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

In my dad’s paper factory in Malabon City, Philippines, I spent hours being chased by dinosaurs.

I took a cardboard box, taped on an old clock, flipped an hourglass, pulled a plastic lever, and went back in time. Stationed beside a giant machine that devoured brown, gooey pulp and magically churned out reams of white paper, my eight-year-old self was convinced that anything could happen.

Then, as I grew up, the adventure faded away. I majored in business, wore a suit, and convinced myself that the only things I could build were models and slides. Day after day, I churned out the same thing: numbers and figures on white paper.

One year before HBS, without any coding experience, I stumbled into a data science startup. Confronted by a dark screen awaiting instructions, I felt like a kid in a factory, lost and out of place, yet giddy with excitement. My code was held together by sheer willpower and duct tape, but it didn’t matter: I was intoxicated by how each keystroke made something, anything, happen.

After two decades, I rediscovered what I had known at eight: the best adventures are the ones I build.

— Ryan Yu