Tapioca Leaves No More


By Choong Pui Yee

There was a time when Azroy Salim has to pick tapioca leaves for dinner and took multiple odd jobs to sustain himself through college. But today he lives an admirable life as a successful real estate entrepreneur. A true testimony from rags to riches, we are glad to interview the affable Azroy of Realty Executives International in Arizona, United States, and glean some words of wisdom from him.

How did you get started as an estate agent?
I went through so many interviews for a job after I graduated from the university but did not get hired so I decided to try selling real estate. First month into the business I managed to sell two homes. Decided then this must be my journey.

What are the things or people that motivate you to thrive in what you are doing?
Growing up dirt poor in a village where families have to dig up your own toilet and losing my dad when I was five years old were some of the challenges. My mother now is 95 years of age, uneducated and can’t read or write, she however managed to raise all of her children with love. To make ends meet, mother cleaned houses for the rich. I remember growing up, in the evenings, we used to go along the railway track to pick up tapioca leaves as our vegetables to eat for dinner. That was delicious.

What are some of the significant hardships in your journey?
Put myself through college, did odd jobs like yard service, cleaning, eating Ramen noodles (Maggi Mee) everyday throughout college, jealous people all around trying to put you down plus being the minority in the US, I had to go through a lot of challenges.

What are some of the most crucial values to run a business?
Honesty and be a man of your words takes you a long way. My word is as good as gold.

Who inspires you the most?
My older brother Harris Salim. When dad passed away, he basically stepped up to be the father even though he has his own family to worry about with three children. He continues working tireless all his life helping the family raising eleven of us. The little money he has to spare every month, he managed to send me $200 a month to help me out with my tuition. He believes in me and know I will break the family cycle of poverty.

What sort of advice would you give to your younger colleagues who are starting out as an estate agent or those who are preparing to venture into their own business?
Follow your passion, Never doubt yourself about being something. Don’t give up, the more you work, the more luck will come to you. Expect less from people and you will get more before you know it.