A 16-year-old Muslim kid gets on a plane bound from Pakistan to the United States.
This isn’t a story about race, religion, politics, war, or terrorism. It’s a story about success.
Shahid Khan got on that plane in 1967. He wanted to study architecture, but ended up majoring in engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He showed up in the sleepy college town with less than $500 in his pocket and spent his first few nights sleeping in the local YMCA for $2 a night.
While studying at the University of Illinois, he took a job with auto parts manufacture Flex-n-Gate. After graduation, he started his own company, got sued by Flex-n-Gate, then bought them outright in 1980.
He grew the company to a giant which employs 12,450 people at 54 facilities. His personal wealth is now estimated at $7.5 billion. His epic mustache is priceless. Not bad for a kid who spent his first nights in the United States in a cot at the Y.
In 2012, Khan bought the fledgling NFL team in Jacksonville, the Jaguars. It’s a team that saw some success in the mid-90’s, but had been relegated to, not only the basement, but basically the dumpster outside the basement door of the NFL.
He hired good people, drafted well, tried to re-engage the community and you saw a framework of a somewhat relevant NFL team come together. Some good coaching, a bad division, and a defense that could keep Donald Trump from tweeting and they find themselves one game away from the Super Bowl.
It’s unlikely Jacksonville defeats the New England Death Star this weekend. So, it’s not going to wind up some bad Disney movie. What it does show you is that, in every facet of life, there are opportunities for success. Sure, there are circumstances that people encounter in life that can’t be eschewed.
Shahid Khan shows us that the American Dream is still alive. You need brains, discipline, toughness, and a little luck, and anything can happen.
Maybe even beating Tom Brady.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.