Chancing

How does one discover the missing ingredient?

By chancing it. 

One keeps trying different mixes…

…till something hits. 

The hit is then fine-tuned…

…such that it is reproduced again and again.

Once the hit can be reproduced at will, one has got the strategy all together. 

A successful strategy is then let loose. 

At first it is on manual.

Ultimately, it comes on auto, or semi-auto, whatever best is possible. 

There has come and passed a stage, when this same strategy has not been winning. 

Aha. 

What is the difference between the mix of that stage and the current – winning – mix?

It’s some kind of a twist you’ve discovered. 

Something you are adding, or doing differently. 

This something is making the strategy win. 

Congratulations!

You’ve kept trying. 

You’ve been in the field. 

You weren’t away from the field, ruminating. 

You were getting action. 

Losing action, but action. 

Losing action has huge educational value. 

It tells you how not to do it. 

You keep twisting, fitting, tuning, upon loss. 

You chance new stuff.

Eventually, something clicks. 

You develop that something further and take it to the nth. 

Where does that leave you?

You have to keep chancing it. 

There is no way around this. 

Make funds available for the R&D. 

Have the courage. 

Don’t be afraid of a hundred losses. 

Winning is around the corner. 

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Small Shoots to Big Trees

What do I see around myself?

Lots of small shoots. 

Wherever I look, there are small shoots. 

Does this make me happy?

You bet. 

Why?

Why not?

I mean, you don’t see any trees. 

So?

You’ve been at it for a while.

So?

All you’re seeing is shoots. Does that satisfy you? None of your efforts is a big tree in all this while.

That’s a very narrow-minded, greedy and fast-buck remark. 

Explain. 

For each of the shoots I see around me, twenty efforts have died their death. However, one shoot managed to entrench itself. This one shoot is firm, and goes very deep into the ground. It’s roots have become very strong. It is now ready for the world and has decided to show itself over the ground.  Over the next many, many years, with my meticulous nurturing, this very shoot shall grow up into a mammoth tree with unprecedented positive consequences.

I see. And, you’re saying that you see many such shoots around yourself?

Yes, many many.

Wow.

Yeah, i’ve been busy. I’ve tried and discarded many things. What remained didn’t want to leave me. It got planted and grew roots. Now that the shoots are growing, they are mostly on auto-pilot. Some need tending to once a day, some once a week.

Does that give you empty spaces in between?

Yes.

How do you fill these empty spaces?

I do, and I don’t.

Meaning?

Unless something new refuses to leave me, I don’t wish to plant another tree.

Why?

I’m happy enough tending to what I have.

So you’ve reached the…what’s that called?

Sweet spot?

Yes, you’ve reached the sweet spot. But nobody knows about you. You’re not famous or anything.

That’s why the spot is sweet.

Meaning?

Nobody disturbs my privacy. I can go where I choose. Do what I want. I don’t need to share my time with anyone if I don’t want to. There are no compulsions imposed upon me. 

Do you think you will be famous one day?

When these shoots grow into big trees, that might happen.

Do you want it to happen?

I want my trees to grow. Not sure today about fame. It kills personal life. I like my life and its pace.

Any regrets?

Sometimes, I get lonely. It’s the nature of the path. Despite family and a decent social life, loneliness is still there. Applied finance requires a lot of alone-time. 

How do you deal with that?

I start tending to a different shoot. Financial. Non-financial. Recreational. Creative. Gap gets bridged, and then the loneliness is gone. 

Wealth-Generators often go Contrarian

You knew that too, right? 

Sure. 

Going contrarian is a buzz-phrase. 

We hear it again and again…

… till we begin to start thinking… 

… that we know what it means. 

Well, try going contrarian. 

Yeah, try actually doing it. 

You’ll see what I mean. 

It’s real hard. 

Going against the crowd takes all the strength you might have… 

… and then some. 

Most humans aren’t able to go contrarian. 

Most humans aren’t wealthy. 

When there’s blood on the streets, there’s no telling how much more there will be. 

Under such conditions, the contrarian investor lets go of his or her hard-earned money into an investment, knowing perfectly well that the Street might even value the investment tomorrow at a huge discount to today’s price.

That’s ok too, says he or she.

Why?

Because homework’s been done.

Underlying is strong.

Debt-free.

Management is stellar.

Balance-sheet is robust.

Projections are paramount.

That the world is pricing the investment wrongly is a problem with its vision.

Underlying is not going under. With above credentials, this alone matters.

Times change. Vision of the majority changes. Investor makes a killing. Cashes out some, principal and what have you. Leaves lots of free-standing shares… forever… or till parameters change.

Wealth-generators repeat this behaviour-pattern many times in their lives.

They’re not afraid of going against the grain.

They know otherwise.

Also, the money they use has been freed up.

Its being out of action for a long time is not going to change their lives even a bit.

They will have the last laugh.

Wealth is the reward of going contrarian. 

It Boils Down to Good Governance 

India’s at the Olympics and all. 

We’ve had near misses. 

Sure. 

Athletes qualified fair and square. 

Not a word against India’s squad. 

They’re really trying very hard. One of our gymnasts has even risked her life by vaulting a successful Produnova. Rio-presence is achievement-based, not nepotism-based. It’s tough. It’s incorruptibly monitored. Footfall is highest ever. Indians have made the international cut in many events, like never before. Finishes are all decent. A few finishes are very, very decent, missing the podium by decimals. Our athletes deserve some podium finishes. 

However, what are 80 Indian officials doing in Rio, accompanying a squad of 119? Only a few of these 80 are allowed arena access. The rest are what? Long live the exchequer? We build up the exchequer by paying our taxes. We’d like to see its contents used judiciously. 

Let’s cast a glance at how our officials are conducting themselves at Rio. Actually, we’ll leave it at the official warning they’ve just received to behave themselves. SHAME SHAME. 

Is this good governance? 

NO. 

Do our officials deserve a podium finish?  

No. 

We’ll have to spend where it counts, on facilities, proper diets and trained physios. We’ll have to save on useless paraphernalia. Red-tape be damned. We’ll have to embrace good governance. We do want podium finishes, don’t we?

One looks up to one’s peers. If they’re corrupt, out of shape and / or out of whack, even the best athlete suffers a psychological downer. Our officials will need to trim down and get their acts together. All of them will need to behave like exemplary ambassadors of the country. They will need to give their wards that psychological boost. Coaches will themselves need to be in shape, to set good examples. Podium finishes will then be around the corner. 

Cut to stock-selection. 

The biggest and first thing to look for is good governance. 

Just cut all the nonsense out of the way, first up, because where you find good governance, you won’t find nonsense. 

It all boils down to good governance. 

The Department of no-frills 

Markets can be played in holes. 

No disrespect to the “hole”. 

Let’s put it this way. 

I trade the markets from a “bucket shop”. It’s actually a small brokerage. Parallels a bucket-shop, and all legit. 

There’s twenty odd people. 

Basic desktops. One gets to use them even with medium-sized accounts. A large account holder can walk into the manager’s office and get the manager to trade his or her strategy for him or her for the day. A three minute daily discussion is all it takes. This discussion can even happen on Whatsapp. 

If required, food comes from the street-vendors below, in newspapers and plastic cups. 

Welcome to the department of no-frills. 

No business-class travel or fancy-schmanzy wining-dining is required here. It’s sheer trading with no BS. 

Why? 

No overheads. 

No headaches. 

No constant terminal monitoring. Someone’s doing it for you.

Safety? Yes. Trust. Long-term relationship. Email and sms security measures. No nonsense. 

One doesn’t talk to the twenty odd people. 

One just trades. 

Trading for you isn’t really about building a consensus. You just trade. If then the market builds a consensus, that’s a different thing. You then trade the consensus. For or against is your call. 

This is as raw as it gets. 

You ask a question. 

You put your money where your mouth is. 

If your inquiry is in the correct direction, you get rewarded. If not, you lose a part of your money. 

Goes without saying, that overall, you try to win more than you lose. 

Department of no-frills cuts to the chase without useless paraphernalia. 

The Thing with Focus

Depth. 

Confidence. 

Proper entry. 

Decent exit, if required. 

Understanding. 

Lack of panic. 

Overall picture. 

These are some of the things that focus is capable of giving. 

Swagger? 

One-basket attitude. 

Over-depth. 

Narrow-mindedness. 

Loss of overall picture due to over-chewing one subject. 

Robotic mindset leading to freeze. 

Yeah, these too. Within the capabilities of focus. 

We want the former qualities. 

We’re discarding the latter ones. If they come knocking at our doorstep, we’re shooing them away. 

We spoke about diversified focus. 

Whatever we do in life, let’s do it well. 

We’ll have our many baskets. Why should we take the risk of having just one basket? 

And, into our many baskets, we’ll delve deep-deep-deep. 

Period. 

Sheer Moat Investing is not Antifragile 

There we go again. 

That word. 

It’s not going to leave us. 

Nicholas Nassim Taleb has coined together what is possibly the market-word of the century. 

Antifragile. 

We’re equity-people. 

We want to remain so. 

We don’t wish to desert equity just because it is a fragile asset-class by itself. 

No. 

We wish to make our equity-foray as antifragile as possible. 

First-up, we need to understand, that when panic sets in, everything falls. 

The fearful weak hand doesn’t differentiate between a gem and a donkey-stock. He or she just sells and sells alike. 

Second-up, we need to comprehend that this is the age of shocks. There will be shocks. Shock after shock after shock. Such are the times. Please acknowledge this, and digest it. 

To make our equity-play antifragile, we’ll need to incorporate solid strategies to account for above two facts. 

We love moats, right? 

No problem. 

We’ll keep our moats. 

Just wait for moat-stocks to show value. Then, we’ll pick them up. 

We go in during the aftermath of a shock. Otherwise, we don’t. 

We go in with small quanta. Time after time after time. 

Voila. 

We’re  already sufficiently antifragile. 

No magic. 

Just sheer common sense. 

We’re still buying quality stocks. 

We’re buying them when they’re not fragile, or lesser fragile. 

We’re going in each time with minute quanta such that the absence of these quanta (after they’ve gone in) doesn’t alter our financial lives. We’re saving the rest of our pickled corpus for the next shock, after which the gem-stock will be yet lesser fragile. 

Yes, we’re averaging down, only because we’re dealing with gems. We’ll never average down with donkey-stocks. We might trade these, averaging up. We won’t be investing in them. 

Thus, we asymptotically approach antifragility in a gem-stock. 

Over time, after many cycles, the antifragile bottom-level of the gem-stock should be moving significantly upwards. 

Gem-stock upon gem-stock upon gem-stock. 

We’re done already.