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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A few years back, I moved from a Tech role at my employer (a big bank) to one that is primarily a mix of Research and Marketing.  This new role introduced me to the world of asset management, or more simply, the business of managing a client’s investments (there are other terms that can be used, but let’s stick to the less complex ones here).  My day-to-day responsibilities immediately threw me into a deep pool of investment terms: cash, equities, fixed income and some others that would make this post overly filled with rarely used vocabulary to most people.  And at that time, although I thought of myself as more capable than most in investing, I only became aware of how little I actually knew until being in the asset management business.  That old saying of “you don’t know what you don’t know” is so true.

Every day would involve discussions and decisions with some of the smartest and most experienced people in the asset management industry, and very little sympathy was set aside to someone just coming in from another part of the bank.  I had to quickly dive into both what needed to be delivered that week, day, hour but also understand how what we were doing impacted the business and more importantly, its impact to clients.  I had many long nights those first year into the new role, catching up on asset management knowledge, and used both internal corporate training options, and also those I could find through web search engines.  As I got more comfortable in this new line of business, I also would get asked by friends and family how my supposed “expertise” (but more really lack thereof) could also help give them an edge up in what they were personally doing with their money.

My first few attempts to educate others completely failed, as even my elementary knowledge came off more as me attempting to use lots of big and complicated words, so I needed to adjust some of the conversations to a more appropriate level.  The topics would then range from the very foundations of personal finance priorities to the more complex, such asset class investing.  With the above background now set, below is an outline of links I have accumulated over time that has 1.) helped me build a stronger investing foundation and 2.) allowed me to help point others in a direction if they were truly interested about learning more, but the dinner/happy hour/etc. interaction was coming to a close.  I will also be updating the below periodically as I see better and more useful details than the ones I have listed so far.

The basics – before you can run, you need to be able to walk

  1. Before a person can start investing, they need to be able to budget
  2. Minimize and eliminate short-term debt
  3. Set aside day-to-day and emergency cash
  4. Max out the employer match at your workplace retirement (if applicable)

One level up from basic to build up some additional foundation

  1. Cash is safe, and has options for earnings
  2. Equities – A complicated world of thousands of companies that can be invested in, but also one where investments have grown consistently (with some big bumps along the way) over the past 100 years plus.
  3. Fixed Income – Lend your money to companies and governments and earn interest payments that is often higher than cash, but also comes with a bit more risk

Intermedia level that will be updated in the future..

8. What do people mean when they say active and passive investment strategies?
9. Why diversify your investments?

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Photo by Miguel Padrinan Pexels.com

The below post is a continuation on my efforts to setup and migrate this blog to its own domain and hosting solution.  See intro post here.

I. Choosing a new domain name

Thinking through what I wanted to accomplish via a new domain name, below is a list I used to factor in the various requirements that I wanted it to meet.

  1. Host the “Curious James” blog using as few characters as possible
  2. Replace my alumni college email address.  After 16 years, my alma mater has decided to change the way they forward emails, which forced 16 years of sharing that email address to have to be dumped.  I was not a happy camper with that decision by the school…
  3. Allow my family members to also have email accounts in the future if they so desire

I eventually settled on SHIFAMILY.ORG.  I really wanted SHI.COM or SHI.ORG, but alas Software House International already beat me by about 20 years to SHI.COM, and I couldn’t find any details on SHI.ORG, other than that it is already taken.  After typing a number of combinations with SHI, I settled on SHIFAMILY.ORG.  Next step is to actually register the domain name.

II. Registering the domain name

The last time I registered a domain (gtgarage.com) was around 15 years ago, so my natural first step was to search the web and see if there was any intro or beginner’s guide that I could refer to.  After peering through a few good write-ups, the one I thought was a great combination of easy to read and good solid guidance was an article published earlier this year from PC World.

At the end of the article, the authors (Michael King and Alaina Yee), recommended a number of domain registrars, and I went with the only service provider that I have any experience with, Google (surprise, of course Google offers domain registration services…).

Using Google Domains was simple enough. 1.) type in domain and click on the cart+ icon, 2.) put in credit card details and 3.) automatically prompted to setup websites and emails


For setting up a website, I liked that not only were there popular options (that I have no experience with like Wix and WordPress), but also a free option in Google’s own Blogger.





Although blank, the new blog is now located at http://curiousjames.shifamily.org.


I’ve had a bit of an on-again, off-again trend with writing regular posts for this blog.  Like most people, regular life gets in the way, and the thought of pulling together a topic for a blog post routinely falls a bit lower on my to-do list priority.  And then sometimes, an idea pops in my head while reading something / watching something / discussing something that writing a blog post would be a perfect way to flush out that idea some more and get a better appreciation of it.

With that said, I have finally decided to upgrade this blog from its humble home on WordPress to my own domain (still thinking through naming options) and hosting solution (leaning towards setting it up on Amazon’s AWS to get a little hands on experience rather than delegated to a vendor or the IT team at work).  And through that process, I’ll pull together a series of posts to document the journey to see how hard / how much / how quickly I can get this completed during downtime at home at night and on the weekends…

(image of the mouse and cheese from: http://www.skywriting.net/inspirational/messages/destined_or_determined.html)


Most of my reading over the past few years has been via ebooks, books on tape, and the many many blogs that I follow daily.  With that being the case, I’ve had a great time wandering through Adele Wong’s fantastic book exploring the eclectic world of Hong Kong food, simply titled Hong Kong Food & Culture.  The book is an entertaining mix of a cook book, showing how some of the most popular traditional Hong Kong dishes are made, along with providing historic background of how certain dishes came to be, along with being an encyclopedia, with the noodles section serving as a great example breaking down the 10+ different kinds of noodles that are popular in Hong Kong cooking.  Although I may not be a cooking aficionado, I am a keen eater and really enjoyed diving into the details of the many popular Hong Kong dishes I have frequented over my 8+ years of living in Hong Kong and finally understanding just what the difference between Light and Dark Soy Sauce is…

You can pick up a copy at: manmomedia.com


With the extra time off for Christmas and Boxing Day (day after Christmas for those not familiar with the term), I’ve been able to catch up on quite a few personal to-do items these past few days.  Starting with some much needed sleep, balancing it with getting out to either the gym or basketball court consistently for about 4 days straight, finally sorting that growing pile of bank and utility bill statements, and lastly reading through a book I’ve been meaning to revisit for several years now, Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

After finding moments here and there, I’m about half-way through Stephen Covey’s best-known book, but I’m taking a pause on reading further, as one of the chapters caught my eye that I wanted to apply before 2017 kicks off in a few days.  The section on leadership and management, and more specifically around the usefulness of mission statements is especially applicable to my current work-day activities.  Similar to others who may be in an office environment and in a role classified as “management”, the balance between the urgent requests of the day with the longer-term needs of the team and organization in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and etc. can be especially challenging.

I first encountered mission statements in a management training program about 10 years ago when I was taking my initial career steps in managing teams.  At the time, it was an exercise that I thought was useful, but quickly moved on to other personal improvement opportunities, such as public speaking, or ability to create macros in Excel that I believed would deliver more immediate workplace benefits.  But now with my daily challenges in balancing the all-too-frequent urgent activities along with long-term team and organizational goals staring back at me on a regular basis, investing a little bit of time on a mission statement for the team I lead makes a whole lot of sense.

Besides the sections covering mission statement in Covey’s book, I’ve found a a couple of additional sources around the net that will help me get the ball started with my team in setting our mission statement together before the workload picks up again after the holiday season.  Before starting, ensure the company mission statement is identified and any team mission statement is aligned to the company mission statement.  The team mission statement is more granular and specific to the nuances of that particular team, and at the same time aligned to the larger organisation’s mission statement.

Additional Sources:

(top image courtesy of studylecturenotes.com)



As I digested my daily dose of economic, sports, and technology news earlier this month, one specific article caught my eye and immediately brought me back to my first days living in London circa 2004.  I remember distinctively those early days in London, every morning as I was leaving my apartment, the first thing my nose would notice is the strong and overpowering scent of diesel exhaust. Having relocated from Denver, Colorado, which is one of the greenest mid-tier cities in the world, the diesel exhaust in the London morning air was overpowering.

I still recall chatting with my new British co-workers and inquiring why there were so many cars and commercial delivery vans (usually in a bland white color) running on diesel in London, whereas in the U.S., I was mostly limited to encountering diesel vehicles that were either semi-trailers or large buses.  I was informed / educated that because diesel cars get better gas mileage than gas (petrol for the Brits) cars, they were preferred in many cases for both commercial and personal-use vehicles.  It took me a while to come around to the so-called advantages of diesel, but that didn’t stop me from covering my nose those first few months of waking up in London.

And with most things, after a few months, my nose acclimated to the smell, and for the remainder of my 5-year stint in London, I hardly even noticed the diesel fumes except on the few occasions when an out-of-tune bus, van, or car rolled by spewing large amounts of diesel exhaust.  That is until I stumbled onto this recent BBC article reporting that mayors of 4 major cities (Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens) committed to banning diesel vehicles from their cities.  This immediately caught my eye, and as I read more, it was all too clear that diesel exhaust actually has a significant negative impact to the air we breathe.

The further I read, the more validated I felt in peppering my London co-workers way back when on why so many vehicles were diesel and feeling that of course gas cars are superior when comparing just those two options.  Of course, with pure electric cars today, and the vast numbers of city-bike programs, there are even more ways to cut down the amount of exhaust fumes further and save that next expatriate moving to London from having to acclimate to diesel exhaust, and rather focus their attention on more important things, like coordinating colleagues to meet after work … at the pub  … on a Tuesday … at 4:30pm.

(top image courtesy of treehugger.com)

I don’t even remember how I stumbled on the YearUp program, but I saw it about two weeks ago when reading some articles about the economy and was really impressed with the companies that are involved and nationwide presence it covers.  While looking through the details, I was curious about how many other similar programs covered the Boston metropolitan area.  I’m going to use the below space to identify and list  these great community programs that put an emphasis on creating more impactful and engaged youths in the Boston area (and beyond).


  • YearUp (http://www.yearup.org)
    • Target age of 18-24
    • No college necessary
    • Combination of paid training along with internship with an employer that has a goal of turning interns into full-time employees
    • Nationwide program along with a Boston area presence
  • Youth Build Boston (http://youthbuildboston.org)
    • Program with a focus on vocational training for high school students to help them graduate high school and have relevant skills in the construction industry
  • MassTech Intern Program (http://www.masstech.org/intern)
    • Not necessarily focused on urban youths, but has a goal of placing Boston area college students together with companies, large and small

When I first moved to London in 2004, that initial shock of everyone speaking English (the Queen’s!), and not the one you’re used to from back in the states, took me a little off guard.  I did have to ask the occasional Scot to slow down and speak again, or for someone to rephrase the terms used so that I could figure out who the heck Joe Bloggs is (hint: it’s John Doe in American English).  It took about two or three months, but in no time I was humming along and adjusting to both business and social environments without much of a fuss.

Upon rapidly closing in on a year from my newly adopted Hong Kong home, the transition on the language front has been a bit more challenging.  Being part of a UK firm, just about every BT person (whether based in China, Japan, or HK) across the region has good business English competency, as is the case for most global firms.  The challenge comes from ensuring on a daily basis that what you communicate to your very diverse set of peers, direct reports, and even senior managers is the same understanding that they took away from you.   In the US or UK, if a person was not sure what I just said, they would almost always ask me to clarify, just like I would to them when I’m not sure of what they’re saying.  In Asia, I quickly picked up that not everyone asks for clarification, which can cause a lot of pain when it includes either 1.) a resolution of an issue or 2.) a directive issued, and instead you find out that either nothing was actioned or the exact opposite of my assumed/anticipated result has occurred.

My initial poor assumption that no clarification during verbal exchanges meant agreement, reared its head two or three times before I forced myself to a quiet corner and figured out what was going wrong.  The key here is once you do recognize and accept the issue is completely within your (or rather my) control, the resolution path is fairly straightforward.  As in all communication gaps, the key in my case was to once again focus on ensuring that my specific message is understood before leaving a face-2-face (least difficult), video conference (med difficult) or phone call (most difficult).  A bit more care and attention and much of the communication gaps from earlier in the year are mostly avoided.  That’s not to say I’ve absolved all my comms errors, or even close to all, but at least I am no longer kicking myself for the silly ones.

Image courtesy of Dolighan Cartoons

It’s easy to forget that China has a wealth of ethnic groups within its borders.  Click through the example pic below to a great set of pictures of the different ethnic groups.  I will need to revisit once I get some free time to read into some of the groups a bit more.  Enjoy!

China Hush Link

I just saw this on the Engadget feed, and although I’ve seen plenty of prototype articles, this is the first production cellphone with a solar back that I’ve been made aware of.  Although the actual phone is not something I would buy, this no doubt will lead to much wider adoption going forward.  Yes, there is the outstanding question of how much charge that itty bitty panel will be able to provide, but regardless, this is a step in the right direction for gadget geeks (like myself) worldwide…