Welcome 2019. Are you ready?

As part of my tradition, to review the previous year and look into the next year – I ask myself some hard questions. But the questions you ask when you’re 20 are way different from when you’re 40.

Last year, I wish I had said no as much as yes. Some times you need to protect your most precious resource, time. Having said that, there are no regrets. I was fortunate to meet different types of people, from investors, entrepreneurs to professionals, and in the process, make some new friends.

I generally like to read the predictions of those who are considered ‘experts’. The purpose of prediction is publicity. And when time passes by, their purpose is to serve as a confirmation bias aka “I told you so”. Now publicity is another term for ‘attention’ and we are in the attention economy. If you have someone’s attention, you have their time, you can monetize that. Give it a longer period, and you can pretty much predict anything as a clock will always be right two times a day.

One prediction I came across, was that Bitcoin (BTC) would be $100,000. Well, there’s another one… if BTC doesn’t cross $4,000 by 2018 end, we could see it fall to $800. Now you decide which one to follow. Putting things into perspective, had you invested in BTC at the beginning of 2018, you would be down by 70%. Nevertheless, despite that, the crypto markets did imho prove resilient.

Having said that, I think that government and banks will continue to prevent greater adoption of cryptos, in the name of money laundering and terrorism, whilst ignoring all the benefits it could bring in terms of decentralization and transparency. I just hope they don’t bring in regulation that will harm the good crypto projects. If you’re still eager to get your head around blockchain & cryptocurrencies, jump into my masterclass.

I was also fortunate enough to present in front of a 200+ audience, a glimpse of blockchain & cryptocurrency – organized by the Bahrain Chartered Accountants Association. When you talk to the participants you get a feel of how educated professionals look at this concept from their point of view.

Should you put your goals out in public?

Some say that it’ll hold you accountable, others say that the moment you announce to the world what it is, you’ve already implanted in your mind that it is done and therefore you will not work to achieve them.

Here’s the thing, besides spending a great deal of time on your goals, some of the stuff that happens in your environment is not controllable. Predictable maybe, but not controllable. The environment (and the luck around it) plays a role – or at least this is what I’ve come to observe.

The last year was for me to focus on completion or finishing projects that I had started. And if something was not getting results, I would have pivoted or merged it into something else or decided to shut it down. This meant putting on the back burner ZENCAPITA and focusing on building our educational initiative – The Pitch Process Framework as a part of Eqoris Education.

When we setup Eqoris, we decided to make it as remote as possible. I strongly believe the concept of the desk is dead. In fact, I’m typing this not from my offie, but from Starbucks! Technology has improved so much that firms are moving to the cloud in droves. Larry Ellison was right, just at the wrong time – in the future we will have terminals that don’t require so much storage, everything will be on the net. (When he said this he wasn’t thinking internet, but ethernet with his software as the backbone). So for a good one month, we migrated ourselves to the Google Platform, with G-Suite as our hub.

We’re also working on the concept of Eqoris Ventures. Can’t reveal more here, as we’re in the infancy.

When you look back at the past, the lens with which you see the world, will either give you a distorted or real clear picture. If your viewpoint is biased, you’re going to see what you want, instead of seeing what is. But having some sort of viewpoint, is helpful when operating in a world of uncertainty.

There’s been so much divide in different parts of the world, that we seem to be divided on nearly every front. The level of change seems to be compounding.

The uncertainty in Europe post-Brexit could cause more capital flow into the US dollar strengthening it further. And if the Federal Reserve keeps on increasing rates, well, the dollar will get so strong that they become disadvantaged from an export point of view – it will just become unusable. Throw in a trade war and you can see that we’re going to be in for a patchy year. And with what’s going on in the US, the uncertainty has spiked. In fact, towards the third quarter of 2018 I stopped my personal stock options trading as I detected that I’d be making a serious of wrong bets. I’m glad I did, looking at December 2018 being one of the worst since 1900. Are we entering another recession, or are we going to see unprecedented growth?

While the west is trying to keep things together, the east seems to be the growth engine for the world.

Being an Indian, albeit living abroad – an NRI if you like – I always keep an eye on India, you could say a birds-eye view. And if the last election results are any indication, the current Modi government seems to be losing the plot. This has more to do with people who were frustrated by the tearing of Indian society fabric into camps, a typical political move – instead of moving the country towards economic development and collective progress. But I hope and pray that the people of India, a nation of various states, unifies itself through wise counsel of many ministers rather than an autocratic leadership of a single figure head.

At the same time, I’m very optimistic about India. Recently, I’ve been having talks with a couple of friends, where the theme has been consistently coming up – start local, scale global. India’s advantage on the global stage will be its cost advantage, for now. But at the same time, Indian companies need to up their standards in terms of international practices – within the startup, scaleup and growth space.

One thought I’m thinking over, given that I cross between venture capital and private equity is whether investors should focus on growth (and spend money) or profitability (and make money). In 2019, and possibly beyond we could be asking this question more often than not. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself…. is there money to burn?

One of the toughest things I have to come to grip with in being a non-resident Indian or expatriate or foreigner (or alien if you like) is being away from family and relatives. You miss all the great events, and the quality time. I guess that’s the price to pay. But home is where your heart is.

Looking back at 2018, it would be difficult to look at things optimistically.

Yet I still feel optimistic, the improvements that have come are long expected, which is why people are not so much excited when they do come. But there are signs of positive change.

What do you want to achieve this year? Have you planned for it?