Sage advice from a true American success story.

American Dream

by

Mike Phibbs

 

“In America, you can have anything you want if you are intelligent and have courage.”  ~ Reza

 

I want to be a millionaire and so do many of you. Three sage questions arise when we admit that we want to be millionaires. First, how do we get the money? Second, what will we have to give up getting the money? Third, will money truly make us successful and happy?

I met Reza many years ago while visiting Miami with my wife. We met through a chance encounter and have been friends ever since. He is the model of the self-made American success story. As a group, driving through Miami, Reza’s phone wrong, it was a business deal in the final stages of negotiations. Reza told the guy on the other end of the line that 20 was the final offer. He continued by telling the other party if he kept trying to push the number lower then Reza was going to start climbing again. I thought they were talking about thousands of dollars. I was wrong, very wrong. I was shocked when Reza told the caller that he was going to ask my opinion. Not knowing the game I aloud, “make it 25 or nothing.” I could hear the guy on the other end choke a little and then agree to the 20. When I learned it was millions and not thousands of dollars I instantly knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

The story of the deal was interesting, but the man behind the deal is far more interesting than can be posted in a blog. We have all met those people, larger than life and with the personality to bring any room to life. Reza came to America in 1979, a week before the Iranian hostage situation began. Reza was born in Iran and left to come to American and make a better life. He brought just enough money to get to New York and buy a bus ticket to somewhere else. He could only say “Florida” in English, so he bought a ticket to Florida. Before he left the station the American Embassy fell. People were outraged and someone had to pay for the American humiliation. It was Reza. He was constantly being assaulted by people on his trip to Miami. Only one person helped him out, the bus driver. The driver tried to protect him and ensure he got to his destination alive.  Even the police turned a blind eye to the assaults. People seem to find this behavior acceptable when their country has been humiliated, the President is ineffective, and the citizens are scared. We are shocked when we see such behavior in other countries and ignore it in our own.

Reza has a charming personality, but he has something else:  A drive to succeed. He worked odd jobs and ended up working at a gas station. Unknowingly, fortune was about to show its face. One day a friend who owned a limousine business mentioned to Reza that he had too many jobs that night and not enough chauffer’s. Reza took the chance and asked if he could take one of the shifts. History is made during these types of serendipitous encounters and this was the case. Thus the rise of Reza began. He continued to work the gas station during the day and drove at night. He eventually bought his own limousine company and made customer loyalty and service the hallmarks of the company’s success.  He could have sat back running a lucrative business and been regarded as successful. But no, he continued to branch out into different areas and continued to make the South Florida financial empire he has today.

One night, while eating dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water with the Miami skyline in the background, Reza put his fork down and pointed out into the bay. He looked back and said, “Look at the billions of dollars out there. Why don’t you have any of it?” I replied that I didn’t have anyone rich enough to knock off. He then spoke the sage words that I use in seminars today, “In America anyone can be as successful as they want if they are intelligent and have courage.” He is completely right. Many people don’t have the intellectual acumen to develop a product idea which people will want to spend money on. More likely, in America has lost the will or courage that brought our forefathers here in boats that would be illegal by today’s Coast Guard standards. We have lost the desire to do what it takes to make a better life. Most Americans are not willing to risk what they have to fulfill the possibilities that America presents.

Does this mean you have to be a millionaire to be successful? If you want to be on the Discovery, TLC or Bravo Channels then yes, yes you do. But in the world of reality, success is something that is enjoyable, fulfilling and builds self-worth. For Reza the money is a by-product of enjoying the running of successful companies. He enjoys providing services and money is just a score card to gauge his own success. The companies he owns are centered on making both his clients and employees equally happy. He knows when you are happy at what you do then it is not a job or a profession, it is something deeper with more meaning.

If you are miserable at your job and have a desire to do something else then ask yourself three questions:

  • Am I an intelligent person who can research my own idea?
  • Do I have the courage to take the actions necessary to fulfill my life’s calling?
  • How happy will I be when I am in charge of my own destiny?

Only you can answer these questions. The answers are scary for most people. But when in doubt remember Reza. He came to a strange land with nothing, not even knowing the language. He became a proud American citizen and through intelligence and courage he became an American success. Put down the fork and look out the window. What is stopping you from living the American dream? Reza lives it and so can you.

ABC Philosophy of Leadership

ABC Philosophyby

Mike Phibbs

The greatest challenge to anyone is not the ability to look at someone else and accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses. It is far more difficult to look inside and determine where you stand and what drives you to success or failure. At the macro level of existence, the measure of a leader, manager, guru, or anyone who looks back and has followers is gauged in the impact they have on the lives of those who choose to follow him.  But there is much more to the story than the sum of the group of individuals who want to follow someone else.  The grander picture is the internal story of knowing oneself that compels that person to drive forward to complete a vision and connect to the greater masses. The ABC philosophy of leadership and knowing oneself creates the foundation for people to understand and connect to their inner person. Then, armed with these insights one can improve their ability to lead and make a greater impact on the people who follow them.

A: Ability and Ambition

Where ever you are in life, be it at work, a parent, or anything else, try to accurately gauge your ability at what is important to you right here and now. You probably already realize you are better at some tasks and worse at others. It’s simple, no one is perfect. However, in reality you are probably not as good and probably a little worse than you think at tasks. Take an internal look and realistically gauge your abilities. Look at the real you, warts and all, not just the imagined you. The take the leap and ask your peers, subordinates, and friends how effective you are a different tasks. Create the overall picture and determine what you truly need to change. Then do one thing better each day till you become the person you aspire to be.

What is your ambition? What is the internal desire which drives you to take action and reach the next level?   Do you know? If you are a store clerk, manager, or senior executive we all have ambition. The difference comes through the knowing where you want to go, and then developing a realistic plan which compels one to overcome their fear to take the first step. No one can force someone else to take the first step, but only show then the path and reassure then that it is safe to walk on. Again, what is your ambition and what is stopping you? By taking the first step, you at least know you made the attempt and will not go through life in wonderment of what could have been if you only tried.   

B: Beliefs and Behavior

Somewhere in the deep reassesses of your mind your beliefs are secretly influencing your decisions is the belief pattern that developed over a life time. For every act that is presented to you, solicit and equal response based on your customs, traditions and beliefs. It’s automatic. Most of the time there are no consequences. Other times you are praised or condemned by your reactions. By taking an introspective look into your own belief patterns you can better understand why you do what you do and why you react the way you do. Maybe your beliefs are based in an outmoded mental program that you will realize needs to be updated. Maybe you realize that your beliefs are sound and need to be reinforced. Sometimes they evolve and you didn’t know you had gone through the transformative process. Regardless of the version of your brain operating program, understanding your beliefs allows you the mechanisms to tailor your interactions with the people around you. 

How do you behave around people when you are happy, sad, or confrontational? Are you consistent in action or do you harbor emotions until they boil over? Do you know what sets you off? The answer to these seemingly simple questions greatly impacts the people around you. By understanding one’s behaviors allows for the anticipation and mitigation of unwanted reactions to situations as they arise. Then, instead of acting inappropriately, one can act in such a way to mitigate negative events and amplify positive ones.   

C: Courage and Commitment

It takes tremendous courage to take a look inside oneself and examine to the deepest corners to see what drives us. The most effective and truly influential people took the leap and observed what causes them to think and act the way they do. Some made remarkable transformations, while others simply accepted who they are with a clearer understanding of themselves. But they all stopped waiting for something to happen to them. They went on the offensive to take charge of their own destiny. The no longer held their emotions in check to explode at a later time. They utilized the power stored in their emotional batteries and focused the energy to resolve problems in a positive a positive manner. 

When making any changes the test comes to your commitment to make the changes over time. Like a New Year’s Eve resolution it is easy to backslide to behaviors that stifle your growth as a leader. It takes 28 days to make new neural connections in the brain that allow you to automatically behave in your new positive manner. But, it takes a life time of commitment to self-evaluate and ensure you are making the necessary changes that allow you to be the synergetic catalyst that makes a positive difference in the people around you.

You are only as good as you choose to be using the ABC method of leadership. Instead of looking at your followers or people you influence and look internally at what drives you to think and act the way you do. Then, you can make the changes that create change in your life that positively impact those of people around you.