Sep 25, 2011

Mr Wang's Textbook Project

Recently I was approached to co-author a textbook. It would be about financial derivatives in Asia, with a focus on the legal aspects. This topic happens to be exactly what I do for a living (and have been doing for a living, for many years now). So I have the right type of professional knowledge and expertise.

I've checked out my co-author's profile. As he may want his privacy, I shall not mention his name here. All I shall say is that his credentials are pretty respectable. Among other things, he has previously written more than half a dozen legal textbooks, which were published by two well-known legal publishers, namely Sweet & Maxwell, and Lexis Nexis.

So he has solid experience in writing legal textbooks, and I have solid experience in derivatives. I guess we could make a pretty good team. Right now, we are at a preliminary stage of planning - sorting out the contents page, which is an important first step as it will give a clear framework for the entire book.

I do not know how long it will take to get the entire manuscript written. I suspect that it would take somewhere between 9 months and 2.5 years. Obviously this project will require a fair amount of commitment and hard work. But I am willing to go for it because I think that it is a very worthwhile goal, with good rewards to reap for all that labour.

Among other things, successfully writing and publishing a textbook is an excellent showcase of one's professional knowledge. Furthermore, the shelf life of such an achievement is fairly long. Years after the book is published, people in the relevant circles may still have a copy in their personal library, and will remember you because of that.

But quite importantly, I also enjoy writing, and editing, that sort of stuff. Organizing facts and ideas onto a written page is intrinsically appealing and interesting to me.

After Two Baby Hands was published, I always knew that one day I'd get around to a second book. I thought that it could be poetry again, or perhaps a collection of short stories, or a novella. But now it looks like Book 2 will be a legal textbook. Who would have guessed? But I'm game for it.

Sep 22, 2011

Friends, Romans and Countrymen

Over the past few months, I have received many emails from you readers - firstly, concerning my lack of posts, and secondly, concerning my lack of political posts. Some fans have been shocked that I actually let the entire Presidential Elections go by, without writing a single post about it.

That is one of my regrets. Mainly because now, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that Tan Cheng Bok (whom I voted for) ultimately lost by the tiniest of margins (just a few thousand votes).

If I had just written three or four pro-Tan Cheng Bock posts during the campaign season, I would easily have swung a few thousand votes in his favour. And the history of Singapore would have proceeded in a different direction.

But as I said, this observation is made with the benefit of hindsight. If we had the psychic ability to predict our probable futures, there would be many things that each of us would do differently. Since I don't have such psychic ability, well, I'll just have to move on with life and its miscellaneous regrets.

Anyway, after all these years, I am tired of my label as "Influential Singapore Socio-Political Blogger". It cannot be my problem that there are tens of thousands of you who want me to carry on writing about that sort of stuff. I have done much more than my fair share of National Service in the blogosphere. I think that it's time that some of you step up and fill that gap.

As for this blog, well, I will probably go on writing here. But I will write about any topics that interest me, not just politics. In fact, politics will probably get relegated to "Occasional" status. Increasingly I will use this blog as a personal diary of my own life. (As you may recall, that was the original reason why blogs came into existence).

Some of you long-time readers, who came here primarily for the socio-political  content, will quit reading this blog. This decision I do understand, and to you I say - thank you for reading, all these years. We all have to move on sometime. Me included.

Sep 21, 2011

Mr Wang Gets On Stage

Apart from my exam, I will be speaking at a industry conference sometime next week.

It's a highly technical topic - legal issues concerning the central clearing of OTC derivatives, as mandated by the G20 countries.

(If this topic isn't actually relevant to your career, you would probably find my presentation to be an excellent cure for insomnia).

This would be my 3rd or 4th time speaking at an industry conference. So it's not a new experience for me. In case you're wondering, no, I don't get paid for speaking. But in return for doing a one-hour talk, I get to attend the entire conference for free (the usual fee would be a few thousand dollars).

The other benefit of speaking at a conference is that it is a very good self-learning experience. You may already be an expert in a particular area. But the process of preparing your presentation will itself compel you to do more research; check your facts and deepen your own understanding. So you become an even better expert.

Occasionally, one or two colleagues of mine will also get approached to speak at a conference. They often reject the invitation. I think that part of the reason is that they have a fear (or at least some apprehension) of public speaking.

Today, I can honestly say that I have no fear of public speaking. Of course, it wasn't always that way. But over the years, I have done public speaking so many times (and in so many different contexts) that today, it is an entirely non-frightening thing for me.

I have emcee'd many events (wedding dinners, legal seminars). I have done poetry readings. I have argued cases in court. I have conducted many in-house training sessions. I performed some drama when I was in university. Oh, and I love to lead the yaaaaamm-SENG! cheering at every traditional Chinese wedding dinner.

So I have no fear of public speaking.

How to deal with nervousness about public speaking? The main thing is just to remember that the audience doesn't bite.

They aren't there to embarrass or humiliate you. They don't want you to fail. Instead they just want to learn something useful, to hear something new or interesting. They are hoping that you will be able to tickle and entertain  their brain cells for an hour or so. That is all. And if you can do it with a dash of colour and style, so much the better.

So just get out there and speak. Remember - they don't bite.

Sep 18, 2011

On Life, Love & Learning - in Singapore

I'm taking an exam this coming week.

It's one of the papers in the Capital Markets & Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) series. There are 13 exams in total, but nobody needs to take all of them.

Which exams you take depends on whether you want to work as, say, an insurance agent; a financial adviser or a stockbroker. You sit for the relevant papers, you pass and then you can apply for the necessary licence.

However, I am not planning to be an insurance agent (nor a financial adviser, nor a stockbroker). I don't need to take the paper. I am taking it just for fun. Yes, it's something I could mention in my resume, but the real purpose is just to challenge myself; explore an area outside my own work scope; and learn something new.

The paper requires a fair amount of studying and preparation. You need to read and get familiar with what securities firms and their employees can or cannot do, when carrying on their business on the Singapore stock exchange. Topics covered include preventive measures against market manipulation; the rules on handling customers' assets; variation margin calculations for stock futures etc.

Considering my work and family commitments, I do feel a little proud of myself. Firstly, for having signed up for the CMFAS exam at all. And secondly, for having mustered up the discipline, in the past month or so, to regularly sit down and study on the weekends. Whatever may happen on the exam day, I feel that I have already gained.

One unexpected side benefit is that I've been able to be a positive example, to my children, on good studying habits. When they sit down to study, I sit down with them. And I tell them, "Now, we are all going to be quiet and study properly for one hour, okay?".

They are little kids. They tend to get distracted easily. But when they see Daddy sitting down at the same table and studying hard, they feel motivated to do the same. Because now we are all really in the same boat, sailing along together. They try to do the little things that I do, like highlight key points in the textbooks; make short notes and so on. And they try to look as serious as I do, when studying.

As I look at their earnest little faces, I'm secretly laughing and smiling inside myself. They're adorable. I love being a father. : )