In the previous article, I shared my thoughts about how immigrating gives, as a default, the potential empowerment to anybody that has, secretly or not, the desire to start a new business.
I mentioned how some people immigrate with the hidden desire to become self-employed, even if they were not exposed to the idea of entrepreneurship before, or even worse, even if they were scared away from it while growing up in their native country.
Most newcomers from this group will fall into the trap of becoming an employee for the rest of their lives, even if deep in their hearts they suffer because of their unexpressed creativity and the desire to stretch their horizons. I can’t express how much I feel for them. Fortunately, a few of them will be able to break out of this, and even if they have no idea how, and are not sure if they are able to, they at least want to try. The fact that they are starting fresh in a new country enhances their ability to dream of other new beginnings.
The limiting beliefs are in part transferred to them by DNA (their genetic heritage), and in part by their native culture (their original environment).
We may be aware of all the statistics, we may have the knowledge required to open that dream restaurant, we might be a fantastic and renowned chef, we may have studied business management, we might have money to invest, etc. But if deep inside us, at the core of our being, we don’t believe we can do it, nothing will happen, and if something does happen it will most likely be a disaster…
Once we have established that we have the intention of starting a business as immigrants, no matter if we have been exposed to entrepreneurship in our native country or not, we need to understand one important thing: our imported belief system is always there to either help us or destroy us! There are definitely two sides to this “coin”!
Let me tell you the story of Vlad, a fourth-generation barber from a family of skilled and successful barbers in Croatia, aware of all the finest techniques and the small details transferred down from his great-grandfather. Vlad fell in love with a Canadian tourist and immigrated to a Toronto suburb.
When Vlad arrived, he had everything he needed to start his own business right away! He had a multigenerational wealth of knowledge in the industry, he had money, he had the logistic support of his Canadian wife’s family, his English was decent and he was used to a lifestyle that required a high income, so motivation was not a problem either.
Vlad apparently had every resource needed to succeed, and now he is making it happen, he is on his way to growth, but he did not jump into the pool head first right away, even if his circumstances may have tempted him to do so.
Intuitively, he did a very smart thing: he decided to work for somebody else for a few years, certainly not to learn a barber’s skills or to learn business skills either. He did learn something about these areas, but that was not what he was looking for; his intention was to learn about the new culture he was in, what people like, how to talk to them, etc.
All this is very important stuff: he was taking the right approach, being humble and smart, and I applaud him for it.
He was, however, ignoring one important thing – while preparing for his success, he was not aware of or paying attention to the most important piece of the puzzle: the programmed conditioning he had received back in Croatia, quietly but effectively running his mind and his actions 24/7 and 365 days a year.
I have been his customer ever since he was an employee in somebody else´s barber shop, and I spent some time asking him a lot of questions about his intentions and his immigration experience. I could see quite clearly how, on the one hand, his programming had been the basis for the success he had achieved so far, and yet at the same time it was also responsible for his slow growth.
Vlad has been doing everything brilliantly: he is rapidly building a portfolio of his clients (he´s often booked up and you need to wait a long time to get a haircut), he has been using his European work ethic, attention to details in cutting hair and tremendous pride in making sure that he gives the right suggestions to his customers. Vlad does not care how many people are waiting, when he is cutting your hair, he won’t even think about them: during those 15-20 minutes that you are sitting in his chair, you are the only person in his shop.
It is very obvious that all of this is a complete behavioral package built on a belief system that came across the Canadian border with him, and this is all good, behavior that is helping him!
What is not so good is what the same imported belief system is doing to limit him, now that he is ready and willing to take his business to the next level.
He has been struggling to find help! Every time I go there, after I casually provoke him into talking about it, he expresses his frustration about how terrible Canadians are as employees, how hard it is to find good help, and he keeps saying that they want to get paid well without knowing how to do the job, that they should be grateful that they get a chance, and more, much more…
His conclusions may be true, but the real problem has nothing to do with his potential employees and everything to do with what his imported belief system says about being an employer, the very beliefs that make Vlad behave in a certain way when he is hiring someone.
I am very familiar with this subject because I caught myself behaving the same way as Vlad when looking for help. I am glad I caught myself before giving up.
I have never been present when he interviews someone, but I have seen my own behavior reflected in him when we discuss this subject. Like many people who come from that part of the world, Vlad believes to the core that when he is interviewing someone to fill his chair at the barbershop, he is giving that person an opportunity to work. In his mind, this individual should almost jump up and down, showing immense gratitude. Basically, he believes that this individual owes him something just because he is offering him a job! This is a small facet of a typical old-school European attitude with regard to being a boss… I am sure that if I cornered Vlad and accused him of this behavior, he would emphatically deny it, just like so many others in his position. What’s important to understand is that he is denying it because he can’t see it!
I remember 3 years ago, my assistant Donna literally made me feel like a worm after I interviewed a young man to fill a position as an installer, a position that I was having a hard time filling!
I thought he was going to start working with us right away, due to the fact that he was making very little money at his present job and driving one hour to work; but, inexplicably (as far as I could see), he ran away, and fast!
When I started to complain to Donna about this young man´s behavior, she literally turned red and with a nervous smile on her face she asked me, “You really don’t understand why this guy ran away, even if he needed this job so much?”
When she took her time and explained how much I had scared this guy with my heavy jokes, my too-direct questions, my serious speech about responsibility and the very high volume in my voice, I was just devastated!
In the European work market, where finding a job has always been hard, where the number of people seeking work has always been much greater than the demand for employees, everyone expects the behavior that Vlad and I had shown. But in the Canadian market, where the situation is reversed, it´s no wonder that such an attitude could be an obstacle for business and personal growth.
I was aware of what the imported belief system can do to you, and how important it is to always keep it in check, but it still got me… I had been operating in some kind of unconscious mode, and the classic “Italian employer” in me was hiring a Canadian employee – of course it wasn’t going to work!
I wanted to share Vlad’s story and mine to demonstrate how sneaky these imported beliefs are: they take control over our behavior, thankfully permitting the habits that can help our business, but when the negative and limiting habits appear, we need to take control and replace them with new ones. We need to stay awake!