In today’s Exponential Investor…
- What I got wrong as a child about working life
- How I try to incorporate ikigai into my life
- What sushi making teaches us about investment
Only staying active will make you want to live 100 years
– Japanese proverb
When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to leave school and get a job.
I believed that the top attraction of working life was that you could switch off as soon as you left the working premises.
You didn’t take your work home with you.
At school, there was always more to do, more to read, more to learn. It was endless, and for months at a time you’d have things hanging over you.
And so I couldn’t wait to get a job and leave all that behind.
When the time came to think about careers though, something dawned on me.
Would I really want to do something for 50 years that I wouldn’t even want to do outside of an office?
I slowly realised that what I needed to find was the exact opposite.
Something I could happily dedicate myself to, for the long term.
The most important thing to do was to find a career which I wanted to take home with me in the evenings, and on weekends. Which I would be happy doing for a long time. Which was rewarding, rather than a chore I suffered to pay the bills.
I thought about what I actually found interesting, and headed for the investment world, ending up here at Southbank Investment Research.
Investment is what I find to be the most interesting aspect of the professional sphere.
From food to clothes, phones to cars, and data to psychology, I look at the world everyday through a many-sided prism, and try to figure out what is going to come out the other side.
It is an ever-changing and never-ending pursuit. In some periods, certain strategies or sectors do well while others struggle, but it never last forever. You can never be idle, and must always be thinking about change and the nature of the world
It is competitive, and involves learning about and adapting to the world around you.
The Japanese have a concept called ikigai, which amounts to the thing which gets you out of bed in the morning. The French might call it a raison d’être.
It’s a combination of passion, interest, and vocation, amongst other things.
They view working life not as an exchange of labour for money, but as something far more significant.
After all, we spend most of our life doing it.
The conclusion is that in order to lead happy and fulfilled lives we must try and find careers which my younger self would have dreaded – ones where the what you would do with your free time most closely resemble what you do with your professional time.
Anyone who has seen the Netflix documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (now on Amazon Prime funnily enough), will know what I mean.
Jiro Ono, who left home as a child, always dreamt of making sushi, perfecting it, the different flavours and textures – everything.
Now in his nineties, he still runs the same ten-seater restaurant in Ginza subway station that he first bought as a young man.
Since then though, he has gone from what we would call a “pop-up” to being the smallest three Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. When Barack Obama visited Japan, Shinzo Abe took him there.
Twenty individual, perfect pieces of sushi are served one by one in short succession. It’s a symphony, arranged in perfect harmony with every detail taken care of – down to massaging the octopus for 50 minutes.
Still now, Ono works tirelessly, seeking the unattainable perfection.
Here are just some of my favourite quotes from the documentary, which inspire me to work harder to understand the shifting tides of the investment world.
“Even at my age, after decades of work, I don’t think I have achieved perfection. But I feel ecstatic all day – I love making sushi. That’s the spirit of the shokunin [master of sushi].”
“I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There’s always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”
“Once you decide on your profession, you must immerse yourself in your work.”
“You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honourably.”
I’m now nearly two years into my job with Southbank Investment Research, and have been writing to you for seven happy months. If Ono is anything to go by, I have 60 good years left in me – at least.
Together with you, we have covered many fascinating topics, quirks, sectors, threats, and opportunities.
If I were to say where I have ended up, after the first leg of our journey, then it would be this.
Survival is paramount.
I believe we are living in a precipitous moment for traditional investment portfolios, when Richard Hammond’s next episode of Total Wipeout could be a financial documentary rather than half an hour of face-planting physical comedy.
Maintaining the total real value of your assets will be difficult and challenging.
I am committed to helping you avoid big losses above all, while keeping a sneaky eye on the best opportunities too.
For me, there is an abnormally high probability of a classic stock (and bond) market crash in the near term. But then there is also the threat of inflation eroding your wealth instead.
So I lean towards a portfolio of true diversification. Not just stocks and bonds.
Cash, gold, the energy transition and value stocks.
Crash protection, inflation protection, growth opportunity and value opportunity.
Here at Southbank Investment Research, we try to cover many aspects of the investment world and try to prepare for tomorrow rather than reporting on yesterday.
With that in mind, I have two things I’d like to mention.
Firstly, are there topics that I don’t cover which you think I should, sectors which never get mentioned or ideas which never see the light of day? If so, then please email: [email protected].
I’d also be very interested to hear if you broadly agree with where I stand in terms of the markets and our money – lots of people would think me foolish with plenty of good reasons too, I’m sure!
In the meantime, any general feedback on things you like or don’t like about the service are always welcome.
I am only here to help you, after all!
Secondly, we have a new service joining our portfolio of offerings, called Power Hour Trader.
Now as you well know, this hardly sounds like my kind of thing.
But as I’ve spoken about, it’s crucial to always be on the lookout for new ideas, strategies and ways of understanding markets, and Nick Batsford, who is the genius behind this new service, is certainly full of those.
I spent some of the weekend learning about this new service, and was intrigued by what I found.
If you would like to do the same, than you can do so by clicking this link.
I am no “trader”, but there are a many ways to skin the stockmarket, but if you are then this will be right up your street.
In the meantime, I will continue to love investment, to keep reading and keep learning and sharing the best of what I find, with you, dear reader.
All the best for now,
Editor, Southbank Investment Research