flying solo

Powerful Insights and Wisdom from Top Middle-Market CEOs: Flying Solo to the US

In Leadership Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

On ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast, we have interviewed over 200 leading middle-market CEOs from companies across industries, and the advice and wisdom they have shared with us is unparalleled. We are excited to share some of these insights with you in a new form!

On the podcast I have had the privilege of talking with people from all over the world, whether they currently reside in another country or whether they or their parents emigrated to the US. I love the perspective and stories they share!

Many of our guests moved to the US as children with their families, or are first-generation Americans. Others, however, moved to the US on their own as adults, either for a job or to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Frank Frietsch, CEO of Layher, Inc., first came to the US from Germany as a teenager for an exchange program. He ended up in West Texas, which, he acknowledges, was “slightly different [from his] small town in the Black Forest of Germany.” After figuring out the Texas drawl and remembering to shake out his boots–“there might be a spider or a scorpion” –he had a good experience and was happy to come back for work as a grown-up. After long stints in other states, he returned to his American “roots” (and boots!) and has now been living in Texas for nearly two decades.

Similarly to Frank, Leticia Latino-Van Splunteren, CEO of Neptuno USA, also first came to the US as a young person and then returned later on to work. Miami was a bit of a bucket-list destination because of its close ties to her home city, Caracas, and so she decided that’s where she wanted to be–and maybe the fact that MTV was hiring interns had a little to do with it! Alas, MTV wasn’t meant to be, so Leticia started off with an internship with Merrill Lynch and then did graduate school at the University of Miami. Florida must have felt like home because she ended up coming back to open the USA branch of Neptuno and still lives in the Sunshine State!

One of the neatest things about the US, of course, is that there’s a little something for everyone–MTV, boot scorpions–and in Björn Stansvik’s case, the kindness of the people was what really clinched it. While on a road trip throughout America in a rather unreliable 1980 Chevy Citation during a study-abroad year, Björn recalls, “that was actually what attracted me to America, that trip when the car kept breaking down. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers–especially outside of the big cities–and the Americans that I came across were incredibly kind and generous in helping us keep our journey going.” He returned to the US and after some rather bold statements to interviewers, a brush with immigration, an unsolicited market entry strategy report, and a temporary return to his native Sweden to obtain the correct immigration documents (this is a truly great story that you’ll want to hear in his own words!) Björn realized his dream of living and working in the US. He still lives in the Minneapolis area where he founded his own company, MentorMate, in 2001.

Whether as a child with family or on their own later on, our CEO guests who emigrated to the US from around the world are some of my favorite interviews. Their perseverance, grit, ability to adapt, and big dreams are always so inspiring and I never tire of hearing their stories.

For more amazing CEO stories, you can find the full archive here or listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast player.

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