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More than a month ago, my son, Aaron, wrote an article on this site which caused me to feel uneasy. I never said anything on the site about it because he is entitled to his own opinions, and I did not wish to interfere with that. I did talk to him about it, though, just to share my thoughts and give him something to consider. I believe we are OK about it, and I don’t think that my writing this article will cause him any embarrassment. If I thought it would be uncomfortable for him, I would not write this.
Why did I feel uneasy about what my son wrote? Well, in his article entitled “Why I would Live in America” Aaron talked about his feelings of why he might want to live permanently in the United States. For those who are not following this, let me just clarify that Aaron was born in the USA, and when he was 3 years old, we moved to the Philippines. Aaron is 18 now, and he is on a journey back to the USA for the first time in the past 15 years. Aaron has been in the USA since March of this year.
Since graduating High School in 2013, Aaron has been trying to decide what he wants to do with his life. I have been trying to help him along on his journey of discovering his life’s ambition, but so far it has been a difficult decision for him. I feel that during his few months in the States, he has learned a lot, and he is getting closer to being able to set out on a path. One of the things that Aaron said in his article is that “America is the land of opportunity” and that he could see that there were work opportunities there which he felt did not exist here.
When I read this, it made me feel pretty discouraged. Frankly, it made me feel that I had failed my son.
Throughout my life I have been an entrepreneur, and I could always find ways to make money while doing things that I enjoyed doing. I actually started doing entrepreneurial pursuits back when I was just 9 years old. If it happened before that, I don’t recall, so I say that is when I got started. Pretty much since that age, I have had jobs of one type or another. I started early.
Over the years of my son’s life, I have tried to teach him about being entrepreneurial, putting his brain to work, figuring out ways to make money that were “outside the box” and generally not following the crowd. In many ways, I feel that I have been successful in showing him the way that I have been successful in life. But, when he wrote about the great opportunities in the USA, it did not sit well with me.
Over the decades, the United States of America has been known as a “Land of Opportunity”. However, I feel that in the past few decades, the opportunity has faded. It is not entirely the fault of any certain politician, or political party. I feel it is greatly due to the “maturity” of the market in the USA.
I got into an email discussion about this with a very close friend of mine. I will not name that friend, but if he wishes to join the discussion here, he is welcome to identify himself. I only leave him nameless for his own privacy, and he can make the decision about that.
Let me share some of the thoughts that I mentioned in the discussion with my friend.
The discussion got started by my telling him about Aaron’s upcoming article (this friend is also a friend of Aaron’s), and how it made me feel uneasy. His response to that was that he did not agree with Aaron’s thought because he felt that geography had no influence on opportunity.
I felt that was a pretty good point, but I had additional thinking that I wanted to share with him. Here it is:
Aaron wrote the article about wanting to live in the States. One of his reasons that he said he would like to live there was that it is the land of opportunity. He said that basically there is so much opportunity there, and really no opportunity in the Philippines. He said that he does not have a college degree so he can’t get a job here, but he can get so many jobs in the USA. I thought to myself, “I have failed.” I try to show people how they can earn a living online, live here and earn from elsewhere. A college degree is of little importance. This kind of thing… yet my own son does not understand what I have been telling him day in and day out for years on end? Damn, it really cut, and still gives my heart pain to think about it. Almost brought tears to my eyes, I could feel them coming. As far as a college degree, we have encouraged him to go to college, but he has no interest. He can follow in my footsteps so easily, if he just does it. I do know one thing.. it is time for him to get off the pot and do something. Go to school, get a job, or learn how to work for himself. He is 18, nearly 19, and it is just time to do something. I love him dearly, but I am not going to support him for the rest of my life, that would not be fair to him. Even if it means that he will get a job in the USA, that is his decision. But, I, for one, believe that there is MORE opportunity here in the Philippines than there in the USA. He does not realize that the way he talks about the USA is the USA that I grew up in, and you. It is a thing of the past, and only getting further and further away from current reality. Yes, there are problems with the Philippines, but this country is moving in the direction of improvement. The USA is moving in the opposite direction 7 days per week.
All of what you wrote about Opportunity was interesting, and mostly I agree. Like you said to me, I don’t 100% agree with everything you said, but I also believe that we are each on the same wavelength. Where I disagree is minor, but I believe that there is SOME geographical element to opportunity. This is one of the reasons why I believe that there is more opportunity here in the Philippines when compared to the USA. The reason I think that is because the USA is simply more developed. Things that can be done to make money, for a large part, have been done there. Of course, new stuff comes along all the time. But, for example, you mentioned my gift company, WowPhilippines. There are already a ton of such gift companies (online and off). When I started Wow, I was the FIRST such company here in the Philippines, and it gave me a number of years where I basically had no competition in the business. Now there are literally thousands.
Here is another example that is similar to Wow. Something like Teleflora, 1-800-Flowers, etc. In the USA there are a bunch of companies that you can call one number and they will get flowers delivered anywhere in the country. Believe it or not, no such thing exists in the Philippines. Wow is about the closest thing to that. One of the reasons is that credit card use and acceptance is not fully developed here. Another reason is that Credit Card USE is more limited here. Another one is that in these small towns all around the country, supply can be difficult to come by.
So, my point is that there is more OPPORTUNITY to do a business like that here, because the business is already mature in the USA with a lot of big companies competing. In the Philippines, it is still in its infancy, and even a small player like me can get into it and develop such a business. So, that is what I mean about more opportunity here. Anyway, in general, the USA business market is much more mature than the Philippine market, leaving a lot of holes to be filled in here, and that, in my view is opportunity.
One more point on the “opportunity”. As I explained about the USA being more mature than the Philippines business market, etc…. there is a big advantage to that. If a guy like you or I, who moves here from the USA is interested in business, we can just look at what we miss here. We can say, boy it sure was nice back in the States when business x was so convenient, but they don’t have it here. Hey… why don’t I start that kind of business here? You know it is a business that works, because it succeeded in the USA, and the odds are that it will succeed here too (in most cases). It has already been proven as something that people want and need. It just has not made it here yet, and a little guy can take advantage of the absence in the market, before the big boys here finally catch on. 🙂
So, I wanted to share this with LiP readers. I decided to share it because of a comment I got a few days ago from Scott. Scott mentioned that he felt there was a lot of opportunity here in the Philippines, more than in the USA. He also said that many people that he talked to about this felt that he was crazy. So, for Scott, I think you are right, you are not alone! And, by the way, after explaining my thoughts to my friend, he also pretty much turned around and felt much like I do, that the Philippines is loaded with opportunity!
To my son, Aaron. I hope that you read this article too, and that it helps you decide what is best for you. I am not saying that there is no opportunity in the USA, because there IS! But, there is a lot of opportunity in the Philippines too. One of the big differences, though, is that in the USA it is a lot bigger market where the competition is brutal, and you probably need a lot of money in most cases if you want to break into the market. In the Philippines the market is immature and a small player like you or me can make a big splash! Good luck to you, son!