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Al Angrisani: From Last to First — The Common Man, American Dream and Trump

Al Angrisani: From Last to First — The Common Man, American Dream and Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 January 2018 10:53 AM

You’ve heard it a thousand times in the year-plus since the last election: President Trump pulled off an electoral miracle by winning an election everyone thought he was sure to lose. Ever since, pundits have been scrambling to explain the secret to his success. All the chatter about election meddling and Electoral College anomalies notwithstanding, it’s clear to me that he had the political genius (love him or hate him, it was political genius) to tap into the almost otherworldly power of The Common Man. He saw that there was a virtual army of people who were enraged by being denied their American Dream and relegated to lower rungs of society’s ladder, and he used the sheer energy of The Common Man’s anger to thrust him into the Oval Office.


9781630061012_FC.jpgLike the president, I believe there are people across the spectrum of modern society who have gotten a raw deal in life. Often, people are born into poverty or dysfunctional families and never find a way out. But — also like the president — I believe that, with a little help from those who have made their way in society, many people can break free of the situations holding them back and live the American Dream. That’s why I wrote my new book, "From Last to First," which Humanix is launching on January 23. The book is like a roadmap that charts a straightforward course to success for people who have literally been exiled to the lower and middle tier of our society.

You simply have to look around to see evidence of this abandoned lower and middle tier of society the president identified and mobilized in the election. For example, although we are living in an era of new prosperity, with global stock markets at all-time highs and unemployment rates at all-time lows, not everyone is becoming wealthy. In fact, the divide between the rich and the poor is becoming deeper and wider simply because 2 percent of the world’s population knows how to create wealth, while the other 98 percent doesn’t understand the rules of the wealth-creation game. The old saying that “money makes money” is true, and if you were not born into money or didn’t have a mentor who taught you how to make money and build wealth, your chances of making it in this society are, frankly, pitifully thin. In fact, if you are on that lower tier of society, you will be doing well to support and educate your family and save a little money for retirement.

On the other hand, some people do find their way out of the morass of a deprived background to a better life for themselves and their families. I myself was born into a family with limited resources, but thanks to some valuable life lessons and the support of important mentors — including my former boss President Reagan — pulled myself up by my bootstraps to a better life.

I’ve also seen this scenario play out in my 25-year career as a turnaround executive. In every failing company there are people unable to save themselves or the sinking ship of a business because they just don’t have the knowledge and skills to succeed. Over and over again, the same poor decision-making and lack of knowledge about wealth-creation has created the financial crisis that I’ve been brought in to fix. As a result, I’ve come to realize that there is a set of universal corrective actions that constitute the only real way to fix the business. And I firmly believe that these corrective actions are also the only way to fix broken lives. If individuals are to move into the upper tier of life, they need to learn what it takes to create income and wealth in their lives.

In "From Last to First: 10 Life-Changing Steps to Wealth and Success," I pass on those secrets which, until now have been in the hands of a privileged few or the 2 percent who control most of the wealth in America. Once the Common Man understands these ten “truths” about building wealth and success, he too can turn his life into the American Dream, like one of my favorite examples in the book. Here’s his story:

“On that morning I was headed to a TV appearance on Fox Business and was picked up by a taxi driver from Ghana, Africa, who had become an American citizen. When I got into his taxi I was greeted by an obviously happy man who offered a cheerful ‘good morning.’ (Anyone familiar with New York City will tell you the odds of getting a ‘good morning’ from anyone are extremely low.) I replied ‘good morning’ and noticed immediately that the cab was the cleanest and neatest one I’d ever seen (and I’ve seen the inside of more than a few). I felt like I was sitting in a museum where everything was spit-polished and clean-smelling. When I told him that, he said that he kept it that way because the taxi was ‘the tree that fed him, his wife, and their daughter.’

“I asked if he owned the cab and he explained that after ten years of renting, the cab’s owner wanted to sell it, so he borrowed $250,000 to buy the medallion. He said that he came to America to make a better life for his family. (Note: This is his purpose!) He saw buying the taxi as an opportunity to further that purpose by providing a better way of life. He said he put every penny of savings into the down payment and that it was do or die to pay off the loan, which seemed like all the money in the world to him. He said he worked sixteen hours a day, or two shifts, through sickness, bad weather, and recessions. (Here’s the focus, commitment, and sheer willpower it takes to succeed.)

“Eventually, he paid off the loan. So then he owned his own taxi and business, which was worth $500,000 because taxi medallions rise in value. Then his family decided to step up and buy a house. So they scratched together a $50,000 down payment by saving every penny they could for two years and bought a house in Queens, with a small apartment in the back that they could rent. They were learning that “cash is king,” and over the next ten years he paid off the house, and in seventeen short years this immigrant taxi driver from Ghana became an American millionaire. It gets better because over the next four years he was able to pay for his daughter’s Queens College tuition and allow her to graduate without any student loans.

“So what does this great man who defied the odds and came to America and became a millionaire have in common with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet? He started from the lowest rung on the ladder, but he figured out that success is a step-by-step process, where once you find your purpose you use all of your focus, commitment, and willpower to create progress and again and again gain those things that are important to you. In his case it was a taxi, a house in Queens, and a college education for his daughter. In the case of Buffett or Gates, it was building a fantastic fortune one deal at a time.”

Al Angrisani is the author of "From Last to First: Ten Life-Changing Steps to Wealth and Success." Angrisani is a leading expert on corporate turnarounds and the former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Ronald Reagan, as well as an author and business media personality.

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You’ve heard it a thousand times in the year-plus since the last election: President Trump pulled off an electoral miracle by winning an election everyone thought he was sure to lose.
from last to first, book, trump, american dream
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 10:53 AM
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