10 Reasons Why Immigrants Make Great Entrepreneurs

10 Reasons Why Immigrants Make Great Entrepreneurs

Did you know 40%, 40% of Fortune 500 companies in America are founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant? 40%. That’s 200 of the biggest companies in America. That’s a lot of numbers there, right? Then you hear Inc. Magazine say that immigrants are twice as likely to become entrepreneurs than somebody that’s actually born here. Why is that? Why does that take place? Today I want to talk to you about the 10 reasons why immigrants make great entrepreneurs. Let me get right into point number one.



What do you mean by thick skin? Let me explain it to you. There is something that happens when I grow up in a very peaceful family with no problems. Everything’s covered. Things are good. Things are smooth. Mom and dad never argue. Everything’s just chill. You know those families that they talk and just everything is easy going. Now I want you to think about the other family. Imagine you’re in a family when you’re escaping a war. You’re getting bombed on every week. Where your kids can’t go play outside because everybody’s afraid. Where mom and dad are afraid to go outside and tension is higher. You’re working longer hours. You ain’t got time around your kids. Your temper’s shorter. You got a shorter fuse.

            You get upset at the kids a little bit faster. You give them a look. You push the kids around. Parents have all this pressure on them and they have to release it somewhere. If the wife doesn’t see her husband five, six days a week because he’s out there working and the only thing he sees or she sees are the kids, she has to release that tension somewhere. Where else is it going to go? The kids get it, right? Now some people will only say, “That’s called bad parenting.” Unless if you’ve never been in a situation like that, you can’t say what it’s like because it’s tough. What happens there? There’s a big benefit to it. Here’s what the benefit is. That kid says, “If I can handle living with my mommy and my daddy, guess what?

            I can handle anybody else because my skin is so thick that your little rejection saying no to my proposal means nothing, nothing, because I can live in this family with this mommy and daddy. I can definitely handle you.” When you get thick skin, the world of business is so easy for you because you’re not worried about somebody hurting your feelings.



In the world of business, you’re going to need a lot of patience. I remember living in Iran 1984 and my dad and my mom finally deciding to apply for a green card to come to America. We would watch Rocky in 1985 when it came out. We’ll watch all these movies about United States. This is heaven. People were coming. They were celebrating about coming to America.

            They got their number. They got their free ticket to come to the land of opportunities. From 1984 we waited until ’89. Khomeini dies. We don’t have the green card yet. Khomeini dies June 3rd. Six weeks later we escape and we go to Germany. I lived in a refugee camp in Germany for a year and a half. Then we finally get our papers. Then we come to America November 28, 1990. Took seven and a half years until we finally made it to the States. It requires a lot of patience until you get what you want, same thing with business.



Nine-to-five is an American thing. There is not really a lot of nine-to-five going on with immigrants. Immigrants wake up in the morning and they work until they have their money on the table, food on the table, to go buy stuff, pay rent, all this stuff with their kids. There is no nine-to-five. It’s not like a nine-to-five in all these other things you’re dealing with. You get to work and you come home and you make sure everything is covered.

Typically, they’re used to working six days a week, not five days a week. In America, they’re trying to go to four days a week. There’s even a book called “4-Hour Work Week” by a guy named Tim Ferriss. It’s like work less. Immigrants say, “Hey, everybody in America. You guys keep working four hours a week. We’re going to bust our behinds and guess what? 40% of Fortune 500 companies will be founded by us and our kids, but you guys keep working four hours a week. Leave that market for us because we’re not afraid of hard work.” They bring that to the table. In the world of business, if you ain’t afraid of this, everyone’s going to eventually find out about your business if you’re not afraid of this.



Here’s why, I remember when we were living in Germany at a refugee camp and I wanted to go to a movie, I don’t think we ever went to movies in Germany. If we even had a chance to go somewhere and do anything with it, it was magical.

            I remember being 11 years old. We played our first lotto. I find out about lotto. I had saved up five marks and I went and played lotto. Sometimes people ask me how come I don’t play the lottery. I went and payed five bucks and I picked these numbers. I remember the numbers still today. 44 was one of them. 60 was another one. 38 was another. I picked my mom’s age at that time, my dad’s age at that time. I came and I said, “Oh my god. I don’t know why I feel like I’m going to win and we’re going to be millionaires. My mom and dad, everybody’s going to be good. We’re going to be taken care of. This is going to change our lives.”

Boom. We didn’t win. I cried all night like a little baby. You know why? Because you know how much was five marks to our family? Man, five marks was a lot of money. When you come to the States, you value money a little bit more because you work your tail off for this money, and you understand we ain’t wasting this money here, kid. We ain’t buying all this nonsense stuff because you value money a little bit more. In the world of business, the more you can know how to value, the more you know how to stretch that dollar, the longer your business lasts.



Uncertainly and risk is part of the life. I mean it depends on what part of the country and world you come from. I always like to travel and go different places and ask questions. What is it like living here? Tell me about what the daily income people make? What is the income here? We were in Cancun. Tell me what people are making here? I’m asking. Tell me about what it’s like. They’re so used to risk and uncertainty. They’re so used to risk and uncertainty. It’s like every day is a risk. Every day is an uncertainty.

In the world of business, it’s the same thing. By the way, most people cannot handle too much risk and too much uncertainty. Most people like a lot of things to be safe. They don’t like too much risk. They don’t like too much uncertainty. That’s why if you’re going to get into the business world and you don’t know how to handle this, all of a sudden it’s a shell shock. I can’t handle this. You go back to what you were doing before, but immigrants already know how to handle that.



Sacrifice could be on a lot of different skills by the way. Time away from family, time away from partying, time away from fooling around, so many different things. This is a must in the world of business. It’s a must for what immigrants do. Imagine if you’re already used to going to the places you eat, churches you go to, families you visit, friends, all this stuff you’re accustomed to living around for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 years. Then all of a sudden you pack your bags and leave the country and go to a new place and you don’t speak the language. You know how many sacrifices you’re making? You’re used to it. In the world business, they make easy transitions. A big sacrifice to somebody else could be a small sacrifice to an immigrant entrepreneur.



Language. Think about it. I remember when I joined the army, I went to PX. PX is the military’s Walmart. I went to PX, and I ran into everybody at Jackson, South Carolina at the time. Everybody was Caucasian, African-America, Hispanic. Here I am walking. I go to PX and I see another guy with a crooked nose. I said, “Wait a minute. I recognize crooked noses.” Middle Easterns we got this crooked noses.

I said, “Hey man, where you from?”

He says, “Where are you from?”

I said, “I’m from Glendale. I’m half Armenian, half Farsi.”

He says, “No way. I’m from Glendale. You got to be kidding me.” Boom. We connected. There’s a relationship. If we don’t speak that language, we don’t have that connection.

            It’s a whole different story with friends that also speak Armenian and Syrian. I get connected to people that speak Farsi. I get to connected to that because there’s another language you speak. If you do business with somebody that speaks Spanish, you can get into the community of people that speak Spanish. I recently sat with a guy here who’s from Pakistan. I said, “What percent is your businesses with people who are Pakistani?” He says 95%. He can connect with an audience that you may not be able to connect with because he is part of that community, he’s part of that culture. It helps in business as well. Culture, language, it helps.


            What’s this Red Bull guy stories with Dietrich, some strange last name.  The founder of Red Bull. Interesting story. He apparently goes to Thailand, and in Thailand they’re making this drink, it’s called Krating Daeng or something like that, Krating Daeng which in the language means red bull. He says, “My gosh. What is this drink made for?” He says, “For truck drivers so people don’t fall asleep.” He drinks it. He likes it. He brings it to America. He started selling it and puts Red Bull on it and now he’s worth $15.7 billion on a drink called Red Bull. You know how many billions of Red Bulls you have to sell to have a net worth of $15.7 billion? That’s how many he sold. What happened? Globally connected. He knows because he’s connected to other places. You’re constantly in another country. You’re connected with other people.

            You’re not worried about going to another country because you’re already used to it. He brings that idea back. It helps the business out here in America and all over the world because everybody now … Not everybody, but billions of Red Bulls have been sold all over the world.



Why does ownership matter to them? Here’s a story… this happened where we were at, but you hear this in different types of countries as well, where you own a property, all of a sudden the government comes and takes the property away from you, because hey, we have a new law. This is our land. You can’t do nothing about it. Here you go. This is what you got, one-fifth of what the value is. Hush. I stay quiet or else. Boom. Give us the property. It’s gone. Right? That idea of somebody taking away your home from you or your land from you, it’s like somebody’s saying, “Hey, that’s my girl. Give me your girl. It’s my wife. Give me your wife. That’s my wife. What are you talking about? It’s my wife. No. No. No. It’s my wife after now. Here’s 10 grand. Walk away. Don’t complain. She’s my wife now. In the world of business, immigrants love ownership because they’re all about freedom. I want to have control. This is mine. I worked my butt off. Leave me alone. Let me get to work and let me have the life that I want to have. Let me have the family that I want to have because ownership matters. That’s why they like being entrepreneurs.



If a person is from Mexico, no one gets shocked when they meet me and I’m from Iran. If I meet somebody from, for instance, Africa and I meet them and they say, “Where are you from?”

“I’m from Iran.” They don’t get spooked.

If I meet somebody from Alabama and they ask me where I’m from, I say Iran, they say, “Where are you from?”

I’m from Iran. What’s the big deal?

“I’ve never seen an Iranian before. This is what you guys look like,” because there’s no Iranians necessary in Alabama. A person who’s an immigrant, they can see anybody because look, I’m used to having another kind of cultures.

            I’m used to what it is to come to America. I can handle anybody else because I’ve seen many different kinds, especially myself being an immigrant coming here. I don’t have a hard time transitioning with getting to know other cultures. I tell you all this stuff because you hear all these talks about immigrants, entrepreneurship, all of these things, but I want to tell the immigrants something here that maybe you haven’t been told because it’s always this idea about immigrants make great entrepreneurs. Let me give you one final thought to be thinking about on immigrant entrepreneurs.

Yes, 40% of Fortune 500 CEOs are immigrants or the child of an immigrant that started the company. Yes, over 10% of Forbes 400 richest men in America, Forbes 400 richest men in America are immigrants. Over 10%. Elon Musk is one of them. Sergey, founder of Google is another. There’s a good percent of them are out there, but how come not more and what is the challenge with some other people? Maybe you’re reading this saying, “How come not more? How come not yourself? How come not somebody else?”

Sometimes when you go from a horrible situation you have to an incredible one, you settle for good because it’s still better than horrible. It’s like, “Man, oh my gosh. I’m totally happy with what I’m doing right now. This is totally warm and fuzzy for me. I’m good. I’m okay with this.” Sometimes immigrants don’t think big and they settle.

            You have all the abilities to become a successful entrepreneur and go out there and win, but you settle too early. When you settle too early, you leave the upside potential for somebody else to go out there and capitalize on. If you’re watching this yourself saying, “Man, I’m an immigrant. How come this hasn’t happened for me?” Maybe you ought to start thinking a little bit bigger. Maybe you ought to not just say, “I’m settling and seeing everything is working out. It’s better than what it used to be so I’m happy. I’m grateful. I’m good to go.” Keep being grateful, but stretch a little bit more. Think a little bit bigger. See about the bigger possibilities on what you can do with your life instead of just saying, “I’m doing better than my cousins.  I’m doing better than my uncle back in such and such country. I’m doing better than my dad back in El Salvador.”

No. You become the leader for everybody else because you keep expanding yourself to want to do even something bigger.

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