Why many years after graduation, classmates that started with similar capabilities, have different achievements?

Share This Post

Below you can read more about an interesting opinion given by Yimin Zhang, founder of TikTok

Transcript from the speech of Yimin Zhang, founder of TikTok

Hello everyone!

You are all very young, and I was under pressure when I came today. Because I have graduated almost 11 years ago and seen you, I really feel that “the waves behind the Yangtze River push the waves forward”.

I participated in the campus recruitment in Wuhan last year, and I felt that the quality of the new generation of young people is indeed very good. I was thinking yesterday, what I should share with you today.

After thinking about it, I first draw up the title, and change Jobs’ “Stay hungry, Stay foolish” to “Stay hungry, Stay young”.

I want to share with you my work experience and what I find out after graduation. In addition, as an interviewer, I may have interviewed 2,000 young people in the past 10 years.

Some are still in the same company with me, and some have gone to other companies. Their achievements are actually very different.

From the algorithm level, we call this “positive cases” and “negative cases”. I want to share: Why are the achievements of “positive cases” and “negative cases” so different?

What is “Stay hungry, Stay young”? “Stay hungry”, as everyone knows, is curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and self-motivated. But why do we say “Stay young”?

I think young people have many advantages: they don’t have limitations, they don’t have too much need to be repaired, they often break routines, they work very hard, they do not compromise, and they are not so sophisticated.

Ten years have passed, some young people still remain these good idiosyncrasies. This is “Stay young” from my point of view.

“Stay young” people have basically not reached the ceiling, they keep continuous improvement. On the contrary, many people improve their skills after graduation, but after reaching a ceiling, they no longer grow.

My personal experience:

How to become the supervisor of a team of forty or fifty people in the second year of graduation?

In 2005, I graduated from Nankai University and joined a company called Kuxun.

I was one of the earliest employees of the company. In the beginning, I was just an engineer, but in my second year of work, I managed a team of 40 or 50 people in the company, responsible for all back-end technology, and also responsible for many product-related tasks.

Someone asked me: How did you grow so fast in your first job? Were you particularly outstanding in that company?

Actually not. The company’s recruitment standards were very high. I remember that there were two PhDs from the Department of Computer Science at Tsinghua University.

Am I the best technique? Is it the most experienced? I found neither. Then I thought for a while, what were my characteristics at that time.

1. When I work, I do not distinguish between what I should do and what is not.

After I finish my work, when my colleagues face problems, as long as I can help, I will do it. At that time, I have seen most of the code in CodeBase.

When a newcomer enters a job, as long as I have time, I will explain the technique to him. Through the explanation, I can also grow.

There is another feature. For the first couple of years of work, I basically went home at 12 am or 1 am every day. After I got home, I also wrote coding until late.

It is indeed because of interest, not the company’s requirements. So I quickly went from being responsible for a module for extracting crawlers to being responsible for the entire back-end system. I started with a team, then a small department, and then a large department.

2. I never set boundaries in my work.

At that time, I was in charge of technology, but when there was a problem with the product, I would actively participate in discussions and think about product solutions. Many people say this is out of my work scope.

But I want to say: Your sense of responsibility, your motivation to do things well, will drive you to do more things and give you a lot of exercises.

I was an engineer at the time, but the experience of participating in the product helped me a lot in the later transformation. My participation in business is also very helpful to my current work.

I remember that at the end of 2007, I went to meet customers with the company’s sales director. This experience let me know what kind of sales are good sales. When I set up Toutiao and recruit people, these experiences made me know at least something in the sales field.

The above are the characteristics of my first graduation.

10 years of observation, the outstanding young people I met, all have these 5 characteristics!

Later, I joined various startup teams one after another. During those periods, I have worked with many graduates, and I still keep in touch with many of them.

Let me share with you what are the characteristics of these outstanding young people?

First, be curious and be able to actively learn new things, new knowledge and new skills.

I am not too humble today, I regard myself as a positive case, and then I will say a negative case. I have a former colleague who has a good theoretical foundation, but every time he finishes his work, he goes back home.

He stayed in this company for more than one year, but he didn’t spend time to learn the new technologies and new tools bomb on the Internet. So he is very dependent on others.

When he wants to implement a function, he needs someone to help him do the second half, because he can only do the first half. If he is curious, he will try to learn the knowledge of the front-end, back-end, and algorithms. Then he can do a lot of debugging and analysis by himself.

Second, remain optimistic about uncertainty.

For example, at the beginning of Toutiao, I told the team: We want to have 100 million daily views. (Of course, it’s more than 100 million now, and we now have almost 500 million daily views).

Many people think, how can your small company achieve this objective?

Only those big companies can achieve the objective. So they dare not try it. Only optimistic people will believe and will be willing to try. In fact, it was the same when I joined Kuxun. That company wanted to be a next-generation search engine (it didn’t make it in the end, only doing a vertical search for travel).

I don’t know what other people think, I feel very excited. I’m really not sure, and I don’t know how to do it, but I went to learn it at that time and I just looked at all these related things. I think it may not be done in the end, or it may not be done completely, but this process will also be very helpful – as long as you remain optimistic about the uncertainties, you will be more willing to try.

Third, be unwilling to be mediocre.

You are already very good with your classmates. But I want to say that after you move into society, you should set higher standards. I have seen many of my classmates and colleagues who worked with me during college. There are a lot of very good talents with better skills and grades than me. But 10 years later, many people have not met my expectations: I think they should be able to do a good job, but they have not.

After many people graduate, their goals are not high. I reviewed it and found that some colleagues joined the bank’s IT department: some joined after graduation, and some joined after working for a period of time.

Why do I associate this with “unwilling to be mediocre”? Because many of them joined in order to settle the Beijing hukou quickly, or at that time, some organizations had subsidies for housing allocation and could buy affordable housing.

Later, I was thinking about a question. If I am unwilling to be mediocre and hope to do very well, I will not worry about these things: Is there a Beijing registered permanent residence and can I buy affordable housing?

If a person sets his/her goal here as soon as he/she graduates: buy a small two-bedroom or small three-bedroom in the downtown of Beijing and spend all energy on this, then the work will be greatly affected. His/her behavior will change and he/she is unwilling to take risks.

For example, I met an old friend who did some part-time jobs in his spare time to get some income. Those part-time jobs actually have no technical content, and they have an impact on his major job, affecting both his career development and his mental state. I asked him why, and he said, hey, hurry up and pay a down payment. I think he seems to have made a profit, but he is actually a loss.

It’s important not to be mediocre. When I say not mediocre, it does not specifically mean that the salary is high or the skills are good, but you must have a high standard of yourself. Maybe you changed slowly in the first couple of years, but looking at it 10 years later, it will definitely be very different.

Fourth, don’t be arrogant.

Let me cite a negative example here: Two young people who have been impressed by me are pretty good in quality and skills, and they are both very distinctive. I was their supervisor at the time and found that their deliveries at work were not always good. They think that other colleagues are doing worse than them, but it’s not true: they can indeed be counted as the top 20% of the colleagues hired at the time, but they mistakenly think that they are the top 1%. So a lot of basic tasks, such as a debugging tool, they are unwilling to do, or work that requires cooperation with colleagues, they do not cooperate well.

They were originally talents with very good qualifications, very smart and strong in their hands, but they did not control their arrogant emotions. I think this is not inconsistent with “unwilling to be mediocre.” “Unwilling to be mediocre ” means that you have to set your goal very high, and “not arrogant” means that you have to be practical about the status quo.

Among the 2,000 samples, I saw many guys that I thought were successful in my career, but they were not as good as I imagined. The guys I thought were not successful but actually exceeded my expectations. Here I also give an example:

At that time, we had a product colleague who was also hired as a fresh graduate. At that time, everyone thought he was not particularly smart, so we asked him to do some more auxiliary tasks, such as statistics and user feedback. But now, he is the vice president of a billion-dollar company.

Later, I thought about it, his character is the willingness to do, responsible, never shirk, as long as he has the opportunity to take on things, he always does his best. It’s not very good every time, but we always give him feedback. After he went to that company, he took charge of a fringe channel with less than 100,000 users and made this channel better. Since this is a fringe channel without a complete team, he has undertaken a lot of responsibilities alone and has also received a lot of exercises.

Fifth, have judgment on important things.

Choose what major, company, career, and development path. You must have judgment and don’t be influenced by short-term choices.

Some of the above examples also cover this point. For example, at that time, many people were willing to go to foreign companies but not to new companies.

In 2006 and 2007, many younger people asked me about career choices, and I suggested that they go to Baidu instead of IBM or Microsoft. But in fact, many people are out of short-term considerations: foreign companies may be well-known and pay higher.

Although this truth, everyone has heard it many times. The salary difference when I first graduated was three to five thousand yuan, which is really negligible. The short-term pay difference is not important. But in fact, there are not too many people who can get rid of this and have judgment.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Do You Want To Boost Your Business?

drop us a line and keep in touch

Scroll to Top