By Younas Chaudhary
In the heart of Edmonton, Canada, next to the City Center Mall, stands the Westin (Edmonton Plaza) hotel. During the 1970s, deep down in the basement of this 20-storey hotel, I used to work as a maintenance technician fixing air conditioning, heating, water systems, and doorknobs, along with other sundry work. I was among several immigrants, mostly Asians, who would huddle together in the basement supervised by our tough bosses.
We were often made to work for long hours with little pay. But we needed the job, so we never complained. I often wanted to quit the job. But I had no better choice, because we were just starting out, and as new immigrants, we had to work many odd jobs to survive, pay the bills, and send money home to our parents. This was hard and painful, but I hustled, as I wanted to make more money so that we could have a better quality of life in the future.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, and on a warm sunny day, while visiting Edmonton I checked into the Royale Suite at the very same Westin hotel. Everyone from the manager to the waiters were at my beck and call. I took the stairs to peek for a moment at the old basement where I had worked several decades earlier, and I was in tears. I realized the importance of money and how far I had come from those days in the basement working through frigid Edmonton winters.
Growing up, I had a bittersweet relationship with money. My parents lived one season away from poverty and found it hard to make ends meet. My father, a farmer, worked hard, but his seasonal income from crops rarely took care of our family’s needs. He made a low income from farming, and once he purchased a tractor and started renting it out, we lost more money because he didn’t have the mind of a businessman. When the tractor broke, he would not be able to fix it in a timely manner, and it would cost him more money to maintain it in the long run.
I learned important lessons as a young boy from the way my father managed money. In particular I learned the necessity of planning ahead and explicitly writing down one’s priorities.
The lack of money growing up had a negative psychological impact on me; but on the flip side, it gave me a lot of determination and zeal to make more money later in life.
As I migrated to the West at 21, my primary goal was to work hard and make money so that my parents could live a better life in Pakistan. Making money for myself was important to me, of course, but it was a secondary goal.
Unlike in the West, where most children leave their parents and start living independently in early adulthood, in Asia, taking care of parents and spending time with them supersedes all other goals. Fortunately, I was able to provide for my parents within a few years of arriving in Canada.
Then in the 1980s and 1990s, certain winning deals brought on by my hard work, consistency, and perseverance, and by a sudden, well-timed spike in oil & gas prices, increased my income to an unimaginable degree. For the first time in my life, I realized that money could bring confidence, a sense of pride, and enjoyment!
Over the years, money has allowed me to take care of my family’s ongoing needs. For instance, I am able to provide 24/7 caregivers for my wife, who has been afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease and the accompanying dementia. This brings a sense of happiness for her, even though she can’t consciously comprehend what happiness means.
And of course, money can also buy you luxurious cars, mansions, and the opportunity to stay in the most enviable parts of town.
Today, I cherish the joy of giving more than anything else in life. While it is a marvelous blessing to have money, it is an even greater blessing and comfort to see how money can change other peoples’ lives for the better. I have been blessed with the financial means to help old, sick, and needy people in various walks of life.
For instance, recently I was able to provide caregiver services for a genuinely decent man who unfortunately is paralyzed. On learning of his need, I did not hesitate for a second to pay for his caregiver services. I truly felt really good, and it humbled me tremendously, that I was able to provide such essential services that brought more comfort and fewer stresses into his life.
Money can buy you peace of mind to an extent, and it can definitely imbue you with confidence, but it can also foster greed and wickedness. This happens, for example, when you mismanage your funds by living beyond your means, or when you fall into the habit of comparing yourself with your family members, neighbors, and others!
Our relationship with money is strange. It is an unpleasant and even sad experience to borrow money from others, but it is a delightful experience to use money to selflessly help other people needs.
So, if you want to make money with a good cause in mind, do it! Be productive, be hard working, be consistent, respect time, and do the hustle. You will find that giving your hard-earned money and your time to those in real need is the greatest joy in life and will bring true peace to your heart.
But you must get moving! Yesterday is gone, and there is no point in thinking about what is gone. The time is now…do it today!
Find out more about me in my best-selling book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.