In their book ‘Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’, the authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles describe the concept of Ikigai in a very thorough fashion. Published in 2016 by Penguine Books, this book was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

The concept of Ikigai
Feeling Ikigai, as described in Japanese, usually means the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment that follows when people pursue their passions.
Literal meaning is ‘a reason for being’ – something like ‘a reason for being alive; something that makes life worth living. More generally, it may refer to something that brings pleasure or fulfilment.
Our Ikigai is hidden deep inside each of us, and finding it requires a patient search. We do not create the meaning for our life, as Sartre claimed— we discover it. Each one of us has a unique reason for being, which can be adjusted or transformed many times over the years.
Our intuition and curiosity are very powerful internal compasses to help us connect with our Ikigai. Follow those things you enjoy, and get away from or change those you dislike. Be led by your curiosity, and keep busy by doing things that fill you with meaning and happiness. It does not need to be a big things: we might find meaning in being good parents or in helping our neighbors.

The ten rules of Ikigai
1. Stay active; do not retire. Those who give up the things they love doing (and do well) lose their purpose in life.
2. Take it slow. Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life.
3. Do not fill your stomach. Less is more when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80 percent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.
4. Surround yourself with good friends.
5. Get in shape – The body needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time. In addition, exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy.
6. Smile. A cheerful attitude is not only relaxing—it also helps make friends.
7. Reconnect with nature
8. Be thankful to everything that brightens your days and makes you feel lucky to be alive.
9. Live in the moment. Stop regretting the past and fearing the future. Today is all you have. Make the most of it.
10. Follow your Ikigai. There is passion inside you, a unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end. If you don’t know what your Ikigai is yet, your mission is to discover it.

Blank Check Companies – The ‘In’ thing of the year 2020

The search for better returns in a low-rate world has resulted in quite a few innovations in the world of finance and ‘Blank Check Company’ is one such innovation.

Now let us try to make out as to what is a ‘Blank Check Company’. The formal name of these Blank Check Companies is ‘Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC.

SPAC is an investment vehicle that goes public despite having no real business. The plan is to raise money from investors and use it to buy into another company, typically a private one that is yet to be identified.

SPACs typically go public at $10 a share and have 24 months to find a target. If the company fails to identify one, it liquidates, and investors get their money back.  Investors also get to vote on a deal and have a chance to redeem their shares whatever the result.

Therefore, SPACs tend to trade around their $10 price until a deal is announced (or sometimes rumored). In addition, the initial investors in a SPAC get warrants, which entitle them to buy more shares at a set price after the company makes an acquisition.

The SPACs boom stems from the convergence of two big trends and an old constant. The first is historically low interest rates. With safe bonds paying less than 1% and stocks trading at high valuations, more investors are willing to park their money with a SPAC in hopes of getting lucky with an acquisition that pays off big. Second is the long-running boom in private equity and venture capital. Investors who poured money into buying companies over the past decade want to cash in by selling them. So there are plenty of companies for SPACs to buy. Add to these an old constant: financiers looking for new ways to earn a fee from a transaction.

The current pandemic-induced market environment is tailor made for SPACs. The current volatility is making it difficult for conventional companies to go public. Therefore, purchase by a SPAC can be an easier way for a private company to go public: It can skip the usual roadshow for pitching investors and avoid some of the scrutiny that goes with an IPO.

The investors in SPACs are typically institutions such as hedge funds, and these SPACs offer them the combination of a relatively small downside with a chance to make a tidy profit down the road.

As per Bloomberg, More than 40% of 2020’s IPOs by volume have been SPACs, raising $31.6 billion, more than double all of last year’s volume of $12.4 billion. Currently there are 120 SPACs with $40 billion to spend, according to data from SPAC Research.

(Compiled from various sources)