Dr. Kai-Fu Lee is the former President of Google China, artificial intelligence expert, venture capitalist, and author of the wonderful book AI Superpowers.
He recently gave a talk, highlighting his key life lessons:
1. Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life
At Columbia University, he fell in love with computers and artificial intelligence.
He made the decision to switch from political science to computer science, a major turning point in his life.
2. I don’t agree with you, but I support you
When changing the focus of his Ph.D. thesis, challenging conventional wisdom, his advisor Raj Reddy supported him with the above sentence, and gave him all the resources he needed.
This mindset gives young people a chance to unlock their creative potential, and should be embraced by leaders. At least that’s what Kai-Fu Lee did.
3. What matters is not innovation, but useful innovation
Focusing on cool technology is satisfying to work on, but is not sufficient.
In the real world, usefulness, and not technology, determines whether a project or company is successful.
When in doubt, always make something people want.
4. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference
When he went from Microsoft to Google, he was dragged into an ugly lawsuit regarding a non-compete clause in his contract.
He was so stressed that he couldn’t sleep and eat.
The Serenity Prayer helped him to focus on the things he actually controlled, allowing him to manage this challenging situation in a better way.
5. Follow your heart and trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future
Whenever there is a crossroads in your life, re-watch the Stanford Commencement Speech by Steve Jobs.
It helped him to quit his job at Google and start his venture capital fund.
6. The richest man is not he who wants the most, but he who wants the least
In 2013, a PET scan revealed 4th stage lymphoma with 20 malignant tumors in his intestines.
He survived the illness, but it forced him to confront and rethink his workaholism.
7. Care for others from your heart, and lead your life by giving unconditional love
He read the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, and started to spend more time with his family and loved ones.
8. AI will liberate humanity from routine jobs, so that humans can focus on what truly matters, creativity and love
After working decades in artificial intelligence, he had an important insight:
AI has no creativity and no love. So there will always areas where humans remain needed.
Conclusion: Humans learn the most when facing the greatest obstacles
Summary of his key life lessons:
Full recording of the talk:
[This post is based on a Twitter thread I recently published.]