A GOLDEN age: 2017

Summary: How to make 2017 your best year ever, based on a review of my 2016 and outlook for 2017

Topics: Investing, exercising, blogging, podcasting and writing

Philosophical base: Wu wei (consistently baby-stepping toward a state of sprezzatura; no big NY resolutions.)

Tip: Take stock of where you were a year ago; what your targets for 2016 were; what you accomplished, and make plans for what (and how) you want to achieve going forward the next few months

Get your priorities straight: What books will you read, what podcasts will you listen to, what investments will you focus on (country, industry, asset class), what exercise programs will you follow? What career path will you follow (plan for the next step)?


Financials: Short stocks, long gold looked good for a few weeks

About a year ago I wrote about “going short stocks and long life“, in my review of 2015 and my plans for 2016.

Well, that looked really good for a handful of weeks, but since mid February or so, I’ve kept losing money on my shorts… The “long life” part however panned out really well.

This article is a story of both my personal and financial investments during 2016, and my outlook for 2017. As per usual I don’t have any New Year resolutions – and neither should you. To emphasize the latter, here is my May 2016 review of the year so far.


Baby-steps

Instead of making big overwhelming promises, make small changes every day. Start with taking stock of the year just passed, and think about any little improvements you’d like to make. Then make just one of those small changes. Today or tomorrow. Aim for just once.

For example:

  • Try having water instead of beer or soda with dinner just today
    • Hopefully you might do it tomorrow too, but you can worry about that then
  • Start a commonplace book and make just one single entry in it
    • investments
    • projects
    • decisions
    • a relationship or a pet
    • book summaries
  • Order a useful book (see my recommendations) and read a few pages in it today (perhaps instead of checking your social media accounts).
    • Hopefully you’ll read another few pages tomorrow… but don’t burden yourself with such big plans today.
  • Do not check Twitter/FB/Snap etc. the next hour (unless it’s your job ofc.)
    • Who knows, in a few weeks or months you may last for a whole day or week without checking
  • Video summary. If real books just are too much for you, watch just one 10-minute video of Fight Mediocrity’s book summaries.
    • I think this one (less than 5 minutes long) suits perfectly this time of year (and every other time as well). Or start by trying my 20-second summary below:

The Slight Edge: Reading 10 pages of a good book every night or morning would get you to 14 610 pages over the time span of a 4-year college education. That could be around 50 books on psychology, investing, physics, history and other useful topics.

The “investment” is just the 10 pages a day, but the payoff is huge. Having read 60 good books by the time you finish college would put you leagues ahead of most of your peers.

Now, is that something you might be interested in?


My year in review… the website is still ugly

In my last year-end review I wrote “In 2016 I want to fix that [ugly website look], maybe get help with the design.

Ooops, I haven’t done that.

The blog still looks awful. However, it actually is improving, just very slowly.

And, I did get help with the design and formatting of my e-book The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager. Now it is ready for Print On Demand (although I haven’t put it up at any POD service). I’m also just about done with a poster that summarizes the Sprezza Art Of Investing (I’m not involved in the design),


I’m still stubbornly short the Swedish stock market just as last year. In my previous post you can read how I still managed to survive, owing a lot to good timing and diversification.

One example of pure dumb luck was this stupid trade:

In 2015 I shorted Fingerprint with “magical timing”. In December 2016 I was long the stock (about 400k USD) as a joke… for 4 hours or so, before selling the position an hour before close. The next morning it plunged by 15%. Phew! Dodged that one. (In my commonplace book for trading I wrote: “really stupid trade“)


Full review of 2016 targets

This is what I had to say last year about my plans for 2016:

I’ll stay short the stock market in general in 2016 – stocks are hideously expensive, economies are sandcastles built on zero interest rates, malinvestment and speculation on unicorns.

Well, at least I did exactly as planned (sic), no matter how stupid.

Fortunately I had the good sense to reduce my shorts on downturns. Too bad I added to them again during surges. However, I’m nevertheless down to 2/3 of my position at the start of the year, thanks to prioritizing lending out money and buying private companies.

In 2016, I’ll buy small amounts of interesting companies on sharp drops.

I’ll announce my purchases after I’m done with them, unless I feel there is more downside left. Some people perceive my information as recommendations. To prevent unduly criticism, I’ll keep my investments to myself until after I think we have seen the trough.

In 2016, I’ve bought and sold shares in various amounts and order in 18 different public instruments (my Buy / Sell price ranges during 2016, bold means I still own some right now):

  • H&M 244.50 / 255.20
  • Olja S 16.51 / 19.18
  • ShaMaran 0.29 / 0.81
  • Catella 17.80 / 18.10
  • Stockwik 0.041 / 0.056
  • iShares Silver 14.05 / 19.35
  • Opus 3.98 / 6.35 (+0.10 dividend)
  • Peptonic 4.76 / 8.35
  • Fingerprint 74.70 / 75.10
  • BrainCool 12 /13.90
  • GLD sold at 131
  • Gaming Innovation Group 2.98 / 4.22
  • PHYS (gold) 10.44 / 11.26
  • Simris Alg 14.90 / 18.90
  • Studsvik 56.50 / 70
  • MQ 32.10 / 33.10
  • iShares GSI commodities sold at 15.10
  • XACT BEAR 78 / 118,41

…and here I go around saying I don’t like stocks or trading…

Well, despite incredible timing in many instances, my losses on index shorts (XACT BEAR) have more or less neutralized the profits in other instruments. Perhaps I should do more trading and less long term speculation in doom.

Anyway, last year I said I planned to slowly reduce my shorts:

I’ll cover my index shorts very slowly, 1% or less at a time, to finance small incremental purchases of select stocks, gold (GLD and GDX, and probably some physical as well) and oil (Brent ETF/certificate). I have no plans of initiating any shorts on single stocks.

All in all, I kind of followed my plan:

As my portfolio stands today, I don’t own any gold ETFs at all, and my private royalty streaming company (“physical” gold) hasn’t invested anything yet, meaning whatever GLD I sold at 131 has been parked as cash until further notice. Hence I’ve benefited from the surge in the dollar while avoiding the plunge for gold.

Further, I’ve reduced my shorts by about 1/3, which is more than planned, and I’ve kept buying shares in Studsvik as well as relatively small amounts in GIG and Peptonic (plus marginal amounts in SimrisAlg and Stockwik).

The main divergence is that I don’t own any oil or oil related stocks right now (although my gold exposure is also involuntarily paused). Reducing my shorts and accumulating select stocks is perfectly in line.


Moving on to my plans for pumping iron

During 2015, I increased my squat PB to 155kg and reclaimed 135kg in the bench. In 2016, I’m aiming for a 200% bodyweight deadlift (C. 180-185kg [up from 172.5kg]) and 142.5kg benchpress. Apart from that, it would be nice with a 100kg clean (and press?!)

I almost made it.

If it hadn’t been for my (ganglion) foot surgery, I probably would have made it. I did get 140kg in the bench (my old PB) and I managed a 182.5kg deadlift at a sub-90kg bodyweight, i.e., more than 200%. Regarding the Clean And Press, I cleaned 97.5kg, I think, before focusing on other lifts instead – not to mention foot surgery. I never pressed more than 90kg though.

Last year I wrote: A year ago, I had a job (well…), a girlfriend (since 10 years back), an expensive Swiss watch. Now I have a blog, a dog and a podcast, but no job, girl or watch.

The only thing that has changed since then is that I started dating in early 2016, and after a few false starts eventually found my match in August. Just a few weeks ago, she (and her little pomchi dog) moved in with me in December 2016.


Looking forward to 2017

The biggest change in 2016 was Anna (and my little sister Sanna) moving in.

Financially, my biggest changes were reducing my short position by 1/3, and investing in a private Canadian gold (and platinum) royalty streaming company, as well as a private watersports start-up, that I hope will begin making waves in 2017.

There are already interesting game-changing developments regarding the Canadian company too (a big platinum deal). It might actually be listed or sold within a year, potentially giving me twice my money.

E-book: During 2016 I had a few good runs regarding writing my next book, but I kept losing track and prioritizing other things: dating, Anna, my podcast, this blog, reading, working out, watching Game Of Thrones, partying…

In 2017 I will finish writing the book.

The outline is set; the chapters have been filled with ideas that just have to be made into sentences and illustrated with silly anecdotes; the intro has already been written, and so on.

I’ll make a plan for prioritizing making small incremental strides every week and have it done at the latest by the end of 2017. I’ll make it available as a POD at first, since I think the content will be more useful when presented in a hard copy format.

Gym: I will get that new bench PB during 2017; at least 142.8kg (315 lbs), as well as keep setting new PBs in the deadlift. Next up is 185kg. The squat, however, is just considered assistance training for me.

Podcasting: In 2017, I will try to change into a more natural and conversational style, away from my current newsreader monotone. Hopefully Ludvig will be ready to jab with me.

Periscope/YouTube: I’m thinking of starting a video channel; a “daily catch” of interesting or entertaining snippets of technology and financial insights I get from all the podcasts I listen to.


Wu Wei – a philosophy of sprezzaturian progress

I often talk about progress and self-development.

Just as often I talk about making the changes feel, look and be easy. I’ve expanded my thoughts on this in articles and mantras like “Just One”, “Just One More”, “Zero Threshold” and “Aim Low”.

I think it all comes together in the expression Wu Wei, or Do Nothing (but Accomplish Everything). That will be my mantra for 2017; making small, all but negligible, changes and nudges in the right direction in my main life priorities:

  • Writing (finishing my book and starting on a new one; I have many ideas lined up, both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Podcasting (making the conversation sound more natural)
  • Blogging (more succinct and to the point)
  • Periscope (summarizing my daily thoughts and lessons)
  • Investing (possibly reduce my shorts further, albeit mostly on downturns, and probably add on surges just like in 2016)
  • Weight lifting (small new PBs in the bench and deadlift)
  • Mobility (daily minutes, for hips, back and shoulders, to maintain my current level)
  • Meditation (daily minutes instead of just ad hoc micro meditation)

Summary: take stock, aim low, go

Okay, so you skipped to the summary? Good choice. Here are the take aways:

  1. Commonplacing – take notes of what you learn this year and enable tracking your progress in your main areas of interest
  2. Take stock of your progress, using your commonplace notes
  3. Set new targets for the coming months and quarters (avoid too long-term and overwhelming game changers)
  4. Awful makes perfect – break down your targets into ridiculously easy parts and just start hacking away at them.
    1. The sooner you start the better. You’ll be awful in the beginning but that’s exactly how you get better – and eventually perfect

Now what?

Just do this one thing right now and you’re off to a good start for the year:

  • Open your commonplace (download Evernote for free if you don’t have one).
    • Create a master note and write down your main interests (e.g., work, decisions, finances, trading, family, vacations, hobbies, investments, projects).
    • Make one new note for one of the areas and write one single entry, e.g., create a note for Finances and write down a “best practices” rule for yourself.
    • Right click that note, copy note link, paste it in the master document next to “Finances”

Wait, wait! Have you stretched your psoases today or at least this week? And how about 30 seconds of meditation? OK, but at least give me a Johnny Drama roar. Now.


P.S. Did you lose money in 2016? Read my previous article and please e-mail me your story anonymously. I’ll soon summarize whatever patterns I can discern from the tales of tail-spins in the divergent markets of 2016.

P.P.S. Fun fact: 2017 is my first real “future year”. It’s the first year I’ve always felt represents the future. I guess it started around 1985-1987 when I was in my first teenage years. Sure, 2015 was far away but still didn’t have that special aura of the true future that 2017 did.


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16 Comments

  1. Any plans to develop the Sprezzatura and/or “sci fi lifestyle” concept further?

    Any plans for an English-speaking podcast?

    Any planned tweaks to your mentoring approach?

    What startups would you invest in locally?

  2. I’m struggling with meditation too. My goal is 10 minutes per diem but I haven’t made it for more than 20 days a row at best.

    My biggest changes in 2016 was:
    * Eating fish more regularly
    * Read more books
    * Improving second languages (duolingo and reading more english books)
    * Writing a daily journal and commonplacing

  3. Every trade a winner… Maybe you should start a hedge fund. Seriously, are you married to your macro calls? You’ve written in so much (impressive) detail about calculating enterprise value, perhaps that is your passion.

    Bear markets usually start with a sharp move down, which damages psychology — but not enough to scare away naive dip buyers. The killer trade is to short into this rally. IMHO, there is no need to catch the exact top. The easy and obvious stop is to bail on any new high. It should be a very small risk if you wait for the reflex rally.

    That’s my theory anyway. Good luck in 2017.

  4. Grymt inlägg! Älskar när du skriver om börsen, makro och dina egna affärer :P

  5. Every trade a winner… Maybe you should start a hedge fund :)

    You’ve written in so much (impressive) detail about calculating enterprise value. That is clearly your alpha.

    Bear markets usually start with a sharp move down, which damages psychology — but not enough to scare away naive dip buyers. The killer trade is to short into this rally. IMHO, there is no need to catch the exact top. The easy and obvious stop is to bail on any new high. It should be a very small risk if you wait for the reflex rally.

    That’s my theory anyway. Good luck in 2017.

  6. Mr. Syding, I do not understand why you are investing in Stockwik? What is the case?

  7. Intressant!
    Jag började själv med liknande “årsarapporter” för några år sedan. Har dock en del att göra med bryta ner målen i dagliga doser, vill gärna greppa för mycket och då står det still istället. När man är 60+ har man dock hjälp av insikten att livet trots allt är ändligt och att det viktiga är att lägga energi och tid på det allra viktigaste.

  8. Hello,
    I was wondering if you would write about your prediction of 2017 major investment thems,

    Warm regards & Happy holidays

  9. Hi Mikael,
    Your post helped me to improve my self-esteem a bit after pondering how I tackled 2016.
    My story was featured in the latest edition of The Slight Edge. I mastered daily habits and actions. When I break somethings into daily action, I usually achieve it. Otherwise… well, not so.
    In 2017, I’ll try to up my game to the level of weeks.
    I don’t have a commonplace, just a lot of journals. But at last, I started to collect interesting links and quotes. Yesterday, a few minutes before reading this post I saved the link to this sleep research: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)01240-3

    Retrospecting on your goals and progress is powerful. Twice a year I summarize the past year (at the beginning of the year and at the anniversary of reading The Slight Edge) and I publish income reports. Those ‘time travels’ get you out of a daily rut.

    I have goals for 2017, but they are already broken down into months, weeks and days whenerver possible.

    I like your “ugly blog”. However, I have an aesthetic taste of a brick ;)

  10. Hej!

    Tack för en bra blogg, bok och podd!
    Jag har en direkt fråga, hur tycker du att en medel-svensson ska få exponering mot guld? Detta som en hedge mot mina övriga exponeringar som nu är aktiemarknaden + bostadmarknaden (egen bostad).

    Den informationen jag har nåt åt så verkar fysiskt guld (guldtackor) vara mest intressant. Har du något kommentar kring det? Har du någon information kring olika leverantörer, lutar åt Liberty silver just nu.

    Tack!
    MVH
    W

    • Svårt att svara på. Jag tycker PHYS är ganska bra trots allt, men ska du upp i långsiktiga exponeringar på över miljonen är det nog mynt och tackor som gäller – lite hemma i ett kassaskåp och resten hos en fristående icke-bank i ett stabilt land. Jag har inget sådant direktägande och har därför inte mer detaljer än så. Liberty silver tycker jag dock låter bra nog.

  11. Hey Mikael,

    I’m a little late to this article. Your writing has always been just what the doctor ordered when I let life get the better of me.

    2017 is the first year I’ll be living without my kids or ex-wife. It is bitter sweet but I’m still happy. I have learned that I choose the wrong partners. They stifle growth and crush motivation.

    This year I can be selfish by focusing on my needs for the first time since I was little. Hope your 2017 is as successful as you plan to make it!

  12. Great blog. Cudos. This is the year of the masses Revolution. (a la Hunger Games) Go Trump. Go Le Pen (if she gets in – it’s all over but the tears for TPTB ‘New World Order’. This is OUR YEAR! The AntiDote? Physical GOLD!

    The article was titled “Listen Carefully for Hints of the Next Global Recession” and in it, Schiller discusses his view of psychology’s powerful role in economics and, more specifically, recessions.

    Schiller writes that “Economists are good at measuring the past, but inconsistent at forecasting future events, particularly recessions. That’s because recessions aren’t caused merely by concrete changes in the markets. Beliefs and stories passed on by thousands of individuals are important factors, maybe even the main ones, in determining big shifts in the economy.”

    He goes on to say “In fact, it’s instructive to remember that global recessions have usually begun suddenly and been a real surprise to most people… such events can largely be ascribed ultimately to contagious stories of wide significance. Basically, global recessions tend to begin when newly popular narratives reduce individuals’
    motivation to spend money. Psychology matters a great deal.”

    http://fofoa.blogspot.ca/2014/06/fiat-33.html

    http://fofoa.blogspot.ca/2014/08/dirty-float.html

    http://fofoa.blogspot.ca/2014/12/global-stagnation.html

    Good Hunting (and keep stacking)

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