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How New Americans Turn the American Dream into Reality

You have heard the stories--how foreigners come to America and soon they start living the American dream. It?s amazing to meet new arrivals, who know only a few English words and within a few years you see them living in suburbia, driving SUV, sending their children to elite schools and incredibly supporting their relatives in their native countries.

What many people have asked me is, what is it that people from other countries find in America that motivates them to turn their dreams into reality? What traditional values keep them focused? Are there life lessons they learn that provide them with secret keys of success?

Take the case of Mr. Cherno Jagne (CJ), president and marketing director of CNV Cleaning Services, a Boise based company that specializes in commercial janitorial, floor care, and window maintenance services. Founded about four years ago, CNV Cleaning services currently has six full time and 26 part time employees. Cherno?s story is what makes his success as a founder of the company he leads an inspirational piece on how to turn dreams into reality.

I first met him at a wedding early 1993 while he was a student at Idaho State University. From time to time, I would meet this fellow African, a native of Gambia and discuss issues on school life. Upon his graduation in 1996, CJ sought for opportunities in corporate America. An unfamiliar corporate culture, and jobs in places he that didn?t really want to raise his family in, were some of the challenges he thought disturbing.

However, it was the experience of being summarily downsized that forced him to charter his life in a new territory. ?Dr. Kituku,? he says to me, "arriving at work and being told to pack and go home was something I didn?t want to experience again in my life. I didn?t want to feel vulnerable. I didn?t want my life to be at the mercy of others."

So what can we learn from people like Mr. Jagne?

1.Be creative. It?s not the diploma or degree that you got that will warrant you employment, financial stability or professional growth. It is your ability to evaluate what you are doing and ask yourself if it?s worthy it. Is it providing you with what you consider adequate growth? If things change, can you still meet your obligations?

2.Be ready to do whatever needs done. Cherno has a college degree in economics. But he is not the stick-to-your elevated position kind of a boss. When an employee doesn?t show up, CJ becomes the employee knowing very well that what matters to the clients are clean offices?period.

3.If what you are doing is not working for you, then change. The idea of change is petrifying to millions of professionally stranded people. They hate what they are doing. They complain about workplace related-stress. Strange, but CJ says that being downsized is what he needed to get to where he could enjoy personal fulfillment and create employment opportunities for others.

4.Contribute. Many new arrivals come from communities where you do things without thinking of, "what is in it for me?" They see community programs and think of how they can help from their native countries? experiences. I had never heard of American football and never got interested in it until1998. Reading a newspaper, I learned the challenges of the Boise State football team and wrote two articles for the players before Dirk Koetter, the then head coach asked me to speak to the team about Overcoming Buffaloes in Our Lives. Here is what he wrote after I worked with his Arizona State football team years later, ??Even though you never played football, your understanding of how a team must function as one to be successful is amazingly accurate?Keep up the great work and we look forward to having you back with us again soon.?

5.Put people first. I have witnessed Mr. Jagne change his schedule to accommodate the needs of an employee who might have family matters that make it hard for the employee to do his job. He has re-arranged worksites so that an employee who has transportation problem can still go to work.

6.Don?t forget your roots. In African traditional cultures, you are an inextricable part of other people?s lives. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from making the life of somebody else better with your support whether monetary or otherwise. CJ sometimes leaves his job to help his mother with her small business enterprise.

Dr. Vincent Muli Kituku, CSP. Visit www.kituku.com for more articles by Dr. Kituku and information regarding his forthcoming seminars.

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