My Singapore-based small business, Tangram Lab, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. The idea for Tangram Lab was conceived shortly after launching this blog in 2009, when I’d emerged from the corporate cocoon fearful, raw, and relatively certain that I wouldn’t ever be flying back to it again. During this period, I was also immersed in rewriting a graduate thesis for the sixth time, researching doctoral programs, and volunteering at a few charities in New York— a period of dignified avoidance culminating in the realization that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my stint on Earth. Although I was probably too young to be disenchanted with the opportunities life offered and too old to be pondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, that’s exactly where I found myself. Looking back, the recession probably didn’t help matters.
Over the course of a very dark week or so, I directed my free hours into designing “the perfect job at the perfect place which doesn’t currently exist and under the assumption that the human species has transcended its gauche and detestable obsession with money instead operating under a scheme weighing an individual’s positive and negative contributions to society.” Or something like that. The result of this exercise was Tangram Lab, an idea I nervously tried to sell to a few well-meaning smart folks, most of whom looked at me with a special kind of pity and said, “umm, I’m not sure what you have here is a business. How will you eat?” Sadly, the etchings of Tangram Lab were concealed within a puke green folder and shoved into a filing cabinet. I went back to the business of trying to Google my future.