My first half of life: about the future of 20s, choice and growth

Author: Hai Huang, the founder of GPA and of Asset pro, a Chinese overseas asset allocation platform, is the winner of the 2017 Forbes China 30 Under 30 for outstanding entrepreneurship, former manager of equity derivatives group at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong and holds a Master of Financial Engineering from Cornell University.

Not long ago, I learned that I was selected by Forbes China's elite list under the age of 30. In addition to the short-lived joy, I suddenly felt that the seemingly distant number of "30 years old" was inevitably coming to my eyes.

People around me always think that I am a person with a strong sense of purpose. From studying abroad to switching investment banks and now creating a home, it seems that I always know what I want. The G.P.A public account often receives many private letters from readers: "I am confused, I don't know what I want, can you give me some advice on life?" In fact, these confusions, without exception, have also circumvented my heart:

 20 years old, I just changed my major on campus, facing a new field, I am nervous;

 23 years old, just started working, facing the huge difference in the campus workplace, I don’t know how to adapt to the workplace;

26 years old, at the beginning of resignation, standing at the intersection of Zhongguancun Venture Street, I doubted whether my choice was right or wrong.

I once confided to the elders about these confusions. They said very harshly: "You are only in your early 20s. Why do you want to know what you want to do now?"

It is very satisfying to have a clear goal in life and know the direction of struggle. But most people don't know what they want, including me.

Over the past few years, as time has passed, I have constantly adjusted my direction. All my growth was based on detours, mistakes and experiences. As Charles Handy said in The Thinker, “Successful life does not know what you want to do before you act. On the contrary, you can only find out who you are by acting, practicing, questioning, and acting again.”

On the edge of reaching 30 years old, I began to reflect on my life and wrote some thoughts to share, hoping to inspire you in your twenties.

1. Live in the future. Steve Jobs said in his speech on the meaning of life at Stanford University: "You must be convinced that what you are experiencing will be connected in your future life. It is this belief that makes me not lose hope, it makes my life different.” This sentence has a profound impact on me.

In 2014, Chao Zhu and I, we have a beautiful fantasy of the future. I resigned from Hong Kong and came to Beijing to start a business. However, the development of the business model and breaking stereotypes took much longer than we expected.

The early direction was the recruitment platform for the financial sector. During this period, it served a large number of financial institution clients and sent a large number of professional financial planners to many wealth management companies. At the same time, in order to create greater influence, the team ran a number of self-media, G.P.A among them. Later, when we explored the profit model, we determined the current business model of Asset pro. At that time, we suddenly discovered that all previous experiences can be connected, including the past overseas experience, early user accumulation and the influence of new media.

Too many people are good at talking about "the after-sales" after they become famous. But in fact, only when you look back, you will discover the subtle connection between these bits and pieces, and the trajectory of life will become very clear. Do not float the clouds to cover the eyes, the wind and long objects should be eye-catching. With this belief of “live in the future”, you will turn many of the confusions, challenges and pains in front of you into the brewing opportunity and growth of life. Don't stop looking for it until you get it.

2. Give meaning.

Shi Hu once said that "the meaning of life is not about how to have life, but how to live by yourself." It is a very deep philosophical question. Moreover, different stages of life will have different pursuits and perspectives, and the meaning of giving life is completely different.

When I first entered the Morgan Stanley investments department, I had to arrive at the company on time every day at 6 a.m. and started a busy day from the morning meeting to prepare for the overnight news. I got off work around 8 p.m. every night. Quickly, it became day-to-day work and long-term high-intensity pressure. At that time, the future meaning of the vision was to hope to become like the Managing Director sitting at the neighboring table, who had a legendary annual salary and influenced industries. Although, later I found out that this was not the case. But I have to say that in the early morning of those two years, the first thing that woke me up was the alarm clock, but the one that supported me from the warmth of the nest was the meaning of the future that I recognized.

Later, in the process of work and entrepreneurship, I gradually found that the internet's change and penetration of the entire financial industry has begun. Especially in the field of overseas financial management, many high-quality products have caused opaque information because of many intermediate links. At the same time, there are many products with certain risks, which have been mis-marketed and promoted by many people.

This is also the original intention of our establishment of Asset pro - the hope to pass the first-hand information of more high-quality overseas wealth management products to more financial planners and families through the internet. In this process, the transformational pains experienced, external doubts and competitive pressures, etc., will become negligible under the simple “thank you” of the financial planners and customers after every effective information dissemination.

I have always believed that if everyone finds the meaning of the current stage of their own life, many pains and complaints in life will cease to exist. Every day is a very self-fulfilling and meaningful day. Because every day, we are giving ourselves a more meaningful future.

3. Self-discipline delays short-term satisfaction.

I have read a book, titled "There are Few People Walking the Road.” It said something that has been imprinted in my heart: The sense of satisfaction that is postponed by self-discipline means not coveting temporary comfort, but re-setting the sequence of happiness and pain in life.

I have always admired those who work and live in a self-disciplined way. They are all very imaginative people, not only living in the future, but also very clearly depicting every detail of the future. It can even be said that they have lived in the future ahead of time, because they know what they want, and they dare to give up the small achievements in front of them, and finally get the city in the future.

Although I have a life, I still have bad habits such as finding that I have only been four times when my fitness card expires. But it is undeniable that self-discipline is a very important topic in the whole life, or at least the first half of life.

When working at Morgan Stanley, self-discipline allowed me to endure long and intense work. At the time, our group included five members, and other colleagues and bosses came from France, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Whenever there was a large holiday and business was slow, most people chose to spend more than 20 days of vacation each year.

What was interesting at the time was that at Christmas time, my colleague and I said, "Hai, because you are Chinese, you don't have to celebrate Christmas, so you will stay on duty." During the Spring Festival, my colleague said, "Hai, during the Spring Festival, the transaction is dull and the pressure is not great, so you will stay on duty.” Every year, in July and August, my colleague said to me: “Hai, you have no children. We will accompany the children to the summer camp during the summer vacation, you will stay. Go down to work."

At that time, what I meant for my future was to learn more about the expertise in the stock and derivatives fields and gain more experience. So, at that time, more than 20 days of paid vacations each year did not end out. At that time, I met my colleagues and bosses every time, and I answered them one by one. And I also found that once every shift, the colleague and boss trusted me to the next level; more importantly, many businesses can be truly independent, rather than hiding behind the scenes. At that time, although the pressure and challenges were greater, you will find that the harvest is beyond imagination.

In more than two years, because of the improvement of my professionalism and trust, the team and the company have gained greater business authority: promotion and salary increase. However, the deadliest was the third year of working in the segment of equity derivatives, and I noticed that my learning curve has changed from steep to flat. At that time, I realized that this was no longer what I was pursuing. I began to think about resigning from the investment bank and finally decided to leave. Nowadays, in the field of overseas assets, the influence of Asset pro has gradually formed.

Delaying the self-discipline of short-term satisfaction means giving up the entanglement of short-term results and the greed of short-term interests. The success of any great cause is not a blockbuster and short-term explosive outcome. Patience is one of the most important qualities in life. The qualitative change of life is mostly caused by quantitative changes. The initial long accumulation and precipitation are very important. Even if you grow a little more every day, you will definitely reach a distant place that you couldn't imagine before. Self-discipline is more important than hard work, and from self-abuse to self-discipline, all you need is to see what you want in the future.

4. Summary.

Growth has always been a process of constantly trying to understand yourself. This way, I can't say that my confusion in my early 20s has an answer, but I can say that I have a relatively clear self-awareness. Even the detours that I have traveled are now my life experience, which makes me understand myself more clearly and step by step to the success and life I want.

A few days ago, when a Forbes reporter interviewed me, he asked: "What quality do you think makes you so successful?"

At that time, I laughed. My answer is that success is too far away for me. The selection of Forbes' elite list under the age of 30 is, in my opinion, more important than just an important footnote for people aged 20-30. For Asset pro and me on the road of pursuing dreams, this is just getting started.

May every reader, on his own path of life, find the meaning of the future that belongs to you, and insist on self-discipline.