This 23-year-old product manager in Shenzhen taught me resilience

I ‘m a frequent couch surfer. Even when I have a business trip, I use Couchsurfing for weekends to stay a few more days in the city with a friendly local. Zake Zhang, a 23-year-old product manager at VRVIU hosted me one night in Shenzhen, and I slept in a sleeping bag on a yoga met in his apartment. We became good friends, but more than that, I really admire him. I was amazed by how he keeps his daily routines to reach his goal, and keep on sharing his lessons with other people.

“My passion is making impact to other people. Even when I die, people still can remember me with those I left in this world.”

Zake Zhang, who is he? (This is his LinkedIn profile)

Zake is an action taker, enjoyer of not fitting in.
Product Manager | Blogger | Photographer | Video Producer | VR/AR/AI Geek

… Keep on hacking…

- Top Writer in Virtual Reality (Medium.com) | Mar, 2017
- Linkedin Columnist | Nov, 2016
- Launched Generation M (Mentoring) Project | Oct, 2016
- Reached 5,000 blog followers | Sep, 2016
- Bachelor Degree in engineering | Jul, 2016
- Enlight China Fellowship Winner | May, 2016
- TEDxYaohuLake Speaker | Jun, 2016
- Harvard HPAIRx Speaker | Feb, 2016

- Launched THE REVIEW ARMY | Dec, 2015
- Founded WECRACK | May, 2015
- EF “BE SOMEBODY” COMPETITION — 3rd Prize of China | May, 2015

- 3rd Prize of FLTRP Cup National Public Speaking Contest | Dec, 2014

- Grand Award of FLTRP Provincial Public Speaking Contest | Dec, 2013

Zake is now writing 1,000 diaries to be the best product manager. He just wrote his 52th diary on Medium. (That’s how I started Medium)

I could see that he will become a very successful person in the future. How he manages his things, is just so extraordinary. He showed me a couple of spreadsheets including his daily schedule, his balance account and full list of his mentors. Zake was in control of things he decides to do.

Be creative and keep on learning

“When I was in San Francisco, I rode on an Uber, and I was chatting with the driver. He said he used to work for GM, then he moved to Tesla. In Tesla, he had to work on robotic stuff, and he left the company to be a full-time Uber driver.”

Zake asked the driver, what are you going to do when self driving cars are around? He told Zake,

“We’ll see.”

“What do we do when everybody wants to work in internet companies and creative industry? If your work does not require creativity, then how is it different from a robot doing the same work instead of you?”

I questioned myself, how much I am putting effort and creativity to improve my outcome.

Zake’s life

Zake’s home in Shenzhen

Zake gets up 6:00 a.m. in the morning, reads a book, does push ups, runs the park for 30 minutes, have a cold shower, eats breakfast, arrives in the office early and does morning digest. At 7p.m., he writes the product manager diary, and comes back home. He goes to bed at 11p.m.

“It’s monotonous life, and I keep myself going. I invite Couch Surfers on weekends to my house to get new perspectives.”

His videos on his WeChat Public account and QQ videos are just amazing. It’s done very neatly with every little detail, and eye catching content. I was impressed by his self interview. This requires really a perfectionist character and detailed management.

“My life is just like being a product manager. Being a product manager means that there are sets of requirements that make a good product that filled out in a form. Then you compare the form and the real product, and step by step, you get things done to build the product in your mind. My life is just like that.”

Zake’s words (I’m learning Chinese):

我好傻。I don’t like taking selfies. I would rather take video of myself. Then you can take your whole body, rather than one part of yourself.
没有跑开。I usually run 5–6 km a day. Today we ran like 2 km. There is a walking event at the end of this month. We’ll walk 60 km a day, from morning to 8p.m.
“I started reading English books since 2–3 years ago. The start was reading biographies. Their stories really dragged me into their life. Since Chinese media just translate English media, I started to read English materials directly, just like what’s on the medium.”

Zake’s favorite books

In my whole Shenzhen trip, the most inspiring person I met was Zake. I really needed to meet him. He was the one who gave me a big lesson to keep on my daily routine to get to that point I want to reach. Thank you Zake.