I am crying as I write this…
We all have memories of someone that had a big influence on us growing up.
For me, it was my beloved grandmother. I was very close to her.
I spent a lot of time with my grandma growing up, and I loved her very much. I still remember all the weekends I spent with her grocery shopping, buying comic books, and of course, how she took me to my first Yankees game in 1985. (Phil Niekro beat the Cleveland Indians 4 – 0, and my hero Don Mattingly had a 2 RBI double)
More importantly, my grandma taught me valuable lessons that laid the foundation for many of the success habits that I adopted later in life.
You can trace the roots of my popular “Haters Speech,” which I made while accepting an award at our company’s International Convention this past August, to my grandma.
My grandma told me to never let anyone put you down, but instead of fighting the negative people (the haters), you simply do the extra work that others won’t do in order to prove them wrong. In Chinese, she would call it, 爭氣 (pronounced “zheng qi”.) My grandma always reminded me of the tortoise and the hare, and that it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts.
Being Picked on by Other Kids
Chinese was my first language and when I was young, many kids would make fun of me because I could not speak English well. Kids would laugh at me, and it would make me sad and have low self esteem.
But my grandma would always encourage me, saying that as long as I worked harder than others, one day I would prove them wrong and get the last laugh. I would be the tortoise and win the race.
My grandma always supported and motivated me to do the extra reading and studying that other kids wouldn’t do.
And she was right.
Years later, the tortoise won.
I got accepted to the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City (3% acceptance rate), and then beat everyone else to the Ivy League when I got accepted into Columbia University.
The Piano Recital
Another memory I had was at my first “piano recital.” I was the stereotypical Asian kid that was forced to learn the piano, and it was a painful five years.
I absolutely hated it and wanted to play sports, but was forced to practice an hour of piano every day. I had awful memories of it and my neighbors Chris and Greg to this day can still recall all the “frustrated banging” that they would hear.
My piano teacher was Mr. Zhu Da Ming. He was a concert pianist, and would practice eight hours a day! Anyway, he had a bunch of students, and I was easily the least talented and worst one. (I guess because I was his student that hated the piano the most.)
One day when I was around 11 years old, Mr. Zhu held a piano recital for all his students. Each student had to memorize and play two pieces, and Mr. Zhu kept on encouraging me to practice hard. Deep down I knew the only reason Mr. Zhu kept on encouraging me was because he knew I was the least talented and didn’t want me to embarrass myself in front of the other kids.
At the time, the only thing in my mind was my grandma’s words to, 爭氣 and to “prove to others” that I could do it.
I wanted to be the tortoise, so I put in extra practice time to get ready for the recital.
A few weeks later at the piano recital, my hard work paid off. My piano teacher was very impressed because I had played the best. I still remember him pulling me aside and patting me on the back, being proud of how I played. I had surprised him.
The other kids were definitely better piano players, but on that one day that counted, I was the best.
Not because I was better or more talented, but because I had worked harder and was more prepared.
The tortoise won again because he put in the extra practice time that the other kids didn’t.
Motivation in Network Marketing
When I started my network marketing business, I also had challenges, had many doubters, and faced a lot of negativity. And once again, I remembered what my grandma taught me.
Later on when I read that “successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t do,” all I heard were my grandma’s words to 爭氣. to be the tortoise and to do the extra work that others won’t do.
I would record my prospecting calls and then painstaking analyze each of them to see how I could be better.
I would sacrifice watching TV so that I could read an hour a day.
I would stay up late prospecting in the USA, and then sacrifice sleep by waking up at 6am so I could talk with prospects in Asia before it got too late for them.
I was not an overnight success.
It took me longer than other top leaders to become a full-time network marketer (Gold Director in 2 1/2 years), but years later, I think my recent success would make my grandma proud.
She was right, and the tortoise won again.
I wish she was here today so that I could share my success with her because without her, I would not be where I am today.
My Grandma’s Legacy
Today’s post is a tribute to my late grandma, who I love very much.
This month makes 6 years since she passed away. Alzheimer’s Disease hit her hard while she was only in her 60s, and it was painful to see her mind slowly wilt away.
I still remember the day she died. I was driving up Interstate 5 from Los Angeles to San Francisco to be the best man at my good friend’s wedding when I got the call from my grandfather. I immediately made a U-Turn and went back home.
The wake was 2 days later, and I had never cried as much in my life.
My success is my grandma’s legacy, and I could never have done it without her.
And today I want to pass my grandma’s words of wisdom to you.
Don’t ever let the negative people and haters take you down.
Instead, do the extra work that others won’t do.
Be the tortoise.
I love you grandma, and I know you are smiling down in heaven.
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