Edward Gorbis of Career Meets World: “Upgrade your mindset”

If we analyze most countries throughout history, we will see that there have been countless experiments on how governments can operate. The combination of democracy and capitalism are the perfect ingredients for growth and stability. Most immigrants leave their countries because their current government and socio-economic conditions do not afford them limitless opportunities. As long […]

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If we analyze most countries throughout history, we will see that there have been countless experiments on how governments can operate. The combination of democracy and capitalism are the perfect ingredients for growth and stability. Most immigrants leave their countries because their current government and socio-economic conditions do not afford them limitless opportunities. As long as America maintains these two core ingredients at its foundation, we will continue to thrive.

Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edward Gorbis, a Leadership and Career Coach and the Founder of Career Meets World, an online community and coaching practice focused on helping growth-minded immigrants and first-generation professionals thrive in their careers and life. In addition, Edward is the podcast host of Career Meets World. Connect with Edward on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Growing up, I spent most of my childhood living in my own imagination. Teachers would constantly mark me down on my report card for staring out the window and daydreaming. Creating my own reality was the only way I could cope with all of the bullying, name calling, and alienation that I went through from elementary school to high school.

I felt the same way in college and for many years in the workplace, constantly battling between “the immigrant way” of doing things and the current American way of showing up at work and in life.

My immigrant family instilled in me the discipline and focus necessary to be successful but did not provide me the tools, strategies, and communication skills to confidently convey my innate abilities and manifest my full potential. I was taught to get a steady corporate job with benefits, similar to those afforded to them by the government in the Soviet Union. For most of my childhood and early adulthood, I always thought that I was a victim of circumstances. I struggled to assimilate, big time. The struggle is the fuel to everything I do today.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?

Shortly after I was born in Ukraine, the Soviet Union collapsed. Like many Jewish people, we fled to Israel in 1990, where we sought out more security, safety, and opportunity. However, security was non-existent as the Persian Gulf War started in late 1990.

We endured missiles dropping just blocks from our home, living in perpetual fear. This was far from the life that we had envisioned. Fortunately, the war subsided and deafening noise disappeared. Despite experiencing stability, my family knew that this was not our “permanent” home, and we had our sights on the United States — the land of opportunity.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

My grandfather had already immigrated to the United States years before, and with his help, my family and I embarked on a challenging journey. Tantalized by the prospect of opportunity, we left our home in Israel — for Chicago, Illinois. In 1993, my family started a brand new life in a brand new country with less than 200 USD.

We were in survival mode. No one in my family spoke English. We had some connections but few tools to be successful. Fortunately, my parents hustled, like most immigrants, and adapted quickly. Their tenacity is unparalleled in my mind and it is what fuels me every day to serve other immigrants who are looking to thrive in America today.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

I was fortunate to grow up in a household with loving parents but they grew up in a completely different environment. I cherish everything they have afforded me, and it’s my mission moving forward to pass this energy and momentum forward to other immigrant descendants I partner with in my practice and community.

Outside of family, I am grateful for various friends and teachers throughout my life, whether it be in middle school, high school, college, internships, or my jobs who saw me for who I was. They are simply the people who approach others with curiosity rather than judgement.

I particularly remember my AP psychology teacher in high school who recognized my intelligence and encouraged me speak up more. I had been timid and quiet for a long time, always waiting for the “right thing to say” only to watch the moment pass. He and I had a long conversation about my limiting beliefs and how deeply they are rooted in our minds, and once he highlighted that “we have the power to change our belief systems no matter where you come from,” I easily flipped the switch and did the mental work. His teachings are a centerpiece of my coaching practice to this day.

So how are things going today?

As many immigrant parents, mine recommended a healthy education and a stable corporate job. I listened to their advice and I ran. I sprinted in fact. And I did this for the last 10 years. Along the way, I also picked up a Masters at UCLA in Civil Engineering and completed an online MBA program (before the pandemic popularized online education).

That journey was certainly bumpy at times, and I was able to learn how to play the game of business effectively and how to break through limiting beliefs. It was a self-discovery process that had no guardrails. I made countless pivots, suffered through a layoff, and ultimately did the deep mindset work necessary for me to truly thrive.

Even though I am forever grateful for my parents for the opportunities they provided, it wasn’t until I hired my own career coaching that I could truly unleash my full potential.

Through my upbringing, constant self-identity struggle, a great deal of education, hard work, and perseverance, I was able to develop an unbreakable mindset, gain the respect I craved, earn the promotions I wanted, and make money that my parents never thought was possible. Ultimately, I landed a Senior Sales Director role at WeWork, one of the fastest growing startups in the world at the time.

That party at WeWork didn’t last though; I had front row seats to the overly public, major IPO collapse in 2019. During that time, I deeply reflected on everything in my career that had led up to that moment.

My greatest realization? The path toward life and career fulfillment is not linear; it is dynamic, and opportunities and money are abundant in the United States. And what I learned through that journey and experience is that I was not fulfilled by the titles, high salary, recognition, or promotions but rather one specific thing — helping people.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

After getting married in 2019, my wife and I adventured down to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. We were discussing what impact we want to have over the next 10 years of our career. Without hesitation, I blurted out that “I want to coach people. I specifically want to help people who’ve experienced a similar upbringing as me — a similar struggle, the immigrant struggle.”

Why? Because what I’ve found is that most immigrants and immigrant descendants feel misunderstood in the workplace and struggle to assimilate. They often feel under-appreciated or they do not know how to highlight their impact on the team and company, and therefore are constantly passed over for promotions. Their struggles at work bring a tremendous amount of stress and frustration into their lives. Many do not know what to do so they may enroll in additional Master’s programs and obtain certifications thinking this will magically provide them the results they want.

As they become more goal-oriented, more ambitious, and more accountable for results, their limiting beliefs hold them back from achieving the success they want in the workplace and in life.

In order to obtain the recognition, accelerate their career, and earn a higher salary, they need to strengthen their mindset, enhance their communication skills to align with the game of business, and develop powerful networking techniques that allow them to be seen, heard, and respected for the value that they bring to the organization.

So in the middle of our honeymoon, my wife and I agreed that this is my calling. That week, I created @careermeetsworld on Instagram, quit WeWork shortly after, and committed a lifelong journey to serving others and helping them thrive in their career and life.

I began to teach my clients the most powerful mindset and career methodologies and help them realize that our lives are truly limitless.

You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?

The immigration system certainly has changed since my family came to the United States in 1994. However, having worked with thousands of immigrant descendants, I would share three recommendations to improve the system:

  1. Entry Education

Assimilation is painful and lonely. It’s like showing up to a house party and not knowing most people there or even where the bathroom might be. Help immigrants integrate into society by offering free English classes. This is what fuels me every day and why I built the Career Meets World online community.

2. Immigrant Job Board

Many immigrants come to America seeking to contribute and create impact. Some start businesses and continue their legacy from their home country, but most simply need to put food on the table for the family. Make this process simple. Create a job board for immigrants that have been in the US under 2 years and push corporate recruiters to seek out top talent that is extremely motivated to contribute.

3. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for Immigrants

Most Fortune 500 companies do a decent job creating ERGs focused on race, gender, and sexuality. However, I see a gap in the workplace that does not help immigrants assimilate into the work culture. I moved to America when I was young, and I still struggled to comprehend the American business game. It would be invaluable to immigrants. I would encourage companies to create resources and hire external consultants or coaches to help them learn how to be successful in the American working environment. This would shorten the integration process by years and potentially decades.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

As a leadership and career coach serving immigrant descendants, this is near and dear to my heart so I appreciate the question. I strongly advocate the following 5 keys to achieve the American dream.

  1. Master your communication style

Communication is imperative for anyone’s success, and it’s particularly vital to live out your American dream. Consistently improve your language skills through reading, podcasts, and even Toastmasters. Improve your vocabulary, speech, and confidence. Everyone has intelligent ideas locked in their mind, so the faster you can communicate effectively the more opportunities you will attract. This is something I had committed to at a very young age because I saw everyone around me at school comprehending everything in the classroom on a much faster level. I made a commitment to myself to always be ahead. Books and TV shows allowed me to learn and mimic different styles and eventually develop my voice as well as my writing skills. This is critical to be able to adapt and succeed quickly.

2. Upgrade your mindset

Many immigrants live through their old belief systems, which are often predicated on survival and limitations. Our minds are malleable and everything we experience is a reflection of our belief system. By re-wiring your belief system, you will be able to unlock powerful energy to show up more confidently and effectively at work and in your personal life, especially during challenging times. How do you do this? The simplest way is to surround yourself with people who have done the transformation work or to partner with a coach that can support you in this growth process.

3. Your network is your net worth

Creating something of lasting meaning, impact, and value is rarely possible alone. However, many immigrants often want to prove themselves and that they can do it all on their own. You can shorten your timeline to success by collaborating with others who share our beliefs, values, and vision. Once I processed this, I shortened my timeline to success significantly. I formed alliances with people across different industries, organizations, and geographies, so I could create unlimited possibilities for myself and those I care about.

And today, we must acknowledge that the world is changing rapidly. Relationships are spanning the globe and are no longer restricted to the people you physically meet every day. Succeeding in this new world depends on your connections with kind, smart, and talented people.

4. Take risks with confidence

Giving yourself permission to take risks that yield creativity and magnify the results in your life. When you’re able to successfully do this, you will have the space to take risks on new, potentially ground-breaking ideas. This will lead to opportunity and more wealth for your family. And as someone who was always risk-averse and lived in the “survival” mindset, I learned that risk-taking is rewarded and more so encouraged in America. The most successful immigrants leveraged risk intelligently and have been rewarded for their innovation.

5. Pay it forward

We all face different challenges as we make the transition to America. We also are rewarded with unique opportunities during our life, and as we “make it,” I encourage everyone to give back to other immigrants and under-privileged communities. After spending 10 years successfully climbing the ladder at one the fastest-growing startup on the planet (at the time) — WeWork — I knew that I had to give back to people and serve them in a powerful way. I have dedicated my life to serving immigrant descendants through my online community and coaching platform. Please pay it forward to others.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

Every country has work to do as we evolve and develop our societies. With that said, I am extremely bullish on the future for the US. I am always happy to share more than 3 reasons, so I will consolidate my top ones:

  1. Immigrant Equity

America has benefited greatly from immigrants creating massive business advancements and arguably was built on immigrant equity. Research shows that immigrants are more likely than their American-born counterparts to start businesses, are likely to create jobs for American workers and to develop technologies and companies. As long as we foster a system that welcomes immigrants to create equity in America, then we will see a continuous growth pattern.

2. Technological Innovation

America has experienced a flood of “gold rush” type events since inception. The last 30–40 years have been the longest gold rush event in America’s history. The technological boom has exponentially accelerated growth for the country but also created tremendous opportunities for immigrants in the US. Technology is here to stay, and as the 2020 pandemic proved, technology is the fabric of our lives now. As long as the US maintains futuristic technological innovations (e.g. AI, ML, blockchain, etc.) in house, we will continue to see a greater expansion of this gold rush. This means more opportunities for the most tenacious immigrants.

3. The Perfect Recipe

If we analyze most countries throughout history, we will see that there have been countless experiments on how governments can operate. The combination of democracy and capitalism are the perfect ingredients for growth and stability. Most immigrants leave their countries because their current government and socio-economic conditions do not afford them limitless opportunities. As long as America maintains these two core ingredients at its foundation, we will continue to thrive.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

There are so many brilliant minds that I would love to connect with and share a meal. If I had to choose just one, I would love to chat with Chamath Palihapitiya, who has the most prominent immigrant story. He was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Canada, and ultimately settled in the San Francisco Bay Area like my family.

He was an early senior executive at Facebook, a part owner of the Golden State Warriors (yes, my favorite team even before they won championships), and the CEO of Social Capital. I find him to be the most thoughtful human being, innovator, and leader of our time.

He’s cultivating an investment platform to fund some of the most impactful companies over the next decade. He’s a visionary, so Chamath, if you happen to read this, let’s break bread over some Italian food.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

I love connecting and supporting people in their career and leadership journey. Join the Career Meets World community for immigrant descendants. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, listen to the Career Meets World podcast to learn from some of the most successful leaders in world.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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