His eyes are closed. A smile forms in the corner of his mouth as he lies there motionless in the summer sun; the warm air cascading gently across his face and rustling his hair in tender strokes. He is in his favourite place on earth, home.
It is the middle of summer and he is in his garden with his back against the oak tree that he has adored since he was a boy. He knows every bump and curve on the tree as he has climbed it almost daily over the past 18 years, often in a game where the tree gave him a lofty advantage over the hapless Indians below or a safe place to hide when Nanny was displeased with him for some misdemeanour or another.
Just recently he has taken to just lying at the base of the tree, with his back to the trunk, that cradles him like a nursing mother comforts a child against her bosom. He loves this tree, he always has. He cannot imagine a more perfect afternoon than this, lying in the garden, on his own in quiet serenity, the only sound being that of his sister’s children playing somewhere out the back. And when he gets hungry, after a few hours that would feel like an eternity, he would amble back to the house and enjoy a long and carefree lunch that would send him even deeper into a state of idle relaxation. Not a care in the world; he feels so at peace with the world and with himself. He breathes in deeply and fills his lungs with warm sweet smelling air. His mother’s orchard is heavily laden with fruit and is ripe for
He breathes in deeply and fills his lungs with warm sweet smelling air. His mother’s orchard is heavily laden with fruit and is ripe for picking. The fruit is casting abroad its aroma inviting everyone to come and take hold of the soft luscious harvest that waits. He can also make out the perfume of the lavender bushes that adorn the border. If he opened his eyes he would see the tall stalks of purple soldiers waving in the breeze like a tranquil sea, gently moving backwards and forward in uniformed harmony.
The children’s voices in the distance are becoming a little too animated for his liking and their childish screaming is enough to disturb his peace. Some voices are louder than others and he chuckles to himself as he pictures his younger brother George getting far too agitated as he bosses whatever game he is part of. Sometimes father would have to intervene and ask George to calm down as he became increasingly frustrated that the house servants were not playing the game in the way that he wanted. He stretches his legs and turns to get comfortable; he could lie here forever and is determined that nothing will make him get up. Not that he could anyway, tiredness has taken hold of his body and he is a dead-weight; nothing more than another piece of the landscape into which he is melting.
He wishes that George would pipe down now. His loud screeching is beginning to disrupt his slumber. If he has to get up and march over to the house he will be very angry and won’t be afraid to show it. Although he loves George to bits, he can be a most infuriating chap. Once, he ran off to tell a large group of travellers to get off of his father’s land or else he would beat them all severely – he was only eight years old and he was lucky to be found by our groundsman before they taught him some well-deserved manners. Also, the carefree way he skipped to the recruiting office when the Germans started to cause a nuisance in Belgium, even against the advice of our father… George was always ready to step in and say his piece without thinking through the consequences.
After a few more minutes, and another twist and turn to get comfortable against the tree, he realises that his peaceful slumber has indeed been interrupted. He tried to push it to the back of his mind, but the noise has now become intolerable and he is irked by the mindless shouting. Also, the refreshing cool breeze has disappeared and he is starting to suffocate in this oppressive heat. The air is no longer clean and fresh, and he coughs as he struggles to gulp down any air. This just won’t do…he needs to get up and head to the house. “Curse you George” he mutters under his breath, “will you stop that shouting! Enough is enough. “
Instantly the bright sunlight has turned into a thick choking smoke that obscures the natural light, and instead of soft grass, he is sitting waist-deep in mud and grease. He thrashes around completely disorientated, looking for the safety of his house but it is not there…where is he? Nothing looks familiar, he is not in his garden at all, he has no recollection of this place. Then he notices that the shouting is not coming from his brother George in the distance, it is himself. In fact, as he sits upright against the tree, he realises that he is screaming uncontrollably. Why? Why is he screaming? What is wrong?
Another explosion sends a cloud of earth and stone against his face and he flinches from it, trying to curl into the loving arms of the stump behind him for protection. The tree is rejecting him. There is no safety here; there is no reassurance, no love. He is frightened and alone as he shakes in terror at what is happening. His ears ring to the point that he cannot focus on anything around him, he shakes his head but his senses are totally disoriented and all he can hear is his own muffled screaming and the loud thud of explosions.
He looks around with glazed eyes unable to focus on anything until he looks down at his body. He realises that he is soaked to the skin and his strange torn and bloodied clothes are stuck to him. The material looks like wet paper that could easily be rubbed away if you touched it. He adjusts his gaze and continues to look down to his legs and realises that they are not there, instead, he sees two mangled stumps where his legs used to be. He screams again, this time, it is more fierce and chilling and he vomits onto the ground as the sight of his torn body registers in his brain. Where is he? What is going on? Where is his family?
Through the fear comes a strong resolution to take control, he needs answers. There…over there, look it’s George. He would recognise George’s blonde curly hair anywhere. It’s as golden as the sun and always looks so beautiful, even against the foul mud that clings to him. He finds he can form words in his throat and manages to shout to his brother…”George? George? What the hell is going on? George!” His brother is not answering. He is kneeling only a few feet away from him, with his back turned. “Blast him”, he thought, “what is he doing now?” He grasps the earth beneath him and shuffles nearer to his brother…”George, damn you”…he shuffles nearer and nearer, the thick choking air almost making him faint as he moves across the ground. He grabs his shoulder…”George, what the hell is …” The body of his younger brother falls backwards and sprawls on the earth. The screaming starts again. George’s face is not there. Half of his head is missing and his body is lifeless and limp… “George!!!!” he screams, but no one can hear him. Another explosion, another cloud of earth sprays against him and fills his eyes and mouth with rancid mud that smells of burning. He is immediately sick and slumps onto his side.
What is going on? Why is he not home? He sees a man running towards him! “help” he whimpers…”help me”. He reaches out his arms to be picked up like a young baby desperately in need of love and comforting. He doesn’t know if it is sweat or tears in his eyes, but he knows that he needs to get out of here. The man stops in front of him, kneels down, and unfastens something from his belt. ”A drink! Oh yes please,” he mumbles to himself, barely above a whisper. He reaches out to the man in front of him grasping at the buttons on his coat, tenderly entreating him to save him from the unnatural and godless scene that he finds himself part of. But no drink is offered, no warm voice meets his ears, no reassuring hand comforts his own cold and bloodied.
And then he sees it. Not the soft rounded edges of a flask, but the cold gleam of a blade. Slowly he looks up with fear raging through his body, and for the first time, he is able to make out the face of his ‘rescuer’. The man towering over him is young and rugged but stares back expressionlessly with cold empty eyes that betray no human emotion. Their faces are inches apart. The stranger has not stopped to offer salvation, he is not reaching out to help him, but with brutal gentleness, he slips the blade deep into his chest and twists it as it pierces his heart. His body spasms and immediately his eyes begin to mist over.
All around him becomes calm and the only sound he can hear is the soft speech of his companion who is now whispering something in an unfamiliar tongue. Although slipping towards unconsciousness, he feels that he recognises the pattern of words being uttered; confused and afraid, to his disbelief it sounds like the Lord’s Prayer although it has never sounded as empty as it does now. The stranger’s voice quietens to an echo and all else turns silent. With the knife still protruding from his tunic, he falls back and his eyes finally blacken and he comes to rest with his head touching the golden locks of his brother.
Together they gaze heavenwards with unseeing eyes as the mud continues to swallow their bodies and entomb them in a land that is far from home. Two brothers lost forever in Northern France.
One quote that I have really lived by throughout my entrepreneurship journey is “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”.
To start off, I never imagined myself joining the “entrepreneurship world” my junior year of college. However, it happened because I was prepared when the opportunity presented itself. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a bit of luck, but if you are not mentally prepared to receive your luck when the moment presents itself, you will miss it!
I came up with my business idea while studying abroad in France. One weekend I took a trip to Barcelona, and while there, I met another American who happens to be a successful entrepreneur himself. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to start conversing with him and told him about a business idea I had.
After telling him my idea, he then asked me “ So, why are you not working to bring this idea to life”. Being a 20-year college student, I had a lot of reasons why I wasn’t starting a business, with the most being that I had NO IDEA how to start a business or had the money to do so. He gave me his email to contact him and that was the last time I saw him.
Rule #2 on being an entrepreneur, Take all of your shots! Which means, take all opportunity that’s comes your way, no matter how small! All I had was his email, but six months later, I now have a business on the way to raise funds and expand. After getting his email, I was proactive and email him asking for advice on how to bring this idea to life. He then emailed me back with a four-step procedure on how to go about building my app. Now that I had the steps of building an app, the next important thing was investing the capital (AKA money) to actually start in the process.
Rule #3, if YOU don’t take the risk and believe in your idea enough to invest personal capital into it, no one else will. With this mindset, I took all of my saving that I was planning to use to backpack Europe and invested it into the development of my new app. However, before that I had to do some research of my own. Do people actually NEED you service or idea? Rule #4 ask them! After a few months of research, I began the process of hiring a developer to code my app. It was hard draining all of my saving on this new “ Idea” I had that could fail. However, I believed in it enough to take the short term lost for a long-term benefit in the future.
Three months later, I had an app. Now what? The second semester of my junior year was the most challenging semester yet. Imagine getting up every day at 6 am and not getting back home till midnight and redoing that every weekday for the whole semester.
But, I was okay with that because I knew my future looked brighter. I would party once I reached my first million. While working all day on developing and marketing my idea, I would also spend nights after school applying to as much pitch competitions as I could. So many people want to be entrepreneurs because of the money, being your own boss, or the lavish lifestyle, BUT so little of them are willing to actually put in the work. During my semester, I participated in 3 pitch competitions and got second place in all 3.
Rule # 5 – second place is the #1 loser! However, that did not break my spirit because I knew that I was willing to hard to one day come in first place. Rule #6 – take feedback and keep moving. It is hard to deal with a losing or not getting investments after putting endless hours into your idea which sometimes means staying up until 6 am working on your pitch deck, but the most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. Yes, I am now out of thousands of dollars invested into my idea, but opportunities will present itself if you keep believing in yourself and your product. A few days after my competition, I received a message from a friend who saw my Facebook post about my new app on and was interested in helping me market the app to schools in California. On top of that, she also knows some angel investors are interested in investing in my app. A week after that, I received another email informing me that I was accepted into a another major pitch competition in Florida to present my idea in front of CEO’s of major companies. To think that I just lost 3 competitions in a row to now being offered all of these amazing opportunity was surprising.
Thus concluding my story by saying that on the road to becoming an successful entrepreneur, you must ready for your lucky moment by preparing yourself. Another quote that I now live my life by is that “ If you are 100% committed, you will not fail” Be 100% committed to your idea even if you don’t not win the 1st, or 3rd, or even 20th pitch competition or pitch to investors, if you believe in yourself 100% you will succeed.
It was a really good book that explains how to grow a successful business while also helping your community and world. It taught me how I should not only consider profit and growth, but how my product and services can help others and the world.
Written by the two Australian cofounders Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish, Yes to Carrots has become one of the largest beauty brands in the world and is one of the fast growing skincare brands. Through their entrepreneurial journey, they’ve made many great decisions and some really bad. In Get Big Fast and Do More Good, they share their secret to success: a strong, resilient, trusting partnership with a great sense of humor.
I never really considered myself an official Third Culture Kid. I didn’t shuffle every two or three years from country to country, house to house, school to school. I made my first move ever in January of 2007, from the humid winter of Houston, Texas, to the brisk wind and gray skies of Paris, France.
I was ten years old at the time, and to be honest, I had no idea what to think or what to expect. I had all these conflicting feelings; Paris is Paris, so there’s that, but I was leaving behind a childhood of having my best friend living next door to me, my dog running around my large backyard, climbing trees and sleeping in my treehouse (despite the millions of mosquitos).
Knowing everyone in my small neighborhood and going to school K – 12 with all the same kids, and my large room that I naïvely thought was a good idea to paint hot pink. I vividly remember the last couple of weeks leading up to the day we left; everything we owned had already been shipped out, and our house felt like a desolate ruin. We were using a plastic dining table and patio furniture in our living room and sleeping in sleeping bags which were the only things that occupied our empty bedrooms.
But in no way was I prepared for the first few weeks of being somewhere completely new and foreign to me and unable to communicate for help. My parents had lived in Houston for eleven years prior to my birth, so they knew everyone and everything; I don’t think I saw them once pull out a map or use a GPS for directions.
I had always been a shy child, but I think I said maybe four words in my first two weeks of school. I had never been new, and I was awful at saying goodbyes, and I think that this was one of the largest things that distinguished me from being a true Third Culture Kid. Not only was I not a tapestry of all the different cultures I had lived with, because Texas was all I had previously ever known, but I didn’t seamlessly blend into a new environment like so many of these cultural chameleons did.
Every single one of them that I met executed the ‘new person’ routine flawlessly, and their goodbyes said, “I’ve loved my time here with you and it’s been great, but I’m off to a new adventure now!” excited to discover a new world and brushing right past the bitterness of leaving (which I, conversely, wallowed in).
Among croque monsieurs and baguettes and pâté and cafés au lait and lazy days on the Seine with a bottle of wine and falafels and the traditional Champs de Mars parties of my high school. My pre-teen and early teenage years were running back and forth from each other’s apartments to the Eiffel Tower to get crêpes, because it was the only ‘cool’ place within walking distance and our parents wouldn’t let us take the metro by ourselves.
They were catching the school bus (not a dingy yellow bus, but a charter tour bus) on a dreary winter morning outside of the award winning bakery that happened to be right downstairs, and if you got there early enough, beating the line to grab a still warm pastry for breakfast.
They were gathering in the residential neighborhood that somehow all my classmates lived in, getting Starbucks because we felt so grown up for drinking coffee, even though let’s be honest, it was mostly sugar. And we grew up fast.
Movie weekend nights turned into bar hopping and clubbing. We strived to be adults and the culture expected it of us. My high school years were filled with five hour lunches and three hour coffees, with happy hours at 5 and dinners at 10.
House parties that had an exuberant amount of alcohol and VIP sections at clubs, with late nights and early mornings, with midnight stops and sunrise moments at Trocadéro, with library naps and history classes from our famed teacher who knew how to give the most captivating lectures I’ve ever had, with all-nighters and endless English discussions among some truly brilliant classmates.
I realize that I was so fortunate to have had these experiences. In light of the recent Paris attacks, I’ve become more appreciative of my city and the culture than ever. I grew up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the transformation I’ve had as a person is truly remarkable. Despite the fact that I hold American citizenship, I felt like a foreigner when I came back to the United States for university after eight years abroad.
Everything moves so fast here. Everyone is always busy and moving and I just want to sit around and have a cup of coffee for four hours with my best friend while we talk about school, bars, food, movies, love, life. I have learned how to do my introductions well and to say my goodbyes with as little heartbreak as possible. I’ve learned to relax and take life in stride.
I’m no longer the shy child I once was, and I’m not so afraid to make my voice heard (still a little scared though, but that’s alright, old habits die hard). I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be okay, and that it’s also okay to put myself first.
Moreover, I’ve learned to be humble but proud, a quality that I think is often lost in our adolescence, a time that we think we are invincible. Not invincible in the physical sense, but rather in a way that says, “I can take anything life dares to throw at me,” and we often forget how vulnerable we can be. I’ve learned to embrace my vulnerability, to go through life without always thinking about protecting myself, because although putting yourself out there can be terrifying, it often yields benefits.
My adolescent years were spent in the city of Paris, France, a city that seemed far too grown up for a ten year old Asian-American girl who didn’t speak a word of French. My life was sipping vin chaud at the annual Christmas market on the Champs Elysées, it was ordering foie gras at the butcher to pair with a hot baguette, it was the bustling noises of the restaurant delivery trucks in the morning and the mopeds buzzing by at night (and wow, I did not realize how much of my life revolved around gastronomy).
It was travelling to Amsterdam, London, Brussels, just for the day for a swim meet, it was the long walks in the Bois de Boulogne with my dog and three day weekend trips with my family. It was an experience that I’ve now deemed ultimately priceless, as every day felt like a new discovery, not only of the city and of Europe but of myself and my identity.
Now, back in the States at Emory University, whenever people ask me where I’m from, I usually say Paris, because although I don’t hold French citizenship, I feel more culturally French than American. I think that those pre-teen and teenage years are so important in finding oneself.
It’s when you discover what you’re like, what kind of people you like, how you cope with everything that happens, be it school, relationships, stress, whatever.
Paris shaped me into a young woman ready to tackle the world as a semi-adult (because honestly, I still get anxiety from scheduling my own doctor’s appointments), encouraging me to embrace everything I can but to not forget my past and to remain true to what I believe in. And for that, I am eternally grateful