A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

Luck + hard work + guts = winning formula

Luck + hard work + guts = winning formula

For Finance and Toast’s 20th post, I wanted to celebrate this mini achievement. I started this website almost a year and a half ago, but due to work commitments, I was not able to keep up to the demands of it.

For those of you who maintain a website / blog, you will know how difficult it is to manage your full-time job and write articles during your spare time.

Hence, I want to remember my 20th post milestone and be grateful for the things that happen in my life thus far.

It was not until my last year at the National University of Singapore that I started to think that luck actually plays a huge role in our lives. A lot of things can’t be fully explained by our actions, but maybe it is luck that plays a role in our success.

I never considered myself to be a lucky person since young. Whenever I bought the lottery (Toto or 4D), I will always miss by a slight number or two.

Whenever I go to carnivals, I never won a single toy.

Whenever I participated in lucky draws, I never won a single time.

Such tough luck.

However, I started to see some of my friends who have been lucky in their lives and even won “jackpot” in their terms numerous times. So I started to think about the concept of luck.

This concept was also explained by one of my professors in university as well that the role of luck in life’s success is far greater than we realized.

Most people tend to think that a person’s success in life is derived from characteristics like talent, hard work, tenacity, resilience etc. Sure, these are important determinants as well but there are still a lot of variance left unexplained.

Do you think that Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Elon Musk’s Tesla got to where it were today just by sheer hard work and determination? Take a look at the share price charts below – their net worth kept on increasing despite the COVID-19 outbreak!

 

Amazon

Tesla

Source: Google charts. Am pretty sure part of their surge in net worth is due to luck.

Where you are in life right now is largely due to luck

I was lucky to be born in Singapore, where it is one of the world’s safest country and most stable economy. I was also lucky to be born in a dual-parent household where I have two loving parents. Their support and guidance have definitely allowed me to do great things in life.

No matter what I wanted to pursue in life, my parents would often times give me advice, but at the end of the day, they are supportive of my decisions.

Here is why I think luck + hard work + guts = winning formula in life and below are some of the lucky things that I am grateful for.

  1. Luck + guts: With mediocre grades in university and having no internship experience under my belt, I thought I was not able to land one in my second year of university. Things are very realistic in Singapore. Those who have good grades will naturally be shortlisted first for interviews. There is always a pecking order. This was made worse when even our career services office made it a requirement of having First Class Honours or Second Upper Honours for internship applications!I remembered applying for more than 45 internships back then and only gotten 3 interviews. My third interview was a phone interview with a digital marketing team in Citibank. which I was notified that I did not get the position. However, a week later, I called the hiring manager and told her how I really wanted this position and am willing to learn the ropes.

    A week later, I was called back for a face-to-face interview and with a stroke of luck, I had gotten the offer. Despite being rejected initially! This ultimately set the backbone of my internship experiences.

  2. Hard work + mostly luck: Again, my grades did not improve drastically as I was busy participating in hall committee events, sports events, and case competitions which took up a significant amount of my time. I’ve always wanted to land a front office internship position and after 4 internships in support functions, I finally landed an internship role within a fund of hedge funds team in a leading Asian asset management company. I recall my ex boss telling me that I was one of the two finalist for this role. Hence, I assumed that it was 50-50 chance. It was nerve wrecking because I really wanted this role badly.

    Likewise with a stroke of luck, I managed to connect well with my ex boss during the interview and was offered the role. I always wonder, what makes one interviewee chosen over another? It must boil down to luck. This is because connections is not easily forged in just one setting.

    It was one of a defining moment in my life as the knowledge that I had gained during this internship could not be attained anywhere else. I was involved in real projects, had the chance to meet with hedge fund managers and learned more about global markets and investment strategies. Something which I will write about more in another post.

    IMG_2794
    Source: Finance and Toast. One of my best internship experiences in my life.

  3. Luck: I did a research piece of a leading Chinese dairy company called Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group.  I invested in this company back in September 2016 at CNY 16.39 as somehow I had the conviction this will do well. I managed to close out my position on July 2019 at CNY 32.25, giving me a healthy +196.7%. I believe this is largely due to luck as it is virtually impossible to time and the market and no one will ever know where the stock price will go next day. It is definitely one of my few investments that almost made me double the money.

    Inner
    Source: Google charts, Finance and Toast.

  4.  Luck + hard work + guts: For my current role as a sales professional in a private equity firm, it was mostly luck coupled with hard work and a good amount of guts. Prior to landing this role, I was actually in a marketing support role within the RFP team as a RFP writer. I was working hard and learning the ropes during my tenure as a RFP writer. I was in office early at 7am and on most days where we have a tight timeline to adhere to, I was even working on the weekends.

    I knew that at some point, I don’t want to stay in a support function forever. Hence, I decided that I had to do something about it. After 11 months, I left this job and landed a sales role at a small Asian asset management company. The culture at the Asian asset management company was toxic and I did not really enjoy my time there. My boss back then was also not entirely nurturing and I had an awful teammate.

    However, one day out of the blue, I got a phone call from my current manager asking if I would like to join his team as a sales professional. He told me he had admired my work from past occurrences and would love to get me on board. Needless to say, I left my toxic job and joined him at the private equity firm and until now, I am very satisfied with my job.

  5. Pure luck: To my parents, and also to the wonderful people and mentors that I have met in my life, it is purely luck. I had friends who inspire me in each and every way. In fact, the founder of one of the largest websites detailing about travel scams in the world, Travel Scams, actually inspired me to start this website. He was the one who showed me what entrepreneurship was, no matter how small it may seem. For my mentors who groomed me along the way and gave me a chance to work under them, thank you for your support all these while! I have grown and learned a lot which led me to where I am today.

    IMG_1158
    Source: Finance and Toast. In 2015 at a carnival in Spain, I finally won a toy.

How many of you consider yourself to be lucky? Leave a comment in the box below.

Cheers,

Vincent

Disclaimer: all opinions expressed are my own and I do not represent any company or organization.



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