Resist the gate of darkness and release them to some where broad and bright.
Zigeng Dai once mentioned that he upheld a quote by Mr. Lu Xun: “Resist the gate of darkness and release them to some where broad and bright. ”
To this date, Zigeng Dai at his middle age still favors his past beliefs. On the launch summit of the fifth “Born for Maker “on March 21, 2019, he cited a quote from Stefan Zweig: “All of the heroes who were worshipped in the hall of fame accomplished great causes with relentless perseverance to strive against the ups and downs of their fates in history. ”
When he mentioned the mottos as his” base color of life”, we noticed the excitement in his eyes behind the glasses. This middle-aged man with gentle appearances and smooth long hair has a “rebellious” heart.
The trigger of his rebellious mind started at the age of 17, when this young man from a fishing village in Ningbo received the admission letter from Renmin University of China. After 27 hours of train ride, Zigeng Dai arrived in Beijing. He said that his college experience basically changed and laid the foundation of his life. “I learned a great amount of knowledge from Renmin University. I also figured out the meaning of being alive, which is to make a difference. ”
With life goals determined, the seeds of”rebellion” took root in Zigeng Dai’s mind. Since then, he has grown to become an “acute and sharp-minded” aspiring youth.
There exists immense unclear darkness in the world. Many people choose to “become tactful” to cope with “destinies”and big pictures. Few people dare to conflict with society to break through darkness, embrace a broader and brighter world and “make a difference”. Those who did were able to “achieve greatness” and became heroes. Touched with tears welling up, Zigeng Dai appreciates and supports them.
Zigeng Dai himself turns out to be one of them.
As an “Innovative Youth in China’s Newspaper Industry”, Zigeng Dai has adhered to the initial intention of “creating a truly meaningful newspaper” and the concept of “truthfulness, compassion and beauty”. Hence, he founded The Beijing News. He claimed that the purpose of founding The Beijing News is to “speak the truth, and tell the truth”, sharing with people what the truth is, and what it means to society and to individuals, so as to “provide positive and beneficial value judgement”.
In 2003, since the advent of the sincere and truth-seeking newspaper The Beijing News, it has become the largest comprehensive daily newspaper with the most number of pages in Beijing, winning numerous glorious awards: “Media with the Highest Investment Value in China”, “Media with the Most Growth Potential in China”, “China’s Most Cutting-edge Newspaper”, “China’s Most Influential Newspaper of Current Affairs”……
After over a decade, Founder of The Beijing News awarded with plenty of titles including “Man of Three Decades in China’s Media Industry”, “Top Ten Influential Leader of China’s Media Industry”, “Man of China’s Intellectual Property Sector” and so forth, transformed into “Mr. Venture Capitalist for Chinese Enterprises. ” He succeeded again as the initiator of the Born for Maker project.
Where the dream begins
Gloria Ai: Regardless of being Founder of The Beijing News, or the initiator of Born for Maker and President of Beijing Cultural Investment Development Group, you have adhered to the motto of “Truthfulness, Compassion and Beauty” as always. Under such belief, what kind of makers are needed for this era in China? Why are you looking for China makers?
Zigeng Dai: I think China has always been lacking innovation.
Gloria Ai: How did you come to this conclusion?
Zigeng Dai: Our history over the years has been stable, or negatively speaking, because of the long-term autocracy, people’s way of thinking is generally more rigid. People naturally tend to obey instead of taking initiatives. Born for Maker or entrepreneurship can change the consensus in our society. I’m not criticizing our society nowadays, but our personality and innovative capability has always been suppressed. Therefore, I think Born for Maker will be an opportunity.
Gloria Ai: The fifth season of Born for Maker has kickstarted. Nearly 9,000 projects in the last five seasons have been displayed on this platform. The demonstrations had successes and failures. Did they also remind you of your intention and experience of founding The Beijing News?
Zigeng Dai: In the past years, I have interacted with many entrepreneurial projects and had in-depth exchanges with numerous entrepreneurs. In fact, I was very likely to fail when I founded The Beijing News. However, I thought to myself that if I never tried, how would I know if I could succeed or not? When I was running the newspaper, I actually had an idea in mind that I desired to create a paper that embodies stronger news characteristics and independent thinking compared to other media. Yet, I had no idea how far it could go.
Gloria Ai: As Founder of Born for Maker and President of Beijing Cultural Investment Development Group, you still decided to build a platform for the makers of this era. After witnessing over 9,000 projects, what kind of entrepreneurs do you appreciate the most? At the same time, what kind of entrepreneurs would you choose as investment targets?
Zigeng Dai: In fact, when I was in venture capital, I set some standards. Firstly, they need to have ideals and dreams. All of their ideas and entrepreneurship cannot be for the benefit of themselves. They should strive to make a difference, such as the world or other people’s lives. It’s the same when I was running the newspaper. Entrepreneurship should start from altruism and eventually bring benefits to themselves. I’ve seen myself in many of the entrepreneurs I met.
President “arbitrarily resigned”?
With the further development of mobile smart technology, mobile terminals are becoming increasingly common, and fragmented time is on the rise. More people are using mobile terminal news apps to obtain real-time information. As an emerging news platform, social media has ushered in a booming era. A number of portals, traditional media and Internet giants have jointly expanded digitalization on their platforms, creating more fierce competition.
In the past decade, WeChat public accounts have changed our reading habits. Apps such as “Toutiao”, “Caixin.com” and “ThePaper.cn” have been launched one after another. “Sina Weibo” has become the birthplace of the trending list.
The ever-changing media sector has severely impacted traditional media. Within a short amount of time, the paper media industry plummeted, and the prime time of traditional media was over. A good number of small-sized newspapers had no choice but to shut down. During the ups and downs, The Beijing News was one of a small number of those that persistently survived.
In 2015, an exclusive interview entitled “Don’t forget why we set off”, published by The Beijing News Media, put Zigeng Dai on “the moral high ground”. The article clearly stated that “The Beijing News is the ideal of Zigeng Dai as well as his undertaking.”
However, two years later, in August, another article entitled “The Beijing News President Zigeng Dai has resigned, who once ‘called the media the flashlight of the times'” caused a stir in the media industry. This time, the article put Zigeng Dai under the “spotlight of moral judgments”.
Did Zigeng Dai”forget why he set off” for real?
Zigeng Dai: From my perspective, people might not be solely proficient at one thing. That’s my first point. Secondly, there’s a threshold for everything. These two points seem contradictory, however, in fact, maybe what you learn as your major might not be applicable for your career. Just as Yan Yan put it, he used to learn Aviation Engines and Sociology later on, but he works in the investment sector eventually. For instance, Xiaoge Xiong used to be a media person with a major in Journalism, but he is working on investing as well. Therefore, like I said, nothing stays unchanged. It depends on how you position yourself and how you make up for the professional background.
So how does Zigeng Dai position himself?
Regarding why he set off, Zigeng Dai once said: “Whether you are a media person or an investor, there are four aspects that I will uphold forever. Firstly, values. A media person must be conscious, have principles, and be objective and fair. An investor must shoulder social responsibilities as well. Secondly, responsibility. As a media professional, you need to insist on marketization, integrate resources, and achieve commercial success. As an investor, you need to be responsible for business returns and must not violate market rules. Thirdly, self-consciousness. No matter whether you’re in media or investment industry, you need to be aware of what you do and who you work for. Fourthly, diligence. Paths are carved out by people. If you choose a path, you should stick to it. I believe it will work out eventually. When I founded The Beijing News, it was a brand-new path for me, too. ”
My career has changed; the initial intention has not
Zigeng Dai once said: “People of my generation are in essence idealists. They believe that it’s enough to do things within their capabilities in line with their conscience. ”
Regardless of whether he is a media person or an investor, Zigeng Dai’s intention was just to “strive against the social environment”, as he has always believed. Besides being a media professional, his other identity at The Beijing News is Founder.
Gloria Ai: Media professionals resign, leave and transform. Some choose to be founders, such as Luogic Talkshow and Kaishu Story. Many others decide to become investors. Is the pattern of media combined with capital a Chinese characteristic? Does it work? Is it sustainable?
Zigeng Dai: I think any pattern is formed by practice, instead of being pre-set. No one can foresee if this pattern works or not. Maybe I can’t make it work, but if I persist, I might succeed.
My business might share common ground with iAsk, in that I started out with the goal of assisting entrepreneurs in promoting their brand names and realizing their social value. As I ran the business, it occurred to me that I might as well make it profitable, right? I’m willing to shoulder some risks for you because I acknowledge you. Such risks might turn into profit someday, which I think is normal. Does this pattern work? I don’t think anyone is certain about that.
Jack Ma once said to me: “Buddy, you’ve worked so hard for The Beijing News. “Then he said:
“You might not be aware that I’m probably having a harder time than you. You only see my success, but one hundred successes might be built upon one thousand failures. ”
Gloria Ai: If entrepreneurship is a close shave, accordingly, investing could be the same. It is obvious that with the entrepreneurial wave in 2013 and 2014, investment has also risen up. However, during the downturn of capital market in 2018, plenty of funds are now shut down or having trouble financing. As Founder of Born for Maker, what commonalities have you discovered?
Zigeng Dai: I think investors are not guaranteed to succeed. You may have seen their successful investment projects, but I have seen countless investment failures. Speaking of my friends and those who became mentors with me, do they make mistakes? A lot actually.
Gloria Ai: Our generation has a strong sense of labeling things. This is a maker’s era. Let the media and capital accept it. “Being a Maker denotes a lifestyle that may lead to a better future. ” Don’t you think it is a general education in society?
Zigeng Dai: China used to be a place where people lacked innovative thinking and environment. With the Born for Maker project as a breakthrough, we aim to change the mentality of the whole society and encourage everyone to become independent individuals. Just as a quote from Zweig goes, heroes make accomplishments by striving against the social environment with tough personalities. Why do I constantly encourage Makers and innovation? I hope that I can change part of our Chinese culture. Only after the culture changes can the personality of Chinese nationals change as well.
I also want to make a difference in the media industry and realize some personal value, so that more people share the same ideal with me. I do the same for my business. I encourage them or offer them some help within my meager capability. Of course, this may also be my own ideal, but I am willing to put it into practice.
Gloria Ai: Will you keep running Born for maker?
Zigeng Dai: Not necessarily, but I hope that someone else will do the same thing to advance the era of Chinese entrepreneurship and change some of our inertia in mentality.
“Persist, eventually you’ll achieve greatness.”