Monday, March 23, 2009

The Tao of Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger, 84, is Warren Buffett’s principal sounding board and co-strategist. With his help Buffett has evolved from a successful but small-time money manager to the world’s richest man, with unparalled global influence – and on the eyes of some admirers, he wouldn’t be where he is without Munger.
I am one of his loyal fan and maybe one of the few Filipinos who seek his wisdom on investing. Let me share to you Munger’s five thoughts to help investors in today’s recessionary environment:
Avoid the Middleman. Maybe we should think twice about or brokers and mutual funds. Munger says that due to its middling performance and high fees, the money management industry as a whole “ gives no value added” to its customers. “They are croupiers taking profits out of the System”.
Pick Common Sense over Math. Another knock against the pros? Their obsession with statistical analysis – “boring gravel sifting,” as Munger calls it – obscures insights about which businesses are poised to succeed. “ These people od involved computations, and they are walking right by great boulders of gold.” Meanwhile, he and Buffett “just look for no-brainer decisions…..We don’t leap 7-foot fences.”
Think Like Ben Franklin. Munger believes in educating himself deeply about, well, almost everything , “invading other people’s territory” to develop a “mental latticework of theory” to shape his investing decisions. His poster boy for this approach: Ben Franklin. “He was a self-educated man who wandered over vast territory, “Munger says. “He recognized that he needed higher math, so he went out and learned algebra….. Learn your gaps, and fill them. That’s what I do.”
Sit on your assets, if you can. . While most investors associate Buffett and Munger with finding good stocks cheap, Munger points out that quality can trump price. “If you buy something because it is undervalued, you have to think about selling it when it approaches your calculation of its intrinsic value,” he says. That’s hard. But if you buy a few great companies, then you can sit on your ass. That’s a good thing.”
Source: Smartmoney interview; recent speeches; Poor Charlie’s Almanack

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Motivating people

In the corporate world and in the academe one common findings I discovered. To motivate the best and the brightest there are only 2 key factors needed:

1. You should give the best people the freedom to do his job. The high-performing people should be treated as professionals and should not be micro-managed. Because they really don't like to be managed at all. They prefer to be led, being provided with a clean set of goals and objectives and given the creative freedom to accomplish their targets. They seek empowerment that comes from a leader
who trust them completely.

2. The best people wants to have an impact and to be recognized for it. the company should always remember that their best people are passionate on what they are doing. They can easily be spotted because these best people aligned his objectives with his boss or his organization.

To motivate employees is easy, the difficult thing is having the skills and the will to do it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We are made to contribute and Francis Magalona was one of the few who carried the banner. Our generation is marred by confusion and rebellion to authority that we viewed as repressive and protector of personal interest. Francis M songs expressed our generations sentiment and his death pierced our heart. So long Francis, we are sure you will still write and sing songs in heaven!

So many faces, so many races
Different voices, different choices
Some are mad, while others laugh
Some live alone with no better half
Others grieve while others curse
And others mourn behind a big black hearse
Some are pure and some half-bred
Some are sober and some are wasted
Some are rich because of fate and
Some are poor with no food on their plate
Some stand out while others blend
Some are fat and stout while some are thin
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin' round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world

Some are great and some are few
Others lie while some tell the truth
Some say poems and some do sing
Others sing through their guitar strings
Some know it all while some act dumb
Let the bassline strum to the bang of the drum
Some can swim while some will sink
And some will find their minds and think
Others walk while others run
You can't talk peace and have a gun
Some are hurt and start to cry
Don't ask me how don't ask me why
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin' round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rebelyn Pitao, 20

(Evangeline Maasin Pitao, Rebelyn's mother. MindaNews photo courtesy of Rene B. Lumawag, Pixels & Cutlines)
A teacher from Davao who was abducted last Wednesday was found dead last March 8. She is just 20 years old, living the difficult life as we all experienced on a daily basis. She is a woman who committed no crime and whose only case her torturer and murderer can think of is that her father is an NPA commander. The sins of her father the criminals make sure she shouldered the pain. They mutilated her genital and stab her repeatedly with ice-pick. Rape is evident.
The church is beginning to observe the lenten season but this early we already grieved because of this terrible injustice.
If this government will not arrest the criminals they will bear the brunt of the people's anger.
What happened to Rebelyn only validates that evil still resides in the heart of those who are supposed to practice Christian virtues.
They are an abomination in the eyes of God and the murderers can never rest in peace!.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

College Education = Middle Class

College education is under question nowadays. Some people bashed it as worthless while others claimed it is a waste of time and money. The thousands who graduate yearly from colleges and universities will find it difficult to land a job in today’s recessionary times. The more than 35,000 nursing students who passed the board exam recently can not be entirely absorbed by all hospitals in the country. The law of supply and demand will surely come into play and it will result to lower salary of nurses. This reality further fuelled the fire that college education will likely not give the parents the return of investment they dreamed since their child was born.
The diploma-mill-school aggravates the situation by producing graduates who do not possessed even basic written English skills.
Why I am then proposing that the Filipino youth should pursue their college education?. BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY to earn a regular salary, have a formal employment and crawled to middle class but to earn a college education.
There are people who sarcastically point to us that they can earn money without completing their college. Their ultimate hero is Bill Gates who dropped out of Harvard in his 2nd year, created Microsoft and never looked back.
I always loved to point to them that they are not Bill Gates who has parents earning lots of dollars, who studied in the best and expensive private elementary and high school, who has a country that passionately reward creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and a business environment where venture capitalists abound.
The challenge is clear for Filipinos that the Philippine environment is chaotic, bureaucratic and dwells on penalty rather than rewards.
But college education can change the landscape. It can make Filipinos open-minded, challenges traditional mores, invests more, entrepreneurship focused, back democratic process and support politicians with right economic policies.
The problem is when Filipinos college graduate do not possess the above characteristics. This will validate the claim that colleges and universities failed on their sworn duty. This failure will result to a life of hand-to-mouth existence even though a college diploma hangs in the wall.
Those who love the Philippines I am sure will not allow our country to slide in the level of North Korea or Zimbabwe.
We can do it by acting as one race and with one aspiration: the creation of a middle class with characters shaped by a solid college education.

Arnel L. Cadeliña