For most people, the chance to move across the world to pursue your dream job is just as exciting as it is terrifying. Sam Bayazid was given that chance and soon learned that the journey to barbering greatness would be laden with obstacles. He started his first barbering job in Anaheim, California, just two weeks after arriving from Jordan. Adjusting to his new life was difficult; he was only 18 years old, he spoke very little English, and his new employer was set on stifling his growth. While he could have let all that slow him down, he chose to see it as a challenge.

When he started his job in Anaheim, Sam’s coworkers often teased him about his English. “I remember they always mocked the way I said ‘computer,’” Sam said. He tried to learn by listening to conversations at the barber shop; he hoped that he could not only learn English but also subdue his accent. As for the teasing, Sam kept a level head about it. He knew that as he learned and practiced his English, there would eventually be nothing to make jokes about. “I was always asking them about how to say or write certain words, but I said to myself that, one day, I would be so good at English that they would be the ones asking me,” Sam said.

This mindset was how Sam approached many of his challenges in America. “There were a lot of people that tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough, but what I learned is that they only do that because they see it in you,” Sam said. He learned this lesson from his employer at the shop in Anaheim. Over his time working there, Sam amassed a large clientele, even surpassing the owner. When this happened, he started to notice some things change about the way management treated him. “When I first got there, they were really great; they helped me out with everything. But, when I got more and more clients, they started to get in my way a little. I think the owner was a little intimidated,” Sam said. He recounted how the owner promised to give him a stake in the business to keep him at the shop, but when the time came to make good on that promise, the owner dodged it. “It was always, ‘oh, in a month or two,’ or ‘how about this summer instead?’ Eventually, I realized he wasn’t going to come through for me. That’s when I knew it was time to go out on my own,” Sam said.

After three years, Sam left the shop in Anaheim with the intent to open his own shop. “My uncle told me once that a worker stays a worker,” Sam said, “I never knew what he meant until that shop. That’s where I learned how important it is to work for yourself.” It was a hard-won lesson, but Sam’s belief in himself and his vision for his future allowed him to overcome the obstacles he faced in America. Now a proud shop owner and an adept English speaker, it’s safe to say his mindset laid the path to success. You can find Sam on instagram at @sambayazid_official