Dan Kang ’15
Courtesy Dan Kang

The day after Dan Kang ’15 quit his job at Google, he went viral.

“[H]ot damn, couldn’t have asked for a better affirmation of my decision,” he wrote on Facebook. Just a day before, he had made a short video chronicling his favorite aspects of Japanese culture, and it had quickly racked up a million views. As of writing, the video has more than 24.5 million views.

Kang, a computer science major from Orange County, Calif., had been working as a product manager on the Google Maps team in Tokyo, as part of a two-year rotational program with the company.

This May, he started experimenting with making one-minute videos and sharing them on his Facebook page (DK the Human). He made about two videos a week, mostly quick explainers of ideas and concepts that interested him, such as the difference between causation and correlation, intermittent fasting, and Brazilian jiujitsu.

As he made more videos, they began to take on a more personal tone. By July, he decided that he would make daily videos — one short production, every single day. He took a leave of absence from Google to test out this endeavor. Less than two months later, he decided to quit his job and devote himself to making videos full-time.

“I saw video as the best medium to develop a skillset for,” Kang said. He had done a lot of writing on his personal blog, but had realized that “reading feels like work to most people.” Video, he thought, would be “great for developing relationships at scale.”

Kang also wanted to connect emotionally with his audience.

“There are some issues that I care a lot about and I want to build an audience that trusts me on an emotional level,” he said. Kang has plans to make videos in which he explains why he is vegetarian, and why he believes in effective altruism. He’s also delved into some deeply personal issues, like his experiences growing up as an Asian American, and what his Asian identity means to him today.

All this means that Kang is openly airing his vulnerabilities for all the world to see. But this doesn’t faze him. In fact, he loves it.

“This is a part of the Internet that I’ve always enjoyed,” Kang said. People often present a distorted, idealized version of themselves on social media, he added, and he wants to cut through that noise to present his real self.  He thinks that his vulnerability is what attracts his audience.

Making a short video each day is no easy feat: Kang’s typical day involves filming everything that he sees, slowly figuring out what the day’s topic is, and writing a script as he goes through his day. He aims to have the script completed by 4 p.m., then spends another three to four hours editing the video. In total, he estimates that he spends between six to 12 hours a day working on a single video.

“I’m thinking about videos all day long,” he said.

Kang has big plans for the year ahead: He will be traveling around the world, making a video a day.

“The practice of making video every single day really ingrains in you [the idea of] making every single day count,” he said. “I have to force myself to make something interesting happen every single day.”