Lee Kuan Yew served as founding Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. Under his leadership, Singapore became a first-world country in a single generation. A key driver was revolutionizing the education system:


In the 1960s, the high school drop-out rate was 56%. By the 1980s, it was less than 1%. Nowadays, Singapore’s students score the highest on international tests of reading, math, science, and creative problem solving.


In parallel to improving education for all students, Lee encouraged educated people to marry each other and have intelligent children. This increased Singapore’s most precious resource—the brainpower of its citizens.


Lee Kuan Yew—who is the greatest nation builder, probably that ever lived in the history of the world—he said one thing over and over and over again all his life: figure out what works and do it.

-Charlie Munger


Nature and nurture

Most parents want their kids to be happy, healthy, and wealthy.


Boost the odds for your kids with this system:


In any given society, of the 1,000 babies born, there are so many percent near-geniuses, so many percent average, so many percent morons…It is the near-geniuses and the above-average who ultimately decide the shape of things to come…We want an equal society. We want to give everybody equal opportunities. But, in the back of our minds, we never deceive ourselves that two human beings are ever equal in their stamina, in their drive, in their dedication, in their innate ability.

-Lee Kuan Yew


Great genetics

Genetics influence happiness, health, and wealth. You and your partner’s genes will be passed on to your kids. If you’re both happy, healthy, and wealthy, there’s a good chance your kids will be too.


Genetics is the major reason why people differ in personality, mental health and illness, and learning and cognitive abilities. In essence, the most important thing that parents give to their children is their genes.

-Robert Plomin



Identical twins share the same genetics, whereas fraternal twins and siblings share half their genetics. Decades of twin and sibling research show that happiness is 35% inherited. Similarly, depression and anxiety are 30–40% inherited.


I just want my kids to love who they are, have happy lives and find something they want to do and make peace with that. Your job as a parent is to give your kids not only the instincts and talents to survive, but help them enjoy their lives.

-Susan Sarandon



Similar to happiness, thousands of twin studies have found that genetics strongly influence most characteristics. This includes healthy behaviors, physical traits, and diseases. For example, height is 90% inherited and weight is at least 50% inherited. Short men and heavy women are at a disadvantage for dating and careers.


Attractiveness is 50–70% inherited. Of note, facial masculinity is 40–50% inherited. This means men and women with masculine faces are more likely to have unattractive sisters and daughters.


Women aged 19 to 26 are twice as fertile as 35 to 39. By 45, almost 90% of women are infertile. Also, children of older women have a higher risk of genetic diseases. For example, risk of Down syndrome and other cytogenetic abnormalities is 2 in 1,000 births for women under 30; 6 in 1,000 at 35; and 54 in 1,000 at 45.


In contrast, men’s fertility declines by only 30% in their 40s. And they can still father children in their 50s and 60s. The reason is men produce up to 100 million sperm per day, whereas women only ovulate 400–500 eggs in their lifetime.


Genetically-similar couples are more likely to have children with recessive genetics. At one extreme, babies of first cousins have a 3.5% higher rate of infant mortality. They also tend to be shorter and less intelligent in adulthood. In contrast, mixed-race individuals tend to be taller, smarter, and more attractive.


Researchers have found that women naturally prefer the smell of genetically-unrelated men, especially when they’re ovulating. However, taking oral contraception reverses this—these women prefer genetically-similar men. Contraceptive hormones cause a woman’s body to think it’s pregnant and prefer the company of family instead of strangers. Therefore, some women may wish to use non-hormonal forms of birth control such as Intrauterine Devices (IUDs).


Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.

‐Jawaharlal Nehru



Researchers found that heritability was 23% for socioeconomic status and 54% for lifetime earnings. The top two drivers were intelligence and conscientiousness.


Intelligence is the ability to deal with complexity. It includes reasoning, problem solving, and abstract thinking. Studies with 11,000 twin pairs found that intelligence had a heritability of 40–55% in childhood and adolescence. This rose to 85% in adulthood.


Intelligence is a strong predictor of academic achievement, job performance, and wealth. Only the top 10% are competitive for the highest-level jobs. Also, intelligent people have lower risks of mental illness and other diseases.


Second to intelligence is a personality trait called conscientiousness. It has a heritability of 30–40%. Conscientious people are organized, efficient, punctual, disciplined, responsible, hard-working, and gritty. Not surprisingly, conscientiousness is a strong predictor of academic achievement, job performance, wealth, and happiness.


There are no hard problems, only problems that are hard to a certain level of intelligence. Move the smallest bit upwards, and some problems will suddenly move from “impossible” to “obvious”. Move a substantial degree upwards, and all of them will become obvious.

-Eliezer Yudkowsky


Great parenting

For the past 80 years, the Grant Study has tracked the lives of 268 male Harvard students from youth to death. The biggest finding? Love matters most. A loving childhood is a strong predictor of adult happiness and success. Men with warm mothers earn 50% more money. And men with good fathers are more likely to be happy and have happy marriages.


These results have been confirmed by thousands of studies—cherished children do best. Children need love, attention, and support from both parents. Loving parents set consistent boundaries for good behavior. They encourage personal choice and independence. When children misbehave, parents should use reasoning, brief time-outs, and positive reinforcement.


In contrast, children’s health and success are worsened by anger, harsh discipline, physical punishment, overprotection, rejection, and neglect. Researchers have found that strict fathers and tiger moms are actually harming their kids more than parents who let them run wild.


Children do better when parents love each other. But sometimes divorce is inevitable. In this case, negative effects are reduced when both parents provide love and support.


Children who fail to learn basic love and trust at home are handicapped later in mastering the assertiveness, initiative, and autonomy that are the foundation of successful adulthood.

-George Vaillant


Help at home

To help children learn to read, there is strong evidence for teaching phonics to toddlers. For math, it’s important to memorize multiplication tables and practice mental addition and subtraction. Also, hands-on learning is more effective than abstract concepts.


Finally, teach a “growth mindset”: the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger with training. Don’t praise children for being smart. Instead, praise effort and hard work.


The most important job you have is to be the teacher to your children. You are the big, great thing to them. You don’t get a rewind button. You don’t get to do it twice. Teach by what you do, not what you say. By the time they get through formal school, they would have learned more from you than from school. Provide warmth and food and everything else.

-Warren Buffett


Successful schools

The best school is one with other cherished children and firm, kind teachers. This could be homeschooling, charter schools, Montessori, or good schools in rich neighborhoods. Children’s friends are important too—peer pressure can help or hurt.


The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

-William Arthur Ward


Personal notes

When I was a kid, my dad constantly told me: “Hard work is the key to success”. He posted this saying around our basement walls. I’m also grateful for my mom’s unconditional love. Looking back, it gave me the subconscious security to trade my safe medical career for the roller coaster of entrepreneurship.


Finally, I used to get annoyed when my kids interrupted my work. But now I practice being fully present with them.


There is a kind of immunity about a happy childhood, not an immunity from the disasters and catastrophes that may, that almost certainly do, lie ahead, but an intrinsic immunity. Change and transience are at the heart of the human condition. But as parents we can at least give our children a happy childhood, a gift that is as certain, as unchanging, as rock solid, as any human good.

-Alison Gopnik

Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.

-J.K. Rowling


Kang T. (2004). Taking human capital investment seriously: Reflections on educational reform. Educational Research Policy Practice. 3: 63–76.


Lee S. (2017, March 19). Singapore’s education system: Some key success factors. New Zealand Centre Political Research.


Lee KY. (2000). From Third World to First: The Singapore story: 19652000. HarperCollins.



Bertels M. (2015). Genetics of wellbeing and its components satisfaction with life, happiness, and quality of life: A review and meta-analysis of heritability studies. Behav Genet. 45(2): 137–156.


Sullivan PF, Neale MC, Kendler KS. (2000). Genetic epidemiology of major depression: review and meta-analysis. Am J Psychiatry. 157(10): 1552–1562.


Hettema JM, Neale MC, Kendler KS. (2001). A review and meta-analysis of the genetic epidemiology of anxiety disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 158(10): 1568–1578.



Polderman TJC et al. (2015). Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies. Nat Genet. 47(7): 702–709.


Silventoinen K et al. (2003). Heritability of adult body height: a comparative study of twin cohorts in eight countries. Twin Res. 6(5): 399–408.


Elks CE et al. (2012). Variability in the heritability of Body Mass Index: A systematic review and meta-regression. Front Endocrinol. 3: 29.


Jackson LA, Ervin KS. (1992). Height stereotypes of women and men: The liabilities of shortness for both sexes. Journal Social Psychology. 132(4): 433–445.


Stulp G et al. (2013). Are human mating preferences with respect to height reflected in actual pairings? PLoS One. 8(1): e54186.


Tyrrell J et al. (2016). Height, body mass index, and socioeconomic status: mendelian randomisation study in UK Biobank. BMJ. 352: i582.


Mitchem DG et al. (2013). Estimating the sex-specific effects of genes on facial attractiveness and sexual dimorphism. Behav Genet. 44(3): 270–281.


Lee AJ et al. (2014). Genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity decrease facial attractiveness of female relatives. Psychol Sci. 25(2): 476–484.


Dunson DB, Colombo B, Baird DD. (2002). Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle. Hum Reprod. 17(5): 1399–1403.


Harris ID et al. (2011). Fertility and the aging male. Rev Urol. 13(4): e184–e190.


Menken J, Trussell J, Larsen U. (1986). Age and infertility. Science. 233(4771): 1389–1394.


Hook EB. (1981). Rates of chromosome abnormalities at different maternal ages. Obstet Gynecol. 58(3): 282–285.


du Fossé NA et al. (2018). Advanced paternal age is associated with an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 26(5): 650–669.


Johnson SL et al. (2015). Consistent age-dependent declines in human semen quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ageing Research Reviews. 19: 22–33.


de la Rochebrochard E, Thonneau P. (2002). Paternal age and maternal age are risk factors for miscarriage; results of a multicentre European study. Hum Reprod. 17(6): 1649–1656.


Mixed race

Bittles AH, Black ML. (2010). Consanguinity, human evolution, and complex diseases. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 107(Suppl 1): 1779–1786.


Joshi PK et al. (2015). Directional dominance on stature and cognition in diverse human populations. Nature. 523(7561): 459–462.


Lewis MB. (2010). Why are mixed-race people perceived as more attractive? Perception. 39(1): 136–138.


Wedekind C et al. (1995). MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proc Biol Sci. 260(1359): 245–249.


Garver-Apgar CE et al. (2006). Major histocompatibility complex alleles, sexual responsivity, and unfaithfulness in romantic couples. Psychol Sci. 17(10): 830–835.



Trzaskowski M et al. (2014). Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence. Intelligence. 42(100): 83–88.


Hyytinen A et al. (2019). Heritability of lifetime earnings. Journal Economic Inequality. 17: 319–335.



Gottfredson LS. (1997). Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life. Intelligence. 24(1): 79–132.


Haworth CMA et al. (2010). The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood. Mol Psychiatry. 15(11): 1112–1120.


Panizzon MS et al. (2014). Genetic and environmental influences on general cognitive ability: Is g a valid latent construct? Intelligence. 43: 65–76.


Roth B et al. (2015). Intelligence and school grades: A meta-analysis. Intelligence. 53: 118–137.


Schmidt FL, Hunter JE. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychol Bull. 124(2): 262–274.


Strenze T. (2007). Intelligence and socioeconomic success: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal research. Intelligence. 35(5): 401–426.


Schmidt FL, Hunter J. (2004). General mental ability in the world of work: occupational attainment and job performance. J Pers Soc Psychol. 86(1): 162–173.


Calvin CM et al. (2010). Intelligence in youth and all-cause-mortality: systematic review with meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol. 40(3): 626–644.


Deary IJ et al. (2015). Intelligence and personality as predictors of illness and death: How researchers in differential psychology and chronic disease epidemiology are collaborating to understand and address health inequalities. Psychol Sci Public Interest. 11(2): 53–79.



Vukasović T, Bratko D. (2015). Heritability of personality: A meta-analysis of behavior genetic studies. Psychol Bull. 141(4): 769–785. 


Jang KL, Livesley WJ, Vernon PA. (1996). Heritability of the big five personality dimensions and their facets: a twin study. J Pers. 64(3): 577–591.


Wilmot MP, Ones DS. (2019). A century of research on conscientiousness at work. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116(46): 23004–23010.


Credé M, Tynan MC, Harms, PD. (2017). Much ado about grit: A meta-analytic synthesis of the grit literature. J Pers Soc Psychol. 113(3): 492–511.


Poropat AE. (2009). A meta-analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychol Bull. 135(2): 322–338.


Duckworth AL et al. (2012). Who does well in life? Conscientious adults excel in both objective and subjective success. Front Psychol. 3: 356.


Great parenting

Vaillant GE. (2012). Triumphs of experience: The men of the Harvard Grant Study. Harvard University Press.


Ali S et al. (2019). They love me not: A meta-analysis of relations between parental undifferentiated rejection and offspring’s psychological maladjustment. Journal Cross-Cultural Psychology. 50(2): 185–199.


Leijten P et al. (2019). Meta-analyses: Key parenting program components for disruptive child behavior. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 58(2): 180–190.


Koehn AJ, Kerns KA. (2018). Parent-child attachment: meta-analysis of associations with parenting behaviors in middle childhood and adolescence. Attach Hum Dev. 20(4): 378–405.


Leijten P et al. (2018). Parenting behaviors that shape child compliance: A multilevel meta-analysis. PLoS One. 13(10): e0204929.


Khaleque A. (2017). Perceived parental hostility and aggression, and children’s psychological maladjustment, and negative personality dispositions: A meta-analysis. Journal Child Family Studies. 26(4): 977–988.


Pinquart M. (2017). Associations of parenting dimensions and styles with externalizing problems of children and adolescents: An updated meta-analysis. Dev Psychol. 53(5): 873–932.


Khaleque A, Ali S. (2017). A systematic review of meta‐analyses of research on interpersonal acceptance–rejection theory: Constructs and measures. Journal Family Theory Review. 9(4): 441–458.


Valcan DS, Davis H, Pino-Pasternak D. (2017). Parental behaviours predicting early childhood executive functions: a meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review. 30: 607–649.


Vasquez AC et al. (2015). Parent autonomy support, academic achievement, and psychosocial functioning: a meta-analysis of research. Educational Psychology Review. 28: 605–644.


Lee LO et al. (2015). Do cherished children age successfully? Longitudinal findings from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Psychol Aging. 30(4): 894–910.


Kim SY et al. (2013). Does “Tiger Parenting” exist? Parenting profiles of Chinese Americans and adolescent developmental outcomes. Asian Am J Psychol. 4(1): 7–18.  


Rothrauff TC, Cooney TM, An JS. (2009). Remembered parenting styles and adjustment in middle and late adulthood. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 64B(1): 137–146.


Patall EA, Cooper H, Robinson JC. (2008). The effects of choice on intrinsic motivation and related outcomes: a meta-analysis of research findings. Psychol Bull. 134(2): 270–300.


Jeynes WH. (2007). The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Urban Education. 42(1): 82–110.


Divorce and children

Auersperg F et al. (2019). Long-term effects of parental divorce on mental health - A meta-analysis. J Psychiatr Res. 119: 107–115.


Adamsons K, Johnson SK. (2013). An updated and expanded meta-analysis of nonresident fathering and child well-being. J Fam Psychol. 27(4): 589–599.


King V, Sobolewski JM. (2006). Nonresident fathers’ contributions to adolescent well-being. J Marriage Fam. 68(3): 537–557.


Help at home

Ehri LC et al. (2001). Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Journal Direct Instruction. 2(2): 121–166.


Cason M, Young J, Kuehnert E. (2019). A meta-analysis of the effects of numerical competency development on achievement: Recommendations for mathematics educators. Investigations Mathematics Learning. 11(2): 134–147.


Carbonneau KJ, Marley SC, Selig JP. (2013). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives. Journal Educational Psychology. 105(2): 380–400.


Doo MY, Bonk CJ, Heo H. (2020). A meta-analysis of scaffolding effects in online learning in higher education. International Review Research Open Distributed Learning. 21(3): 60–80.


Yeager DS et al. (2019). A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature. 573(7774): 364–369.


Royer DJ et al. (2019). A systematic review of teacher-delivered behavior-specific praise on K–12 student performance. Remedial Special Education. 40(2): 112–128.


Successful schools

Smith-Woolley E at al. (2018). Differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them. NPJ Sci Learn. 3: 3.


Ray BD. (2017). A systematic review of the empirical research on selected aspects of homeschooling as a school choice. Journal School Choice. 11(4): 604–621.


Cheng A et al. (2017). “No excuses” charter schools: A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence on student achievement. Journal School Choice. 11(2): 209–238.


Marshall C. (2017). Montessori education: a review of the evidence base. NPJ Sci Learn. 2: 11.


Perry L, McConney A. (2010). Does the SES of the school matter? Teachers College Record. 112(4): 1137–1162.


Sirin SR. (2005). Socioeconomic status and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review of research. Review Educational Research. 75(3): 417–453.


Liu J et al. (2017). The influence of peer behavior as a function of social and cultural closeness: A meta-analysis of normative influence on adolescent smoking initiation and continuation. Psychol Bull. 143(10): 1082–1115.


Sacerdote B. (2001). Peer effects with random assignment: Results for Dartmouth roommates. Quarterly Journal Economics. 116(2): 681–704.

Did you enjoy this chapter? Read the full book. Download your free copy: EPUB PDF

Copyright © by Raven Dojo Inc.

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty