People I find inspiring and insightful.
People with Blogs
- Khe Hy
- Graduated CS from Yale, went to work in Investment Banking, then became one of the youngest Managing Directors at Blackrock’s hedge fund of funds business. Quit at age 35 without another job lined up, or even much of a plan. Now hosts a blog/community called Radreads where he focuses on living thoughtfully and with intention. What resonated with me most is his blogging on financial independence and living a life well lived. Even though some of his methods are clickbait-y, I find his content succinct and insightful, but in the back of my mind I wonder, would I have overlooked the marketing tactics at first if it wasn’t for his credentials?
- Favorite links:
I study technology at Gavekal Dragonomics, a global macro research firm based in Hong Kong and Beijing. For the most part, that means figuring out China’s technology capabilities and how quickly they’re improving. Broadly speaking, I’m trying to understand the East Asian industrialization story: the history and the path forward. I’m also a contributor to Bloomberg Opinion. I post essays on this site.
I’m currently living and working in Beijing. I’ve lived before in Kunming, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Rochester, Freiburg im Breisgau, San Francisco, New York, and Hong Kong. I’ve previously worked at Flexport, Shopify, Alcatel-Lucent, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major in philosophy and economics. For a happy while, I was a Royal Canadian Army Cadet.
More Career Details
College I started at Rochester in August 2010, thinking that I’d study economics and English. It was only until sophomore year that I settled on the double-major of economics and philosophy. I had at one point gotten close to declaring a musicology major; for the second time in my life I rejected a career in music.
In the summer of freshman year I had my first real exposure to an office job: Rochester’s Communications office. I wrote a lot, got to know some wonderful and supportive co-workers, and am supremely glad to have had this first foothold. They liked me too.
I had two internships in the summer of sophomore year: as an investigative reporting intern for Radley Balko at the HuffPost and as a strategic planning intern at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both were fabulous experiences, and I can’t remember another summer with greater fondness.
It’s because these two were so fun that I got fidgety in junior year. I teamed up with two friends to develop a startup idea. We applied to Y Combinator’s Summer ‘13 session.
We never made it. I still decided that I wanted to get away from school for a bit. So I didn’t return for senior year.
I made my way back to Ottawa, working two jobs, both in marketing. First I was a Customer Experience Marketing Solutions Assistant (16 syllables, count ‘em) for Alcatel-Lucent, a French telecom. And I was a MarComm intern at a small design firm.
In November 2013 two big things happened: first, my grandfather, whom I was very close to, passed away. I went back for for an incredibly meaningful visit.
Second, I found my current position in the growth team at Shopify. It’s an amazing company.
- Graduated from Berklee College of music, pursued dream of becoming a professional musician, then started CD Baby to help independent musicians sell CDs online, grew it to be the largest independent site, and sold it for 22 million. Has a great blog that posts unconventional ideas about business, life, passion, work, creativity, etc.
- Investor at Andreseen Horowitz, focuses on consumer startups, previously worked at growth in Uber. If you want to start a consumer startup, read all of his slide decks.
- My first book, “Uncanny Valley,” will be published in January by FSG/MCD, and by 4th Estate in the UK. The book is a memoir of my time working for startups in New York and San Francisco, and an expansion of this (lightly fictionalized) n+1 piece by the same title. If you’re interested in pre-ordering “Uncanny Valley” (thank you!), it can be found on Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.
Jeffrey Ding, https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/team/jeffrey-ding/
Stories of other cool people
I’ve already written about Philip Glass. When he received prize monies from Juilliard, he spent it on a motorcycle so that he could ride around the country. He was never afraid to go into steep debt to realize his creative works. Or to drop everything to go off on trips to India, Afghanistan, and Iran. He keeps composing for new settings, like films and opera houses. He was not a “professional composer” until the age of 41—up until that point, he had worked variously as a plumber, furniture mover, and taxi driver. (One time he was almost murdered in his own cab.) Three weeks ago I attended the premiere of his 11th symphony, commissioned for the occasion of his 80th birthday.
One doesn’t have to admire Steve Bannon’s policy views to see that he’s lived a unique life. The recitation of his career path (born in Norfolk; Virginia Tech; HBS; officer in the Navy; Goldman; etc.) doesn’t sufficiently convey the diversity of his experiences. He has been involved with Seinfeld; Biosphere 2; the rescue effort of the Iran hostage crisis; a World of Warcraft virtual gold mining company; Titus (the Shakespeare adaptation featuring Anthony Hopkins); Breitbart; the White House; and surely other interesting ventures I’ve never read about.
And how about Patrick Byrne, a philosophy PhD who founded Overstock.com? His Wikipedia profile has a lot of gaps, and he’s the kind of person I wish the New Yorker would feature. After teaching philosophy, he founded a company that made industrial torches, and then another company that makes police and firefighter uniforms. He contracted Hepatitis C from a trip to Xinjiang in his 20’s; ongoing treatment has required his heart to be stopped over 100 times. More recently, he has found greater fame for his embrace of Bitcoin, making Overstock the first major retailer to accept a cryptocurrency.
- Eric Feng, CTO of Flipboard, previously founding CTO of Hulu and former VC at KP. Worked at Microsoft Research Beijing, founded video startup Mojiti, which was acquired by Hulu.
Feng grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated as the number one-ranked engineering student. His first job out of college was at a particularly entrepreneurial software firm called Trilogy. Here, management encouraged employees to take risks. They had a program called Project Lose2K, where employees were given $2,000 dollars and told to bet it all on a single spin of the roulette wheel. Feng didn’t win anything from his turn at the wheel, but the experience of taking a big risk stuck with him.