not come matters

It’s Not Where You Come From That Matters Most

My mother passed away about six years ago and my father passed away two years ago.  My family was of modest means, but my parents were always loving and supportive. It never felt like we were poor. It’s not where you come from that matters most.

Last week I was going through some of my father’s estate documents to wrap up things. I came across something that I’d be looking for, over many years.

Although I grew up in Southern California, I was born in Pittsburgh.  We moved to the L.A. area when I was only six years old.  My Dad didn’t really know Los Angeles very well. He rented an apartment for us until they could find a home in the suburbs.  I remembered that the apartment was near South Central L.A. but I couldn’t remember exactly where.  I asked him about it a couple times and he couldn’t remember the address but he confirmed that it was near that area.  I have some vivid memories of how troubled the neighborhood was in the early sixties. My Mom would walk me the couple blocks to school every day but I clearly remember walking home alone a few times through the really distressed area.  I also remember some very disturbing things that took place on the block.  Luckily, I managed to stay under the radar from what happened around me.

As I went through my parent’s paperwork, I noticed the purchase agreement for the house that I grew up in after we moved from downtown.  It hit me that buried in those documents, might be the old address.   I went through all the papers and voilà!  There it was on West. 11th Street, south of Macarthur Park in Los Angeles.  I looked it up on Google Earth and found the photo attached to this article (we lived in the top right apartment).  My parents moved from this apartment to a home in Azusa later that year.  It was a better neighborhood but still a very modest working-class community.

I did fairly well in high school and was offered a 50% scholarship to attend Occidental College.  It was a great offer but, I couldn’t afford the other half.  So, I went to Citrus Community College and Cal Poly University, Pomona (both great schools) because that’s what I could afford.  It wasn’t until graduate school that I could combine some scholarships and take out student loans to get my masters and doctorate at USC.  All of the above leads me to this:

Where you come from does not determine where you go in life.  It’s what you do with where you come from, that determines where you go in life.

Today, I’m the founder of a global company and a bestselling author.  While looking at photos of where I came from, I remember that young man who was so hungry to accomplish “something” of value in life.  I didn’t know exactly what that would be and I certainly had a few bumps and some big turns along the way – but I was like a dog with a bone, continually moving in a direction that would add value and meaning to my life as well as to others.

I learned many things along the way.  I learned that successful people form the habits of doing things that unsuccessful people just won’t do.  I learned that life-long learning is the great equalizer in the world – education levels the playing field for someone who is highly motivated.  And, I learned that the secret to success without hard work is still a secret.

I tell you this story to ask you to do something simple but important; share this message with young people you know who have had struggles or may come from modest means like I did.  You see, I believe it’s important for them to know that it’s not where they come from, it’s what they do with where they come from, that leads to success.

16 thoughts on “It’s Not Where You Come From That Matters Most

  1. The journey of one of my heroes! What a fantastic, inspiring story. We all need to know – and continue passing the message along – that it isn’t where you come from that determines what you can become, how much value you can add to the lives of others and, as a result, how successful (in all aspects of life) you can eventually become. Thank you for sharing that with us, Dr. Misner!

  2. Yes so true. When I was born my parents had an apartment in Huntington Park than they brought a home in Covina lived there for almost 50 years. Growing up in Covina and attending schools for the deaf in Covina Unified School district until I was in 3rd grade started attending Azusa Unified School District. My roots are who I am because of my both parents working hard to provide for my brothers and I.

    1. Good to hear from you Susan. Did you know that technically, we didn’t live in Covina? We actually lived in a county island between Azusa and Covina. That’s why we went to Azusa Unified. For some reason, the post office gave this county area a Covina address.

  3. It was very inspiring. Thank you so much Dr. Misner for sharing this with us. It truly shows that no matter what your background is, no matter where you come from, if you remain true to yourself and make a positive difference in the life of others or add value to the lives of others, this will surely lead you to the path of happiness and success. GIVERS GAIN!! I Know what Dr. Misner has tried to tell us will inspire many to make positive contributions to society and go ahead in life to be truly successful.

  4. Its true that what we do in life matters more than where we came from. What we will do have impact on not only others but ourselves also. The decisions we take , will determine our future . Some peole are so motivated to what they want to achieve , that they do things which are incredible…. I will do something like that for sure. Thanks for motivating.

  5. Hmm, I wonder if there is a link between your non-privileged upbringing and your legacy helping business owners who may not have huge marketing budgets?

  6. Wow !!!I am reading this story Ivan Misner and I am currently on a journey of being hungry to do something that i want to do but while i am on my way there .Hard work has really paid me and improved my life even though i dont really have a good background .I am grateful for you sharing this story and I know that I am a success on the journey .

  7. #lifelonglearning. So very right. It seems funny sometimes when people assume if your successful you came from money! I used to get insulted but now i see it as a compliment. It took me longer but I’m doing it!

  8. True. Absolutely true. Great article Dr. Misner. As you have shared with me, I will share with share with others. God Bless!

  9. Borrowing the lyrics from the Broadway show Seesaw, sums this up…It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
    It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.
    A hundred to one shot, they call him a klutz
    Can out-run the favorite, all he needs is the guts.
    Your final return will not diminish
    And you can be the cream of the crop;
    It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,
    And you’re gonna finish on top.
    If you start at the top, you’re certain to drop,
    You’ve got to watch your timing;
    Better begin by climbing up, up, up the ladder.
    If you’re going to last you can’t make it fast, man,
    Nobody starts a winner, give me a slow beginner,
    Easy does it, conserve your fine endurance;
    Easy does it, for that’s your life insurance.
    While you are young, take it rung after rung after rung.
    It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
    It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.
    A hundred to one shot, they call him a klutz
    Can out-run the favorite, all he needs is the guts.
    Your final return will not diminish
    And you can be the cream of the crop;
    It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,
    And you’re gonna finish on top.

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