Daniel's 2018 Annual Letter

Daniel’s 2018 Mid-Year Update

Dear Mentors, Colleagues, and Friends,

I'm sending an extra update because of some life changes. First, I graduated business school and found a job at Google. My team helps local technology companies in Asia bring their products to people around the globe--I'm so excited to start this next part of my career. Second, I wrote my first piece of software, a web application called Tasky. You can try it out here.

In my last note, I mentioned my goal of positively contributing to humanity's "Page 501”, and I hope these are two small steps in that direction. They sound wonderful, right? But most of my efforts along the way were failures:

  • 700 outreach emails that never earned responses
  • 20 rejections after interviews
  • Nine months of recruiting with zero job offers
  • Before Tasky, I took 3 years of online computer science courses with no tangible outputs

Regardless, you were always there to encourage me, help me prepare, or listen to my recruiting troubles. It made all the difference:  less than a week after graduation, I received two job offers and started a three-week adventure writing Tasky. I owe these two dreams-come-true to your constant support. I can't thank you enough.

Let me know if you come to Beijing--I'll be here for the foreseeable future and I'd love to see you. Wishing you a fantastic second half of 2018!



Daniel’s 2018 Annual Letter

Dear Friends, 

Since my last letter, I’ve started working at Google in Beijing helping Chinese companies bring mobile apps and games around the world. These first six months have been enthralling; I've learned more and faster than I thought possible. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and there were many times in my first weeks when I doubted my abilities.

After business school, I switched industry, function, and geographic focus all at once—something career coaches preach never to do. One meeting showed how unprepared I was:  Several team leaders met to discuss a new project. I was lucky to be invited, so it was important to contribute. I felt my heart beating wildly as I strained to think of something--anything--to add, but the only thought that came to my mind was, 'Why are you even here?' I went back to my desk feeling dejected.

Instead of staying sad about it, I decided to do whatever I could to ramp up. I subscribed to every blog about the gaming and digital advertising industries that I could find. I relearned SQL and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning understanding every data source and analysis tool available to me. Just as important was support from others. Flora encouraged me every single day, and dozens of people from all across Google coached me and shared their knowledge. 

It was also a great excuse to play video games. One day, a senior executive visited the office and found a group of us playing together on our cell phones. When he asked what we were doing, I held my breath. Without batting an eye, one of my colleagues replied with a smile, "We're conducting critical market research."

These efforts made a difference. Last month, I gave two presentations in Mandarin to customer executives that actually changed important strategic decisions. There's still a ton to learn, but little signs of progress like this make me excited for the next big project.

Outside of work, I've been able to spend time with Flora, sleep enough, and occasionally exercise. Beyond that, I’ve got some balancing to do. In 2019, I will restart reading at least one hard book per month, spend more time with friends, and appreciate one new piece of art or music every day. If I fail, please call me out on it when I send next year’s letter.

I hope your 2019 is off to a fantastic start—it’s the last year of the 2010’s! Whether or not you enjoyed this decade, we still have a whole year to make it a bit better. Let’s use the opportunity wisely.



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