Passing the Torch of Success Rocks San Diego - January 31, 2012
Garnering the support of a sold out audience in UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium, the Passing of the Torch of Success (“PTT”) event held on January 29, 2012, rocked San Diego. Billed as an event which would educate, inspire, and empower, the PTT in San Diego more than delivered. As one audience member noted: “What an incredible panel of speakers….so inspiring…everyone left empowered with an amazing sense of pride as Iranian Americans.”
Reminding the audience of the value of being proud of one’s heritage, each speaker shared insights about the keys to achieving success. All the while, co-hosts Maz Jobrani and Shally Zomorodi brought good humor and smiles to all hearts.
Humorist and author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent, Firoozeh Dumas recounted her journey by noting that her inspiration to write came from stories her father had told her and her desire to tell her own children her story. She encouraged the audience to give back to society. Firoozeh Dumas was followed by Former Senior Advisor to the Obama Administration, Vali Nasr, who recounted how, at times, life calls one to take an unplanned path and how responding to the unanticipated summons can lead to unexpected opportunities, as was the case with Dr. Nasr.
The sound of music then filled the auditorium as world class pianist, Tara Kamangar, played four pieces. Mesmerized by the “Notes from Persia”, the audience watched Ms. Kamangar’s fingers race across the keyboard with aplomb. Many who remain thirsty for more music from Ms. Kamangar may find information about her on her website.
A short video about the success of the Iranian School in San Diego, which now boasts over 250 students and is financially self-sustaining, followed. The school creates a great example for how other communities may create schools designed to preserve language and culture.
Celebrating the diverse population base of San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders praised the PTT event and issued a Proclamation on behalf of the City of San Diego. The proclamation marked January 29, 2012, as “Passing the Torch of Success Day” in San Diego. More information may be found on the Office of the Mayor/City of San Diego website.
A Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition and a flag that had been flown over the United States Capitol had also been presented to PAAIA by Congressman Duncan Hunter “in recognition of the dedication and effort of PAAIA to educate and mentor the next generation by sharing wisdom and experiences of the lives of successful Iranian Americans.”
Noting the common bond all of us have with newborns, San Diego obstetrician Shahram Daneshmand recounted how even in childhood he desired to be a physician. Witnessing the pain of mothers who could not afford the necessities of life after child birth, Dr. Daneshmand explained how he established Miracle Babies to help families who faced financial challenges. He finds much satisfaction in giving back by helping families with new babies live a more normal life during one of the tenderest times in one’s life.
Venture capitalist, global entrepreneur, and philanthropist Kamran Elahian centered his remarks on the virtues of failure. Recounting his own experience with being fired at one of his companies that failed, Mr. Elahian defined true success as the ability to cope with and react positively to failure.
Follow your dreams is what Grammy award winning DJ and producer, Shahram Tayebi, exhorted to the audience. Noting the cultural and financial barriers that exist in pursuing a dream different from the classical professions of engineer or doctor, Shahram explained that through persistence, dreams can be realized even if one has to create a new path.
Drawing on thirty years of experience, first as a professor of physics at Princeton, then as a partner of a leading management consulting firm, and finally as a senior executive of global giant Citicorp, Dr. Biglari analogized his career to a climb and shared ten insights he has learned from his climb. These insights, which included perspectives about the role of luck versus skill, when it is expedient to lose a battle in order to win a war, and the role of emotions in making decisions, captivated the crowd and led to a standing ovation in reaction to the impactful wisdom shared with the audience at large.
As another participant mentioned after the event, “I would like to praise your laudable effort and hard work to initiate and organize such a powerful program last night. The message was very powerful especially for new generations. I can see clearly that the program was an inspiration to my son, 18 years old, who usually denies involvement with most of the activities related to Iranians and Iranian Americans. I believe that last night’s program opened a fresh, new window to his mind and future.”
Provided by PAAIA Chapter San Diego