Think with intention: The trouble with the world today, simply, is that most people do not think. I’m not talking about worrying about next month’s rent, a school project, or what we should eat this weekend. I’m talking about intentionally making time to sit down and think of a plan for yourself. Come up with your own strategies, your own goals, your own opinions, your own friends, and your own future. Often, what happens in life is that there is so much “to do” and so many societal norms we have to follow that we get tossed into a world we never chose, and never even realized we never chose it. How is this relevant to your white picket fence? You will not thrive in a life you never chose, but what’s even worse — you will not be happy in it either.
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 Tevan Asaturi.
Tevan was born in Zurich, Switzerland, into a family who lived in a hostel and later immigrated penniless to the United States. Growing up in a poor and distressed environment, Tevan decided at a young age that he would not continue his adult life this way. He took it upon himself to learn everything that he could about finance, money, and life. Most importantly, Tevan wanted to use his growing knowledge and experience to pay what he could forward to as many people as he could. His fascination, knowledge, and experience grew from about the age of 10 — when he kept a budget of gift money in his Dr. Seuss address book.
Aside from working from the age of 16 at numerous jobs, Tevan spent a decade in the financial services industry, excelling at elite banks such as Merrill Lynch, Northwestern Mutual, and JPMorgan Chase, where he ranked amongst the top bankers in the nation. After earning his MBA, Tevan decided to transition into management consulting and accepted a position with Accenture Operations and Strategy. He went on to provide strategic financial consult to elite Fortune clients across various industries, including, but not limited to: financial services, social media, retail, telecom, technology, and auto. Tevan has held or currently holds positions, including, but not limited to: CEO, CFO, private banker, CFO & enterprise value strategist, financial representative, treasurer, and founder.
Tevan earned his Master of Business Administration and Graduate Certification in Technology Commercialization from the University of Southern California. He maintained an above average GPA for both studies while working full-time and growing his non-profit businesses. Tevan also holds a Certification in Analytics & Artificial Intelligence from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. With no surprise, Tevan worked several jobs, managed his fraternity’s finances, and co-founded a club during his undergraduate years. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Irvine.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, into a family who lived in a hostel and later immigrated penniless to the United States. Growing up in a poor and distressed environment, I decided at a young age that I would not continue my adult life this way. I took it upon myself to learn everything that I could about money and life, and more importantly — to pay it forward to as many people as I could.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
I was less than a year old when we moved from Zurich to the United States, however, I do know why. My parents were born and raised in Iran, brought up even more poor than I was raised. After they got married, they had my older sister in 1985 and started to think about their kids’ future. The year 1985 was a chaotic time in Iran, among others, as bombs were being dropped in neighborhoods nearby where my parents and sister lived. My dad met somebody that was related to the military or police, and by luck, this person told my father he’d help them escape Iran and get to Switzerland. They couldn’t come from Iran to America directly but knew they had to get out of Iran, which is how they ended up in Zurich for a few years. Then I was born in 1988. Around the same time, through much drama but even more luck, my parents had managed to find a way to fly and stay here in the United States. That’s how I ended up here — I really had no say. If I did, I would have liked to have spent a few more years in Zurich.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
There is and yet there isn’t, as the person who helped my parents get from Iran to Zurich is still unidentified. My parents happened to find somebody who was willing to listen, care, and help.
So how are things going today?
My parents are both alive and although divorced, they live nearby, and my sister and her husband also live nearby. Having to grow up before the age of 10, working from the day it was legal to work, working all throughout undergraduate and graduate school has not been easy — but I did it, excelled at all of it, and I’m proud. My hardships had only begun when we got to the United States, but it seems I’m just too stubborn to let those things bring me down. I live by myself with my dog Zeus in Burbank Hills, which is a nice, quiet neighborhood in L.A. County. I’ve decided to take the “leap” and bring my dozens of years of life, work, and educational experience to the world — especially around success and money.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My fascination, knowledge, and experience grew from about the age of 10 — when I started to keep a budget of gift money on a sheet of paper and in my Dr. Seuss address book. Everything I have done has been to grow as a person, learn about money and finance, and give back to those in need. From working at banks managing money for the rich, to working for fortune companies helping them earn upwards of 9 figures, and earning titles such as CFO & Enterprise Value consultant, treasurer, CFO, and CEO.
In 2013 I created a non-profit organization, All for All, Inc., to help feed the homeless population during Thanksgiving. Since then, we have prepared and hand-delivered over 1,000 full-course Thanksgiving meals to individuals in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. In 2017, I co-founded another non-profit organization regarding the rehabilitation growth for sports injuries both here and in Armenia. I also donate to Los Angeles Mission and St. Judes Hospital, am a frequent and proud Red Cross blood donor, and donate / give whole-heartedly to other non-profits often. Through the forming of Asaturi, I hope to enlighten the world and give people the confidence, knowledge, and support they need in creating a successful personal and financial future.
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?
1. Structure: Globally we need to have a well-thought-out structure in place both strategically and emotionally. Too many countries have a weak structure within themselves, let alone the lack of structure amongst them collectively.
2. Public Clarity: Even if we have structure, I don’t see that people have clarity in how they can move from one country to another. We need clarity and transparency when it comes to immigration and immigration laws so that we the public can understand them.
3. Leniency: The world is too restricted for reasons that have only been silly to me at best. We need the ability to see more things, more people, gain more experience, and live life on this planet — not limited to our zip codes.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
The “American Dream” needs to be revisited, because it seems as though it’s strictly about money — and a mediocre lifestyle at that. I want to challenge you to assume the “American Dream” is your perfect life and perfect future. It’s not all about money — frankly, and you’ll never reach that dream if you think it is. Don’t restrict yourself to the following, but here are some of my frontline thoughts:
- Think with intention: The trouble with the world today, simply, is that most people do not think. I’m not talking about worrying about next month’s rent, a school project, or what we should eat this weekend. I’m talking about intentionally making time to sit down and think of a plan for yourself. Come up with your own strategies, your own goals, your own opinions, your own friends, and your own future. Often, what happens in life is that there is so much “to do” and so many societal norms we have to follow that we get tossed into a world we never chose, and never even realized we never chose it. How is this relevant to your white picket fence? You will not thrive in a life you never chose, but what’s even worse — you will not be happy in it either.
- Love fear: What you’re afraid of is most often exactly what you should be doing. The human mind is conditioned to fear to survive — fearing a mountain lion approaching you or fearing falling off of a cliff when you’re hiking on the edge. We’re not meant to fear what other people think of us, or “what if it doesn’t work out” — those are called mental blocks and can easily be broken when we face them. In my life, I have grown to intentionally choose the path that scares me. I almost always choose the more difficult path, the “impossible” task, the prettier girl to ask out, or launching a business as a public figure when I hate being on camera. So what? I’m not scared of anything? I’m scared of a whole lot — I didn’t say don’t be afraid, I’m saying be afraid — and do it anyways. I hope I don’t need to tell you why you need to be courageous to reach your dreams. Only courage begets courage — never forget that.
- Invest in you.: Leave your GPA and school education in the backseat and invest in personal growth. Invest in learning about the basics of finance, love, life, and the power of your mind. I so strongly believe in the strength of our minds that I don’t think anything is impossible — and I mean it. Start to learn about who you are and focus on the things that interest you. The things you love and want to love, and learn about — especially. We’re so caught up in trying to learn cursive as children and A’s as adults that we completely miss out on learning about not only finances, but about life and ourselves. What is it you enjoy? What is it you would enjoy? What can help you grow? Having your mind and yourself in sync will supercharge not only your financial life but your personal and spiritual life.
- Invest Financially: Love fear, remember? If you cannot love fear and you do not invest financially — slim pickings my friend. I’m not promoting gambling or taking massive risks you don’t understand. Financial investments can include countless numbers of things, including the stock market, real estate, and insurance, but also rare coins, watches, art, antiques, and businesses. Take advice — but more importantly, know who you’re taking advice from. I’ve worked at JPMorgan Chase managing the money of the wealthy, and at Accenture where I consulted for Fortune 100 clients and worked around the best and smartest. Point? Don’t take the “who” lightly. Even a billionaire isn’t a valid source if it was “overnight success” or by luck — yet society seems to seek these people’s advice. Don’t invest with an expectation that every investment will immediately give you a solid return, but with an expectation that the cumulation of investments and some time will provide a solid return. It should go without saying that you need to understand your risk tolerance and do your due diligence. Most importantly — don’t let one financial failure demolish the rest of your future. No “successful” person hit a home run the first time they went up to bat — let alone every time.
- Set Goals: Missed it? Set goals. If you just thought “I already have goals” — I’d bet not. “I want to get rich!” and “I want to be healthy!” are not goals. If anything, they’re a mirage that helps you never get to your goals. How rich? When? Doing what? Why? Why do you deserve it? How healthy? How much weight? By when? Why is all this important to you? What are the consequences if you don’t do these things? I’m going to take you back to how people simply don’t think for a second. Do you see the difference between “I want to get rich!” and “I want to earn $1.25M net a year by February 2026 because….” One is a joke — the other is a plan.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
Gen Z, education, and Greater Consciousness.
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. 🙂
Tony Robbins. I would say Jim Rohn, Tony’s mentor, but he is at peace now. Tony is a force of love and a very deep thinker — it’s hard to find like-minded people.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!