What I Learned In Taipei
I'm sitting in a coffee shop in the Creative Park in Taipei, Taiwan right now, drinking some of the best iced coffee I've ever had. I feel pretty lucky to be out here, and even more lucky to have hundreds of Taiwanese healthcare entrepreneurs here to listen to me talk. This is the type of stuff that I used to dream about as a kid, except in all those visions, I didn't think I'd be running a business, I thought I'd be an actor or a rapper.
During this trip, I've had the unreal experience of meeting so many young entrepreneurs who seem to know me before I meet them. That's happened before, but not like this. It's difficult to explain, and I don't want to make this seem like a braggadocios post, but the Taiwanese hospitality mixed with the adoration of other young entrepreneurs has created two days of pure celeb status lifestyle for me. There was a guy who came up to me yesterday who was literally stuttering because he was nervous to talk to me, same way I acted when I met Kevin Durant a few years back in Memphis. And the photos! I took so many photos with people over the last couple days, and sure I've always thought I was pretty, but I don't think I'm that pretty.
Overall, a younger version of me would have thought that this treatment would make me cocky, but surprisingly I'm going the other way. I feel tremendously humbled, because the core part of me realizes that all of these entrepreneurs that look up to me, are exactly who I am. I am that entrepreneur, that young kid who grew up dreaming of something bigger. Dreaming of success and also of the difficult journey that gets you there. To a lot of these kids here, I'm already there. I've made it.
But I don't feel that way.
I don't think you can feel that way, really. Because that would mean that you've achieved your goals. And an ambitious person doesn't really ever achieve everything they want to do.
I was reflecting the other day when my Taiwanese friend Richard asked me why I decided to start a company instead of follow the normal path. I get the question a lot, but I don't think I've ever answered it properly. What I told him wasn't really something I had ever realized before, but it was what came out of my mouth and it felt honest.
I knew as a kid what I could be. I knew what was achievable for me, based on where I grew up and my skills. I saw an incredibly achievable path of college, job, MBA, moving up through the ranks, and ultimately a family and $300K a year, and a comfortable life. Based on the situation I was born into, that was easily achievable and expected.
But I knew I could do that. And that leads me to the point of this reflection.
If you know you can do something, why would you do it? I push myself because I want to do things that I'm not sure I can do. Because then, I can truly find the limits of my character and will. And if I didn't accomplish something with my life that was unexpected, truly something I didn't know I could do, then why did I live?