Be constantly evolving. I can’t stress this enough. My love for ongoing education and wellness landed me as the head of a company I truly believe in. Always look for something new to learn, or a way to improve your life, or the lives of those around you.
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 Destinee Berman.
Destinee Berman is a seven-figure launch strategist who specializes in working with offline business owners, entrepreneurs, experts and educators to market and monetize their courses. Destineeis also hosts the podcast, Make The Shift. Connect with her on Instagram @desberman
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
For the first ten years of my life, we lived in Chinatown in downtown LA, a community made up entirely of Southeast Asian immigrants. A lot of them were all refugees like my parents and I that came from the war. It was not a pretty place. I tell people that I grew up in a concrete jungle, there was lots of graffiti everywhere. When my parents eventually had my two younger brothers, all five of us lived together in a 400-square foot, one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t the cleanest.
My parents, like many of our neighbors, had to start from scratch in the US. They had to learn English but didn’t have any money or resources. My dad first started out as a pizza delivery guy, then he started working for a guy who had a janitorial business, which he eventually bought. Now, inside the immigrant community, there was a huge entrepreneurial spirit. It was really common, as people got more settled, for people to open donut shops or sewing factories, including my aunt and uncle.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
Truthfully, we did not have much of a choice, but to emigrate. And honestly, my parents weren’t planning on it. My parents and I were in a refugee camp in Cambodia and I was only a year old. The US government went to help them out in 1981, as part of the Refugee Act. They bounced around a couple places and settled in Chinatown. Later, when my parents became US citizens, I got to pick out my name, Destinee, for my birth certificate. I chose it along with the unique spelling because I was so excited for the chance to live out my own destiny. It was the first time that I ever had birth paperwork. From my view, that was great, and it is what also strikes me most about our experiences immigrating to this country.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
My grandmother was a primary caregiver for me because both my parents had to work to make ends meet. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and my cousin who was a year younger, who really ended up being more like a sister to me. My grandmother was around so much while my parents worked that she ended up also equally being my mom in a way. She protected me from bullies and was fierce and tough, despite her age, with her actions and speech.
So how are things going today?
Things are going well today. I got lucky in the sense that even though I did not have parents who were educated in the American school system, they did get me into a great high school where a lot of the kids go on to Ivy League schools. I have always had great grades and I got myself into Berkeley.
Then, being in the San Francisco Bay area, I ended up working in tech as a media buyer, pretty much right out of college. I did well in the tech and digital media space and was making very good money just a couple years out of college and stayed there until I decided to follow my dreams to find my true life’s purpose. I would say that the life I’ve created now as an entrepreneur is a complete contrast to growing up poor. I live a beautiful life in one of my favorite cities in the world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I like to think I bring goodness to the world through the business that I’m in. Through helping people who are wellness professionals, healers, and incredible teachers share their work online. They are transforming lives and helping people from all walks of life, with my help. It’s always been very important to me to be mindful and a good, healthy citizen, who’s conscious and on my own road to wellness. I’m so fortunate to play a small role in providing these things to others as well.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
- Take advantage of all the education options and opportunities. I do feel incredibly lucky, because although my parents weren’t planning on coming to America, we did, and I was exposed to education. Had we stayed in Cambodia, I wouldn’t be the same person I am. I wouldn’t have had the same access to education.
- Embrace access to enterprise and innovation. Living in San Francisco, I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of living with innovation all around me. I’ve been able to develop an enterprise mindset that helped me start my own company. There’s just a mindset that allows you to go into that world and to create what you can create, that I never would have found in Cambodia.
- Find balance through personal growth and wellness. Self-care and wellness along with personal growth from completely my 200-hour yoga instructor training have had a huge lasting impact on my wellbeing and my ability to balance work and life. It’s something you have to cultivate on an ongoing basis, so that you can draw upon it as needed. When things you can’t control happen, like the last year, you’re in a much better place if you’ve figured out how to find balance.
- Find support in your community. My family lives in a fantastic community, and it’s something you should absolutely take advantage of. They say “it takes a village,” and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
- Be constantly evolving. I can’t stress this enough. My love for ongoing education and wellness landed me as the head of a company I truly believe in. Always look for something new to learn, or a way to improve your life, or the lives of those around you.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
I do have faith in the US system, because the reality is that when you look at other countries, they also have their issues and challenges. Whether it’s a country who has better health care, or more community, or less innovation, they all have their pros and cons. I do believe that being American citizens has given my parents and my family things — both tangible and intangible — that we otherwise would not have received anywhere else.
My parents had no formal education in Cambodia, maybe three years combined, between the two of them. They came to the US, not because they had a choice, but out of necessity. They learned English, they built their lives and a business and were able to buy a home in Orange County. They raised me and my two brothers to all have education. And we now all live independent lives. That is remarkable.
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. 🙂
Michelle Obama comes to mind. She is a black woman who is making history. She’s had this huge professional career and has raised two daughters. And then she has also managed to build an empire between deals with Netflix and Spotify. Her life is multifaceted, and it fascinates me.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!