Tag Archives: Plant

Low Hanging Fruits

Low Hanging Fruit is Luck in Disguise

Low hanging fruit is tasty. It is actually tastier than the one hanging higher on the same tree.

Fruits can grow on any branch of a tree. Usually, the fruit quality is distributed evenly all over a tree (e.g.: rambutan). However, based on the position or altitude of the fruits, some are easier to reach than others. This is because fruit tree can sometimes grow really tall like a skyscraper.

Those within arm reach are easier to harvest than those hanging high at the top of the tree. Therefore, the cost of harvesting is higher for the higher hanging fruits. Not to mention that the risk of injury is also higher if there were accident when climbing the tree.

When the fruit quality is about the same, I prefer the low hanging fruit over high hanging fruit. It is tastier because the effort spent in harvesting is lesser. When there are enough low hanging fruits, I can safely ignore the high hanging ones.

Low hanging fruit is luck in disguise

Life is uncertain because it is complicated and governed by randomness. I spent a lot of time thinking about luck and randomness in life. And I find two factors that have great influence on luck:

  • Initial condition
  • Amount of accumulated resources

Factor one: initial condition

Where you started matters. Some places will have more resources than others. For instance, some places have gold mines and some others have oil. Some are deserts.

Initial condition even determines how successful a person can be. I read the following example from an article.

Imagine two equally capable graduates looking to become a professor at a highly reputable university. However, the university only has one spot available. Since both graduates are equally qualified, one of them will be chosen while the other need to look else where for work (e.g.: at a lower rank university).

The graduate who becomes a professor at the highly reputable university has greater access to resources: better students therefore lesser work at teaching, better tools and equipments for research therefore more productive and more academic papers are published and becomes more well-known in the academic circle.

The other graduate who becomes a professor at a lower rank university need to work and teach harder since the university has looser criteria for selecting students. The professor is also less productive due to lack of resources and time for research.

In the end, one professor is judged as extremely successful while the other not so due to the initial distribution.

In a poker game, just like in the game of life, people are being dealt with different cards. Those cards determine the initial condition.

Where the fruits are being distributed over a tree is the initial condition. Where you are located is also the initial condition.

Factor two: amount of accumulated resources

Different initial conditions put different people into power. CEO has great access to company’s resources and therefore power to change the environment the way she likes.

No matter where you started, you can accumulate resources that are available to you by focusing on the low hanging fruits. You can collect as much low hanging fruits as possible that are accessible to you. By the time you accumulated enough resources, you can create your own luck.

Having resources allows you to change your environment. In other words, the more resources you have, the luckier you get. I can even go as far as claiming that how much resources you have is a measure of how much luck you get.

Luck is proportional to the amount of resources that you have.

Low hanging fruit is luck in disguise.

Harvesting low hanging fruits is an optimal strategy to maximising wealth

Something that you had tried very hard to obtain can cost a lot. Trying too hard is not the right thing to do given that you have limited resources.

The point of low hanging fruit strategy is not to try too hard but to identify your low hanging fruit as not to waste it: the low hanging fruit that is available uniquely to you given your initial condition.

Low hanging fruit is available for you and is what you can easily reach for. It is your advantage. It is what money cannot buy. It is your edge.

Everyone is in his/her own unique position in space and time to exploit his/her low hanging fruit available to him/her.

Harvesting low hanging fruits significantly reduces risk of failure. It is robust. It gives margin of safety as in providing high return with low risk.

In computer science’s term, low hanging fruit has low computational cost. It is something that is easy to do.

When there is too much to do, pick the easiest tasks with the highest payoff. Over time, you will accumulate much more resources this way.

Overall, we have done better by avoiding dragons than by slaying them. – Warren Buffett

Do what you do best and is the easiest to you

I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over. – Warren Buffett

When you are a giant, you can easily walk over a 1-foot bar. You can even help others to cross the 1-foot bar. It is harder when you encounter a 7-foot bar. In this case, you need other giants to help.

Everyone is unique and has different strength. Some might be a giant in one domain but weak in others as illustrated in table below.

Person/Domain Domain A Domain B
Person 1 Giant Dwarf
Person 2 Dwarf Giant

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

Do what you do best as you are already a giant in your domain. You can easily cross as many 1-foot bars as possible in your domains.

The 1-foot bars are your low hanging fruits.

Over time, you have gone a long way and collected more resources and you might be able to grow and become a giant in other domains. The condition will change, just as the initial condition changes at different point in time and space.

Look for the obvious things. Things that are obvious to you may not be obvious to others. You can see opportunities where others don’t.

Be the best in your domain is rewarding.

The will always be low hanging fruits

In the stock market, whenever there is someone saying the market is overvalued, other will point out that he/she is still able to find undervalued stocks and profit from them.

Exceptions are everywhere. Exceptions are part of our life. It is part of the rule. There will always be exceptions as there are outliers in a normal distribution.

Outlier

Outlier

The market is big. You will get different conclusion based on how you approach your search and also based on your initial condition.

Peter Lynch’s famous advice is to buy what you know. This can be translated into grab your low hanging fruit relative to you.

Warren Buffett has been harvesting low hanging fruits for his lifetime with unbreakable investment record.

Exceptions are low hanging fruits in disguise. Find your exceptions. Your initial condition may put you at exceptions.

Exceptions are few and rare

There will not be many exceptions. They will not be available all the time. But it is better to have one exceptionally good idea from time to time than to have 100 average ideas all at the same time. The former is much more enjoyable while the latter is overwhelming.

That is the beauty of exceptions. That is why low hanging fruit is tastier.

Final thought

You will find something as long as you are searching. Low hanging fruits are everywhere.

Exception is part of the rule. Whenever other says there is no hope, you know better.

Explore and exploit low hanging fruits. It is your best bet. It provides a framework for optimal decision making for maximising the use of resources.

The best thing in life is free. The second best thing is cheap. The worst thing is expensive. Low hanging fruit is cheap and sometimes it is free. Look for free things.

Hunt for low hanging fruits. The world is your playground.





If Every Plant was a Business

If every plant was a business, its seed represented a company. You could start easily as many companies as you had the seeds. You didn’t have to invent a new business. You just choose from the existing businesses offered by the mother nature together with its “factory” – the land.

If every plant was a business, you could evaluate it as a business. You could study each plant’s profitability before investing anything in it to reduce your risk. In this case, your goal is to maximize profit with minimal effort. Who does not want that kind of business?

Here is the million-dollar question: Given that you have a small piece of unused land for farming, what type of plant you would like to grow with minimal maintenance but still could promise a decent return?

Case study for watermelon: 100-Fold Return Over 3 Months

Watermelon is a source of wealth

Watermelon is a source of wealth

Using the above watermelon (image above) as a starting point, we can make a rough estimate of future income that could be generated by this “business”.

The 2.9 kg watermelon cost RM 9.86 at RM 3.40 / kg.

Yummy watermelon

Yummy watermelon

It has around 200 seeds. Therefore, we could start around 200 companies in this business.

Cost per company

To simplify the calculation, let assume the price of the watermelon as RM 10 (round up from RM 9.86). Let us also assume that we have exactly 200 seeds (I didn’t count all of them, it is just an under-estimate).

In this case, the cost of each seed (company) is RM 0.05 (RM 10 / 200). Starting a company with only RM 0.05 is insanely cheap!

Land requirement

Now that you have the seeds, how big an area do you need to grow them? The recommended distance between each seed is around 3 to 5 feet. For our case, let use 1 meter (3 feet 3⅜ inches). Therefore, ideally, we would need 15 x 15 (= 225) square meters of land.

But for me, since I am the boss, I would grow 3 seeds in the same spot to create environment for competition. A little bit of competition is good for plants. With that, the requirement area will be reduced to roughly 8 x 8 (= 64) square meters of land.

Labor cost

Watermelon prefers to live on hill. Therefore, we would need to create an environment suitable for it to grow. We need to use a technology called double-digging to loosen the soil at least 1 foot deep and to create a raised-bed that resembled a small hill.

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

If you would like to learn more about farming and start your own mini-farm, this is a good book to start with. It introduces techniques to minimize the area usage while maximizing the output. It also covers many interesting topics like pest control, nutrient, schedule for planting, etc.

All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space

If one book is not enough, then this is another recommendation. It is a classic textbook for home gardeners. The author, who was an efficiency engineer before retired, invented in the 70s a new way to high efficiency planting. You will learn a great deal from it even though you are already an expert.

Digging a raised-bed

Digging a raised-bed

Let say each raised-bed requires 30 minutes to dig, then digging 64 raised-bed will require 32 hours.

Preparing the land

Preparing the land

Once the seeds are planted, you would need to water them. Let say it requires 30 minutes to water each day until the plants are matured to produce the watermelons which is after around 90 days, then the work required to water are around 45 hours.

Let say it requires 2 hours to harvest and sell the produces (via wholesale), then the total time requires would roughly equaled 32 + 45 + 2 = 79 hours. This translates to about less than an hour work a day for 90 days.

Return on investment

Now, this is the most interesting part. We would like to know the potential return of this investment.

We are going to start 200 companies. Let say by the end of the 90-day period, half of the companies failed, this still leaves us with 100 companies. This is an overestimation of failure rate for a “proven business” which is to grow natural plants (you should expect a lower failure rate).

Let say each company produce two products (two watermelons) during its lifetime (this is an underestimation, it could produce more), we would have around 100 x 2 = 200 products to sell. Since we are going for wholesale, we need to cut the price of our product by half to make a quick sale. This means RM 10 / 2 = RM 5 per product (assuming the product is as good as its parent via inheritance).

The total sales will amount to 200 x RM 5 = RM 1000. With RM 10 initial capital investment, this is a 100-fold return on investment in 3 months! Not a bad deal for a small business.

Why melon?

It is relatively easy to grow compared to other plants. It does not require pesticides and it is suitable for the type of soil and climate that are available here in Malaysia.

Watermelon plants

Watermelon plants

Watermelon in the making

Watermelon in the making

There are plenty of seeds available in one watermelon. You can do tons of experiments with them. Also, the fruit is heavy. In a market where people pay by the kilo, this means less work (more work for the mother nature) but more money for you.

It matures in relatively short time – 90 days. Most plants requires at least 9 months (just like delivering a baby) or more to mature. Most traditional (or even modern) businesses are slow to generate profit. If you could see the result in short time, it would be very valuable.

Watermelon plant will not grow taller than you unless you provide the structure for it to crawl. This makes the harvest less laborious than other tree-like plants that will keep growing taller and taller each year making it really challenging to get the high-hanging fruits.

Final thought

This farming business is a very promising business with 100000 % return if done correctly. It is accessible to any normal human being and it does not require an engineering degree to make it to work. What it needs is a piece of land, seeds, a little bit of knowledge and some discipline. However, having an engineering degree is good too if you want to automate some of the farming process making it less human dependent.

Note: No one single person can make a pencil alone. But anyone with watermelon seeds is able to produce watermelons with no help from others.

It is a wonderful activity especially when you are retired. It keeps you occupied.

One of the hidden benefit of farming would be that it allows people who have no business background to learn about doing business (in-) directly. You can treat it as a real business where you can see the whole business process like setting up the infrastructure (land), operating the business (planting), manufacturing (harvesting), marketing (wholesale), etc.

It never fails to inspire me with the fact that a single seed that cost around RM 0.05 can produce a fruit with value of around RM 10. And each single fruit contains hundreds of seeds that each has a potential to produce more fruits! Talking about the compound effect, look no further, it happens all the time in the nature.

Once you understood the nature of such a business and using it as a guide, it makes perfect sense, when investing, to buy and hold for life the good businesses that you encounter if those businesses are built to compound and last forever.

Finally, if you read till this far, thanks for running this thought experiment with me.