In 1992, when Tyler Shin was 12, his family moved from South Korea to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Three years later, his mom was diagnosed with cancer, and his family moved to Los Angeles to seek better treatment for her. He made his way to Dallas in 2011 to become associate director at Orix. Eight years later, he left the world of finance and founded his ghost kitchen enterprise, Revolving Kitchen. Here, he shares how his mother inspired him:
“My dad and mom both worked. My mom started and ran a lot of small businesses—restaurants and clothing retailers. I didn’t really get to see my parents much and grew up raised by my grandparents. I remember one night, my mom came back from her work. She was in the restaurant business at this time, so she would always come home really late. I was already up, but I pretended to sleep because I didn’t want to get in trouble. My mom came over to my sister and me. She started crying because she was feeling bad for not being at home as much as she wanted to. She was the disciplinary figure in our family. She was very tough, but it was one of her rare moments when she was a softy. My mom grew up Buddhist and instilled some of the principles and teachings in me and my sister—to be humble, don’t complain, and look inwardly for blame. I’ve never heard her complain about anything or blame anyone else for her misfortunes, regardless of how tough things were. I try (not always successfully) to be like her.
“After business failings, and given where the family and economy was in Korea, my dad was fortunately offered a couple of options to come to the U.S. His company was building out joint venture factories: one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the other one was Birmingham, Alabama. So he was given an opportunity to choose—whether in Cedar Rapids or Birmingham—to move and oversee that newly built factory. We sat down as a family and opened up the U.S. map, and he asked us where we would rather go. Ultimately, we decided to go to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I had never been to an airport. I had never learned to speak English. I remember flying over, and it was pretty overwhelming…it was definitely a culture shock. We were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa until I was 16. My mom got super sick. She was diagnosed with cancer, and we just didn’t feel like Cedar Rapids was the right place for her to get the treatment and recover. So, we moved to L.A. in 1996. I went to high school there, college there, worked there, and then I moved to Dallas in 2011 for a corporate finance job. The rest is history.”