The Roadless Travelled….Paves The Path To Success
Top Pick Media had the privilege of hearing his grit to greatness journey, one filled with sacrifice, perseverance and triumph.
Karuna: You were the first Indian to open hotels in the metroplex in 1976, and grew from 1 to 13 hotels. Your success, in turn inspired other Indians to move to Dallas and open hotels. What were some challenges you had to overcome building this business?
Chan: I was the First Indian hotel owner in Dallas. As far as challenges are concerned, I didn't face much, the difference being my education and professional background (laughs). Owning and running a hotel is a no brainer, especially independent hotels. But, the big sacrifice I made was on my personal life- we moved from our house to live in the hotel, which was tough but had to be done.
Fellow Patels saw my success and moved to Dallas to start their own hotels. Within two years between all of us combined there were 17 to 18 hotels on the same street.
Karuna: Despite the ups and downs in the banking industry, what inspired you to start a bank, learn the trade, and build a profitable enterprise over 3 decades?
At that point, I came up with the idea that if anybody invested $100,000 which would amount to 5% ownership in the bank, I would make them professional bankers and put them on the Board of Directors. Within 2 weeks I got 10 investors with $100,000 & opened State Bank of Texas.
I told my shareholders that it was now time to prove to the community that Patels can not only run hotels but they can also run a bank. So we all started working at the bank at no salary, (we had other income which helped). The women trained at new account school and teller school and the men went to the key punch schools. We had only one paid employee.
Karuna: Community Well being and Give Back is very important to you, and State Bank of Texas has changed several lives. Can you share an instance where your bank impacted a client's life?
Chan: (Beaming with pride) We have helped many Patels who came to this country solely on blood relationship and without any capital! We gave them loans for seed money, which is extremely difficult to secure. Also, there are so many Indians in the hotel business, who got their start because of the loans we granted, when nobody else would touch them. Several are multi-millionaires today. So we are very proud and feel very satisfied that we have done our share.
As far as impact on the community as a whole is concerned, I've been Instrumental in establishing a community center in Irving which cost us 7.5 million dollars (all paid off), a project that I am very proud of.
Karuna: You have tremendous experience & success across industries, from a career with Braniff Airways, to being first Indian hotelier in DFW, to starting your own bank - State Bank of Texas. What wisdom would you share with ambitious entrepreneurs in turning their dreams to reality here in The U.S.A?
Chan: First and foremost, I would say Financial Independence. I encourage everybody to quit their jobs and go into business for themselves, (laughs reassuringly) I agree is very difficult to do and needs courage. The start is very difficult but Perseverance is the key. I highly recommend this to anyone in our community; in fact all my children are self-employed! Second is Education, it plays a very important role. Finally Hard Work, especially in this country if you work hard, I guarantee 99%, you will be successful.
Karuna: They say success depends on the strength of your relationships, who are some key people who helped you achieve your goals?
Chan: The number one person is my wife; she has supported me all the way. Any time I was ready to start a new venture she has always stood by me.
Karuna: What are some important life-lessons you have shared with your children, which will help them carry on your legacy?
Chan: Ethics is very important; without ethics, you may experience short term success, but if you have ethics you can count on long term success! Being a banker, I am the fiduciary officer, managing one billion dollars of other people's deposits, so obviously I am trusted by the FDIC, who has verified me and has faith that I am an honest person. So I would add Honesty to be the number one principle, and what is important is, being honest even when no one is watching you.
Karuna: You experienced a life changing incident at a young age, you survived a heart attack. In what way did this change your life? karuna: You experienced a life changing incident at a young age, you survived a heart attack. In what way did this change your life?
Chan: I am 74 years old and I was half my age when I had my heart attack at 37! It changed my life tremendously; I was in shock for 6 months. The first lesson I learnt from this was 'delegation of authority'. Before my heart attack I used to micro manage my hotels, but had to stop after my attack.
After 6 months of not micro managing, I noticed that my P&L remained the same! I said to myself, this is like “the dog that walked underneath the bullock cart thinking he was the one running it” (laughs). So I implemented this lesson in my life& the principles I had learned at Stanford and Johns Hopkins. I am very happy to say, that most of my financial success came after my heart attack.
Secondly, it changed my Life Style. I became an unofficial cardiologist; in those 6 months while recovering at home I studied cardiology. I also attended the ACC (American College of Cardiology) conventions. Now, when anyone in my community has a heart attack, I visit him/her and share my experiences to help them.
Chan: The most important advice I can give here is that Money is not everything! It is hard to believe; when you don't have money, it does feel like money is everything but when you gain a certain level, you will realize that it isn't, because you cannot take it with you when you are gone (laughs).
The important goal you should have is to help members of your family, maintain good relationship with the society and earn a good reputation in your community and friends circle. Achieving this will give you more satisfaction than being rich.