Monthly Archives: May 2018

Immigrants and Innovation

Recently I had the great fortune to listen to Olympian Michelle Kwan speak at our shared alma mater, the University of Denver. Kwan’s parents immigrated from Hong Kong to the United States. Her parents sacrificed tremendously and worked multiple jobs to ensure Michelle and her siblings could pursue their interests. Her brother played hockey and her sister was also an ice skater.

Michelle spoke about grit, discipline, and determination. She said she learned to quickly recover and smile broadly after falling while skating. She emphasized that she kept practicing and applying herself over and over and continually learning from her mistakes.

Heidi Grant, author of a Harvard Business Review article titled Nine Thing Successful People Do Differently, indicates that grit is one of the key components of successful people. Grant describes grit as the willingness to commit to long-term goals while persisting in the face of difficulty. Research has demonstrated that people with grit obtain more education and have higher college GPAs.

Forbes reported that 40% of the current Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Some of America’s greatest brands—Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, General Electric, IBM and others were started by immigrants or their children according to The Partnership for a New American Economy. The National Foundation for American Policy reported that 44 of the 87 startup companies valued at more than $1 billion in 2015 have immigrant founders.

Glenn Llopis, author of The Innovation Mentality, describes the perspective of immigrants that allows them to seize opportunities in the global market: Inspiration to see opportunity in everything

  • Flexibility to anticipate the unexpected
  • Freedom to unleash passionate pursuits
  • Room to live with an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Trust to work with a generous purpose
  • Respect to lead to leave a legacy

Llopis is a successful entrepreneur who knows that our thinking evolves when we associate with people who think differently than we do. Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset to see opportunities others might miss requires each of us to explore, actively listen, and open our hearts and minds to those who bring unique experiences and perspectives.

Through a combination of grit, determination, grace after falling, passion, anticipating the unexpected, and having an innovation and entrepreneurial mindset, we can create significant change in our personal and professional lives as well as our communities and the world.

Northwest Arkansas Magic

My co-author, Thuhang Tran, and I have been busy the past five days in Northwest Arkansas. Both of us used to work for Walmart, so it seemed fitting that our book journey would start in NWA.

On Saturday, we held a book signing in front of the Walmart Museum. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the Farmer’s Market was in full swing. We had many friends and colleagues stop by and buy books and ask for autographs. We also had several Vietnam veterans stop by—we appreciate their service for our great country!

We had fantastic speaking engagements at Shopper Events, the Bentonville Rotary Club, and Walmart. People were RIVETED when Thuhang shared her story. There were audible gasps and laughter at various times.

Tomorrow is the last stop on the NWA tour train. From 5 – 7 pm, at The Center for Nonprofits there is a wine and author event hosted by Inseitz Group. The wine is free—that is awesome! Hope to see you there!

Birthing a Book

Launching a book is similar to birthing a baby. There has been much anticipation, preparation, fretting, planning, and hoping.

It is a new beginning with fresh possibilities and it also seems overwhelming!

Thuhang Tran, my co-author, and I met in a coffee shop in November 2016. We had never met before. Her personal story captivated me and we put together a plan to write a book about her unrelenting challenges related to polio, war, death of her father, Communist policies, poverty, famine level food rationing, and immigrating to the U.S.

Thuhang’s story inspired me because she continually reinvented herself. I have never faced the type of insurmountable obstacles she overcame. Her story empowers each of us to face our problems head on.

In the final 30 day stretch before the book launch, I had many grandiose plans about how to market the book. Then my son tore his ACL while skiing and needed surgery and a Mom to take care of him. My daughter arrived home for Spring Break along with her boyfriend—they had broken up on the flight; the two of them spent 9 days with us post-breakup. Then my husband needed shoulder surgery. While taking care of my son in Seattle, my kitchen flooded due to a leaky valve. Water traveled down hallways and into a bedroom looking for an escape route.

Yet all these challenges I faced pale in comparison to the situations Thuhang encountered. I treat my problems like a walk in the park compared to Thuhang crawling at ground level for 17 years.