By Bachir Bastien
The number of Haitian students studying in Taiwan when I started my undergraduate studies was very limited back in 2011. The typical reaction we would get from saying we’re from Haiti was: “Oh, Haiti, that small island ravaged by an earthquake in 2010, I know it…” Haiti was somehow synonymous with disaster, earthquake, and tsunami. Later that year, a Haitian student by the name of Claude Marcus Boereau was going to change that narrative. Claude Marcus Boereau, also known as Marcus Bo or 克羅德 (pronounced Ke Luo De), became a game changer. While he was still pursuing his bachelor’s degree, Marcus attended “Super Idol- 超级偶像 (pronounced Chao-Ji Ou- Xiang) a prestigious singing contest, and got himself the 6th place among 5000 participants. His achievement was so impressive that he became an iconic figure for all of us living in Taiwan. As a result, he changed the perception people had about Haiti in ways undreamed of.
Marcus Bo currently lives in Shanghai where he runs IMAR Business Group, a China-based firm that provides a full range of trade consulting and facilitation services, including, but not limited to Contracting & Negotiation, Product Sourcing, Supplier Search, Inspection Services, Quality Control, Logistics Management, etc. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Marcus trying to uncover what sets of learnable skills, and techniques he adheres to, that could be passed on to others. I’ve learned four important lessons that I believe any future entrepreneur would find truly valuable. I have decided to summarize his wisdom and share them in the present article, hoping they inspire you to take action.
“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Making a difference is the yardstick
Everyone would agree that the entrepreneur’s journey is a treacherous one. I wanted to know how Marcus withstood disappointments and challenges that are usually inherent to building a successful company. His answer was rather simple and yet powerful: “I have a drive, and it is not money.” Feeling unsatisfied, I asked him what his drive was, to which he replied: “I want to give back to my country, by building a company to facilitate trades between Haiti and China.” He founded IMAR Business Group with the vision of allowing Haitian businesses to have easy access to the highly- coveted Chinese market. Access to the Chinese market means more business for Haitian companies, which in turn means an increase in jobs and ultimately a rising middle-class. A thriving middle-class could, in turn, trigger economic growth that we can all enjoy.
Making a difference is the yardstick. It’s easy to be sidetracked by financial rewards when working toward an ambitious goal. According to Marcus, too much focus on “money” is short-lived and dangerous, with very limited motivational powers. He laughingly told me he lost a lot of money in the process of building IMAR, and that he would have given up if money was his main motivator. Most of us get this principle backward: money is the by-product of a job well done. Not the other way around. As Marcus told me, working with a noble, larger-than-self vision, he is able to courageously and successfully overcome the challenges placed on his path.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
Work hard, be disciplined, be consistent
When it comes to working Marcus has a mantra: Work hard, be disciplined, be consistent. These words sound as simple as they are significant with regard to working toward a worthwhile goal. Marcus works from Monday to Saturday from 9 to 9. This is a grueling schedule, but he argues that’s what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Many believe that entrepreneurs have an esoteric gift reserved only to a few. Marcus disagrees, he told me most people don’t make it because they aren’t disciplined enough to finish what they’ve started. Like Aristotle famously said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” The takeaway is clear here: Only through hard work, discipline, and consistency can success be achieved. Are you willing to make it a habit to work hard? And to build the discipline to see your goals through?
“Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.”
Sense of gratitude
During my time speaking with Marcus, I lost count of the many times the word “gratitude” came up. Having a sense of gratitude is so important to Marcus that one would argue that it’s part of his psychological makeup. Why is having a sense of gratitude so important? First, we save mental energy by practicing gratitude. Our natural tendency is to carry a grudge around. We are simply unaware of the useful mental energies we waste hating, talking about, or thinking about those who do us wrong. The hard truth is that holding grudge hurts us more than it does the other person. Marcus is the type of person who doesn’t hold grudges, he forgives, forgets, and moves on. By doing so, he is always overflowing with a positive, and contagious energy that he can use for what truly matters –find better ways to serve his community.
Second, it gives us the wisdom to seize opportunities from challenges that simply elude many. For example, Marcus from the very beginning took being born in one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, as an advantage to make a difference. Instead of being cynical, Marcus maintained a strong sense of gratitude coupled with an unwavering determination to serve his country and make an impact. This strong sense of gratitude is undoubtedly the reason behind his involvement with CFI (Centre de Facilitation des Investissements) as former Director of Facilitation and ultimately IMAR. This may sound counterintuitive, but there is always something to be grateful for no matter how bad things may appear. What are you grateful for? What challenges can you transform into opportunities if you practiced gratitude?
Bias toward action
It’s time we stop talking and start taking action. I am always amazed by the sheer volumes of good ideas people around me have. But when the night comes, they sleep on them, dream about them, and unfortunately, nothing gets done. The hallmark of every successful entrepreneur is a bias toward action. This is no different for Marcus Bo. He believes that each of us has a unique strength. All we have to do is to find this unique strength and use it to provide a service to the society one action at a time. In order to make a difference, the smallest action is required, and complacency is to be avoided at all costs. Like Confucius famously said: “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” What is one single step that you are willing to take today?
I have been inspired by the wisdom and words of Marcus Bo, that I have decided to put them in an article so everyone could benefit. I hope you find these words useful as I have. May they inspire you to adopt a childlike sense of gratitude and take positive actions toward your goals.