12 lessons from 12 months of 2022

Hey friends,

Happy new year! 🎇

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How was your break? What did you get up to? Feel free to reply and let me know, love to hear from you!

Can’t believe another year has passed. Hope it’s been kind to all of you, and if it hasn’t I’d like to remind you:

however many times you have fallen from grace without succeeding in mastering your passions, do not despair. Every attempt you make to conquer the strength of your passions will make your victory over them that much easier.

Some personal updates from me:

  • 🧳 I’ve packed up my life in a suitcase and have been travelling, living and working across the world. I’ve spent the majority of my time in Europe and currently in South East Asia.
  • ✍️ I’ve been spending more of my time reading and learning about different opportunities in the market. A few of you have reached out to me asking about Bitcoin, crypto, bonds, and stocks. I’ve got some thoughts and will be sharing them in the months to come.
  • 🎹 One of my goals this year is to be more balanced between my analytical and creative brain. To do this, I bought a midi keyboard to try my hand at music after over a decade of classical violin and taking almost 10 years off in between.
  • 🗓️ Most importantly, I’d also like to write more regularly and consistently throughout this year. Please keep your questions and feedback coming. Let’s have an amazing year together!
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Special thanks to the hundreds of people who are subscribed since my last issue. To name a few: David, Sergei, Ricky, Shirley, Nick, and others, welcome!

My top 12 lessons from 12 months of 2022

1. Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.

I think this is also what it means to be authentic: being totally yourself inside and out. if you’re always trying to be like someone else, you’ll never find out how amazing you are. How can you be happy if you never find out how amazing you are?

2. Do it fast, do it cheap, do it now.

While I was in Amsterdam on a boat with some friends and work colleagues, we shared some things that we’d like to do before we die. Deep conversation with the Dutch, I know 🤣! One of the sentences stuck with me:

do it fast, do it cheap, do it now

Whatever it is that we dream of doing, we should do it fast, do it cheaply, and do it now. Whether it's getting your own sailboat and sailing across the Pacific, taking a year off work to go travel, building that business you've been thinking about, or changing your career completely and giving dancing a go like you've always wanted as a child - don't wait until you have more money and can get nicer things. You won't be any happier.

Reflecting on my travels, I treasure the experiences I've had from backpacking at 24 to travelling in my 30s with more comfort. Though different, neither approach is more fun.

We’ll never get the same moment twice. That’s why we want to be present and treasure every moment!

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3. Don’t let the things you own end up owning you

I was re-reminded of this lesson from Fight Club many times while on the road. Specifically in thinking about money. Money is an IOU from society for getting and doing what you’d like in the world. Not something for you to stress over, to have to manage (if you don’t enjoy it) and end up owning your life. Think about what it is that you’d like to do and set your financial goal accordingly.

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4. People are just doing the best they can with what they know. Whenever someone said something mean to me, or if someone did something that I feel a little unsure about, I practice coming back to this quote:

People are just doing the best they can with what they know.

No one is intentionally trying to do harm. They just haven’t had the love, experiences, and life perspectives to be able to do it differently at that moment. And if I were to be born in their life, I’m not sure I’d be able to do any better.

Once I heard this, it started to help me have a lot more empathy for people and gratitude towards what I know and have.

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5. Giving and being kind to others is the best antidote for depression.

On October 22, 2022, I was having a really bad day. I feel incredibly down, sad, and angry. I wasn’t sure what I should do next; I was lost, in self-doubt, and feeling hopeless. So I went out for a walk in the streets of Lisbon.

On my walk, two homeless men approached me and ask for money; the two men are friends. I hesitated because growing up in Asia and Australia, I was brought up with a lot of homeless people using money for cigarettes and alcohol. However, I felt a calling to speak to them, learn about their story and help and so I did.

Two hours later, I end up going shopping with the men, Mike and Joan (pronounced: John). We bought at least a week's worth of food, fresh produce, lollies (food for the soul 😇), fruits, toiletries, soap, shampoo, shavers, painkillers, medicine, dog food (for his dog) and so much more. I’ve never spent so much money on strangers before and it felt amazing.

I’m not sure how to describe the feelings of telling someone who hasn’t really eaten for the last 6 months that: “it’s ok, it’s really really ok, you can buy that three-pack of Magnum icecream” and seeing their face lit up with so much joy.

We chatted, we ate, we exchange stories and we said goodbye. They told me they’ll never forget today, they’ll never forget me and the generosity I’ve shown.

After this, my depression seems to have all gone away.

I thought it was funny that Mike and Joan thanked me when deep down, I’m thankful for them. Their energy gave me focus, clarity, valuable life learnings and positivity at a time when I needed it. It allowed me to move forward on things I needed to do in life with intention and love.

A note to future self, when we are feeling down and having a tough day, give to others and the universe will take care of the rest. I’d also like to help and give more on a regular basis.

We live in so much abundance. It’s our responsibility to use that to help others who have less and are less fortunate than ourselves. A’Ho.

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6. Happiness is the only thing that doubles when shared.

Continuing from the above, I think Eddie Jaku, the holocaust survivor and the author of “The Happiest Man on Earth” says it the best: “Shared sorrow is halved sorrow. Shared happiness is doubled happiness.”

7. The greatest muscle you can build is urgency

Decrease the time between having an idea and getting it done. Everything changes.

We are all often prone to mental masturbation where we spend too much time on talking about our goals, thinking about our plans and visualising our goals. Instead… we just need to do the work.

Life has momentum. A life where we feel like we’re winning is really important. The only way we work towards a win is to keep doing the work. Once we lose momentum, it’s very hard to get it back.

8. Always make a decision out of love

When faced with difficult decisions that can sometimes affect others, make a decision from a place of love. What would you love to give yourself as a present for your life; what would be the most loving for others involved?

Fear, doubts, insecurities, anger, laziness and other emotions can often cloud our judgement, but they are also just unharnessed super energy that we can turn into super powers.

Our laziness, once harnessed, drove us to work smarter, build better technologies and learn to work in teams. Imagine if you no longer spend time being angry, instead you work from love, what amazing things can you accomplish?

9. When you’re not sure what to do, just do the next right thing.

No worries. One thing at a time!

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10. Be grateful for your gifts. Be proud of your choices and your hard work.

As Jeff Bezos shared, you can’t be proud of your gifts (i.e. being intelligent, good looking) because they were given to you. Be grateful for your gifts. Be proud of your choices and your hard work.

It’s the choices in our life that defines our life stories.

11. Have families like friends and friends at family.

12. Assume your partner always has the best intention at heart.

This is true in relationships, with friends, family or at work. One of the keys to a successful relationship is to always trust that others have the best intention and are doing their best with the best intentions.

I practice this whenever I notice frustration creeping up and found it extremely helpful in how I face tough situations with people.


Honourable mentions

Obviously, there is much more to 2022 than just what I’ve shared. So here are some honourable mentions. More of these are business and investing related than life.

1. It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

2. Discipline is doing what you hate to do, but do it like you love it.

If you can do that, you can be successful at anything - Mike Tyson.

3. Your title makes you a manager, and your people make you a leader.

4. Winners and losers have the same goal.

Everyone wants to be a millionaire and have financial freedom. True long-term thinking is goalless thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I've found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress - James Clear.

5. Stubbornly believe in yourself.

Have a victor’s mindset where you think you’ll always win, and be so positive. Good things will come.

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6. Always look a little ahead and prepare for what’s around the corner.

In work and in life, people love to work with and be around those who are prepared. Anticipate what people will need next, and what your colleague is going to ask, and pre-do the work to have a solution ready. This is one of the best ways to build trust and shows that you are reliable and great at what you do.

7. Communicate and make agreements with your team.

When building a high-performing, innovative, and creative team, you need to create an environment where people have the space to be creative and to come up with and voice big ideas without fear. They should feel safe to take risks. The way to do that is to communicate your agreement with the team. You should express that you think they are incredible, you trust them, and you expect them to do their best and work their best. As long as they do that, it's all good. If they make a mistake, it's fine; tell each other and be there to catch each other's mistakes, fix them, learn from them, and encourage each other.

Of course, there are certain projects where mistakes cannot be made, and everyone needs to be absolutely switched on, sometimes from 7am in the morning to 11pm at night. In these cases, you’ll communicate and share that. But other times, we're here to work and support each other as a team.

This sounds like a pretty incredible and fun place to work, especially if you're working with a group of A-players.

8. Set your intention before your start work.

Do it if you want to be hyperfocused.

9. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

In boxing, you can’t always be significantly faster than the other guy. So we tried to be smooth instead. To be smooth, we first learn to be slow in how we move. We move slower, to only be millimetres away from incoming punches. This makes our movement very smooth. Smooth in our timing. When we can be really smooth, it’ll have the same effect as if we’re moving really fast. Because there’s no loss of balance, wasted energy or space.

Older and more experienced fighters do this extremely well. They are not as fit, young and fast, but they are extremely smooth and that makes them appear really fast in the eye of their opponent.

I think this is also the same in business, and investing, as it is in boxing. You cannot sporadically change your priorities, keep doing A/B tests and hope that by “getting things done” faster, you can get there faster. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

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10. Always think before you communicate.

Whether you are speaking, writing, or making a video think about how you will be perceived. Craft it. Make it mean well. Every chance we have at communicating is a chance for others to build a perception and opinion of us. A positive perception builds brand, and friendliness and that can go a long way.

We all can learn to communicate better. One of the best ways to do that is to write consistently and share it. It’s one of the reasons why I write this to you all 😊. Open to feedback!

11. Your environment is really important.

Be intentional with which country you live in, in what neighbourhood, with what kind of neighbours and who you live with. Be intentional with where you study, eat, and where you sleep. It has a tremendous impact on you.

This is especially true when you are with a child.

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12. To live a meaningful life is to live a life of many chapters.

Stop.

Take a moment and reflect. For most of us, our life has been largely the same over the past decades. We’re living in the same place, with similar peopel around us, working in the same industry. And sometimes we feel lost. We need a circuit breaker.

One way to think about living life is to have as many chapters as you can. This means going into discomfort, trying new things, and shaking it up. Change career completely lives in a different country, and do something completely different. Follow what you enjoy the most. Not what makes sense as a next step such as: doing a university degree, taking the next promotion, save for that next investment property.

13. Our fears come from something that's happened to us in the past and we carry that fear into the present and into our future.

A baby isn't scared of hot water. It doesn't fear it!

13. If you want to start a business, you got to do what you love.

Because the journey can be a long one. I met someone who makes millions of dollars in profits a year, running a tourism company for Oktoberfest and other similar beer festivals around the world. When I asked him why he started this company, he told me simply: “I started 12 years ago and I love travelling and drinking.” It deepened my learning: you got to do what you love!

14. Most things don’t matter. A few things matter a lot.

Focus on the few things that can yield 10x or 50x returns. Figure out what those are and do them right. The rest don't need as much focus.

15. The size of your slice of the pie, matters more than the shape.

It takes more people to build big things. You need to give profit pools and bonus shares to tie leaders and enlist their spirit, willpower, and drive into building things with you. The richest people in the world don't own a majority of the company: Bezos owns 10% of Amazon, and Elon Musk owns 20% of SpaceX and 17% of Tesla. The more people we make wealthy, the wealthier we become. This is difficult for our ego because our ego wants 100% of the pie.

16. Big things take time and it takes two key things to succeed:

  1. customers love your product; and
  2. a lot of time.

Depth of expertise takes time to build. A huge part of the growth of things comes exponentially, in the last 5 years of the 30 years. Look at Apple and Amazon.

However instead of making this a patient’s exercise, ask yourself: “what can I do for a really really long time?” Because if it’s going to take a very very long time, you must be motivated, and interested to not change course over some new shiny object that came into the path.

Thinking long term will allow you to make higher quality decisions with higher quality people because it isn’t about the short wins. It’s about whether is this going to matter in 10 years or not.

17. Compounding in business creates breathtaking results when you add a key ingredient: time.

Successful people control their impulses. Be patient. The most successful big company can think in decades and obsessed over 1% improvements consistently. You don’t have to swing for the fences all the time. Don’t set unrealistic goals and goals that aren’t impactful. Think, if we can just grow 10% every quarter, what would that look like over a decade? This is the magic of compounding.

18. Brand matters a lot.

Your brand is your reputation in the marketplace; what people talk about you behind your back. The easiest way to understand how you build your brand is by saying you’re going to do something, and do it.

Your brand gives your pricing power. A plain white T-shirt vs. a white T-shirt with Gucci’s logo on it makes 50x the profit. This creates paddings for your profit margins that will help your business continue to weather the storm and build for the long haul.

So this year, what is something great you say to your customer, your team, your colleague, your family, your partner and your friends about what you’re going to do, and actually do it?

19. Simple scales, fancy fails.

Simplest business model scales. Scale creates complexity all on its own. A lot of times, we need to ignore the shiny objects such as all the new features and marketing campaigns your competitors are doing. It tests how dedicated we are and how good we are at keeping things simple.

The Coca-Cola company was founded in 1892. For over 131 years, it does one drink: coke. They did $42bn dollars last year in 2022.

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20. Level 10 talent is only attracted to level 10 opportunities.

If your true goal is big and has a big opportunity, you’d be able to build it to a level big enough that enlists the level 10 talent.

21. Sell what the customer wants, not what you want to build.

Lead with data rather than ego. This is a reminder for all of us, myself included.

22. Any number, no matter how big, multiply by zero, is still zero.

Risks are to be respected. The biggest company and fund takes steps that have a very little downside but have non-linear, outsized returns. Usually, our emotions distort our reality. Do not take company-sized risks unless the company is truly on the line. Do the things that no one wants to do, one step at a time and be better at what people use you for over and over.

23. Money = Denomination of time.

It’s a new way to think about money and what having money means. Money is a denomination of time because:

  1. Every transaction we make is taking up a percentage of our lives.
  2. Our wealth is a measure of how little of our lives we must trade for the things we desire.
  3. Money is an IOU from society for future goods and services, which is translated as, other people's time.

Once you understand this, your perspective on money and time changes.

24. The pursuit of entrepreneurship, and investing has nothing to do with money. It’s all about the pursuit of personal freedom.

The pursuit of entrepreneurship, investing, and working for yourself has nothing to do with greed for money. It’s all about the pursuit of personal freedom.

The reason I do what I do is that I want to be able to choose how I spend my time. The reason I’d never work for anyone most of my life is that I got fired working at a candy store and it was so humbling to realise that woman has so much power over me that I’d never wanted to do it again. And of course, I had to thank her because she took me on such a different journey.

It’s not an easy road. But you know what, you find out when you get your first deal and have success with that, you just work harder. I don’t need more money, I just need more time. - Kevin O’leary

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That’s a wrap!

Well, that’s it from me today. Comment below, what’s something you’ve learnt in 2022 that you’ll carry into 2023?

If you find at least one thing useful here today, share it on social media, Twitter, Linkedin or with friends. It really helps me out with a tone.

I love you all. Here’s to another great year, let’s go 2023!

Chat soon!

Vin.