What I Learned From the Inventor of Zoom



If there’s one thing I noticed about our sheltering-in-place time, it’s that complaining did absolutely nothing about it. Zip. Nada. Complaining about the lack of work didn’t magically produce more work, ditto lack of income. Complaining about the ordeal – pardon me, challenge – of home-schooling (especially if more than one child was involved) didn’t make it less onerous. Complaining about the lack of TP didn’t make it grow on trees. In fact, all complaining did was annoy whoever else was around to hear it, and didn’t make you much happier either.

Most importantly, complaining about the possibility of catching the virus didn’t make it less probable, and if you did contract it, complaining about it didn’t make it go away faster either.

Problem-solving is the obvious answer to all of our complaints. Looking for answers, resources, for help with any given situation is – always – the way.

One of the more fascinating solutions many of us found to our self-isolation, was Zoom. A phenomenal invention that most people had never heard of pre-coronavirus. After all, we had FaceTime and Skype, weren’t those enough? Yet Zoom became the go-to for not-in-person meetings, rendezvous, and just plain chats.

Which got me wondering, how did Zoom come about in the first place? Love. Yup, you read that correctly. Love. No, I’m not talking about loving the planet and all those who inhabit it, I’m actually talking about the more common boy-meets-girl variety (or boy-meets-boy/girl-meets-girl, take your pick), the one-on-one type.


Well, Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom, as a freshman in college in China had to take a ten-hour train ride in order to visit his girlfriend, now his wife, and although he road that train regularly (love will do that to you), he really detested the travel and tried to imagine other ways he could meet up with his girlfriend, travel-free. Some 15 or so years later, he was able to finally develop the virtual platform he’d dreamed of for so long. Zoom. Which is what has allowed us to connect with those we love, these many years later, in ways unimaginable during the previous pandemic of 1918.

If Eric Yuan could do it, why not us? Why can’t each of us take that thing we complain about the most and turn our complaining energy to better use, namely, problem-solving? Bitching about my inability to attend the ballroom dance lessons so dear to my competitive-ballroom-dancer-heart wasn’t/isn’t getting the COVID restrictions lifted any faster, and heaven knows ballroom-dancing is one of those up-close-and-personal sports likely to be last on the list of allowed activities. Sigh.


Once I stopped whining, I decided to train myself to dance some new patterns, and to improve my basic technique one painstakingly slow day at a time. It’s working. No, it’s not what I’d like for the long term, but at least I feel that I’m being proactive and productive practicing in my kitchen, moving towards my ballroom goals. And when I flag, I remember Eric Yuan and how he developed Zoom.

What’s that one thing you love to do, that you can’t given our present circumstances? Or can’t do as much of as you’d like? Or in the way you’d like to be doing it? Put your excellent creative mind to use (yes, you have one), and figure out some way to work on whatever it is within the confines of our present experience. It’s far better for your heart, mind and soul than inflicting your groans and moans on everyone, yourself included.

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