Saturday, November 23, 2019

Shinigai (死甲斐) - Who would you short in Life ?

Image result for shinigami

I just read an article where Warren Buffett asked a group of graduating graduates who thy will bet on in life if they could buy up 10% of the person's lifetime time for an upfront equity investment. He reasoned that, very often, the person with the highest IQ will not be invested in most of the time. Instead the most dedicated, conscientious and resilient person with leadership qualities would probably attract the most funding.

I would not be afraid to say who I will bet on in this blog : Alvin Chow of Dr Wealth would be top of my list. Heck we are partners in two businesses and make real money in both - supremely rare to meet people like this is real life since I did come from a retail business family.

Beyond the Dr Wealth people, the guy I will take a large leveraged bet on is Evan Koh, creator of Stocks Cafe.Their record of producing solid businesses or careers is beyond reproach.

Naturally, I like engineers and computer scientists who can combine a quantitative bent with a helicopter vision. Bonus marks if they are tad unsentimental and can see a business opportunity without all that touch-feely sentiment I see in ordinary human beings. Like I tell my students - Buy or don't buy.

There is no hold or qualified-buy statements in my class.

The harder question posed by Warren Buffett is which classmate will you short in life.

Who will you bet that would invariably destroy their human capital through their lives ?

The obvious answer from psychology is to pick the unconscientious guy, but high IQ guys also tend to be unconscientious. Kinda risky to bet against Sheldon Cooper or Einstein.  The disagreeable fellow will actually earn more in his lifetime compared to his peers, so it's also risky to short the jerks and assholes in school.

Perhaps in psychology, you should short the BBFAs. The introverted, agreeable and unconscientious guys in class.  Even then, you need to be careful because they might inch into the public sector or even marry up the economic ladder.

I do maintain a "short list" of my friends and classmates. This is a secret list of friends I keep tabs on who are on a self-propelled journey towards mediocrity in life. I keep this list because I want to avoid what they are investing in and the kind of personal projects they pick up.

Everything these guys touch turns to ash. Businesses they build lose money and friendship. Investments lose money. Diplomas and courses they study are not completed. Actually you can even build a self-help framework by just doing the opposite of what they do.

A friend ( who is definitely on on this list ) suggested the Shinigai (甲斐)  which is a totally bogus idea we made up to be the opposite of Ikigai.

Some people just want to pursue projects that are the opposite of their Ikigai:

  • They do stuff they hate - Five minutes ago, it was stuff they love, but then it is revealed that to succeed, real effort needs to be invested in that task.
  • They do stuff they are shit at - They have no talent or skill at the project they pursue.
  • They do shit that does not pay - No one will part with money for this person's shit.
  • The do the kind of shit the world does not need - No one gives a shit what they do.
So there you go - this week, quietly build a Shinigai checklist and position the pursuits taken up by your friends. If they get 4/4, it is time to short them like there is no tomorrow. 

Don't do the shit they do. Don't even listen to the music and movies they watch of fear of getting tainted. 

But keep them around just so that you can refine your open short orders. 

But if you have no one in your list, you better watch out - Maybe you are on the list of all your friends. BWAHAHAHAHA !


  1. Will be a good hedge if can short oneself, but only at low costs.

    Simple e.g. -- if you're stuck in a mediocre industry or profession (and it's too tough or costly to change), invest your spare capital in other proven & more promising industries. Even better if it's income producing.

  2. Yeah, a good put option on your career might not be a bad idea. Invest in some AI stocks and training.

    In the end, AI will kill lot of male PMET jobs in the future.