The entire history of my family being in the United States is built on the pursuit of the American Dream. My great-grandfather, Luigi, came to America in the early 20th century as an Italian immigrant. Through hard work and street smarts, he fought his way to success. His legacy has instilled the idea of the American Dream in many members of my family, myself included. Here’s a peek into what the American Dream means to me.
Tireless Work Ethic. I believe that success is built on hard work. The men and women who came before me worked tirelessly for everything they had. I’ve learned the importance of a full day’s work from both my family’s history and my own experience as an entrepreneur.
The first home I ever knew was a single-wide trailer, but my father wasn’t going to let it stay that way for long. Somehow balancing multiple jobs and a family, he forged ahead, building a life for us.
He eventually acted on his entrepreneurial instincts and founded the company that he owned til the recent day that it was sold. Even while running his own business, my dad also worked as a wedding photographer on the side to ensure that our family was cared for, but never let a chance to spend time with us go by either.
Family First. The importance of family has always been ingrained in me. I believe that without family, life would be empty. Many of my passions revolve around my family﹘ our history, my children, and my legacy.
My enthusiasm for preserving my family’s history came from my grandfather, Big D. He preserved all the eight-millimeter home movies, and we’d watch them every year around Christmas. He documented a lot of family history, including his visits to Italy to see his family.
It’s powerful for me to be able to see glimpses of the people who built the legacy that I continue today. Without family, the self-made success of the American Dream can hardly be shared in a meaningful way.
Entrepreneurship. One of the best things about living in America is having the ability to start a business. I’m a serial entrepreneur with my hands in lots of different businesses, and I believe the ability to do this is an essential part of the American Dream. We are not required to work for someone else.
Americans have been empowered to build something of their own. This is what gives us our competitive market and an endless variety of products and services to choose from. But it also gives each of us the freedom to build a legacy that can be passed down and improved upon for generations.
Gratitude. While grinding through busy days, it can be easy to get caught up in stress and to-do lists. I believe part of living the American Dream is showing gratitude for all you have and all you’ve been able to accomplish.
The value of gratitude was taught to me through a story about my grandfather. Once, he was working for a TV station in Pittsburgh when the company had to lay off many of their employees. While most of the employees left the property with their heads hung, my granddad went back inside to tell his boss just how grateful he was to have had the opportunity to work there.
This simple act of gratitude led to another employment opportunity with a pay increase and a reliable paycheck that provided for his family until he was ready to retire. That’s powerful stuff. This story reminds me to show gratitude for those around me on a daily basis, as well as give thanks for all the blessings life brings.