Growing up in Malaysia (at that time was a developing country) in the 1970’s wasn’t easy. A little background about my family…
My dad was originally from mainland China migrated to Malaysia but he grew up with his step mother (My grandfather had a second wife,which was a normal thing at that time). My dad’s step mother (my grand mother) wasn’t the best mother to him. He wasn’t treated properly because he is always the other wife’s son to my grandmother (such were the olden day’s thinking) My dad is the oldest in the family with his two step brothers and a step sister. My grandfather runs a “coffee shop” (which is kind of like a family diner), most Chinese immigrant at that time are either coffee shop owners or business owner of some kind. My grandmother controls all the money and my dad gets very little income from the business. Whatever money my dad get was good enough for his smoking habits and some spending money. When my mom went to Malaysia from China through a fixed marriage, she always had to be watchful on the expenses due to the limited income that my dad brought in. My mom had to wash other peoples laundry to support the family when she had my older brother and my two sisters. My mom had to do laundry even until the day I was born. My younger brother and I had a slightly better life compare to my elder brother and two sisters. My older sister always tells us how hard she had to work helping out my mom with the laundry because they have to do the laundry by hand and she has to help my mom to fetch water from the well. Many would say that my sister was born at the wrong time but I would say she was there for a reason..maybe to mold her character and made her whom she is today. This could also be for anyone who is in a situation they didn’t like but just remember you are there for a reason.
I remembered when I was only 8 year’s old, my school used to sell us supplies like erases and pencils and I used to buy as many erasers as possible until the bookstore runs out. I would buy it for 5 cents and sell them for 10 cents when the bookstore runs out and my classmates will always buy it from me. I’ll be the go to guy for pencils and erasers. When I was 10, my second sister started to learn screen printing at school and guess what? I started to come out with design and made her do the screens for me. Shhh…! we did some Adidas t-shirts and shorts for sale. At 12 years old I found a wholesale toy store which sells motor boat for 50 cents and I’ll sell them for 2 dollars and 50 cents. I will only sell stuff that I liked.
I guess I get the entrepreneurship from my mom. She had made enough from her laundry venture to support our family and was manage to send money back to support her parents and her two brothers in China but it’s all hard work. That is why I always believe if you are willing to work you will survive. This statement is extremely true if you live in America (land of opportunity). I always tell my friends who were thinking of coming to stay in New York: “if you are willing to work you will NEVER starve in New York unless you do the opposite”
After the passing of my grandfather, my grandmother decided to close the business. My mom was always looking for business venture for her and my dad. The only thing they knew well was to open up a “coffee shop” other than my mom doing laundry. I started helping my parents with their “coffee shop” business from age 10 until 17 years old. We do not have any dish washer like they have here in America, so I had to do dishes, wash the glasses,cups and saucers by hand…I remembered by the age of 16 I couldn’t find my thumb print and my finger were always crack due to too much soaking in the dish washing detergent. Most of my friends will be hanging out at the mall and I will be looking for lotion for my cracked fingers…. I had tried so many different kind of lotion and always on the look out for a good lotion for my hands…Not until last year I found an amazing lotion from believe it or not at a 99 cents store. I did some research and found that it’s a cream used to milk cow and that’s why it is call Udder Cream.(not sticky, feels like water and sinks into your skin)
I remember saying to myself that I’ll never work in a coffee shop again, but guess what I did when I came to New York. I started working as a busboy and worked myself up to a waiter. It was the restaurant business that put me through school. It goes to show “never said never”. Then came the accident in 1985…
I continued to finish school after the accident. After school, I started working as an accounting supervisor at a Spanish newspaper. I made a lot of money working overtime at the Spanish newspaper but didn’t like the politics. I decided to go to massage school, finished it in a year, got my license and been practicing massage for almost 10 years now.