Why I Quit My Job and Moved to Shenzhen

Maker News
Why I Quit My Job and Moved to Shenzhen
A long exposure shot from my friend's apartment in Luohu
A long exposure shot from my friend’s apartment in Luohu

After some months of deliberation, I finally decided to make the choice — it’s now or never. I sent this email to my awesome co-workers at Make:, who were all extremely supportive.

Hi friends, I’m not a goodbye kinda person so I didn’t want to make this a thing.
But my last day at Make: will be tomorrow. I bought a one-way ticket to Shenzhen, China and will be leaving the U.S. on Tuesday. My friend and I will attempt to start businesses.

Well, let me tell you a story.

This story begins on my most recent birthday, 12/17. I’m sprawled on the wet grass while this random guy is punching me in the face.

I was biking home from the Berkeley office when a pedestrian in front blocks my path and sends me crashing to the ground. He immediately jumps on me and accuses me of trying to run him over. Given the way he was acting, I think he was trying to provoke me.

I remember there were these weird growth things on his face, which a friend later told me was from meth. His punches were pretty weak and didn’t hurt. What did hurt, though, was that he broke my bike.

Anyway, as I was riding BART home and my anger waned, I realized that I felt AMAZING. I was on edge, hyperaware of my surroundings, and feeling more alive than I have in a while. It reminded me of the same sensation I felt when I spent a month trekking in the Himalayas.

Ever since this hike, I overwhelmingly believe in the power of human potential. When you’re in a tenuous situation where one wrong step could send you falling down a glacial crevasse, you’re pretty careful. The truth is, we’re all pretty amazing when we want to be, but especially when we have to be.

Back on BART, I’m staring at everyone around me, basking in this intense emotion. I’m reliving my trip, while everyone looks exhausted and staring at their smartphones. It was a huge contrast. Modern society is great, but it does dull the edge of my consciousness.

Frank in Shenzhen

So here I am now. I don’t have a concrete plan when I go to Shenzhen, but I’m OK with that. I think the lack of income will drive me to figure out how I’m going to make money. I look at it this way:

Best possible outcome:
I make a business happen and I gain a ton of experience. And I’m not starving.

An okay outcome:
I completely suck at business and it’s knocked out of my head. I come back broke and embracing the life I know.

Worst possible outcome:
I dream of fanciful things but never do anything. I wake up 20 years later and realize that nothing’s changed. This really scares me.

In any possible scenario, I’m probably crazy and delusional. But I have to do this, because it’s an itch I need to scratch and I’m at a stage in life where this decision has minimal consequences.

Thanks for the awesome year. I want to especially thank Brian for being an awesome boss. I can’t believe someone paid me to learn how to solder, build electronics, and meet the amazing community of Makers.

I’m anxious, I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m scared. And I’m ready.


Note from Make: Executive Editor Mike Senese: We’re thrilled to hear Frank’s updates as his journey progresses. And for everyone else, we have job openings! Find them here.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”

View more articles by Frank Teng


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