By Andrew Wong
8th Dec. 2002
Letter to Doctors on Skills for the Future
This open letter to doctors comes about after QuaSyLaTic wrote
to his good old friend who is a successful and well respected
specialist doctor. It is hoped that this letter can also others who
share the views.
How are you and your family getting on?
Final Golden Chapter Vs Retirement
Nevertheless, I hope to use this email to make some reconnection with you, hopefully touching on subjects of your interests, or creating new subjects of interest to prepare for our future – the final Golden Chapter in Life (better phrase, I think, than “retirement”).
As professional, you are now the medical specialist, I, turned from engineer to human-development for both individuals and organization, we could be much involved or buried in our work, but we may need to spare some thoughts and prepare some skills for our Golden Chapter if whatever work we are doing may not be suitable for that age, or maybe not be as meaningful as we want it to be.
So what will be the pre-occupation that we can be creative, productive and meaningfully during the Golden Age?
Creative – so that we continue to develop mental capacity and to self-actualize (the ultimate of Maslow’s law); Productive – we are still an useful entity contributing much to the community and society; Meaningful – whatever we do generates happiness to people we care and we can be happy too.
I share with you some of my thoughts and preparation, in case you are also interested.
Many people, with good financial standing, do much charity work during retirement. For me, besides the fact that, as salary-earner, I do not have much to spare for charity, I also do not believe charity can really bring about a profound change in whatever we want to help.
New Guiding Ideas for Golden Chapter
My criteria, then, is as per follow:
1) Expanding more our mental capacity and capability
2) Enriching other people’s life, not by charity, but Knowledge and Skills
Expanding mental capacity – a key ingredient to self-actualize and critically important for professional as they are so used to use their intellect during working life. (Refer also Internet “The Nun Study” – how well lubricated mind bring about greater life satisfaction instead of medical symptoms associated with old people, like Alzheimer.)
Enriching other’s life – the integration and cohesion with the community become greater.
In the case of medical professional, I see many doctors doing much community service work during retirement. It satisfies 2) above, but not 1), unless the doctors continue to learn new medical skills in discharging the work. However they may feel happy about it, which is fine. (I am doing some research work on how retired community manage their life more creatively, productively and meaningfully.)
With the above, I have many areas to explore and experiment. And my present “job” augers well for that too. Of the many fields, I share one particularly with you, which maybe of interest to you, and from there we could derive the principles to create other areas of interest to suit our preference.
Knowledge and Skills in Investment
Finance (basic need as per bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy) is a complex subject especially for us (doctors and engineers). Yet it is so essential for everyone, rich or poor. Many successful professionals or businessmen make good money and saving, but destroy the value due to poor investing.
Hence if we pick up more knowledge and skills, particularly on investment, we could not only take care of our finance but also enrich others’ life through acquisition of appropriate knowledge and skills, and we can continuously learn and expand our mental capacity on this subject for self and community fulfillment.
As it is a subject I passionately pursue for almost 20 years, more a hobby initially, it will be a long story to tell all about this subject. (Most of my experiences are in my webpages, http://www,360q.com on investment knowledge). Hence I will just make a summary and invite you to take up learning in this field in a strategic way. Strategic in the sense that it would not, should not, interfere with what you are at best now – i.e. as specialist doctor, but gradually overtime you enjoy the joy of learning other skills.
Although the subject is on investment, more precisely, it is understanding the market behavior, which is an emergent phenomenon of collective human behavior. With good observation of the pattern and trend, I pay serious attention on TIMING of the market and initiate investment move, and equally important, observe further market behavior to get ready to exist from the market.
I use unit trust as a vehicle for such action, NOT stock, as individual stock can be subject to much manipulation by people. (e.g. Enron).
My proven success recently is my discipline and patience to wait for the market decline for the last three years. Many clients who sign up with me (2-3 years ago) appreciate that I did not commit any of their fund as I still keep their investment unit trust application form to wait for further market decline, while they continue to enjoy the 6% interest for EPF or 3% interest of cash in banks.
How could you benefit from my service?
My service is as a unit trust agent. But I am not really selling unit trust but selling knowledge and skills. (Note: I have no choice to become a unit trust agent, as I can’t find an agent who can use such market discipline. Generally they only encourage clients to buy unit trust whether high price or low price, not timing, with the reason that it is for long term, which is a flawed thinking.)
So how could you benefit from my service?
1) As most professionals are busy with their specialized work, I help you to monitor the market and advice you the timing. Hopefully your investment in market (using unit trust) will grow handsomely in tandem with market behavior.
2) You will begin to appreciate more and more (over time) the market behavior when you place investment with me, as I am applying the knowledge and skills. Later, you maybe interested to pick up such competency in acquiring the new knowledge and skills.
3) With the new knowledge and skills, you may like to teach and coach first those dear to you, like your children, to get them more prepared for their future in financial knowledge, whether they choose to be employee, self-employed, or businessman.
4) Share such knowledge and skills with the community – to teach them how to fish, not give them fish.
Expanding the Concepts and Principles
From the above, we could derive some key concepts and principles:
Our focus is on Knowledge and Skills, which is the key premise. Although we apply the concept in investment, we could also apply such principles in other fields.
On the example I use on retiring doctors providing community service work, there is a subtle difference on how the knowledge and skills are applied. The doctors are applying their knowledge and skills to help sick people. However, if the doctors design an effective learning program to help people to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to cure and prevent diseases, the it is quite like the item 3 and 4 stated above.
Hence the underlying idea is helping ourselves and others to continuously expand our capacity and capability to produce the desired results.
Clues on Motivation
One of the great motivation factors is to contributing our best to someone we care and love. For most people, it is the family and the children.
However, there seem to be big difference in motivation of people before and after retirement with regard to caring for the family. Before retirement, whether it is a written or unwritten mission statement, one of the motivation factors is to care and develop the children before retirement. Usually at the retirement age of the parents, the children are grown-up, having their own life and preferences. There are fewer roles for the parents, who are retiring. Naturally a vacuum is created until it is replaced by something equally or more meaningful and engaging.
What can replace the vacuum and with what strategies?
The above-suggested model may give some clues –
The need to continuously increase our capacity and capability to learn new knowledge and skills to create results that can have impact to those we care and love, and possibly benefit the community.
Then strategically, for average people like us, the focus is on knowledge and skills that have wide application in life. The generic human skills that can help us to move on with life more effectively. Learning in human skills is a life long continuous process, we cannot assume education system can provide all for our children, nor can we assume that we as retiring adults do not need to acquire more skills and wisdom. (Refer to this QuaSyLaTic article on “The Hexagon of Life” listing 6 essential skills, and investment knowledge and skills is just a subset of one of the 6 elements.)
Journey of a Thousand Mile starts with a Footstep.
Hence on the journey towards acquiring knowledge and skills on investment. I suggest the following to you:
1. If you make contribution to EPF, you could sign up with me for unit trust application. (Let me know your postal address for me to send to you the paperwork)
2. If you do not have EPF contribution, let me know whether you are interested in the above approach so that I could advice you on the timing to use cash to invest. (Note: My advice to client at this moment, Dec. 2002, is NOT to use cash to invest, but EPF, refer to other articles and analysis in my webpage.)