02 Jul July 2, 2019 – Immigrant’s Story Ali Master, Subject Lines Angela Fulcher and Market Update Gene Goldman
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Ali Master – Managing Partner at Ernst & Young, Author of Beyond the Golden Door: Seeing the American Dream through an Immigrant’s Eyes – Read interview highlights here
My first taste of success was making manager at McDonald’s.
I realized I loved customer service.
Ali Master’s first job was working at McDonald’s. From those humble beginnings, he went on to found multiple successful businesses before becoming a partner at Ernst & Young. Born in Pakistan, Ali immigrated to America to attend college, where he was quickly overcome by American college culture. Despite harrowing lows, Ali was ultimately redeemed by the love of a woman and the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Over the course of many years, he has developed a deep love of America, and the freedoms to fail, love, believe, build, and self-govern that this country offers. Ali has published a book, Beyond the Golden Door: Seeing the American Dream through an Immigrant’s Eyes, detailing his life story and demonstrating the wisdom and joy he has found in his journey through life.
Angela Fulcher – CEO, Founder of Growth Strategy Agency; Principal Consultant, Founder of Strategis Brand
We send emails, look at the results, change the subject line and
send it again to anyone that did not open the first email.
Angela Fulcher is the founder and CEO of the Growth Strategy Agency, a company that utilizes best practice marketing and highly effective sales solutions to help clients generate and pursue new leads for maximum ROI. Their innovative full stack approach allows clients to create targeted results with targeted messaging, metrics, and selling strategies. Angela’s clients include global corporations, companies in the M&A space, and entrepreneurs in the technology, biometrics, real estate, healthcare, and fintech sectors. In addition to her marketing savvy, Angela has excellent presentation skills, as evidenced by her background as a PBS television host, and as a spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company. Her current and recent clients include: Blink Identity, Computershare (M&A positioning work); Creative Alignments (professional services, rev growth); Avoka (fintech, positioning & messaging), HID Global (tech/security), JumpStart Charging (mobile app development, launch, user growth). Other experience includes SaaS, blockchain, real estate, hospitality, and biometrics.
Gene Goldman – Chief Investment Officer and Director of Research, Cetera® Investment Management
America definitely has the upper hand in the trade war. The key
is that China is transitioning from a manufacturing focused
economy to a consumer economy.
We are excited to welcome Gene Goldman back to the show. He is responsible for the strategic direction and continued growth of Cetera Investment Management’s research offerings. He sets the vision for superior capabilities and enabling the delivery of objective investment advice. He provides day-to-day oversight of Cetera Investment Management, with a focus on providing unbiased research about the economy and financial markets, asset allocation strategies, mutual funds and other investment related topics. Mr. Goldman also helps oversee the investment committee and their commitment to delivering thought leadership on the economy, financial markets and investment strategies, as well as implementation and practice recommendations for advisors. Mr Goldman has more than 24 years of experience in the development of investment strategies, money manager research and overseeing investment analysts.
Highlights from Ali’s Interview
I started, like many international students, to go get an education. I came here in 1986. I’ve been here almost 33+ years, came to get an education and study computer science and engineering at UT Arlington in Texas.
It was an educational visa to four year degree, sort of a systems analyst program.
What’s interesting is, growing up where I grew up in Pakistan, it was pretty narrow. You were told you can either be a doctor or an engineer, so I was pigeonholed pretty early into engineering. And it’s only once I got here that I realized, “Wow, there are so many ways to make a living in America.” So that’s how it all started.
I started off around that summer of ‘86. Growing up, I grew up the only child. I didn’t really have much training as far as how to survive in the United States. Before coming to the States, I had a maid, a chauffeur, a cook, a gardener, literally a silver spoon in my mouth. And so things got bumpy pretty fast for me once I got here, because now everything had a deadline, everything. You had to manage it all, from finances to school; school was just one aspect. You had to manage the whole life, and so I struggled in the beginning in adjusting to the American College system.
In Pakistan, my dad worked for an affiliate of General Electric. Many of the multinationals, as you know, have these affiliates around the world. And my father worked for an affiliate, though the company pays for a lot of these things. I didn’t really know that the company was paying for the car, the Country Club, the rent in Pakistan. And that’s not that unusual. On top of that, my parents were very private, so they didn’t really tell me. I thought we were rich, but we really weren’t. We were middle class. And so once you come here, my dad basically had traded his entire life pension for one year’s worth of tuition in University of Texas at Arlington. So after that one year, we were out of money. I had to survive on my own after that. He basically rolled the dice hoping that I’m the only son, only child, and I’m going to make a life. So he traded that in, hoping that someday I’ll be able to take care of them.
I wish I could say that I had this sense of responsibility. I think basically, all around me, all these college students were partying, and my first semester, ironically, there was no room in the men’s dorm. So me and 10 guys were shoved into the girl’s dorm at UT Arlington. So it’s this horror story, it just keeps getting worse and worse.
It just went downhill from there. It was like the movies you watch in Pakistan, you’re like, this is what an American decadent lifestyle is. And so I wasn’t so focused on my parents, I think what happened was, it actually put a lot of pressure on a lot of foreign students that you see all around you in these campuses; there is a ton of pressure to perform. For me, unfortunately, that led to some bad company, and mistakes, and not realizing how to manage your finances. Ultimately, I landed in a hospital bed with a slashed wrist, believe it or not. It was a very tough time.
What happened was, this is where the story turns in the right direction. As I talk about in Beyond the Golden Door, I talked about these freedoms that I experienced during my immigrant journey. And the very first freedom that applies both to life and to entrepreneurship, was the freedom of failure.
I got a job at McDonald’s, I had been working there, and I just started to notice, working as that ground floor crew person, opportunities that were there. Their store manager had started out as a crew person, even the CEO, Fred Turner, started out flipping hamburgers. My regional manager was managing eight stores. There were people there starting their own businesses saying, “I’ve learned enough now, I’m going to start a franchise.”
I started to notice these patterns of success around me, and it started off in McDonald’s. I also started to meet some people that were of a higher level of integrity. And at McDonald’s, I met my wife, my current wife; her name is Judy. And so it was a sort of a turn around, meeting good people, and starting to realize that you could be at the very bottom, but you can continue to move up. And that was very motivating to me, the opportunity to fail and start over.
The first taste of success was making manager at McDonald’s. That was great to go from a crew person to a trainer to making manager. But then I got married to Judy. And she was like, “Hey, you need to get some more reasonable hours, no more closing or opening stores.” Then I started to realize that I love customer service. And where can I apply customer service to something else? I was still taking accounting courses and graduating, I still was a sophomore, a few years to go. So I found another job.
This case, it was a consulting firm that applied technology to tax and especially a very niche area of tax called tax credits. I got a job there, and applied the same customer service skills I learned in McDonald’s. I just was amazed at how this company was doing so well, applying technology to this small, little part of the Internal Revenue Code. I became very successful there, and that eventually led to me starting my very first company.
It was called Reach. It turns out, I learned a lot of hard lessons. That was my first business, and it dawned pretty quickly how difficult it is to form that very first business, make that very first dollar. I was 20, didn’t have enough cash or enough credibility, but the dream was very much alive. I was taking these accounting courses at University of Texas. And so I was like, this is a lot more fun than doing traditional accounting work. But the first business didn’t go very well. I ran out of cash, and ran out of time. So what I did was, I stumbled onto this principle, what I call entrepreneurship, how you start a business inside a business. And I approached a local CPA in Dallas, his name is Ron. And he gave me my first shot at starting a business inside his accounting firm. And that was my next big break that opened doors for me.
I felt like the dream was still alive. I found the door closed, but I found another window. And so instead of doing traditional accounting work, I started to build this practice for Ron, and it started to catch on. We started winning clients doing the same thing, applying technology to niche tax areas. Ultimately that law expired, but we had some clients that were from Ernst and Young, so that then led to getting referred to Ernst and Young or EY. Same story there. I started off as a second year staff on the ground level. And I think one of the best things that happened to me was I found some sponsors; I think that’s very important. And if we get into diversity and inclusion, we should talk about how important a sponsor can be. That led to doing a new business at EY. Since then, I’ve built about eight or nine businesses inside Ernst and Young over the last 24 years.
Sometimes sponsorship and mentorship can overlap, but people should definitely not confuse those two roles. A mentor, to me, is someone who coaches you along, says, “Hey, you can do this better, or that behavior better.” They can guide you along using their experiences. Whereas a sponsor is someone that takes risks on your behalf, and puts their personal credibility on the line at times, and identifies opportunities, and puts your name in the hat. So they’re a whole different level that you really need in order to continue to advance your career. And that’s what I found in Ron. Then eventually, I found my first mentor right here in Dallas, a partner named Deborah. But then I found other sponsors, a big difference between the two.
First of all, I realized that in order to find great sponsors, you need to be an outstanding protege. And if you were to look at a ratio of who drives the relationship, the protege has to do the heavy lifting, they have to make the sponsor look great. Because the sponsor’s taking risks for you, I would say 70% of the relationship should be protege-driven.
What I did was, it’s not like you can knock on people’s doors and say, “Hey, I want you to be a sponsor for me.” It probably starts with finding those mentors. And then eventually, some of those mentors are rising in ranks. And if you continue to deliver well for them, you find that at some point, they can morph into a sponsor. So you’ve got to be on the lookout for individuals whose group you can support, whose business you can support, and make them look good. That’s the place to start. And then I think it naturally happens from there.
There’s a lot of work behind that, and you’ve got to deliver, you’ve got to over-deliver on what you’re promising. But if you do that, then people are looking for proteges, honestly. Because at least in firms like EY and other consulting firms, successful leaders these days are being measured by what we call, do they have deep pockets, meaning how many people have they helped succeed? How many partners have you built? How many senior managers and executive directors have you helped succeed? If you’re a good performer, people are looking for individuals like that.
The book is called Seeing the American Dream through an Immigrant’s Eyes. And first of all, I just want to say this book is written for people like yourself, and anybody who has been born and raised here first, second, third generation, because people forget how amazing this nation is. It’s easy to do so, because you’ve never lived without those freedoms. But I want to just lay out what the American Dream is to me.
The American Dream isn’t about what you can ultimately achieve in terms of financial success. It’s about your visions and aspirations being within your grasp if you’re willing to strive for them. Just the opportunity to reach those dreams, right? That’s what it’s all about. Because there’s no guarantee in the Bill of Rights that you’re going to become this amazing success, but it’s out there for you.
Anyone can connect with me at www.AliMaster.com. They can connect with me on Facebook at AuthorAliMaster.