Lessons learn (6/7/2016)

Pakistan Star is the winner of a Happy Valley Race on 1/7/2016. Pakistan Star made a couple of errors before winning the race:

Late Start

It began very slowly to be conspicuously last after 100 meters but it only got worse from there, as he struggled to stay in touch with the field and drifted to some five or six lengths behind the second-last horse at the 800 meter mark.

Wrong Path

It chose a seemingly wrong path by  choosing to outside. This is a great challenge to conventional wisdom. Since the inner rail is much shorter the the outer rail. Going the outer rail will always means going further to achieve the same position.

Losing at the starting line (a.k.a. win before ejaculation)

By not giving up, even if you are losing by a significant distance, you can still catch up if you play the game cleverly. As long as you don’t give up, there are still a lot of fighting chances.

Outside Ring Loser 

By not following the typical peck, Pakistan was able to surpass the pack by unleashing a very amazing sprint at the very end. If it tried to play the game that the other horses are playing, he might not be able to surpass anyone since its advances will be blocked by other horses, leaving its strength go to waste.

The lesson learned is, when you are losing and trying to catch up, don’t try to play the games that others are playing. Instead, maneuver yourself and position yourself cleverly to take advantage of your strength.



Importance of cover design (3/7/2016)




Which of the books above are most attractive to you?


Of course its the orange book. Its a study manual for Licensing Examination for Securities and Futures Intermediaries Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Securities and Futures Regulation (Second Edition). It’s no surprise to me that it has become the most popular book since the mid 2009. Before the introduction of this book, there are a few more competitors with relatively “professional” but boring cover.

證券及期貨從業員資格考試全攻略  1take過

Sometimes being low tech is and advantage. Readers who is holding a physical book is actually a moving billboard in the examination center. That’s something that cannot be replace or replicated by electronic device, app or software.



Workplace Romance in Asia? (16Feb2015)

(Written by Justin Castro and Conrad Ko)

So you eye Aiah across the hall, your eyes interlocking every time they meet. You know you want it, you want it so bad. It’s not like it’s the first time you asked someone out (unless you’re really socially awkward, then all I can say is I’m so so verily sorry) but this time it’s different; this time, you’re in the office together. The little voice inside your head says it’s a bad idea; it’s going to create a conflict between your work life and your play/”real life” life, you won’t know how to interact with her: should you be professional because she’s your colleague or be flirty because you want her sooo bad.


Figure 1 Workplace Romances are generally like this, with less attractive people. Source: Thomas Northcut/Getty Images

Workplace romance is well, workplace romance. It’s when there’s romance in the workplace. I don’t think there’s any need to explain that further. There’s no specific account as to when it originated, but if I’d have to guess it started way way way back, with emperors falling in love with their slaves or concubines. I’m pretty sure there’s a dozen television shows out there with a subplot involving someone trying to conquer some country while having an affair, all the while their wife plots her spouse in secret while developing her own side romance with a conspirator. But I digress, in today’s hectic work environment where people are almost always expected to go overtime; it isn’t surprising to see workplace romances pop up. I’m pretty sure most water cooler discussions in the office revolve around who’s dating who in the office.

And don’t think it’s just the day-in day-out workforce that gets to have these romances. The leader of the free world, US President Barack Obama, met his other half while interning in his first law firm. Bill and Melinda gates met at a press event, and got married six years later with a marriage that involved a private jet, another philanthropist-billionaire (Warren Buffet) and probably the most expensive engagement ring of that time. And of course, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They met while filming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and eventually ended up as Mr. and Mrs. Pitt.


Figure 2 Brangelina. There’s no other couple as beautiful as this. We should probably just give up. Source: fanpop.com

According to a Workplace Option survey, nearly 85% from those aged 18-29 would consider having a workplace romance. That percentage decreases as the age increases, but it would be wise to assume it’s because some of those past the age of 30 have already married and settled down. As to why people partake in office romances, there’s a good variety of reasons.

The first and foremost are personal, that is the office romances are born out of the characteristics and personality of the people involved. This might be because certain jobs tend to attract people with the same interests. Anyone working in a startup would be well acquainted with technology, which makes it easier to start a conversation, which would hopefully lead to the start of a relationship.


Figure 3 Neckties were invented for stupid, sexy reasons. Source: Jonathan Ross

This is basically the standard romance, with the only difference being that the romance takes place in the workplace. The positives of having a workplace romance isn’t really considered, but it helps that it feels good to go to the office every day to see her, doesn’t it?

Then there are those that seek a romance for work-related reasons. Having a workplace romance increases job performance, or to improve job satisfaction or to have another reason to go to work…aside from work. There are also those that seek to improve their career, using such relationships to get themselves up the corporate ladder faster. And there are those that have one for the thrill of it as some people get a sexual kick from having a workplace romance, not to mention one that is extramarital in nature.


Figure 4 He’s definitely married. Just look at that grin. Source: askmen.com

However, don’t think it’s the same across the world. People in Asia tend to avoid such relationships as there is too much reverence between the boss and the worker. Singapore has around half of its workforce against workplaces romances, according to an online survey. This seems to be common amongst the Asian societies as they tend to be more collectivist in nature, as having workplace romances might damage the image of the company as one that isn’t serious about its work.

But if you’re not part of that statistic, then you should be able to reap in the rewards of having one.  People who have a workplace romance are generally more outgoing, have better productivity, have higher job satisfaction scores and are just better people to be around with overall (that’s the power of dopamine, strong stuff that is). But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. As our early school lives have taught us, not all loves are meant to last. Once a relationship ends, animosity might develop and how the other officemates might see the couple might change. There’s also the threat of getting fired, if the relationship was a vertical one (that is, between someone in authority and someone who is a subordinate).


Figure 5All these photos have white people. Where we asians at? Source: Huffingtonpost.com

So after all these pros and cons, you’ve decided to get a workplace romance. How, do you ask? Well, just go get one. It’s no different from asking else out, just be prepared for whatever consequences that might entail, be that from straight on rejection to, gasp, a potential partner for marriage. There’s also culture to consider. People in Hong Kong are generally more cosmopolitan and globalized but those that come from more conservative countries might not like the idea of it. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try. The worst that could happen is she slaps you in front of the office for daring to suggest a thing. But hey, you don’t get to be Michelle Obama if you don’t take any risk in dating that odd guy who just asked you out. Just be sure that you’re prepared for the fallout if things go south, which might probably happens depending on how bad of a human being you are.

Oh, and if you do get married because of this piece, please do invite me. Weddings are nice, besides the happy bride and groom there’s usually the open bar for all of us cynical people who just want to drink our problems out.


Figure 6 to be honest, I just made this post so I can show this picture




What constitute good businesses? (8Jan2015)

(Written by Conrad Ko, Edited by Margaret Jarvis)

In picking businesses to run, I believe there are three important elements

• It doesn’t look good
• Small sum per transaction and constant demand
• Weak competition

Doesn’t look good


If the industry does not appeal to college graduates and glory hunters, it’s a good sign. There are a lot of businesses that people operate based purely on emotion, such as salons, boutique dessert shops, investment banking, finance shops… Tons of these shops are operated by irrational people who know little about business, and are trying to look good by operating these businesses. This is one of the worst things that can happen to an entrepreneur – an irrational competitor. Therefore, if people look down on an industry, it’s usually a good business to be in, because it is operated by people who are doing it for one reason and one reason only, profits.

Good Examples:

  • Clearners
  • Plumbers
  • Lock Smith
  • Butchers
  • Farmers
  • Waste Managers

Small sum per transaction and constantly in demand


Small sums trump big sums. When you are a banker, one deal can cost you the whole year’s bonus. If you are operating a brokerage office, losing a few big clients can cost you the business itself. Your reliance on the customers is huge, which means your client can negotiate with you from a vantage point of strength. The clients are your boss, since they pay you, they own you. You cannot say “no” to them if you are a big bank. How about Coca Cola going out of business? Yes, but most certainly not due to losing one or two big clients. The same strategy can be seen from Mao Ze Dong’s thought focuses on “surrounding the cities from the countryside”. Having masses of clients is more reliable than one big client. Period. On top of that, good businesses make products that are cheap and affordable, so even on rainy days, your clients can afford your products, maybe at a discount but still with a healthy margin. And B to C always wins over B to B.

Good Examples:

  • Fast food chains
  • FMCG
  • Telecommunications

Weak Competition and low barriers of entry


Although we know there are lot of good businesses in the world, we have to find good businesses that can be operated with few or no barriers of entry, so that we can easily convert our model or try new directions with changing demand. Good businesses always try new things and more profitable work processes. If it’s a highly regulated industry, chances are there is not much to change and you cannot have an edge over your competitor. Find markets that are dominated by small players, in which case you can merge and expand your good business with ease.

Perfect Business

  • Printing Shops
  • Glasses
  • Main Agencies



4 Eternal Industries of Hong Kong (1Jan2015)

(Written by Conrad Ko, Edited by Margaret Jarvis)

“Eternal Industries” are industries that are evergreen and have prospered in different stages of economic development in Hong Kong. From my observation, there are four industries that are evergreen and will continue to be evergreen in Hong Kong.

Major Characteristics of “Eternal Industries”

• Information Asymmetric
• Dominated by small players
• Require little or no premises
• Human and labor intensive
• High margin

Foreign Domestic Helper Agencies



As of 2014, Foreign Domestic Helpers accounted for 3% of the population of Hong Kong. Foreign Domestic Helpers form a centerpiece of middle class white collar Hong Kong Families. As a result, agencies that match FDHs with their employers have prospered over the last few decades.

Unique Advantage in Hong Kong

  • Long working hours
  • High proportion of women working
  • Relative low social cost in hiring FDHs

Reason they will be growing in the next decade: 

  • Higher turnover rate – Compared with a few decades ago, the living standards of Indonesia and the Philippines have improved significantly. New generations of Foreign Domestic Helpers are less likely to work as hard as their senior counterparts. As a result, it will be harder for the employer to find new helpers and there will be fewer Indonesians and Filipinos who are willing to work in Hong Kong over the next few decades. As a result, the reliance on Maid Agencies is going to be stronger and higher in future.

Glasses/ Eye Wear


The glasses wearing population in Hong Kong is over 75% of the overall population. Myopia is more common in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most evergreen industries in Hong Kong.

Unique Advantage in Hong Kong

  • Long study hours
  • Genetic deficiencies of Asians

Reason they will be growing in the next decade: 

• Increased electronics usage- Since there is a wide spectrum surge in the use of electronics across all age groups, more visual impairment issues can be expected. As a result, it is very likely that the demand for glasses will rise in direct proportion to the surge of electronics.

• Higher life expectancy- Glasses have to be replaced every few years. With higher life expectancy comes higher demand for glasses, period.

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