An Explorer’s Lessons On Happiness, Photography, And Greeting Whales

“People joke that I went straight from the ocean into the air and skipped land,” Eric Cheng says. But the joke isn’t totally accurate.

Land is where Cheng obtained his two computer science degrees at Stanford, and where he trained as a concert cellist. It’s where he developed a passion for pursuits that are creative and also highly technical.

After that, it’s true, Cheng did start spending a lot of time with sharks and whales. He left an unfulfilling startup job, taught himself the complex workings of underwater photography, and improvised a career around his expertise. He led expeditions to a drool-worthy list of tropical locales, his photos won awards, and he built one of the web’s largest underwater photography communities.

Nowadays, however, Cheng is flying high (and dry). He oversees the Silicon Valley presence of the world’s largest maker of civilian drones, a Chinese firm called DJI. If drones have a face in the United States, it is arguably Eric’s.

Good afternoon, from inside a shark’s mouth! :) #BahamasDiving

A photo posted by Eric Cheng (@echeng) on May 25, 2014 at 2:19pm PDT

In a crowded field, DJI was the first to bring sleek, high-quality, and simple-to-use quadcopter drones to market for under $1000. It also bested competitors by focusing on drone-enabled aerial photography.

As a result, DJI’s growth has been meteoric. It now sells the most popular drones in the world, making it possibly the first Chinese company in history to be the global market leader in a consumer-facing industry. Sales in 2015 are on track to hit a billion dollars, The Verge reported this week.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Huffington Post, Cheng shared lessons on happiness, productivity, and parenting, his favorite —> Read More