9 out 10 Americans willing to swap money for fulfillment

I came across an interesting article on Harvard Business Review about how Americans are willing to trade money for meaningful work

More than 9 out of 10 employees, we found, are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it.

If you could find a job that offered you consistent meaning, how much of your current salary would you be willing to forego to do it? We asked this of our 2,000+ respondents. On average, our pool of American workers said they’d be willing to forego 23% of their entire future lifetime earnings in order to have a job that was always meaningful. The magnitude of this number supports one of the findings from Shawn’s recent study on the Conference for Women. In a survey of attendees, he found that nearly 80% of the respondents would rather have a boss who cared about them finding meaning and success in work than receive a 20% pay increase.

To put this figure in perspective, consider that Americans spend about 21% of their incomes on housing. Given that people are willing to spend more on meaningful work than on putting a roof over their heads, the 21st century list of essentials might be due for an update: “food, clothing, shelter — and meaningful work.”More than 9 out of 10 employees, we found, are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it.

Source: Harvard Business Review

It’s personally relatable to me. When I was young, I used to feel jealous of and compare myself to others in terms of title or salary. I resolved to earn a high salary as quickly as possible, which usually goes with a good title. I achieved my goal at the age of 24, earning a top bracket salary for people at my age and working for one of the biggest corporations in Vietnam. But only after three months, the work was meaningless and the working environment was so stifling that it felt suffocating to get up in the morning and go to the office. Plus, life in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City was no longer enjoyable. I needed a change.

So I took a 50% pay cut to relocate to Danang, Vietnam and work for a much much smaller company. I learned a lot during my time in a 2nd tier city and a smaller organization, as well as enjoyed my life much more with less money. I felt lucky to learn the lesson quite at the age of 25. Till this day, my time at that corporation was the worst I have ever had. Ironically, for a time in the past, it was all that I wanted. How dumb I was.

We give away 8 hours and a significant amount of mental power to our job. In many cases, it involves other sacrifices such as living away from family or daily long commute. I consider it unlucky to be stuck in a meaningless job with no joy. So if you can have a meaningful job at the expense of a portion of income, my experience is that you should. But of course, life isn’t just that simple. Not everybody is lucky enough to have options.

Almond Milk or Soy Milk

Looking for a tasty and nutritious drink besides cow’s milk and store-bought juice. 90% of which is made from concentrate, I decided to do some research on almond milk and soy milk to see which one is the better choice.

One of the benefits of these two choices is that they are great for those who want to lose weight. Both almond and soy milk contain little saturated fat, sugar or calories.

Source: Healthline

Unfortunately, neither of them naturally contain much calcium, though store-bought milk can be calcium-fortified.

Compared to almond milk, soy milk is richer in nutrition, especially protein (the stereotype that almond milk is a good source of protein is false) and more environmentally friendly as soy requires less water than almond.

Soy milk is allegedly related to weakened fertility in men. A Harvard study in 2009 reported that soy milk consumption might have detrimental effects on male fertility.

The soy study was part of a long-term investigation of environmental factors and fertility. The subjects were 99 male partners of sub-fertile couples. Each man had a medical evaluation and complete semen analysis, and each provided a detailed three-month dietary history that evaluated 15 soy-based foods, ranging from tofu and tempeh to soy milk, veggie burgers, and “energy bars” containing soy protein.

The study found that the men who consumed the most soy had the lowest sperm counts. And it didn’t take much soy to do the trick — as little as one portion every other day was linked to a reduction in sperm count. All in all, the men who ate the most soy had counts that averaged 41 million fewer sperm per cubic milliliter than men who ate the least. The impact was greatest in overweight men, and the results remained valid after age, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, body mass index, and the time between specimen collection and the preceding ejaculation were taken into account.

Harvard Medical School

However, the view was challenged by a study by Harvard School of Public Health in 2015 and another study in 2010. A definite conclusion on the matter remains to be determined. Given all the factors above, soy milk looks to be the winner in this contest.


If you just happen to read this blog of mine for a bit, you’ll know I like to read. Reading is fun and powerful. I learned English and still do from reading, including vocabulary, grammar, nuances, connotation and just how words can be put together. I am still miserable at it, so that’s why I keep reading.

Also, reading expands my horizon and reminds me of how lucky I am. Non-fiction books such as self-help or just pure business reads are incredibly helpful in becoming a better business person or just a better person. Accounts on life in North Korea, Africa or the gender discrimination in Middle East boost my compassion and appreciation for what I have.

I believe strongly that we all should embrace reading. And to give you some motivation, here is a tweet I thankfully came across this morning

Source: Jelani Cobb

I shared it with a friend and his first response was ‘Damn. No excuse’. Indeed, there isn’t.

The baffling relationship between State and The People

The relationship between the peoples and the governments voted by them is intriguing and baffling to me.

The peoples form governments in order to help them run the countries efficiently. Ordinary folks are busy with making ends meet and building families. Government officials, meanwhile, dedicate their business hours to making policies and putting national resources to work efficiently. At the core, governments are supposed to work for the citizens and the citizens’ best interest.

The reality; however, is starkly different. Take the protest in Hong Kong as an example. The people have voiced their opinion loudly and unambiguously. They want independence and autonomy from China. Yet, all the Hong Kong’s government has done so far seems to go in the opposite direction of what the people demand. Worse, they violently tried to subdue the protest and hurt the citizens whom they are supposed to protect and serve.

Hong Kong is not the only case. Citizens give government officials and police power. Yet, the power is then used to harm the citizens and there is no mechanism at the moment in countries to timely take away the power from those who misuse it. By the time a new election comes, it will be too late. Yet, politicians need time in the office to see through policies. It’s impractical and impossible to set a policy and expect it to work after one month or three.

I do believe there is a place for centralization. Otherwise, it would have been there for the last thousands of years. Yet, we haven’t mastered the art of giving and taking away power timely and properly.

Simple home-cooked meals

In the past two weeks, I wasn’t a bit indisciplined in eating. It was either dining out which could be expensive and unhealthy or eating quick meals that were not as healthy or nutritious as they could have been. So I decided to redeem myself today with the following recipes and give a thank-you shout out to these two sources. I hope I help you guys a bit in SEO as you guys help me and others with the recipes

Lemongrass Chicken

Shrimps marinated in soy sauce, ginger, honey & garlic

Home-cooked meals are definitely healthier, cheaper and can be therapeutic.


I came across a cool and quite encouraging video on reforestation in Ethiopia. As the climate change concern grows louder every day, it’s great to see such an effort from the African country

Reforestation doesn’t happen only in Ethiopia. According to Human Progress, 31% of the Earth is covered in forest. Moreover, rich areas such as UK, North Korea and Europe possess more forests than they did decades ago.

The article also said that developing countries such as China, India, Vietnam, Russia and Bangladesh have hit a critical mark of $4,500 GDP Per Capita (forest transition) and achieved net afforestation. Though I do doubt that my country has $4,500 GDP Per Capita or net afforestation, it’s a positive observation.

The news from Ethiopia is probably the first positive event since the horrific weekend. It brought smile to my face. Good things are done everywhere in the world and we need them more than ever.


As I am looking to buy a car, the last few days have been an arduous and time-consuming quest for finding the one that ticks all the boxes on paper. Online reviews were checked. Car reports were seen. Prices were compared. And of course, opinions from friends were sought after as well.

One thing that stands out to me is the reputation of Japanese cars. Deep down inside, I already have more trust in Japanese brands such as Toyota or Honda. As safety and durability are my highest priorities, Japanese brands stand a notch higher than others in my mind. My friends’ opinions align in that as well. The people I talked to all suggest that I look out for Toyota or Honda first, if possible.

What a great advantage to have! In a saturated market, trust and good will from customers are so valuable. Even if Japanese cars may cost me a bit more, I will be willing to spend a few more bucks because of that trust and good will. It may seem obvious now, but it is the fruit of years of work to build and maintain this image. Toyota and Honda don’t come out of nowhere and do nothing to enjoy this advantage.

It applies to humans too. We take up the words of some people faster and more assuredly than of others.

I have one professor in Finland before who used to work in Treasury. He told us in a class that if he recommended us, we could take his words to the bank. If I am to have that reputation and brand, I’ll need to put in the work, constantly, now and in the years and years to come.