Daniel's 2015 Annual Letter

Dear Mentors, Colleagues, and Friends,

In January 2015, I was feeling good. Very good. I had just gotten married, was growing rapidly at work, and had taken on roles in prestigious community organizations. But, at the close of 2015, I was not feeling so great. My ego took a hit when I was not accepted to my dream business schools. It's as good a test of character for which I could ask in the coming year--will I let it haunt me or will the experience be a source of renewed motivation? Nonetheless, I was very fortunate in other ways this year. I got closer with my own family and my in-laws and saw new parts of China and the world. It was another exciting year. I look forward to both greater challenges and opportunities in 2016.

# Family Fun

Flora and I had our second marriage ceremony, this time in China (the first was in Philadelphia in 2014). My parents and sister met her parents and family for the first time. Though neither side speaks the other's language, the clan got along just fine, had a wonderful time in Beijing, and keep in touch by sending happy photos back and forth over WeChat. We also had our honeymoon on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali and decided (in addition to our one date/week rule) to have one honeymoon for just the two of us each year.

# New Horizons

I'm not talking about Pluto, although that was really cool. I became deeply involved in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, meeting hundreds of incredible young leaders from 450 global cities at an annual meeting in Geneva. I finished up at ASC Fine Wines by building a customer planning system, spending time in all 10 of ASC's offices across Greater China and helping the company manage and grow about $100 million in annual revenue. Now in Beijing, I'm establishing a new office and business unit for American education technology start-up ChaseFuture.

# Rejection

But the cornerstone moment of the year was one of healthy rejection. After studying hard and earning a good score on the GMAT, I applied to the three business schools which I believe will best help me reach my life goals. After getting close to joining one of the elite programs, I was ultimately rejected from all three. The news is of course a disappointment, but the months of preparation were nevertheless invaluable. I learned much about myself and enjoyed an unprecedented opportunity to think deeply about my values, my story, and the vision I have for my life.


During the holiday season, I'm reflecting on a quote from someone who met with great success in his career, and who believes his success is not merely *in spite* of failure but *because* of failure. The quote is from basketball legend Michael Jordan. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

In that spirit, I printed out the business school rejection letters and placed them in the top drawer of my desk. I intend to keep them there until I’m invited (without my asking) to speak for MBA students at each of those schools. That may be many years away, and I will undoubtedly face dearer and harsher failures in the interim. The letters are a reminder that sometimes I will not reach my goals, but failure is only more reason to keep striving.

In 2016, I've set ambitious goals toward building a meaningful, healthy life and creating good works that stand the test of time. I may not reach them all, but I endeavor to work harder and smarter than ever before.

One of those goals is to publish a short, once-per-month newsletter, sharing three ideas or articles that have inspired me and which I hope will inspire others.  It would give me great pleasure to have you join. Just let me know in a reply to this email or you can sign up directly here. I look forward to sharing with you throughout the year.

Wishing you a fantastic 2016,


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