From Rags to Riches

Okay, so I know that many of you wouldrather stick something sharp in your eyethan have to watchOprah. Stay away from sharp objectstoday then becausethe word is (thanks M)that Oprah will be interviewing self-made millionaire Gurbaksh “G” Chahal about hismemoir The Dream being releasedlater this month [side note:Oprah’s website clearly says her show today is about rudeness so I don’t know what the connection is?!]. For those of you who missed the news a few months ago, Gurbaksh (he actually goes by G because he says he doesn’t have the “easiest first name to pronounce”, butsince we can actually pronounce it, we’ll use it)is the 26-year-old founder of ad network BlueLithium and, more recently, the ecommerce startup gWallet. Gurbaksh received much media attention when he sold BlueLithium to Yahoo last year for $300 million. From his website,

G was born in the town of Tarn Taran, near Amritsar in Punjab, India to Avtar and Arjinder Chahal. In 1985, his parents received a visa for America through a lottery-based system in India, and the following year, when he was four, the family settled in San Jose, California. His parents had arrived with only $25 to their name, and they struggled at menial jobs to make a future for their four children. For the Chahal family, as for many immigrants, education was paramount, but G left high school at sixteen to form Click Agents, an Internet advertising company, which he sold two years later for $40 million.

The Dream is Chahal’s personal story of how a 16-year-old immigrant overcame discrimination and adversity to be successful. He offers advice for entrepreneurs as he encourages them to redefine the marketplace by embracing risks.

My parents, however, are very religious and very cultural and they also brought that with them. For the first 17 years of my life I actually wore a traditional turban. That’s a major part of my book in terms of defining myself when you’re the odd one for the first 17 years of your life; coming from poverty with an immigrant family, and of course the constant struggle to survive. So I am hoping the book touches all sorts of people: the adolescent who’s different, the immigrant family that struggles, and of course every one of us that wants to deliver ultimate success. [link

In addition to his book release, Gurbaksh will also star on the new primetime network show (yes, yet another reality show), “Secret Millionaire” on Fox in December 2008 whichactually sounds intriguing. The show will engage viewers in important social issues, extol the virtues of volunteerism and change the lives of disadvantaged people – and the philanthropists who helped them – in unexpected ways. For those of you who really won’t be tuning into Oprah, here’s a clip about Gurbaksh from CNBC.

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60 Responses to “From Rags to Riches”

  1. kanyesingh says:

    Well, now that he's successful can/should he wear his hair again??

  2. After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me. Completely abandoning what is real in this world to chase after maya.

    He looks so real in his early picture as a Sikh, it's too bad he threw that away.

  3. kanyesingh says:

    Well, now that he’s successful can/should he wear his hair again??

  4. kanyesingh says:

    Well, now that he’s successful can/should he wear his hair again??

  5. After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me. Completely abandoning what is real in this world to chase after maya.
    He looks so real in his early picture as a Sikh, it’s too bad he threw that away.

  6. After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me. Completely abandoning what is real in this world to chase after maya.
    He looks so real in his early picture as a Sikh, it’s too bad he threw that away.

  7. P.Singh says:

    He's clearly not representing Sikhs or Sikhi; however, I don't think he claims to do so either. If I want Sikh role models, I'll look elsewhere.

    That said, he is a Punjabi guy whose family came from India with nothing, his parents worked low-paying jobs in the US, and he ultimately dropped out of school at 16 to start a 40 million dollar company….followed by a 300 million dollar company at age 25. That is a pretty remarkable story.

    The guy may be a complete jack for all I know, but those with business aspirations can certainly find some inspiration in his success.

  8. P.Singh says:

    He’s clearly not representing Sikhs or Sikhi; however, I don’t think he claims to do so either. If I want Sikh role models, I’ll look elsewhere.

    That said, he is a Punjabi guy whose family came from India with nothing, his parents worked low-paying jobs in the US, and he ultimately dropped out of school at 16 to start a 40 million dollar company….followed by a 300 million dollar company at age 25. That is a pretty remarkable story.

    The guy may be a complete jack for all I know, but those with business aspirations can certainly find some inspiration in his success.

  9. P.Singh says:

    He’s clearly not representing Sikhs or Sikhi; however, I don’t think he claims to do so either. If I want Sikh role models, I’ll look elsewhere.

    That said, he is a Punjabi guy whose family came from India with nothing, his parents worked low-paying jobs in the US, and he ultimately dropped out of school at 16 to start a 40 million dollar company….followed by a 300 million dollar company at age 25. That is a pretty remarkable story.

    The guy may be a complete jack for all I know, but those with business aspirations can certainly find some inspiration in his success.

  10. VKaur says:

    You're so right P.Singh, but why get through the toughest part of your life being 'different' become super successful and THEN cut your hair? But the again, who are we to judge?

  11. VKaur says:

    You’re so right P.Singh, but why get through the toughest part of your life being ‘different’ become super successful and THEN cut your hair? But the again, who are we to judge?

  12. VKaur says:

    You’re so right P.Singh, but why get through the toughest part of your life being ‘different’ become super successful and THEN cut your hair? But the again, who are we to judge?

  13. baingandabhartha says:

    worship of the almighty-dollar that is! Lots of immigrants do remarkable things everyday but unless dollars are made who cares…The guy clearly cant get enough of himself-no reason we should be giving him any attention.

  14. baingandabhartha says:

    worship of the almighty-dollar that is! Lots of immigrants do remarkable things everyday but unless dollars are made who cares…The guy clearly cant get enough of himself-no reason we should be giving him any attention.

  15. baingandabhartha says:

    worship of the almighty-dollar that is! Lots of immigrants do remarkable things everyday but unless dollars are made who cares…The guy clearly cant get enough of himself-no reason we should be giving him any attention.

  16. Prem says:

    Good luck to him. Self made millionaire from an immigrant background, a man who re-invents himself in America and lives the dream. Marvellous. He represents what a lot of Sikhs in America and elsewhere in the diaspora want to achieve.

  17. Prem says:

    Good luck to him. Self made millionaire from an immigrant background, a man who re-invents himself in America and lives the dream. Marvellous. He represents what a lot of Sikhs in America and elsewhere in the diaspora want to achieve.

  18. Prem says:

    Good luck to him. Self made millionaire from an immigrant background, a man who re-invents himself in America and lives the dream. Marvellous. He represents what a lot of Sikhs in America and elsewhere in the diaspora want to achieve.

  19. P.Singh says:

    I hear what you're saying VKaur, and I ageee – it is disappointing. Imagine if he had remained 'sabat-soorat'…what an amazing opportunity for positive media exposure and publicity for the Sikh community.

    As for shedding the Sikh identity after achieving success, there could be any number of reasons: perhaps there was no real love for Sikhi/the Sikh roop, and he felt it was time to shed a physical identity which held no appeal for him. Perhaps it was arrogance. Giving him some credit, perhaps he knew he could not keep certain virtues espoused by Sikhi, and he didn't want to besmirch the Sikh identity.

    Chalo – we'll make do without 'G'.

  20. P.Singh says:

    I hear what you’re saying VKaur, and I ageee – it is disappointing. Imagine if he had remained ‘sabat-soorat’…what an amazing opportunity for positive media exposure and publicity for the Sikh community.

    As for shedding the Sikh identity after achieving success, there could be any number of reasons: perhaps there was no real love for Sikhi/the Sikh roop, and he felt it was time to shed a physical identity which held no appeal for him. Perhaps it was arrogance. Giving him some credit, perhaps he knew he could not keep certain virtues espoused by Sikhi, and he didn’t want to besmirch the Sikh identity.

    Chalo – we’ll make do without ‘G’.

  21. P.Singh says:

    I hear what you’re saying VKaur, and I ageee – it is disappointing. Imagine if he had remained ‘sabat-soorat’…what an amazing opportunity for positive media exposure and publicity for the Sikh community.

    As for shedding the Sikh identity after achieving success, there could be any number of reasons: perhaps there was no real love for Sikhi/the Sikh roop, and he felt it was time to shed a physical identity which held no appeal for him. Perhaps it was arrogance. Giving him some credit, perhaps he knew he could not keep certain virtues espoused by Sikhi, and he didn’t want to besmirch the Sikh identity.

    Chalo – we’ll make do without ‘G’.

  22. Bobby says:

    What type of guy brags about calling his bedroom the 'G-spot'?

    [Deleted by Admin Kaur … refrain from name-calling … THL is a hate-free zone … please read and abide by the disclaimer when commenting]

  23. Bobby says:

    What type of guy brags about calling his bedroom the ‘G-spot’?

    [Deleted by Admin Kaur … refrain from name-calling … THL is a hate-free zone please read and abide by the disclaimer when commenting]

  24. Gagandeep says:

    This guy although a bizz genius is completely in love with himself i mean what a sellout. [Deleted by Admin Kaur – please refrain from speculating about someone's sexuality … THL is not a place for generating any rumor-mills]

  25. Gagandeep says:

    This guy although a bizz genius is completely in love with himself i mean what a sellout. [Deleted by Admin Kaur – please refrain from speculating about someone’s sexuality THL is not a place for generating any rumor-mills]

  26. Gagandeep says:

    This guy although a bizz genius is completely in love with himself i mean what a sellout. [Deleted by Admin Kaur – please refrain from speculating about someone’s sexuality THL is not a place for generating any rumor-mills]

  27. R Singh says:

    As a punjabi sikh, I am proud whenever I read these inspirational stories. It is not for us to judge how anyone practices their religion, as there are many among us who are not able to keep hair, or do path 5 times a day, or go visit Golden Temple every day/year. Nonetheless, my devotion to Guru Nanak is no less than people who are able to do these things. I am very happy that this young man rose from daily struggles many of us are still in, and have made his parents proud…and gave the inspiration to me and my kids, that there is hope. With right attitude and hard word, there is hope for anyone.

    Satsriakal.

  28. R Singh says:

    As a punjabi sikh, I am proud whenever I read these inspirational stories. It is not for us to judge how anyone practices their religion, as there are many among us who are not able to keep hair, or do path 5 times a day, or go visit Golden Temple every day/year. Nonetheless, my devotion to Guru Nanak is no less than people who are able to do these things. I am very happy that this young man rose from daily struggles many of us are still in, and have made his parents proud…and gave the inspiration to me and my kids, that there is hope. With right attitude and hard word, there is hope for anyone.

    Satsriakal.

  29. R Singh says:

    As a punjabi sikh, I am proud whenever I read these inspirational stories. It is not for us to judge how anyone practices their religion, as there are many among us who are not able to keep hair, or do path 5 times a day, or go visit Golden Temple every day/year. Nonetheless, my devotion to Guru Nanak is no less than people who are able to do these things. I am very happy that this young man rose from daily struggles many of us are still in, and have made his parents proud…and gave the inspiration to me and my kids, that there is hope. With right attitude and hard word, there is hope for anyone.

    Satsriakal.

  30. Sundari says:

    Well he will, in fact, be on Oprah today (Thursday 10/23/08) and I'll be curious to see if the issue of his identity is raised. I'm sure he will talk about coming from an immigrant family and living in poverty – but I'm more curious to see if he discusses 'defining' himself when he was the 'odd one for the first 17 years' of his life. To me, that's just as significant.

  31. Sundari says:

    Well he will, in fact, be on Oprah today (Thursday 10/23/08) and I’ll be curious to see if the issue of his identity is raised. I’m sure he will talk about coming from an immigrant family and living in poverty – but I’m more curious to see if he discusses ‘defining’ himself when he was the ‘odd one for the first 17 years’ of his life. To me, that’s just as significant.

  32. Sundari says:

    Well he will, in fact, be on Oprah today (Thursday 10/23/08) and I’ll be curious to see if the issue of his identity is raised. I’m sure he will talk about coming from an immigrant family and living in poverty – but I’m more curious to see if he discusses ‘defining’ himself when he was the ‘odd one for the first 17 years’ of his life. To me, that’s just as significant.

  33. [quote comment="7070"]After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me.[/quote]

    How can you accuse him of being a sell-out if you have no idea what his beliefs and morals were before he made his fortune? Like P. Singh notes, he's never claimed to represent anything or anyone aside from himself and his own interests.

    Despite your opinion of "G" (I will concede how pretentious of him that is), what his brother does in his spare time just might warm the cockles of your doubting heart.

  34. [quote comment="7070"]After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me.[/quote]

    How can you accuse him of being a sell-out if you have no idea what his beliefs and morals were before he made his fortune? Like P. Singh notes, he's never claimed to represent anything or anyone aside from himself and his own interests.

    Despite your opinion of "G" (I will concede how pretentious of him that is), what his brother does in his spare time just might warm the cockles of your doubting heart.

  35. [quote comment=”7070″]After watching the video, he seems like a total sell-out to me.[/quote]

    How can you accuse him of being a sell-out if you have no idea what his beliefs and morals were before he made his fortune? Like P. Singh notes, he’s never claimed to represent anything or anyone aside from himself and his own interests.

    Despite your opinion of “G” (I will concede how pretentious of him that is), what his brother does in his spare time just might warm the cockles of your doubting heart.

  36. Sarbjit Singh says:

    This is website called Sikhnet and Site provide the information about Sikhism and its people,We the people of Sikh nation needs to Teach our kids not to Give up our Sikhway of life when we become successful,Sikh Principals are bigger then any money and any fame.

  37. Sarbjit Singh says:

    This is website called Sikhnet and Site provide the information about Sikhism and its people,We the people of Sikh nation needs to Teach our kids not to Give up our Sikhway of life when we become successful,Sikh Principals are bigger then any money and any fame.

  38. Sarbjit Singh says:

    This is website called Sikhnet and Site provide the information about Sikhism and its people,We the people of Sikh nation needs to Teach our kids not to Give up our Sikhway of life when we become successful,Sikh Principals are bigger then any money and any fame.

  39. Here's another article about our favorite brown-skinned wunderkind. I think the following passages should be of particular relevance to those interested in how he was impacted by his identity in the first 17 years of his life.

    He was teased as a child by neighborhood kids about his Sikh religion, questioned by a schoolteacher about his colorful clothing, and was once forced at knifepoint on a schoolyard basketball court to take his turban off.

    "I can't. It's part of my religion," Chahal told them.

    "You don't listen too good, do you?" (the boy) said, taking a knife out of his pocket. "Take that s- off right now!"

    "I wanted to tell them, just as I'd wanted to tell everyone who had ever taunted me, that I was proud of my family, proud of my heritage and proud to be a Sikh – but I was just a kid, and I didn't know where to begin," he says. "Instead, I began to long for another kind of existence, where I was in charge."

  40. Here's another article about our favorite brown-skinned wunderkind. I think the following passages should be of particular relevance to those interested in how he was impacted by his identity in the first 17 years of his life.

    He was teased as a child by neighborhood kids about his Sikh religion, questioned by a schoolteacher about his colorful clothing, and was once forced at knifepoint on a schoolyard basketball court to take his turban off.

    "I can't. It's part of my religion," Chahal told them.

    "You don't listen too good, do you?" (the boy) said, taking a knife out of his pocket. "Take that s- off right now!"

    "I wanted to tell them, just as I'd wanted to tell everyone who had ever taunted me, that I was proud of my family, proud of my heritage and proud to be a Sikh – but I was just a kid, and I didn't know where to begin," he says. "Instead, I began to long for another kind of existence, where I was in charge."

  41. Here’s another article about our favorite brown-skinned wunderkind. I think the following passages should be of particular relevance to those interested in how he was impacted by his identity in the first 17 years of his life.

    He was teased as a child by neighborhood kids about his Sikh religion, questioned by a schoolteacher about his colorful clothing, and was once forced at knifepoint on a schoolyard basketball court to take his turban off.

    “I can’t. It’s part of my religion,” Chahal told them.

    “You don’t listen too good, do you?” (the boy) said, taking a knife out of his pocket. “Take that s- off right now!”

    “I wanted to tell them, just as I’d wanted to tell everyone who had ever taunted me, that I was proud of my family, proud of my heritage and proud to be a Sikh – but I was just a kid, and I didn’t know where to begin,” he says. “Instead, I began to long for another kind of existence, where I was in charge.”

  42. justasikh says:

    If you can't beat them, beat them, and then join them, and beat them again..?

    Everyone's life has it's chapters. I certainly am not perfect. I do have the right to learn about myself.

    I think we should be careful to not be presumptuous expect 8.4 million re-births worth of epiphanies and enlightenment to happen in 10 years for anyone, including Mr. Chahal.

    There are plenty of Sardars who were/are insecure for any reason and cut their hair. Whether or not he is one of them you can see by looking in his eyes. In either case it's nothing to chastise someone about.

    Love all, Hurt few, Hate none.

  43. justasikh says:

    If you can’t beat them, beat them, and then join them, and beat them again..?

    Everyone’s life has it’s chapters. I certainly am not perfect. I do have the right to learn about myself.

    I think we should be careful to not be presumptuous expect 8.4 million re-births worth of epiphanies and enlightenment to happen in 10 years for anyone, including Mr. Chahal.

    There are plenty of Sardars who were/are insecure for any reason and cut their hair. Whether or not he is one of them you can see by looking in his eyes. In either case it’s nothing to chastise someone about.

    Love all, Hurt few, Hate none.

  44. justasikh says:

    If you can’t beat them, beat them, and then join them, and beat them again..?

    Everyone’s life has it’s chapters. I certainly am not perfect. I do have the right to learn about myself.

    I think we should be careful to not be presumptuous expect 8.4 million re-births worth of epiphanies and enlightenment to happen in 10 years for anyone, including Mr. Chahal.

    There are plenty of Sardars who were/are insecure for any reason and cut their hair. Whether or not he is one of them you can see by looking in his eyes. In either case it’s nothing to chastise someone about.

    Love all, Hurt few, Hate none.

  45. Manpreet Kaur says:

    I met Mr. Chahal today with his parents and brother in the Dixie Gurdwara, as they visited Toronto. Very humble family. I am glad I got to meet him. It cleared all misconceptions I had of this young man when I first read this post many months back. To see Mr. Chahal's devotion, as I saw inside the Gurdwara, made me realize he is far more devote Sikh than so many that bow their head to the Guru Granth Sahib ji. Wow, the family support he had around him. His father, mother, and brother by his side and humility they had as they walked inside the gurdwara and interacted with people. No wonder despite being raised in the States, he is well grounded.

  46. Manpreet Kaur says:

    I met Mr. Chahal today with his parents and brother in the Dixie Gurdwara, as they visited Toronto. Very humble family. I am glad I got to meet him. It cleared all misconceptions I had of this young man when I first read this post many months back. To see Mr. Chahal’s devotion, as I saw inside the Gurdwara, made me realize he is far more devote Sikh than so many that bow their head to the Guru Granth Sahib ji. Wow, the family support he had around him. His father, mother, and brother by his side and humility they had as they walked inside the gurdwara and interacted with people. No wonder despite being raised in the States, he is well grounded.

  47. Manpreet Kaur says:

    I met Mr. Chahal today with his parents and brother in the Dixie Gurdwara, as they visited Toronto. Very humble family. I am glad I got to meet him. It cleared all misconceptions I had of this young man when I first read this post many months back. To see Mr. Chahal’s devotion, as I saw inside the Gurdwara, made me realize he is far more devote Sikh than so many that bow their head to the Guru Granth Sahib ji. Wow, the family support he had around him. His father, mother, and brother by his side and humility they had as they walked inside the gurdwara and interacted with people. No wonder despite being raised in the States, he is well grounded.

  48. My first reaction is sadness and anger. Is this what our shaheeds died for? Members of my immediate family achieved shaheedi in Delhi 1984; they could have survived had they shed their "visible Sikh" identity.

    But looking beyond anger, I realise that some people are stronger than others. Being different, being picked on and bullied year after year takes its toll. As Sikhs, we are called upon to be strong and courageous. Some are and some are not. Seeing this young man with a dirty-shaved face and shorn hair makes me sad, but I feel I have no right to judge him.

    Now, had he been a Khalsa, my statement would be completely different. Khalsa are called upon to be more…

  49. […] is not about me Its about entire sikh community how they take it.Let me show you an example From Rags to Riches | The Langar Hall The above is a story of a sikh man who is very successful in business man but he has abandoned his […]

  50. My first reaction is sadness and anger. Is this what our shaheeds died for? Members of my immediate family achieved shaheedi in Delhi 1984; they could have survived had they shed their "visible Sikh" identity.

    But looking beyond anger, I realise that some people are stronger than others. Being different, being picked on and bullied year after year takes its toll. As Sikhs, we are called upon to be strong and courageous. Some are and some are not. Seeing this young man with a dirty-shaved face and shorn hair makes me sad, but I feel I have no right to judge him.

    Now, had he been a Khalsa, my statement would be completely different. Khalsa are called upon to be more…

  51. My first reaction is sadness and anger. Is this what our shaheeds died for? Members of my immediate family achieved shaheedi in Delhi 1984; they could have survived had they shed their "visible Sikh" identity.

    But looking beyond anger, I realise that some people are stronger than others. Being different, being picked on and bullied year after year takes its toll. As Sikhs, we are called upon to be strong and courageous. Some are and some are not. Seeing this young man with a dirty-shaved face and shorn hair makes me sad, but I feel I have no right to judge him.

    Now, had he been a Khalsa, my statement would be completely different. Khalsa are called upon to be more…

  52. K kaur says:

    Mai Harinder Kaur,

    I am sorry for your loss which is also our loss.

    Please do not be upset with the likes of Chahal, perhaps it is just a stage that he is going through and one day he will re-discover his true identity and its value. One day when he is older he will realize the sacrifices made by others so that Sikhi can live and make itself available for everyone. I am just now beginning to release its value after having shed it for 30 years. Now I understand what the Shaheeds did and why, and the true meaning of what happened in 84.

    Please do not despair. We will never forget 84 and remember and honour each and every life lost so that we may live in Sikhi

  53. K kaur says:

    Mai Harinder Kaur,

    I am sorry for your loss which is also our loss.

    Please do not be upset with the likes of Chahal, perhaps it is just a stage that he is going through and one day he will re-discover his true identity and its value. One day when he is older he will realize the sacrifices made by others so that Sikhi can live and make itself available for everyone. I am just now beginning to release its value after having shed it for 30 years. Now I understand what the Shaheeds did and why, and the true meaning of what happened in 84.

    Please do not despair. We will never forget 84 and remember and honour each and every life lost so that we may live in Sikhi

  54. K kaur says:

    Mai Harinder Kaur,

    I am sorry for your loss which is also our loss.

    Please do not be upset with the likes of Chahal, perhaps it is just a stage that he is going through and one day he will re-discover his true identity and its value. One day when he is older he will realize the sacrifices made by others so that Sikhi can live and make itself available for everyone. I am just now beginning to release its value after having shed it for 30 years. Now I understand what the Shaheeds did and why, and the true meaning of what happened in 84.

    Please do not despair. We will never forget 84 and remember and honour each and every life lost so that we may live in Sikhi

  55. Brody Hall says:

    Let the debate commence!

  56. Brody Hall says:

    Let the debate commence!

  57. Brody Hall says:

    Let the debate commence!

  58. ARJAN SINGH says:

    NOW HE HAS MADE SOMETHING CALLED BEPROUD WHICH HAS ITS MISSION CALLED SAY NO TO DISCRIMINATION AND BE PROUD OF WHO U ARE, BUT THIS MAD MAN HAS ABANDONED HIS TURBAN….SO FIRST HE SHOULD STOP CUTTING THE HAIR AND START WEARING TURBAN..
    I AM 14 YEAR OLD AND I AM VERY ANGRY NOWADAYS BCOZ WHEN I WENT TO PUNJAB I SAW ALL MONA SIKHS AND EVEN THEIR CHILDREN WERE MONA. ALSO SOME MONA SIKHS ALSO HAVE STARTED CLAIMING THAT THEY ARE HINDUS…WHICH IS A BAD SIGN FOR OR RELIGION..
    also i saw in the internet that sikh population is down in punjab from 61% to 59%…

  59. mustian says:

    thank you for this good article. Excuse me go read it. Hopefully more success