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Taking a Little and Creating a Lot: Insights From An Immigrant

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

At a time of great anxiety regarding the influx of immigrants into the United States and other developed countries, it’s helpful to share a few personal observations for the benefit of those who are open to understanding and harnessing some of the benefits provided by immigrants.

I'll begin by observing that there are a plethora of insights, competencies and habits that are developed as a result of living, particularly as a native, in relatively poor economies. Equally noteworthy is that policies that encourage and welcome immigration create conditions that attract extremely ambitious, industrious, and educated populations that accelerate the growth of the developed economies they adopt as their new homes.

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Growing up in a developing country comes with unique experiences that can shape an individual's worldview, especially when coupled with other factors like being non-white and having to navigate colonial power structures. These experiences, coupled with a comprehensive and practical education, typically result in individuals being creative, disciplined, and resourceful, which are pivotal traits for succeeding in life, personally and professionally. Such attitudes and habits can provide a useful model for others who aspire to professional, entrepreneurial, and financial success.

The first critical lesson that growing up in a developing country teaches you is how to make the most of limited resources. In such countries, the basic needs of food, water, and shelter are typically not abundant or inexpensive, so you must be creative and resourceful in using them for the greatest utility and benefit. These habits, forged from necessity, teach you to be innovative and entrepreneurial, making you more effective using available resources to achieve your goals. For example, there are the hundreds of families I know that combine simple ingredients ingeniously to create the most delicious and nutritious meals while supporting optimal levels of health. When integrated with a determination to learn, these individuals leverage these skills to create something valuable from nothing, desirable attributes when starting a business or advancing a career.

Another lesson that growing up in a developing country teaches is the value of hard work and discipline. In such countries, there are limited employment opportunities, so individuals have to work hard to create opportunities for themselves. They learn the value of perseverance and discipline, which are crucial traits for success in any endeavor. These habits can serve anyone striving for professional or financial success in developed countries where the competition can be fierce. Opportunities have to be identified, seized and converted quickly for meaningful benefits to multiple parties if they are to be preserved.

Being non-white and having to navigate colonial power structures teaches individuals invaluable lessons. They learn the importance of resilience and self-reliance, which are indispensable for accelerating success in any pursuit. But they also learn to be adaptable, collaborative and flexible, as they must navigate different cultures and systems to succeed. These competencies are of ever increasing value in a global economy where individuals must interact amicably and productively with people from different cultures.

When fused with life experiences that emphasize cooperation and collaboration as essential requirements for survival, these patterns of behavior help individuals and those with whom they associate succeed to an even greater extent than when they are not engaged together. The skills learned through growing up in a developing country, being non-white, and navigating colonial power structures are usually leveraged to create opportunities for oneself and others. For instance, the skills of being creative and resourceful are applied to starting businesses and developing new products, and hard work and discipline are applied to improve productivity and results for employers, advance the careers of colleagues and facilitate the achievement of financial success.

In conclusion, growing up in a developing country and navigating colonial power structures provide valuable experiences and insights that are useful for anyone striving for professional, entrepreneurial, and financial success. These experiences teach individuals to be creative, disciplined, and resourceful, which are critical skills for succeeding in any endeavor. Individuals leverage these skills to create opportunities for themselves and others, which is particularly relevant in a globalized world where individuals have to navigate different cultures and systems to succeed. So, the next time you feel disadvantaged because of your background or circumstances, remember that taking a little and creating a lot is possible with the right attitude and commitment.

Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple companies and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .

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1 Comment

Richard Lewine
Richard Lewine
May 09, 2023

A succinct reminder that adversity breeds character. 😊

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