The American Dream

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

I visited the coast of Northern California last week meeting with some prospective clients. One of them invited me to go to a “you-pick-em” strawberry field at a local commercial operation.

This fellow, who is now the CEO of a thriving technology company shared some of his background with me in response to my questions related to how he built his successful business. He thought it was best if we started at the beginning.

He told me he came from Mexico some 30 years ago crossing the boarder illegally. He did not speak English and had no employment history, so he began where many people in search of the American dream began…at the bottom.

His first job was in the strawberry fields, and he took me there to show me how to pull the berries from the vine. You place your fingers around the top and bottom and twist it to make sure that the stem remains attached. As you can see from the picture, I didn’t quite match his “stem-intact” strawberry. In addition to picking berries correctly, you also have to be fast. We went for 4 quarts of the sweet, juicy treats and while I was carefully pulling off one, he grabbed about 10. He made sure that I had enough practice to at least get to pick 3 to his 10.

His voracious appetite for learning led him to take classes at the local community college where he mastered English and harbored a dream about owning his own business, all while working in the fields. After his degree, he secured a position with a local IT provider company and recognized his native skills in understanding technology and how to make it work for others. He shared that one of his secrets of success is that he makes technology understandable for his customers. Obtaining his American citizenship helped him secure another important part of his dream.

We spent a great deal of time talking about his business, his dreams, and his continuing aspirations. He has a strong team and is at the stage of his business where he has the opportunity to grow by 300% or more over the next several years. He wisely recognizes that kind of growth will challenge his leadership and his team, and he’s once again relying on his thirst for learning to gain the skills he and his company will need to move forward with his ambitious plans.

As is always the case when I meet with clients and prospective clients, I learn as much from them as I hope they learn from me. In this case, I heard a story of hard work, persistence and inspiration. I knew I was present for the American dream coming to fruition right in front of me.

Your Challenge This Week: We all are living the American Dream. Stop for a moment and appreciate all you have overcome to reach where you have reached. How do you carry that persistence and energy forward to build on your success?

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2019


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