“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I might as well just get used to people laughing at my ideas. 

At age 5, I told my mother that driving a dump-truck was my dream job. I can still hear her sweet and loving laughter.

In the 10th grade, that same ambitious boy tried to invent super ice, so cold that a single drop could instantly freeze your drink. Teachers and friends all laughed knowingly, “Jayon is at it again!”

For my first ‘real job’, I launched a grand plan to fix Big Oil from the inside. An Asian-American liberal kid showing up in Houston with East-Coast attitude. This time, the laughter changed. “Boy, who do you think you are?” Welcome to the real world, boy. 

Big Oil brought me in, showed me who’s boss, and spit me right back out. With only strike-outs to my name, I started a company and set out to defy the real world’s plan for my life. Challenge accepted, real world. Bring on the laughter…

Three years later, we ran out of cash to pay our employees. The real world had gotten the last laugh. For one more time, I closed our doors behind me and left my dreams behind in that empty office.

And yet, day by day, the willingness to find joy in failure has brought me back, ready for my next swing. 

My parents told me that as a baby, I would spend whole days just laughing to myself. Today, I’ve earned the right to laugh at myself, too, and my failures have become my most dependable teachers. 

In this life, I will challenge the status quo. I will be a revolutionary and face failure with courage. 

Most of all, I will shape the real world into a welcoming place where we can all dream and laugh together.

— Jayon Wang