Art, Business, Cartoons, China, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Motivation

Talent Can Be Learned, But Can Ambition?


   My first job in China was an HR position for a start up company. I was looking through many applicants’ CVs each day, but it wasn’t until a year after I started that I received a CV of a talent that left me completely in awe:


  …In thirty years’ time he has experienced and been exposed to more than some people venture to deal with over the course of their lives (though he tries to be humble about it).  He has lived abroad on multiple occasions; seen at least 35 of the contiguous US states; speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, and French, along with a smattering of Ancient Greek. He can play three musical instruments; is incredibly well read by English language standards; has engaged himself in multiple sciences from an early age, starting with Geology and moving on to Biology, then to Developmental Neuro-psychology and Linguistics.  He is well versed in history and folklore.  His family history is well known to him and he can trace some branches back to somewhere around 900 AD. He has managed a band, knows both fencing and archery, and has taught himself to use numerous production soft-wares starting from the Adobe Suite, and ranging on into music production programs, and even into 3d rendering and animation.  His father was a computer programmer so he has been able to punch in basic code since he was five. He had been skateboarding since age six. He can cook very well (Cajun is his specialty), and he may have forgotten more cocktails than some bartenders ever learn over the course of their careers.  He can, and has brewed as well. He’s been drawing cartoons since he was six and it has never left him. He is fascinated by cartoons and animation.


 “He is mine” I thought. The week after, he was already on board. We worked together on a project and I found out that he could draw out everything that I could and couldn’t imagine. In the months of working together we developed a great friendship, which turned into something more.  One day the company went unexpectedly bankrupt and announced its closure; it was time to make our relationship public.

 Personal Anecdote: Talents gone to waste.

One evening we went out to a soft launch of our friend’s bar. Vali got a chance to get behind the bar.  He had just poured out a fifth original cocktail and once again, everyone was in awe.  He was able to instantly think up five, unique, mind-blowing cocktail recipes, and he just gave them to the owner… for free…


   Naturally I felt attracted to someone whom I considered to be totally different from me. The question kept running through my mind though, “When will he stop giving out his unique talents and skills as if they were something that everyone else on earth possessed?” With all his talents he still had a 9-5 (In China 9-6) job, and while it was obvious that 9-5 job didn’t make him happy, he didn’t do much about it. The thought that the man of my life possessed such unique talents, but still seemed so devoid of ambition frustrated the hell out of me. He was wasting his talents.

  This time I told him “You must wake up and do something with your potential, instead of wasting it and giving it away for free!” A few days later, he told me that he was thinking to turn his cartooning skills toward making a unique T-shirt brand.

   I felt relieved, it sounded a little crazy (especially that part about the T-shirts), but he had finally started thinking about business. I liked the idea a lot and told him that I was willing to give him my support.  In my mind we are the “perfect match” He is a creative artist who had all the talents in the world (and if he lacked any it would only take a week of study before he acquired it) but didn’t know what to do with them. I on the other hand, I had a strong ambition to start my own business, but I couldn’t decide on the right idea. In Vali’s brain there was never any lack of ideas. This was the beginning of our business adventure.

      You can’t make some people learn ambition. Throughout these years in business he has remained relatively unchanged, A few attempts to make him set goals, plan, and have business meetings have succeeded, but it has been a slow process. He kept repeating to me “I just want to draw cartoons” and that the reason that made him go into business was me, he was doing all this for me. He stuck with his talents, and throughout these years he has been constantly producing great quality, fun comics that our fans like a lot. Though I didn’t think I had any talents when we started, I accomplished quite a bit through hard effort, and found some of my talents throughout the process. I paved the way for him: I set the goals, the vision, did all the PR work for our brand, and took charge the not so creative part accounting, finances and law, of which I hardly knew anything. We have formed a lasting partnership where each individual’s skills compliment the other. One-part talent, one part ambition.

stubborn_mule                                                     “Hi, I’m your new cartoonist!”


2 thoughts on “Talent Can Be Learned, But Can Ambition?”

  1. I feel like I can relate to that. I feel like I have such varied talents, yet I lack the focus to channel them productively. I always get bogged down by comparing myself to other people, that in the end I don’t get much done. I like that you guys can balance each other’s traits and bring out the best in each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally understand how you feel, I have been there at some point too. When we started a business we had no other choice but to focus and be persistent. From our experience, whenever we listened to others most of the time it turned out wrong. So now we don’t listen to anybody but ourselves. As for learning to balance each other – trust me it wasn’t a smooth process (at all) 😀 But eventually we worked it out. Hope you will find your focus and channel your talents in a way that will make you happy 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s