Hello, I am Chok Leong.
My old blog.
Welcome to my website. This website serves as a social experiment to collect statistics on human behavior. If you are looking at this page, then you are part of the statistics.
Each blog post is an experiment. The traffics that come from different sources (search engines, social medias, referrals, etc) and from different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile, etc) are collected for analysis. The outcome of the analysis will result in more blog posts to be published to collect even more data. And the cycle is repeated indefinitely.
You can find me at the following sites
Random facts / ideas
Respect: Doubt yourself rather than doubt others.
The absurdity of consultancy: Those who take longer to deliver earn more.
Mindset: If the world’s outcome depends on how we see things, there is practically no limit on how good we want it to be. It is all in our mind.
Work culture: Money is fungible. So is work. No matter the job scope, work is work. Your are getting paid to do work. Be agile.
Randomness has no structure and is not compressible. It contains infinite information.
Problem solving algorithm: Randomness generates all the idea for evolution. The more idea you generate, the sooner you will stumble upon the right solution. Brute force to the truth using idea. Idea generating capability (a.k.a. imagination) is a tremendous asset.
Paradox: Good deals that everyone know will cease to be good.
Contrarian strategy capitalises on market over-reaction. People will always over-react facing unknowns.
Business is the greatest asset. > Stock is the best investment. > Out-of-favour stocks generate the highest returns.
Resource maximisation algorithm: The best things are free. The next best things are cheap. This is the way to acquire maximum assets with limited resource.
Randomness plays a big role in life. Life is full of possibilities. Luck is impactful. Don’t underestimate luck. There is good luck and bad luck. The good news is: everyone has chance to be lucky. Be prepared for luck. Luck favours the prepared minds.
About investing and life: I favour under-statement over over-statement.
An investor is a thinker. An independent thinker.
The clearer you think, the less physical work you need to do.
Consistently harness the powerful force of compounding effect via imperceptible small change (in knowledge, health, etc) everyday.
Some knowledge has shorter shelf life than the other. Acquire the latter because it is more rewarding. It also reduces waste.
Investing is a business. A serious business. As CEO deploys company’s capital for better future returns and government allocates country’s resource for better future economy, asset allocation is the world most important and impactful job.
Agile: Any activity that involves more than one person requires teamwork. Team that is agile a team of self-organised problem solvers and is optimal.
Simple rules to happier work and life: Tap dancing to work by asking yourself, (1) Are things getting better today since yesterday? (2) Are the things that you do today make tomorrow better?
Great leaders tell great and inspiring stories.
Market = crowd. You behave differently when you are among the crowd than when you are alone. Crowd thinking (lowest form of emotional and unreasonable thinking) is different from independent thinking. It is easier to go with crowd than to go against it. The environment is stronger than our intellect. The market force will expose our weaknesses. The crowd is the external force that influences your decision making (cognitive bias in manifestation). Contrarian thinking exploits crowd thinking.
Emerging property of the market: Individual businesses are the parts. The market is the whole. Crowd behaviour is the emerging property of the market which is usually summarises as Mr. Market.
Why the market is inefficient? Because of the crowd behaviour that arises from the cognitive bias inherent to human thinking (behavioural economic). The efficient market theory (EMT) is ahead of its time and will only be applicable when the world is run by robot.
The (economic) system we have is working because the people in it are working hard everyday.
Rational vs Emotional: Avoiding emotion from corroding your decision making will make any decision more rational, thus better. Avoiding emotion from interrupting your action will make you perform better.
The cost of being perfect is too high. This does not justify the ROI.
Ingredients for problem solving and framework for decision making: Do you have all the ingredients? Unknowns are the missing ingredients. Not all ingredients are created equal. Having all ingredients leads to AHA! moments.
Software programming: Having all the input, it is trivial to produce the output. Nothing complicated. Make sure you have all the required input.
Growth is in the problems: If you are looking for growth, you need to look for problems instead of avoiding them.
Consistent profit = proof of competitive advantage.
Commit knowledge into RAM (working memory) helps in deep understanding.
Make thing simple using pencil and paper to externalise your thinking.
Founder mindset is about taking ownership on finding your way to the objective. When 2 founders meet, the possibility is endless.
Better communication = better explanation: How you explain it make all the difference.
Effort is the only variable that you can control to realise your full potential.
Risk vs Reward: Actually, the most successful people (e.g. billionaires) take the least risk. Probabilistically, it is because that they take the least risk that over long term they have higher chance of becoming very successful. They can see hidden value that others miss. Successful people see risk differently just like Warren Buffett defines risk differently. Risk comes from ignorance. Knowledge reduces risk. The best risk to take is the one with little or nothing to lose but everything to gain. In a way, taking no risk in this changing world is the biggest risk of all.
Blundering is a way to get thing started and subsequently get it done. It is better than having perfect plan and get nothing done.
To learn effectively, you need to allow yourself to first forget and then retrieve. Do this repeatedly. The effort used to retrieve determines the strength of the memory.
How to be good at anything: Firstly, take a simple idea. Finally, take it very seriously.
Reaching your goal is like catching a ball. You go to where the ball is going to be instead of where it is right now. Anticipate its trajectory and act accordingly. Plan for the future.
Billionaire mindset: Able to hold multiple conflicting ideas at the same time while still being able to function correctly. Able to accept opposing ideas. The idea of duality of time: Patient urgency.
Ego is inversely proportional to the size of your knowledge.
Programming: Maintaining low structural complexity makes the code easier to read and makes the bugs no place to hide.
Any fool can make things complicated. – Albert Einstein.
Randomness represents the highest form of complexity.
The tortoise and the hare: The hare runs in a linear fashion. It seems fast at the beginning. The tortoise runs in an exponential fashion. It seems slow at the beginning.
Beginner’s philosophy: When you are a beginner, you can afford to make a lot of mistakes. The cost of mistakes is low. You should take advantage of that so that you could have more exposure to luck/risk where you could expect higher reward.
The journey to mastery: Mastery is shown in your ability to create something unique and new that brings value to the world. Masters are builders: Thomas Edison, Nikolas Tesla, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. I think that the highest achievement that a human can achieve during his lifetime is by inventing something useful.
Most of the work we do is a form of waste. For example, going to gym, working on something that will be scraped. Reduce the waste means saving effort while maintaining the output. Think how to do the minimum and get the maximum in order to get ahead. Identify the waste. Don’t spend too much time on something that will eventually be scraped. Good enough is good enough.
The level of complexity is inversely proportional to the level of purity. Loosely coupled design has lower complexity than the design that has high dependency of each of its elements. For example, society is highly complex because everyone depends on and influents each other. Complexity arises from uniqueness of each item. Complexity is caused by diversity and variety of the same thing. Complexity has no standard and structure. Complexity impedes deep understanding. It is hard to reason with complexity. Make thing simple.
Using abstraction is one way of handling changes: Depend on abstraction instead of concretion. You maintain the current interface through the use of higher level of abstraction that handles the changes. E.G.: Imaginary numbers. It can be used to solve any problem because there can always be another layer of abstraction. The more the thing changes, the more it remains the same. Trade-off is more complexity.
The simplified version of Test-Driven-Development is about (1) minimising duplicates and (2) maximising clarity. It is a MiniMax problem.
Highly structured data contains the most information. E.G.: Maths. It is also easier to process and manage. Impose structure. It is easier to reason about something if it has clear structure built-in.
Simple rule of thumb to decide if you are building the right thing: You build it once and it can be reused infinitely. This also means the more you build today, the less you need to build tomorrow.
Due to compound effect, the early decision carries more weight than late decision.
“Aha” moment: Having great insights is like having a glimpse into the future. You can get the best idea from the future and implement it now. Inspirations come from examples you see. The more you see, the easier it is for you to get insights.
NP problem in everyday life: Today’s decision will impact tomorrow’s decision which will impact the one in the future… NP problem always involves thinking through different possibilities that are interdependent.
Facing with great uncertainty, the most rational next step is to fail cheaply as soon as possible to remove all the false beliefs, assumptions, and hypothesis so that you could reveal the true problem and have more time to solve the right problem sooner. When in doubt, think how to fail quickly and cheaply.
Food for thought: Things that are easy to do are more likely to be done. Make every task easy so that it is more likely to be done.
Software: Each iteration is a mini-project.
The fundamental of software engineering is to (1) produce useful software (2) as quickly as possible.
I like this quote: Vision without execution is just hallucination. – Thomas Edison.
Software engineering: The more feedback you get, the more you know. The more you know, the less risk you have. Knowledge reduces risk. Frequent releases reduce risk.
Be more productive via rapid prototyping: Rapid prototyping has some magical element in it. You let go of the thought of being absolutely certain. Instead, you trust your resiliency to handle any problems that are going to be revealed via rapid prototyping. You move from bottom-up instead of top-down. The end results: you are freed. Free to explore while having a lighter mental burden. The magic is hidden in the execution. You won’t discover the magic with any amount of thinking. You do way more than thinking: you externalise your thinking. You let the world thinks for you.
Time management rule: Does the problem that you spend the most time on have any impact to the world once you solve it? If not, just apply the good enough solution, and move on. Your time is better spent elsewhere.
Be a builder: Build the things that you want to see in this world.
Complexity has invisible and elusive effect. It is due to interactions between too many variables at the same time. Find those key variables to reduce the complexity.
Make things scientific: Start by measuring them.
Startup nation: If you have idea, start it right away. Don’t wait. You will have higher odd of success by testing your idea right away.
Focus on only the most important things so that you can afford to do the least amount of word while still being effective. In the end, you would have more time to do more things.
If you work for money, you produce lower quality work and feel burnout eventually. If you work for money, you are extrinsically motivated by money. You will need to work for your whole life. However, if you let money works for you, you can enjoy for your whole life. Furthermore, if you want to make the best use of your talent, you need to work for free. If you would do something for free, you have found something worth working on guided by intrinsic motivation. You feel happy working on it. You don’t care about the money. You care about being the best of yourself. The choice is clear: let money works for you so that you can work for free to produce the best work of your life.
Top-down design is equivalent to solving problem working backward. You define your goal (ideal state) and then you break it down to smaller idea recursively until the idea is executable. That is how it connects the ideal state to the reality.
Efficiency is a solution for scarcity. It leads to abundance. It means working only on the variables that matter the most to avoid waste of effort. The saved effort allows you to go extra miles. Find those variables. You will feel really good when you are able to squeeze the last bit of usefulness out of the resource. It makes you happy.
Build robust software: Build margin of safety in a program. The margin of safety is in the design and abstraction. Good design saves effort. Avoid duplication is a good start. Promote reusability. Bottom-up design with granular modularity is powerful: You can build anything quickly with LEGO brick concept. Use LEGO bricks to build components. Use components to build systems, etc. Find the “greatest common divisor” as the smallest unit as a granular module.
Software engineering: Having a working app with real customers is more important than whether the app is built elegantly using best practices. It is pointless to have an app elegantly built but nobody uses.
Factors to successful investing: value, growth, contrarian.
Thought experiments via simulations: We should let computer do the hard thinking for us. The cost is low.
Programmer’s food for thought: The best code is no code at all and the fastest code is the code that never gets executed. Challenge: think hard enough to make things simple.
Invest your time wisely when you have no money.
If you want to see thing clearer, spend more time learning and thinking about it. Most importantly, keep a distance from it to get the full picture.
Where you put your money determines how wealthy you will be in the future. Hint: Don’t put your money in the bank. Imagine that if you were the world richest man, you would realise that the money you earn by working would constitute only a negligible portion of your wealth. The rest would be generated by return from investment.
The easiest way to be a business owner? Buy stocks.
Entrepreneur: With capital, you can move the people.
How to find things that matter? By working at one variable at a time.
High performance team provides psychological safety.
On average, we are all average. Be modest.
Business and stock market: Others’ irrationality (or stupidity) is your profitability. Most people avoid stock market because they can’t stand the volatility. That is irrationality.
People are unproductive because they pay attention to the wrong things. Attention, like time, money and energy, is limited resource. Invest wisely.
Health is in the garden: Treat your stomach like a garden. Encourage bio-diversity. Avoid chemical. Water regularly. This translates into: Eat a variety of food, and only natural food, drink lots of water.
Constraints spark creativity. If there was no rule, it would become way too complicated. Free yourself with constraints.
With the help of tested mental models as life guide, you can focus on making better decisions everyday. Practise consistently, you can get better control of your life and thus lead an exponentially happier life.
The power of mental models: It is good to spend time building mental models of how the world works or on things that you care the most. Having mental models (or analogies) can give you directions at any given time. It helps you to focus on things that matter. It tells good stories with good theories of how things work. It filters noise quickly. It helps in imagination. It provides deeper understanding of the world. Use simple rules to build mental models. Test with trial and error to refine the models. Use data to measure the effectiveness of the models.
How to deal with information overload? Use simple rules as filter.
Rule of thumb: Complicated rules work well in closed systems. Simple rules work well in open systems. Simple rules thrive in the complex world. They rule the world. They give structure to the chaos and make things systematic and consistent. Read new researches regularly to keep the rules up-to-date.
With deep understanding comes deep solution. This is the right way to solve problem.
Employee vs Investor, Servant vs Master, Prison vs Freedom, Security vs Growth: Employees serve the company. As an employee, the higher the ladder you climb, the more you are involved, the less time you have for your own. You trade your time for money. You become an inseparable part of the company. On the other hand, the company serves the customers and especially the investors. As an investor, the more you are involved, the freer your are. You trade money for more money. In the first case, your time is limited. In the second case, your money can be unlimited. Only those with passion to work can be a lifetime employee. If you don’t find passion in working, one way to get your own life back is by being an investor and let the companies serve you.
If the worst case was not that bad, you should celebrate.
Programmer: Getting the right idea right is more important than writing code. Right idea stays but code doesn’t.
Coding is not the hardest part, the hardest part is getting the right requirements right with crystal clear scope. The devil is in the requirements.
Engineer with the gigantic machine: A business is a gigantic machine where its CEO is the engineer who designs and fine tunes the machine for it to run better.
Understanding people: How to understand a person as deeply as possible? Understand one like you would do to a company. Learn one’s financial situation, family and friends’ background, educations, medical history, criminal records, professional, etc. But most of the info is not public like what we have for a public company. I think some of the listed factors hold the key to understanding people. The rest is superficial.
A servant: The ultimate purpose of business is to serve its customers and indirectly its shareholders. Any business that deviates from this purpose is doomed to fail.
Imagination is your greatest weapon: If you can’t imagine something clearly, you don’t understand that something deep enough.
Searching for value: Make everyday a treasure hunt.
How to save a failing business? Pareto rule: Eliminate the non-productive activities and keep only those that generate the most value. Cut the losers. Keep and grow the winners. The most money is made by the few.
Curiosity, an alternative view: Being curious means being motivated to explore all possibilities. The good (or bad) news is you will never exhaust them all during your lifetime.
High complexity arises from simple things. Given two dots, there is only one possible connection between the dots. By adding one additional dot, there will be seven possible connections. The number of connections increase exponentially with the number of dots.
Being creative is as simple as imagining what is possible. If creativity is connecting the dots, you need to have the dots first. The dots are your existing knowledge. You can increase your number of dots by constantly learning. And when you are considering a new possibility by connecting the dots, your deep knowledge tells you whether the new possibility is feasible/possible/realistic simply by imagining.
Imagination is a factory with unlimited resources. It is the life force of the genius code. Imagine the unimaginable.
Work-life balance is easier if your manager knows how to access performance. If you measure face time, you get more face time. If you measure true performance, you get better performance and satisfaction from employees, not necessarily in longer time.
Exploration and exploitation dilemma: When to stop exploring and start settling down and vice versa? Having a higher learning speed could make these questions irrelevant.
Self-fulfilling prophecy: Bright future is created by people who are positive about the future. Dark future is created by people who are negative about the future. You can choose which future you want. Different thinkings produce different outcomes. No matter what shit happens, think positive (a simple life guide).
99 % of world problems are man-made. Fix the people and you fix the problems. The stakes are high: This is a many-many-trillion-dollar market. I recommend everyone to read How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Invisible leader: Be a role model. Influence people silently. You don’t have to be a leader to lead. 无剑胜有剑的境界。
Parents as natural leaders: Being a great leader is about bringing the best out of people. When you become a parent, you naturally turn into a leader. You lead your kids to greatness.
If money represents value, then we could literally see where the value is. Money flows from people searching for value to people providing value. The rich creates value. The richest creates the most value. Learn from the riches.
Be the ocean: The smartest human being is not smarter than the collective intelligence of everyone. The ocean is able to accept water from all sources because it is positioned lower than the rest. Be the ocean. Be humble and leverage the collective intelligence that we have access today.
Most of the life problems are NP problems. It is typical for NP problem to have an explosion of possibilities where you could spend your whole life finding the optimal solution. By the time you find the solution, the problem would already be obsolete. Since life is so rich in choices, it is good to have a heuristic/guide to help you make your decision. Example of heuristic: know your circle of competence, know your passion to reduce the search space. It is even better if you let the solution find you by learning from world experts.
Focus on deeper story: When dealing with people, always think from the other people’s perspective for deeper understanding. If one person has a story, then for 1000 persons, you have 1000 stories to explore. The world is rich.
Psychology, emotion, rationality: Having 200 horsepower (or average IQ) and outputting 200 horsepower is better than having 400 horsepower (or high IQ) but only outputting 100 horsepower. Most of the time people don’t let themselves to work well. You are your worst enemy. Controlling emotion by acting rationally is a big thing for greater returns in the future.
Your network is your net worth. Choose your people (friends, customers, spouse, etc) carefully. Seek out like minds.
The journey to mastery: Practise until you have 10000 failures.
Analogy for remembering and forgetting: You need to constantly be moving to avoid the corrupting path behind you. You are forgetting things constantly (the corrupting path), so you need to regain new memory actively or refresh old memory (by constantly working) to avoid losing yourself.
My definition of a good challenge: A good challenge is things that you are having a slight difficulty to grasp/master. Stretch the limit within your capacity to expand it.
Having a routine makes you more productive. You are focused and you know what to do next. But your mind is in automation mode when performing routine. Design a routine filled with challenges. Challenges stimulate your brain. Follow it consistently to keep you alive.
Successful entrepreneur is someone who is willing to do what few want to do. There is less competition this way, hence, a huge opportunity. That’s a great value an entrepreneur can help to provide by filling this gap. Finally I found my value: do things that no one is willing to do.
When performing a task, don’t rush even if there is a lot to be accomplished. You will fell better and think clearer this way.
Organized mind: Create a mental checklist constituted of a virtual team of historical and current great minds. Internalize their theory and thinking. Get their help when you need it.
Creativity is a number game: “The more ideas creators generate (regardless of the quality of each idea), the greater the chances they would produce an eventual masterpiece”.
My take on Tactic vs Strategy: The former is a technical step-by-step planning (the “How”) of small goals that works over short-term to achieve local optimum. The latter is a heuristic to a big goal (the “What”, the thing that you care the most or the thing that matters) that works over long term to achieve global optimum. A strategy is like a tactical plan generator. It can generate new tactical plans when needed (because no plan survives the first contact with enemy) until it stumbles on a plan that works. Solve enough problems, then you can get to where you want to be.
Deep learning: Learn and inspire with examples. The more examples you know, the more solid your knowledge.
Winner takes all: Being the best in your niche is worth the effort because it is rewarding.
Invest only in things that will appreciate in value over time.
Extend your mind by bringing, as much as possible, your thought to the external world. This can maximize your memory while having a clearer mind.
Psychology and performance: When playing roulette, each spin is independent of previous spins. The roulette has no memory. If you were attached emotionally to the old results (e.g.: you lost or won money in previous rounds), you would see patterns that were non-existent. Thus you could bet irrationally. The law of large number always dictates the outcome: each slot will have equal chance of getting hit. Borrowing from the roulette analogy, when playing tennis, each point is also independent of the previous ones. The point at the beginning of the game or at the match point is the same, which is a new and independent point. However, people usually become nervous and overly cautious when playing the match point since winning the match point means ending the game. This usually makes people unable to perform correctly due to extreme stress. Also, if you were affected by your previous mistakes, you would not be able to perform. Your attention is a limited resource. By not concentrating on the present moment, you are playing as if with one leg tied up. The answer to high performance is thus to consider and play each point as if it was a new game while incorporating all the learnings gained from the previous points. Going in the same line, everyday could actually be a new and independent day from the other days. By detaching emotion from the event and fully focusing on the current moment, you could play a better game. With tons of practice, the law of large number will work for you.
The nature works in an infinite cycle. The waste provides nutrient for plants. The plant need nutrient to produce food and waste. Waste > Nutrient > Plant > Food > Waste. The cycle repeats. Farmers benefit. The waste is the black gold that can be found everywhere in the nature.
If a plant could produce $ 5 of value, what value could 1000 plants produce?
With deep understanding on things that matter to you, you could come up with formulas with all the terms clearly defined to build a model that represents your understanding. Study the model with the goal to minimize effort required while maximizing value. After all the understanding gaps are filled, you can come up with your own theory that gives you unfair advantage in that area.
Problem space can be simplified into two categories: problems worth solving and problems not worth solving. Problems worth solving are problems that can be solved by you and have paying customers. Problems not worth solving are problems no meeting of the above criteria.
In/outside of building analogy: Maker is inside the building making products while manager is outside the building talking to customers. Maker and manager are required.
Thinking is creative. It combines one idea with another to generate new idea. To be more creative, you need to be more random.
What are the best problems that technology can solve? Problems that can be solved manually. Technology could help to automate the manual solutions. It, however, does not help much in other difficult problems like curing cancers or eliminating mosquitoes because there is no manual solution for that yet. I strongly belief that anything that can be solved manually can be automated. In other words, technology excels at automating manual work. Hence the opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Idea that I like best: The really good things (signals) in life are not that many (according to Warren Buffett). Knowing this, you won’t waste your time chasing for too many things (noises) in life that don’t matter to you. This idea applies to all aspects in life. So, what are those signals? When you know what are those really good things, making hard decisions becomes a no-brainer.
Your customers have all the answers. But they may not know how to express them. It is up to you to figure out by doing countless of interviews and gathering feedback. Let them talk about their problems (problems that they would pay to get solved). With clear problem statements, you could arrive at the right solutions easily.
Entrepreneurship: One single invention could change your fate. You only need one invention (working business model) to make it.
Agriculture: Only 1 % of the bugs in the world are harmful. 99 % of them are either harmless or beneficial to crops. They are the invisible force in the nature. Leverage the help from the bug’s world by creating a diverse environment of plants to establish the ecological stability.
There are millions of inventions that make life easier. Study them. Can I invent some myself?
Organized mind: Categorize. Prioritize.
Evolution has no plan. It takes whatever work best at the moment.
Psychology of fear: 1. The anticipation of fear is scarier then the reality. 2. Fear distorts reality. You can be a coward 99 % of the time and still be successful by being courageous 1 % of the time at the right time. Focus on the task and not the outcome to avoid reality distortion. Habituate yourself to fear.
Warren Buffett, “For every hundred great opportunities that are brought to me, I say ‘no’ ninety-nine times.” When you are saying “Yes” to something, you are saying “No” to something else. Make sure you know what you are leaving out.
Same idea given to different people will yield different results. The results range from exceptional to mediocre. It is the people who make the difference.
Wholesale is easier than retail. Sell to businesses is easier than to end customers. Sell to people who have bigger network. It is also in larger quantity.
Everyone is a salesperson. Only style different. Replace “sell” with “help”. It works better.
Sales provide the lifeblood for business. No sales, no business. You should be working on it most of the time.
Passion kills passion because it involves doing things that you don’t like, 95 % of the time. Make your passion irrational enough so that you can survive the hardest challenge with it. Find your passion through what, why, how and who. Love what you do, love why you do it, love how you do it and love who you do it for.
Game vs system vs machine vs business analogy: Think system or machine or business as a game. Designing a game is easier than designing a system or machine or business. It is more fun too.
Information or knowledge has no mass and shape and it can transcend space and time. It could be the fifth dimension.
Network mind: Conflicts need to talk over to solve. When we talk, we uncover blind spots. Problems need to talk over to find solutions. When we talk, we harness the creative force generated from collective intelligence. Diversity makes us work harder, thus improving our performance. Collective minds are greater than any one brain. I think the future is in it. How do I tap into its power?
One simple thing to do to make you feel happy anytime: Think about happy event. Occupy your mind with happy thoughts.
Be curious: Keep asking questions to reveal the answers. Each question leads to an assumption (hypothesis) for experiment.
Striking idea: Startups are about finding paying customers, not building products. Startups have two kinds of problems to solve. i) problems worth solving (with lots of $$). ii) problems not worth solving (with no customers). Each kind of problems contains a set of problems that could have difficulties that range between easy and extreme hard to solve. Therefore, in theory, startups that choose the easy problems that are worth solving would have higher success rate. Find that kind of easy problems.
Psychology or system 1 is the major cause of foolishness.
Agriculture: Fertile soil is hidden rich. According to the law of conservation, if I produced vegetables and fruits using the fertile soil, after sometime, it would become depleted. I need a way to restore its fertility with little or no cost to continue to profit.
Tons of reading could make everyone a better thinker.
A way to create business value: Give first, take later. Help first, profit second. What can I help? Do someones a favor consistently.
Career: Work under someone you admire is a wonderful choice.
Most human decisions are influenced by psychology. By influencing someone’s psychology, you change his/her decision. If psychological force was the main reason of making sales, then selling customized experience would be a big thing. Let psychology work for you: If you were to persuade, appeal to interest, not to reason – Benjamin Franklin.
Belief: Meaningful and valuable things don’t have to be difficult (requiring complex engineering effort) to obtain.
Incentive is the controller of human cognition: Wrong incentive creates frauds, cheating, corruptions and politics. It then leads to excessive waste. This is what I learned from Charlie Munger. Designing the right incentives, like defining the optimization objective functions, is very important to get what you want.
Short term and long term paradox: The reality does not proceed in a linear trajectory. Things that look smart over short term may look dumb over long term. Things that look dumb over short term may look smart over long term. I would rather choose to look dumb right now. It is easier.
Effective and efficient lean method for managing big project (how to make your life easier while making a dent to the universe): Use the power of iterations over small batches to reduce waste. One batch is modular and contains only one-flow-step that is quickly testable to avoid carrying too many untested assumptions in the process. It is effective because the project is more manageable by human in small batches. It is efficient based on experiments. It is lean because it reduces waste.
Plant-life-predictability analogy: Plants don’t grow linearly. Those seemingly weak plants would one day outgrow the currently healthy ones. Just like life, it is hard to predict correctly.
Value and growth: Things that people need have value. Things that people cannot live without have the highest value. Things that are needed by more than one person have growth potential. Things that are needed by everyone have the highest growth potential. The first (value) is qualitative and the latter (growth) is quantitative. Anything that people will pay for has value and anything that more than one person will pay for has growth potential. Both value and growth are human centric.
Design and circuit: Designing a new business is like building an electronic circuit. Close all the loops with the right components and it can run forever. Work hard once in a scientific way and reap the rewards forever.
Education: Language and knowledge are intertwined. You cannot have one without the other. Therefore, master the language as soon as possible is critical to make full advantage of the mental ability of a kid. With the knowledge, he/she can build a mental filter to distinguish the good from the bad. By doing more of the good and less of the bad, he/she can lead a successful and fulfilling life.
Be a contrarian: It is what people don’t see that matters the most to you. Thus the importance of knowledge.
Running computer simulations to learn about the world may take many lifetimes to complete. Why not learn from the existing results from known histories or even look at the nature which has the results that span over 4 billion years? These are the readily available results to be studied. The nature has done it for you.
Don’t make thing too obvious until people miss it. It is necessary to let them do a little bit of thinking so that they can see it for themselves. This is much more effective.
Abundance limits creativity. Creativity leads to abundance. Constraint creates creativity. Less is more.
Every battle is won before it is ever fought. In other words, any game is won before it starts. This leads me to believe that the most important thing of any endeavor is in the early stage, which is also the most fragile stage (think about seedlings for plants or young kids). If handled well, you future is pretty much automated (in term of effort required in the future). Before any investment, doing enough preparations can secure your future. It is therefore a wise thing to do by investing heavily in the early stage to reap the fruits and dividends in a later stage.
Ways to finding solutions: 1. try many different descriptions of the problem 2. use higher level abstraction so that you can cross domain. The goal is to allow you to connect the problem to the database of existing solutions that work.
Analogy: A plant represents a company. If each business was a plant then it would be easier to start a business this way provided that we have the seed. If each plant was a business, then we could estimate its value as we could in evaluating a business.
The right thing is defined as the thing that the more you do it, the easier your and others’ life will be in the future. Are you working too hard? Then something was wrong in the past.
Discipline does not require an high IQ to own and therefore everyone has it at different level. Cycle is everywhere in our life as seen in the weather, season, market, etc. Cycle is itself a system for compound effect. Simple thing repeated for a thousand times can make magic happen. Discipline + cycle = a simple and consistent act that has an invisible long-term impact. Discipline matters the most in our life. You have to win this discipline game.
Working for other, doing business and investing: Which one is easier to build large wealth? Investing (it requires only discipline). Which one is the hardest? Doing business (0.1 % success rate for entrepreneurship and it requires big sacrifices in term of time and energy and probably health). Investing is easier than working (investing requires discipline and working requires specialized knowledge and years of experience) and it is also more important than working (especially once you reach certain level of wealth). With discipline, even with a modest income, you can become filthy rich and wealthy over many years.
Competition (zero-sum) vs cooperation / collaboration (positive-sum). Who wins? In short-term, the first. In long-term, the latter.
Facing uncertainty, resort to probability to make your decisions.
Lead a scientific life-style. Always leave the door open for doubts (unknown). Experiment and evaluate all evidences. Drop old thinking in favor of a better one. With that, you have a better chance of getting closer to the truth.
There are two types of plan: low-level and high-level plans. The first is detail specific and the latter is more abstract that takes into account the unknown and the unexpected.
How to measure the invisible? The unknown? By doing many experiments.
Under perfect competition, in the long run no company makes an economic profit. As in an efficient market, no one has any advantage over the other. Even so, I believe that the world will never be completely efficient.
Dividend is the fruit of delayed gratification. It is the result of long-term thinking. And it is an automated and requires no additional work from you. Anything the pays dividend is the right kind of business to spend time on.
Thinking long-term is like thinking a few steps ahead in a chess game. It requires more mental work. But it puts you in a better position.
Causal knowledge helps in problem solving. Know how things work and explain how things work to find the gaps. Ask why recursively for deep understanding. It is important to get till the root.
People who are closer to the source will spot the problem first. Distribute your people/resources so that every issue is being handled.
Everyone has his/her unique resources that are only available to him/her to come up with unique solution.
Analogy is useful for transferring idea among people by making the unfamiliar familiar. It may even used to solve problems. It works well with human mind. The more analogies you know, the least mental effort you need to think.
Human body will get old but human mind never will. The latter keeps growing if it is always in used. It is a good choice to invest in something that will never expire. Your effort will not be wasted.
Perception is originated from mental model. Different person has different mental model, which is being constructed using his/her unique experience and background.
The Pareto principle (or 80-20 rule) tells us that not all effort is created equal. Some effort will generate more output than the other. Some companies will generate more incomes than the others. Some knowledge is worth more than the other. Consistently harnessing the power of the Pareto principle, I believe, would generate a huge advantage for you over time. Always ask the right questions. Focus on things that have long term impact. Focus on things that may not be visible right now but will be in the future. Focus on the things that matter.
Idea comes from people. Put people first, then great idea will come. People are your greatest asset. 伟大企业，以人为本。Constructive feedback from each employee can make any company great. Everyone has a share to contribute to make the company great. Allow each employee to solve any problem he/she sees (to prevent random catastrophic events from happening). Even better if each employee could be each other’s mentor by sharing and teaching others his/her best skills. In this case, everyone would have access to the best knowledge and anyone could do the highest quality work. This can grow your employees as quickly as possible.
The value of paper money is coming from people’s perception. The value of gold is also coming from people’s perception. Change their perception, then the price they pay will be different.
The law of parsimony: Given a set of possible explanations, the simplest one is the most likely to be correct. Because it makes the least assumptions. In writing, the shortest sentence that can convey the same message is likely to be the best. It can reach more readers. In design, the simplest design with the least dependency is likely to be the best. It is more robust.
Feedback is important to a control system. Without it or not getting it in time, you are going to self-destruct. It is true in everyday life too.
Financial leverage has two flaws. First, it does not make much a difference after you are rich. According to Warren Buffett, having $ 100 million or $ 120 million with leverage makes no difference to him. Second, it does not matter what you build if you are building on a shaky foundation. Once it collapses, you lose everything regardless whether you are rich or poor. After all, it does not increase your success rate. It only magnifies your gain and/or loss.
Each business you do in the local offline market is a poker game.
The beauty of the traditional business is that it is inherently inefficient. It is stable and does not change for thousand years and it is simple to understand. The product is market-ready. The competitive advantage it offers is that it takes time to build, which means no one can come and take it from you overnight.
The efficient market is the bright side of the world (阳) while the inefficient market is the dark side of the world (阴). The efficient market is hard to beat since everyone has access to the same information (E.G.: the Forex rates and stock prices which are near efficient). The efficient market is zero-sum. You are playing against world class players. To win, you need tremendous luck because the rules change often. Online world is efficient because information flows freely and instantaneously. Offline world is inefficient. There will always be inefficiency or lack of transparency in the offline (or even online) world which means you will need to play the unavoidable poker games (where you don’t know your competitors’ hidden cards or secret). The money is hidden in the dark side of the world. Therefore, working in the inefficient market is a good choice that has better return with the same amount of work.
Turning $0 into $ 1 is way harder than turning $ 0.10 into $ 1. Better spend time on the lower hanging fruits. When the use of money to make more money is unavoidable, try to make the most of it by finding the the best undervalued things to buy. People who consistently paying with the lowest price for something that generate the most value for them win. The right question therefore is not whether to spend or not to spend money, but whether the value created by the spending is worth it or not.
Understand your boss (or those who pay you, E.G.: customers) and understand your tool and skills (E.G.: computer) so that you can do the right things (things that you know how to do and are able to do that meet the actual needs of your boss). What computer is good at? 1. storing, organizing and managing (big) data (e.g. cloud) 2. automating repetitive tasks (e.g. robot) 3. continuous tracking and monitoring and logging (e.g. embedded, security system) 4. processing, analyzing data, doing simulations, searching for solutions and solving problems (e.g. research) 5. entertaining users (e.g. game) 6. networking and connecting users (e.g. internet) 7. providing services to other machines (e.g. server) 8. creating and hosting artificial intelligence.
Entrepreneur works on business. Inventor works on product.
Profit = Revenue – Expense. Profit is generated from revenue after deducting expense. Is it possible to get the revenue first, then pay for expense? This can minimize or nullify the need of startup capital and the risk. This practically means running a business with no up-front expense or cost. How to generate revenue well before paying expense? How to sell something that you don’t own (yet)? What is the kind of business that allows you to pay only when you make money? Sell first, buy later. Especially, sell high, then buy low. You keep the difference. Solving this problem requires backward reasoning. Using OPM (other people’s money) is a good candidate. Invert, always invert.
Goal = DREAM + Plan + Deadline.
Making business leaner: reducing the cost of doing business is also a kind of business. You can get a cut of the saving as your profit. Win-win-win. Your customer wins, the environment wins (use less resources) and you wins.
Internet is the largest cloud that everyone can freely access for data analysis.
Learn to run a successful business by reading the annual reports of successful businesses.
Strength and stamina are trained differently. The former grows muscle but the later does not (at least it is not visible). You cannot know whether a person is a marathon runner based on his/her look.
Successful entrepreneur maximizes the profit by correctly spotting a trend and catching it. Ride a business on the right trend. This could save you a lot of trouble.
Business lives or dies on trends.
Trend is a complex force that can move the market due to the law of supply and demand. Leverage it to your favor.
Price can be a few times higher than usual when the supply is low even with unchanging demand. A good inventory control system can let you fully benefit from it by matching supply with demand.
If anything could be rented, rent-as-a-service would be the ultimate solution for being lean. It minimizes waste and maximizes reuse and you only pay for what you use. You don’t have to worry about managing the things you are not using. What about making the cars in the parking lots rent-able? What about renting a TV only at every evening?
Computer is good for keeping the real-time status of anything automatically. It can keep us updated. Recording these statuses over time can generate content to allow us to see the evolution or trend of anything.
Tracking makes the invisible visible. It allows a deeper understanding of certain phenomena. With the newly gained insight, you have the advantage to play the poker as if with your opponents’ cards revealed.
Business idea: Distance to market will have an impact on how fast you can make your money. Doing something that is closer to market (like sales) get paid quicker than doing something that is further away from market (like R&D because it involves more steps before being able to reach the market). Between these two extreme points, there is a range of possible things to do, each with a different potential return. If you need the quickest return, do sales or trading.
Plant and business analogy: 1. (A little bit of) Competition is good for certain plants. It makes them grow stronger faster. 2. Planting different seed yields different fruit. Planting different species of a specific fruit yields different characteristics of fruit. Planting on different soil yields different quality of fruit. It is at least a 3 dimensional problem to solve. You need to do plenty of research because once you start growing, the plant stays with you for its whole life.
Think symbiosis as a win-win solution.
Every negotiation is a poker game.
“Making measurable progress” is what make workers happy according to studies.
Human brain is built to privilege new information. New information triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. No wonder people keep looking for new things. There is a promise of potential pleasure doing so.
Look for one-foot-bars that you can easily walk over rather than spend your life figuring out how to cross the seven-feet-bars. Your one-foot-bars might be the seven-feet-bars for others and vice versa. Do what you are best at. That is your competitive advantage. Over time, when you have grown up, your once seven-feet-bars might become one-foot-bars for you.
Have lower expectation make you happier. A lot of things will exceed your expectation. Try not to have too high an expectation, because most of the time, it is the wrong expectation. Instead, prepare for the worst. Look down before look up. Because any thing that could go wrong will go wrong (Murphy’s law).
Not all information is created equal. Some is worth more than the other due to the law of supply and demand in 2 distinct ways. The first way is the supply of the information itself. The more people know about it, the less it is worth. The second way is the supply and demand of the market conditions. Same piece of info can be worthless now but could worth a dozen in the future.
Some millionaires make millions by bankrupting many companies. Each time filling their pocket by emptying others’. Examples are Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump. If you know how to navigate the legal systems, you can be very well off.
Each failure is a feedback. Each feedback contains valuable insight. Shorten the feedback loop to collect more data.
Mind’s filter for better learning: look for something new for new possibilities. The more you explore, the less new things there are. This let us work faster by having clear goal and direction on where to look. Therefore have higher productivity.
How to work with a complex system: variation, evaluation, selection.
Trial and error: Do more what works, do less what does not work in search of solution. Start with something that works.
The magic of stories: Information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter.
Magical string: Anything can be encoded in string. It is like DNA that can hold multi-generational genetic information. Writing is in string, coding is in string. The human knowledge is stored in string. One string to rule them all.
As long as you use your resources and TEA (time, energy and attention) correctly, you can build anything.
Being highly productive is critical to achieve success. To do that, you need inexhaustible energy to be agile and you need to feel refreshed all the time. Stay alert and relaxed.
Thinking fast and slow: Less logic leads to faster decisions. More logic leads to (way) slower decisions. The key observation is that having more logic does not lead to more correct decisions in this unpredictable world. Under tight time constraint, you need to strike a balance.
Solving recursive problem is highly productive and satisfying. You solve it once, you solve for all. Find more such problems. Recursive is similar to fractal pattern. It is also modular.
A machine is created by assembling individual components in a certain way that could produce magical results. A microprocessor is one such example. It is so powerful that it can change the world.
An algorithm is like a machine that can be reused to produce predictable result that solves a specific problem. Create more such machines.
You can make your product stick to people’s mind by linking it to frequent stimuli in people’s everyday life. Hijacking the frequent stimuli in everyday environment to your advantage.
What get people to start talking? Things that are on top of their mind. Things that appear more frequently in people’s everyday life are talked about more often.
Marketing is about bringing a product into people’s mind. If done correctly, it could affect people’s behavior when certain circumstances trigger their memory. Once the memory is available and accessible, it triggers their action to talk or buy the product or spread the news. It is sort of mind control.
Low/no-cost marketing: Make your product look shockingly cool and smart enough so that it is highly flammable. Put it in a dry and hot forest and it will catch fire and spread effortlessly with a little push.
Using logic (or analysis or rational thinking) alone cannot get you to the truth. If it could, we should already know everything there is to know. To get closer to the truth, we need to rely on randomness (or luck).
Compound effect: Small (negligible) edge put to use consistently over time can move mountains.
When doing research, look for unexpected new surprises. They might lead to something big. Harness the gifts from randomness. Look at places where you will not look at usually.
Randomness provides the cheapest source to spark new ideas and insights that are inexhaustible in quantity by simply making connections between random concepts. It is the fountain for new possibilities. It is the place where innovations are born. Try to make deliberate use of it in the design of your project. Make it the key element in your design to maximize the exposure to randomness in order to release the maximum hidden potential of your design.
In a closed-system, you plan in order to win. In an open-system, you plan to fail in order to win. In the first system, the plan to success is known in advance. In the second system, the plan to success is unpredictable, therefore unknown until success happens (There might be no plan at all. Things just work). In both systems, you need a lot of practices. Practice to perfection for the first system while practice to fail fast for the second system.
Mystery is like an unexplored territory. It is hidden inside the forest of untested permutations of all possibilities. Human mind is hooked to mysteries. There are gold mines to be unearthed if you keep digging.
There is no planned wild success in this highly connected and unpredictable open world. Logical analysis and rational planning don’t work well in such a world where no one single person or institution that can set the rules for everything. In this world, randomness rules and you cannot follow plans to achieve greatness because there is none. The best strategy for this kind of environment is to be agile and to be highly productive by keeping doing new and unexpected things (sometimes they could be seem as illogical at first sight) to capture opportunities offered by randomness simply by exposing to it. Increase the number of failures and success will eventually be yours with the increased odds due to the law of large number. If the plans for success don’t work, the plans for failure might surprise you. If the plans are not crazy enough, don’t do it.
Have a filter that can remove noise from signal so that you don’t have to search through every signal (or possibility). This increases the speed of arriving at the right solution by reducing the search space and also allows you to focus on things that matter.
From zero to one, the return on investment is infinite. 1 / 0 = ∞. Where does the return come from? Based on the law of conservation of energy, it probably comes from an investment of an infinite amount of energy (in exchange for an infinite amount of return, whatever that is). The energy is being transformed into a reward. Since I only have limited amount of resources (time and money) and of course limited amount of energy, it is with very terribly low probability that I can go from zero to one. So I quit trying. Lesson: Don’t start with nothing. Start with “something” (be it money).
Love the things that you hate.
Niche is a beautiful and powerful concept for every business. It is beneficial to both entrepreneur and its customers. For the entrepreneur, he only needs to focus on doing one thing extremely well. At the same time, the customers of a niche are chasing you (not the other way around) for your product or service. It is highly targeted (like an exact match on a Google search). It makes competitions irrelevant. The good thing is there is an infinity of niches (let say each English word is a niche, each combination of the words are another niches, the combinations are infinite like the combinations of a lottery number). You can never exhaust the value from all of them. Find value from your own niche and invest in it.
How to be productive? Set clear goals and scopes. Turn an open-ended problem into a closed-ended solution (with clear scope and boundary) with a set of measurable tasks. Trying to be everything will exhaust your resources and is doomed to failure. Getting things done is better than perfect.
How to tame luck? Know what you don’t know. Keep learning. You don’t feel lucky anymore if you know what is going to happen. There is no risk if there is no uncertainty.
Fundamental laws can be reduced to mathematical terms. And they can be projected to the future. They are the constants.
Document down every day’s discoveries to close the world’s information gaps. Make the world more efficient.
In order to be successful, you need to succeed first. By then, the subsequent successes will be easier (through copy-paste).
Life’s experiment: Focus on fundamental. Learn from masters. Explore all possible values. Keep creating value (borrow and innovate for micro-improvement). Test and validate. With scarce resources, choose and invest wisely. – Small step, big discovery
The more our minds wander, the less happy we are. People tend to be happier if they focus on the activity in hand instead of thinking about something else.
If everything is possible, then something that is not possible is also possible. Keep an open mind.
An open system has no boundary. No limit. Uncontrollable. Unpredictable. Full of luck. School is a closed system. A perfect score is always 100%. In real world, what score will you give to Bill Gates in term of money he earns compared to others?
The lesser one knows, the more confident one is.
Improving traffic condition: The direct solution of building more roads is not effective and won’t solve the bad traffic condition (congestion, etc) since the root of the problem is still there: everyone wants his own transport. This means less “efficiency” in term of “road space” usage (one car per person). No matter how many lanes we have, they will be filled up quickly. However, implementing more and better public transports (more types of public transports: buses, trains, tramways, etc) will greatly improve the traffic condition by reducing the number of private vehicles and pollution. Everyone shares the the same public transports to promote re-useability (save the earth by reducing the use of resources). Lesser private vehicles on the road means smoother and more predictable (safer) traffic. Making the public transports more reliable (no strike, on time, etc), more frequent (to reduce waiting time of passengers), more cost-efficient (affordable to everyone) and more coverage (accessible to everyone) while maintaining sustainability are the key to eradicate the bad traffic condition.
Dog: Dog likes milk. If you don’t know what to feed it, try milk.
Advertisements: Advertisements make webpages look ugly. It’s hard to integrate them seamlessly into a webpage. No matter how long it takes, no matter what you do, ads still look like ads. Avoid ads if possible if you want a cleaner and professional look for your website.
Job search: At jobstreet.com, it is easy to find jobs but hard to get one. You need to compete with zillion of other applicants since it is too easy to apply. I am intimidated by the number of applicants which could reach 3000 for a single post, especially for the entry-level graduate position. Apply directly via the company website instead.
Battery life: How to increase your hand-phone battery life? Switch it off when it is not in use (the ultimate solution).