Dennis Agalli who is he? Here’s an inside look at the story of how I, Dennis Agalli became an entrepreneur, why I started, and the hard-won lessons I learned along the way.
A Little Bit of Background
Where do I begin? Growing up, I always had a passion for pizza, coffee, restaurants, and hospitality so naturally becoming an entrepreneur was one of my goals. Unlike what many entrepreneurs say, it was never about being my own boss or the money.
Why did I decide to become an entrepreneur? My path to entrepreneurship is quite a unique one.
I came to the U.S. as an immigrant at 16 from Europe. Growing up, I was a bit of a problem child having always gotten into fights and trouble at school. As a kid, I was short-tempered, reactive, and just generally unfocused.
That quickly changed once I got to America and fully grasped the fact that I was in a foreign country where people spoke English, a language that I was still learning.
With all of these new changes in my life (and the fact that my parents ended up sending me to a boarding school as a result of my troubles at school), one day it all finally clicked.
This is my life and my future. Things were different now. There was no going back to being a kid.
The Start of My Entrepreneurship Journey
I’m glad that my parents cared about my future enough to help set me on the right path. It helped me to finally start thinking about my future and what I really wanted out of life. After graduating from high school, I was accepted into Manhattan College in NYC where I later began my career.
There, I studied and earned a B.A. in Finance with a minor in Economics.
Being in NYC was a crazy experience. It was some place I had always dreamed of visiting growing up and now I was living there!
They say that New York City is a place to make your dreams come true and that is exactly what I set out to do from that moment I arrived.
My First Job in NYC
While attending college, I got my first job in NYC at a restaurant as a busboy. It was grueling hard work and after just a few days, I was already over that job. Even though it had only been a few days, I knew deep down that it wasn’t for me.
Although I was just starting out, I knew that I was destined for something greater.
Call it the arrogance of youth, naivety, or whatever you like. But I knew I needed and wanted something more.
Steve Jobs once said: “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is … Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it … Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Having grown up with my family in loving yet tough financial circumstances, I watched my parents work countless hours to support our family. And at the end of the day, they were left with very little left to show for their efforts after providing for us.
I didn’t want to struggle like they did. And I wanted to repay them for all of the trouble that I put them through as a kid by living a better life.
But to truly become successful and live the life of my dreams?
I knew that it would take something more. I had to build something for myself.
Rising to the Occasion
There’s a lot of hype around entrepreneurship and “hustle culture.”
But what it really boils down to is that you’re going to have to work really hard if you want to see results.
At the same time, when your moment comes, you take it.
While working several part-time jobs in NYC, I kept applying to jobs in my field of study until I landed one at Merrill Lynch. Although it was better pay, I still didn’t give up on my dream to own my own business.
While working long hours at my finance job, I was still putting in long hours as a bartender and working in restaurants in order to learn the hospitality business.
Then finally my chance came. I landed an interview with the VP at JPMorgan Chase Private Clients and the rest is history!
If you want to watch me tell the full story, you can watch the podcast episode here.
Take the Leap
When I first came to NYC, I didn’t know what to expect. I never thought that I would get the opportunities that I did but I always believed deep down that it would all work out. I didn’t know exactly how. But I was determined to make it work.
Most people only see problems wherever they look. But entrepreneurs see opportunities and ways to do things differently.
Entrepreneurs not only are imaginative but also believe strongly that they can achieve anything. That is how you become one of the entrepreneurs that changes the world.
There’s a saying that goes, “As an entrepreneur, you have to live your life like most people won’t so that you can enjoy the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
Becoming the Best Version of Dennis Agalli
Only you can choose the life path that is right for you, but what entrepreneurship gave me is tremendous freedom and the ability to make my dreams reality. Getting those jobs helped me to build my network and make the connections I needed to get my businesses off the ground.
Entrepreneurs take risks which is why I don’t recommend it for everyone. But despite my humble beginnings, it helped me to achieve a better status in life.