Bring America With You
Today is Kathleen and my 18th Thanksgiving as Americans abroad. Just like every other year since we moved overseas, Kathleen is at home today putting together a traditional Thanksgiving feast for family and friends who will join us around our dinner table in Panama City tonight.
We haven’t lived in the United States for 18 years, but there’s no denying we’re Americans… and we wouldn’t want to try. Eighteen years ago, Kathleen and I left the States, but we weren’t running from something. We wanted to see what life was like other places. We wanted to be able to explore options and opportunities, for lifestyle, for investment, and for business, from different geographic and cultural vantage points. We didn’t leave America behind. We brought it with us.
The American Dream isn’t a place. It is an approach. A state of mind. And it shouldn’t be trapped inside the boundaries of North America.
Further, you don’t have to be American to embrace it. People from all across the globe seek the American Dream, recognizing that, often, it is to be found beyond their home borders.
The American Dream is available to anyone with the gumption to go looking for it. Americans seeking the freedoms they were born with… Venezuelans fleeing political oppression… Panamanians looking to improve the quality of life for their children.
A World Full Of Opportunity
It can be found anywhere opportunity exists… which is to say almost anywhere in the world. In this global economy, all you need is a skill or an idea and, like all American pioneers of the past three-plus centuries, the confidence to relocate it to a place where it has value.
A swimming pool contractor might find opportunity in a place where no one knows how to build quality swimming pools. A banker might see a niche for a mortgage brokerage house in a fragmented banking market. A golfer might fill a need consulting with a developer looking to build a serious course in a developing nation.
Each of these is a real-life example of an American I know who has found his (or her) answer to the American Dream beyond American borders. In each case, each of these Americans relocated to another country, exporting his valuable experience with him.
I’ve also known a Brit who started a messenger service, an Aussie who opened a hostel, a Dutchman setting up a night club… all in countries where they didn’t happen to be born. These and many, many other non-American entrepreneurs like them are actively seeking the American Dream.
Just like us Americans.
Exporting Your Experience
To realize your American Dream, take your skillset and go in search of opportunity. If your agenda is that of a general entrepreneur, the world is wide open. If you have specific training or experience that you want to continue using, almost any developing market could accommodate. No need to reinvent the wheel. Like the American Dreams in the examples I mentioned above, all you have to do is find a fit.
Most developing countries are desperate for many of the products and services we take for granted in the Western world. Even if a business already exists in the place where you’re interested in relocating, it’s usually safe to assume that the local operation is being run fairly inefficiently. Leaving the door open for the entrepreneur with First World experience to bring to bear.
If you’ve become concerned that your American Dream is no longer achievable, here’s my advice: Don’t give up on the dream. Consider exporting it.
Look around the world map to find where you might be able to make your American Dream come true. That’s what all those immigrants who relocated to the United States over the last 400 years did.
The main difference today? It’s easier than ever before in history to find options and to act on them.
“Lief, Argentina, USA, wherever… getting a little tired of the yo-yo it seems like every country experiences due to selfish abuse by leadership. The pro-business party goes to excess paying back their cronies by making money-making easier… public gets fed up with that then elects the opposite, giving away everything for votes… and we go back and forth.
“Is there such a thing as an honest politician who tries to reach balance? I don’t think that exists anymore… maybe never did. Panama does seem to come closer to that balance, but I’m not that close to the details there to really understand.
“Enjoy your letters, Lief.”
“Lief, just read your endorsement of Argentina’s new president, who is an anti-choice, war on drugs, neoliberal conman. What next? A Trump endorsement? I’ll get my news from a legit source, thank you. How much does the RNC fund you with anyways?”