One of my favorite articles from KCCHONGNZ, illustrated the story of Croesus. He was a Greek king, who was also the first to issue gold coins. He was one of the richest and most powerful men on earth at the time.
Croesus, secure in his happiness, his wealth and his power, asked the oracle Solon, if he was the happiest man in the world.
Solon’s response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had demonstrated filial piety by drawing her to a festival in an oxcart themselves.
Solon goes on to explain that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man’s life cannot be judged until after his death.
Within a few years, Croesus suffered the accidental death of his son, the suicide of his wife upon the fall of his city, and lastly, lost a war to the Persians, became a slave and was burned on a pyre.
Our track record is not done until we are dead.
And today, we read a post by a person, who despite all that has occurred, is probably still very wealthy and have a great life. But whose recent predicament, bears some similarity to that of Croesus.
A brief letter to Koon Yew Yin
Dear Mr Koon Yew Yin,
I’ve always been accused as someone who does not know his place. Someone who is “Boh Tua Boh Suay” or (No Big No Small) and a more than a little arrogant.
Well, they are truths in those accusations, and what I’m about to write will likely provide further evidence to these, admittedly partly accurate accusations. However, I felt compelled to write this, mostly for my own reflection and reminder, and partly for the possibility you might read it.
I know you are a busy person, so I’ll get right to the point.
When I first started investing seriously in KLSE markets circa 2016, your blog was one of the few I finished. I always felt you were a relatively sharp person, but having read buffet, graham and the rest since i was 12, and thus being an inoculated value investor, i always felt that the picks might have been a little off. Nevertheless, being younger and greedy, I decided to take a flyer on them.
It took me tuition fees of RM1,000-RM2,000 (Chinwell and Gadang) before i regained some of my sense, another RM3,000-RM4,000 to learn not to listen OTB blindly (Gamuda-WE) (we are different people with different philosophies), and another RM5,000-6,000 to understand the foolishness of short term trading, speculation and the aversion towards realizing a loss.
All of which are well worth the money, and the few months spent learning them.
The best way, is to properly learn and study all the greats thoroughly before we start investing. The second best is to lose some money and learn via experience while one is young not that rich. The third, is to lose a lot, or go bankrupt (not too badly) at an age where one still has a chance for a comeback.
Mr Koon, you are 85 years old. By my calculations (done in my head for 5 seconds), you should have lost at least RM60million or so. Most of which are realized, some unrealized. Which should be the bulk of your investment gains for the last 5 years.
Despite being the former founder of IJM, Mudajaya and Gamuda. I am sure these are still a very significant injury to your finances.
From your recent article, I was heartened by your willingness to share your failures as well as some of your learnings from this recent event.
However, I must be frank. For RM60million or so. I’m not sure you have gotten your money’s worth.
As you’re likely to have other priorities and commitments that may prevent you from properly furthering your education in investing, via reading (for the record, I’m a big fan of learning vicariously through the experience and failures of others when it comes to money).
Here is a list of quotes on investing I find most intelligent. The thing about quotes or sayings, is that they often encapsulate the essence of the topic.
However, It would be better if you read the books, and see these ideas fully expanded along with the examples.
Here is a list.
If you can’t find any of them, let me know, and I’ll send you a soft copy (or a hardcopy when I drop by Ipoh sometime next month).
They will cost your far less than RM60 million, but for someone of your stature and wealth, they’ll be worth a lot more than that.
You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask Mr OTB for my contact. I have your contact, but I’m not one to impose uninvited.
PS: In your writings, you often said how you do not know how to read financial statements. I concede that the ability to read financial statements does not guarantee success in investing or speculating. God knows audit firms are filled with investment failures.
However, if you’re unable understand financial statements, then you go through your investment career like a one–legged man in an ass–kicking contest. You’re giving a huge advantage to everybody else.
Imagine how much better of an investor you would be, if you spent the one or two days learning to do so.
If you’d like, I am open to giving you’re a quick lesson over 2-3 hours when I’m in Ipoh.