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Random Talk by Vishal Gupta Life is meant to be a random walk – my life has always been one. Through the Random Talk blog I share my experiences and perspectives on life as I perceive it. You’ll find here some original (non-mainstream) thoughts on various random topics that interest me – life,... More
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  • Alternative Year-End Reading: Random Talk's Year In Review 2013 0 comments
    Dec 30, 2013 11:19 AM | about stocks: TWTR, FB, TSLA, NFLX

    From the Random Talk blog:

    "So this is Christmas, and what have you done,

    Another year over, and a new one just begun"

    So goes one of the legendary Christmas songs that one gets to hear every so often at this time of the year - on TV, on radio, and quite randomly, even on my own playlist. Amidst all the celebrations, parties and family dinners, it's a time to reflect on the year gone by, and willy-nilly answer probing questions from all and sundry about your resolutions for the New Year!

    As for me, this year I started writing the Random Talk blog (NYSE:RT). I am thankful to all the readers of my blog for your support and encouragement, with RT having established a regular following of a few hundred visitors for each post. So, whether you have been following the blog regularly, or have only just started reading it, or simply looking for some alternative reading for this holiday season, here's a look back at 2013 through some of the popular posts on Random Talk.

    Reader's choice (most read posts measured by number of hits)

    1. Cometh the taxman - 4 thoughts 4 the next 4 weeks
    2. Live life 'Baazigar' style
    3. Money Money Money (Part I): Themes - Making money trendy - Social, Solar and Realty

    Author's choice (my personal pick for the year)

    100 Reasons (in tweets) Why, When & How #Twitter will be a 100 billion dollar company #PathTo100bln

    Talking the Walk

    Random Talk is a celebration of the randomness of life (read my inaugural post). It is a medium for me to share the experiences of my life's random journey by finding patterns amidst all the randomness a'la the Random Walk! I believe in a complete life experience - hence, my blog features an eclectic mix of topics that interest me - life, lifestyle, finance, social media, cricket, leisure - intertwining various aspects of life. I try and make the content original, relevant, in-depth and entertaining. If you give 10 minutes to reading a post on my blog, I promise to leave you with a feeling of contentment, an uplifted spirit, a smile on your face, and hopefully a thought to incorporate in your own life.

    "… not to be fooled by randomness that life brings, for hidden amidst all the fuzzy uncertainty there is a pattern for us to discern"

    Life & Lifestyle

    So, the year changes! Times change, people change, the world around us changes, and yet life must go on. Great revolutionary leaders Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher passed away, the Fast & Furious star fell to a, well, fast and furious tragic death. Yet, the whole world had an occasion to celebrate in the birth of the royal baby. Every year, we have a few successes and a few setbacks, a few memories that we shall cherish for a lifetime and perhaps some we'd rather forget. Life is full of complex contradictions - how do we stay true to our purpose and find our way to success? This is the question I explored in my epic post - Live life 'Baazigar' style - drawing upon the plot of a famous Bollywood movie and finding remarkable links to the life and times of a legendary Tech entrepreneur. And what's life without a little humour - what better than to laugh at our own follies? So, I went from narrating my "acrogalaphobia" to dispelling the "glass half full, half empty" adage in my light-hearted exposition - 1 portion Vice + 3 portions Virtue = Full Glass of Life.

    " Stay hungry, stay foolish. Lose it, so you can win it. Give it up, but never give up. And when you get the chance, take a chance on you. That's how you live life 'Baazigar' style…"

    Money & Finance

    It's the economy, stupid! After a tumultous few years, the global economy started showing signs of finally recovering. "Taper" became quite the most used word in discussions on the economy - in reference to when the US Federal Reserve will commence the process of reducing its monetary stimulus measures. The markets were in rally mode. The S&P 500 set a new all time high. Tesla's cars were on fire (literally!), while its stock ($TSLA) went into overdrive. Netflix ($NFLX) was a blockbuster hit. Amidst all the talk of a bubble, there was a bubble, well, in the use of the word bubble! There was plenty of inspiration for me to write a trilogy on investing - Money Money Money: Themes,Rules & Styles. The 3-part feature sought to dispel conventional myths on investing while proposing various frameworks for developing a successful investment strategy. I also explored the nebulous world of tax-efficient investing - which, remarkably has been the most visited post on my blog - we all like to save tax, don't we?!!

    "You didn't have to be a rocket scientist… all you need to do is observe trends, aggregate them into themes and distil some monetisation strategies from the themes"

    Social Media

    The year of social media! From Twitter to Facebook, WhatsApp to Snapchat, social media is one of those revolutionary changes that impacts our life in multiple ways: 1) how we connect and communicate with people 2) how we access information and discover what's happening around us 3) how we use it in our professional lives for the business or job we are involved with - or indeed a greenfield avenue to make a fresh career start 4) as an investment opportunity to capture the enormous value creation from companies involved with social media. 2013 was an year of exponential growth for social media, not just in terms of usage. As Selena Gomez celebrated her 21st birthday, Wall Street fell in love with Facebook ($FB) and then temporarily fell out of love when a few of Selena's younger fans appeared not to be using the network as much. This on-off love affair featured in my blog post - Valuing the Social Network: Wall Street doesn't get it, Selena Gomez might! The social network most in the news this year was Twitter - it is the one growing fastest. And when Twitter ($TWTR) listed on the stock market in November, from Al Gore to Ashton Kutcher to Richard Branson to Mrs Watanabe to the Joneses down the street - all took note. Twitter is my pick for the "Phenomenon of the Year" and hence I dedicated one full blog post, written as a tweet-log, in tribute to the company. Whether, you are interested in Twitter as a user, an observer, an investor, or as a cynic do read my blog post about Twitter - of course, it carries its own hashtag - #PathTo100bln

    "Much like the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies formed the growth story of the last decade… the TGLF (Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook) communities would together form the highest growth marketplace in the years to come"

    Cricket & Leisure

    It was fun! Life is busier than ever - we are constantly juggling with multiple commitments from work to family to running the daily chores. Yet, to keep ourselves going, it is important to make time for our interests and activities of leisure - that is the only way to relax, unwind and recharge! From the time my dad presented me my first cricket bat for my fourth birthday, I have been an avid follower of the sport of cricket. 2013 saw a lot of cricket action - both on and off the field! England and Australia battled it out in back-to-back Ashes series, with England handing out a drubbing to the Aussies over the English summer, with the Oz duly returning the favour a few months later. Off the field, one David Warner and Joe Root had a boxing duel of their own! It was the end of an era as many of the games stalwarts - Dravid, Ponting, Tendulkar, Kallis, Swann, to name a few - called it day. Yet, the show must go on. And it certainly did - with the top 8 cricketing nations getting together to vie for the Champions trophy - the win for India inspiring my post - We are the champions (of cricket). The new age and fast paced Twenty20 cricket continued to capture the imagination of fans - and as the top cricketers from the world battled it out in the IPL - I explored the economics and strategic nuances in my post - IPL-onomics: It's not just cricket (sic). Meanwhile, it was summer in England alright, and as the Shard emerged as the newest star on the London horizon, it was the season to visit rooftop bars - find my favourites here.

    "While you're in London, do as the Romans do in New York… if you want to get high, get high. Climb high while the sun shines"

    Special topic: Personality

    Who am I? Which personality type best describes you?

    #1 Stable Cautionary - safe, pragmatic and reliable

    #2 Mainstream Conventionalist - moderate, balanced and progressive

    #3 Commanding Enthusiast - energetic, dynamic and resourceful

    #4 Eccentric Visionary - intellectual, free-spirited and adventurous

    Read my post - What shade of grey are you? - And figure out yourself!

    Happy New Year

    So, what memories and learnings will you be taking forward from the year gone by? I learnt a lot about human character this year. I kept my spirits high in the face of various personal setbacks. When the chips were down, a few friends stayed by me, a few tried to pull me down. We can't change the world, but we can always find a reason to celebrate. I say bring on the New Year. Put on your dancing shoes, get out that bottle of bubbly, and get the party started. "Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends".

    As we cross the blurred lines between 2013 and 2014, here's wishing all the patrons of the Random Talk blog a very Happy New year! Don't forget there are many ways to continue following the Random Talk blog - visit the website (, follow me on one of the social networks, or e-mail me ( and I'll add you to my mailing list. This New Year's Eve, whether you are watching the ball drop in Times Square or the fireworks go off from the Harbour Bridge or London Eye, let's raise the bar and our cups to the stars. Hope you have some fun, I just want to get lucky!

    Have a great MMXIV.

    Disclosure: I am long TWTR, FB.

    Stocks: TWTR, FB, TSLA, NFLX
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