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Monday, 27 August 2012 11:46

Dare, Dream, Risk, and Lead

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tight-ropeOn August 27, 1976, when an almost 19-year-old man left his homeland of Greece to enroll as an exchange student at Weston High School just west of Boston, it was as though the young man were taking his first bold steps out onto a wire suspended a hundred feet above the ground. He had only one year to learn a language he did not speak and earn admittance to an American college or else he would be forced to return to Greece to work for his father’s company—a future that would be undoubtedly secure, yet dishearteningly dependent. Thirty-six years later he has founded numerous companies, is presently the CEO of Strategic Pharmaceutical Advisors (SRxA), an international consulting, marketing, and education firm, and considers himself more American than his American-born daughter.

This story is neither atypical from that of millions of immigrants who chose to leave the comfort of home, familiar surroundings and support systems in search of the American Dream, nor different from every young person’s brave first steps out along that quivering, indefinite, yet ultimately rewarding wire of risk.

On that August day, 36 years ago today, I took my first steps on that wire. That was the day I arrived in this country and I’ve since celebrated this day as my birthday. Much like a baby’s arrival to this world marks the opportunity for its parents (or its village) to raise a happy, well-adjusted, confident, unentitled adult, my arrival to this country gave me the chance to do anything I was creative enough to dream, daring enough to risk, and disciplined enough to lead myself to my goal. It gave me the opportunity to become my own person. It gave me the opportunity to become Persephone’s father, Juliana’s husband, the employer of more than 1,000 people, a mentor to many, and the leader of myself and those who believe in what I hold dear; respect for self and others, ethics, integrity, team spirit, performance toward the common goal, and actionable compassion for those less fortunate.

american-flag-with-blue-sky-e1346105765615In the past 36 years I’ve lived a productive, satisfying life. Sure I worked for it. Sure there were challenges but, there were many more opportunities; opportunities that would have never come my way had I not chosen to make this country my home. I often say that America gave me everything and it gave me nothing at all. It gave me no special treatment, no easy passes, no entitlements but, it gave me everything by allowing me to partake in what was available to everyone else, and that my friends, isn’t something that occurs in too many places away from our shores.

As I cogitate and celebrate the last 36 years, I feel blessed beyond words and look forward to the future because I am convinced that my best days, and those of this land, are yet to come. Happy birthday to me!

Chris Efessiou

About Chris Efessiou:  Chris Efessiou is an entrepreneur, business leader, educator, mentor, international speaker, radio show host, and best-selling author of CDO Chief Daddy Officer: The Business of Fatherhood  based on his own experience from raising his daughter as a single dad by applying his business knowledge to the business of parenting.  Listen to Chris’s weekly Radio Show Straight Up With Chris:  Real Talk on Business and Parenthood on Voice America Radio.  You may connect with Chris on Facebook, follow on Twitter and visit