Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Neighbourhood School Talk Update

My neighbourhood school talk is less than two weeks away and in consultation with the teaching staff, I've decided to do a press presentation without building on the discussion I had with RI. The differences in the two institutions is just too stark for me to establish a good rapport with the students for the next talk.

A talk given to RI is an act of polishing at best, to arm students already on the elevator to the upper crust of society with some financial know-how. My next project has to be sensitive to their background and I've chosen to demonstrate to them how to win regardless of their starting circumstances and remind them not to count themselves out. Fortunately, I get to channel my personal experience in a neighbourhood school where my peers and myself were made to take the practical way out and convinced not to aim for the stars.

These are the broad directions that I intend to take my talk :

a) Learn the Rules of Winning 

In this section, I want to explain to students that they are not learning things to pass exams and please their loved ones, there are fundamentals rules that, when applied, can allow them to take down a much more savvy and powerful opponent. So this section channels the deconstruction style taught by Tim Ferriss in his works which I think is a cool life skill to have. 

Consequently, I explain that life long learning is a long term process that should be divorced from exam taking. 

b) Avoid the Bad

The second principle channels Charlie Munger who believes that inversion can a powerful principle in life. Neighbourhood schools are forced to play the game of elites and always made to achieve great things in life. I explain that winning can be achieved by avoiding the bad things instead which is actually a lot easier and more nuanced. 

The gifted may be powerful, but they are prone to things like gaming addiction and may even suffer from very mild autism. Just observing friends and classmates who mess up their lives and promising to avoid doing the same thing can make a big difference. 

Just like an ETF. Passive instruments can beat 80% of active instruments by just avoiding crippling management fees. 

c) Build Yourself Up

After eliminating the negatives, students are shown the steps on how to build themselves up. This is where my traditional strengths in financial management come in.  

I've taken the risk to highlight forms of capital that complement financial capital because I don't want them to feel ashamed when they do not have the same social or cultural capital as their elite peers. 

Financial capital is most amenable to build up through hard work and delay of gratification. REITs do not give more dividends just because you come from ACS or RI although the elite may start with more assets.

Students will be taught to fight with the power of time. No matter what happens their elite peers and themselves have the same 24 hours each day. 

Of course, when it comes to the presentation, the devil is in the details. I've incorporated most of the feedback on this blog and from friends. One particularly fun exercise I did was to look for high-paying non-degree jobs to be shared with the kids. 

Keep the suggestions coming, there is still room for about 15 minutes of more material. 

Share with me what kind of advice a student from a neighbourhood school might need to do better or be more successful than an elite. 




  1. Hi Chris,

    You may want to consider adding the part of self-funding the bachelor degree (Part-Time) from the income from the full-time employment.

    More details can be found at this Url.


  2. Hi Chris,

    Suggest to include a something to illustrate that the "disadvantage" they face is actually an advantage. If they channel their energy into overcoming the challenges which an elite likely does not face (financial, academics), traits gained such as grit, resourcefulness, positivity are stuff that the elites didn't have a chance to develop at that age. Such traits will serve them well beyond academics, where the rules of real life is very different.