The Incredible Journey of Elon Musk
When I see a vacant building where a business was located, it makes me sad.
I admire entrepreneurs who invest their sweat, time and money to open a business. It is a noble endeavor and a big financial risk. But when it fails, a vacant space stands in its place like a tombstone marking not only the end of a dream but sometimes the loss of life savings or a home put into foreclosure.
Most of us don’t realize the sacrifices involved in running a business — the very long days through the years. Initially, the profits are meager.
I watched the story of Elton Musk, a billionaire who through sheer courage and determination succeeded in putting a rocket into space among other things.
Mere mortals would have thrown their hands up and quit if they were faced with what he had to put up with throughout his life.
Mr. T never put a rocket into space. But I admire him too.
As a boy, Mr. T survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia, escaped and traveled a long way before ending up in a refugee camp.
The Cambodian Killing Fields were where more than a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge, a communist regime, from 1970 to 1975.
Mr. T finally found his way to America. He worked very hard at restaurants in Los Angeles where he met his wife Nancy who is Chinese American.
Through the years, the couple scraped enough money to open the small restaurant that’s been open for more than two decades.
Kung Fu’d in Ventura, California is located in a strip mall where business, big and small have set up shop and failed.
My friend, who many customers know as “Mr. T.”, works 10-to 12 hour days, seven days a week. The restaurant has dozens of items on the menu at low costs. The Asian food at the three-table restaurant is delicious.
His customers include cops, lawyers, teachers, clerks, salesmen, blue-collar workers and prosecutors.
Mr. T runs a tight financial ship. He said it takes 1,000 rice bowls just to pay the rent. Loves to brag that he only uses the best rice for his dishes. His only employee is his wife Nancy who works side-by-side with him every day.
Aside from the food, I enjoy my conversations with Mr. T. when I go there. His life experiences alone are worth listening but we share a lot of laughs. I know this about him: He eats a bowl of rice and some fish almost every day. That’s it. He also consumes aloe vera plants, which he grows at his home and sells at his restaurant.
He suggested that I eat aloe vera. He is convinced that it cures or prevents certain diseases, and it is good for weight loss and will result in healthy skin.
No way, I said after he showed me a glass of the liquid aloe vera that he drinks every day.
When I go there, which is rarely now because I live 30 miles away, I usually stop by after 1:30 p.m. when the lunch-hour crowd is gone or thinned out.
Sometimes after I order, he takes a break, and we have a long chat.
Mr. T rarely goes on vacations but loves to go out into a jetty very early in the morning and catch fish. He’s got a favorite spot. Sometimes, he’ll bring out the fish he’s caught, usually in a large white plastic container and show them to me.
He wanted to take me fishing and promised that I would be able to land some big fish. I said I would go but overslept because I was very tired and didn’t make it.
I know a lot about his family. He’s told me about the bumps and bruises life has given him along with the business disappointments and setbacks.
I m basically his listening post. I love listening to people, especially those you admire, because I learn a lot from them. I find most people fascinating and occasionally, I bump into a writer like myself.
What is amazing about Mr. T is that all the hardships and horror that he has witnessed hasn’t taken away a gentle smile or even made a dent in it. He is one of the few people I know who had smiles chiseled on their faces when they were born. His good mood seems is infectious.
If Mr. T could bottle and sell the smile and good mood, he’d be a millionaire overnight, and the line into his restaurant would wrap itself around the block.
Mr. T isn’t going to get rich selling delicious food at low prices. But he is my favorite businessman who I admire and know. Someone whose journey started thousands of miles away and has carved out his American dream, one savory meal at a time.
That’s afforded him and Nancy enough money to buy a house and send his two children to college.
I am glad Mr. T. came across the path of my life.
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