Are we done yet?

Prem Panicker is pissed off with the terror attacks like everyone else. Here is a rant post that he wrote asking for comments. Since you need to register to comment on his site, instead I am choosing to write my comment here. So here it goes.

What pisses me off most is:

"The talk" - any kind; including the one in his blog and the comment I am writing in this post.

No matter how intelligent a debate is, it doesn't solve any problem. I hope for people (all of us) to get into the mode of "Stop talking, Start doing" (those who are already doing it, thank you and keep going) and doing whatever we can without any self promotion or any show of self righteousness.

After Obama's landslide victory much of which is attributed to his oratory skills, debating would be lauded even more. It always appears, you are right only if you can prove it, which is the point of any debate. But when it comes to real results, a lot of decisions that may be inexplicable or lot of people who won't be great at explaining stuff will prove far more useful than the windbags. Having said that, there is no other way than to debate for weighing the options of a decision but the ability to explain should not become paramount. People will end up providing "explainable" solutions not the best solutions. We may end up with just talkers everywhere.

Moving your cheese:Job Change: Selection

Now that the decision is made, let’s move to the next step in the job change process which is to identify a target profile (company and role).

The two factors are: the company and the role.

Kind of Company: Here are some factors I found important while making a selection. Figure out which of these are important for you and how.

- Compensation Philosophy
- Kind of Work of the company does. It is important to see if you are getting into company's main line of business or support operation.
- Growth Path
- On Site Chances
- Brand: This is good especially you are at the start of your career. Having proven yourself in reputed firms will sit pretty in your resume.
- Temporary Relocation: Is this company open to let you stay in some other place if need arises. It can be another city in the country or may be abroad. The company should have enough offices to take care of this.
- Hiring Process (Exclusivity): This has direct bearing on the kind of people you would be working with.
- Work Life Balance
- Benefits/Asides: Some companies have perquisites which cannot be compensated monetarily, like having a door to door cab service. Having a cafeteria seems an extremely important factor to me and so is for lot of people who cannot carry lunch from home.
- Company Performance: If going is good, everyone behaves nicely, but as Joker said - "when chips are down...". So be careful if the company isn't doing well, unless you plan to go and turn things around and get credit for it
- Hierarchy: This sounds unimportant, but please make sure you understand all the claims made by the potential employers. It is usually fashionable to say that the company follows a flat hierarchy. Two points here, a- Having a flat hierarchy may not necessarily be a great thing. b - While everyone claims hierarchy is flat, it may not be so.

Kind of Roles
Don't confuse roles with titles. Depending on how a company is structured there can be wide disparity between the two. Make sure you know which one is more important for you and decide accordingly.

Scouting Channels:

Job sites are good (, are the ones I have personal experience with). However, the job results they email you are not really useful because of exceptionally poor filtering done to provide you a job that suits your profile. But out of the piles of useless results will lie some good ones that you need to find out. The day you open your resume, take a day off work. I received more than 25 calls the day I opened it and then the number kept going down.

Referrals are very effective. You will have a much better idea of what you are getting yourself into. You also have a ready made contact in the organization to see you through the teething period.

So that concludes my thoughts on selection of your next job. I will come back with my thoughts on preparation in future.

A constructive media at last?

As India is reeling under the impact of terror attacks and all those involved in rescue operations are trying their best, the last thing anyone would want is a painful, non-cooperative, intrusive and complaining media. For a change, the reporting has been uncharacteristically mature on all the major news channels. It seemed completely sensible until Shobha De and Barkha Dutt, two ladies who sensationalize everything, came on the screen chatting on phone. All the cliched talks of taxes and government apathy were repeated. One moment Ms De was not happy as there wasn't enough political presence on the scene, next moment she felt Manmohan Singh and Advani flying there was meaningless and then urged all the politicians to stay away. I am appalled at the logic and more so at the timing of these rants. Well, I guess I will end my meta-rant with this.

Can it get bigger than this?

Citigroup gets ready to cut 52,000 jobs

'Derived' comments on investing

Investing is more about character than talent.

Someone said this and raised the hopes of thousands of people with two digit IQs to dream of big buck. Clearly the statement above does not imply that having low IQ has any particular advantage. However, it also implies that off the chart IQ is not the only thing that determines your long term success. Your character has a part of play and albeit an important one.

The whole bust that happened was like thousands of extremely smart MBAs playing poker with blind bets. And with complex derivatives, the structure of second (and nth) order products became so complex and tiered that the blindfold just kept on getting thicker and thicker. In such a blind situation, IQ counted for nothing other than being able to comprehend those products that lesser mortals like me have trouble making any sense of. Well, enough of pointing follies of the super smart bunch [don’t we all just love that ;-)], as that is not the point here.

Most of us judge the stocks the way we judge people or vice-versa. Traders are like people who have short term memory and can only remember the last encounter with a person, good or bad. They keep marking people up or down fast, going long (becoming friends) or short (making enemies) fickle-mindedly. Even with this approach sometimes such people end up winners for the simple reason that they get lucky. And that is the problem; there is just too much riding on luck for them.

Value investors on the other hand are like people who can separate behaviors from people. They look at people as potential and gauge if they would be able to take care of their negative behaviors in time. More often than not, they are placing their bets on a stabilized viewpoint. The difference between the traders and investors is about time frame and context. Traders have no allegiances other than their immediate gains (friends for benefit); investors forge ties with worthy stocks.

Time has a way of leveling things out and sooner or later, having a sound character pays off in investing and otherwise.

Disclaimer: Most or all of what is said above is my interpretation of stuff that I have read on investment. Follow it at your own risk. Claiming that my investment track record is horrible would be a gross understatement; so much so that I am the benchmark of lousy investing in my circle. In the pink of my short investing career, I have seen an unrealized gain of 20% and from then on it has been a journey downhill with my losses snowballing.

Also, contrary to what I wrote above seemingly making investing superior to trading, I think the times now are for trading. Book your profits and enter a position again if needed. Swings are giving ample opportunities to enter markets at any levels.