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America is the land of opportunity and has attracted people from all over the world for centuries. Chances are good your ancestors, or you yourself, endured hardship to call this place home. As for me, more than 30 years ago I moved to San Diego from Ireland with $96 in my pocket and a goal to become successful.

Through the years, as I’ve made and lost fortunes, I’ve studied the rags-to-riches stories of emigrants—people who’ve left their homes to permanently settle in another—and I’ve noticed seven traits they have in common. As I shared in episode 006 of The Brian Buffini Show podcast, you don’t have to leave home to gain these traits. If you want to grow and change your life, you have to make the decision to change your mindset.

Now, emigrants have a few natural advantages: They’re typically emigrating to a better place; they’re ready to pursue their dreams; and they understand there’s a price to pay to get there. However, they’re at a disadvantage, too: They may not understand the culture; they might not have any established relationships (often leaving all their friends or family behind); and they may not have any assets or resources.

Soon after I moved to America, I got into a motorcycle accident and accumulated over $200,000 in debt. But when you’re an emigrant, you see everything as an opportunity, and you see opportunity everywhere. I happened to meet a guy who was a successful real estate agent and I saw an opportunity. I thought, “I’ll get into real estate… and sell houses!”

I went after it—not only working hard, but smart. The more successful I became, the more debt I paid off. And after I got out of debt, I was able to build a fortune.

Cultivate These 7 Traits of Successful Emigrants

  1. They’re eager to learn. Emigrants have a voracious appetite to learn; they eat the meat and go after bones and marrow, too. I love to read. My books are gnarled and highlighted with notes. The people who came before us have left us a wealth of wisdom—become a student of their knowledge and experiences.
  1. They have a “do whatever it takes” mindset. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he was born with—a man is what he makes of himself.” Emigrants figure out what it takes and use whatever resources they have to get it done.
  1. They’ll outwork others. Thirtieth President of the United States Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends on activity. There is no development, physically or intellectually, without effort, and effort means work.” Emigrants put their nose to the grindstone to work hard and succeed.
  1. They feel grateful. When you start the day with a spirit of gratitude, everything else in your day improves. Gratitude changes your perspective every minute of every day. There was an article in the news a few years ago about a man, Peter Petrasek, and his wife who left all their money to the U.S. Department of Treasury as a thank you for taking them in after they fled Nazi-controlled Eastern Europe in World War II. Now, I’m not saying to leave your money to the government when you pass; what I am saying is appreciate what you have and the opportunities you’ve been given.
  1. They’re bold with their investments. Richard Branson said, “The brave may not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all.” Investments include the time, money and energy required to grow and succeed. Emigrants focus on the outcome they want and go all in to achieve it.
  1. They’re committed to delaying gratification. My father always told me that patience is a virtue. We live in a time of immediate gratification—when we want something, we want it now, whether it’s success, wealth or a miracle weight loss pill. Success takes sacrifice, determination, focus, and, most of all, patience.
  1. They remember where they came from. In order to appreciate a mountaintop, you have to remember what the valley looks like. I keep a painting by the artist Edwin Hayes entitled “An Emigrant Ship, Dublin Bay at Sunset” outside of my office to remind me of Ireland; it grounds me to who I am and where I’m from, and also helps me appreciate what I have now. As important as it is to remember your past and the lessons you’ve learned, it’s equally important to embrace the here and now so you can fully appreciate the opportunities in front of you.

Here’s the thing…to some degree, we’re all emigrants and can adopt these traits. Somebody in your life came before you and fought so you could have the life you lead and the opportunities you have. Someone in your lineage, your ancestors, paid a price to give you a better opportunity than they had—what would they do with your opportunities?

Visit or your favorite online retailer to learn more about my new book, “The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America,” and, in the meantime, embrace your edge. Here’s to your success!

Brian Buffini was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to San Diego in 1986, where he became the classic American rags to riches story. After becoming one of the nation’s top REALTORS®, he founded Buffini & Company, an organization dedicated to sharing his powerful lead-generation systems with others. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Buffini & Company has trained over 3 million business professionals in 37 countries and currently coaches and trains more than 25,000 business people across North America. Today, Brian reaches over 1 million listeners a year through his popular “Brian Buffini Show” podcast.

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