Date: 8 November 2020

As we near the end of the Year 2020, it is time to reflect on the goals set at the beginning of the year. Reflection is vital as Albert Einstein said:

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

On Goals

I have written down 3 goals in 17 August 2019

  1. Start an e-commerce site and reach 10k monthly sales (failed)
  2. Learn Machine Learning Concepts (achieved)
  3. Understand the possibility of investing in Vietnam property (achieved)

It is not the first time that I fail in being a seller in e-commerce site. I have started one with a friend in University to sell phone cases. This time, I started to sell remote-control toys. Ironically, it seems that I made similar mistakes.

The number one reason why I failed, I believed, is that I do not feel excited about what I am doing. To be honest, I started the e-commerce site just to earn some extra cash. I think adding 10K to my monthly income is a good idea. Along the way, I am not motivated to work on the site, including research, sourcing, building the website, etc. Going deeper, I ask myself why am I not motivated? It seems that I will be motivated if it solves big problems, is meaningful to a lot of people. Simply, drop-shipping product sounds too boring for me.

Another big reason is I launch the side business without thinking and testing it. For two times, we jump directly into sourcing products and building websites without thinking about the target customers, their needs, market competitions, marketing, etc. The reality is driving traffic to your site is extremely difficult (at least for me) and you need to work on the conversion rate as well.

Going forward, if I would start something again, I need to make sure I am passionate and excited about it, develop a framework to do research and trial before launching, and evaluate the business according to the framework. The good news is I already started to develop the framework and also working on another idea!

Framework on evaluating an idea!

For Goal #2, Learning Machine Learning Concepts. I think I have done quite well. I mainly completed a course: Cornell CS4780 Machine Learning for Decision Making. At the same time, I have taken reference to many other courses and books, such as Machine Learning: A Probabilistic Perspective by Kevin P. MurphyPattern, Recognition and Machine Learning by Christopher M. Bishop, The Elements of Statistical Learning by Trevor Hastie, Robert Tibshirani, and Jerome Friedman. I think my knowledge of Machine Learning has improved a lot compared with the Year 2018.

Machine Learning is also related to my daytime job as a data analyst. I have worked on the Risk Model project, though due to business reason, it has stopped. But, I am able to use some of the concepts I learned. Apart from that, I have also started (nearly completed) on the project on predicting house price in Hong Kong. I wrote a series of articles to record my progress.

For Goal #3, understand the possibility of investing in Vietnam property. I think I have done very well because, through detailed research, we understand more on Vietnam house market, and avoided a big mistake to buy an overpriced property. You may check out these articles: property deal romam plaza hanoi vietnam, property deal river panorama, district 7, HCMC, and Be careful on exaggerated and false claims from agents. I am happy that I have developed a mental model/ framework to study a property deal (though maybe it is still too naive).

On Finance

For investing, the only KPI is whether my investment performance beats the general market index, S&P500. This is my track record, https://www.data-driven-everything.com/track-records/. I think I am on track to beat the index in Year 2020.

The general framework (I used general framework a lot because I think it is important) on picking stocks and constructing portfolio had been set in 2017 and being tested and revised on 2018. Based on historical performance, I think it works so far.

The most important move I took this year is to spend nearly all my savings on stocks when the market bottomed during Covid-19. I am not sure whether this is a good move. But even it is not, investing in assets instead of holding cash is correct.

Apart from investing, one problem I have to fix is the paycheck. Fairly speaking, my salary is OK compared with peers. But, if I look at my boss and other senior people working in the same field, and ask myself is that what I want, my answer is a NO. The reason is twofold. First, salary-wise, you can see the ceiling, 100K? 200K? It took them 20 to 30 years to reach that salary. Maybe I am just too naive, but that sounds slow to me. Second, it is about meaning. Why am I working 8 hours a day and 5 days a week? What and who am I working for? Sometimes, I doubt myself.

Another interesting question to be solved is why am I saving. The question is asked by my friend. She discovered that I saved a lot and she asked me why am I saving. I don’t know how to reply. Why not spend it all today? That’s very interesting. I need to think about it.

On Relationship

This is an embarrassing section. But the feeling of embarrassment is good since it means the topic touches something deep.

The short description for the Year 2020 is that I did not make any progress (displacement = 0). The long description is that I did try to see if there is a match (distance > 0).

The problem, maybe I shouldn’t call it a problem, is that I do not have a clear idea of what I want. I haven’t thought through this question seriously. What I really want and need? Maybe I am not that kind of person that makes decisions based on impulses and feelings. I need a “general framework”.

The second problem is that my exposure is too low. How many girls I have met in person this year? The number is quite small. How can I find the right one if I just met 10-20 girls this year. The probability is just small. Maybe I should expand my social circle.

Wrapping Up 2020

There are a few things I need to wrap up for 2020:

  • Finish the course on Calculus (MIT 18.01)
  • Finish the project on predicting house price in Hong Kong
  • Set goals for 2021

Year 2021

The above is my reflection on the Year 2020. I will write down my goals for the Year 2021 in a separate post. Stay tune!

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