3 Lessons I learned From The Donut King


Ted Ngoy fled the Khmer Rouge with his family in 1975. By 1979 he built a million dollar empire making Americas favorite pastry: the donut. Along the way he helped hundreds of fellow Cambodian refugees get on their feet by teaching them the way of the donut. But as I watched his inspiring story of survival, rags to riches, and redemption. There were a few warning signs that stood out. Here are 3 short lessons I learned from Ted Ngoy, “The Donut King”...

*warning: spoilers below*


The Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s created a mass outflow of refugees. After landing in the US with his family with nothing but the clothes on their back, he was offered a job as a janitor at a church. Once a military major, his story made me realize that I should have contingency plan, just in case the sh*t hits the fan. Where would I flee if I had to leave the US? Which country would I choose to live if I had to live there for 10 years? I don’t know what the future holds, but having a contingency plan for me and my family gives me a little more peace of mind just in case the poop hits the shoot. I don’t know, I just made that last part up.


Despite all the money he made and how much he helped his community, Ngoy still felt dissatisfied, stating that he had "No political life, no religious life, just work, work”. There’s only so much I can gather from ones life watching a documentary but it seems like he was burned out. And he felt like he wanted to explore another part of life, but was bogged down by his business. This lets me know I should have some type of exit strategy with my business or have it automated. Having systems, labor and processes to run without me will allow me to spend more time with my family and explore new and exciting adventures. So I don’t have to work 12 hours a day like Ted and the other donut shop owners he helped. Easier said than done, but that’s my aim anyway. 


Towards the end of the documentary you hear Ted say now ‘I just want a simple and peaceful life’. Only after losing everything, including his wife, he realized he had to change some of his destructive habits. He was forced to change after having no other option. Unfortunately painful events whether physical or emotional, are sometimes the only way we’ll change. So if I’m refusing to change in a particular area, I should know pain is on its way. I wish it wasn’t so. 

One day there might be a documentary based on your life...what lessons will we learn from it?