The Friendly Russian Lives the American Dream

Ask the Readers takes a holiday break today.

I usually post about gratitude on Friday, but I wanted you to see this one in time for the 4th of July holiday. You’ll know why when you read it. Thanks Friendly Russian for your excellent words. The ending made me all mushy inside. Take it away Stan!

It’s 5:15AM in the morning. My wife and two daughters are still sleeping; perfect time to write down something new.

First, I would like to thank you to Mr. 1500 for this great opportunity to write this Friday Gratitude post. When he told me that I was welcome to write it I got really excited and scared at the same time. But the challenge was accepted and there’s no way to turn back.

Whipped ass

Hello, I my name is Stanislav, but you can call me Stan. I am a Russian immigrant and have been living in the States since June of 2013.

My story is really simple, I came to America with no English, no money or job. I quickly learned 15 words – all in Spanish and started reading about early retirement movement.

As far back as I remember, I always wanted to live in the United States. This country was a mysterious place for me and many other kids who were born in USSR and grew up in Russia.

Coming to America. The plane that brought Stan to the States.

The funniest and craziest thing is this: I’d never been there before I immigrated. I got all my impressions from Hollywood movies. Probably not the best source of information, but in the late 80s, that was all we had. And by the way, no Internet at that time, remember that?

The very first “real American” movie I saw was “Commando” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a crazy time in our neighborhood. To dilute a mix of Soviet and Indian movies they had at our local movie theater, they got several Hollywood pictures.

Stan or Arnold?

All my friends wanted to be like Arnold from the movie. We took (read “stole”) black shoe polish and made us look like Arnie the Commando for almost a week. It was a tough and miserable week for us. After that episode we were known as “Shoe Polish Commandos”.

Despite this shameful nickname and whipped ass, I fall in love with America.

The American Dream

When I was 17 years old I read the Henry Ford’ biography and it changed my life. Of course, this was a book translated into Russian with some censorship from the Soviet Communist party, but for a 17 years old version of me, it was an unbelievable book.

It was a story about a farmer’s son who left his home when he was 16 years old and became a machinist’s apprentice. Ford’s love for engineering called him away from home, from his family’s farm to the Edison Illuminating Company, where he worked all the way up to chief engineer.

Every paycheck Mr. Ford saved money scrupulously until he had enough (he knew about FU money) so he could quit and work in his experiments with gasoline engines. We all know the end of the story.

I like this quote (I had to spend couple of hours to find it in English and it sounds even better):

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward. –Henry Ford

After that, I read a lot of books and stories about self made people. From American presidents, to actors. From small business owners to founders of huge corporations. From immigrants to people born on American soil.

Reading all of these books and stories helped me to understand one simple thing: If you want to become a successful self-made person, there are only two requirements:

1 Healthy government and economy.

2 A lot of hard work, sweat, determination and initiative.

That is it. Your origin doesn’t matter. Your skin color doesn’t matter. Your faith doesn’t matter. Your accent doesn’t matter.

Only your hard work, God’s help and healthy economic environment matters.

Living The Dream

It’s 5:15AM in the morning. My wife and two daughters are still sleeping. It’s the perfect time to work on this post and be grateful.

It’s a great time to be grateful for this opportunity to live in the country where I always wanted to live.

It’s a great time to be thankful for the place where your hard work, determination and initiative will always yield fruit; sometimes faster, sometimes slower.

Recently, I watched one video that reminded me about one huge difference between Russia and America. I am going to steal this comparison from Yakov Smirnoff, a comedian who immigrated from the USSR in the late 1970s.

When you write a letter to someone in Russia, you have to put the name of the country first.

Then, the name of the city.

Then, the name of the street.

The name of the person comes in last.



Red Square

Vladimir Putin

I am very grateful that I am raising my children in the place where people always come first.

* Now I have to read all these books in English.

Mr 1500 note: I’ve had the fun and honor of meeting Stan in person. I won’t fill you in on the details of where he works or what he does, but it’s incredibly impressive. He’s built an amazing life for himself and his family. And four years ago when he arrived in America, he didn’t know any English. American Dream indeed.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

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*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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35 Responses to The Friendly Russian Lives the American Dream

  1. Chuck says:

    Wow….just wow. The opposite of what MMM calls complainypants.

  2. Congrats Stan on living the American Dream!!! It is true that with the freedom to choose what you want to do and hard work that you can become anything that you want to be. Awesome post!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…What Does Freedom Mean to You?My Profile

    • Exactly my comments! Great job and great work! American dream is awesome if you do it right!

      And great post!

    • My great grandfather used to say, “Living in USSR I was told what to think, what to tell and what to do. Moreover, I was told what not to think, what not to tell and what not to do”
      Having this great opportunity to live in the country where freedom is one of the cornerstones is a blessing.
      Thanks MSM for your nice words.

  3. . It’s always inspiring to read stories of immigrants making a life for themselves in a new country. It’s a great reminder that choice and opportunity still exist, if your willing to pursue them.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…When and how to Teach Kids About FinanceMy Profile

  4. What better way to prepare for Independence Day than to be reminded of the incredible blessings of being an American where, as Stan puts it, “people always come first”.

    Congratulations to you and your family, Stan!

  5. Brandon says:

    Great post Stan! Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Wow, what an inspiration! You’re what America is all about Stan. 🙂 I’m thrilled to see you’re creating the American Dream for your family. Also, I’m totally following your blog now!
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! July 2My Profile

    • First of all, thanks a lot for your nice words and for following my blog. I am honored and excited.
      I hope my story and blog will inspire more and more people.

  7. Welcome to the US. In many ways you are ahead of a lot of us here, because your living expectations haven’t been infected with consumerism from your toddler years. Good luck on your path to financial independence.

  8. Great post Stan. It’s great to hear about people (you) pursuing excellence through hard work, and determination. So often, people around me are complaining about how they can never get ahead, but never work any harder to change their circumstances. It is encouraging to hear your voice of gratefulness. I look forward to following your journey towards Financial Independence!
    TheGetawayFund recently posted…Boost Your Savings with Government HelpMy Profile

  9. Danny says:

    I really enjoy reading stories like this one, as it reminds me of my family’s own stories immigrating into the US. Thank you so much for sharing it Stan, and wishing you and your family all the best on your journey!

  10. I’m always impressed with immigrants that come to the US with nothing and end up very successful. So inspiring. Stan – you and people like you are why we should always welcome immigrants.

    I FIREd in 2012 but I had so many advantages – born here, frugal parents, decent schools. It was way easier for me.
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Instant savings with discounted Gift CardsMy Profile

    • Thanks a lot for this nice comment, Mr. FF.
      You shouldn’t belittle your achievement, you did it and it wasn’t easy. You FIREd not because you were born here in America, not because you attended decent school. But because of your parents (they did great job), because of your hard work and sacrifice.

      Again, thanks a lot for your nice words, I appreciate that.

  11. Joe says:

    Great to hear from another immigrant. The US has a lot of problems, but it is still a great place to live. We have a lot more freedom that many places in the world. I love it here too. Have you read Arnold’s biography? I have it on the reserve list at the library and looking forward to it.

    • Every country has different problems, but the US is the best country I could’ve dreamed of. I love it and proudly can call myself Russian-American 😉

      I’ve read one book about Arnold, but it was 20 years ago. Now I have to find and read another one. This time in English.

  12. Brian says:

    Nicely done Stan! More people need your drive and determination.
    Brian recently posted…Debt Discipline FeedbackMy Profile

  13. As a natural born American, it’s easy to take for granted the freedoms we’re granted.

    Seeing it from a different perspective is important sometimes. We live in a place where hard work gets rewarded and not punished. Great job making your American Dream come true.

    • I think when a person has on option to compare with, it’s easer for him to appreciate all the good things he has now and don’t think about the negative part.
      Thank you, MWM

  14. moneyMP says:

    Thanks for sharing Stan. Your story shows others that anything is possible! Continued success.
    moneyMP recently posted…11 Tips High School Graduates can use to Prepare for CollegeMy Profile

  15. Mao says:

    Congrats on your American dream Stan. It’s funny how as am immigrant myself that we would always learn about America through the lens of Hollywood, which is not exactly the same when I arrived. Great time to be even more grateful. Happy birthday America.

    • It’s good to know that I am not the only one who learned about the US from the movies 🙂 But they gave me my first impression, which was good 🙂
      Happy 4th of July, America.

  16. Mr. Tako says:

    Great story Stan! You really typify the American Dream!

    Well, at least the “Old” American Dream of coming to the new world and making a better life for yourself through hard work and determination. Hold onto that dream.

    The new dream seems to be about owning large houses, expensive cars, and excessive amounts of materialism. Don’t get sucked into that…it’s a black hole of self destruction.
    Mr. Tako recently posted…Hiking The Tolt-Pipeline TrailMy Profile

    • Thanks, Mr. Tako.
      The first year living in the States we were sold the false dream. The one with big house and a lot of expensive cars, with expensive vacations and clothes.
      Fortunately for us I met people who showed us another one, the real American Dream.
      And now, after living in America for 4 years I have to say that the real dream is still alive.

  17. Miss Mazuma says:

    Impressive, Stan!! Your story sounds similar to that of my ex husband who also grew up with an admiration of the US via movies then books, eventually arriving here as a war refugee during the Bosnian Conflict. Despite having grown up here, I had never met anyone more American than him. When you come from a different country you tend to appreciate ours, and the freedom it allows, so much more than those who are born into it. We live in the land of liberty but to many liberty cannot be explained unless you have lived within constraints. His story, and yours, are exactly the reminder that many of us need. Gratitude is just scratching the surface. Thank you for sharing!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…An Aha Moment… Reverse Engineering FIMy Profile

  18. Mrs.Wow says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Stan! For the past few years, I have become jaded by the term “American Dream”, but you instilled new life into that phrase. And yes Arnie, you can’t have an “American Dream” without Arnie!!

  19. hang le says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Stan!

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