As the first generation immigrant from China, I was asked to speak at various events because people are fascinated by my story. Twenty one years ago when I came to this country, I had only $40 in my pocket. Against the odds of being laid off from a very large company in 2008, I came a long way from an engineer to be a business owner today. And the best of all, I realized my dream of doing something I truly like.
I would summarize my American journey in two milestones. The first milestone was ten years into living in the United States, I had a very nice job with Eastman Kodak Company, a nice family with two boys, and a big house with no mortgage and no debt. The second milestone was twenty years into living in the United States, I lost my job but found my own company, our family grew with another addition: a baby boy, and financially we were doing very well.
I contribute my success to my strong personality. If somebody gave me a lemon, I would say: watch me, how I turn it into lemonade. It was this kind of attitude that kept my head hold high in difficult circumstances. With hard work and some talents, I was able to acquire wealth through good jobs and investment. And I am a saver. Ever since I started working, I have always maxed out my 401K contribution. Over the years, it grew to be a nice big egg. So when the job was not there, I am able to create my own job and weather off years of no income.
But my success did not come easy. Ever since I was 10 years old, I went to the most famous boarding school in Shanghai. It was from 6am to 9pm daily 6 days a week this kind of study in school and hard-working prepared me for my long journey to achieve my American dream. I am grateful that my parents insisted to send me to the best schools in China despite the fact we were very poor at that time and they had to borrow money to do so. Thirty years ago, my mother as an elementary school teacher was making $10 a month in salary. My parents were not “Tiger Mother” (this is a very controversial topic today both in China and in USA). I simply knew what was expected of me and I wanted so much to live a better life, so I automatically did everything they expected of me and I made them very proud of me by bringing them many “faces” (Chinese are big on saving faces). All of my brother and sisters went to colleagues and received very good education. Today all of us siblings are either USA citizen or Canada citizen and we are doing well. I can certainly relate to the documentary “Last Train Home” (归途列车) about Chinese parents’ unappreciated sacrifices in their children’s eyes. When I was young I may not have realized that but as I grew older and had my own children, I really appreciated how much my parents have sacrificed for me. My Chinese family certainly contributed to my success too.