I’ll be parking my “random thoughts” posts under this new Category in my blog. Seems like there are lots of these recently hahaha. Forgive my indulgence. If you’re not interested just skip through the Turtle talk posts.

This particular entry is partly inspired by my recent trip to the Land of Smiles, and partly by SMOL though I couldn’t exactly remember which post it was by him. Things just swirl in my head for days sometimes.

Anyway. If you are like most people, you probably own a plain looking luggage bag or two that’s rectangular in shape. Left alone, it can stand in an upright position on four wheels.

Well. I’m not like most people.

Odd Decision Number One

When my wife and I went shopping for our large-size luggage bags some years back, we picked matching ones that have reeeeeally bright colours. Not your typical black or grey, no no. We bought them in lemon green and mandarin orange. Yippee!

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Silly you. We aren’t being flashy. We are simply making choices based on our Circle of Competence. My wife and I are seasoned travellers, and we are thus aware of the tiny details to look out for just to make our life a teeny bit easier. Travelling can be a stressful affair for many.

OK then, back to our choice of colors. Why bright colors? For one simple reason – we can more or less spot our luggage bag from like, super far away? Oh look that orange luggage bag on the conveyor belt, 99% must be ours lah. With a flashy color like that, it kind of lessened the possibility of unscrupulous people making off with your luggage bags too. Better off stealing a black, boring case.

Odd Decision Number Two

We bought square-shaped luggage bags. Again, our decision was based on what we thought to be a really good idea. Somehow, we felt that a square one seemed easier for us to pack with. With less height, things seemed less lightly to squash themselves at the bottom, and more likely to stay in place. Now, a square shaped, lemon green luggage bag with a cute luggage tag is incredibly rare, I can tell you.

Utilizing our Circle of Competence, we have enjoyed using our new luggage bags for the last few years (yeah, super durable too, with recessed wheels no less). Well, except for one thing. The inevitable “Oops” moment that smacks us right in the face every single time we go overseas.

While we were happily buying our new luggage cases, we have neglected something else – a little thing called perspective. We were looking at the problem only from the angle of a traveller and tried the best to fulfill our needs. We had totally forgotten to consider the practicality of having a square luggage bag. Or rather, the problem that presents itself specifically when there are two of these in play.

Have a quick think. Can you come up any possible problem? Yeah, neither did it come across our minds back then. Here, I’ll save you the trouble.

One square luggage? Fine. But For many of the cabs locally or overseas, it is impossible to fit in two square luggage in the car boot! On the other hand, most cabs can fit in two rectangular luggage in the car boot.

Dammit. Sometimes, it is better to be just like everyone else.

I’m guessing even if we had thought really hard about it, still we might not have come across this potential issue. We don’t know what we don’t know – we would never have the perspective of a cab driver.

Of Blogging & Investing

Much like my square luggage bags situation, this blog is a product of my Circle of Competence.

My professional background is in computer engineering, and the technical know-how has made it a breeze for me to setup a self-hosted blog.

Travelling is my number one passion. Along the years, I have continued to write on a personal travel blog which helped with building up some skills in terms of image-editing and coherent writing in general. I used to be one of those C6-English-Graders who only reads The Newpaper sports section, and I wonder how I graduated to Bloomberg over the years.

Besides travelling, another love of my life lies in computer gaming. Till this day, I still indulge in far-too-many hours of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games).

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In a MMORPG, one typically takes on the role of the protagonist and you can choose how to “build” your hero/heroine. Maybe you want to be a high damage, offensive Human sorcerer. Perhaps you want to be a highly agile, Elven ranger much like Legolas from Lord of the Rings. The problem is that you can never be good at every single thing. A player is inevitably forced to build his character based on a play-style that he is comfortable with to achieve optimal impact. Incredibly complex stuff but let’s not dwell on it too much.

To me, it is exactly the same with investing. What investment strategy are you comfortable with? What is your end goal? Many investing styles work over the long-term e.g. index investing, value investing and dividend investing etc. However, they will only work if we stick with them. Heck, who said gaming is useless huh? Hundreds of hours spent understanding and researching, honing the analytical mind and evaluating different ‘builds”. So much so that the world of investing is like one huge MMORPG to me.

Needless to say, I write a lot about index investing because it is within my Circle of Competence. Ask me a little bit more on anything else and my head starts to get dizzy (yeah a little exaggeration there, but you get the idea). So, have I bought more of Capitaland Mall Trust or Mapletree Commercial Trust with my “play money” since the bloodbath started? Why not rely on something a little more scientific like the Gordon Growth Model and decide for yourself?

At the end of the day, blogs are written by people, and different people will have different perspectives. Anyone can create a blog and start writing. As a discerning reader, let’s all consider a little bit more of perspective when reading blogs.

This blog is written mostly from my perspective. If you have a million bucks in your bank account, or you have a mountain of credit card debt, then obviously you are in a different situation from mine.

Trivial on Circle of Competence

Holy crap.

I had actually finished writing this blog post on my mobile phone. I only added this section because I went to Google this specific term called Circle of Competence.

Before today, I had zero idea of its existence –

In fact, Charlie Munger takes this concept outside of business altogether and into the realm of life in general. The essential question he sought to answer : Where should we devote our limited time in life, in order to achieve the most success? Charlie’s simple prescription : You have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don’t, you’re going to lose. And that’s as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you’ve got an edge. And you’ve got to play within your own circle of competence.

– and had never read Berkshire Hathway’s 1996 Shareholder’s Letter.

Should you choose, however, to construct your own portfolio, there are a few thoughts worth remembering. Intelligent investing is not complex, though that is far from saying that it is easy. What an investor needs is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word “selected”: You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.

What do you know? I learnt something new today. =)

TLDR ; Too Long Didn’t Read

Don’t buy square luggage bags. Period.

More Than Index Investing

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