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Key Idea: Invest, Don't Spend

Cathie and Frank Jao had no material possessions when they arrived in Southern California in 1975. Education, hard work and saving to invest in their own company has made them wealthy. After watching this video and reading the Q&A (case study guide), you can go to the homepage  for this episode or click on the Key Question  for other insightful answers and best business practices.

Key Question:


Yes.  You have to start with your own money even if it's a small amount.  We learned from Frank that in Asia "...only money that makes money."

Q: What do you think he means by this?

In the USA there is free public education. Frank reasons that even a poor child here who studies hard can turn his or her education into a good paying job. Therefore, Americans don't have to depend so much upon having cold hard cash to get ahead in life.

Frank's philosophy about money helped him avoid becoming like so many Americans who spend every penny they get their hands on. Rather than use his first big sales commission to buy a home, Frank invested the money in commercial real estate. He says often that he is lucky; and he said that specifically about his timing in the Southern California market in the '70s. We agree that timing is very important and that he was able to thrive in business partly because he chose the right business at the right time located in the right place. However, we think that Frank's luck is about his search for luck. We think if he had failed with the commercial real estate development, he would have succeeded at something else.

Frank says, "Education is the main thing." He began reading Confucius's wisdom at an early age and internalized the fact that "in education, there is no class distinction" (Confucius, 511 BC). Frank also says quite revealingly, "My planning has been to take every dollar I have and put it back into investments." And later he says, "Money makes money."

Research shows that many seasoned business owners who are not in the real estate business invest in real estate. Owning the building and the land where the business is operating from is a great example of investing, not spending. To grow and strengthen a business, other excellent investments include continuing education for yourself and for employees, quality tools and equipment and technology.

Think about it

What do you need to invest in now?

Clip from: Bridgecreek Development - Frank Jao

Westminster, California:  In 1975 Frank Jao and his family came from Vietnam  in a C-130 (military aircraft) to Camp Pendleton. They had nothing. 

Within a 48 hours of arriving in California, he got a job as a vacuum cleaner salesman. Within a year he had taken the courses to qualify to become a realtor. With three years he was developing property for others. Within four years he became the founder of Bridgecreek Development and he broke ground on his first building of 50,000 square feet.

Today Bridgecreek literally owns millions of square feet in California  and he has inspired the development of even more. California has become his home and the home of over 400K Vietnamese and their de facto capital outside of Vietnam.

Yes, meet the people who started Little Saigon.

Frank Jao has been recognized by the President of the USA and today Frank is the president of the Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce West Coast and he is spending 25% of his time taking US businesses into Asia.

Immigrants to the USA remind us that this land is a light on the hill, a beacon to the world. We know that business works best within a democratic, ethical society.

Bridgecreek Development

Frank Jao, Founder

8907 Warner Avenue
Suite 118
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Visit our web site:

Office: 714.842.8038

Business Classification:
Real Estate

Year Founded: 1975

Invest, Don't Spend

FRANK: I was very lucky. I came into the Real Estate market when the economy was booming. The real estate was selling rapidly fast – house pricing in 1976 and 77 go up on a daily basis. So it doesn't take much skill — under the environment – to get the job done. Education is a main thing. I go to as many real estate class and seminar as there were available in those days. And I buy as many books in that area as possible so that I would be able to get that knowledge.

HATTIE: So when did you make the leap to being a developer -- that is a big leap -- don't you think?

FRANK: Yes -- what motivate me was – working in my same office, there were two gentlemen. One who worked for a developer in the acquisition of land. The other gentleman was working with investor of selling commercial property. Both of them seem to carry a lot more prestige along with bigger income than the rest of the people in the office. And I thought that was the perfect mirror that I wanted to be. The first project that I got into was the result of a big commission that I sold a big industrial park. I sold a big industrial park. The commission and the income that net out of that transaction giving me $350,000. That was the biggest amount I ever made in my life.

HATTIE: and that was in 1970... ?

FRANK: 1979.

HATTIE: That was 1979 – so here you are – four years into this business. You've got this huge pile of money. Why didn't you just go buy yourself a big fancy house?

FRANK: That has never been in my planning. My planning has been to take every dollar I have and put it back into investment.

HATTIE: Over 400,000 Vietnamese-Americans say this is their cultural and commercial capital. The Asian population in the US is up over 70% in the last decade. The merchants and service providers in Little Saigon are prospering in their niche and enriching all of us with their product offerings and gracious service.

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