17 Cents and a Dream– A Journey to Success
The phone on my desk rings and I am startled out of my daydream.
As the call has been answered at the front desk, I look into the distance and remember a time when all that inspired me were the Golden Arches high above McDonald’s. My American dream began long before stepping foot onto American soil, but McDonald’swas the place where my idea of everything about what America represented began. It was my chance to become whoever I wanted to be. As my grandfather always taught me, America was the place where I was allowed to dream big dreams, because anything could happen if I just worked hard enough.
Long after my years in the Ann Arbor fast food restaurant, an experience that gave me, a non-English speaking immigrant, his first opportunity, the owner of that same store purchased the land directly next to mine to build his multi-million dollar home. And even now, with the many blessings I’ve received, I look back and remember these feelings of opportunity and hope for a better life for my parents, brother, grandmother, and for myself.
Life has become more than I ever could have imagined it to be when I was a small boy in Kiev. I didn’t dare to dream about becoming a best-selling author or being appointed to serve on many boards, including my Alma Mater, or more importantly becoming one of the youngest CEOs of all time in a business that started out of a closet with my savings of $3,000.
“You have a call on line one,” I hear through the phone’s speaker. I snap out of my reverie, set the frame back in its place, and revert back to business. But when I pick up the phone, I have no idea what’s about to come through from the other end. As I listen, I try to catch my breath, to let what I’m hearing sink in, and to realize that this is the culmination of everything I’ve endured and all that has come to be.
When I slept on a beanbag chair in a 335-square foot apartment with five others, surviving the Chernobyl catastrophe, I could never have imagined that this is where I’d be today.
I hang up the phone, spin my chair back towards the sunlight that is now melting into the sky, and smile. It’s a phone call from Inc. magazine, telling me that we have been named to the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. My American Dream is no longer just a dream.
It’s my life.
Read more about Dan’s incredible journey in 17 Cents and a Dream: My Incredible Journey from the U.S.S.R. to Living the American Dream
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