Episode 14

Dominic Zhai ·  From Failing the MCAT to Founding a 7-Figure Marketing Agency

“In the beginning, every deal was like life or death. I was like, I gotta close this deal, and you put so much into it, and the amounts are a lot lower, like it's a 500-buck retainer or hourly work. The moment that I started to realize it was real is when we started one website for $50,000 and we did a really great job. Then we got like a $5,000 a month retainer from it. Now every time we pitched retainers, it's 5k, sometimes 30K a month. But also in the beginning, you have imposter syndrome—everyone has imposter syndrome.”

Plans of becoming a doctor were suddenly thrown off course when Dominic failed the MCAT – and if you could fail while going the “safe” route, you might as well fail while doing what you love.

With that in mind, Dominic booked a one-way ticket from Madison to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He managed to land a gig as Tang Wei’s acting coach for a film in Hong Kong…but even that dream was short-lived, ending just a couple of weeks into the job.

Taking things in stride, Dominic turned his side hustle as an SEO strategist into a full-time remote job while traveling to over 30 countries – reading, learning, experiencing. He’s now the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar marketing agency, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient. An unconventional path, to say the least…but it worked out. And by sharing life and career advice with the next generation of graduates, Dominic hopes to use his platform and experience to encourage them to chase after what they want.


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Podcast Transcript

Dominic Zhai

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, my name is Bryan and my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:00) Today we have a very special guest with us. His name is Dominic Zhai and here are his bio plans for becoming a doctor were suddenly thrown off course when Dominic failed the and if you could fail while going the safe route, you might as well fail while doing what you love without a mind Dominic booked a one-way ticket from Madison to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He managed the Atlanta gig as 10 ways, acting coach for a film in Hong Kong. But even that dream was short-lived ending just a couple of weeks into the job, taking things in stride. Dominic turned a side hustle as an SEO strategist into a full-time remote job while traveling to over 30 countries, reading, learning, and experiencing, he is now the founder and CEO of a multi-million-dollar marketing agency and a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient and unconventional path, to say the least, but it was and by sharing life and career advice with the next generation of graduates, Dominic hopes to use this platform and its experience to encourage them to chase after what they want. Dominic, welcome to the show.

Dominic: (00:01:13) Thank you. Well, that introduction that Nancy who’s a, I just told you guys before we started recording, but Nancy did a great job, helping me write that she’s a much better writer than me. 

Maggie: (00:01:27) Shout out to Nancy. That’s a very clever and very inspirational bio. So, thank you, Nancy. Yeah, let’s, let’s jump right into it. We’d love to hear about your upbringing, where you were born, and what your family was like while you were growing up.

Dominic: (00:01:56) Yeah, I’ll bring it wisely I grew up in Wisconsin. I was born in Madison, Wisconsin mom and dad were immigrants from China had an older brother. I’d say some of the things I probably remember the most is or the key highlights. Then, the too long didn’t read TLDR is my parents divorced when I was quite young, they had a pretty nasty divorce.

There’s not a good divorce. And it was very difficult for my mom to raise my brother and me on her own more or less so lots and lots of respect for her and also really just any single parent mother, a single parent father plus if you’re an immigrant, it’s like, as a whole nother level of complexity.

To just everything. Cause she doesn’t speak English that well sometimes, whatever it’s not, and the culture. So that’s the upbringing in terms of how I grew up just hanging, hanging out a lot with my mom whenever she was not working but when she was working or she was going to school trying to get a degree as a nurse too, to ultimately make money to support my brother and me I would go with her to the life. It was a pretty normal upbringing when I was very young. And then as I got a little bit older my mom still was, she got a full-time job as a nurse, which is a good stable job and her shifts were very long, should work like 12-hour days. So that means I just had a lot of time at home.

She never really had the time to look at my grades and stuff. So, it wasn’t I had this tiger mom experience, actually playing video games all the time and I like wanted to figure out how to build a better computer for as cheap as possible to be able to play more video games. So, I would have liked more like frames per second and stuff.

So, it wouldn’t all be, it wouldn’t be lagging. So, I spent a lot of time just figuring out buying some computer parts, putting together some computers, and then also just playing video games. I got pretty good at some specific games, but that was the main upbringing, honestly, when I was young.

But at that, probably some of that stuff leads into some entrepreneurial stuff, I think probably started there just trying to make money on the internet or like buying computer parts and stuff, selling some stuff.

Bryan: (00:04:10) What’s the entrepreneurial process that you can recall?

Dominic: (00:04:14) I mean I think like many kids out there, I just like sell stuff on the side of the stress. So, Oreos and stuff but probably mostly just probably the first exposure is just buying computer parts, assembling them, and realizing that I can make a profit if I just sold a completed set to someone. So, I just made some friends on the internet and sold it to them. So, it’s some friends as well.

Bryan: (00:04:43) Growing up, I was not like you at all. I wasn’t entrepreneurial. I was a consumer. If you sold me oracle for two bucks, I’ll probably buy it for two bucks. See? So, when we completed, completed computer, I would probably buy the computer from you read to hear this is awesome to hear like how entrepreneurial you are at such a young age.

Maggie: (00:05:05) I know you mentioned, your mom is a nurse and so you were, taking your ncat and would love to know did that influence you to go into the medical field to take your ncat, and did your mom have a set of plans for you? Was she expecting you to go into the medical field, to kind of follow her path, or did it just naturally happen?

Dominic: (00:05:28) No, there was no expectation at all from my mom or my dad as well. I mean, I spent some time with my dad, but there’s no expectation to go to medical school. I started college majoring in mechanical engineering, but I took some of the classes. I think I got to a class, which was the first class that’s like filters people out.

I think it’s called statics or something and I was yeah, this just sounds terrible. It’s too difficult, too much too math-heavy and then I was okay, let’s just find something easier. And then biology just seemed easy cause it was compared to. The physics plus engineering plus calculus combined and one is called a chorus.

I was yeah, that just sounds terrible. I wasn’t even that good at math. So, I was just like I would just go like do biology and then with biology, I would go a pre-med track because worst-case scenario, at least I’m going to be motivated to get good grades.

And then a worst-case scenario. I have good grades. Hopefully, I have good grades. And then I can do whatever I want, even if it’s not medical school. So, I kind of self-selected that. And also, I was just yeah Asian doctor, I was it’s like normal, right. I should just nature. 

Bryan: (00:06:46) I mean, you grew up in Wisconsin, and affect you in terms of owning up to your Asian heritage and your identity. Cause I know you mentioned that,

Dominic: (00:06:55) A hundred percent. I mean most of my friends were just very Midwestern. Dude from Wisconsin, I grew up in a very people are just huge fans of like green bay, Packers, Wisconsin badgers’ sports just Midwestern.

And it was a very American upbringing, pretty much. I didn’t have many friends that were Asian pretty much all my friends were more or less white I’d say and yeah. I think for me, it was nice. I had an older brother who he’s six years, six or seven years older than me.

So, it was helpful to have someone kind of as a role model to kind of see how he navigated through he was kind of a Guinea pig. Cause I got to see him navigate through doing with all the dumb shit dumb stuff and then I would just kind of learn from that and not do those things, but identity wise.

I mean, I felt sometimes out of place for sure. I mean, even going to school there at Wisconsin, I did and I think that probably plays a pretty major role in why I started my podcast and why I went into acting at some points for a few years.

Maggie: (00:08:09) Let’s walk us through your journey, after failing the ncat, did you have, I would love to know what your mind was like after that. Did you have this period where you were oh, should I retake it, or were you just okay, I’m done with this I should probably focus on something else. That’s not what I want to do.

Dominic: (00:08:28) Some context is I had really good grades in university. I had almost a four-point, oh, I think I had like one B or something in four years.

And so, it’s like MCAT, I studied hard for it. It’s not I winged it I put a hundred percent into it and then, so when I got the result, actually on the day that I took the test, I knew I didn’t do well. I knew it already because I had to like go to the bathroom and pee in the middle of it.

And like in with MK, you get zero time. It’s like so tight on time. That was I got back and I was just already, so behind on like the timer. So, I had to guess a few questions and then I was and after you guessed a few questions, I’ve kind of already screwed this up.

Cause the margin of error is very low on their MCAT for the points so anyway, I wasn’t that surprised when I got the result back honestly and then I said, I think I had a 24 out of 45, which I think is like 50th percentile. So, I was pretty bummed. Cause you spent six, three to six months studying for something.

I even did a Kaplan course or something else I was a little bit bombed, but I was like, yeah, maybe I should just like study, do the LSAT and go to law school instead cause I’m less of a science person. I’m more of like a communication person. So, I like bought a musher.

And I sat at the library for like a day, and I tried to start studying it and I was just no, that’s not gonna work, yeah and I also thought that I would have a better chance to go to a good university if I did law school because I was thinking, I was okay, I have a really good GPA.

And if I can just do fairly well on this but a lot of extracurriculars for med school and I’m a different applicant. Cause I didn’t study political science and stuff. I was maybe I can get into like an Ivy league or something. I was that’d be cool if I could like go to Harvard law school.

Cause everyone’s it’s like a running joke between my brother and me, and probably many people where it’s Harvard or bust got to go to Harvard. But it just didn’t feel right. I just couldn’t get myself motivated. So, I was, I’m going to take a year off. I’m applying to some programs, Fulbright’s, Princeton, and Asia, to go hang out in China.

I really, I studied abroad in China earlier. So, I thought it’d be good to spend some time there, but I got rejected to all of those things, so then pretty much I ended up graduating and I was just I dunno. I just didn’t have anything lined up at all it had literally nothing.

I just remember sitting at my friend’s place that they were gone for the summer and I was with another friend and I was cleaning people’s houses for $10 and playing video games and making tacos all summer had nothing.

Bryan: (00:11:15) What year was this? By the way? That was in 12. I mean, that’s probably one of the referee years you graduate. And your story is very relatable to me. I graduated in 2010 during the whole recession things seem. I found this, just sitting there as well in a living room my friend’s living room and I’m oh crap. I don’t have anything lined up after college. It’s scary,

Dominic: (00:11:44) Because there are a lot of other people who had stuff lined up at least.

Bryan: (00:11:47) It’s scary. Yeah. So similar to you honestly got really good grades, but somehow the economy tanked. Yeah. Even if you get good grades, they have no experience. You can get jobs, yeah.

Dominic: (00:11:59) You can get a drum. It’s probably similar to people graduating now right? It’s I mean, this probably is not a very good time. The whatever but yeah, I mean, so that was kind of it, I wasn’t that nervous though, or anything. I just kinda, I guess I didn’t just didn’t know what to do, but I was pretty happy just playing video games and stuff.

Maggie: (00:12:17) I love how open you are. about failures. Yeah, the setbacks and times where you didn’t even know what you were going to do with your future. And so, it seems like, yeah, but it seems like you’re very, open-minded, trying to get into medical fields, and then on your way up to you during your journey, you decided to go into acting. And so, at that time, did you ever have, did you always have like this desire and like passion for acting or was it something that was like very out of?

Dominic: (00:12:56) I think it’s interesting. I did acting since I was in high school. I did a bunch of theater classes throughout college. I did a bunch of theater classes. I did improv classes. I was pretty good at improv. And I was overall not bad at acting. I would say I was pretty raw. I just didn’t have enough life experience acting is really very tied to life experience.

It’s like, if you have more life experience, you’re going to be a better actor but cause it’s a reflection of life, but yeah, no I didn’t like, aside from that, I think it just kind of seemed something fun to do that. I was interested in, I had watched a lot of Asian Asian-Americans that started to be that started the surface in the media.

Not in, not in anything mainstream, but I started to see it, on YouTube. Y’all remember, watch some videos from this guy named Kevin, John Kev jumbo. Yeah. Some of those guys, and I was it’s cool. I like what they’re doing, but I think I started to see that. I was graduating the year I was graduating.

It was like Harry Shum Jr. Was in glee and he had no lines, but he was in glee. So, in every episode I was I hope he says something because I probably want to like a few Asian people on the popular stuff. So, I was, it seems like the wave is coming. And I was China’s getting big in the entertainment industry.

We’re probably going to see a lot more Asian faces because there’s going to be more market audience there. That’s what I was thinking. So, I was why don’t give it a shot? Maybe I’ll be in like the right place, right time and also, I think for like black African-American people, I was maybe Asians are just the next at some point people will realize that Asians have.

Buying power to watch stuff and consume content too. The same as black or African American people do. So, maybe, that will happen one day when there’ll be more Asian people represented. So, I was just, I should try to go there because I just might be in the right place at the right time. Hopefully, be good at what I do too.

Bryan: (00:15:07) I mean, I love, your can-do attitude. You know what, this is a passion. Why not pursue it? And you did. I love, I love that lack of mental barrier that most people have, especially in an Asian culture too, because we tend to overthink a lot of things.

And we think that since there’s not enough representation, like acting in Hollywood, not what, not that we shouldn’t pursue it, but that’s not the case to you at all. So, I want to understand the one thing that separated you that helped push you forward?

Dominic: (00:15:34 I’m pretty good at making decisions quickly. Sometimes you got to just make a decision, but try to think yeah. I don’t know. I think I just felt the fact that there weren’t that many people yet meant that it’s a good time to do it because you don’t want to wait until something’s already supersaturated. So, it’s better to be the point as long as it’s a calculated risk.

It’s not actually, I thought a lot about it. I read the book like I read a bunch of books I read, like at that point, knock them collateral was really, his books were really popular. So, I had read like blink, I’d read like outliers. The tipping point and like, pretty much I made a decision based on those books.

I was okay, outliers, like the right place, right time. That was one of the premises of that book, in the beginning, it was why are all the hockey players that go into the NHL were born in the same like three months? Because at that point they, before the season, they’re the most.

They’ve aged. So, they’re like stronger than other people. And then they’re more confident and then it’s whatever and then tipping points. I just felt we were almost at the tipping point where suddenly mainstream media was going to realize that ah, they got to get some more Asian representation.

I think some kings had started to get some representation as well Randall Park as well. Just a little bit. If he was just starting out messaged all those guys I spoke to before I moved to LA, I even talked to Randall Park on Facebook messenger. I talked to some gang all those guys are super receptive to just Facebook message them. So, and they replied, so it was pretty cool,

Maggie: (00:17:21) Yeah, and so while you were in the acting industry, what was your perception? Cause I know it’s changed a lot and films and movies since let’s say 10 years ago right. And so, what is your perception of our progress on, starring Asian actors and actresses and lead roles right now?

Dominic: (00:17:40) I think that the problem is that generally if it’s a really big global film, as a blockbuster and this is one of the reasons that I quit was because although they did try, they did start to cast more Asian faces. I just realized, looks like the studios. They’re not going to go to like some like totally unknown.

I mean, general this might maybe disproven already but I just felt they were more likely to cast someone that already had a big name in the Asian markets, attached them to a movie van cast a no-name Asian-American Berson, because when you cast someone that already has the market potential, then you already are guaranteed like an ROI.

It’s a business decision. So, when I realized that I was just the chances are against me at this point unless I make it big in China and tried to, I moved to China for two and a half years to go down that path as I was just thinking that maybe is the route a half ago. So, I don’t know if I answered your question to that answer. I don’t even know.

Maggie: (00:18:46) I guess my second part of the question is what kind of differences did you see between America and China?

Dominic: (00:18:53) The differences? Well, it depends on if we’re talking about film industry and entertainment.

Maggie: (00:19:04)I would say the Film industry.

Dominic: (00:19:05) I think in China, well, first of all, China it’s just the wild west. It’s everything is connection-based half the time you don’t even need to audition, looks as much more important than your skill. This happens in Hollywood, I’m sure a lot, but I think for people to get roles in China is a lot of like backdoor stuff happening, right?

Sleeping with someone with a producer, that type of stuff to get. I’m sure it happens everywhere. I’m sure we have this Hollywood. We know what happens in Hollywood, especially with a lot of stuff that happened in the last few years, but I think it happens a lot in the Chinese film industry. It’s all about Guan C like you got everything in China Quincy.

It’s just, it’s just if you know someone or if you, or if you can choose yen, which is, you’re the one that pays you to take all the money that your producer, so that’s a big difference also they can make more mass-market stuff. It’s you can just see,  make mass, they just have so many people that are watching stuff on the network. Then, streaming and stuff. It’s you can make a lot of really crappy stuff and still make money with it. Just have some explosions, drama, or whatever.

Bryan: (00:20:27) It’s pretty inspirational to hear that you hop from the medical field to acting. And I feel just like, again, there’s no barrier. So, how’d you got into like, starting as a marketing agency?  What led to that part of your career that led to you meeting so many people around the world and living there are a lot of different places.

Dominic: (00:20:48) I think the thing with like China was yeah, I had where I had helped coach several different A-list actresses that, that tongue way and Johnny would see like it was worth a lot with tongue way and withdrawing.

Helping Control and different movie and just hanging out with her pretty much like 3, 3, 4, 4 months or so in her entourage and she, you see is like, she probably was one of the top 10 AOS there’s in China so then I moved over to China to pursue acting, but I, also just needed to make some money too.

It’s like acting is very unstable. So, I had always just done a little bit of consulting. I did this to someone, one of my friend’s dads pretty much like one of my, I was visiting one of my friend’s friends that his dad was there and I like his dad. We talk a lot about you don’t get advice from him.

I was like, I need like a job that I can make money and be flexible and then I was talking, I talked to my dad too and he, my dad was when you should do web design and stuff like that. And then my dad also was, he was, yeah, I know cause my dad works at a company and he was in marketing.

So, he was saying how they hire these companies to help them do SEO and they play them like a thousand bucks a month. He’s maybe you should look into that. So, I was yeah, maybe that’s a good idea. So, I talked to my friend, another friend’s dad, and all the dads who wisdom. And he was yeah because he had run into like a digital marketing web design company.

He’s like, yeah, SEO is good. It’s you don’t need to have my concern about doing web development is I have no background in coding. So, I was just you know what? Even if I learn how to do web design, what’s my advantage. I was why wouldn’t someone just go hire some like kid and literally like some kid in it.

Who probably is going to know how to do CSS and HTML better than I ever will? And at much more competitive rates. So, I was well, that’s off the table, but SEO is something that I could just do in the US and it was more, it was not so much in coding, but it’s more strategic. So, I was I have an advantage because I can’t outsource that as well.

Right so more or less, I had no experience, but I just like it, so I got some contacts. My dad gave me some contacts, got some other contacts from some other friends, pursued them, talk to them. And then just sold like small SEO packages. I’ll help you with your consulting, like 500 bucks a month or something.

So, I was doing that already for a couple of years, just making some money. And then and I think, I think at one point when I had focused in, on acting I gave acting a hundred percent, I even spent a ton of time and money going into London and doing drama school there learning like Shakespeare.

So, I gave it a fair shake. Went all in, but and I think when I went all in and after a few years, I was just man, this is so unstable. I was, this is so, there’s, I just didn’t see the end at the light of the tunnel, the light at the end of the tunnel and in addition to that, acting as something that is very, not in your control.

It’s so heavy usually certain endeavors or portion luck and a portion hard work. I just felt the acting was 80% luck, like 90% luck, and 10% hard work and skill. Some people might disagree with me, but honestly, after five years the dedication to it, it was just, it was such everything is such like a crapshoot.

and there are so few opportunities and roles, but when you build a business, that’s something. It takes some luck, but it’s also just hard work and intelligence that can get you pretty far. So, I can predict that if I spend the same amount of energy and time investing in a business, I was almost 90% success rate I’m going to do really well versus acting I could, every single day I spent all my time and it’s just I was I don’t even know the things I’m doing are helping you work towards the goal.

You’re just literally constantly throwing noodles at the wall, trying to figure out what works. so, I was I’m just gonna focus on my business and then I fell in love with the business. I started growing it doing a really good job. I had a knack for it, and I was good at sales.

I’m good at talking and good at building relationships and a lot of those things came from doing acting five years of acting training. When you do improv all the time, when you’re putting yourself in uncomfortable situations and you have to listen to people, you have to understand. And see the subtext of what people want.

That’s all stuff that there’s no better training for sales than that. And also running a team, leading other people. It’s all the soft skills that I learned in acting. I carry that over and then it really, that resulted in the business.

Bryan: (00:25:22) I liked hearing stuff like that too, because. No. I feel when you become an entrepreneur as you draw on every single point in your life as the starting block or the foundation block for you, to do other things. So, when people tell me, oh, I wasted so much time being this, I waste so much time doing that. It’s never, I never think wasting time. I think that you’re building that skill set to do something better.

Dominic: (00:25:49) Yeah a hundred percent. I mean, you only wasting time if you’re just if people are just, not giving it a serious effort. you can’t like I dunno if like you guys swear on here. I just don’t. I don’t half-ass this stuff, when I did acting, I didn’t have assets when I did anything.

I didn’t have fast. Even when I did a study for their cats, I didn’t have acid. I just didn’t do very well so, but I learned a lot at each point in time, and then that helped come together and give me the skillsets for something else.

Bryan: (00:26:25) How you do one thing is how you do everything. The fact that you spend all your life focusing on each thing, but you found, you finally found a niche that you’re finally good at you, and then you have the work ethic and years of discipline and knowing yourself and building your skillset. When you got to your right niche, you blew up.

Dominic: (00:26:47) That’s a good point because I always thought. The purpose of the university and school. It’s I don’t remember anything from it, but I learn how to make deadlines and work hard, I guess, and how to get good grades and also college and university and getting good grades. It’s a game it’s I could have had a significantly worse GPA if I didn’t know how to play the game like getting good grades in college.

I mean, for example, if you want to get good grades, make friends with the person that gets really good grades and gets all A’s on every exam that studies with that person because they’re going to be oh, by the way, I have all these practice tests. That’s perfect. Let me get those. They can answer your questions.

And then you get good grades and then sit in the front row with the teachers if a TA is teaching the class, sit in the front row, and go to office hours because the teachers are just normal people. And if you have questions that give you a lot of matte hints of what’s going to be on the exam, they’re big.

Yeah. Maybe you should look into that it’s a small, extra thing and they have the ability and power, which I realized to bump your grade off. If you’re on the. If you’re at an 89.5, they can bump you to a 90 or like a 93, whatever. And that’s the difference between an A versus an, AB versus a B and a B. And that’s significant when it comes to your GPA.

Bryan: (00:28:06) I’m kind of curious too, as you’re transitioning over to your marketing agency, what was that rising life- from the point where you start picking up momentum and start to think that, oh, wow. This would be bigger than what I think it is or bigger than who I am.

Maggie: (00:28:22) How have you seen it grow since you first started it and what are you working with partners or where you just kinda solely working by yourself?

Dominic: (00:28:31) Yeah, in the beginning, the biggest thing I realized in the beginning, it’s every deal, it was just really, really important. It was life or death. Was I got to the closest dealer and you put so much into it and the mounts are a lot lower it’s like 500 buck’s retainer or just some hourly work and stuff like that. the moment that I started to realize that it was real is when we started.

So, one website for $50,000 and we did a great job. And then we got like a $5,000 a month retainer from it. I remember at the beginning, one of my friends and business partners, was just there was like a pitch call. Someone wanted SEO. And he was yeah, man, we got like pitch like a $4,000 retainer.

And I was like, no way. I was never charged that much. I’m like, let’s just pitch 500. We’re going to like scare them away. Now every time we pitched retainers, it’s 5k. Sometimes it’s 30K a month And it’s just but also in the beginning, you just don’t quit, you have imposter syndrome, everyone has imposter syndrome.

I was, it’s not worth it. Why would anyone pay me 5,000 a month? That’s ridiculous. I’m not worth that much. Now when I do believe it’s worth it, cause I understand that it’s an entirely different story where I can with a very straight face, tell them that that’s $30,000 a month to do these things because I kind of know because I know the value that I’m going to create for them.

And to me, way more than 30,000 a month. So that’s when you kind of realize it and I don’t, I think it takes some time to realize that it’s something in or where I think the shift of not feeling like an impostor. And when you don’t feel like an imposter anymore, I think you’ve started to become an expert.

Maybe you’ve put in 10,000 hours and that’s when it starts to get real and everything becomes easier because you, everything just falls into place.

Maggie: (00:30:16) Would you say you have a set of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs to kind of get over that imposter syndrome? Or is that something that your kind of just fall upon?

Dominic: (00:30:27) I think you have to confront every single situation that makes you a bit nervous, not just in your work but in your personal life and stuff that things that give you some anxiety, I mean, the acting class was so scary. Trust me, going up in an acting class and a whole bunch of people that were way more experienced than you, that work in the industry and putting up your scenes and your arts and just being judged, pretty much you’re just emotionally naked so vulnerable, just everyone is judging you. 

That’s not easy to do. And then you’re listening to an acting coach that you respect tremendously. Critique you so for years of my life, I was constantly just in some state of nervousness, performing in front of other people. I was never a great public speaker. I was very shy, extremely shy.

and then but also by doing those things, you realize that you always come out alive, and hopefully, you come out alive and if you do, then it gives you the confidence to really not feel like an impostor. I think that’s just the balance once you start having confidence, you don’t feel like an impostor anymore because you’ve already addressed the issues that are making you feel like an imposter.

Maggie: (00:31:52) Great advice. Yeah. So, we know that you’ve been traveling a lot. we know that you’ve been in China recently and Europe recently, and now you’re living in Puerto Rico and so, they want to know, what made you go out to China, Europe, and what made you move out to Puerto Rico for the time being?

Dominic: (00:32:12) Yeah, so moving to China, I was just thinking I just got distracted for one second. Cause I was just thinking as a podcast host oftentimes I’m some people talk way faster than other people. And I was thinking, I wonder if I’m talking because I had this one guest on Bing Chen and he talks so fast and I was thinking, I was seeing. I must be talking very fast right now, too. Yeah, but I dunno, it’s just, I think the thing I’m just excited to share a lot of stuff and,

Dominic: (00:32:56) So the path like going to China and Puerto Rico, the traveling through Europe and what was the, can you repeat like the question? 

Maggie: (00:33:02) You’ve been traveling so much and we know that you’ve been traveling to over 30 countries. And what brought you to these countries, and what brought you to Puerto Rico right now?

Dominic: (00:33:16) For Europe, after China just had nowhere to go and no home. I was just oh, so I’m not working in this industry anymore. I don’t like living in China. I don’t like living in a place where it is so small that I can’t even go outside without feeling like it’s like one day I like when my friend came to visit and there’s like this an app that tells you the quality of the air. And I just remember we went outside and it was, he looked at the app and there was just there’s like different levels of under 100.

You know, smiley face, like 200 it’s like frowny face. I just remember he opened it one day and it was just a deathly skull is literally a skull and it said, do not go outside. It’s like the air quality is like 800 or something. You couldn’t even see. I was just like, I got to get outta here. Cause I was like, it’s just making me so tired.

So, that is the last time I was like, let’s just travel through Europe. I’ll work as a nomad. I lived in Berlin and spend time in London. I loved London, love theater. I love watching theater, so it made a lot of sense but at some point, I think there is like diminishing returns to travel at it.

It’s hard to be very focused on your career and work. And even personally. When you’re always moving from place to place, you only get you’re unable to get deep into something. For example, let’s say I want to get good at jujitsu. You’re not going to be able to do that. If you’re constantly moving from place to place, find a new gym right and then also relationships. Let’s just talk about friendships. Then, the depth of the friendships that you make is very shallow because no, one’s going to invest the emotional energy and time to become your friend, if you’re just going to bounce and I’m not going to do it either, frankly.

All, so everything comes to shallow your relationships, the things that you want to get good at. And so, then I was, I want an end to this. I want to just like be in a place and stop moving around. So, then Puerto Rico naturally came up. In Puerto Rico, few people know about this.

It’s becoming more popular. Puerto Rico is a territory of the US and that means that they get to set their own tax rules. So as a result, Puerto Rico said its tax regulations, where if you’re a resident here, they said their own, you don’t have to pay the federal tax. Puerto Rico has their tax, and that’s attractive for people that have their own companies or their investors to move their companies here because you get a ginormous tax break.

And what’s great about that is, hey, you save more money because you’re not paying as many taxes be for a startup or a smaller company by saving, let’s say 20% more of your profit. You can reinvest that into the company without getting any external investment and there’s a lot of money and then it helps you grow a lot, right? So as a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more money, creating new jobs and hiring people because I’m not paying a paying like 20% less tax or something than in the US so that’s the reason why I’m here and, it’s a nice community, I can’t complain, but. Yeah.

Maggie: (00:36:39) What type of advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? Because we have a lot of people in AHN and we actually, we’ve interviewed a lot of people who are in the, acting industry in marketing, in SEO and would love to know, what type of advice you can give to aspiring entrepreneurs and one or the other industries or just in general.

Dominic: (00:37:05) I also just don’t. I mean, there’s a lot, I mean, I think there are the things that I probably, everyone will say. It’s I don’t need to say those things again, like taking risks, reading books, reading self-help books, bringing other things. I think probably one thing is just making sure you have like, people glorify, like not sleeping.

Working so hard pulling all these all-nighters and like all this stuff. I don’t think it has to be like that. I think Gary V glorifies that. And he’s I worked my face off for 10 years and nothing happened, nothing. It’s are you going to work your face on work your face off? I’m just like, don’t you have to work smart too, as you can work hard, but work smart, be adaptable.

But I’m also just an important, just as importantly, don’t forget that a lot of times as an entrepreneur, you’re making sacrifices and those sacrifices sometimes come at the expense of your personal life and, and other things, but just make sure to nurture your friendships and your relationships.

And don’t forget about those because I don’t know yet I’m only 30, but most people from what I’ve heard say that your community and your friendships are probably one of the biggest contributors to happiness even if you have a ton of money in a company if you don’t have any friends to share that with it’s kinda lame.

I dunno maybe, but I think it probably is lame, but yeah. So just make sure that it’s still, it’s still spending time with friends, and family doesn’t just go crazy with thinking that you have to like work so hard and also people, people tend to like fall in love or like really glorify, working so hard that they can’t do all these things.

And a lot of that stuff is just you can actually run a business and grow a business pretty, pretty well, and still have like life too.

Bryan: (00:39:10) It comes back to perspective mentality, you’re only limited by what you think is possible. And a lot of it is just breaking the mold of all these other people, what your life should look like. If you can dictate her life as well, be balanced, be able to grow your community for your business, and have a well-balanced life while being successful. You can.

Dominic: (00:39:31)I think it’s possible. I mean, look I grew the business and I was doing two things at one secretary for a long time. I was doing acting it’s traveling the world. I was still more or less finding free time to do whatever I wanted. I would just get the important things but don’t just, don’t forget to live your life to twenties is a really fun time and I’m sure thirties is too. And if you’re it’s always a fun time, but just like go enjoy life a little bit too.

Bryan: (00:40:01) What is your favorite country that you visited so far? Well, besides London, because I know you mentioned you like London.

Dominic: (00:40:11) Everything, every single one is so different, but I can tell you that recently I’ve fallen in love with France because first of all, my girlfriend is French. So, I spend a lot of time there and when you start, it starts to spend more time than replacing. The other, take some classes and understand the language and see the way of life hang out with her family no, he just got back from the south of France and I’m hanging out with her family.

I would hang out with her dad and we just do Aperol they drink it was just really relaxed. They just take more time to like, hang out. And it was a slower pace of life and I liked that. We’ll like to have a drink beforehand and the food is so good. The food is incredible. It’s incredible. So, I would say recently that’s probably my favorite place I’ve been,

Dominic: (00:41:14) I was there as well, but I was not getting back in time. So, I just stayed. So, I stayed in an Airbnb close to the loop in Paris for three months, then go outside.

It’s so beautiful of all the places I’ve ever been to, I don’t think any of the work compares to the, just the beauty of Paris, I will say. I spent some time in Seoul and that’s the closest second solo is so cool. I just liked the people there and I like how they do things and I like the culture and I’m sure you guys know food is, food is amazing.

Maggie: (00:42:01) So yeah, we were also in Seoul. And we love the culture there as well. And we were talking to other people saying how it’s extremely safe and incredible.

Dominic: (00:42:12) Exactly right.

Maggie: (00:42:13) But when you come back to America, it’s like your spidey senses go up and you just have.

Dominic: (00:42:18) Just the people it’s so safe and I don’t know, everything just so nice there and yeah, I dunno. I just like Korean people, I guess. I’m not sure.

Maggie: (00:42:32) Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being on our podcast today. Dominic, how can our listeners learn more about you on social media or on your website and hear about what you’re currently working on.

Dominic: (00:42:47) Also just check out. You know, my handle is Dominic Zhai. So, Dominic Zhai Twitter, Instagram, that’s just made a TikTok I made my first video.  I like the platform, it’s so engaging. It’s well-designed but also the podcast is, why, you know, doctor, so you can go, we have Instagram. W Y N D O C T O R. So, the doctor there’ll be patient and the website, doctor.com check those out. But I think that’s the core of it.

Maggie: (00:43:35) Great. Awesome. So, all of those links in our show notes, it was incredible hearing your story Dominic and just want to thank you for coming on today’s show.

Dominic: (00:43:45) Yeah, thanks for having me hopefully, if you guys visit if you’re in Europe and I’ll be in Paris quite a bit we should just to stay in touch if you guys are there, we’ll hang up.

Bryan: (00:43:57) Yeah. Sounds great, man. I would to meet up sometime.