Sunday, May 24, 2015

What kind of prata does your job resemble ?

The Thosai article has attracted quite a lot of attention so I'd thought I'd follow up with a similar article about career management. This framework is inspired by Robert Reich's The Work of Nations has been explained before in my previous books but I have updated my ideas to include some new insights from Law School.

a) Mechanical jobs resemble Roti Kosong

I think by now, people agree that many jobs are dead end jobs in Singapore. If you are manufacturing worker who performs mechanical work, you are probably already jobless in this country. Even in China, automation is rapidly changing the modern factory  why hire a villager when a robot can do the task with greater precision and will not commit suicide or engage in industrial action.

It's not just production operators who need to be afraid, I would consider legal work which fills templates equally at risk as this work can be fronted locally but outsourced to India. This is the same for stock brokers who just enter enter orders and send out house research mechanically every week.

If you career resembles Roti Kosong, be prepared to go hungry quite soon. How many people can be full after eating just one Roti kosong. In fact, you need to eat two pratas to be minimally satiated.

Better hold two jobs if you are stuck doing mechanical work.

b) Service jobs resemble Ice Cream Prata

Some jobs cannot be outsourced and are a safe haven from outsourcing. Taxi drivers, sales representatives and hair dressers belong to this category.

Service jobs are relatively secure but the problem lies in disappearing mechanical jobs forcing the bulk of citizens to fight for service oriented employment. This keeps a lid on salaries. In the 90s, my haircuts at Sri Dewa at Coronation Plaza was $8. These days my haircuts cost me $5 in the Woodlands heartlands. Malaysian staff relocate to Singapore to help Singaporeans with affordable haircuts.

Ice-Cream Prata looks sweet just like service staff and can be filling, but after a while you get hungry for meat and want some proteins in your diet.

c) Symbolic Manipulation jobs are like Murtabak

Highest paying jobs invariably require very solid symbolic manipulation skills. The ability to use personal knowledge to produce insight and advice to solve very complicated problems.

Software engineers in Silicon Valley command $100,000 premiums. SMU's recent information on law students show 97% employment rate and a starting pay of $5,500 - Although I advice my classmates not to be too cocky - the restriction of a few universities play a big role in this.

But degree holders should not be too happy to read this. Robert Reich wrote his book prior to the Second Machine Learning revolution. A lot of symbolic analytical work is getting replaced by artificial intelligence. The learning for symbolic analysts should never stop, a good programmer needs to develop strong domain knowledge and architecting skills to stay ahead of the curve, otherwise he can get drowned by competition.

This is why the Enhanced Diploma Programmes from our local Polytechnics is crucial to develop the consistently evolving symbolic analysts of the future.

Murtabak is ultimately rich and filling, you can vary what goes into the prata and come out with combinations of your own, results can be surprising and delicious. The problem is Murtabak is expensive and costs $7 a piece these days. Degrees cost time and money and there "paper thosai" problem I highlighted in an earlier post.

d) Convergence jobs are like Indian fusion cuisine from a 3-star Michelin Chef.

I thought I'd go beyond Robert Reich to talk about jobs which do not exist yet. There's something to be said about symbolic analytic work which spans multiple domains. Potentially a lot of innovation and great jobs await those who are schooled in multiple disciplines.

The best jobs of the future is similar to fusion cuisine. Imagine Indian prata wrapping a nice slab of Wagyu Beef and then infused with blend of chilli hot-sauces then served with a dessert derived from Lassi and molecular cuisine.

I experienced it personally in Law School, I saw a problem with regards to awarding contractual damages which top academic legal minds struggle to resolve. Contracts are based on words and absolutes. I tried to adopt the view of an options trader and found various hidden derivatives in the contracts and was able to suggest an innovative way to look at future rulings.

It's not just me, AI experts are now trying to predict which english words are likely to become extinct and making a lot of headway in English Literature. A paper was released recently on looking at Big 5 personality traits from Facebook posts.

This evolution of jobs is not entirely good news for policy makers. The biggest innovations and opportunities for job creation will come from insights from multi-disciplinary studies. This means that folks need to spend more time in school to power these new companies.

Perhaps a possibility is to adopt your career in stages and move from Murtabak to Indian Fusion Cuisine later in life when you have more capital to invest in your studies.

This is a highly advanced area of financial planning and career development which involves tactical asset allocation of your human capital. I bet no one has even invented this discipline yet.










Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why hanker for a safety net or a trampoline when you can have a jet pack ?

Singapore is really lucky, we had a one in a million chance of being ruled by Lee Kuan Yew and after he passed away, we continue to come under the able administration of Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

( I'm not PAP IB, I like Low Thia Kiang's brand of constructive politics as well and actually think that WP will survive the AHPETC scandal. ) 

Lately Tharman's interview with the BBC at the Gallen Symposium has impressed almost everyone. When cornered about Singapore's unwillingness to provide safety nets, Tharman executed an awesome rhetorical manoeuvre saying that Singapore's approach is to provide a trampoline instead.

When I first heard the interview, I was stunned like a vegetable. Our politicians are only beginning to really understand the need for rhetoric in statecraft and Tharman seems so much ahead of the curve. The trampoline is a very powerful metaphor and counters the decades of use by progressives and liberals to employ the term social safety net for welfare schemes. 

Personally, I think we should paint welfare payments as a crutch rather than a safety net. A responsible government would not want its citizens in crutches but would have been considered cruel by international standards if they don't provide safety nets. 

I want to to build on the metaphor of a trampoline and propose that our government has indeed gone beyond providing a trampoline for Singaporeans. 

If you review the tax policies and how transparent we are with taxes, for the folks who learn how to invest and manage their affairs, every Singapore can have a jet-pack if they want to. This is largely from the introduction of REITs and Business trusts in Singapore. 

Over here, Corporate taxes are low and dividends are not individually taxed. No other country can produce this combination of low taxes, public services and high dividend yields. I dare to even challenge fans of Hong Kong to show me where their high dividends stocks are. 

The jet-pack looks like this :

a) If you are single, studied hard, willing to live with parents, work your butt out and save your income.
b) By taking steps to save your income every month preferably at rates higher than 50%.
c) It is possible to accumulate $300,000 of cash before age 35.
d) There is nothing stopping you from reading the blogs of my fellow financial bloggers to figure out a combination of stocks, REITs and business trusts to yield about 8% a year. 

At 8% a year, you can get an annual income of $24,000 or $2,000 a month. And if managed carefully, in perpetuity.

[[ Note that at this point 8% is achievable but considered a risky target ]]

$2,000 a month is enough to pay for all your expenses as a single person.

With the exception of countries like the UAE, no society can provide a welfare payment of $2,000 a month making this jet-pack a viable metaphor on how powerful our low tax regime is.

Which brings me to the second part of the argument about the question Tharman fielded on creativity and freedom. At least from my personal experience, even having dividend payments exceeding your monthly earned income would not necessarily lead to laziness. 

The beauty of dividends is that they are not guaranteed over the long term, your jetpack may run out of fuel. 

I am always in the lookout for more personal security for myself and my family, hence the hours spent poring over legal cases in SMU today. In time, most of us will take the time out to improve ourselves or even run a small business to produce jobs. I still have my dream of leaving a big dent in the legal industry with my programming knowledge.

In short, folks with jetpacks don't just cruise around in the skies. We earned our jetpacks the hard way and is always concerned that we'll run out of fuel. 

I also like Tharman's allusion to the folks in the Bay Area. 

Singapore's tribe of financially savvy can bring its own brand of creativity. It takes knowledge and discipline to build up a portfolio to allow one to retire and stop work. This knowledge and discipline would be useful if we can be unshackled to pursue our ambitions in ways which is not limited to the confines of a normal workplace. 




Monday, May 18, 2015

What kind of thosai does your degree resemble ?

For this weekend, I wanted to write an article on treating a degree as an investment just like a portfolio of stock and bonds. Fortunately for everyone, I was also ordering my thosai while thinking about this idea so I thought I could write an article on choosing degrees and eating thosai.

Let's start with some fundamentals.

Degrees serve two purposes :

a) Equipping you with the skills to take on the modern workplace.

Skills are a degree's secondary purpose, in spite of what a minister tells you. If degrees genuinely equip someone with actual skills, then the university ranking would not be important when considering a new hire, management consulting firms would not fixate on just the Ivy League and Oxbridge qualifications.

In practice, there is simply too much domain knowledge that needs to be absorbed on the job before you can become a useful member of your company.

So get real about degrees. You get a degree in Engineering. You do not get a degree in Engineering in General Electric.

b) Signalling to the employer that you have the intelligence and intensity to be turned into a company asset.

This is the true purpose of a degree. It signals to the employer that you have what it takes to get the job done even if the industry changes.

The degree makes you solve complicated problems you will never see in real life, write horribly convoluted essays on arcane concepts and throw  group dynamic issues at you when you form project teams. If you survive, it tells the employer that you are a very safe option as a new hire into a management associate program.

I suppose this is the hardest truth that a savvy Singaporean has to grasp.

Now we talk about Thosais, degrees can be classified based on the Thosai they resemble.

a) Professional degrees are like Thosai Masala

Professional degrees are like Thosai masala. Thosai masala costs twice as much as plain thosai but is packed with potatoes and other goodies. Thosai masala is filling and robust.

The cut-off to get into these programs are high but the investment returns are also high. Survival is based on both the skills actually developed and the degree's signalling value.

Doctors must be able to cut someone up with great proficiency. Lawyers must understand the law. Engineers risk killing thousands if the bridges they design collapses.

My advice, that you do not need to agree, is that if possible, always eat Thosai Masala. It is high skill and high signalling. It is also exclusive.

b) General degrees are like Plain Thosai

Local general degrees are like plain thosai. Plain thosai is an institution and can be paired with different kinds of sauces for great taste. General degrees equip someone will skills which depreciate slower than professional degrees so they last longer and flexibility is a valuable trait.

Degrees like Arts, Sciences and Business Administration are high in signalling but the skills are not directly required by the industry. If you analyse a job which requires a general degree, the skills requirements is normally no higher than that of a job which requires O levels. You can talk, operate email and present yourself, your skills qualify.

But things are not that simple.   You will need to understand that the degree that you are getting is more signalling than skill. You will need to write well, speak well and network like an ace.   Inevitably, HR practitioners will look at your honours classification and "provenance" to determine whether they should you, so grades will still matter.At the end of the day, such jobs pay well and continue to have their fair pick of top degree holders.

Over time, plain thosai can beat thosai masala. Plain thosai blends better with the sauces and sometimes thosai masala makes you full too quickly and you don't really enjoy your meal.

You need to signal well after graduation and then develop the domain knowledge with your general intelligence after entering your first job.

Ruthless Tip : Go for prestige. Don't try to pao kao liao in a SME. That's a decision for gimps. Wanna work for an SME, start one of your own.

c) Private qualifications are like Paper Thosai.

Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with paper thosai, but what drives me crazy is that they cost twice as much as plain thosai but it's creation is very wasteful. To make paper thosai, the cook actually scrapes some flour off to create the paper-like texture. It takes lot of effort and sad waste of money to make a paper thosai. It is also very oily.

This is the main issue with Singaporeans and private degrees.

The Singaporean's insist that a degree equips someone with relevant skill and is the key to a better life in Singapore, so they invest more money into private degrees. Private institutions exploit our kiasuism and see us as goldmines.

Problem is that HR practitioners and MNCs continue to see degrees as a signalling mechanism, so they continue to review these private degree brands to be stacked against local universities and expensive overseas elite universities.

This is the rub,

If you invest in a private university, you need to look at your resume and ask yourself the brutal question: What am I signalling to an employer when I show the company my academic history ?

The issue is not that you now have the skills of a graduate.

The issue is whether you can be elevated above the plain thosai and thosai masalas to qualify for the competitive job.

Maybe it's time to consider label this the "Paper Thosai" problem.

If a private institution takes on anyone who can afford the fees and lack quality control, they damage the signalling value of their degree even if their graduates leave with the proper skills.

A degree without signalling value is no better than a piece of paper thosai.

Our government does not want Singaporeans to waste resources getting paper thosais in their resumes, it is unhealthy and the economy cannot have so many people spending so much time in school.

In conclusion, I think ASPIRE is the right move for our government to adopt. Think like an investor. Maybe getting a job is better than buying  a paper thosai qualification. As you will be younger, there will be more years to compound your savings. You can get into sales where your qualifications would not matter at all and may get your first million you are thirty.

P.S. The missing un-named thosai which is all skill and no signalling has not been invented in Singapore yet. It is either the apprenticeship system the government is trying to build on the German model or the idea of development bootcamps. Pray that this idea succeeds and we get a new thosai to munch on.






















Thursday, May 14, 2015

On IDA, fake degrees, and investing in human capital.

It looks like a previous employer of mine is unable to get itself out of the limelight. First it was Alan Ramos, then xenophobes decided to take issue with the Deputy Chairman's FT status and now there's an issue with IDA hiring folks with dubious qualifications.

As Singaporeans, we need to be fair to IDA.

Thanks to IDA, we have relatively fast internet connections, just try logging in in parts of the US if you do not believe me. As a foot soldier when the hackers attacked government websites, I was proud of the defence we made. I am also fairly pleased with some changes IDA made after I left which gave technologists and geeks a decent functional specialist track.

But this issue of fake degrees is not something alumni like myself would be proud of, but for reasons which has yet been shared on the Internet.

Follow my train of thought here :

a) Society rewards those with the greater success intelligence.

You have to agree with my assumption before I proceed.

I apologise if it sounds elitist.

I define success intelligence as a combination of intelligence, conscientiousness and intensity independent of paper qualifications. This blend of factors allows someone to draw the highest pay and reap the biggest rewards of society.

Unfortunately, companies can only reward a certain percentage of folks with the highest success intelligence.

b) Increasing local university intake cannot broaden the number of great jobs for more citizens.

There are limits to what increasing local university intake can do. If we are lucky, a new cluster of industries can form and generate fresh jobs for graduates for most graduates but otherwise, the number of great jobs remain the same, and the bar will be lifted to admit only graduates with a special honours or cum laude classification.

My first job was with Procter and Gamble, the number 1 employer in Singapore today. They conduct their own entrance exam.

c) This create a problems for Singaporeans who cannot ordinary get into a local university.

Local employers simply do not have great jobs for these Singaporeans who have mid-range success intelligence. But there are plenty of decent or good jobs.

d) Majority of citizens mistakenly associate a degree as the sole requirement to getting a great job.

Once you see another citizen obtain a great job because he went to NUS, NTU or SMU, you start to think how your life would be different had you obtained a degree.

You mistake the degree as key to getting a great job, when in fact, MNCs have only these limited jobs and are looking for the best people regardless of paper qualifications.

e) Getting an overseas or private degree will not resolve your problem.

HR departments were very willing to accept overseas or private degrees in the past when only 15% of the population can get local degrees. These days with 25% local intake for universities, HR departments have plenty of local graduates to choose from, so instead folks with private degrees get treated as non-degree holders in the 1980s with a poorer starting pay or 6 month contract offers.

f) The government wishes to prevent over-investment in education.

Diploma holders getting private or overseas degrees are a huge strain on the economy. They delay getting a decent income for a qualification which makes a little difference to their human capital.

This is an investment mistake. It is tantamount to buying a bond that defaults on its coupons.

The government launches ASPIRE to try to create better jobs for everyone regardless of paper qualifications to provide options to Singaporeans who do not make that "investment mistake".

g) This is where IDA opens a huge can of worms which can erode public trust for the whole of Government.

This explains why IDA has so much to answer for.

Singaporeans are already very upset that they have to settle for second best.

Our polytechnics have higher standards compared to many universities in emerging economies. It does not feel right that a Singaporean who plays by the rules have to contend with foreigners even with unaccredited qualifications, if anything the role of Application Consultant should have gone to a Polytechnic diploma holder with some added industrial training from ISS.

Why ?

Because IDA is a seen as part of the public service which in turn is driving for ASPIRE and wants it reduce instances of poor investment in our human capital assets.

h) The good faith argument is invalid.

The fact that an agency worker took an unaccredited degree in good faith is no defence.

Singaporeans also have good faith in our local institutions.  We want to believe that our local ITE and diploma qualifications can entitle us to local jobs as well.

i) Smart City should start acting Smart.

There is nothing stopping MOE from creating a list of degree mills and unaccredited institutions and placing it in a dataset for hackers to play around with. After all, we are very clear as to what universities our lawyers can come from before they can practice.

We pay taxes, why leave this to the private sector ?

At the moment, I think IDA has to beyond proving that Nisha took an unaccredited qualification in good faith.

What Singaporeans want to see is this:

IDA needs to prove that Nisha's original degree from the University of Mumbai which got her into the organisation in the first place, is better than a top flight computer science diploma student in our local Polytechnics.

If IDA thinks that her degree is better than our local polytechnics, it should be a public declaration so that MOE can reconsider the way we educate our diploma students.

















Monday, May 11, 2015

Of course, most folks do not care about personal financial planning !

The financial blogosphere is suddenly abuzz when Cheerful Egg wrote about the indifferent attitude to personal finance.  Upon reading the article. I wanted to throw my hat into the ring as the article may become quite viral over the next few days.

I have only one real point to make.

Why is this a bad thing ?

Almost all value and yield investors know that the profits they extract come either from collecting rentals or exploiting inefficiencies of the market. The reason why we have a comfortable lifestyle without needing to report to a horrible boss or defer to a tyrant is because our investment profits provide that kind of lifestyle for us, and that we spent years honing our investment abilities to provide that level of security for our loved ones.

Of course, if we do not give a damn about the investing public, the existence of financial bloggers who share their insights for free would be paradoxical and a contradiction in terms.

So why do I care ?

It's simple.

I grew up as a geek.

Many of the rich kids in my landed estate and even my secondary school used to bully me because I was socially awkward, rode imitation BMX bikes, and played Dungeons and Dragons. I probably wasn't hip right until graduation.

The fear we geeks have is this - If society does not find a way to reward knowledge and skilled application of theories, we geeks will find our adulthood as unwelcoming as our childhood.  

My blog and the books I publish is not easy to read because I believe that knowledge is power.

Financial independence should not be bought from private bankers simply because somebody comes from a dynastic line of billionaires. I certainly know my childhood bullies will be using their wealth to gain an edge and make the rich-poor gap wider. That idea makes me absolutely furious and I need to find ways to fight back.

For financial independence, from a geek perspective, you must pay the iron price.

You pick up the arcane equations, set up your own brokerage accounts and risk your capital. In the meantime, you learn about the world around you and what kinds of loopholes exist in this universe.

If we apply this geek vision to the rest of the world, not everyone deserves finance independence.

Some deserve to max out their credit cards so that the folks who invest in the banks can have a shot at early retirement. At the end of the day, the conscientious and hardworking folks should rightfully triumph over the lazy poseurs who lack the willpower to save.

It is these folks that us pro-bono financial bloggers want to share our ideas with. For me, I don't care what rich kid snob school you come from - save 50% of your income and invest it and odds are good you'll be a free man before you hit 45. Along the way, we bloggers will provide you guidance from social sciences, the humanities to make your transition to wealth as smooth as possible.

And to the rest of the blogosphere, I have one piece of advice.

People do care - When you succeed, it generates so much cognitive dissonance that they want to know why you won the money game when they haven't.

When I got featured in the Straits Times for becoming financially independent in my thirties, you should have seen the kind of hate that was directed at me in the local message forums. Many of these guys don't even know me as person. But I know that ultimately, as a geek, I knew that I succeeded in getting under their skin by using my rigorous engineering skills in developing my personal finances.

So don't say that people do not care about financial planning.

People do care and they will hate you when you finally reach the point where you don't have to work voluntarily for anyone anymore.

So my final message to financial bloggers is this :

Be a Troll !

Misappropriate the cultural norm of your audience. Find a way to subvert their morality on what is success and happiness.

A cultural norm is that a man in his thirties and forties should be struggling under the heels of a tyrannical boss and paying mortgages.

Now subvert that.

Become financial independent yourself.

Be no one's slave.

Next, you challenge their very notions of hard work and offer them a means to be exactly like you.

Rich is karma neutral.

The whole world will have no choice but to listen to what you have to say.













Sunday, May 10, 2015

Getai Ethnica : Beware of the Hipster Agenda !

I tried to let my hair down yesterday after a round of giving tuition to my girls, so I let my friend suggest that I go Chinatown to an event known as Getai Ethnica at this carpark. I normally find such events boring, as I am more interested in ideas, money, lifehacking and current affairs but the prospect of $10 for 4 live bands and beer is irresistible to me so I decided to go have a look.

The crowd was very cozy, these guys would definitely fall under the category of hipsters. The bands are local and unheard of and they play their own brand of music which is not mainstream at all ( But you guys should check out Hubba Bubba, their sings are self-written but fairly radio-friendly).

The highlight of the evening was that I was very surprised to find 3 of my classmates at the event to which I remarked to my friend that isn't it ironic that I have more friends than him there.

Anyway, the point I want to make is that I think Getai Ethnica is dangerous to frugal people.

My expenses turned out as follows :

a) Entrance fee : $10
b) Eating the stuff hipsters eat like Soft-shelled crab mantou burger : $25
c) They don't have my favourite gin and 7-up but they have this hipster equivalent called #88 which tastes exactly like Gin and 7-Up but more deck at a ridiculous $15

The total damage for my short episode was $50 !

But in their defence, if I did not go home, I would have watched a hipster movie called Moonlight in Malaya and heard four local bands live.

Anyway, in spite of the $50 spent, I think I enjoyed myself overall. Getai Ethnica answers a lot of questions which suits and businessmen struggle with, which is how to market to millenials. There is a certain subversive appeal in the guerilla marketing and the use of carparks with great views in an ethnic area in Singapore. I still think it's a sad waste that the carpark was not sublet to more stalls which sell hipster goods. I certainly would have paid $3 for handful of kacang puteh to accompany the movie.

On an unrelated note, I would like to talk about music. This week's The Economist talked about the efforts of data scientists to work on various songs and using this statistical approach know as principal component analysis, scientists narrowed down three major revolutions in music :

a) The first is during the time of the Beatles is the 60s which heralded the arrival of rock and roll.
b) The second if New Wave in the 1980s. This explains why people still get Rick rolled.
c) The last is in 1991 when hip-hop was unleashed.

I was trying to understand why there is apparently no generation between my classmates and myself. I kinda like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Daft Punk even more than Phil Collins, which my generation loves, but I just can't hack the Teresa Teng and Abba crap which my parents love.

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that, based on statistical analysis, music has not really changed since 1991. There is little difference between the K-POP hits by Son Dambi and Lee Hyori and the music I liked when I was an undergrad.










Friday, May 08, 2015

Happiness is a Strategy !

I thought I share some of my thoughts with reader John Smith on my views on happiness as he has commented that I seem happy even though I have a fairly busy schedule.

a) Positive Psychology guides Happiness

For a start, I think I have gone beyond subjective notions and feelings towards happiness, Folks bandy about terms like YOLO and "I just wanna be happy." don't seem to just cut it on the happiness front for me. The same goes for the food and travel photographers who are really good at creating this impression of a happy and carefree life on FB.

Instead, I view happiness  in a relatively cold, calculated manner as someone who manages a finance portfolio. Based on Martin Seligman's ideas on positive positive psychology, our happiness is divided into five parts.

Pleasure - The same kind of happiness hipsters tend to inflict on us.
Engagement - Flow addressing challenging and interesting problems at work.
Relationships - The quality of your relationships.
Meaning - How aware one is of one's role in this world.
Accomplishments - Meeting actual goals and getting things society cares about.

If I can employ this framework, I might be able to shed some light into why I seem happy to a reader.

b) My life is not all that pleasurable.

I would fail in the first measure. I don't derive much pleasure left from consumption. These days, I try to collect games which give me a sense of nostalgia. I have managed to bring in Up Front by Avalon Hill, which is a card based war game based on Squad Leader.

If you understand the Bookcase war games played by grognards in the 80s, it is virtually impossible to find someone who is willing to play these games with you today. Rulebooks are harder to read than legal cases and many games are computerized. I mainly buy games to place them in  a cabinet to conjure memories of my childhood days going Leisure Craft are Orchard Point. I have a nice collection of old school D&D books but my group plays the newer 5th Edition system.

As such, I don't really travel or eat great food. At my state of attending summer lectures in SMU, being able to got to KL to spend my money ringgit is awesome enough but I'm fully booked for all my courses.

Of course my troubles and pain arising from law school deserves another article this holidays. It was certainly not pleasurable engaging in the Machiavellian games of group formation and getting hit with guilt trips and complains from various parties.

c) I am fully engaged at law school and life.

Things rapidly improve once pleasure gets written off. Law school means full engagement in legal problem not just from tutorials but also from news events and ideas. Law school gives me the ability to appreciate the deeper game played by Amos Yee's counsel so it's interesting to see the arguments being played out in courts.

Flow comes from solving problems, taking exams, scheming group formation for the next semester, projecting the work load from the combination of classmates and managing the risk within a semester.

d) My relationships are stable.

Stable relationships are good. Nothing amuses me more then reading about "basic bitches" who eat Eggs Benedict and then engaged in relationships which become "complicated". As for me, my daughter is becoming more interactive and is starting to take an interest in my toys and computer games.

As I don't work, I have a fair amount of interaction with my family which I think many working men would envy.

e) I am in the process of finding my life more meaningful

I think this area is where I benefit most compared to other Singaporeans,

Financial independence is not easy for most people. Turning financial independence into something which adds meaning into your life is even harder because I did spend 6 months in a retired zombied state. My JD program is like a liberal arts program for mid career hires, a lot of encounters and concerns actually make you rethink about how you fit into the world at large and the resolution of these dilemmas is done at a safe zone.

I think that in this sense, my community service to help two girls with their E maths gives me the deepest sense of meaning and personal satisfaction, although it is not as saintly as I would position to the readers. Of late, I've been noticing the hypocrisy of these so-called liberals and progressives. If there is a genuine need to help others, volunteering of one's time and money is eminently doable. Why misappropriate the hard earned money from other taxpayers?

f) I continue to be a slave to my accomplishments

Of all the areas of happiness, my largest allocation is in the area of accomplishments. It is the largest source of frustration in my life right now, your financial independence can't really insulate you from that feeling of wanting to sink to the ground when your lecturer believes that your essay is full of shit. To compound my misery, I have been signing up for moots where I will likely argue and get my ass kicked by kids half my age.

I try to think of what I am trying to do relative to middle aged men of my age because if I peg it to my really smart and motivated classmates, depression is going to set in pretty quickly. These kids might kick my ass, but next time some asshole talks me down with well-meaning but pedestrian advice on "Living life with Passion" or "Just try to be Happy", I have know the technique to ruin their day.

With Martin Seligman's framework, I welcome readers to employ this framework to audit their own personal lives and determine whether they are smugly satisfied with their personal outcomes.

It should be noted that a certain component of happiness is genetic and not influenced by actions or your environment. It is entirely valid to argue that my general extraversion and openness to new experience makes it easier for me to happy but my very obvious disagreeableness might detract from it.