I arrived in this country from Mexico in 1984. I was only 16. I contrast my experience with being an immigrant to my dad’s because he was the same age when he left his country, but that’s where the parallels end.
He shared many stories about how acts of kindness are what allowed him to survive. In the Dachau concentration camp, there was a German soldier who took the risk of throwing a rotten potato at my dad’s feet. But it wasn’t just the food that sustained him, it was how that soldier looked into his eyes and recognized his humanity at a moment when he was losing it — becoming almost a skeleton. He was rescued by American soldiers and, at 16, arrived in Mexico with only the clothes on his back and a third-grade education. The war had started when he was 9, so he had stopped going to school. In Mexico, he had to work triple shifts and would eventually become very self-educated. He spoke nine languages and read encyclopedias and thousands of books cover-to-cover.
I became the first in my family to get a college degree, then a law degree. I went on to start a lot of businesses and I suppose I was inspired by seeing how my dad had done it. My parents taught me that you don’t wait until you are old to help others. You do it all along. I’m a social entrepreneur, and that means finding creative ways to improve the state of the world by using market forces. All the ventures that I've started — whether it's KIND, PeaceWorks or other lesser-known ones — are about using business as a force for social good. With so many challenges that we're facing and with business permeating our lives, it behooves us to find more ways to have an impact.