My name is Dominic Zhai. I’m just your ordinary Asian-American kid who:
- Is in his twenties
- Had parents who stole napkins from McDonalds
- Was pre-med and then pre-law
- Is a Jeremy Lin fan
- Loves League of Legends and has logged over 80 days of time on Final Fantasy XI, an MMORPG, as one of the highest-ranked black mages.
- Is type A
- Has wondered why he’s the stupid Asian kid compared to all the other smart Asians in class
- Laid in bed watching Kevjumba, Ryan Higa, and other Asian-American YouTubers
- Grew up using strictly single-ply toilet paper
- Takes off his shoes upon entering anyone’s home
- Is Chinese-American but when in China is told he is American and in America is mistaken for Korean.
What makes me different is that after prepping for 4 years to enter a prestigious medical school, I failed my MCAT. Then I got rejected from all my gap year programs, including the Fulbright and Princeton in Asia. At that point, I decided to say “Fuck it,” buy a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, and never look back.
Since then I’ve travelled to 30 different countries, attended a world-class drama school at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, coached and worked alongside top actors around the world, and grown a digital agency from $0 to well over $2MM, all in the past four years.
As a result, my Dad has finally stopped asking me “Why You No Doctor Yet” and has just allowed me to live my best life.
Here’s a brief timeline of both the highlights and the lowlights from childhood to now.
- I was the shiest kid growing up. I walked around staring at the sidewalk, afraid to make eye contact. In a group setting, I worried about saying something and sounding dumb, so I just sat there in silence instead.
- I grew up poor. My mom was a single mother on welfare supporting two kids and going to school. My first bicycle was thanks to my mom stealing it from another kid who left it at the park and storing it for me for two years before I could even ride a bike.
- I spent an entire summer playing Final Fantasy XI, a MMORPG that came out before World of Warcraft. It was common for me to fall asleep at the computer with my hand still on the mouse clicking. I’d usually be surrounded by a bunch of dirty dishes and snack wrappers.
- I was waitlisted, then rejected from all of my top college choices. Then I was accepted to the University of Wisconsin – Madison out of sheer luck that there was an unprecedented number of people who committed and didn’t enroll. I felt like I had to prove myself, and prove myself I did. I graduated with a 3.88 GPA and at the top of my class, Phi Beta Kappa. I set the curve in Organic Chemistry, Calculus, Physics, and more. I got one of my only B’s in Birdwatching (seriously though… you have to identify 20 different sparrows in the field, and the only thing that separates them is a little speck of color.) I was going to become a doctor and people were going to respect me! My mom and dad could finally brag to their friends that their child was going to go to Harvard Medical School!
- I studied my ass off for 4 months to ace the MCAT. I was going to set the curve like I’d done for everything else and get into Harvard Medical School.
- I failed the MCAT. I got a score so low that I wouldn’t even be able to get into one of those Caribbean medical schools. I told everyone I got a 34 though so I wouldn’t have to talk about failing. That was the highest that I’d gotten on a practice exam — one which I cheated on.
- I applied to receive a Fulbright and also a grant with Princeton in Asia. I got rejected from both.
- I graduated with no plans and no future. I played Diablo III with my friend Eric and made tacos. I got a job cleaning some guy’s house for $6/hr.
- One day, I said “Fuck it” and bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. I told everyone I was going to become an actor.
- I learned that “becoming an actor” really meant going on welfare and getting an EBT card.
- The only stable job I got was as a busboy at Q’s Billiard Bar in Brentwood. After tax, I made about $7/hr and worked until 3AM sweeping cigarette butts off the street. I slept on my friend’s couch for a year and paid $350/mo in rent.
- I learned about SEO from my friend’s dad. I was referred a few people who might be interested in me helping them to get their site to rank higher on Google. I 100% bullshitted my way into having a few people pay me a few hundred bucks a month.
- My acting coach liked me. He got me a job as a translator and assistant acting coach for director Michael Mann and actress Tang Wei on the movie Blackhat.
- I hung out with celebrities every day like Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wang Leehom, and Tang Wei and traveled to Hong Kong to film with them, and then Indonesia and Malaysia (minus Indonesia and Malaysia because…)
- I got fired.
- I said ”Fuck it,” (again) “y’all ain’t going to ruin my parade.” I shipped my stuff home, bought a backpack and a one-way ticket to Indonesia, and said, “I’m backpacking myself either way.”
- I still worked online doing SEO and making a bit of spending money while I backpacked for four months through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Nepal.
- I came back to Los Angeles, went to a bunch of auditions, got rejected a lot.
- I decided to go to drama school in London for the summer. I attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. I watched a lot of theater, spent a lot of money.
- I came back to Los Angeles, went to a bunch of auditions, got rejected a lot. Then I was asked to coach another top Chinese actress, Zhang Yuqi, on her first English-speaking role at Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. They offered me a supporting role. I took the job.
- I coached Zhang Yuqi. And had one scene and five lines. I got killed by a CGI cat.
- I decided to focus more on my SEO business and try to make it scalable. I registered my company officially as an LLC in January 2015. I hired a couple other people to help me grow the company, and I paid whatever money I earned to them.
- I decided to move to Beijing, the new center of the film industry, to pursue a greater focus on acting.
- I got cast in a few productions, including a lead role in a major China-US co-production. It still hasn’t been released yet.
- I went on a prolonged Eurotrip and lived in the Canary Islands, Spain, to focus on growing my online business.
- My good friend, also a director, Wen Ren, got me a role in a big Chinese web series produced by Tencent. I flew back to China and found out that the production was cancelled.
- I left China again and moved to Bali to focus on scaling my online business. We quickly grew to a million-dollar business.
- I sat on the beach in Canggu, Bali, learning to surf and drinking coconuts. I attempted to do yoga at the Yoga Barn in Ubud but gave up.
- After a few trips to my hometown Madison, Wisconsin, and other trips to Austin, San Francisco, and back to the Canary Islands, Spain, I finally launch WhyYouNoDoctor.com.
My dad finally stopped asking me “Why You No Doctor?”
Who is this blog for?
This blog is for Asian-Americans in particular who dream big and are ready to put in the work to make those dreams a reality. This blog is also for you if you aren’t sure what you want to do in life yet, but do know that you want to:
- Travel the world
- Be autonomous
- Make a lot of money
- Surf giant waves in Bali
- Drink coconuts and Coronas on the beach
- Dive in the Philippines with whale sharks and turtles
- Get wasted at Oktoberfest in Munich and do “bavarian blow.”
- Drink tequila sunrises on the beach at the W Hotel in Barcelona until sunrise, and then grab brunch.
- Listen to Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” while riding donkeys straight to the clubs in the Gilli Islands, Indonesia.
- Hike the Annapurna Circuit for two weeks in Nepal’s Himalayas
- Attend Tiger Muay Thai’s #1 Muay Thai fight camp in the world for a month and train your heart out.
- Pop bottles on NYE in Chicago, Cancun, Beijing, and then Serbia consecutively
- Develop yourself personally and professionally while doing everything above
- Build long-lasting friendships and relationships with the other great people who occupy our planet at the same time you do…
So, who isn’t this blog for?
- This blog isn’t for people who don’t want to work hard.
- This isn’t for people who shy away from challenges.
- This isn’t for people who read The 4 Hour Work Week and believe that Tim Ferriss really only works 4 hours a week.
If you love the idea of making your dreams a reality, click here to subscribe to the ultimate money-making, business-growing, happiness-inducing, world-traveling, creative-living blog you’ll find anywhere.