Ventuss xLog

走马敕勒川 | TG: @Ventuss_OvO

Leave without looking back, 2019.

Originally, I didn't have the habit of writing year-end summaries. In my opinion, December 31st to January 1st is just another orbit around a galactic arm of the Earth. However, there were some achievements in 2019 that I would like to share with everyone.

2019 is a Continuation of 2018#

After graduating in 2017, I started working and felt like I was sliding into adulthood, experiencing various forms of discomfort. In the second half of the year, I lived alone in Beijing and felt extremely down.

In 2018, I gradually stabilized and developed my own framework for viewing the world. I also established the main direction for my career development and found my own rhythm. Specifically, there are a few key points:

  • Tower of Babel: I realized that the Tower of Babel is a great metaphor. The barrier preventing humans from building a tower to the heavens is not the division of language, but the isolation of the mind. Everyone is lonely, and the only ultimate way to overcome this loneliness is through creation. Through creation, you can transcend space and time, resonate with countless humans, and influence distant places. Then, you are no longer alone.
  • Existentialism: One night, I repeatedly read Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" and became an existentialist. Existence precedes essence, and morality and soul are created through creation. A person is the sum of all their actions. After understanding this, I no longer feel "lost".
  • XYZ Coordinate System: This is a concept I created to describe the three main aspects of "success". The Y-axis represents vertical cognition, such as an engineer's coding ability or a researcher's research skills. The X-axis represents horizontal mobilization ability, mobilizing people, capital, resources, or more simply, management ability. The Z-axis represents the ability to traverse cycles, knowing what to do at what time, which is the ability of a CEO. With this coordinate system, I consciously started to develop myself in these three aspects.

The cognitive improvements in 2019 were an extension of the foundation laid in 2018. I gained more practical experience, tested theories, and developed more grounded and practical ideas.

  • Consumption and Creation: I started consciously distinguishing between "consumption" and "creation" in my life and work. Buying a handbag is consumption, creating a product by buying an SDK is creation; watching short videos is consumption, writing articles is creation... When viewing everything in life from this perspective, you will realize that many things become completely irrelevant, while others become extremely important.
  • Creative Professional: I have always used this phrase as my LinkedIn profile, but the experiences in 2019 have made me more determined in my career choice. Only creation can overcome loneliness, and the creation of a product manager can be infinitely amplified by the internet. There is nothing more wonderful than this. I also discovered that being a product manager is actually a transitional career. In the end, you will either become a professional manager or a CEO.
  • Optimistic Nihilism: I used to love Leonard Cohen's quote, "The pessimist is someone who is always worried about rain, while I am already soaked to the bone." However, after being educated by reality, I have become more optimistic. Optimism has at least a possibility, while pessimists will only stagnate. The universe has no meaning, meaning is created, so let's create optimistically. This is optimistic nihilism.
  • I Can Too: In 2019, I did many things that I never thought I could do before. It's not that I lacked imagination, but I thought these things were far beyond my reach. Later, I realized that they weren't as difficult as I thought, and that I could do them too. In 2020, I have more confidence and energy to expand my boundaries.
  • Freedom: One day, I suddenly realized that I don't have many material desires, but I have many things I want to do and not enough time. For me, I don't even need "financial freedom". I just need a stable cash flow. What I need more is complete "freedom", the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it.

Personal Infrastructure#

One thing I focused on in 2019 was Personal Infrastructure.

This was influenced by Stephen Wolfram. Stephen Wolfram is a genius, and some say he is one of the smartest people alive. He won the MacArthur Award at the age of 21 and later founded Wolfram Software. I was deeply impressed after reading his article on his Personal Infrastructure. He meticulously records, digitizes, and analyzes his personal life and work, which allows him to maintain abundant energy and creativity even at the age of 60.

I am not able to be as detailed as him, but I manage my personal infrastructure in the following ways:

  • Scientific Internet Access: I spent some time studying network communication knowledge, configuring it, and now I rarely encounter internet censorship. Due to this convenience, I have access to information of much higher quality than the Chinese internet. I have abandoned various rogue internet services in China and started using products created by top-tier internet companies.
  • Information Intake: Besides reading books, I carefully select my daily information intake, mainly through RSS subscriptions supplemented by a small amount of social media. This way, I don't miss any content from people I admire, and I can also come across content that I wouldn't normally have access to. I strongly believe in the saying, "You are what you eat."
  • Calendar: Since 2016, I have been using a calendar to record my daily life, almost like a diary. I have recorded important events that happened every day for the past four years. This year, I redesigned the rules for recording, making it more powerful and enjoyable to use. One side effect is that I am often stood up by friends, but I almost never stand them up because I record my schedule.
  • Task Management: In 2019, upon the recommendation of a friend, I switched from Todoist to TickTick for task management. With the Kanban feature of TickTick, my task management ability has gone from "linear" to "multi-dimensional". I don't blindly believe in methodologies like GTD, but tools do have a significant impact on shaping the user. When I can arrange tasks in a more visually appealing way, it becomes easier to complete work with enthusiasm.
  • Personal Management: I started using Notion to comprehensively manage all aspects of my life and create a personal wiki. In December, I also started trying quarterly OKRs (2019/12~2020/02). When I write down my OKRs, my life feels more organized, and even fragmented time can be effectively mobilized (X-axis ability).

About Work#

In 2019, I made a job change and left Shimo Documents to join a startup company as the 4th employee and the only product manager.

Shimo is a company that values taste (which is a high praise from me, as taste is something that cannot be learned). My time at Shimo was very interesting, and my colleagues were all very talented. However, due to changes in the external environment, the company's development and my personal goals became misaligned. When I first joined Shimo, everyone was eager to make a big impact, but later we had to give up due to various factors. Afterwards, I discovered that my ideas had been implemented one by one by DingTalk and Yuque, which was a bit regretful. I wish Shimo the best.

However, this experience made me start thinking about what business is. Product managers always emphasize user experience, and in my opinion, the best user experience is when you can provide services to users while also making money. A team cannot provide good user experience in the long run if it cannot sustain itself. The pursuit should be long-term global optimization.

After our new company was established, we collectively went to Delhi, India for a month. We didn't have much time for sightseeing, as we were focused on development and street research. India is very vibrant, and in the foreseeable future, the world will be dominated by China and India. In fact, India may be even more competitive than China for two reasons: 1. Indians speak English; 2. India has no internet censorship, which allows Indians to access information of much higher quality than what is available within China. What struck me deeply was that when an Indian wants to find something, such as "how to do ASO", they would directly use YouTube. YouTube has high-quality content from all over the world for online teaching, which is much more efficient. In China, we can only use Baidu or Toutiao? Don't make me laugh.

Our team spent some time in the early stages deploying infrastructure and getting familiar with each other. Then, we launched our first product, which didn't meet expectations, but we found a viable path. The second product was temporarily taken down due to some issues, but after resolving the problems and re-launching it, it quickly grew. We continuously optimized and polished the product, releasing a new version every week. User retention rapidly increased, and eventually, we reached #18 on the Google Play India category rankings, with a DAU of 200k and a next-day retention rate of 55%. Compared to our competitors, the data was very good.

We originally planned to focus on user experience, but the market changes exceeded our expectations, so we promptly adjusted our direction. I won't go into detail about the ongoing projects, but we are quietly making a fortune. It's going well. Θ..Θ

Someone asked before, "Do young people think ByteDance is a cool company?" My answer is: Yes, it's cool. It's cooler than BAT, similar to Facebook, but far behind Tesla and NASA. Isn't a super cool recommendation system cool? Isn't a commercial system that can monetize traffic cool? Isn't a low-rise building converted from an airplane museum cool? Of course, it's still not as cool as a spaceship.

Breaking the contract with Huawei and joining Toutiao in 2017 was an extremely correct decision. Shamelessly, I can say that I already foresaw that Toutiao would grow into a new BAT. I learned a lot from Toutiao, although a large part of it was realized in hindsight. Now, I have a deeper understanding that business is a great thing, and profit is the biggest moral in business.

About Life#

In 2019, I still didn't have a cat.

However, I made many new friends this year, and many of them have become very good friends. The connection between people is a magical thing, and sometimes you can tell that someone is different from the first meeting. This year, I also reconnected with some old friends. Sometimes, my mind gets stuck, and I can argue with friends, but we always make up. I am grateful for their understanding.

In the new year, I hope to meet more friends. I still prefer meeting offline, so I welcome all friends who read this to have a meal, coffee, or drinks with me.

After October, I went to Australia and went skydiving with a friend to see the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hold a koala. Later, Australia experienced a terrible forest fire, and many koalas were burned to death. I hope everyone can pay attention to them.

One afternoon in November, I had a conversation with a friend and had an idea about the future world. With the help of my friend, it was written into a script and turned into a comic published on GQ's public account. Thank you to my friend. One night in November, after drinking a little alcohol, I wrote a science fiction story and sent it to a few friends for feedback, which seemed to be very good. This marked the beginning of my new career. My imagination is still alive, and I am still young.

After the snow season started in December, I went skiing every Sunday, living a routine life of working from Monday to Saturday and skiing on Sunday. I became addicted to snowboarding since my first experience last year. This year, I consciously practiced my moves and learned from professional snowboarders on YouTube. I made good progress. When I can confidently tackle advanced slopes, I will be ready to leave Beijing. Skiing is a sport that suits me very well. It's just me and the slope. I have to be completely focused, or I will fall. I have to keep going because stopping will make me cold. The moment I fall is the most relaxing moment of the week, giving myself to life and falling on the ground with all my heart is the most authentic moment of the week (children, please do not imitate). Learning to ski has also given me a lot of confidence. I used to be very physically uncoordinated, but now I believe that my lack of coordination was simply due to being discouraged too much when I was young. With the right guidance, I can teach myself any sport. What's the problem with being uncoordinated?

That's about it for 2019.

Wishing everyone a fantastic 2020!

Don't wish me smooth sailing, wish me to break through the waves.


2020/01/01 @ Beijing

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