I’ve been investing in the stock market since I was a second-year university student pursuing Computer Science. Since then, I’ve been involved with investing in several other types of financial instruments. Throughout my years of investing, I’ve experienced and seen numerous promises and perils in the financial world.
Every season, there seems to a ‘Hype’ happening and new gurus will be created. Remember the days of forex, options trading and value investing? Today, the latest hype is blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Personally, I was lucky to have invested in gold and silver during the financial crash of 2008 and experienced a boom in my investment portfolio. I started blogging about my learnings and soon it turned into an accidental business. Being a naïve young entrepreneur, I was told to write books, give talks and give interviews to the media. Guess what? I did all of that as per my mentor’s instructions and it worked!
Overnight, I was seen as the leading authority in precious metals and I was invited to speak in the largest conferences in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Korea. There were times when I was travelling to speak in 4 countries in 4 days. And I wondered to myself, “How did I get myself into Expert status?”
However, as I got busy travelling to speak, I could no longer keep up with the markets and I was turning more into an entrepreneur in the commodities trading business rather than a specialist in the subject matter.
I still recall a time when my closest and trusted circle of friends were warning me of one financial product that I was promoting. It was related to crude oil. At a time when I was riding high in my business and career, I ignored their warnings.
And soon… It taught me the biggest lesson of my life, business and career.
In 2015, I was hit with the biggest crisis in my life when a particular portfolio that I was involved in turned out to be a scam. The principal used the crude oil price crash of 2015 as an excuse for the scheme to fail. Fortunately, after 2 years, some of the largest investors of this scheme managed to dig trails of the principal’s fraudulent activities and now we are going through a lawsuit with the masterminds of this scam.
3 years since the crash of this crude oil scam, I must admit that it has been the most challenging yet life-changing experience for myself.
I used to be a guy who believed in doing what you do best and outsource the rest. However, since the crash, I had to endure the difficulty of studying 2 subjects that I’ve been avoiding all this while: law and accounting.
I had to find out how did I fall into that terrible oil crash. Isn’t it?
So, I started engaging with a number of lawyers and accountants to learn what went wrong. Today, I live with this understanding that you’ve got to engage a good lawyer at any point of your business. It’s either you invest in a good one while you’re starting out or you’ll end up paying more later on.
The crude oil crisis has also affected my ability to trust others. And hence, the reason why I am now even more selective when working with partners.
Nevertheless, I am thankful to a buddy who taught me this. He pointed out to me that the problem with me in the past is that I totally ignored the understanding of law and accounting and I expect the ‘experts’ to take care of everything.
If I was to continue my journey in this industry, these are 2 areas that I can never ignore. And when one has truly understood these 2 important subjects, you’ll realize that you’ll be able to sniff BS and learn when to walk away.
I’ve learnt to trust again. Because of this one important principle, this friend has ingrained in me. He said, “JON ALWAYS REMEMBER. TRUST IS GOOD. BUT CONTROL IS BETTER.
I started exploring the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry last year. Excited by all the hype, I started flying around the world to understand what the hell was going on.
During that several months of flying around attending conferences, I must admit that I was first very excited about the hype that “blockchain is the best thing that has happened since the internet”!
The excitement got heated up as Bitcoin prices jumped 20 folds to $20K. Friends around me became multi-millionaires overnight just because they bought some Ethereum during its presale days.
Then came the world of ICOs!
Basically, there was a point in time in 2017 where as long as you list a coin or bought a pre-listing coin, you’re guaranteed to make money. And I was excited with how fast the world has changed over the past 1 year. There’s an abundance of capital looking for the next “Alibaba or Google of Blockchain”.
However, as I started to dive deeper into this industry, I started to sniff more BS in these blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences, expo and summits. I’m not saying that all of them are crap. Unfortunately, the majority of them are. My guesstimation? More than 90% of these ‘Crypto Experts’ are crap!
It’s a bunch of people going on stage marketing the hype of blockchain without any business perspective. The product that they were selling? Token sale.
These are tokens with no utility but disguised in whitepaper as the next revolutionary bitcoin or ethereum with super technical words that they probably have no idea what they were talking about.
What makes it worst is seeing branding and marketing gurus calling themselves ‘leading blockchain authorities and investment strategists’ when they probably have not even bought a single bitcoin or Ethereum in the first place, let alone understand the difference between a crypto wallet or crypto exchange.
Marketing in the crypto space continues to grow faster without real solid blockchain projects coming alive. At this rate this is going, the blockchain industry is bound to be derailed by people who operate with the mindset of ‘fake it till you make it’.
Nevertheless, just like every industry, there are angels and there are devils. Throughout my travels, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and learn from the minority. The minority 10% whom I believe have the power to create a change in the world through the distributed ledger technology.
These are the minority who truly believe that blockchain has the ability to solve the world’s grandest problems and that if you want to be a billionaire, create a solution to help a billion people.
And today, I invest most of my time surrounding myself with these geniuses and learn from them. These are the guys who avoid fame, media and publicity. All they do every single day is to quietly build, learn and measure as the blockchain industry continues to evolve at an exponential rate.
My Conclusion in the Crypto World
After attending close to a year of conferences and summits, meeting numerous types of people in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, this is my takeaway about this industry.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency are like teenage sex.
Everyone talks about it.
Nobody really knows how to do it.
Everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it.
When everyone claims that they are doing it, you believe it.
And those who are really doing it, they are pretty quiet about it.
I don’t believe that blockchain is what’s gonna change the world. It’s the dreamers who utilizes blockchain to create a new shift that’s gonna change the world!
And there’s more technologies that’s truly exciting and they are accelerating at an exponential growth at the moment. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things!
At the end of the day, I believe that the world will reward entrepreneurs and investors who are passionate to help elevate humanity to create a better world.
To the crypto community, I wish that you’ll be the change you wish your next generation to see!
When I got to know that Singularity University was organizing their first ever summit in South East Asia, I immediately bought myself a ticket because I’ve been a huge fan since I first got to know about Singularity from a tech geek friend of mine.
For the benefit of those who have never heard of Singularity University, this is a Silicon Valley think tank that focuses on scientific progress and “exponential” technologies. It was founded in 2008 by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil at the NASA Research Park with corporate founding partners such as Google, Autodesk, LinkedIn, XPrize, etc.
This 2 days summit expanded my mind with an “exponential” mindset, understanding of emerging technologies, and ideas for innovating my business and my life into the future.
In this article, I’ll share my top 4 key takeaways from what I’ve learnt in SingularityU Summit Thailand 2018.
1) The Rules of Economics Have Changed
We have moved from a world of the old economy to a world of the new economy. A revolution in economic affairs thanks to the launch of fundamental enabling technologies, that is creating sustainable exponential growth.
Think about it?
In 1956, the data storage for a 5 Mbytes in an IBM 350 will cost anyone easily USD$120,000.
Today, the cost of a 32 Gigabytes pendrive cost you less than USD99.
It’s not only the prices of hard drive storage capacity that is dropping at an exponential path. This includes the prices of semiconductors, DNA sequencing and synthesis costs, data transmission rates which drives the number of broadband Internet subscribers growing at exponential curves.
The rules of economics have changed. Thanks to the exponential growth of technology.
At the rate that we are moving, the 4 key technologies that are taking off at an exponential paths will be; Quantum Computing, Distributed Ledger Technologies (Blockchain), Solar Power, and Artificial Intelligence
Personally, I’m convinced that the economy of the 21st century will be an Exponential Economy driven by the combination of distributed ledger technology (accountability), artificial intelligence (automation) and quantum computing (optimization).
And when the day these technologies mature, we will head towards a new revolution in the economy.
2) The Rules of Professional Jobs Have Changed
We are living in time when we are holding what’s been called ‘supercomputers’ by our ancestors in our palms every single day.
The technology that was created in the last 10 years is greater than the last 1,000 years combined. With this pace of change, this means that we are just few years away from a world where humans and machines live together. Yes! You’re right. We are moving towards an unimaginable future!
Is there a possibility where humans will work for machines in future? Possible!
CASE STUDY: Lawyer vs Robots
In 2018, LawGeex pitted 20 experienced attorneys against a 3 year old Artificial Intelligence trained to evaluate contracts. As you can imagine, the computer won.
The LawGeex’s neural network achieved an average 94% accuracy rate compared to the lawyers’ average of 85%. Close call.
But what truly matters is this… The human lawyers took anywhere from 51 minutes to more than 2.5 hours to complete all 5 NDAs.
Guess how long the AI engine took?
Whether you’re an employee, a professional or a specialist, your next biggest competitor will no longer be your peers. But machines, artificial intelligence and androids!
I still recall when I was in school in 1997, the news that an IBM Computer Deep Blue won a chess match against Garry Kasparov. It was the first time a machine defeated the world chess champion under tournament conditions.
In 2011, another IBM computer Watson took part in a television quiz show against former winners and won. Watson had to listen to questions and give answers in natural human language and he wasn’t even connected to the Internet.
In March 2016, AlphaGo played the board game Go and beat the World Champion.
Being a computer science student myself, I thought that I’ll have an upper hand in this new world of tech geeks. But guess what?
Artificial Intelligence can now write codes better than computer programmers and software developers!
In this video, Elon Must was interviewed on his opinions towards Artificial Intelligence.
And guess what? He is worried of what will happen when the machines becomes smarter than the humans.
“Even in the benign scenario, if AI is much starter than a person, what do we do? What job do we have?” – Elon Musk
There is no doubt that besides lawyers, accountants, doctors things are looking bleak for even computer scientists!
So for parents, do think about it when you want your kids to be professionals like lawyers, doctors and accountants.
Are these jobs still relevant in years to come?
3) The Rules of Business Have Changed
In 1975, a 24 year old engineer named Steven Sasson invented digital photography while working at Kodak by creating the world’s first digital camera. Kodak wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the industry-changing breakthrough. Sasson showed the new technology to a number of Kodak executives, but they couldn’t see the potential of what digital photography could become. This was their reason, as told by Sasson to the New York Times:
“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set. Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so.”
In 1998, Kodak was still going strong with a market capitalization of $26 billion and 140,000 employees.
By 2012, Kodak was bankrupt with 17,000 employees. It was disrupted by the very same idea created by it’s 24 year old engineer 37 years ago! What a bummer.
And guess what?
On the very same year, another photography company achieved it’s $1 billion unicorn status.
Guess who? Instagram!
Instagram’s number of employees? 13!
Over the past 150,000 years, human development around the world has been local and linear. However, in the past 10 years, human development has moved from local to global, and from linear to exponential.
As an entrepreneur, you have to be reminded that what’s affecting you is no longer your next door competitor. Very often, it’s created right across the globe.
So, make sure that you UBER-ize yourself before you get KODAK-ed.
4) The Rules of Life Have Changed
According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University, “The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today.”
Today’s rate of change “is at a faster pace than ever!”
The saying “For an understanding of the future, look to the past” is no longer relevant. In today’s business world, the past doesn’t equate the future. Because it’s a different world.
Remember the time when Internet was created and talks shows were discussing about what is “Internet” and what is the usage of “@” in a “.COM” and what is “Email”And guess what the internet has done to the world?
And guess what the internet has done to the world?
We are living in a time from when an aspiring entrepreneur says “I’ve got an idea” to this entrepreneur successfully says “I run a Billion Dollar company” is getting shorter and shorter.
First, thanks to the faster and cheaper computing power that is creating a strong connection among people. And second, thanks to the new disruptive business models based on the sharing economy.
Think about it?
Aren’t we now living in a time when we are all confused with words like synthetic biology, quantum computing, 3D printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain?
So, can you imagine how the world is going to become when all these becomes a part of our daily lives?
With the exponential fast changing pace today, what’s exciting is you don’t have to be IBM or Amazon to make an impact. Whether you’re working for someone or if you’re an entrepreneur, we are living in the greatest time to be alive. Because of the collaborative nature of the business world, we can all make a difference if we all work together!
Hope you enjoyed my sharing here on my 4 key takeaways in SingularityU Thailand Summit 2018!
A participant asked at this blockchain summit, “What will the future of banking be?”
One venture capitalist on the expert panel answered, “I don’t know if banks will exist in 10 years time. But it will definitely not be what it is today. And to be honest, I don’t even know if we will still call it a ‘bank’ in the future.”
The following are my top 3 diamonds taken away from Digital Asset Investment Summit here in Beijing, China.
1) The Revolution of Fintech
Besides banks and traditional financial institutions, fintech (financial technologies) such as P2P Lending and Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) will soon be transformed by Blockchain.
Disruption or revolution? You decide.
3) The Revolution of ICO
Over the past few years, the ICO world have been flooded with payment tokens and utility tokens.
Do take note.. Because there is now a new kid on the ‘crypto’ block.
Tokens backed by assets and profits of a firm. And at the same time, acting as a payment and utility token.
Step aside ICO. Be prepared for STO. Security Token Offering.
3) The Advancement of Crypto Investing
Investing in ICO also means investing into early stage startups. And that means, high risk!
Today, venture capitalists are looking for blockchain projects with real world application rather than just concepts of futuristic technologies.
Gone are the days when you can fund raise with merely a concept… Today if you want to do an ICO, be ready to showcase with your pilot test. Investors want to test your products. Not just listening to your presentation and watching a PowerPoint slide.
Thanks Focus Malaysia for featuring Owners Circle’s journey of disruption, transformation and innovation by creating a new hybrid of influencers and investors called Influence Investors.
The secret to transformation and innovation is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new!
Just last year, a thunderstorm ravaged parts of Bukit Jalil and sent fellow Malaysians into a state of shock.
I’ve always felt that Malaysia was getting hotter and hotter as years go by. In fact, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded 2016 as the hottest year ever recorded since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.
I began to contemplate my purpose in this world as an entrepreneur. In Christmas 2016, we made the conscious decision to appoint the Picha Project as our caterer. They are a social enterprise. The food was prepared by refugees from war-stricken countries who were seeking refuge in Malaysia. This deliberate decision not only brought food to our table but helps to support refugees who were unable to provide for themselves.
This spurred me into building a social enterprise. A business that serves the people, saves the planet and provides profit at the same time.
And so the story started to unfold after a conversation with Calvin Ngai, a friend who is a veteran in the accommodation management industry.
I’m passionate about education while he is passionate about hospitality. How do we combine two seemingly polar opposite interests?
We thought of combining our strengths to create a hotel that stands for what we believe in. We created Artisan Eco Hotel, an environmental-friendly hotel based on the concept of upcycling. The hotel will feature upcycling elements in the hotel. Travelers and adventurers will be educated on how to turn trash to treasure in a stylish manner.
Upcycling is the clever reuse of discarded objects or materials. It is aimed at creating a product of higher quality or value than the original.
An example of upcycling would be the Artisan Eco Hotel logo, built entirely from discarded wine corks.
There are even more upcycling examples I’d like to show you. But I’ll leave it as a surprise at the launch of Artisan Eco Hotel.
According to a survey by TripAdvisor.com conducted with 1,300 U.S. travelers,
62% often or always consider the environment when choosing hotels, transportation and meals.
69% say they plan to make even more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months.
64% of respondents said that they rarely or never feel informed about whether hotels are truly eco-friendly.
Calvin called me in January 2017 and told me that he found an ideal location.
It is located just a mere 250 metres away from Sunway Lagoon.
Within close proximity to Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Convention Centre.
In 2015, Sunway Lagoon recorded 1.5 million visitors,
and is expecting double digit growth from the Greater China market.
His existing 3-star hotel venture is Resort Suites at Bandar Sunway. It is just within walking distance from the proposed location.
Considering all of the above, we figured that this was the perfect place to kickstart our new enterprise!
We started speaking to friends who are interested in the idea of co-owning a hotel. Friends with similar core values that wanted to contribute to this business. Eventually, people within our circle started to get involved. Artisan Eco Hotel made upcycling easy, accessible and convenient for everyone.
We brought in other partners to build this idea together.
One day, Calvin posted this on his Facebook.
We are excited to look out for like-minded partners to join us as we see our social enterprise come to live. Individuals or companies who are into upcycling, environmental awareness and green governance – we want to work with you!
If you’re interested to joint venture with us in our future projects, please drop us a call at +6012-6728073.
I met Victor Goh 4 years ago, thanks to the Wealth Expo organized by Success Resources. After the event, Victor and her mum became a client of SilverMalaysia.com and soon after, Victor joined SilverMalaysia as an intern.
When he first joined my organization, we asked him to set his goals. And he set a goal that shocked us all. He said, “My goal is to be normal.” After probing further, I realized that he was setting such a goal because he didn’t have much friends in school. He was a loner.
Not A Normal Student
He started managing his studies and working at our office at the same time. He has managed dif-ferent roles such as office operations, marketing, events management, sales, research, etc. As he started to grow as an individual, we started to put him on stages to share his experiences as a young investor (made his first investment at 18 years old).
Soon, friends who used to isolate him in the past started calling him out to yumcha to seek for his advice. He became the go-to person among his peers when it comes to entrepreneurship and in-vestments. He also created a very strong team culture among his comrades and he is now a mentor to many young people.
I’ve spent a good afternoon with him today at his latest venture known as VR Lab, bringing the first ever Room-scale Virtual Reality (VR) technology in Malaysia. He truly amazed me today as he shared how he started raising funds among investors to kick start this business and what he does to create a system to manage the operations of the business. He was also instrumental to knock on Maybank’s doors to clinch a corporate deal to promote VR experience to Maybank’s clients.
Just last month, he was invited to speak at MMU (Multimedia University) and after that talk, he start-ed receiving invitations to speak in various universities and colleges.
At only the age of 22, this kid is already a force to be reckoned with. (BTW.. While he is setting up his business, he is still studying and completing his degree!)
Victor, our team at SilverMalaysia is extremely proud of your growth and progress. Do keep up the good work and be an inspiration to many other young individuals out there!