I first encountered this dichotomy at a young age, when I was invited to my friend's house. It was a mansion in Bel-aire. Then another friend - a beach house overlooking Santa Monica. I was too young to know at the time, but we lived with no savings in a small apartment, and eventually bought a modest house, but even then, our furniture was mix-mash, we did a lot of poor quality self repairs, and were extremely careful about spending. Our life was focused on frugality - I remember a lot of small things I found particular, like my mom would reuse the paper towels to clean the dishes, and our TV was older than me by 1 year - it was my mom's TV from college.
When I was in high school, I visited my grandparents back in Taiwan, and I vividly remember the experience, not in a good way. They used to be rich but gambled most of their wealth away, including most of their house. It left them with this pitiful structure, a corner skeleton of what was once a majestic courtyard house that had fallen into disrepair and was never modernized. The structure wasn't fully enclosed so you had to sleep in a mosquito net, and there was barely a modern kitchen and bathroom. Needless to say, I did not want to go back.
I eventually worked at a real estate company and got a chance to view many houses on the market in SoCal. One step into the house and you can immediately tell a lot about the family's background. I remember 2 houses distinctly - a rich Asian immigrant's house, and a rich Caucasian's house. The Caucasian's was filled with relics of community - pictures of their involvement on sports teams, pictures of grandparents leading town hall meetings - it felt like they were rooted into the city and were an integral part of the community there. In contrast, the Asian immigrant's house was filled with relics of achievement - the doctorate was posted on the wall, lots of trophies and awards for their kids. The imagery offers a lot of insight into family and community development lagging behind income development in immigrant families.
From developing world living conditions, to a small apartment, to a modest house, to seeing rich houses and mansions in Bel-aire - each of these provides me a snapshot of way more than just income. Beyond wealth, there is poverty of taste, standards, and expectations, family practices and emotional intelligence that define many Asian family backgrounds. Beating your kids is not the right way to raise them. Yelling louder is not the way to win an argument. Hiding your faults hurts your family more than it helps. Our parents came from humble, uneducated backgrounds, and modern society and the cultural values it instills - while a gift from them - is something they themselves lacked.
Interestingly enough, I have a lot of friends who feel a similar regret as this article implies. Our parents have done such a good job of creating a modern world environment for us that we don't see the developing world heritage until much later. What it means is that it is hard to understand the advice and mindset of our parents growing up, and only much later do we appreciate their perspective and effort - when it feels too late.
He drove us to the desert, in a place at the north of Bamako known as the Dogon's country. There, he asked us if we were ok to take a detour by his parents village, and we agreed.
His parents were living with no electricity, using water from a well, in a small mud-made house. They slept among the goats and chickens.
It made me realized he had to live between those 2 worlds, and it felt so unreal.
It's not necessarily this bad in terms of standard of living (the above description would be subsistence levels, maybe less than 200$ a year), but the median household income in China is about $12-15k US a year compared to $56k in the US. And it's not that in China everything is cheaper so 12-15k goes a long way - no, they just live with less. Things that we take for granted, like insurance, available hospitals, quality goods, good customer service, safety of food & goods (a big one we don't even notice) - these are the result of a developed economy, and we definitely pay for it - we (as an economic whole) have the additional income to allow for these things to exist.
Even with a 10% GDP increase per year, it would take China another 15 years to get to US level standard of living. With a 5% GDP growth, it would take 30 years. These are just numbers to me (12k vs 50k living, I can see one is 4 times better!), but my parents know firsthand what the difference feels like and it makes their urgency much stronger.
For reference, I think my grandparents would be living on an equivalent of around $2-3000 a year based on what I know my mom gives them (and maybe other family members).
A few days back I was discussing this with my friend who immigrated to the US and settled there. I'm an Indian. We were discussing how his wife and kids, who are Americans just do not understand his perspective of things from a living standards stand point. The thing is sometimes its impossible to erase the effect poverty has on you. When you go through tough times, your benchmarks to save and invest get set based on the worst times your life has seen.
And then that spills over to every purchase or life style decision you will ever make. Be it clothes to car or whatever.
In India I've seen people who have been born in well off families a generation early just fail to understand why the people who have just come out of lower middle class/poverty don't take vacations, or don't buy expensive sneakers or gadgets or even dine at good restaurants.
When I worked in the US, I used to be totally floored at the amount of opportunities and abundance of every thing the country had to offered. To me most of the complaints US citizens had looked like cry me a river themed whining. Eventually I realized every one just get seasoned to whatever they have and that sort of becomes their new reality over time.
We’re doing well for ourselves, but still don’t really fit in among our peers. We’ve coined a phrase for it: “your poverty is showing.”
It doesn’t matter how much I make: at the core I’m still a poor kid in a rich world. Which I’m fine with; it’s what gives me drive. But I do worry about my kids who are growing up like the rich kids I never liked...
For my children, when they ask for something I'm rarely not able to buy it for them. Instead of saying I can't, I have to say, "I won't" because, well...many reasons but mainly because kids shouldn't have every damn thing that catches their eye. But it is a harder case to make. I'm telling them it is in my power to give them what they ask, but I won't do it.
That is harder to do.
My social experiment with my own children is still very early, but we've taken to using the phrase, "we don't think that's worth our money." Typically followed with, "you can spend your own money on it if it's important enough to you." Cheap crappy plastic toys that they're going to forget about in a matter of hours? Not worth my money. Candy at the checkout line? You have a 50/50 chance of convincing me (see above; I'm still a sucker for candy).
The other side of this was growing up we bought the cheapest of everything. On one hand, I can't go to the grocery store without looking at per unit pricing (which is advantageous). On the other hand, I have a hard time choosing between more expensive quality and less expensive junk. Some things are worth spending the real money on (our tent that we bought from REI will last forever; the Coleman tent we bought early in our marriage lasted for one season). But in all honesty, I'm still learning which things fall into the "buy it right and you only buy it once" category.
And when we're invited to fancy dinner parties and eating fancy food, I can't help but think, "I wish they just had a stack of pepperoni pizzas..."
It's hard to hide one's poverty.
So I had a profound life lesson at around 7 or 8 years old. I had grown up near a corner store with a lot of nickel candies, so most of my weekly dollar allowance went to candy. I had learned how to optimize that dollar, how many laffy taffy, vs tootsie rolls, vs licorice, vs jolly rancher... so I knew how much satisfaction a dollar could buy. One day, we were going through a jack in the box drivethru and they had an ad for a stuffed Pinocchio for $5, and I begged my dad for it. He in turn said something to the effect of, "if I give you the $5 dollars would you still buy it?", and my mind immediately started thinking about all the things I could buy with $5. I could buy all the candy I could want, and still have some quarters left over for the stand up arcade games. Needless to say, I didn't really want the Pinocchio doll, certainly not for the price when it was my money.
Sadly, I have no idea how to reproduce this lesson with my daughter. She has so many people showering her with stuff, that she has no concept of how to maximize her utility with the money she has. And no one seems to keep the diverse array of cheap candy anywhere any more, which makes me kind of sad.
he had new door installed including electronic peephole and I fail to understand single benefit of having camera instead of peephole -viewing angle it's worse, visibility in darkness it's worse, frame rate it's inferior and you have to occasionally charge the battery (it's really just cheap phone in different package with external camera), so he paid 5-10 times more for inferior but modern looking product. same could be said about his smart watch which cost like 4-5 times of my watch, but functionality it's pretty same, some even worse, especially battery life, he need to charge his watch every other day if he dare to use them, half of the time it's just more convenient to wear his old analog watch, while i wear mine 24/7 and charge battery once in 3-6 weeks and don't use my watch as some thing to show off
Writing all that out makes me wonder why even as I child I was bummed about not getting the Kenner Millenium Falcon or the GI Joe base.
It turns out that, at least for me, there isn't any valid reason. It boils down to me being upset at their 1) privilege, or 2) difference.
I was upset that they had privileges that I didn't. But was that their fault? Not really. We can't really fault individuals for having advantages in life---indeed, my intellect and work ethics are also things I were born with.
I was upset that they are different from me. Put into words, this sounds mean and petty, but that's really the root of much hate. They eat differently, wear differently, play differently. But being different is certainly not wrong! If I hate on rich kids for being different, that's just pure bigotry, no more no less.
So I try to judge "rick kids" just like I do everyone else. Do they treat others nicely? Do they elevate people around them? And despite the stereotype, I've found that many rich kids are just as nice. Indeed, I certainly plan to raise my kids, who are born wealthy, to grow up as nice people.
Like if they break their phone you give them an old flip phone so they are still reachable but they have to earn money (mowing grass, do the chores...) to pay for a new one (even if paying them a new phone doesn't make a dent in your budget).
My parents grew up very poor. We were comfortably middle class until my dad died while I was young. I helped my parent with bills from the time I was 18.
Even in me, you can see the difference that never going hungry makes vs my mother, who regularly went hungry growing up. And will still drive 45 minutes across town to save $2 on gas.
But yeah, despite the fact that she'll never struggle to eat or pay rent or a mortgage, she remains incredibly savings obsessed.
Does this tend to bring destructive tendencies? I earn well over median income and have investments etc. I still live cheap enough to be self-sufficient on less than $12K a year (inclusive of rent). I am so scared of what's going to happen when it all ends that it keeps me up at night.
Edited -> $12K/year not month!
Yea, well, I am so thrifty that my car costs less than a 2 million USD.
I too am an Indian and I see not only the well off but even the middle to lower middle class who look at the well off and set the standards based on them. So many of them buy so many useless stuff and waste a lot be it food or some other material things.
Abundance to me is something you need to fight for in order to keep in your life. I'm the first one to notice and complain at my job when the team lunches start to go away under the pressure of meetings, the first one to start playing ping pong again when time pressures keep us from going.
The little abundances we have in life are to be managed, never vilified. There's an amazing soul food restaurant that's a little ways away, the portions are huge and the taste is so decadent. I'd go there every day almost if it was closer. I'd take half the food home or get less carb-heavy sides. But when I suggest going as a team there's just so much pushback.
Every time I find a new form of abundance I need to also find a way to integrate it into daily life, otherwise it goes away.
> The little abundances we have in life are to be managed, never vilified.
This is true. In case of money too it has to be managed well. Otherwise it just goes away.
"New data shows that students whose parents make less money pursue more “useful” subjects, such as math or physics."
The real problem seems to be income inequality; whereas right after WW2 inequality was low, it has recently exploded with the implementation of reckless tax cuts for the wealthy and cutting down on essential social security nets.
Its a shame really: the US has its problems, but the American middle class has generally been a source of prosperity and stability, and it seems to be rapidly fading away.
Reading the article give me the impression that the authors just didn't understand the UK class system when looking at who does what degree.
But what aspect of the UK class system in particular do you see as not fitting what was written?
..as of now. Who's to say the US' standard of living won't fall in years to come? Certainly wealth inequality seems to be growing, if anything.
Anyone in a developed country has an insane level of wealth even compared to our parents, for the most part. I'm reading High Output Management right now, and it's basically the opposite of every strike and industrial action my parents found themselves in. There's an inherent tension between a stable life and a rich life that I find hard to resolve.
The countries' bad infrastructure and the lack of options to move to better countries (visas restrictions) give them no choice.
I am now much better than them, financially. I still live a simple but comfortable life and my children somehow get infused with it (they have everything they need to the point that I never know what to get them for xmas).
I was very surprised when the 12 yo one told me one day "rich people are rich because they live a life of less welthy ones, and the less wealthy want to live a life of rich". He was referring to his friend whose parents have a hard time making the month buying him the latest iphone because his friend insisted on having the latrst one (while my son has a mid level phone he is genuinly happy with)
In quickly developing countries some people already live modern life but their parents come from very traditional valued society. What in the west is cultural division between grandparents and grandchildren can be division between parents and children.
Political scientist Ronald Inglehart (known for Inglehart-index and Inglehart–Welzel cultural map used in the World Values Survey) noticed the same difference between post-war generations and their parents. His book 'The Silent Revolution' (1977) was the first attempt to map these differences between generations and cultures.
I noticed similar cultural division after Soviet Union collapsed in 1992 and I made friends with Russians of my age who moved to Finland, I realized that they shared the same values as my parents (and I have old parents).
when I compare household of my Chinese parents in law with my parents households it really seem like we skipped generation, because their household it's closer to my deceased grandma's household with few exceptions and same can be applied also about opinions and thinking even when i compare my wife with them and even she has to admit the have really old school opinions closer to generation of my grandma than my parents and these are quite educated urbanites which are almost middle class (and didn't object their daughter marrying foreigner it expecting some money from me as happened to many of my colleagues in China), not some poor uneducated farmers where the difference must be even starker
As a young adult I understood that from their perspective, physics and maths was the most sure-fire way for Soviet Jews to gain a modicum of stability and security in a country whose industrial and military sectors were prestigious and financed above all else. But I still resented them for not truly internalising that they were raising their child in a different culture and a different economic reality.
As an adult, I eventually came to see how a life that started in Stalinist Russia had robbed my parents of the cultural and emotional intelligence that would have allowed them to empathise with a child growing up in such radically different circumstances. And how instead of those intelligences, there was an unsleeping instinct for survival and a permanent anxiety, knots that are just starting to show signs of loosening in what are probably the last years of their lives.
This insightful post really hit home. I'm first-generation Russian, my parents arrived in NYC in the late 80s. The cultural and mental gaps between us are vast, it feels like we're from different planets. It's only in my 30s, with some emotional maturity and pointed study of history, that I'm starting to understand it, and what I'm starting to understand is very similar to what you wrote. That probably explains why, growing up in 90s NYC, I felt an easy and immediate camaraderie with first generation Chinese kids.
This is beautifully written, thanks for sharing your experience.
Coming from a smaller Southern town that existed to produce textiles--none of which are produced in the US anymore--I grew up relatively poor and without guanxi or even any role models and mentors to advise me. Only in the past decade since leaving college and living in a large US city do I see the huge deficits in my understanding and network that such a background creates.
as I pointed to her if they lie about such big thing how can you trust them even with smaller things where they would not hesitate to lie at all
Yours was a valuable testimony. Let me just comment on one aspect of the mindset bit. Class, as you noted, still very much exists, but modern day aristocrats don't expose themselves to snipers as they did two or three centuries ago. Instead we get celebrities and players and self-made rich critters out there to catch the limelight and flak. And family, the key base to aristocratic wealth and power, is played down as unnecessary, because a meritocratic system needs no more than individual prowess to succeed.
Instead we get celebrities and players and self-made rich critters
out there to catch the limelight and flak. And family, the key base
to aristocratic wealth and power, is played down as unnecessary,
because a meritocratic system needs no more than individual prowess
Although I think I get what you mean by this I'd love for you to expand on it. I'm sure you have dwelled as I have and arrived at some keen insights.
Also who or what did you mean by
snipers as they did two or three centuries ago
Not scorn, but definitely resentment. Worst case for that aristocracy was... the french revolution ;)
Chesterton wrote The Man who was Thursday (1908) spoofing the policial mindset about anarchist plots that was pervasive at the turn of the century. If you search for "XIX century novels about terrorism" you'll find more material.
For blogging, I prefer interjecting my thoughts into existing conversations rather than starting them, so I don't write my own blog pieces that often. But I would be happy to receive emails with questions, encouragement, or further discussion.
If I do write something related to Asian American issues, I can add you to a simple mailing list - just let me know you'd like that, although don't expect to receive much content.
As others have said you are actually describing class and cultural differences which don't depend on country. I moved from the Midwest to LA and am still in shock and awe at the displays of wealth here. I grew up with a much more frugal mindset and in a place with much more modest homes. Keep in mind even in the US, the fraction of people living in Bel-Aire mansions, or anything even close to that wealth, is very, very small.
Also, I suspect that there are plenty of very wealthy people and luxurious residences in Taiwan that would be equally jarring to you. My point is it's not the country, it's class and culture.
The harsh reality of a large number of people (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation and beyond) living in Los Angeles is that they did not go to any universities, don't have any family or friends in Bel Air / Santa Monica, eke out an existence in a series of apartments (sometimes with their extended family, or in a car, or in some sort of civic transition shelter or on the street), and have a close relative with a chronic drug abuse problem or a chronic disease.
This is a great insight and I see it all the time in the Asian community. The comparing of children's credentials and achievements, the psychological terror of getting less than an A in class growing up, the the keeping up with the Joneses w.r.t. other Asian families. This stuff really messed with my head growing up and now as an adult, I appreciate the work ethic they instilled in me but I will never raise my kids like that and I appreciate the simple things in life and spend more on quality not quantity. I never faced the horrors and atrocities they faced in their respective countries growing up and I'm forever grateful for their sacrifices in dropping everything to immigrate here and being born and raised in America. I simply would not be the person I am today if I had to come here via H1-b visa so I'll take my odd childhood in the best light possible, my first generation parents made the best of their situation compared to the educated and stable parents of my peers.
Can anyone here first generation American relate? I may be younger than most, turning 30. Would love to hear your experiences and relationship with parents w.r.t. culture and practices growing up in America (or immigrating young) and how it effected how you raise(d) your children.
Oddly, I see a ton of advantages from my background. The focus and hard work ethic of my parents was easy to replicate and I didn't take anything for granted which I think makes successes sweeter. I found seeing their perspective helped me complain less and feel more confident in myself. Sure my parents weren't perfect but I super appreciate them.
Most grow up poor and parents typically sacrifice their lives so their children can go on to be successful.
The Chain of Poverty requires an Epic amount of sacrifice to set the next generation free. Unfortunately it leaves the next generation with a feeling of loss. It's tough to see a parent give his life so his children can live a better one.
It sounds like your parents are raised by grandparents with addiction problems, and either in poverty or in unstable financial conditions. So they put an extremely high value on stability. This contrasted your experience and worldviews, because growing up financially secure gives you different take on life. On top of that, now you're peers with some ultra-rich, you see how different you are with your ultra-rich peers and somehow contributed the differences to being Asian.
If your grandparents are poor Americans with addiction problems, I don't think you will magically grow up with wealthy taste, standards and expectations, nor will you have pictures of them leading city town-halls in your house.
On the other hand, if you keep doing well, then in a couple generations, your grandchildren will grow up with those taste, standards, expectations and possibly with a picture of you leading some important events somewhere.
Even what we now call 1st world countries had incredible poverty some 60 years back and it's not so long back, even if the face of poverty has recently changed from lack of opportunity to lack of achievement.
Up to 1980's, in the Finnish welfare state where I grew up, you would see men who slept in trash boxes through the -30°C winter nights. Men broken by war, alcohol and unemployment. Some women, too. With the minds, bodies and experiences they had, they did not have opportunity for anything better.
Yeah, seriously. My family has been American for at least four generations. I can tell by looking in the mirror that I'm at least 95% European, but I have no idea from where - before about my great-grandparents, there isn't much genealogy to follow, and for the most part that's because most of my ancestors were trying to keep a low profile and avoid having any records that the police could follow. I'm doing OK for myself now, but I grew up at the end of a dead-end dirt road that was connected by another dirt road to the actual paved roads. There's poor everywhere.
But you may have a point that apparently the social differences are smaller small countries and communities where genealogy is better known. To take an example, in Iceland, there is extremely good genealogical data about everyone for over a millennium. Social differences are not very big and were not that big even before the adoption of modern welfare state.
For example know why not to wear "brown" shoes in town to an interview for a high paying job / internship.
I'm not British, but I've worked for several British companies and this topic has come up in conversation when I complimented someone on their black shoes with a Navy suit, as it's a combination that I never thought to pair (I hate black shoes).
My understanding is brown shoes are considered to be sporty or informal Britons. It's something you'd wear to go hunting or on a picnic, never to a work. So I think wearing brown shoes with business attire is seen almost like an American wearing hiking boots.
Question: do upper class Americans eat with fork in the left hand and knife in the right? Because I notice most everyone in America that I have met eats with the fork in the right hand, and I am almost unable to eat that way (except dessert).
A distinctly American experience
Northern European with some probability of Southern European as well.
I’m a fourth generation American of Eastern European Jewish background and I’ve been able to track my ancestry back into specific countries in Eastern Europe via documentation I’ve dug up on ancestry.com but haven’t gotten further. I’ve found it a fascinating exercise. I have not been able to determine the source of my surname (Soffian) which still remains a curiosity for me. Sometimes you uncover interesting artifacts. I learned I had a great uncle who immigrated to America from Romania aboard the RMS Carpathia in 1904. Eight years later in 1912, this would be the first ship to come to the Titanic’s rescue, and six years after that would itself be sunk by a U-Boat. My great uncle had left Romania likely to escape anti-semitism. He’d eventually find his way out to Denver. Sadly, he’d die in 1918 (the same year the Carpathia was sunk) at the age of 25, very probably from the flu.
This was him btw, along with his headstone and declaration of intent to become a citizen:
I apologize for the digression, but I just find this stuff too neat not to share.
To see men sleeping in trash boxes in freezing weather, you only need to walk a few blocks around midtown Manhattan in the winter.
I agree with everything you said except for this. The idea that many/most/all prisoners are violent or sociopathic is a myth propagated by those who stand to benefit from the prison industrial complex. Prisoners are human and prisons are inhumane. For another take, here's the IWW IWOC:
> Incarcerated people are legally slaves as per the 13th Amendment which abolished "slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime". We are legally slaves. If you've been to prison you'd know we are treated like slaves.
Billions are made annually off our backs. Outrageously priced or grossly inadequate privatized 'services' like health care, food, phone calls, assault our humanity - they feed us like animals, suck our families dry, and when sick leave us to die. The government spends as much as an elite college tuition per person to keep each of us incarcerated, but this money does not develop us as human beings, reduce crime or make our communities safer.
To finance it, tax the rich, dismantle 4/5ths of the US military and stop fueling wars overseas.
But that's called socialism and is (unlike actual treason) treated like it would be high treason by the US political parties; mostly because they are all in the pockets of wealthy donors who would not like this new regime.
To have no homeless, you have to have both resourcing for housing/medical, but also be willing to use force to compel those unwilling to get treatment/be housed where they have little choice. That’s a very tough leap to make.
The choice part never made sense to me - why would anyone want to live like that? But, as a society we value free will and therefore must respect the choices we do not agree with.
Most folks don't actually want to live like that, but some really do want to shun society. You can offer folks things like primitive cabins to help them shun society. Substance abuse, mental illness, and job loss are real problema with real solutions. Heck, if you can't solve someone's substance abuse or alcoholism, you can at least make sure they have shelter and food available to keep them safe even if they won't pay for such things. For a single person, it doesn't have to be luxurious: A dorm setup with private bathrooms and shared kitchen can work out.
Some homeless people can't be helped since they have mental illnesses and break away from hospitals (USA has 70 times more people and homeless people are concentrating themselves in population hubs - that could make the problem more visible), and so on.
Let's not assume things without proper analysis.
When countries become rich (it's not just America), people lose their connection with poverty and start to blame poor people for being poor. This lets them justify voting against social security programmes because they believe "it will never happen to me, I'm not the kind of person who becomes poor".
Walking around San Francisco you would get the impression that most homeless people are mentally ill, but you'd be missing all the people sleeping away from busy streets, in tents, in their cars, squatting in unused buildings, couch surfing between friends, etc.
What happens when bank defaults? You become homeless!
It’s a win-win (for the bank).
On a more serious note: a society which has homeless ppl, in 2018, cannot be considered “civilized”.
Maybe they're voting against it because while they're not poor, they still don't have more than enough - you can solve that by funding it through a progressive tax, but that makes it unfair in the views of many people.
For example the following feels like it was describing my own childhood.
>Beating your kids is not the right way to raise them. Yelling louder is not the way to win an argument. Hiding your faults hurts your family more than it helps.
My grandparents were born end of the 1930s. They grew up in the second world war and lived through the rebuild. The mother side in the west the father side in the east, so they even lived through socialism.
Their views on life were so removed from what I encountered in the world...
I was born in 1960's and even though the world has changed hugely since that time (mostly for the better), I never worried about having enough food. I was frustrated by my parents' need for hoarding: no old piece of cloth or broken tool or piece of scrap metal was too worn out to throw away. But I notice I have mental trouble of throwing away scrap metal or old pieces of electronics myself.
Not that it would have been very easy to relieve that famine with whatever amount of money, without military intervention.
Biafra received also special attention from my country because they adopted "Finlandia" by Sibelius as national anthem of their short-lived nation (with different lyrics, but same theme about rising from oppression.)
Nicely written but I somewhat cringe because it's just an anecdote feeding a narrative about immigrants and we always have to be aware of it.
I mean, isn't it normal that the immigrants do not have influential grandparents running town-hall meetings in the city they immigrated to?
Its been gnawing at me for weeks now and I think after reading this I've made my decision.. my parents are old and sick.. I'm the most successful child and have been covering medical bills for the past year.. it seems irresponsible to try to start a start up that will most likely fail instead of trying to secure a higher paying job so that I can cover their bills and live more comfortably. It may not be the glamorous thing to do but we all have responsibilities...
Something that is secure, and has a smaller chance of everything collapsing on you, is a main requisite. I have similar issues (family to support, more bills than income).
You don't want to be in this position. It's more difficult to claw your way from the bottom than it is to keep afloat.
Unless you are certain that you can find your idea and keep afloat enough to cover everything, I wouldn't risk your current position.
But take this with a bag of salt, but remember my warning - if there is no safety net, you are not the only one to suffer.
Is it somethig. You are able to start in your free time (you're lucky to have any, so use it wisely!) If so I'd say keep working on it u til you get some sort of traction.
Second edit : it's what I'm doing. 70+ hours a week to support my family, and what time I can scrape together to work on my side project.
The key is that it pays the bills and remains interesting. If I were to chase my own entrepreneurial ambitions I suspect that the latter _and_ the former would give way to stress and poverty. With kids, that's not particularly desirable.
1. If the pay cheques stop clearing then you stop working and move on.
2. Always eat broccoli, metaphorically: every company wants for someone who is happy to do, and able to do, the work that others cannot or will not do.
3. Don't be afraid to ask how they're funded and what their business plan is; you are, in a sense, an investor who supplies labour.
4. Stock is _usually_ worth less than the paper it's printed on.
5. Manage your managers; they'll push you hard and squeeze blood from you, and only you are able to ensure work/life balance.
This seems a rather unpopular (at least if you read HN) philosophy these days but it keeps me financially secure, my skills sharp and my attention focused on the stuff that actually matters (family, personal health and happiness etc).
Quite a lot of people have died already with not a lot of consequence.
2 months of spare time is probably the upper end of how much you should spend preparing for coding interviews, once that is done you could start working on your side project?
If you are unsure, read Adam Grant's "Originals". Many of the high achievers he documents there we not in fact risk takers, but extremely careful about many things.
You can take risks, but not all out risks. Have a solid basis, and then use that as a foundation to build something new. I.e. be totally conventional and security seeking in everything else except in your dream project. That way you have the capacity to fail and learn for a longer time while working on your idea, hence increasing the likelihood of eventual success.
It's not for everyone, and it takes a strong leader to make a startup successful. No shame admitting that it isn't for you, the world needs leaders and the world needs people who get the work done.
Living a fulfilling life is about minimizing regrets. People regret not trying to initiate relationships with potential soulmates. People regrets not trying working on a business idea that could have been very successful. People regret not spending more time with family. Etc. The regrets you will have on your deathbed are probably regrets you will have carried your entire life, and thus regrets that will have haunted you and hampered you from living a fulfilling life.
It turns out that in many cases, regrets are independent of the outcome. For example you may not know whether a relationship with a potential soulmate will fail or succeed. But you will probably have more regrets by NOT giving it a shot at all.
While I very much agree with your advice on thinking of how you'll feel on your deathbed, I would be careful in your phrasing. People often make poor decisions about the future because they are overly concerned with whether they will regret a decision or not. You will find many who believe that focusing on regret will get in the way of life satisfaction, and it is a perspective worth considering.
For me, it makes sense to make some achievable goals (relationship, career, hobbies/activities, etc). Then start paring and prioritizing. Without the latter, I will always have more things I would like to achieve than is possible, and will always have regrets - it's rather pointless.
Being lucid at one's deathbed is already a positive situation that might simply not happen under some circumstances.
I rarely do this exercise, but it has been helpful at times. It's a lot simpler to do if you're older (late 30's or higher). You can look back at your pursuits over the last few decades and can actually see things like "Oh, I've been learning new programming languages for so many years now. How useful has it been?" If I extrapolate for another decade or two, will I be happy at age 50 or 60 with the outcome if I continue with these activities?
I have many more pursuits than I can do in this life. When you're younger, you usually don't limit your options because you feel you have a lot of time. When you're 40, you can easily say "I've been doing this for 20 years. If I don't change/prioritize, I'll soon be at 60. Is this stuff worth doing at the expense of other pursuits?"
This year I ticked off two bucket items. I had been putting them off for too long. IMO, it is worth thinking that way.
No mortal being have unlimited time at their disposal. Very few have the fortitude and discipline and above all, guts, to use it for realizing what ever "dream" that they have.
We all have responsibilities. But some does not hide behind them.
I think this also relates to the values my parents gave me that I should work for everything I have and hard work pays off. They never asked anyone for a favor or special privileges, so I never put much value on networking. When I get in a tough spot my natural instinct is to put my head down and solve the problem on my own.
Calling in a favor requires future planning because you need to collect the right kind of friends who also understand the value of passing favors. My observation is that it's much more common for business types, not engineers to think this way.
The simplest heuristic to use that will get you to a better place - is to maintain/grow the connect with people you care about. What does that mean? Why do you care about certain ppl? How do they make you feel? What needs of yours are they meeting? How well do you understand/misunderstand their needs?And what is involved in maintaining and growing the connect through good and bad times?
The world can be divided into people who think about these questions all the time and those who don't. No guesses to who has more connections and is more comfortable calling in favours.
The good news is you too can spend time on those questions even if you currently don't. The more you do and deeper your answers get the more satisfying your life gets.
A large part of the human brain is devoted to social connection. But you have to learn and exercise it for the best results.
I hate myself writing this, but I'm also going to say that you sometimes don't have the privilege of making friends for friend's sake. I'm Chinese, and in college I went out of my way to collect "useful" friends and curry favors because I knew that my parents (poor immigrants from Shangdong) couldn't support me if something happened, and I would rather die before asking them for more than they've already given me. It felt slimy and grotesque to work relationships in this way, but for me it felt like the only way to survive and build a safety net.
"Guanxi" is nothing other than socially institutionalised networks of non-monetary favours and counter-favours. It happens in every culture actually but the thing that makes "quanxi" uniquely Chinese, in my very recent opinion, is that the folks living there have removed it from their subconscious, their latent and dissonant reality and made it front and center of their everyday thinking and living philosophy. They gave it a name! It seems they've accepted it as part of a means of survival in a world of scarcity and in so doing have collectively abandoned the shame associated with relying on favours. They've removed the shame of accepting that it's not only merit or competency alone that gets you ahead - because there are many competent in a land of 1 billion citizens - but also who you know to get you to ply your skills.
Now it seems meritocracy, as it is explained in Jianan Qian's excellently written article, is about how _competent_ you are with your "guanxi". Next level shit, this.
This happens in rural Ireland too. I was visiting friends there, we started in the morning with fenceposts and sardines and 4 or 5 trades later by the evening we had a turkey.
People like to focus on the favors part but Guanxi isn't really about exchanging favors and in fact you mostly never see any kind of explicit quid pro quo. Westerners tend to be "transactionally oriented" and never quite grasp that transactions are always a means to a greater end. In fact if you are seen to be "banking" favors people will quickly lose all confidence in you. There's two very simple ideas here: (1) if you want to succeed in your own endeavors you must make yourself useful and help others succeed in their endeavors and (2) non-monetary ("personal") obligations are much, much more important than monetary ("public") obligations. The "favors" aspect is kinda beside the point. Someone with really good guanxi will actually find others eager to help without even needing to ask!
In order to survive good in China you need some kind of in brain CRM
Where as "institutionalised networks" more or less implies like-minded people sharing the some common value.
Just my two cents.
We might have the term 'favours for favours' but I don't even like that.
I do favours because if it's easy for me to help someone, I do that. I don't expect anything in return. Maybe if one day I need something obviously it makes it easier to ask, but it's not what I'm thinking of.
I think most regular people are thinking in these terms, i.e. we're not constantly keeping track of sour social clout within a specific network. Frankly I don't even like the people that do.
Well, fine, if your parents owned their home, the worst you have to deal with is the shame of failing. If I did a start-up and it failed, it's probable that my parents wouldn't even have a basement for me to return home to.
* Wealthy in time to spend with those you love
I think everybody who works 9-5 should read the story about Grace Groner in . It was a real eye opener for me.
To past me, I highly recommend audiobooking "Millionaire Fastlane". Do not let the awkward title turn you off. It'll put you in a much more productive mindset than Mr. Mustache.
Another book I recommend is "How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big". Adams has a great approach of using systems instead of goals.
In LA, very often the dream is a job in the entertainment industry.
Also thanks to YC for accepting my Startup in to their Startup School Advisor Track. Namaste!
I'd be curious to see how someone educated on American entrepreneurship performs.
Might need some anti-corruption startups to make that happen outside of cricket...
Just curious, but this statement surprised me.
Surpass in what ways? GDP? Per capita income? Standard of living? Population? Level of honesty? Level of corruption? Level of transparency?
Any studies you can recommend that reach these conclusions?
However the Government does seem to be on the right track with their moves to introduce GST (replacing myriad taxes and duties from state to state) and cracking down on illegal cash.
Yes there are major problems with corruption, it's true, but there are major problems with corruption in China and the USA for that matter. It's just in the USA the corruption is much more sophisticated and genteel. I mean this positively and I honestly believe Indian corruption is going to move toward the US model thanks to the large numbers of Indian nationals who have seen how much better that kind of corruption works. It's a classic case of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the less bad.
It seems to go without saying for you, but it's not that natural for me. There are several examples of very homogeneous countries, such as Japan or Korea, doing economical prowess.
There are many many other studies, all easily queried. There’s also the largest and richest country in the world as a case study.
If so, what makes you think the US got successful because of diversity instead of other factors ?
Similarly, there are studies showing that skill diversity is important, but not bio diversity. For example this meta-study :
"Support was found for the positive impact of task-related diversity on team performance. In contrast,
bio-demographic diversity had no relationship with team performance"
I suppose this must be meant to be clever?
I think this is an experience that most people will face in their lifetime. I don't necessarily know if this is an Asian experience, and the discussion of family burdens because in our culture the parents would never say a thing about their illness. But, I don't think what they realize is that it puts even more pressure on the children on accepting the right path.
I'm in no way saying my opinion is correct, because everyone has different values. I'm just sharing my surprise of the dilemma in your post and the original article from my point of view.
In fact, my wife and I are a 1000 km apart because she has to take care of her parents and my parents and job are here. we've lived like this for 6 years.
Did you mean you're not going to regret not spending extra time in the office? i.e. family > work or did you mean work > family
There are two sources of non-regret:
Not valuing the thing you would sacrifice is one.
But not sacrificing the thing is another.
In terms of medicine I think it is important to educate yourself about the particular problems your parents are facing. Medical books and journals are not that inaccessible to a well-educated person and not that time consuming to get a decent understanding of if you focus on problems at hand. Helping them understand their diseases and the medical system and set the right expectations may alleviate some of their anxieties.
"Looking back on my high school years, all my relatives tried to talk me, a top-ranking student, into majoring in science or finance in college. But I was stubborn enough to stay with my favorite subject, literature.
Now I understand them. They knew very well that in life, things can easily fall apart, and that those degrees are a promise of a steady, good-paying job, and perhaps a ticket to freedom, too."
Feeling the shadow of how things can fall apart easily can be delayed until one's 30's or 40s for the privileged, but everyone will see it.
I didn't take literature, I was in sciences. Today those who are read, and can write are able to write marketing, copy, communication and are valuable where techies struggle to growth hack.
In university, it seemed friends in sciences had less of a sense of themselves, but found a career easier. It was also noticeable that friends in arts may not have had a clear path to a career, but seemed to have a clearer sense of themselves, or at least an ability to explore and articulate it.
Every time I see an example of police and the justice system running roughshod over somebody I think "I need to be rich and well-connected so this won't happen to me". The ability to get top medical care in America is also dependent on having good connections, insurance, and/or deep pockets.
Of course, as an introvert, I'm relatively bad at creating and holding on to a wide net of connections, so I have to make up for it with more money.
I am a little confused. Why is getting an appointment at the best hospital by the end of August not good? Take the appointment. See a competent doctor you can find now and then go to the best hospital for a second opinion.
Edit: Added bit about dependents.
I can't speak about China, butt this question was quite pertinent in communist Romania. The answer should be fairly obvious. Because it's communist and the government doesn't give a fuck about its people. That's likely why the daughter is in America. That most certainly is how I ended up here. When it's necessary to have connections in high places or a ton of money or both just to get the doctors to not let you die or to get any decent healthcare, that's the sign of a system that has failed most if not all of its people. We should learn from this here in America because we are only a little ahead of this type of situation with healthcare here. Instead of connections though, the privileged here have good health care and the money to pay for it.
Not true. People's reaction is same as ordinary people, sympathy and pity.
The author discusses her lack of guanxi and her decision to major in literature as a detriment to her career path ... in the new york times. The postmodernism is striking!
More like her lack of networking deterred her from getting the benefits of knowing people, benefits her peers can enjoy.
She states that if she lacks networking, then she'd need to get by with wealth -- which then she follows up in a significant part of the article with why she doesn't have wealth due to taking up a less privileged career path.
Then again, googling what "career success" means, the results say it's a personal definition, so maybe we're both wrong.