solved within a single discipline. Watson and Crick had to borrow from other domains to make sense of the molecule. As Ogle puts it, “Once key ideas from idea-spaces that otherwise had little contact with one another were connected, they began, quasi-autonomously, to make new sense in terms of one another, leading to the emergence of a whole that was more than the sum of its parts.”

It is a fitting footnote to the story that Watson and Crick were notorious for taking long, rambling coffee breaks, where they tossed around ideas in a more playful setting outside the lab—a practice that was generally scorned by their more fastidious colleagues. With their weak-tie connections to disparate fields, and their exaptative intelligence, Watson and Crick worked their way to a Nobel Prize in their own private coffeehouse.


Source – Johnson, Steven. Where Good Ideas Come From (pp. 168-169). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Crowd sourcing images

On my flight back from Lyon I spot this advert. The image appears to be crowdsourced and also the photographer is credited as well.

I believe this is the right way forward for any brand that wants to connect with its audience. It creates user-generated images which adds life to what would otherwise be staged by professionals. The rewards can be flexible for the creators and at the same time the brand engagement goes up as well.

As life grows, it becomes slow

Scientists and animal lovers had long observed that as life gets bigger, it slows down. Flies live for hours or days; elephants live for half-centuries.

“Negative quarter-power scaling.” If you plotted mass versus metabolism on a logarithmic grid, the result was a perfectly straight line that led from rats and pigeons all the way up to bulls and hippopotami.

Petrol station

At any fuel station now a days there are two options. You either pay for it fuel at the pump itself. Or you pay at the kiosk.

Paying at the kiosk is the good old way. You put the fuel. Walk to the cashier inside a store. And can buy some refreshments or car related stuff, coffee or you could just pay.

Version 2.0 is you enable the payments at the pump. The user doesn’t hae to walk to the oops. He fills the fuel. And off he goes.

The experience is annoying when you are waiting for the car ahead of you! They have chosen to pay at the kiosk. They may also want to buy some stuff. This makes your wait even longer!

From the perspective of the company the client who uses the pay at pump frees the nozzle and allows for a better turn over rate (number of customers per hour).

And if you are trying to increase your revenues separating the two is the key. Right now the nozzles operate in a hybrid mode. You can pay at pump or pay at kiosk. The issue happens when the car ahead chooses to pay at kiosk and the car behind goes for pay at pump.

The incentive for the user who choses to pay at pump is not guaranteed.

The right way to implement an improved layout would be the nozzles closer to the exit should be pay at pump only! So the drivers can fill and go. The nozzles further from the exit need to be pay at the kiosk. So shoppers can fill and also buy refreshments should they chose.

These design decisions will make for a better experience at the filling stations.

Independence of thought.

Crowds make me uncomfortable. I have never been a person who needs others approval to feel comfortable. If people turn right, by default I go left. I am unaware, whether it is because I do not trust people or I prefer to have the independence of thought. I like to believe that it is the latter. Trust, but verify. Always 😇

I started to study investing late in my life. In my early thirties. What appeals to me the most is independence of thought. The article below does a great job of charting the similarities in the journies of a sportsperson and an investor. A must read for any investor or someone who is thinking of becoming an investor.

Risk and luck

Morgan Housel is soon becoming one of my favourite writers and thinkers.

A thought-provoking quote from his Ironies of luck article

If risk is what happens when you make good decisions but end up with a bad outcome, luck is what happens when you make bad or mediocre decisions but end up with a great outcome. They both happen because the world is too complex to allow 100% of your actions dictate 100% of your outcomes. They are mirrored cousins, driven by the same thing: You are one person in a 7 billion player game, and the accidental impact of other people’s actions can be more consequential than your own.

▶ People are good at discounting risks that threaten the continuation of their past success. They are equally good at discounting the role of luck in their past success.

▶ risk doesn’t care about how much effort you put into something, and neither does luck. Both just show up, unannounced, eager to humble you. The only difference is that risk humbles you as soon as it arrives, while luck humbles you down the road, once it vanishes, leaving you with only the memories you shared together. You can manage risk and luck. You can ignore risk and luck. But you can’t get rid of either.

▶ structural luck is harder to identify, because the person enjoying it becomes used to it. That skews their perception of how most of the world operates, which almost always comes back to bite them at some point, and is hard to accept when it does.

I know one couple of people who do not believe in luck but only their hard work. 🤦🏽‍♂️


Quote – Steven Johnson

Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.

– Steven Johnson

Investing reads

You have to live it to believe it – Morgan Housel

▶ Seeing the world around you was not enough to understand how it works. You had to actually experience that world to learn how to operate in it.

▶ One of the most important topics in business and investing is whether all of us are, in some ways, like these blind cats. Sure, we’ve read about the Great Depression. But most of us didn’t live through it. So can we actually learn lessons from it that make us better with our money?

▶ Investor Michael Batnick says, “some lessons have to be experienced before they can be understood.” We are all victims, in different ways, to that truth.

▶ John F. Kennedy grew up in one of the wealthiest American families, and the rare clan whose wealth surged during the Great Depression. His father Joe Kennedy’s life goal was to make so much money that his kids could devote their life to politics. He did just that.

▶ Both campaigns used the same logic: someone who merely read about a big event cannot fully empathize with those who experienced that big event.

▶ That’s our history. That’s what we know. And what we know is more persuasive than what we read.

▶ You can’t expect countries whose experiences are that divergent from our own to have similar views about economic and social policies. And this goes beyond economics.

▶ the psychological scars of our experiences don’t discriminate on IQ. Or more specifically, they sit above IQ in the information hierarchy that people use to make decisions.

▶ People with different experience than us aren’t necessarily smarter. They just see the investing world through a different lens.

▶ Daniel Kahneman calls this the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” They can be two completely different minds. Memories of big events are influenced by a few punctuated oments, not the full story.

▶ The hardest part of studying history is that you know how the story ends, often before you begin researching a topic.

▶ They highlight the badass success and glory, because that’s how the story ended. But no one knew that before or during the raid.

▶ “The customer is always right” and “customers don’t know what they want” are both accepted business wisdom. Examples of both are only known with hindsight, and it’s impossible to think about these topics with an open mind when you know the eventual outcome of how certain products perform.

▶ Going out of your way to speak with people whose backgrounds are different than yours, knowing that their view of the world may look nothing like your own, though they are just as sure of their views as you are of yours, is a humbling thing. But it’s so important to expand your mind to the range of possibilities you may come across as an investor.

▶ As Jim Grant says, “Successful investing is getting others to agree with you … later.”

▶ Another takeaway is remembering that people whose views and decisions look crazy to you may be less crazy than you think, because they’re being made by people whose views on risk and reward were shaped in a different world than you’ve experienced.

▶ When you realize that other people can make decisions that look crazy to you but make perfect sense to them because they’ve experienced something you haven’t, you become less cynical about the investing industry and more focused on whatever works for you.

▶ When the study was over the blind cats were left in a fully lit room. Forty-eight hours later, all were effectively normal, regaining their “vision” and learning how to match the world around them to their movements. Eight weeks of seeing their world taught them virtually nothing. Two days of experiencing it, and they had it all figured out.😀



Fives Crashes – Jonathan Clements

▶ WE GET MORE pain from losses than pleasure from gains—which might explain why I often think back on the five major market crashes that have occurred during my investing lifetime. There’s something about the massive hemorrhaging of money that has a way of focusing the mind and sticking in the memory.

▶ To invest successfully, we need to stand apart from the crowd, never purchasing something we don’t understand and never buying just because others are doing so. That doesn’t mean we should be knee-jerk contrarians. But it’s crucial to diversify broadly, while shunning big bets on the market’s most popular merchandise.

▶ In fact, the housing mania was arguably even worse than the tech mania that preceded it. It affected far more people. Barely half of Americans own stocks, while—at the time—almost seven out of 10 owned their home.

▶ The financial pain of the housing bust was exacerbated by the psychological shock: Folks expect stocks to be risky, but they’d long viewed homes as the safest of investments.

▶ As we learned from the 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal, when we ponder the risks we face, we need to think not only about probabilities, but also about consequences.



Danger Zone: Traditonal value investors – David Trainer

▶ 99.8% of “Value” ETFs Rely on Book Value

▶ As Warren Buffett noted above, he was wrong on Kraft. He overestimated the value of the company’s brands and distribution networks and underestimated the significance of changing consumer tastes.

▶ Investing capital that earns a return below your cost of capital destroys value for shareholders.

▶ Very few investors these days can truly be classified as “value” investors. Value investing, in theory, is a comprehensive strategy that involves thoroughly analyzing assets and cash flows to identify companies that are trading below their fair value. In practice, almost no one does that work. 🧐

▶ For many other investors, value is merely a component of their portfolio, a bucket to fill, rather than an overall strategy for selecting stocks. This way of thinking leads investors to abdicate their responsibility to perform the diligence upon which the value investing philosophy was built. As long as investors have exposure to the “value“ factor, they don’t feel they need to know the details of that exposure.

▶ Many tech companies rely heavily on intangible assets that the balance sheet doesn’t capture, which is why value indexes systematically underweight tech.



Investingin shipping stocks: Lessons from Walter Schhloss

▶ Investment Philosophy: Buy Stocks Like Groceries, Not Perfume

▶ This approach can be surmised in the following bullets:

    • Start with beaten-down losers, the 52-week lows and companies with temporary issues.
    • Don’t lose money.
    • Avoid debt like the plague.
    • Try to buy stocks that manufactured products while sporting long histories of operations (20+ years).
    • Focus on assets rather than earnings, citing the claim that earnings aren’t as predictable as assets on the balance sheet.
    • Avoid talking to management.
    • Read the entire annual report and familiarize himself with the basics of each business he bought.
    • Purchase hundreds of stocks, keeping a well diversified portfolio.
    • Exhibit around 25% turnover — i.e., holding period of four years.

▶ “Basically, it’s a contrarian philosophy, and people really like buying things that are doing well.” I wish Schloss was more complicated — it would help me get more pages out of the piece — but that’s really all there was to it.

▶ Unlike Buffett, Schloss made a point of not talking to management or factoring them in at all. His reason was that good management would eventually show up in a higher stock price and a higher multiple.



Smart people saying smart things – Michael Batnick


Growing the Pie – Howard Marks – Q1 2019

Howard Marks letter every quarter is something that I eagerly look forward to. Q1 2019 letter can be found by clicking here.

My favourite excerpts are below

On the ability of the populism to stir people;

Sound bites like these find receptive audeinces amonth people who are unhappy with their lot, whereas detecting the error in these statements requires an insight, sense of history and understanding of economics that many people lack.

Winston Churchill’s quote of capitalism and socialism;

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virture of socialism is the eual sharing of miseries.

Summarising China’s agricultural history from a paper published in the Journal of International Affairs in 1986;

You can’t have it all. Most people lived much better because of the reforms, whereas under the prior system everyone had it the same, but most people lived far less well. Which is fairer?

Captialsims doesn’t know about or care about fairness in the sense of equal sharing. What it considers fair is the proposition that people who have greater ability or work harder should be able to earn more. That potential, it says, provides incentives for hard work and rewards those who achieve, ultimately resulting in a better life for almost everyone.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou

I love to read, and I mostly read books on investing and anything subject that would help me to be a better investor. As a result, non-fiction books dominate. As a luxury, I do read autobiographies and try to transport myself into those moments where the subject would have experience living their inspiring lives.

My work also requires me to travel which results in a lot of time waiting at the airport, long journeys in public transport and downtime on the plane. This is when I pick books which I may otherwise not have picked up. On my recent week-long trip to Vienna to attend a conference I bought Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. And boy oh boy it did not disappoint.

Being a phlebotomist early in my life and having worked in a diagnostic lab the industry, its practices and the science behind this book were natural to me. I have lived the life of a technician. And could relate to the problematic ethical point of view the whistleblowers would have experienced.

John does an excellent job to paint a vivid picture. Theranos was nothing but a sham. In hindsight, everything is evident. What Elizabeth Holmes (EH) wanted to achieve would have made patients lives easier no doubt about it. The principle was ambitious and also defied physics. It is the second part which the Theranos could not bend. Everything else was easy to bend and that it what happened.

What surprises me is how the stalwarts like Geroge Schultz, Richard Kovacevich, James Mattis and an industry veteran former VP on Amgen Fabrizio Bonanni failed to spot the fundamental flaws in the technology itself.  Numerous project delays, willy-washy promises and excuses should have got these people to dig further, and none did!

Influential people yielded their power to protect EH rather than the common man or common sense. Everyone was smitten by EH and her charisma! Can we define a pathological liar’s ability to manipulate people as charisma? Who knows.  🤥😤

It is the determination of the author, the Wall Street Journal’s wider team and of course the whistleblowers who with their sheer will brought this fraud into the light.

I can only imagine how John would have felt when he was met with resistance at every point of his investigative journey to get this story published. At the end the investors lost money, the culprits paid a little price for their crimes, but the truth prevailed.

A long read about critical ingredients which are necessary to build a company. Lenny Rachitsky does a splendid job and gives an actionable plan to all the budding leaders.

Thinking in Bets – Annie Duke

As an individual, I believe a lot in processes. If you have a process and you are disciplined, the outcomes should be in your favour. Not all the time, but most of the times.

As a student of investing, I wanted to make the decision-making process robust. I also know that outcomes are beyond one’s control. Control what you can control, the central tenet of Stoic philosophy.

Annie Duke does a great job to explore the topic of seeing this in terms of the probabilistic way instead of a 0 or 100% certainty. Maybe it is our fundamental flaw that we need a sense of certainty to feel in control, but the reality is very different. Nothing is guaranteed, except death and taxes may be? 😬

Thinking in Bets guides you through the process of assigning probabilities to the possible outcomes and being comfortable in the fact that you do not know anything for sure. Annie tells an incredible story, and the book reads well.

My gauge of a good book is one where I do not want to keep it down. I want to pick it up the moment I get up, and I want to keep reading until I want to go to sleep. And this book does not disappoint.

Learning and highlights

▶ Life is Poker, not Chess


▶ Treating decisions as bets help to avoid decision traps and inaction


▶Thinking in bets allows you to move towards objectivity and accuracy and being open-minded


▶A good quality decision can still deliver a non-favourable outcome, and it happens all the time, and it is OK 😇

Common sense prevails

I wrote about my frustration about how people’s culture and traditions clash with proven scientific principles in a post titled Who is responsible – parents or the Government? I believe at this crossroads; science should always prevail.

Finally some positive action. The greater good should come before the majority. The greater good concept can be controversial. History has many examples where the ‘greater good’ was sinister, and propaganda was used to hide the real motive. This is not the post to discuss that. 🙂

Banning unvaccinated children from public places makes sense. Parents with their crusade against science will see the point and fall back in the line.

Thousand no’s to one yes. Apple lacks focus.

Apple announced a lot of services at a special event held on the 25th of March.

News stand

A service which offers curated content and 300 magazines at 9.99 dollars per month – makes sense. Even if you read 2 or 3 magazines, the monthly subscription should cover the cost. You will never be able to read 300 magazines! Instead, a better way to price this would have been choosing 3 or 5 categories, and the reader will get magazines in those domains delivered via the News app. My subscribed categories would have been investing, sales and marketing, technology. These are the areas where I want to build my circle of competence.


An online gaming service. A paid service which gives you access to 100 odd premium games. The audience appears to be casual gamers.


Nothing new here either. Lack of creativity with naming a product with an iconic trademark. On-demand is the name of the game; you add a lot of original content and expect people to pay for watching this. My view on this is, the streaming landscape if already fragmented and if every other company launches this, there will be no incentive for the viewer. They will not pay for each content provider to see their exclusive content. I subscribe to two providers. Sky and Netflix. And I am happy to make either one of these redundant should the price become unsustainable.

Apple Card

I trust Apple more than any other service provider with its principles related to privacy and security. The reason I do not use their phone as a primary driver as they are unaffordable at around £1,000 per phone; I am also unable to keep a phone for more than 18 months. I need the latest and the greatest. I know this is my shortcoming, but this is what it is. Having said this, I do miss Apple Pay.

I use Google Pay on my OnePlus, but I do not trust it as much. I have highlighted this to Google that Google Pay allows the payment without confirming the password or fingerprint! It’s a farce. I have to turn on/off the NFC chip because I am worried about fraud.

The Apple Card makes sense and its the right way to do things. Little or no charges, daily rewards and helping people take more control of their finances.


Somehow, I feel, this is a step in the wrong direction. Apple’s mantra has been laser sharp focus. A thousand no’s for one yes. And I get it. When Steve returned to Apple in 1997, he culled all the product lines and started with Macs and iPods. Now, things have started to dilute again. Too many SKUs, too much fragmentation.

So now an Apple user now has to pay –

  • a premium for the handsets.
  • 9.99 per month for music.
  • 9.99 per month for News.
  • Assume 9.99 for TV
  • Assume 3.99 for Arcade
  • Subscription for iCloud

It is getting ridiculous, or maybe Apple’s clientele can afford these. I do not know. Although I love the products, I do own a Macbook and iPad. I gave on iPhones because they are way overpriced.

I believe, Apple should have gone the Amazon Prime way. A $100-$150 annual fees to get all the bundle mentioned above. All or nothing. Adoption would have been better. I may be wrong; time will tell.

From an investing perspective, Apple has communicated to the market ‘please be patient, we are working on a couple of things.’ With iPhone units not being published going forward and sales lack in the coming Q1 2019 earnings calls, the Special Event was a PR gimmick. Half baked services with nothing substantial behind the announcement.

Example when you need to focus on people and not the process

A dear friend of mine gets a call tell him his mother is no more! A shocking call to receive for anyone. Inevitable but nothing prepares us for it.

A couple of days later, he’s booking tickets to fly to his home town in another continent. I spend an inordinate amount of time with this man, so as usual, we are on a call discussing how he is feeling. We talk everything under the sun almost daily.

It hits me; my friend is booking annual leave to attend his mother’s funeral! I ask him to request leave under the bereavement policy.

He didn’t think about it. I am not surprised, as this should not be on his priority list. That is why you have a wingman. My nudge saves him three days of annual leave.

The next 30 minutes are spent on finding the right form to fill to apply for Bereavement Leave!

Seriously? A form? Think about it. Bereavement itself is a rare occurrence — a time of emotional swings. You are sad, upset. You have just lost someone dear. And the last thing people want to do is follow a process!

It is a prime example when the process should be as simple as it can be, a step or two at the max! The process could be a generic HR email ID and a one-liner saying I need to take bereavement leave. No questions ask. That should be it! Or the line manager should be able to liaise on the employee’s behalf.

Expecting to find a form, fill it during such a sensitive time defies logic and also shows how bad we are at second-order thinking – what are the consequences of the action. I understand people need to follow a process, fill a form for traceability/audit purposes but not during the time of emotional turmoil and emergencies. During these instances, people should always, ALWAYS trump over the process and compliance. Compassion should win over compliance.

There are 3 Ps any company needs to focus on – People, Purpose, Passion (profit is always a consequence of taking care of these 3Ps).

Winning may instil a wrong sense of invisibility. I know people who are cocksure things happen to them because they have the skill. Meritocracy is all for them. Yours truly believes in the fact that he did the best he could. The outcome was favourable and he just got lucky. Keep me in check all the time. I focus on the process of how I made the decision, what were the blind spots and if I could have improved the quality of the decision. And the quality of the decision is not based on the outcome! That is the key.

Below are some highlights from the article.

  • Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best.
  • By contrast, research on gratitude indicates that remembering the role of luck increases generosity.
  • Perhaps more disturbing, simply holding meritocracy as a value seems to promote discriminatory behaviour.
  •  . . . in companies that explicitly held meritocracy as a core value, managers assigned greater rewards to male employees over female employees with identical performance evaluations. This preference disappeared where meritocracy was not explicitly adopted as a value.
  • . . . “paradox of meritocracy” occurs because explicitly adopting meritocracy as a value convinces subjects of their own moral bona fides. Satisfied that they are just, they become less inclined to examine their own behaviour for signs of prejudice.

Moonshot – Wrisk

We have a lift out of our moonshots — first investment in an insurance start-up.

The thesis is simple. The insurance industry is opaque. You feed your details, and you get a price to insure your stuff. Wrisk wants to bring transparency where you know why your insurance premium is what it is. It is an app based offering with a rich technology stack. Aims are to launch this globally. Revenue is via commissions offered on policies sold.


Made a wrong judgement call. Showed a lack of patience and sold the position early.

Buy – $2.60 | Sell – $2.90.

Now anchoring bias will only make further bets difficult. Hindsight bias at play while I write this post.

I am annoyed with self. Advice to self – keep calm and carry on.

The Signs Were There – Tim Steer

This book was an impulse purchase based on Amazon’s recommendation. Amazon’s algorithms know what I am more likely to buy based on my purchase history. And needless to say, the algorithm was spot on.

The book does not disappoint. Most of the books are focused on the American companies whereas this one is focused solely on the UK companies. The book is up to date and features the recent – from an investing time horizon perspective – Carillion. Tim Steer does a splendid job to explain the accounting shenanigans to people with a limited accounting background and build a foundation to read financial statements.

Signs of failure are present provided you know where to look. And this book lists a decent number of symptoms which a prudent investor should be aware of.

Personal highlights

  • Cash is king; everything else is an opinion.
  • Read annual reports back to front.
  • Turning costs in assets by way of intangible assets!
  • Costs which are capitalised are kept out of the income statement and as a results earnings per share goes up.
  • Exceptional costs if the occurs more than once may not be exceptional at all.
  • IPO prospectus has more details than any other document in the future.

History will remember Prime Minister May in a bad light.

This is a second post on politics. The lack of leadership and indecisiveness is the reason for my thoughts are focused on Politics. These thoughts are kept private, but I deem, when I look back in time, this period will be essential, and my view should be clear.

We are in a mess and it down to one thing and one thing only – lack of leadership, pragmatic approach and saying one thing but doing exactly opposite; Thank you PM May. When you are different groups of people with varying ideologies under one roof, the best way to succeed is finding the middle ground — having strong beliefs that are held loosely. PM May failed to do this. Did not bring different parties under her confidence. Her ‘my way or the high way’ is the reason for this chaos.

My point of view is brilliantly summarised in 16th March 2019 issue of The Economist

It is tempting to blame the EU’s though negotiating stance for the mess. Yet the real culprit was Mrs May’s incompatible goals. She wanted to leave the single market and customs union, to have no hard border in Ireland and to imporse no new barriers between Northern Ireland and the British mainland. But an independent trade policy and open borders are incompatible. Refusal to accept the trade-offs inherent in leaving the EU bedevils the whole process, no matter who is incharge of it.

2nd meaningful vote

I usually avoid writing about politics. I guess this is an exception to the rule.

Yesterday, the Parliament turned down the ‘amended’ deal [I do not think there were significant amendments in the first place.]

Parliamentary democracy works by the people who vote for an individual amongst themselves to represent them and make decisions on their behalf in the Parliament. The assumption here is the elected individual will act in the interest of its people.

But, the people we elect are bound by the same biases like the ones of the electorate and yesterday’s vote showed how terrible the Parliamentarians are at decision making. They are trying to seek certainty when there is none! Life is a game of Poker – incomplete information, half-truths, uncertainty, chance/luck – and not Chess – define rules, objectivity and determined outcome – and our elected leaders are trying to turn Poker into Chess. This is never going to happen. With the deadline approaching, we are just getting ourselves into more trouble and increased uncertainty.

I voted during the referendum – most of the people who have opinions and are vocal have not voted! I voted to remain, I made the decision based on the fact that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, the alternative campaign To Leave was playing with unsubstantiated claims. It was not playing with the facts. [Remember, I said, the people we elect are bound by the same biases. The Leave campaign proved it.] I have since changed my decision [Scientists do this very often. If the underlying data change, change your thesis. Data is the one that guides the premise, not the other way round.]. After seeing the way EU is treating us at the negotiation table, I would rather be out than stay. I also see it from the EU’s perspective; they do not want to make it easy for members to leave. It will be bad for its existence.

Knowing that leaving the EU was not simple, knowing that in life, there are no certainties; our Parliament should have shown bias towards action, should have tried to move the process to the negotiations step instead of trying to delay the consultation and in favour of getting more certainty.

I am surprised, in this day and age, the Parliament is unable to access its electorate’s judgement. We have real-time voting for talent shows! We do not need to that quick – talent shows need to determine the vote count in hours – we can give ourselves a couple of days. In the 2 years since the start of Article 50, and during meaningful votes, the people should have had numerous votes in an electronic form. I believe, Britain has enough brains and technology to create a system based on NI number and creating Government IDs – there is already a system in place for your tax returns, visa application, etc. People should have had to vote on crucial aspects of Brexit including the 1st meaningful vote. You do not really need the archaic way of paper ballots. It is high time for electronic ballots and a regular check with the electorate on critical reforms.

To sum it, the electorate has sent people to the Parliament who are no better than themselves. And these elected politicians have failed to serve the greater good.

Market Wizards – Jack D. Schwager

As someone who likes to call himself a ‘value investor’ reading a book on top traders would be blasphemous. None the less, as an avid reader, I had a go. And boy the book is full of inspiration.

The author does a wonderful job of interviewing people who are at the top of their game. The edition I read was updated in 2012. The interviews were done in the 1980s period by the looks of it. It may seem outdated, but the principles that are discussed are timeless. The author also makes a good effort to explain certain industry-specific terms and has a comprehensive appendix.

The book interviews people who trade in

  • Futures and Currencies
  • Stocks
  • A bit of everything

Further two sections talk about – The view from the floor and Psychology of trading.

The things I learnt are

  • Managing risk – this is the single most important thing which most of these top traders discuss.
  • When the going gets though . . .  – take a break. There are times when things will not go your way, it best to take a break. Get out of the market. Recharge and take baby steps towards finding your zone again.
  • There is a method to the madness and you need to have your own process which works for you. You learn from the best but at the end of the day, have a process which suits you and your personality. Discipline all the way. I can not stress enough how important discipline is.

The trader who stands out for me is Larry Hite.

. . . successful investment was really a matter of odds, and if you could compute the odds, you could find and test methods that could beat the market.

– Larry Hite


When I was a broker, my boss taught me that if you don’t call your client when he is losing money, someone else will

This is so true. When things go wrong, I ditch emails and either pick up my phone of making sure I am on-site meeting my client face to face appraising them of the situation in person.

The follow-up is to understand trending following further. A thesis to test out is to find fundamentally sound companies and then apply the principles of trend following. I am sure it is easier said than done.

Who is responsible – parents or the Government?

Vaccination is proven science. So it is sad to see when the religious beliefs of parents come to undermine their children’s health. I am sure; this is not intentional. The parents who do not want their children to be vaccinated do care about their children and their well being.

This is a classic case of strong beliefs strongly held. The presence of new evidence does not lead to the parents questioning their religious beliefs. And this is not happening in the so-called ‘a third world country’ this is the US! As the unvaccinated children come in contact with other children when they go to public places (childcare centres or schools), the unvaccinated children put others health at risk.

The question then arises, is the Government allowed to make an informed decision to overrule the religious beliefs and ensure the kids are vaccinated? It is where the greater good and safety of other children – the majority – take precedence over religious beliefs of the few or the minority.

I am for it. As harsh as it may sound, I always let science to change my predisposition.

Being a science student, I will always put science before religion. I do not see the reason to keep hold of a belief which is disapproved by new data. Just does not make any sense to me. It makes my earlier decision uninformed and that I made a mistake, but so what? My previous position does not make me any less as an individual. I erred, I made a bad judgement call. Now that I know the new data and understand it, I changed my point of view.

Other may not be this pragmatic and not hold strong beliefs loosely, which is sad indeed.

MMM for month is the right way forward the date format.

Microsoft pop-up. The date format creates confusion instead of clarity.

Above is a Microsoft pop-up. I am reading this on the 2nd Mar 2019. The date format (highlighted in red box) does not give a clear picture. It creates confusion and creates frustration because of the way you read the date, it is either 3rd March or 6th June!

Is it [3/6/2019] 3rd of June 2019 or is it 6th of March 2019? Would you write the same characters but it may mean different dates, almost 3 months apart! In the UK the date format is DD/MM/YYYY (date/month/year) whereas the US uses MM/DD/YYYY. There is no right or wrong here. The focus should be adding more clarity to the dates when the day is anything less than 13!

If the day is 13 or higher, then the format of the date reads the same. 13/6/2019 or 6/13/2019 – they both mean 13th June 2019.

Having worked in a controlled environment as a manufacturing scientist and being regulated by the FDA. Using a 3 character month format works wonders. This date format has stuck with me, and I always use it. I always write a month in MMM format. 3 Mar 19 or Mar 3 2019.

Another possible solution is to display day in bold. Irrespective of the format, the day being bold to add more clarity and helps deliver a clear message – 3/6/2019 or 6/3/2019

Small little things matter. One needs to pay attention or else the user experience takes a hit.

I am a little surprised by this decision. Biopharma was a crown jewel. The division had high margins. So, why sell it? I respect Larry Culp and am a big fan. He’s stewardship at Danaher was above par. Danaher is a good home for the business, but from my point of view, this is a short term move. As Richard G. Scott puts it

Don’t give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now.

Right now I understand GE needs cash to decrease their leverage and hence the sale. In trading as well, you cut your losses short, and you let your winners ride. And Biopharma division was a winner.

This incidence, an ex-CEO take over a company and sells a profitable division to his ex-employer reminds me of Steven Elop selling Nokia’s hardware business to Microsoft.

Changing one’s mind is one of the most difficult tasks there is. As someone who works in the sales and marketing domain, one learns to influence and inspire others. It is a key to success and a must have quality for any individual who wants to succeed. Below is an interesting long read to understand how best to approach influence and why mere facts do not change our minds.

YouTube – How Coca Cola Lost India.

I remember the relaunch. I was around ten years old and had to score good marks in a school test. Rs 12 was my reward and I bought my first bottle of Coke! It tasted amazing.

Why Coke was banned was part of the folklore, some said because the drinks were spiked with drugs.  When it launched in the 1990s, people went crazy. Scarcity principle at play.

Decision diary.

The reason I blog is to have a timeline of my thoughts which chart my progress through time. I have started numerous blogs over time and have failed to maintain these. I have learnt it the hard way, through trial and error. But at the end of the day, I am making progress. Before I call blogging success, I will have to wait until the renewal of the WordPress Hosting provider. This has been the point of failure in the past.

A diary helps people to reflect. What worked, what didn’t. Was there a blind spot? Could I have done it better? Without a record of some sort, it is hard to look back and review. I choose this written format which is open to the public. I feel you hold yourself more accountable by being public. You can have a private diary if you want. You can choose video diary if you so choose. But keep a record; update it regularly.

Even organisations need to have an internal knowledge base where they can share their failures and triumphs. I have not seen this in any of the companies that I was a part of. One of the companies did have an internal blog but rarely anyone used it. It is sad, to say the least.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
– Sir Isaac Newton

The above quote is one of my mantras of life. Learn from others mistakes, at the same time do not be afraid to make them yourself. My bias towards action means I make more mistakes than others, but this also allows me to learn quickly, iterate and improve. When I say mistakes, they are not the same mistakes made repeatedly. I fail in different and new ways. You can say, I have a nack of failing in ways previously thought impossible.

For companies, a searchable database of the projects, decision making, skunkworks is critical. Any and every person should be allowed to add to this knowledge base. My recommendation would be to have a structure for how to write these episodes. The one that I have made my own and I prefer is BAR.

Background – provide the context. Set the scene.

Action – what happened? How did it happen? As you are aware of the context, the action piece provides the crux of how things happened.

Result – fail or pass? If you fail, that is OK as well. A result is a result. And you will not learn anything new if you do not make mistakes. Not allowing failure is one of the biggest crime that there is.

Risk management.

I have been reading Market Wizards and almost 50% into it. I will write a detailed update when I finish reading the book. It is an exciting read which tells many roads that lead to Rome.

The most important theme to stand out from the different Wizards interviewed is risk management.

To paraphrase Howard Marks, there are two risks, risk of loss of capital or risk of missed opportunity. And good investors try to balance both.

Celestial recycling.

After 18 months of wait, we finally managed to attend Professor Brian Cox Live at Arena Birmingham. It was the first live event for both my partner and me — a packed arena with around 11,000 people. I had never seen anything like this before — so many people who paid around £50 to be there and understand more about cosmology.

The production value is superior, and you can see the amount of effort that has gone into it. A mind-blowing delivery was that of what would happen to you if you fell in a black hole. It takes the imagination of infinite scale to distil down extremely complex concepts to a layperson.

An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid

– Lord Rutherford of Nelson

The talk is scientific with layers of philosophy which compel one to think about their place in the universe.

Night sky with a tree in the foreground

Image by – Clemente Ruiz Abenza @ Unsplash

A concept which shook my fundamental beliefs is the recycling of matter. Elements which support life example Carbon where made during the early years of the Universe, around 100 million years after the Big Bang. The stars when collapsed blasted all these elements into the Universe. So the stuff that you are made up of was once a part of a dying star, a single cell microbe, a tree, a dinosaur, and now it is you! When you pass away, it will become a part or something else; something incredible.

I was unable to remember any of the quotes used to open the talk, but these were inspiring to say the least. They encourage you to think about your place in the Universe; how unique it is and that it is our responsibility not just to feel that we belong to a small group of people, of a particular caste, community or even a nation. But to think of ourselves as a part of this celestial universe and that we are entrusted to unravel the mysteries of the Universe and create a harmony between its existence as well as ours.

Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work.

We have to make decisions. No matter what. In work, in life. We will never get all the decisions right, but we can have a process of decision making that can help us to make informed decisions, better decisions. The outcome is never under your control.

I have read other works for Chip and Dan Heath and find them informative and easy reads at the same time the impact of the message is not diluted. The purpose of reading this book was to learn to have a process around the decisions I make, especially in investing. The book does not disappoint. The book has numerous stories which lend the book a thriller-like reading pace.

Decisive – How to make better decisions by Chip and Dan Heath

Highlights from the books are below.

Villains of decision making:

  • Narrow framing
  • The confirmation bias
  • Short-term emotion
  • Overconfidence.

How to overcome the villains of decision making? By a process called WRAP.

  • Widen your options
  • Reality-test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong.


A simple lack of feedback creates an unpleasant UX

I use a Garmin 735XT watch as a fitness tracker. It was at the right price at the right time, and Amazon’s search algorithm did a good job to point it out. I am happy with the device; it works like a charm, and 5-day battery life is class leading.

There is one annoying little thing though.

We interact with our gadgets all the time. We expect our action is met with feedback to show positive or negative outcome. This is crucial, or else the whole user experience takes a beating, and you can get confused.

Garmin 735XT watch with 50% charge.

On the top, you can see the watch has 50% battery left. Should last me a couple of days. I know this. But to be on the safer side, as I am out of the country for three days, I would like to charge it a little more to have a peace of mind that the watch will not run out of juice.

The battery icon does not show the lightning rod to feedback that the watch is charging.

Below you can see, after attaching the charger to the watch, the battery sign does not show the lightning rod which tells me that the watch is charging. This is a simple design feature. The developer seems to have missed it. Not a major issue one but the omission is enough to confuse and degrade the overall UX (user experience). And as you need to charge the watch regularly, you perform this action often. Thus, the user will experience this annoyance every single time!

The most important quality required to be a good student. . .

. . . is humility. It is the ability to say; “I may be wrong”; “I’m not above average”; “I’m not perfect”. There is scope to improve.

Our near and dear ones help to keep our egos inflated. As a result, we think we are extra special, and the base rate do not apply to us. We are the exception. In fact, we are ordinary. There are very few who are indeed very good, and they get there because they keep questioning their beliefs, their status quo and keep the iterative process alive. They always improve.

And unless you have the gravitas to accept how normal and fallible you are, you will never be able to learn. Learning involves starting from the position of being aware of your blind spots. And people who agree they have blind spots are the ones who also know they are incomplete, do not know everything and hence the need to learn and better themselves.

People with know it all attitude, always suffer from confirmation bias, never keep in touch with the base rates, as a result, are off the mark when it comes to their capabilities and competence.

A long read about 7 different ways to fix what’s broken in the US. I believe these principles apply to any country who want to change for the better.


The lines below define how the subscription model works; you pay for the convenience and the fact that is on-demand “putting YOU in control.”

What happened is that Spotify dragged the record labels into a completely new business model that relied on Internet assumptions, instead of fighting them: if duplicating and distributing digital media is free (on a marginal basis), don’t try to make it scarce, but instead make it abundant and charge for the convenience of accessing just about all of it.

A door with a difference

On a recent trip to Stockholm I spotted this door with a difference (see the picture below). A toilet door, where the direction the door opens is marked on the floor. The design, elegance and benefits are so obvious. And yet in all these years this idea never crossed my mind. Good design is always obvious.

A door with a difference at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport

The dotted border serves so many different purposes below are the top 3

  1. It makes people passing-by aware of the door and alerts them that it may open anytime!
  2. It also tells them the direction it opens in and how far the door reaches.
  3. As it is crystal clear this is a door that will open; it warns people not to obstruct the entrance where there may be a possibility to be hit by the door while being opened.

Simple design features like these go a long way to avoid numerous problems and keep passengers safe.

Well done to Arlanda Airport and the designer.

Summary – The Intelligent Investor

One of the seminal works in the field of investing. A long tedious read, but then nothing in life is easy. A summary which is long enough to pique your interest and get to you read the book in its entirety; short enough summary if you have already read this book to act a revision.


Howard Mark memo – 2019 – Political Reality Meets Economic Reality

Howard Marks is one of the finest minds in the investing arena. His memos to his investors are a great insight into this brilliant mind. You can subscribe to email alerts for his latest memos by clicking here. Howard Marks has been a good teacher and his second order thinking has helped me a lot.

Below are the highlights from his 2019 letter to investors.

Economic reality – IT describes the ways in which economics defines and constrains reality in business, investing and everyday life. Economics establishes the rules of the game and the boundaries of the playing field, and these things can’t be ignored. They can be altered but not without consequences.

The realities of economics are stark and consistent, but also logical. They aren’t absolute, like the laws of physics (e.g., gravity), but they reliably establish tendencies and limits.


Political reality – I’ve always gotten a kick out of oxymorons – phrases that are internally contradictory – such as “jumbo shrimp” and “common sense.” Ill add “political reality” to the list. The world of politics has its own, altered reality, in which economic reality often seems not to impinge. No choices need be made: candidates can promise it all. And there are no consequences. If something might have negative consequences in the real world politicians seem to feel free to ignore them. . .


In this globalised world, that means Americians can’t enjoy both the high-paying manufacturing jobs they used to have and the low-cost goods they’ve been buying of late. The imposition of tariffs can’t solve that conundrum.


Economics reality is complex, in large part because it consists mainly of dividing resources amonh participants, not of creating more for everyone. As economists like to say, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”


A lot of left’s economic apporach is based on closing the income gap, not just by making things better for people at the bottom, but also by pulling down people at the top.


A great deal of America’s economic progress has resulted from people’s aspiration to make more and live better. Take that away and what do we have? The people at the bottom won’t have as many at the top to resent. But without the contibutions of those who aim for the top, everyone will have less to enjoy. This is why I worry about the rise of negative sentiment toward capitalism and antipathy towards those who succeed under it.


You either evolve and get better, or you go home.”

– Tom House

People who want to succeed have to be comfortable in knowing the strengths as well as the weak spots. You play to your advantage and minimise on unforced errors at the same time improve your edge by working on the weak spots. Weak spot will always be there, no one is perfect, but one who work on their weak spot evolve and perform better. They adapt, and they change. And the cycle goes on.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

– Leo Tolstoy

Where returns are concerned, time is your friend. But where costs are concerned, time is your enemy.

– Jack Bogle

Quote – Bob Iger – Endure, ability to transform

Our ability to endure was going to be solely tied to our ability to transform ourselves.

Bob Iger, CEO Disney

With Netflix becoming the death star of TV, it needs to be seen whether Disney can put up a fight with its content and create another revenue stream and also stay relevant in the marketplace. I believe the streaming market is getting overcrowded with the number of providers some who operate globally and some who are local (at a country level).

Quote – Barron’s – US Government Shutdown

Leading companies tend to view their employees as a core asset. By contrast, the U.S. government is treating its workforce like pawns in a political game of chess.

– Linda J. Bilmes and W. Scott Gould in Barron’s

I look at indexing as being simple and, sad to say, boring. Be bored by the process but elated by the outcome. In Vegas, it’s the opposite. You’re elated by the process, by the moment, but you’re bored by the outcome because you know exactly what it’ll be. The more you bet, the more you lose. Investing shouldn’t give you a rush.

– Jack Bogle

Leader and a Prime Minister

Icons is an exciting series that looks at people whose impact is still felt in the world even today. A dear friend and I got talking after having watched the first episode, that talks about world leaders.

It was an interesting chat and what I realised is, a leader who can inspire people during a crisis may not be the same as one who is required to run the country during peacetime. For example, Churchill was a great orator and was able to rally people from across the class and creed to come together during wartime; but failed to deliver as a Prime Minister post-war.

Was the genius of Gandhi? He recognised this shortcoming.  He inspired people of India to stage the non-violent movement which helped to end the British rule, but never wanted to be the first Prime Minister of independent India.

Maybe you need a problem solver, or a fixer, who can work the machinery that runs the Government. One who is able to juggle and balance the party difference and yet deliver on the shared goals. This skill set is different to what is needed to rally masses and inspire people.

Today, we do have a Prime Minister in Theresa May but lack a leader; who can inspire people and parties to come together on the issue of Brexit. The time calls for someone like Churchill.

The same episode of Icons mentions FDR who is counter to what I have just laid out. He was able to lead the country during the Great Depression, World War II and also delivered in time of peace and progression.

Mostly though, the skills set is different, and it is rare to find these in the same person, but as everything not impossible.

I understand the importance of precedent, but precedent does not completely bind, for one very simple reason. If we were guided only by precedent, manifestly nothing in our procedures would ever change. Things do change.

– John Bercow




The fact that brilliant minds like Stanley Druckenmiller are unable to find a rhythm is a good sign for the retail investors? I did not see it that way. An interesting perspective.


. . .death has several definitions. When it applies to a person, it means the end of life. When it applies to a company or industry, it means the end of growth.

Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

Be careful when you associate your brand with a cause.

Business is part of the community. So when it takes a stand and attaches itself to a particular cause, its OK. What matters is, have they thought it carefully? A lot is at stake, brand value, profits, purpose; they all can be affected if you do not think through. Second-order thinking, scenario tests, etc. need to be played out time and over again and then, only then you pull the trigger.

Below is an example of how Nike got it right and Gillette may have dropped the ball.


From Alchemy to IPO – Business of Biotechnology by Cynthia Robbins-Roth

Finished reading the first book of 2019.

From alchemy to IPO – The Business of Biotechnology by Cynthia Robbins-Roth

I got to know about this on Meb Faber’s podcast. The book was one of Tom Barton’s recommendation. (Link to the episode)

The book was in the long list of 180 books. The reason to bump it up the queue was a family friend who happens to be a fund manager. While at our place for dinner he browsed the book and kept going back to it. I had ordered the book a week ago, usually, I prefer a Kindle book. As my wife was keen to understand investments and its process, I bought her this book. It landed just a day or two before our friend was to visit us for dinner. To see his keen interest made me prioritise this book over others. And glad I did so — Serendipity at its best. Numerous things had to happen, or else I would have got to this book really late in life.

I am glad I read this. Being a Biotechnology student, I know the fundamental technology that goes into the products. I also know how clinical trials are done, a course I dropped out of but studied enough to understand and remember the clinical trial regime. As Steve Jobs said, the dots connect.

The first section of the book deals about the birth of the industry. Talks about the early startups and the people involved. Having heard about these industry stalwarts it was mesmerising to see the risks these guys took and their persistence to make biotech happen.

The following section talks about the technology itself, genetic engineering, signal transduction etc.. If you are a non-science person, then the technical bit will be of interest and you may also find it a science fiction like.

The third section deals with product development and financing. This was helpful to understand how and where the capital is employed and how collaborations are important in Biotech companies as it takes around a decade to bring a product from a concept to the lab through to the market.

What I learnt is –

  • the risk is always present in Biotech companies. The earlier you invest, the riskier it is, but at the same time, if the product is a hit, your investment is many times over too.
  • Biotechs need a lot of time to bring the tech from labs to patients and it just takes time. A decade at least.
  • Due diligence, understanding the tech is extremely important.
  • A drug can fail post-marketing approval as well.

With my academic background. the technical understanding and being able to play the long game, Biotech is a favoured industry to invest.

Follow #From Alchemy to IPO tag for interesting snippets. 

While Mr. Bogle may have been cheap in the transactions of daily life, he was remarkably generous in a grand way.


A leader whose words matched his actions. A man with a deep voice and even deeper morals.

Jack, you will be missed.

Broken Heart on Twitter Twemoji 11.2 Folded Hands: Light Skin Tone on Google Android 9.0

History repeats because human tendencies remain the same

When greed of investors overcomes the sustainability of business built on new technology.

“Start-up fratricide” – the lemminglike drive of the venture community to create copies of a ‘hit’ company.

Brook Byers, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Start-up fratricide isn’t exclusive to biotech.

The same thing happened in the late 1970s around the disk drive company successes. Venture investors saw the incredible return on the first disk drive companies and used that enthusiam to invest in dis drives, and in all of the suppliers to the dis drive companies, and consequently each step in the chain got overdon.

Craig Taylor, General Partner – Allow Ventures

Below is the concluding paragraph from chapter 20 of the book From Alchemy to IPO by Cynthia Robbins-Roth.

This same build-die cycle happens in all successful new sectors – it struck with a vengeance in the late 1990s with Internet companies. The first few companies made a huge impact by providing a truly novel way to do business. But they were quickly followed by ‘me-too’ companies that didn’t offer the same exponential growth in value. “how many companies does it take to supply you with pet food?” says Taylor. “Then all of a sudden, nobody is interested in any Internet companies because they have lost their edge and the real concerns about revenue growth become more obvious.”


Why do you read so much?

A dear friend of mine asked me this question, “why do you read so much”? He believes reading is consumption. I agree, to an extent. Whether reading is consumption or learning is dependent on the content and the object of the reader itself. Instead of consumption, he wants me to focus on output. I agree with this as well. This blog should serve a channel of output.

At the time, I am unable to explain to him why I read so much. When it comes to lightning quick responses, I lag. When I hear a deep-rooted question,  I always wonder first. I take the time to analyse what my close friends are trying to tell me. My friends are my feedback loop; the goal is to understand their feedback and examine; not just present an immediate response.

My original answer was – I like to read; it’s my hobby. The answer did little to change his feedback.

Fast-forward a couple of months and now I have a deeper understanding of why I read. I read mostly books, blogs and a couple of weekly magazines. The topic involves marketing, technology, investing and any topic that feeds my curiosity and allows to fill an existing gap. I like to have a decent understanding on almost anything.

My objective to read is to get a broader sense of the world around me. Reading also helps me to reason and question my perspective about the world. Are my beliefs built on a sound foundation? Do I need to change my perspective? Am I informed?

I don’t let confirmation bias take precedence over what is the ground reality. Reading allows me to stay informed and also help with my loosely held strong beliefs.

Interia applied to habits

Newton’s first law of motion states that

An object at rest remains at rest, or if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force.

Inertia is a powerful thing. It makes the status quo remain unchanged unless acted upon by a powerful force.

A habit, I believe, is the same, a person’s inertia. Whether the pattern is good or bad is not the point here; that’s for every individual to decide for themselves. You need feedback mechanisms to make yourself aware of these habits. If you choose, the habit is the one you need, fair enough, keep going. But if the feedback alert suggests, that the pattern is not going to return anything useful in the near term or the long run then you need to be determined to change this bad habit.


Does more information lead to better decisions? I believe the amount of information follows the law of marginal utility, after a certain threshold, the incremental information does not give you an edge. The perception of the receiver, however, changes; they feel because they have more information they will make better decisions, thus become overconfident.

The article below explores the above principle with more information does not necessarily mean better investment decisions.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

– Calvin Coolidge


Compounding in general terms is exponential growth. For some strange reason, us humans, we can understand the arithmetic series. 2+2 = 4, 2+ 2 + 2 = 6 so on and so forth. I wonder why this is? Evolution? We had to be quick on our feet. Fear, fight or flight response? What this implies is, if you to look compounding from a time perspective, we can realise short-term (arithmetic series) but not exponential growth which required a little longer to bear its magical fruit.

I have been fascinated by compounding and how it can deliver mind-blowing results. Being a Microbiologist, we are introduced to exponential growth early on when studying fermentation. Bacteria, when multiply, show exponential growth curve. My lack of lateral thinking meant I could not this principle to money. 🙁

The nature of compounding is such that they early you start, the better it is. I will have to pay a heavy price for my inaction because of my ignorance. I should have started investing in my early 20s, but here I am in my mid-30s. I have lost a considerable runway to allow compounding to do its magic.

One of the masters of compounding is Warren Buffett. He mastered this concept pretty early in his life, and most of us know what he achieved.

Another take on compounding is by Guy Spier. Guy applied the compounding principle to goodwill. Do good and in due time it comes around, multiplied. A small act of kindness returns to you as a gesture of bigger goodwill in the future. As someone who believes in Karma it makes sense to me. The caveat is, the action should be free of any set expectation. This is another pitfall, people’s actions are governed by ‘what’s in it for me’. Just do good because you want to, it feels good, and in due time it the act will return many times over.

I believe, what humans are not able to compute is the time element in the exponential growth and how small things can add up given sufficient time. Instant gratification has gotten the better of humanity, unfortunately.

Seeing ’cause and effect’ along the time axis is making me think more about the actions I take. I am happy to delay action if I am not sure but I will not execute on the half-baked thesis just to appear I am doing things. 🙂

When VIX is high, it’s time to buy. When VIX is low, it’s time to go.

Steven M. Sears in Barron’s, Jan 2019


I so agree with this. If you are buying businesses, then buying at the time of when the stock goes down makes sense. There is nothing more satisfying to an investor than to see the business they like and admire on a sale. You need to do your homework, you need to have your thesis formed and ready. And when Mr Market behaves irrationally, you make your move.

This is one of the most brilliant long reads of this year.

Well done to Brian Resnick and the team at Vox.

Our default position is fixed once it is formed. This is how we give rise to ignorance. We reject the information which is counter to our beliefs. Confirmation bias sets in. As a result, how can we be ever wrong?

Use case of Robot helping those with medical conditions.

When we talk about Robots, people catastrophise. This is a normal human tendency. We need to be aware of it and make sure it does not block our perspective. Below is a short and succinct video about how Robots can work together with us and help people who suffer from a medical condition or who were rendered with limited motion because of stroke or paralysis. There are always two sides to the coin and weirdly we focus mainly on the not so bright side of things.

I subscribe to Bill’s YouTube Channel he’s always up to something interesting. 🙂

The choice – to adapt or be left out.

Science has away of moving forward continually, without waiting to see if society is catching up.

Cynthia Robbins-Roth, From Alchemy to IPO


Collective knowledge will always move forward. At times it stumbles, but it get-ups and continues the forward momentum. At an individual level, people fail to recognise this. They allow their biases to reign supreme. Even when presented with data which is counter to their assumption, people do not want to let go their wrong conceptions. I have seen this often. Cultural beliefs come in the way of science and patients suffer, why? Because the beliefs hold on to age-old assumptions which have to fail to keep up with the times.

Lack of selectivity in drugs

Although I knew lack I was aware lack of selectivity of drugs, results in unintended actions, the reason why people on Chemotherapy lose hair was an eye-opener. I knew the science (cause), I knew the effect, yet I was unable to add 2+2. 🙁

A classic exmaples of this lack of selectivity is seen in most cancer chemotherapy drugs. These drugs kill rapidly diving cells – like cancer cells. Unfortunately, other cells that normally divide rapidly include the cells lining the gut, hair follicles, and the bone marrow cells that produce red and white blood cells. This is why cancer patients often lose their hair and become anaemic during treatmnet.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Albert Einstein

Required qualities for increased chances of success.

Most of us want to be successful. Below is my take on the qualities that are needed to increase your chances of success.

The most important thing is for you to define what success looks like for you. This is the most critical step, I believe. If you do not specify what success is, how it looks. You will not know how to get there or what will get you there.

I am confident, making billions of dollars was never the success criteria for Bill Gates. It just so happened, while pursuing his path towards success he defined for himself, he also managed to accumulate so many billions.

From my perspective, the four qualities which are essential are talent, effort, focus and luck. And first three of these are under your control; luck, unfortunately, is not. It is just a matter of chance. These are not equally weighted, but here in the pyramid I have represented in the order I believe they are essential from bottom to top.



I define talent as something which you are a natural. Someone likes numbers; some people make music, some people like to write. Talent is anything that comes naturally to you.

It is possible to have more than one talents. We call such gifted people polymath.

Talent in itself will not put you on a pedestal. Expertise backed by tremendous effort increase your chances of success.


You can call it practice or repetition or rehearsal. It is an effort at the end of the day. Labour of love if you find it fun. You need to hone your talent day in day out with the intent to improve on the existing template of talent.

There are people whose talent is effort alone. These people have taken something which they were not natural at, but because they put more efforts than the rest, they rose the heights previously not claimed.



Talent and effort need to be focused. You can not do everything!

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape”

— Anonymous

There are always exceptions to the rule, and this applies to the 99%. You got to have efforts focused on a small subset of things you want to master. In Steve Jobs way, you need to have a ‘laser sharp focus‘.


Do your best and forget the rest as they say. This is all that you can do. You could do all the three things and yet not deliver on your define success, and that is OK too. Life, after all, is unpredictable.

From my observations, doing the first three things, increase your likelihood to make the serendipity happen. It increases your chance to succeed.

Life is not binary; you are either a success or a failure. No! You tried, you gave it your best shot! That counts as well.

Bought Apple

After the recent announcement of less than expected iPhone sales and missing the quarterly target by a cool $9 billion, the market sell-off brought the stock in the $143 mark. I am new to investing in having started my journey on Oct 17. I have been a net buyer of stock overall.

I can not afford or justify a $1000 phone purchase. I was surprised to see, a lot of people agreed with me 🙂 . I like Apple and its products. I use an iPhone (from work) and an iPad (mainly for reading and drawing). I used an iMac since 2008 which went kaput in 2017.

My investments are usually long. I see tremendous value in Apple, with my fair value estimate of $161 I believe I bought this at a 15% discount. I had to make an exception in Apple’s case; my usual threshold is at least 40% discount from my fair value estimate. Apple being  Apple commands a premium and hence a mere 15% discount was sufficient.

As I was short on cash in my regular investing account, I’ve have been buying equities every month since October 18. A lesson here is always to have some spare money for when surprises like this come alone. I had to allocate the capital in my pension portfolio. As a result, Apple as now become the most significant position in the portfolio.

I am yet to study, how to sell a stock. I am sure, in the next 5-7 years, I have would have formed a thesis around when to sell a stock.


I am not a professional finance guy. I happened to pick up an investing book, liked it and here I am. Investing is a passion project.

Broken UX on YouTube app on Sky

YouTube has become a stable channel for consumption. With the democratisation of content generation, I am able to see videos on investing, how to Excel videos whilst at times killing times with cat videos. 🙂

Now, YouTube can also be consumed via the Sky satellite box. Whilst watching a video, I wanted to like it, so that the prediction/suggestion algorithms cater to my likes accordingly. I only discovered then, how broken the whole experience is! You need more than 10 clicks to just like a video whilst watching it via Sky box. Ouch.


Click #1 to activate the action bar  Image result for down arrow character

Click #2 #3 #4 to navigate go to the menu/vertical ellipsis []

Image result for down arrow character

Click #5 to enter the menu

Image result for down arrow character

Click #7 #8 #9 to reach the thumbs up

Image result for down arrow character

Click #10 to like the video!

Ouch. Image result for facepalm emoji

YouTube, I am sure you can do better. There is enough space on the bar at activates on the first click.

What’s the point?

Email from Barron’s asking to download their app.

Barron’s was kind enough to remind that I could their publication via mobile apps. I appreciate their kind gesture. But what’s the point? I already have downloaded their app on my phone as well as on my tablet.

This benign message was an irritant rather than a reminder which was the message’s original purpose. This could have been easily avoided.

New user

Enrol in the onboarding programme

Cross check new user email with new app download and log in details

If there is a match between the email used to sign up and email used to log in to the apps, do not send the app download reminder email.


I agree this is not a big deal but going that extra mile is what matters. 🙂 Elegant design looks obvious and most of the times go unnoticed.

Smart actions built within the digital books/magazines.

Valley of the Boom reminder in National Geographic magazine.

Whilst reading National Geographic digital magazine, I spotted this advert to the Valley of the Booms. Sounds a fascinating story and would love to watch it. NatGeo programme has high production values and I like the story they tell.

I am reading this on the 4th. The programme airs on the 13th. Any programme 7 days out cannot be searched on my TV box. 🙁

I get Google Assistant to put a reminder on the 10th to get me to record this series on the TV box. This itself is a 4-5 step process. This is when a light bulb goes on!

Would it not be awesome for the reminder to happen directly via the magazine? It is digital after all. A hyperlinked title Valley of the Boom. Click it and it adds a reminder to your calendar (this can be device and OS agnostic). It should work for any digital device across different OS platforms. An overengineered but an ideal solution would be to add to the series on record directly to my content provider in this case SKY. If this was available via Netflix, then it could be added to List on Netflix.

It is magical when you make it dead simple for your audience to engage with your work.

If any content provider wants to reach more audience, this is the way to improve the viewership. Create an unbroken, silky smooth experience from a simple prompt to an intended action, in this case, an advert in a magazine leading straight to recording the series via the available distribution channel.

Quote – T S Eliot – Risk, going far.

Only those willing to risk going too far can possibly find out how far can one go.

T. S. Eliot

Biotech Mafia

Most of us are aware of the PayPal Mafia. The early team of PayPal which went on to start other influential organisations of our times. Reid Hoffman found LinkedIn. Elon Musk delivered Tesla and SpaceX. Peter Thiel was an early investor in Facebook and numerous other unicorns, also founded Thiel Fellowship. There are other members as well, but not that well known in the mainstream media i.e. Jawed Karim, Max Levchin to name a few.

Whilst reading from Alchemy to IPO I came across the Biotech Mafia. The team who founded Hybritech (manufacturing monoclonal antibodies) went on to start Gen-Probe, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Nanogen.

I believe, when there is a birth of a new industry this scenario of, founding members of one of the early companies going on to star numerous other successful companies, would be common.

History may not repeat itself. But it rhymes.

Professor James Eayrs, 1972

Connection between organisational culture and leadership

To understand the environment within entrepreneurial companies, whether high-tech, biotech, or no-tech at all, look to the leaders. Their attitude is what shapes the corporate culture.

Cynthia Robbins-Roth, From Alchemy to IPO.


This is so true. I gave up a nice cushy job in a Fortune 100 company to go to a startup whose annual revenue was less than the smallest division of the juggernaut I was a part of. And the reason was the attitude of my reporting manager and the managing director of the startup company.

And boy I was right! The speed at which things happened was incredible. The rate at which we made decisions was a welcomed changed as well. We cut the chase and got to the point really quick.

One of the ways you ensure the startup is a right fit is by asking to meet as many people as you can during the interview process. Check LinkedIn to ex-employees. Study the company and ask questions where the replies need to be stories and not made up box standard answers.

World GDP forecast for 2019 – The Economist


The top three best-performing countries are a surprise! (original article)

The road not taken.

The road not taken is a well-known poem by Robert Frost. Life has this ability to work in unexpected ways and deliver surprises. One has to be open-minded for these surprises happen. You need to let serendipity happen.

A fascinating insight into the early life of the Biotech industry has a similar story. The assumption of the budding industry was the immune system proteins would be the products which would push these small companies into the big boys (Pharma) club! But this never happened.

Amgen, one of the early startups of the era had revenues of $16 million in 1997. The blockbuster products turned out to be Erythropoietin (EPO) with $1.4 billion in revenues and Neupogen (a protein called Filgrastin to boost low white blood cell count) with $1 billion of sales.

I firmly believe for life – in this case, science – to work its magic; one needs to have strong beliefs – which help to stay focused during the difficult times – that are loosely held, so when the new opportunity comes knocking you can recognise it and grab it with both hands.

Fiscally conservative yet incredibly innovative.

Cash is king. And for any startup, it is a lifeline. When I see food delivery startups burning through an insane amount of cash (read the original post here) it hurts. Capital is key for an idea to turn into a sustainable and viable business.

Real innovation happens when the results are delivered by being fiscally conservative. It is difficult to create a hunger in paradise! If the team know the money will flow easily, there will be little or no incentive to be innovative.

Early Biotech companies, where the science and engineering was not only difficult but the possibility of a product was 4-5 years down the line used ‘fiscally conservative yet incredibly innovative‘ mantra to succeed.

Endurance and metamorphosis

Change is the only constant they say. We are living in a time where the rate at which these changes happen can be daunting at times. The only way to endure is to be open-minded about the unknown and try to adapt ourselves, physically as well as mentally, to these changes. This is the only way to transform ourselves.

This is how we metamorphose.

Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.

Warren Buffett

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou.

Decisions and outcomes.

Decisions are an integral part of our existence. We made numerous decisions every single day. Most of these choices have little or no impact for example:

  1. What do eat for breakfast?
  2. What do I wear to work?
  3. What will people think of me?

Personally, speaking I have automated these decisions. I have chosen cereal which I eat anytime I have breakfast at home; the act of having breakfast is almost automated. As someone who travels a lot for work, the issue arises when I am put up in Hotels, this is when I realise, oops, need to make a decision now!

As a general law, the more decisions you make, the more you tire your brain, and this may result in uninformed choices.

What happens when you make important or life-changing decisions? Based on the information available you execute a decision and expect an outcome. Below is the 2×2 matrix which gives what can happen.

2x2 matrix of decision and outcome.

2×2 matrix of decision and outcome.

Good decision with a good or desirable outcome is easily understood, and so is the wrong decision which has a bad/undesired result.

We also understand when a good decision may lead to an undesired outcome. Most of the time we experience this.

Where we fail is to understand the other two possibilities (BD/GO and GD/BO) ) when even with a bad decision can have a positive outcome which exceeds expectations. The world is random, and there are so many attributes which are beyond our control.

Its that time of the year again, Christmas and the New Year’s are here and we all are in the festive spirit. Another word which is synonymous with Christmas is gifts. With gifts comes shopping and when you shop you spend. And when you spend more than you earn you use credit cards!

An interesting insight into how we sacrifice long terms benefits and financial independence over instant gratification. This interview is awesome, Jeff Gundlach is one of the smartest people in the investing arena. You can watch the entire video or jump to the 20:00 minute mark to understand how we are in a debt-ridden economy.

Great insight into how Druckenmiller sees sectors and their performance.

Any individual who wants to progress needs to be open-minded (29:40), you need to be comfortable in changing your mind provided the underlying data changes. This goes to my mantra of having strong beliefs which are loosely held.

The game in our kind of life is being able to recognize a good idea when…it rarely is presented to you. And I think that’s something you have to prepare for over a long period. What is the old saying? That opportunity comes to the prepared mind? And I don’t think you can teach people in two minutes how to have a prepared mind. But that’s the game.

Charlie Munger

It’s not about how hard you hit.

After accumulating a decent body of work I decided to create a website. The reason was to be able to showcase my work and also if there were like-minded people who wanted to collaborate, could access my expertise. I got a freelancer to take this responsibility of the infrastructure side of things i.e. hosting, maintenance, updates to WordPress, etc.

One fine day, I get to write a blog only to find the site has been suspended!

After two weeks of follow up the freelance expert tells me that this hosting service provider had pulled the plug. I was calm because I knew there would be some mitigating steps i.e. back up, which would have been in place. I am afraid there were none :(.

All the content, the design assets and the blog posts were lost in the ether. Times like these remind me of a quote from the 2006 movie Rock Balboa

It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

– Rocky Balboa