Hardships tend to break us, immobilize us, or even destroy us entirely, so understandably we become inspired when tragedy turns into triumph or when adversity transforms into an achievement.
When seeking to overcome challenges, much can be learned by observing an immigrant’s fortitude for achieving the American dream. One such person is Mark Gold, the current Technology Advisor to the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.
Gold’s American dream begins as it has for many — arriving in New York City’s JFK airport from a foreign land seeking stability and prosperity. This one man’s relentless pursuit of the American Dream truly captures a generational approach to overcoming challenges through an innovative and resilient spirit.
Make Your Own Opportunities
Gold came of age as a youngster growing up in the Bronx being raised by his single mother. It was in the 90s Gold witnessed his mother struggling in the unglamorous life of working two jobs to pay the bills. The struggle became a life lesson and with no financial nor family support Gold felt isolated from any legitimate opportunities.
Yet, no matter how difficult life would seem, the wise words from his mother would always reverberate within him:
“Those who endlessly try eventually succeed.”
Gold credits his mother for instilling in him a superhuman work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. Figuring out how to overcome challenges in his life for himself set the youth at age 13 on his path to realizing financial freedom. As a teenager, using his entrepreneurial spirit Gold developed creative ways to overcome challenges.
By the age of 13, the fledgling innovator began working for tips outside a supermarket helping people carry groceries to their car. One summer Gold made it his mission to finally experience what he could not his entire life – summer camp in America. Camp wasn’t affordable growing up. So, at the age of 16, he decided to apply a creative strategy and became a camp counselor. He got paid to go to camp. It seemed Gold had finally learned how to create his own opportunities to overcome challenges.
Then one job after another, from cashier to waiter, by the young adult age of 18 Gold had saved his first substantial amount of money — $5,000. He invested that sum and launched his first startup as a junior in college — a digital design agency. Several years later Gold sold the agency for $50,000.
Achieving Through Relentless Ingenuity
Financial freedom is the American dream — especially when one is living in poverty. All Gold heard every day is, “We can’t afford this and we don’t have enough money for that.” Frustration starts to settle in when you see other people living without any financial limitations — taking for granted what others struggle for each day. Gold recalls:
“Kids would tease and laugh at me in elementary school for wearing Payless sneakers. We couldn’t afford Nikes. The ridicule would hurt, it hurt really bad. But it motivated me to go above and beyond.”
Gold lived this as a youngster and certainly relates to what millions of immigrants and citizens in the United States are going through today. The innovator had a typical upbringing like so many in the inner cities — with few opportunities and choices to make a better life. Ironically, it is exactly that kind of struggle that molds a resilient spirit required to overcome the harshest of circumstances.
His hardworking mother and growing up in a low-income neighborhood ultimately provided the lessons to propel Gold in life. His mother’s superhuman work ethic and optimism that she instilled provided him the drive to overcome challenges by developing a willingness to take bold risks.
Family of Pioneers and a History of Perseverance
In the early 1900’s Gold’s great-great-grandfather, Joseph, owned a modern-day transportation company in the former Soviet Union. He had a property with a stable of horses and carriages, along with a dozen employees and a family farm. For economic conditions of 1907, when the majority lived in abject poverty, the family was considered extremely wealthy.
Around the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the new Soviet government confiscated the family’s businesses — along with their land, property, and farm. Overnight the family’s generational wealth was completely stolen.
“The Soviet government would “temporarily” confiscate private property during a revolution, wartime, or political unrest and afterward just keep it,” states Gold. Families were disenfranchised and dismantled, losing their homes, their businesses, their livelihoods, and even their loved ones if any opposition was expressed. With little choice, Gold’s great-great-grandfather felt lucky to be alive and accepted his new reality.
Gold’s family would eventually rebuild and recover in the years to follow but lose everything again in World War II. Astonishingly, with access to the family farm, Gold’s grandmother, Sarah, survived the Soviet Union’s famine during the Holocaust by primarily eating cucumbers for an entire year. Sarah, one of six siblings, lived on to give birth to Gold’s mother. Although many family members perished, the family’s history has left a mark on the next generation’s perspective on perseverance.
Growing up with financial hardships on the tough streets of the Bronx, coupled with learning the family legacy of his marginalized ancestors, developed an obsession for Gold to persist, despite the overwhelming difficulty of achieving success. Today Joseph’s great-great-grandson is rebuilding the family legacy — rebuilding his family’s generational wealth, and creating new opportunities for himself and the next generation of immigrants and innovators.
Rock Bottom Can Teach You Lessons That Take You Places
Gold certainly proves that anyone can start at a young age to learn how to achieve goals and keep reaching for new ones. The innovator is now the Technology Advisor for the New York Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. He is a Venture Partner at Acronym Venture Capital — and an award-winning marketer that commercialized over 200 startups from around the world.
In recent years, Gold has ascended to the top of New York’s technology and innovation sector by developing innovation initiatives for startups, governments, and corporations. Accomplishments include facilitating partnerships that resulted in millions of dollars in revenue and venture capital for his clients.
The award-winning marketing director and tech advisor has fostered partnerships with companies like Microsoft, IBM, Merrill Lynch, Cushman Wakefield, and others. Gold has consulted Universities on startup innovation programs — including Miami-Dade College, Yeshiva University, and Long Island University (LIU). LIU inducted him as an honorary member of Sigma Beta Delta when he delivered a keynote graduation speech to the honors class of 2016.
During the last five years, this inspirational soul has consulted government agencies, public figures, universities, and corporations on economic development and innovation initiatives. Gold’s keynote speeches and sessions on innovation have been nationally received from San Francisco to Boston, to Miami, and New York City.
Those Who Endlessly Try Eventually Succeed
The once impoverished youth’s now work has led him to advise Consul Generals, Mayors, and Ambassadors from tourism and technology at the United Nations, to Artificial Intelligence Investments at the State Department.
The passion and drive cultivated within Gold come from his love of innovation and the power it has to improve people’s lives. Let’s face it, in life we’re all going to experience major losses, however, what separates champions from the rest of us is their inability to give up.
Champions like innovators fail more than they succeed, but the caliber of their success eventually overshadows their failures. If this is true, then it begs the question, “Can someone who doesn’t know how to lose be truly defeated?”
Perhaps that is the lesson here.
No matter how difficult a challenge may appear to be, we never give up on overcoming it. We continuously strategize and develop new ways to adapt and overcome. This perspective that success is a matter of time and effort, has the power to reframe any problem, making it more approachable and achievable — even if it takes years to accomplish.
Knowing that inevitably one day you will overcome challenges through a vigorous and determined journey, will make it much more rewarding when all your hard work finally pays off. Perhaps that is the lesson Gold’s mother had intended for her son all those years ago when she said those who endlessly try eventually succeed. Perhaps it is that unrelenting spirit that not only guides us in our time of need but more importantly equips us with the tools to achieve our greatest aspirations.
The immigrant to innovator did it for himself and now shares his story in hopes to empower others to overcome challenges in their lives and achieve their version of the American dream.