Partner, Executive Committee and Board member Albert Tan was interviewed by retired four-star General Joseph L. Votel, U.S. Army, on the “5 Questions with the CEO” podcast.
Albert discussed his experience as a United States immigrant from Taiwan, a journey that began when he was 11 years old, and his family departed for the United States. Albert’s parents sought the American dream of a life filled with limitless opportunities for their children. Tan shares fascinating details about his upbringing and the journey of a young boy who rose to achieve his parent’s dream. Tan and Votel also talk about rising tensions between China and Taiwan and the importance of a stable financial system.
The “5 Questions” podcast is produced by Business Executives for National Security, a nationwide network of elite business leaders who are united in the belief that private-sector expertise and best practices can help the Department of Defense and other national security agencies execute their missions to keep America secure.
Read an excerpt of their conversation below:
General Joe Votel: Let’s go ahead and get right into it. And let me start off with the first question here. So anyone who knows you, knows that you are an extraordinarily successful attorney. What I find most compelling is the personal journey that you took to get where you are today. You are 11 years old when you immigrated from Taiwan to the United States. Can you tell our listeners a bit about that experience and how it shaped you?
Partner Albert Tan: Thank you, general, yes, our family journey is something that I think it certainly has shaped my life. We came to the United States my father, my mother, my two older sister, older brother, we immigrated to a suburb of Los Angeles in the summer of 1976. And my parents who have combined seventh grade education felt that the kids would have a better life and opportunity in the United States. And my father was a carpenter in Taiwan and my mother was a housewife. And at the time, 1976, my father was 50 years old. No language skills, no English skills. My mother actually taught my father how to read Chinese by helping him read the newspaper. So, to think that my parents had the bravery, the courage to take the entire family without knowing anyone and move to the United States, to a city and start a new life puts a lot in perspective in terms of the United States and the opportunity it presents. So, my parents opened up a grocery store to basically support the family and all the kids. We would work there on weekends. I started a paper route in elementary school as a way to, all hands-on deck, if you will, kind of that mentality. And my father and mother worked seven days a week to supplement the income that we had from the grocery store. My mother would make Chinese snacks at home. And these were incredibly labor intensive, backbreaking work. And I saw my mother do that on a week in, week out basis. And seeing my father, aside from work, he basically made all the furniture in our house. We didn’t have much money and, and that was his way of providing for the family. So, growing up in that environment, seeing the personal sacrifice and just the day in day out hard work that it entails kind of instills basically what work ethic means to each one of us kids who grew up in that environment. And we did everything right, so in the grocery store, we mopped floors, we cleaned the toilets, we washed vegetables, we did everything that was required of us. And thinking about how in one generation where we started to kind of where we are at now, not many countries can provide for that. So, we’re incredibly humbled and grateful for the opportunity coming to the United States.
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