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Lillian Li - Financial Guru & Immigrant Success Story Featured

Written by Dennis Hanagan | Published Friday, 29 January 2010 03:20 |

When Lillian Li arrived in Toronto from Shanghai four and a half years ago, she didn’t speak English well. But with her drive to succeed that soon changed.

Today, Li is the author of an English-language book about early financial education, the owner of an online business, and she has taught herself to be a successful investor.

That’s a big turnaround for someone who felt “quite lost” when she arrived here in 2005. “I was trapped. I didn’t know where I was going, where I could break through.”

The only person she knew in Canada was her husband. They married in China. He emigrated here in the 1990s and now works with Bell Canada as a management accountant.

Originally, Li did what most newcomers to Canada do — look for work and join a class to learn English. She quickly realized that wasn’t for her. She went “the opposite way.”

Li did volunteer work and found it a quicker way to settle into Canadian life. “I felt this was how I could get into society and learn the language effectively and quickly.” It also let her meet many people and, as she says, “network.”

Li says most newcomers to Canada make the mistake of taking low-paying jobs that they’re over-qualified for, and they get stuck in them. “They keep doing that and that’s their life. It’s not a quality life.”

Her advice: “Think creatively and be confident and open. This is the place you can do all kinds of things if you can think big. I did it and now I’m approaching financial freedom.”

Li advises people to help others as a giver — and not always expect a reward as a taker — as a way to be successful. “I give a lot, and I’m not looking for money.”

In Shanghai Li grew up in a middle class home with one sister. Her dad is an engineer and her mom works for a big company in China as an accounting assistant. Back home, Li graduated from pharmaceutical college and then began her own company in 2000.

In Toronto — when she’s not volunteering at the school of her two young boys, helping with Make-A-Wish, or teaching bible and Sunday school classes — the North York resident runs two businesses.

“Actually, I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m running my own company online and offline.”

With her business knowledge she has published a free report with rules to help “creative” job seekers. She also targets 10 mistakes to avoid when writing resumé cover letters. The report is at www.professionalcoverletter.org

She’s proud of her 51-page eBook that helps parents teach their children how to manage money. It can be downloaded for free from www.7moneyhabits.com.

Li uses her experience with her sons to offer proven and fun ways to teach kids basic money skills.

“If kids are taught at an early age how to earn, save, invest and spend money wisely, they will develop lifelong habits to help them avoid financial catastrophe as adults.”

Li gave each of her sons three jars into which they divide their $1 weekly allowance for investing, spending and “sharing-caring.”

At Christmas, “we use their sharing money to buy something for a charity,” says Li. “This is the way we teach them how to share, how to care.”

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