Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi, was found in the library I recently go to almost daily. I was looking for books on Public Relations and Marketing. I typed in the keyword, and this book turns out to be one of the top results on the list.
I gave it a try and find myself lost in the book, finding some similarities with Keith Ferrazzi, especially in family upbringing. It throws back a lot of old memories of who I was.
After finishing the book today, I really wish I would have found and read this book four years ago. If you are college student, you should rush to your library and dig this book out of the shelf. Bring it home and finish the book.
Many international students studying in the U.S. come from wealthy family. They live in the luxury apartment buildings on campus and drive luxury cars, like Land Rover, Cadillac and BMW. Girls wear Ferragamo ballet flats and carry Chanel and Prada purses to school, while boys put on their limited editions of sneakers and expensive watches.
I come from a middle class family. My dad is an electrician who works different shifts every other day and monitor machines in a water-recycling factory. My mother is a self-taught accountant who works for a family business and also purchases materials for the company. All they earn goes to my tuition and living expense in America.
Throughout the book, Ferrazzi mentions his parents made every effort possible to make their son successful, by sending him to the best schools and helping him become comfortable in connecting with the older who are also the experienced. (I am the only child of my parents as the One Child Policy was strictly implemented in late 1980s and 1990s) Before my younger cousins were born, I was the youngest and hung out with older cousins. My parents worked longer hours when I was younger, and they sent me to my cousins when they were busy. It was then when I got more comfortable in communicating and becoming close with the older. My oldest cousin, nine years older, often took me out with her to her middle school, high school and even college reunion and gathering.
The district middle school seemed too much trouble to my parents, as I was a rebel in elementary school. This new private middle school was newly built and formed. I passed the entrance exam and got accepted in 2002. That was the first turning point of my life. Kids I went to middle school were mostly the wealthy’s sons and daughters from government officials and business owners. Their bag packs were Nike and Adidas. (They were expensive and foreign brands.) This private school is a boarding school. Every Saturday noon, parents come pick us up from school and we go back to school on Sunday late afternoons. Whenever students were picked up or dropped off, it was like a big parking lot of nice cars, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, etc. My parents didn’t even own a car. Since there was a traffic jam, I was actually proud of parents’ scooter.
I went to extracurricular English classes. I was always good at English, getting nearly perfect score in tests since fourth grade. My parents paid for the first international trip for me to Australia with the middle school. (Remember, the school is private school. Rich.) I was only 14. My best friend and I stayed in a local host family for almost three weeks. We barely spoke any English. We knew English from the book but nowhere near fluent. It was a lot of fun because we had to be so independent. We went to school and return home by ourselves. We were 14 and in a foreign country.
I guess my parents had appreciated me becoming independent at a young age. I was involved in some other activities throughout middle school and made friends with people from other classes. I had became close with this one girl, who introduced me to this one-year exchange program to U.S. high school. There went my second turning point of my life. My parents got the bill. It was almost $15,000! Thereafter, I met so many friends who were so different from me. They showed me another (Read: Rich) side of the world.
In 2005, at the age of 15, I left China for Michigan and lived a year in Wixom, Michigan. When the program ended in June 2006, I was very fluent in speaking English. In that year, I also made a life-long friend, aka soul sis, Vanessa.
First of all, I wouldn’t have had made it without my parents financial and spiritual supports. I was only 15 when I left. I attended a new school where I had no friends. They didn’t even speak my language, Chinese. It was tough. But teachers were nice to me. Some classmates were interested in this exchange student from China. The other exchange student from Germany also helped me learn English. Vanessa helped. My host family took me to church; it was when I practiced understanding English from listening. It was our friendships that helped me through a lot of difficulties that year.
As the Chinese idiom says, one who stays near vermilion gets stained red, and one who stays near ink gets stained black. In translation of Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone, you are more likely to be successful if you are close with the successful. The beauty of networking is to share knowledge and experiences. It’s not a “cheap and easy means of getting ahead.” The successful sees more in your potential. By creating a relationship with them, they devote, aka invest, time and resources on you because they think you can make them more successful as you become an elite in the network.
Another key point throughout the book is generosity. Less complaints will help you focus on achieving your goals. When I took the Advanced Reporting class earlier, I complained quite often. But now I look back, I actually enjoyed taking the time to interview people, ask them obvious questions, listen to them and stay up all night finishing ht 1500-word report in the engineering library. In addition, generosity also means to give before receiving. I feel this is a common characteristics of the younger generations. It may be the social media that easily bring us the attention that we always expect to receive attention, as one form of rewards, before we put in our effort to maintain the right attitude to work hard and succeed. Therefore, make them successful before you ask for anything.
Donald Trump: As long as you are going to think anyway, think big.
I have an American dream that I hope to establish my career here. I chose Journalism. Information plays an essential role in our daily life in this social media age. I like the freedom of speech in this country. My dream is the motivation. Realizing the dream will make my parents proud for their investment and trust in me for all these years.
Like I said, I wish I had found this book earlier. I wish I would have read it during college. Seriously.