Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing

A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing

By Jim Rogers
ISBN: 978-0-470-74268-6
Paperback; 106 pp.
US$16.00/S$26.70 including GST;

Available at all major bookstores

What makes for a successful investor? And more importantly, what makes for a happy and meaningful life? According to legendary investor Jim Rogers, the road to financial success and the road to happiness are one and the same.

Rogers co-founded the phenomenally successful Quantum Fund, which in ten years delivered a return of 4200 percent. He retired from Wall Street at the age of thirty-seven, and continued to manage and invest his own funds with great success.

A Gift to My Children marks his effort to share Roger's wisdom and insights about finance, investing, and life in general with his two young children. It is anchored by the two basic rules Rogers invests and lives by:

The first is that you have to see the world up close if you're going to understand how it works.

Rogers begins with exhortations to work hard, think critically, trust your own judgment, and work to identify your passions and dreams beyond simply making money.

The second is that you must always question conventional wisdom, as many of his most successful investment strategies and ideas have resulted from swimming upstream.

Rogers is also a big proponent of the idea that it's essential for young people to study history and to experience world's culture first-hand through travel.

Rogers reveals how to learn from his triumphs and mistakes in order to achieve a prosperity:

(1) Trust your own judgment

(2) Focus on what you like

(3) Be persistent

(4) See the world

In December 2007 Jim Rogers and his wife Paige Parker and their daughters, 7 year-old Hilton Augusta, nicknamed Happy,and 3 year-old Beeland Anderson, sold their New York mansion for USD16 million and moved to Singapore last December so that Happy can learn Chinese in a Mandarin-speaking environment.

He is quoted as saying: "If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia." In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo broadcast on May 5, 2008, Rogers said that people in China are extremely motivated and driven, and he wants to be in that type of environment, so his daughters are motivated and driven. He also stated that this is how America and Europe used to be. He chose not to move to Chinese cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai due to the high levels of pollution causing potential health problems for his family; hence, he chose Singapore.

Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Fund with legendary investor George Soros in the 1970s, has repeatedly said he believes China will be the next great country in the world.

"The best gift we can give our children is to let them learn Chinese and prepare them for the future," he tells The Straits Times, while carrying the baby in his arms.

Soon after Happy was born in 2003, they hired a mainland Chinese nanny in New York to teach her Mandarin. They also have a live-in nanny from Ningxia province here in Singapore.

This explains why the little girl is able to speak the language fluently, without the jarring accent that many non-native speakers have.

In fact, she is so confident in the language that she sang a Chinese song for this reporter and recited the national pledge in Mandarin, stumbling only towards the end as she forgot some parts of it.

"I like both Chinese and English lessons, but I like Chinese more," she says in Mandarin.

Her baby sister is also having an early start in learning the language--the nanny plays her Mandarin songs every day.

In the past few years, they have visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong many times to look for the perfect school for Happy, before deciding on Singapore.

"As much as we want to be in mainland China, the pollution there that you read about is real," says Parker.

"Singapore doesn't have that. It also has an extraordinary health-care system and great schools, and it's a wonderful place for a family."

Rogers says many people felt they were making a big mistake when they announced that they were uprooting to Asia.

"They thought we were crazy, because we were doing it voluntarily. Many people thought we moved to China. They don't know that Singapore is not China," he says.

"Some people told me I was smart to do it for my children, but they couldn't do it themselves."

Their plan is to "stay here forever, unless something else happens", he says, adding that he hopes to travel around China one day with his daughters as his interpreters.

When asked what his net worth is--believed to be billions of dollars--he replies: "I'm sorry, but I can't answer that."

After a pause, he adds, tenderly: "My net worth should not be measured in monetary terms, but it should be measured in how good a father I can be."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kiss My Tiara

From the book:
Kiss My Tiara
by Susan Jane Gilman

"Most women today wants two things: (1) some smart, no-nonsense advice about how to navigate the world, and (2) to laugh. Ideally, we want both these things at once.

"Woman have acquired all the responsibilities that come with sexual equality, i.e. earn their own paycheck, but few of the equal benefits. They were encouraged to be empowered but vilified for being feminists. They have more career opportunities than ever, but somehow they still get the message that: 'A bustier, not a brain, is the real source of "Girl Power".

"Women are inspired to scale the corporate ladder, but they are also fully aware that it still bumps up against the glass ceiling, and that, more often than not, some guys is still peeking up their skirts as they climb.

"Many corporate women's personal battles are not in the boardrooms or courtrooms but in their own bathrooms.

"It is true that most women literally can't see past the nose of their face.

"For women's progressive prima donnas, The Rules, at first glance, is nothing but a warmed-over version of the "Trade your hymen for a diamond" formula that nice girls followed.

"My grandma said: 'Have another piece of cake and wash it down with a gin and tonic.'

"My grandma also said: 'Take a few lovers, travel the world, and don't take any crap.'

Finally, remember: To address women's issues without humour in this day and age is sort of criminally negligent. Because, really, it's the only sane choice. If we don't use humour and irreverence, what are the alternatives? Anger, fear and victimhood - and Goddess knows we've had enough of that!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Life of Mahatma Gandhi

January 30, 1948, Friday

"Bapu (father), your watch must be feeling very neglected. You would not look at it today," said Abha, the young wife of Kanu Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma's cousin.

"Why should I, since you are my timekeeper?" Gandhi retorted.

"But you don't look at the timekeepers," Manu noted. Manu is the granddaughter of another cousin.

Gandhi laughed.

By this time Gandhi was walking on the grass near the prayer ground. A congregation of about 500 had assembled for the regular evening devotions.

"I am late by ten minutes," Gandhi mused aloud. "I hate being late. I should be here at the stroke of five."

He quickly cleared the five steps up the level of the prayer ground. Most of the people rose; many edged forward; some helped to clear a lane for him; those who were nearest bowed to his feet.

Just then, a man elbowed his way out of the congregation into the lane. He looked as if he wished to prostrate himself in the customary obeisance of the devout. Manu tried to stop him and caught hold of his hand. He pushed her away so that she fell and, planting himself about two feet in front of Gandhi, fired three shots from a small automatic pistol.

The first bullet entered Gandhi's abdomen three and a half inches to the right down the middle of the body and two and a half inches above the navel and came out through the back.

The second bullet penetrated the seventh intercostal space one inch to the right of the midlde line and likewise came out at the back.

The third shot hit one inch above the right nipple and four inches to the right of the middle line and embedded itself in the lung.

One bullet, Dr Bhargava says, probably passed through the heart and another might have cut a big blood vessel.

Devadas, Gandhi's youngest son, touched his father's skin and gently pressed his arm. Gandhi's head lays in Abha's lap. His face wore a peaceful smile. He seemed asleep.

"So serene was the face and so mellow the halo of divine light that surrounded the body that it seemed almost sacrilegious to grieve ..." Devadas wrote later.

That was 30 January, 1948, the day Mahatma Gandhi at 78 died. Mahatma was what he had always been: a private citizen without wealth, property, official title, official post, academic distinction, scientific achievement, or artistic gift.

Mahatma was a moral man, and a civilization not richly endowed with morality felt still further impoverished when the assassin's bullets ended his life.

'I never saw Gandhi. I do not know his language. I never set foot in his country and yet I feel the same sorrow as if I had lost someone near and dear.' Leon Blum, the French Socialist wrote.

Professor Albert Einstein wrote: 'Gandhi had demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and trickeries but through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life. In our time of utter moral decadence he was the only statesman to stand for a higher human relationship in the political sphere.'

General Douglas MacArthur, supreme Allied military commander said: 'In the evolution of civilization, if it is to survive, all men cannot fail eventually to adopt Gandhi's belief that the process of mass application of force to resolve contentious issues is fundamentally not only wrong but contains within itself the germs of self-destruction.'

"I know no other man of any time or indeed in recent history who so forcefully and convincingly demonstrated the power of spirit over material things," Sir Stafford Cripps wrote.

In New York, a 12-year-old girl had gone into the kitchen for breakfast. The radio was on and it brought the news of the shooting of Gandhi. There, in the kitchen, the girl, the maid and the gardener held a prayer meeting and prayed and wept.

Just so, millions in all countries mourned Gandhi's death. The whole world has been plunged into mourning by the death of this extraordinary man. They did not quite know why; they did not quite know what he stood for. But he was a 'good man' and good men are rare.

Nathuram Vinayak Godse, age 35, was the editor and publisher of a Hindu Mahasabha weekly in Poona and he was a high-degree Chitpawan Brahman. Godse resented Mahatma's insistence that refugees be evacuated from the mosques and he was bitter because no demands were made on the Muslims. At the trial Godse said he was brooding intensely on the atrocities perpetrated on Hinduism and its dark and deadly future if left to face Islam outside and Gandhi inside. Gose testified, 'and ... I decided all of a sudden to take the extreme step against Gandhi.' Hindus like Madan Lal and Godse and their ideological sponsors were incensed by the presence of Muslims at Hindu services and the reading of selections from the Quran. Godse said at his trial, at which he was sentenced to be hanged: "Before I fired the shots I actually wished him well and bowed to him in reverence."

Gandhi had always insisted that those who differ with him are not necessarily evil. Instead, they should try to convert him to right thinking and right doing. "I deserve no praise; I would deserve praise only if I fell as a result of an explosion and yet retained a smile on my face and no malice against the doer. No one should look down on the misguided youth who had thrown the bomb," Gandhi told his devout followers.

In response to Godse's obeisance and the bows Gandhi touched his palm together, smiled and blessed him. At that moment Godse pulled the trigger. Gandhi fell, and died murmuring, :Oh, God!"

All around us, material things had power over spirit. The sudden flash of Gandhi's death revealed a vast darkness. No one who survived him had tried so hard - and with so much success - to live a life of truth, kindness, self-effacement, humility, service and non-violence throughout a long, difficult struggle against mighty adversaries. He fought passionately and unremittingly but he kept his hands clean in the midst of battle. He fought without malice or falsehood or hate.


The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer; Harper Collins Publishers 1997


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Affluence & the Goddess of Wealth

Once upon a time in a faraway land, a young man went to the forest and said to his spiritual master, "I want to have unlimited wealth, and with that unlimited wealth, I want to help and heal the world. Will you please tell me the secret to creating affluence?"

And the spiritual master replied, "There are two Goddesses that reside in the heart of every human being. But there is a certain secret that you need to know, and I will tell you what it is.

"Although you love both Goddesses, you must pay more attention to one of them. She is the Goddess of Knowledge, and her name is Sarasvati. Pursue her, love her, and give her your attention. The other Goddess, whose name is Lakshmi, is the Goddess of Wealth. When you pay more attention to Sarasvati, Lakshmi will become extremely jealous and pay more attention to you. The more you seek the Goddess of Knowledge, the more the Goddess of Wealth will seek you. She will follow you wherever you go and never leave you. And the wealth you desire will be yours forever."

There is power in Knowledge, desire, and spirit. And this power within you is the key to creating affluence.

Wealth consciousness is a state of mind, a sense, not of believing, but really knowing that what we need is available to us. Affluence is indeed our natural state of being.

Infinite worlds appear and disappear in the vast expanse of our own consciousness, like motes of dust dancing in a beam of light.

Affluence is reality. When we are grounded in the nature of reality and we also know that this same reality is our own nature, then we realize that we can create anything, because all of material creation has the same origin.

All of material creation is made from the same stuff and comes from the same source. Experiential knowledge of this fact gives us the ability to fulfill any desire we have, acquire any material object we want, and experience fulfillment and happiness to any extent we aspire.

Life experiences are the continuum in the seamless matrix of nothingness. They are our experiences of joy and sorrow, of success and failure, of wealth and poverty. All these events seemingly happen to us, but at very primordial levels we are making them happen. The impulse of energy and information that create our life experiences are reflected in our attitude towards life.

Knowledge has organizing power inherent in it. It is simply enough to know, to be aware of the principles; the knowledge will be processed and metabolized by our bodies, and the result will be spontaneous. The results do not occur overnight, but beguin to manifest gradually over a period of time.

You are where your attention takes you. In fact, you are your attention. When your attention is in the past, you are in the past. When you attention is in your present moment, you are in the presence of God and God is present in you. Simply be aware of the present, of what you are doing. The presence of God is everywhere, and you have only to consciously embrace it with your attention.


Extracted from:

Creating Affluence by Deepak Chopra
Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library, 1993


Monday, October 19, 2009

Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope (Part 2)

OBAMA: The Audacity of Hope

"One thing I've discovered as I get older is that you have to do what is satisfying to you. In fact that's one of the advantages of old age, that you've finally learned what matters to you. It is hard to know that at twenty-seven. And the problem is that nobody else can answer that question for you. You can only figure it out on your own."

"I am getting to an age where I have a sense of what satisfies me, and although I am perhaps more tolerant of compromise, I know that my satisfaction is not to be found in the glare of television cameras or the applause of the crowd. Instead, it seems to come more often now from knowing that in some demonstrable way I've been able to help people live their lives with some measure of dignity.

"Benjamin Franklin once wrote to his mother explaining why he had devoted so much of his time to public service: 'I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich.'

That's what satisfies me now - being useful to my family and the people who put me where I am, leaving behind a legacy that will make our children's lives more hopeful than our own."


When I read those passages from Obama's book, I thought I was the man myself. Ya, I now feel that way too. Age had caught up with me and youth had passed me by. I now need to do what really satisfies me, not just doing things just to earn some money. There are two fundamental things that is far more important to life - values and ideals.

In Obama's words: "If I am wiser, it is mainly because I have traveled a little further down the path I have chosen for myself, and have gotten a glimpse of where it may lead, for good and for ill."

Ya, I think I am far wiser than I was before. The journey of my life had been rough and painstaking. I had toiled for decades, achieving nothing, except for the last few years where I was greatly blessed. Today, I had some success to savour and feel good. God willing I hope to continue with what I am doing for another few years where I can contribute back to the society - to do thing that are useful to my family and the people who helps to put me where I am now, and most of all, to those who needs my help and assistance. I hope to be able to leave behind some kind of legacy that will make my children's lives more hopeful than my own.

Life, afterall, is about achieving something satisfying.

This too is my Audacity of Hope!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope


The Audacity of Hope

"We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done."


When I decided to run for the United States Senate, I wasn't so sure of myself. I had preserved my independence, my good name, and my marriage, all of which, statistically speaking, had been placed at risk the moment I set foot in the state capital.

But the years had also taken their toll. Some of it was just a function of my getting older; each successive year will make you more intimately acquainted with all of your flaws - the blind spots, the recurring habits of thought that will almost certainly worsen with time, as surely as the hitch in your walk turns to pain in your hip. In me, one of those flaws had proven to be a chronic restlessness; an inability to appreciate, no matter how well things were going, those blessings that were right there in front of me. It's a flaw that is endemic to modern life and one that is nowhere more evident than in the field of politics. Whether politics actually encourages the trait or simply attracts those who possess it is unclear.

Someone once said that: "Every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectation or make up for his father's mistakes."

I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.

In any event, it was a consequence of that relentlessness that I decided to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent for his congressional seat in the 2000 election cycle. It was an ill-considered race, and I lost badly - the sort of drubbing that awakens you to the fact that:

"Life is not Obliged to Work Out as you'd Planned."

A year and a half later, the scars of that loss sufficiently healed, I had lunch with a media consultant who had been encouraging me for some time to run for statewide office. As it happened, the lunch was scheduled for late September 2001.

"You realize, don't you, that the political dynamics have changed," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

We both looked down at the newspaper. There, on the front page, was Osama bin Laden.

"Hell of a thing, isn't it?" he said, shaking his head.

"Really bad luck. You can't change your name of course. Voters are suspicious of that kind of thing. Maybe if you were at the start of your career, you know, you could use a nickname or something. But now ..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged apologetically before signaling the waiter to bring us the check.

I suspected he was right, and that realization ate away at me. For the first time in my career, I began to experience the envy of seeing younger politicians succeed where I had failed.

The pleasure of politics began to pale against the meaner tasks of the jobs: the begging for money, the long drives home and clipped phone conversation with a wife who had stuck by me so far but was pretty fed up with raising our children alone and was beginning to question my priorities.

I began to harbor doubts about the path I had chosen. I began to feel, after years of commitment to a particular dream, after years of waiting, to realize that it's gone just about as far as talent or fortune will take me. The dream will not happen, and I now faces the choice of accepting this fact like a grown-up and moving on to more sensible pursuits, or refusing the truth and ending up bitter, quarrelsome, and slightly pathetic.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despair - I'm not sure I went through all the stages prescribed by the experts. At some point, though, I arrived at acceptance - of my limits, and, in a way, my mortality. I refocused on my work in the state senate and took satisfaction from the reforms and initiatives that my position afforded. I spent more time at home, and watched my daughters grow, and properly cherished my wife, and thought about my long-term financial obligations. I exercised, and read novels, and came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.

And it was this acceptance that allowed me to come up with the thoroughly cockeyed idea of running for the Illinois Senate seat in 2004.

An up-or-out strategy was how I described it to my wife, one last shot to test out my ideas before I settled into a calmer, more stable, and better-paying existence. And she - perhaps more out of pity than conviction - agreed to this one last race, though she also suggested that given the orderly life she preferred for our family, I shouldn't necessarily count on her vote.

I let her take comfort in the long odds against me.


In 2000, Barack Obama was unsuccessful in his bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On March 2004, Barack Obama won the Democratic primary election to become the States Senator of Illinois.

On February 2007, Barack Obama began his run for the US Presidency. He beats Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential primaries and become the Democratic party nominee.

In the 2008 United States General Election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.


Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current president of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii.

Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama ran for United States Senate in 2004. His victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois brought him to national attention. His prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 made him a rising star nationally in the Democratic Party. He comfortably won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.

He began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. On October 9, 2009, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.[4]

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Allegory of the Cave

Do you remember the movie "The Shawshank Redemption"?

There was a very poignant part of the story where a man who had been in prison for most of his life finally gets released at the age of 70. But he has no way to live in the world outside of prison, and he ends up committing suicide.

That story reminds us of the difficulties of adjusting to a reality that differs from the world that's familiar and comfortable, even if that reality is one where we're "free" and aligns much more with what we truly value.

Our cultural domain is a kind of prison. It's about separation - from one another, from nature, and ultimately even from ourselves. In extraordinary moments, we break out of the story. We encounter a world of being one with ourselves, others, nature, and life in a very direct way. It shifts our awareness of our world and ourselves in radical ways. It brings a great sense of hope and possibility but also great emotional uncertainties. It can be hard suddenly finding ourselves outside the story that has organized our life up to that point. It may be wonderful to be free, but it is also terrifying.

More and more people are getting out of "prison" today. The situation is like what Plato described in the "Allegory of the Cave". If you have been living all your life in a cave, looking at shadows moving across the wall, suddenly finding yourself outside can be blinding.

Our cultural dominant story is also part of us, and the pressures to pull ourselves back into the cave or prison, to go back to our habitual ways of living, can be overwhelming sometimes.

It is one thing to have momentary transcendent experiences, to be outside the prison or cave, but it's another to stabilize the awareness they bring. But going back to the cave can also be painful, because you no longer quite fit there. We feel caught between both worlds. Part of us wants to flee the sunlight and return to the cave, but we are also more and more out of sync with life in the cave.

At the heart of our culture's dominant story sit core myths, and these myths shape how we make sense of the world. However, reductive science and redemptive religion are now breaking down and we can no longer simply wait around for a great leader to come along and lead us nor protect us. The economic myth we've been in for the past decade isn't serving us well either. People are waking up to the inadequacies of the economic myth and they are questioning whether it is all about short-term self-interest.

The important point is that in exploring the future, you aren't exploring a future someone else has written for you. It is instrumental of life itself, to accomplish what life wishes for you to accomplish. We had to use ourselves as an instrument for something better to emerge, being open to our larger purpose.

Everyone is born with a destiny or a purpose, and the journey of our life is to find it. The ultimate aim is to find the resources of character to meet your destiny, and to find the wisdom and power to serve life that way.

But without free choice or free will, that dance with destiny may not begin. Freedom and destiny are solemnly promised to us and linked together without meaning. When the sort of commitment we observe and see are happening, we feel as if we're freer than before and more free to be poor as well as more free to be further discriminated. It's a huge paradox.

People can no longer trust traditional institutional forms and structures, and if any one of institution sets itself up as the protector of such, it will backfire. Today the mysteries or the magical no longer take place in sanctuaries but in the main station, in the midst of everyday life.

We may not be able to change the larger systems overnight, but we can commit to the continual development of awareness and the capacity to choose. The capacity to choose is key, and that's always linked to our awareness.

Our fate is still very much in our hands. There must be profound transformation of our spirit and mind and of our relationships to each other and to the earth. We must be conscious and aware that every choice we make has the power to affect things one way or another. And those choices are a direct result of how deeply we're sensing.

We need to give ourselves to something larger than ourselves, and to become what we were meant to become. Then we can attain the goals that we're supposed to achieve.

Until the larger community start to master their thoughts, to pacify the minds, we won't be able to escape this prison of ours.

As Phil Lane says, "The longest road we will ever walk is the sacred journey from our head to our heart."


"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"

Extracted from: "Presence"
Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers
Nicholas Brealey, 2005