Tuesday, June 28, 2011
INTERVIEW WITH THE 2007 WORLD SERIES OF POKER CHAMP JERRY YANG part 3
Here is the last part of the interview with Jerry Yang. If you missed the first 2 parts please go to the last 2 weeks posts. Enjoy.
AJ: The other things that allot of successful people have in common is gratitude. I know after you won the championship you actually went back to Merced, California and you opened up your restaurant. Why go back to Merced? Why not live it up in Las Vegas? And I know you have allot of charity work that you do, so talk to us a little about why come back to the community, why the charity work, things like that?
JY: You know in regards to the Charity like I said earlier I had always been very poor, very hungry and hopeless as a little boy. When I went to the World Series in 2007 I made a pledge to God and in front of ESPN T.V. I said if I win I would donate 10% of that mainly to the Make a Wish Foundation, The Ronald McDonald House and also to the Feed the Children. So that is exactly what I did. Immediately after my win I donated the money. For a few reasons: Number 1) you know I won $8.25 Million, you know that’s allot of money. I could spare a few bucks for other people who are in greater need than I am and that in itself is a privilege and a wonderful honor to be able to do something like that for people who are in need. Mainly because of what I have seen in my life, what I experienced in my life as a little boy, to be hopeless and to be hungry, so I want to give something back to the community that’s important to me. But going back to the community, I grew up In Fresno, and Merced is very close by, and I have friends and relative in Merced. I wanted to go back. I mean I can pretty much live anywhere in the world right now A.J. I could be in Hawaii right now, but why Merced or why Fresno? Because that’s my roots, that’s where my family is and my community. People that I grew up with. So I wanted to go back and be myself if you will. Be the true Jerry Yang and show people around me that hey you know what? he has not forgotten his roots, and that is why he is back here to support the community. Not just the community but if you have read and followed me I have done charities pretty much through the country. I have personally raised more than $800,000 mainly for under privileged kids across America and you know I intend to do even more in the future.
A.J.: God bless you. That is awesome. That is just amazing. That is basically what prompted me to approach you that day in your restaurant. I was just waiting that day for food and reading the articles and that is the inspiring story that I saw and I think the readers of my blog will totally relate and I think this is a really really good thing that you’re are doing.
JY: Thank you.
AJ: ok so now you won the championship. You mentioned allot of the people blow the money in a weekend, make lots of money in one week and blow it the other. What does it take to take the opportunity and the notoriety and convert it into a successful business like you have in your restaurants.
JY: You know I, even though I won the money in a very short time, a few weeks, it was hard work for me. And I treat every single dollar that I earned from the World Series as the last dollar that I have. The reason I went into business is because I want to instill some beliefs, in my children that you know what even though your father has allot of money, nothing comes easy. You still have to work. I used to tease my friends; there is no free lunch in America. And so you have to work hard for what you have. Just because you won allot of money doesn’t mean you’re gonna go and gamble with it or not to take good care of it. I never want my children to go through what I went through, and hopefully their children don’t have to go through what I went through. So I want to teach my children about working principles. Work ethics and hard work, and believing in yourself. And that nothing is free in this world. You’ve got to work hard for what you have.
AJ: What is your definition of success?
JY: My definition of success is being happy. Just being happy. And I guess the word happy is very broad, but I think if you are happy in every aspect of your life, you know weather it is your relationship, weather it is your religion, weather it is your career, weather it is your relationship with people around you, your children, your wife, your friends, you know and you live comfortably and you are happy in general to me that is success.
AJ: Well said. Many people believe that success and wealth is dependent on luck. Many believe it takes money to make money, or you have to have friends in the right places or be in the right place at the right time. What in your opinion does it take to become successful?
JY: I have to say hard work. In my country and in my culture people believe that your life is predestined. That means we believe that your life is actually been written down on a piece of paper. That there is nothing you can do. I wrote this in my book also. That your life has been written down. Every event in your life, weather bad or good you have no control of it. I disagree with that, and I have been getting allot of criticism (laughs) especially from my very own people. But I have to say hard work. And part of it like I said earlier you have to associate yourself with successful people. Especially people who have the same dreams, same career, same desires as you. By learning from them and become a master like them, that will help you get further even more and faster. But you need to work hard. I also believe in being in the right place at the right time too, and most people don’t believe in that like you, right, for example in 2007, I could have chosen to play day 1, day 2, or day 3, but I didn’t. I chose the last date which is July 7th and maybe for some reason, that was, I did the right thing. I was at the right place at the right time so you know little things like that. But the bottom line is you need to work hard and you cannot let people discourage you. You got to really want what you are hoping to achieve, and do everything in your power to achieve that. And you are gonna fall, you’re gonna fall sometimes here and there, but so what? Everyone goes through that. And you are going to pick yourself up, and you keep on moving and you keep moving until you reach it. That to me is the true character of a successful person is not giving up.
AJ: That is huge. One of the things that we both have in common is working with children. What advice do you have for children today who are inundated with so much negativity, on television on the media, to make them realize that opportunity is everywhere and they can be successful no matter what their background is?
JY: You know you’re right. With internet, with T.V. with radio I mean you hear profanity everywhere. You hear it I mean people. I mean bad examples everywhere. I can only speak for myself. Like I said I came from a very poor background. My father was working minimum wage putting food on the table. I didn’t give up and one thing I really want to stress is education. Whether or not you become a poker player, education will help you be a good poker player. The first thing to do is to pursue your education first. Education is the foundation of everything you do in life. You’ve got to know how to read and write. You’ve got to know how to communicate with people. So it does not matter what career you get into. Education is the first foundation that you got to have. Go for it. Like you said just do it. Get an education and from there decide what you want to do. Nothing is impossible in this world if you work a little extra harder everything is possible.
AJ: Thank you. That is awesome. You mentioned you have a book coming out very soon. Can you tell us a little more about it?
JY: Yes my book is called From Refugee camp to poker champ. All In. The Jerry Yang Story. It’s just about my life as a little boy in Laos. You know it talks about my scape from my village to the Mekong River. Try to cross the Mekong River to Thailand. And surviving the refugee camp in Thailand for almost 5 years. And coming to America. The day that they called my father’s name to come to America A.J., that was the happiest day of my life. After I won the World Series and Norm and Chad and one of the commentators asked me you know how is this compare to any day of your life? And I said this day can never be compared to the day that they called my father’s name to come to America. So but to make a long story short when I flew over San Francisco and I saw the buildings and the cars, I mean everything. I thought America was heaven. And I said Wow I will never be hungry again. When we landed in Nashville, Tennessee, we were placed in one of the poorest projects in Nashville, Tennessee. And I realized wow, poverty exists everywhere. There were drugs. People doing drugs this and that. I mean gun shots. I mean I was shocked. I was sad. I said this can’t be America. I didn’t envision America to be like this. So again I went to school. And try my best and graduated from high school as a valedictorian in my class. And went to college and got my degree and got my graduate degree and so again going to the point I said earlier if you put your mind to it and work very hard you can do it.
AJ: fantastic, and if people want to get your book do they go to your website: www.pokerchampjerryyang.com ? Or is this going to be available on amazon and Barnes and Nobles and places like that?
JY: Yes it will be in bookstores in July. It should be in Barnes and Nobles and Borders but people can order from Amazon or they can go directly to my website www.pokerchampjerryyang.com
AJ: Is there anything else you want to add. I really appreciate you time, and that is all the questions I had.
JY: Not really I just want to thank you personally for giving me the opportunity to do an interview with you. I really want my story to be out there. So people know about who Jerry Yang really is. I also talk about my father who was also involved in the Vietnam War and was fighting along the U.S. soldiers. At one point his platoon actually rescued an American pilot. In my book we’ll share a little bit about my father and how he helped the American soldiers at that time. So you know I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and I look forward to seeing you again AJ.
AJ: Thank you for your time.