January 24, 2024

To 18-year-old Matt

To 18-year-old Matt:

What are you doing now? Maybe you’ve just finished playing tennis, or perhaps you’re waiting for a flight to the United States.

You’ve probably been thinking a lot lately about whether you should come to the United States, play in the college league and pursue a professional tennis career, or go to a regular college like everyone else. I’m sure lots of people are offering their advice; some are telling you that tennis players can’t be successful in general academic disciplines, and some are all the more eager to help you make a decision.

It may be hard for you to imagine, but years from now you’ll be a venture capitalist leading an investment institution handling business across China and the U.S., where you’ll be making early-stage investments in the world’s two largest markets. In 2019, you’ll accrue nearly 400 flight hours and fly more than 275,000 kilometers. You’ll spend your time meeting with entrepreneurs and corporate representatives across different industries and markets, tackling challenges, and identifying sustainable solutions. Even though the success rate for angel investors is less than 4%, you’ll already have two publicly-listed companies in the United States and five unicorns in your portfolio by the time your very own Cherubic Ventures enters its fifth year, and you’ll have already overseen the acquisition of more than 20 companies.

This is all because, despite the advice of several well-meaning people who offered you tips for success, you chose to chart your own course.

As an 18-year-old, now is the time to believe in yourself and choose your own path. You’ll face plenty of difficult choices as time goes on, but as long as you believe in yourself, persist with curiosity and honesty, and take on the tasks you find most challenging, you’ll come to discover that you’ve overcome seemingly impossible challenges. This will make you an important partner to everyone you work with.

Also, don’t forget to use the hashtag #beakindperson throughout your journey. Whether you’re playing tennis, studying, working, or striving to succeed as an outstanding venture capitalist in the world’s largest and cruelest financial markets, stay true to your values. Trust the partners you’ve chosen, be smart, adaptable, and hardworking, and remember to show kindness and empathy toward others. The most important thing is not to win some grand prize or to obtain financial rewards but to become the version of yourself that you can most admire and respect.

As you begin a new year, may these thoughts inspire the 18-year-old you, and may they take root in your heart, encouraging you to pursue your dreams with courage. Never forget to inspire others through your unwavering commitment and belief in your decisions, revealing the endless possibilities that can only come from overcoming a difficult challenge.

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