Friday, September 28, 2018

Personal Update - Just Crossed the Rubicon !

After the high of completing my first workshop, I was confronted with another major dilemma in my life.

A company that has been interested in my job application from a year ago was finally able to offer me a job. Unfortunately, this meant taking on a contract role at more than a 30% pay cut from my last pay-check. This was a far cry from a fairly attractive offer last year but stupid old me wanted to be called to the Bar so badly, I was prepared to reject every job offer to meet my personal goal.

If I were any other 40 year old, common sense would say to take the job and then build up my career again in IT security. Most folks my age don't get a second chance. The law degree just makes me more overqualified to do operational IT work. I thought perhaps I can always manoeuvre myself to exploit my legal skills and slowly find my niche again. Furthermore, this is an attractive option because when combined with a light workshop schedule and my passive income payments, I would still rake in more than an MP allowance for at least the next 6 months.

The alternative is also extremely attractive but in a more subtle way.

Once a workshop is complete, maintaining the slides would take a few hours of polishing prior to the workshop. While I have slightly more work to do because I have a lot more skin in my student's portfolio, the biggest challenge is still trying to schedule more classes. Beyond that, all the work can be done from home or the Bloomberg terminal at the Central library. While the pay was not that high at the start, I can scale it at my own discretion. The upside is really up to the imagination of my and my business partners. This is the power of being a free agent.

In the end, I chose to see where this life as a workshop trainer could take me. This path is too intriguing, and I want to stretch it to its logical conclusion.

Maybe it is because I drunk my own Kool-aid, I also have to be consistent with the material I teach. The life-energy exchange of a workshop instructor is generally very high compared to a full time worker. I get almost total autonomy to manage my work as I see fit. Imagine the cognitive dissonance if I had to explain why I opted for a poorer life-energy exchange to students and readers of this blog if I took the job for the financial security that I claimed on this blog that I don't really need.

I mean, what is financial independence, if,  at they end of the day, we still choose a day job in the end ?

Writing the email to tell the company that I have stopped pursuing the job was one of the hardest things I had to do professionally. It reverses the years of indoctrination that a man needs a job to stay relevant to the economy and to have a personal identity. At the back of my head, I felt that I finally took a gun and euthanised my old IT career that was pivotal to my financial independence today. My old school IT governance skills was like a loyal pet to me.  Even if I pick up IT skills in the future, it would be AI skills that can be weaponised in the financial markets and local courts.

It sounds cliche, but after sending out the email, I felt a sense that some burden had been lifted from me.

I no longer have to keep second guessing what kind of options will come my way and analyse how it would interfere with this new career of mine. I do not need to project my future salary and stress myself out on how I can multitask several jobs at the same time.

I can't recall where I read this but over-educated guys like me  need to stop thinking about our qualifications as real options - derivatives that become valuable if a special condition is being met. Some of these real options are always hiding out of the money, waiting for some smart career move to suddenly push it into profitable territory.

If you have a lot of qualifications, you have a complicated portfolio of options that you need to keep a watch-out for.

But we have influence and power over our careers that goes far beyond the power of someone who is long on a call option.

I think it is time to exercise an option and convert it into a stock on workshop creation. 

Beyond this, the markets will determine whether I've made the right move.


  1. Wish you all the best Chris. Thanks for your insightful posts over the years.

    Just one thing about the last line in your post. Based on decision theory, the outcome should not determine whether a decision is good or bad so perhaps more analysis could be in order.

  2. Snoo,

    If outcomes do not matter, what does ?

    When you cross the Rubicon, the time for analysis is over.

    Perhaps if I fail dramatically, some re-examination might be in order but right now, it's time for my forces to charge the enemy.


  3. Hi Chris,

    I feel that is is better to follow your heart. There is no right or wrong decision. I believe that you would be happier going such approach regardless of the outcome of the decision.


  4. You know what's the best way to become insolvent ?

    Follow your heart.

  5. Hi Chris,

    Given that you are a quantitative driven person,
    Compare the Net present value / IRR of the stable job compared to your workshop, and decide which action is worth pursuing

    A cash flow projection for the next 3-5 years, regarding your family near term financial needs might be a good way to analyze it objectively. Each family's circumstances is different and you have to determine what is best for you.

  6. INTJ,

    That's not a bad idea but if I stick with numbers, I would have signed up for the six month contract because the numbers are a lot more reliable.

    The workshop plan is full of mathematical uncertainties and whatever projection me or Dr Wealth come up with would have to be discounted heavily. The advantage of going all in for workshops is that it does not require a massive investment of time and I can credibly scale it through innovative means. With this option, I can be contributing articles to the mainstream press or making viral videos in 2019. It makes for a more interesting existence but at a much higher rate of "failure".

    My family has already lived on my passive income for the past 4 years with no loss of my capital.

    This is a calculated risk I can take.