The “Forbes 400” (Richest Americans) issue just came out, and it is wonderfully fun to read. Forbes ranks everyone on a “self-made” index from “1 – 10,” with “10” being 100% self-made. The self-made stories are very inspiring.
My favorite is the Korean couple Do Won and Jin Sook Chang. They landed in the U.S. in 1981 and worked multiple minimum wage jobs at the same time to make ends meet. At his gas-station job in L.A., Mr. Won noticed that people in the garment industry drove nice cars, so he moved to that industry. He and his wife then saved up $11,000 and started a tiny store that became “Forever 21.” They are now worth $3 billion.
The theme throughout the issue, however, is the value of immigrants in America. Forbes points out how immigrants bring a work ethic, talent and innovation levels that are just not as prevalent in native-born citizens. Immigrants are twice as likely to start new businesses, which are the major job-creators.
Iconic companies started by immigrants include Google, Comcast, Yahoo, eBay, Nordstrom, Pfizer and Dupont.
The immigrant theme hit close to home b/c JVM was shaped so much by immigrants.
Chingchi Yu immigrated from Taiwan in the early 1990s, and Mary Barker immigrated from Buffalo more recently. Chingchi has assimilated nicely, but Mary still says crazy things like “I like the Bills,” but we are working on that.
Most importantly, Heejin came to America in 1983 and she too worked non-stop from age 13 until she found her way into the mortgage industry. She now owns a thriving company that was entirely shaped by her influence. JVM’s focus on CRM employment, systems, efficiencies, and the elimination of loan officers was inspired by Heejin and what she learned since 1983.
If you haven’t already, be sure to hug an immigrant today. God knows I will.
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