Category: Principles

Back to Basics: Reality, Uncertainty, and Human Stupidity

What causes human misjudgment? Why do supposedly well-informed and intelligent people get things so massively wrong and repeat the same mistakes? 2016 delivered two painful slaps in the face (Brexit and Trump) to political pundits and pop media, and the financial markets served more to those who turned pessimistic on the stock market immediately before or after. From the grandest stage of the political and financial arena to the mundane aspects of everyday life, uncertainty and mistakes are what we have to live with. After all, nobody bats a thousand. As human beings, we are prone to making mistakes in our decisions – or human stupidity as I’d like to ascribe to myself. Even the all-wise Charlie Munger says “my life is a litany of mistakes.” In the very long run, our results in life would be the result of our effort + luck minus the sum of our misjudgments, as at the poker table where “your winning will approach all your opponents’ mistakes, less the sum of your mistakes” (though life is certainly not a zero-sum game).

Continue reading “Back to Basics: Reality, Uncertainty, and Human Stupidity”


Personal Leadership: Saying “No”

Note: In September 2016, I was caught in a company-wide reduction in force (RIF). This is my follow-up piece to the prior blog post.

A week after I was caught in RIF, I politely and candidly declined a lucrative strategy consulting engagement offer from my former manager at Capital IQ, who is now an SVP at one of the largest payment companies. One close friend (a FinTech expert) who I confided with reacted: “ Dude!, that is $xxx for four-month, cash money man! Besides…payments…could be fun.”

Indeed, I have a special passion for FinTech and data-driven businesses. Payments, in various crude and advanced forms, serve as the backbone of the global economy. In fact, payments represent the world economy, which is simply the aggregation of all transactions for goods/services and financial assets.

For someone who is just out of a job, it seems counter-intuitive to turn away such a good opportunity, not to mention the lucrative financial reward. Had I been my old self, I would probably have said yes immediately But this time, I felt little FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and there was a (rational) thought process behind it. Continue reading “Personal Leadership: Saying “No””

Personal Leadership: My Thoughts and Actions in the first 48 Hours after Getting RIFed, for the First Time

Note: In September 2016, I was caught in a company-wide reduction in force (RIF), my first such experience in life. There will be many bigger challenges in life ahead, but I wanted to document this one so that years later, I could look back and relive how I felt and reacted. To people managing career challenges now or in the future, I hope this at least provides some useful food for thought.

The hunch — my last day in the office

Sitting in a small dimly lit conference room, I turned to my colleague in the mid of our brainstorming session for a new project and said:“ Gil, I think today might be my last day at the firm.” Gil: “No, I certainly hope not, that would have been a terrible mistake, you are an asset to the firm IMO. At least to me, you have been incredibly helpful…” Continue reading “Personal Leadership: My Thoughts and Actions in the first 48 Hours after Getting RIFed, for the First Time”

37 Days in Fiji – Some Quick Reflections

Sitting on the plane to Sydney Australia still feeling surreal, I am trying to unwind the past 37 days living and working in the Fiji Islands…time rewinds back to two months ago, I was about to graduate from Columbia Business School’s full-time MBA program:

Friends: “Plans before you start working?”

Me: “Going to Fiji to help start a new micro-finance business.”

Friends: “Wow awesome…where is Fiji?”

Those were the common reactions: Where is Fiji? What are you doing there? How did you land this opportunity? Most people probably only know of Fiji from the bottled water in the cover photo, so here are some quick house-cleaning items. Continue reading “37 Days in Fiji – Some Quick Reflections”