Recently I visited a financial institution to have some compromised charge cards replaced, and the banker, a Hispanic man, chatted with me while I waited. He observed I had multiple businesses and asked how long I had been an “entrepreneur”. I wondered uncomfortably as the term “#entrepreneur” can sometimes be misconstrued as a struggling artist versus a job creator. I then replied firmly, “17 years.” “Get outta here,” he said in disbelief. I exploded in laughter and said, “Don’t let this Asian gene fool you. I’m not 25.” He shared his own story of having just completed his Economics degree and wanting to become a management consultant. He wondered if I had any tips, and asked what compelled me to go out on my own.
Speaking as one immigrant to another, I shared my story of working for a design firm here in the states where I was instructed that I should be happy making my salary because I would NEVER earn that where I came from. This was just one of many micro-aggressions spewed at me as an immigrant, a woman of color, a woman in architecture, a woman in technology, and now an entrepreneur and single mother raising two beautiful boys. I am proud of my immigrant status and entrepreneurial mindset, and I am grateful for the “mojo” that kicks in when someone tries to put limits on me. I told my banker that when that employer had the audacity to tell me what I should be grateful for, I decided to choose a different game and create my own “playground.” Since then, I have built buildings, launched businesses, ideas, teams, and products, written a book, and given keynote speeches around the world. I suggested to him that if a single mom raising two boys under the age of 10 could do all this, what more might he be able to accomplish, and why was he waiting? Our dreams are our path. We must be courageous enough to pursue them.
So, tell me your stories. Share how you’ve transformed a negative, something meant to constrain you or smother your dreams, into something good, empowering, and soul satisfying. We all learn, grow and connect when we share our stories.