Tuesday, March 26, 2013

17 cents and a Dream by Daniel Milstein, An Inspirational Story (Review)

Ann Arbor, MI -- Daniel Milstein, founder, president, and CEO of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group, described his recipe for business success in his international bestseller ABC of Sales: Lessons from a Superstar. Now, on a more personal level, Milstein describes his personal path to success in a new memoir, 17 Cents and a Dream: My Incredible Journey from the U.S.S.R. to Living the American Dream.

 17 Cents and a Dream begins with a candid, gripping account of the Milstein family’s tough life in Kiev, Ukraine under the oppressive government of the former Soviet Union. He recalls how he and his family were affected by the 1986 explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant: Daniel was ten years old, and the disaster took place only 78 miles from their home, killing 100,000 people and spreading poisonous radiation throughout the environment.

 A few years later the family, struggling against poverty, government oppression, and anti-Semitism, made a secret plan to flee to America. After a narrow escape, the family arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan with no understanding of English and few belongings.

 Young Daniel had only seventeen cents in his pocket, given to him by a friend to cover the expense of a postage stamp so that Daniel could send him a letter. In the ensuing years, Daniel endured extreme poverty, endless hunger, relentless bullying from his new classmates all while working long hours mopping floors and cleaning restrooms at a McDonald’s.

 “The never-ending sense of hunger in the pit of my stomach,” he writes, “became a part of me and manifested into the drive to do more, to be more, so my family could eat without worry.”
 That hunger, plus the work ethic instilled in him by his grandfather, fueled Milstein’s determination; after graduating from college, he worked for various financial institutions and was consistently promoted because of his strong work ethic.

 But perhaps most inspiring is Milstein’s courage and sheer willpower as he began to build upon his success in the world of finance, working harder and longer than anyone else until eventually opening and growing his own multimillion-dollar company, Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group.

 17 Cents and a Dream: My Incredible Journey from the USSR to Living the American Dream is both a dramatic autobiography of a true American success story, and a manual for anyone who dreams of becoming successful in today’s competitive world of finance and sales.

Daniel Milstein

Image of Daniel MilsteinDaniel Milstein is known as a successful business executive, author, job creator, company builder, entrepreneur and CEO of an Inc 500 Company.

Daniel Milstein’s harrowing story about how his mother, father and brother escaped the oppressive government of the U.S.S.R and immigrated to the United States has been described as the quintessential Jewish immigrant story of the era.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Dan and his family experienced undue hardship, religious persecution and life-and-death situations all in the shadows of the greatest nuclear accident that ever occurred; the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown which killed more than 100,000 people including his grandfather.

Forced to escape the clutches of the Soviet government Dan’s family immigrated to Ann Arbor, Michigan where they started out on welfare. His family rejoiced when Dan was hired by a McDonald’s restaurant working all the shifts nobody wanted, cleaning the restrooms and ultimately getting promoted to manager.

Highly motivated to succeed, Dan went on to college where he graduated with honors from Cleary University earning a business degree. He entered the finance field and held several positions where he excelled. He ultimately founded Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is listed on the ‘Inc 500’ as one of the fastest growing firms in the United States.

Under Milstein’s leadership his firm has grown to more than 500 employees in 48 offices across the U.S. and has been named a Top Workplace in Michigan for four years by the Detroit Free Press.

Dan Milstein is the author of The ABC of Sales: Lessons from a Superstar, which in March 2012 sold 10,000 copies and became the #1 sales book on Amazon.com and the thirty-first top seller of all ebook sales.  As a bestselling author Dan Milstein has earned numerous awards and honors at several national and international book festivals: Paris, France, New England, San Francisco and New York. In 2012 Milstein was named to the prestigious National Academy of Best-Selling Authors.

Daniel Milstein is founder, president and CEO of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group. Milstein led the company to the Inc 500 list and one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.  Gold Star has than 500 employees in 43 offices across the U.S. and has been named a Top Workplace in Michigan for four years by the Detroit Free Press. Milstein holds an honorary doctorate and BBA in business management from Cleary University, Ann Arbor, from which he graduated with honors.  

Purchase 17 cents and a Dream here (available in book and e-book form:

My Review

First off, I loved the cover of the book, and after reading the story, found even more meaning in it. Once you read Daniel Milstein's story, you realize the entire story is found on the cover.

Throughout the book, the author regales stories of his struggles and his triumphs. He writes of life in Kiev, and of the oppressive government, a left over from the former Soviet Union. He tells the reader about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion. He was only ten years old at the time and his stories reflect his feelings and his thoughts as he looks at a window at the plants in the window box covered with ash. I remember when the explosion happened and it was quite frightening and I was thousands of miles and a lifetime away from the Ukraine.

"The radiation that lingered sank into the roots and fed the plants, causing them to grow to the size of watermelons."

It was heart wrenching to read of his family's narrow escape from his poverty stricken home country and as you read about the interview process and neighbors being murdered from attempting to leave the country, your heart bleeds. Young Daniel and his family were some of the last people allowed to leave the country.

The family landed on American soil, hoping for a new life, only to once again find poverty their destination. Daniel Milstein tells us stories of his school life and the bullying he endured. He tells us of his first job at McDonald's and what those golden arches have come to mean to him. His story will touch your heart as you watch a young immigrant that is told he'll amount to nothing, soar to success, and along the way, never forget where he came from.

"She (mom) would then make her way to Kroger and use her five-person allotment of $125 per month in food stamps to buy expired food on clearance. It was all she could do to make sure the five of us had anything at all to eat, and if she couldn't afford it, we managed without. Sometimes, I'd take a baloney sandwich to school for a change of pace, but I mostly ate bananas. The never-ending, gnawing hunger in the pit of my stomach became a part of me, and fuelled my drive to do more, to be more, so that someday my family could eat without worry.

The book contains a wonderful forward written by Mark Victor Hansen that you will not want to miss.

"During those morning shifts at McDonald's, I learned what is in many ways the most valuable thing I every learned as a salesman: if you show a customer you sincerely care about them enough to remember that they like room in their coffee for cream, they will love doing business with you, and they will go out of their way to do so."

 I want to close my review with something the author's grandfather told him that he has kept in his heart, and what led him to become the success he is today.

"You must always remember," he said to me, "That you only have two things in this world, your name and your reputation. Also know that you can be anything or anybody you want to be. But don't expect that anyone is going to do this for you. Not your parents, not me. You will become exactly who you yourself work to become. Nothing more and nothing less."

His grandfather was a very wise old man and the world would be a lot better place if we all heeded his well spoken advice.

Words of Praise for Dan Milstein

“Through pure determination, fortitude and attitude, Daniel pulled out of impossibly difficult situations. His story is true, his story is a personal inspiration to me and I hope it will inspire you too to maximize your potential and go for the greatest of dreams.”
Mark Victor Hansen
Bestselling Author
Chicken Soup for the Soul
“… an exciting tale of success and achievement.”
Brian Tracy
Author—The Way to Wealth
"Dan Milstein shows that the American Dream is alive and well for everyone, immigrant and natural born citizen alike."
Ross Rojek
San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review

“Dan Milstein’s is the classic story of a young Russian immigrant achieving the American dream against all odds.  It is a great personal story, a great Jewish story and a great story of how immigrants continue to help build America.”
 David Shtulman
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor

“Especially during this time of financial strain and pessimism this beautifully written memoir serves as food for the soul. Reading this book not only is an engrossing experience – it is an uplifting one. As Milstein would encourage us, believe, and struggle even, because anything is possible if we truly remember the American Dream.”
Grady Harp
Amazon Top Ten Reviewer
“This is what the American dream is all about.
From McDonald's to millionaire. From dream to reality.”
Jess Todtfeld
Former FOX-TV Producer
President, Success In Media, Inc.

"With his mesmerizing 17 Cents & a Dream, Daniel Milstein delivers more than the usual rags to riches memoir. It is rather a riveting and spellbinding testimony that with the right combination of motivation and perseverance daunting challenges and appalling events can be overcome no matter what the odds may be against you.”
Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com
“Dan is a tremendous businessman and a wonderful person.  He always has a smile on his face and has worked hard in life to get to where he’s at right now. 
His work ethic and determination speak loud and clear for what he has been able to accomplish. I feel proud to call him my friend.”
Katrina Hancock
WDIV-TV Sports Anchor/Reporter
Host of Sports Final Editio

“Dan Milstein is a close friend and business advisor. His book is a treasure chest of information and is an inspiration to me and should be to others as well. While he can’t skate, he is one tough business man. When he shoots… he scores.”
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings # 13

“Dan's inspirational story is a journey in overcoming obstacles, as well as a lesson in achieving success.  Dan's stories will motivate you to overcome adversity.” 
Barry Habib
Founder of Mortgage Market Guide
CNBC/Fox Commentator   

“Dan Milstein’s journey from Kiev to where he is today is a remarkable story. In such as short amount of time he’s built a great company while maintaining a sterling reputation.”
John W. Barfield
Bartech Group

“As a supplier of fine food for restaurants and grocers I know the main ingredient to success is hard work and the willingness to go above and beyond the customer’s expectations to deliver satisfaction. Dan Milstein demonstrates this principal in many ways. As an entrepreneur I can appreciate his struggles, hopes and aspirations. This book is an inspiration as it proves that in America anything is possible.”
Jim Lipari
Lipari Foods

“Dan Milstein’s success story is an amazing one that is a grabber from page one!”
Don Hutson, Co-Author of NY Times International Best-Sellers... 
The One Minute Entrepreneur &
The One Minute Negotiator,
CEO of U.S. Learning, Inc.

Disclaimer/Disclosure. I received a complimentary copy of this book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art, book description, and any excerpts are courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. My Life. One Story at a Time. is an advertising affiliate with Amazon, a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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  1. This book sounds very powerful and inspirational. I love his grandfather's advice! It is something we should all remember. Thanks for sharing this book with us! :)

    1. The book is inspirational and I really think you'll enjoy reading it. There were so many little snippets I wanted to put down, but had to weed them out. I felt the words of his grandfather were too important not to be included. Glad they resonated with you.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I found his grandfather's words important, too....thanks for sharing. This looks like a great book for me to look for!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Jacque. I hope you'll pick up the book and read it too. Glad you enjoyed the review.


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