February 21, 2015
There was a story making the rounds several years ago about an encounter between an American diplomat and one from the Soviet Union at a London cocktail party. When asked by the Russian to describe the typical American, the U.S. diplomat thought a moment and then told this story:
“An American is someone who can strap a knapsack full of canned food on his back, jump out of an airplane into a jungle and within a month have opened a chain of supermarkets.”
The Russian is said to have frowned as he tried to think of a comeback. Then, his face lit up with what he thought was surely a showstopper, he responded:
“Ah, that might be very true,” he said, “but first you have to have an airplane.”
To which his protagonist shot back: “We invented the airplane.”
The story is apocryphal of course but it came to mind as I got to know Mike Trull better because the diplomat’s description of an American is not far off the mark when it comes to this human dynamo: part trumpeter, part raconteur, part world traveler, and full time entrepreneur.
Mike’s story is also the story of the collision between North Carolina and Asia that, in his case, settled into a mutually productive working relationship. From his beginnings in the small North Carolina town of Sylva through China on his way, eventually, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Mike’s career has encompassed going from a high school band assistant director to President of one of the most successful manufacturers of specialty fabricated products, to an agent representing American retailers and promotional companies looking for quality products at competitive prices. Each of these stops along the way is a story of entrepreneurship at its American best and restores faith in the claim that Americans, when pressed to the wall, somehow find the will and spirit to be truly exceptional.
Beginning Monday and over the next five weeks thereafter, we will explore Mike’s odyssey, in the hopes that you will find it not only interesting, but inspiring.
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