Climbing Mountains, Slaying Dragons: Carving Your Own Path

Marvin Liao
3 min readApr 13, 2024

I remember when I was living in Taiwan back in 1998, trying to start my corporate career, lost and very poor. I was invited to a pool party in a very ritzy area called Tianmu. Like many of the Taiwanese rich, they were stealth wealth. We showed up at this nondescript house but once inside it was this immensely impressive house with a large pool in the back.

It was hosted by a friend of my roommate. Nice guy, found out he was a scion of a big local company. He was shipped off to the USA at a young age, to a private boarding school, followed by university and business school. Ended up working for a few years at the Boston Consulting Group before coming home to take over the family business.

I was so envious of him back then. How lucky was he to have a clear set future? And inherited wealth to boot.

But fast forward 25 years later. I now realize that blessing is actually a curse. Why?

He had no agency in his life, no real control of his future. He had to walk a path set for him by his family. Additionally, because he inherited the company and wealth, I doubt many of the workers and executives would truly respect him. Even if he is super smart, hardworking and expands the business successfully, there will always be a nagging question in people’s minds and on his own.

I understand how it could be a comfort for some people to have their entire future planned for them. But every man has a drive, a drive to create and build. Yet this drive is only really engaged when it’s towards goals they create themselves. And also it needs to feel earned. This might be why so many rich kids end up destroying themselves with hedonistic pleasures like gambling, girls and drugs. They haven’t earned or accomplished anything nor do they have any real goals, so that drive gets used in listless and degenerate ways.

I guess, looking back now, I’m the lucky one. I had no clear path set for me so I had to figure it out myself. And with hard work and many great mentors and smart people around me, I found my way eventually. Thus, everything that I accomplished and have was in pursuit of goals I set for myself and attributed to me. Not anyone else. All the mistakes and failures are on me. But consequently any success that happens was due to me as well. I definitely feel like I earned whatever I have (for better or worse).

So my advice for anyone just starting off in their career, understand that it’s okay to be a little bit lost. Learn about yourself, take some risks and try different gigs and opportunities. And understand that this is a long game. You may not see the end result for a long time but as long as you are learning, progressing and enjoying yourself, it will be okay in the end.

Be like olden day explorers who went off to discover the physical and mental frontiers. They set their own direction, charted their own maps, carved their own route through the jungle. So go forth and conquer. Find your own path.

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Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com