The story is set during the period of the Chinese economic reform from 1978 until 1992 and the three men who relentlessly push the boundaries amidst trying times.
Song Yunhui is highly intelligent but he has always been discriminated against due to his background. He grabs the chance to take the exams in 1978 and successfully becomes a qualified technician. However, just as he builds a foundation for his career, he also begins to lose himself in his thirst to climbs the ranks.
Completely different from Song Yunhui is his brother-in-law Lei Dongbao. Being raised in a poor family, he is the typical rough and gruff man from the rural village. During the time of economic reform, he becomes a leader that the other villagers look up to, yet his lack of education ultimately impedes his initial motivations.
Yang Xun on the other hand brings a different set of encounters. He aspires to be a self-made man as he rides the tide of change to find business opportunities, thus embarking on a road to becoming an entrepreneur.