5 thing I learnt in 2014

Here’s a slightly self-indulgent reflection of some the important things I learnt in 2014. Don’t worry it’s not all about shares!!

Let’s get straight into it.

Stock picking isn’t easy (but I’m getting better at it!)

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2013 was a pretty spectacular year for investing. I managed to pull out a 100%+ return by basically throwing darts at a board. Sadly, 2014 was almost the polar opposite. Good companies turned bad or took too long to deliver promised news. I had a few good wins, but I would have done much better closing down Commsec around June and sitting on cash for a while.

Despite taking a hit I couldn’t be happier with my progression during 2014. My general understanding and approach has improved exponentially. I now see the reason behind silly mistakes that cost me money and I have adjusted my system to avoid these in the future.

In other happier news I’ve also seen the Facebook community I started swell to 1200 members, and have learnt immensely from those who contribute there.

Best & worst for 2014

  • Best: Learning to use trailing stop losses to defend profits
  • Worst: Not using one for bloody RFL!

…but moving overseas is super easy


After umm’ing and ahh’ing for an eternity we finally pulled the trigger and moved to Cambodia in March.

Prior to moving I let my mind wander to all the terrible things that were going to happen when I left the safety of Melbourne. “What if we don’t make any friends”?, “I’ll get bored not working full time”, “What will I do everyday?”. In retrospect it was all so fucking ridiculous (PS: We did. I didn’t in the least. Enjoy life!).

The mind plays an interesting trick when you are weighing up whether to make a life change. From an evolutionary point of view it is much better that we keep doing exactly what we’ve always done. Survival stuff. Far less risk of getting eaten by a tiger that way. When we are forced to consider a change our mind presents all the potentials negatives that might occur, but quickly casts aside all the (generally unknown) positives.

Cambodia was a wonderful experience. I learnt you don’t need to rock up to an office for 8hrs Monday — Friday to get stuff done. I discovered that making friends in a new country is pretty much the easiest thing you can do (and is something I want to do more of in the future). I had the chance to work on business ideas, finish my degree, drink cheap beer and eat a bunch of noodles. The reality far exceeded the perception.

Best & worst for 2014

  • Best: Meeting Duncan (and bonus: having my beautiful friends from Melbourne come visit)
  • Worst: Coming home early purely for financial reason. Silly, silly, silly.

Customer validation is essential for any business idea

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One of the really fun things I worked on during 2014 was an app to help improve sex lives.

Working with friend and talented developer Jaidev Soin we explored a number of app options in the sex positive space, covering everything from making desires easier to communicate to spin-the-bottle mini-games. Integral to our development process was the use of customer validation frameworks like the Javelin Experimentation Board to test ideas without spending too much money.

Working these frameworks I discovered just how powerful using tools like surveys, landing pages, and hypothesis testing were in grounding your concepts before getting them ready for prime time.

While we didn’t get our app off the ground, the experience I went through testing and learning news things was invaluable and has definitely improved the way I approach new ideas.

Best & worst for 2014

  • Best: I’ve learnt far more about the sexual proclivities of my friends
  • Worst: I’ve learnt far more about the sexual proclivities of my friends

…but sometimes you just need to jump in the deep end

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The flip side of customer validation is staying mindful that you’ll never really be able to test-away all the risk in a business idea.

One of the most successful projects I worked on during the year was getting a property up and running with my business partner Daniel Ng. We spent a little bit of time working between Phnom Penh & Melbourne validating the idea but fairly quickly decided the best way to discover if it was going to work was to get our hands dirty. Following a modest capital injection and a bit of Ikea building we were up and running and so far it’s been a very enjoyable (and profitable) experience.

Best & worst for 2014

  • Best: Listing our apartment at 11pm on a Thursday night and waking up to 4 booking request at 7am Friday.
  • Worst: Dealing with whitegoods on Gumtree. NEVER AGAIN.

And the final thing I learnt this year:

It’s better being able to share it with someone


It might be a bit soppy but I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to share all of this with my beautiful partner Julz. She’s a tremendous support to me and I couldn’t have achieved half of what I did during 2014 without her. Relationships are not always perfect, but life is easier as a +1. Love you baby.

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