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2020, Thank You For The Learnings

Reflecting on the year none of us will forget

Shiven Tandon
Shiven Tandon
4 min read
2020, Thank You For The Learnings

Table of Contents

Hi there!

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on my key learnings as an investor, a writer, and from life in general. I hope they inspire you, or at least bring a smile to your face.

I have wanted to have an online blog for about seven years. This year, that dream took the form of STEBI. So for me, 2020 hasn’t been all bad.

I was listening to this soundtrack on loop while writing this. I think you’ll enjoy playing it in the background while reading. 🎧😌

The year started off well for me. The Chartered Accountancy exam results came in January; I had finally cleared. A little back story…

My pursuit of the Chartered Accountancy degree, came to a standstill at the last group of the final level of the course. I saw my peers, and then juniors qualify. And still, I couldn’t. After many unsuccessful attempts earlier this decade, I abandoned it. My confidence and self-worth were at an all time low. I used to question why it all had to happen to me. I never thought of myself as a genius, at the same time though, I never thought I was dumb. But, failing an exam over and over again, makes you feel that way.

Due to a random series of events, I decided in August 2019, to take one more swing at the exam in November 2019. I qualified. I know it doesn’t matter to the rest of the world. But for me, confidence wise and in how I present myself socially, I feel so much better about myself.

From this decade long journey that culminated in 2020, I learnt that it isn’t worth leaving any job half-done. One can take a break, in fact, I would encourage it. But, one should always strive to finish the game. Taking the time to get the monkey off your back is worth it.

You don’t need me to tell you that the markets have resembled a rollercoaster all through 2020. As a keen market participant, I have a major learning from this period of market craziness — don’t wait for the market to become cheap to start your analysis. You should regularly analyse companies and stay prepared to pounce when good buying opportunities come up. The best companies don’t stay cheap for long, one has to be ready when the window of opportunity opens.

Though I had bought my first stock back when I was 19, I wholeheartedly committed to it only about three years back. I laboured through books and annual reports, learning to perform company valuations. Somehow, I would always study companies that were cheap based on their price-to-earnings ratio. Never did I delve into the absolute best companies like Asian Paints and Titan. I always lazily deferred that complex activity thinking that, “These are overvalued anyway.”

When the market tanked in March, I found myself wishing I had performed thorough analysis of the best companies. This would’ve allowed me to cherrypick a stellar portfolio. I kicked myself, realising what a fool I had been. A well picked portfolio, at the prices prevailing in March / April would’ve served me well even for a decade, if not more. At the time, I did the best I could and heavily invested into the index, which has done very well, but I did learn a valuable lesson — meticulous investing demands time and effort. If you cannot commit to it, it’s better to consult an investment advisor, and get high quality advice for a fee.

I started writing and publishing a weekly article in July. This is the 26th such article. I don’t particularly like all of them. In fact, some make me go like, “My God, why would anyone read this!?” But I still want to keep going.

Why? When I started, the goal was to publish an-article-a-week for at least for a year, and see where that took me. This goal came from listening to Ali Abdaal, a YouTuber I follow. He said in one of his videos (paraphrasing) — “if you want to start putting your work online, you must accept that the first 50-100 pieces of content will be trash… once you make peace with that, it’ll free you from your inhibitions, and you’ll solely focus on making good content… accept that there’s never a perfect moment to start anything” — that has stayed with me.

I guess the reason I never started in the last seven years was because I feared not being able to do it regularly. Feared people not liking, or even mocking my writing. Facing and accepting that beforehand, liberated me from being too harsh on myself. It allowed me to get started and learn as I go. It's not that I'm not affected by bad feedback or indifference, I am. It's just that I'm more committed to keep going, inspite of it. Even when an article gets just 20 views, and only my Mom gives me feedback.

I've realised that regularity is an underrated virtue. With every successive article – my self-awareness, confidence, and knowledge improves. At the same time, my excuses, my laziness and my fear of rejection, diminish. I’m committed to sticking with this, at least till July of 2021.

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. :) 

I’d encourage you to find time to write your reflections of the year 2020 — the year none of us will forget.

I wish you a happy and safe 2021, and pray that humanity comes out of the clutches of this pandemic very soon.

 See you next week/year. ✌🏼