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The American Dream Isn't Dead

Tom Alexander
Tom Alexander

Yes, America is facing challenges, but we are a nation of innovators.

Is the American dream dead? A PWC report, "The World in 2050," projects that China and India will eventually overtake the United States as world's economic superpowers. 

My name is Tom Alexander. While that name sounds as American as apple pie, I am – believe it or not – a minority business owner. 

Many people fear the American dream is dead because technology, immigration, diversity, globalization and clean energy are stealing jobs.

The recent anti-diversity issue at Google and the current debate on U.S. immigration policy and DACA continue to add fuel to the fire on both sides of the debate.

As a proud, American-born brown kid turned advertising technology entrepreneur, I have a foot in all camps and have examined these issues objectively through firsthand experiences and the latest studies.

While I agree that certain fears are real and must be addressed, others are myths that must be dispelled. The bottom line is the American dream is not dead. Not even close and here's why.

My father was born in an Indian village so remote that it took his parents two months to travel to an official office to record his birth. He is forever two months older than his records indicate. 

My parents immigrated to the United States. My father worked for IBM, and I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in Silicon Valley. 

I launched the first omnichannel advertising company in 2009, and the PK4 Media family is humbled to have been named as one of "America's Most Promising Companies" by Forbes twice.

My family, like so many others from around the world, came to America for the promise of a better life called the American dream. Many people are worried that dream won't exist for this and future generations.

To be clear, there is no doubt that the global economy is rapidly changing. Many people feel left behind, and our economy is facing myriad new challenges.

Let's look at some of these challenges as well as their solutions:

Is technology killing the American dream?

Fareed Zakaria noted during a CNN podcast that driverless cars are projected to put five million Americans out of work. If you drive cars for a living, your anxiety is real. Moreover, a recent Gallup Poll revealed that 26 percent of Americans think their present job will be eliminated by technology within two decades.

As a CEO in the rapidly evolving ad tech and mar tech space, I share these concerns, because like all tech companies, we risk losing ground to our competition if we are not innovating daily.

Technology has threatened jobs for centuries. As Eliot Burdett, CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, recently noted, technology hurt the door-to-door encyclopedia salesperson. Should we not have invented the phone, computer or internet? Of course not.

Are immigrants and undocumented workers killing the American dream?

If you lost a job to an undocumented worker, you have every right to be livid.

However, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has declined since 2007. Pew also found that undocumented immigrants tend to work in agriculture, hospitality and construction, while U.S. workers tend to work in education, health services, financial activities and public administration.

We are a country of immigrants who created the most powerful economy in the world. A Forbes contributor cited a National Foundation for American Policy study that found that half of the 87 startup companies valued at $1 billion or more had at least one immigrant founder.

As the son of immigrants, I know that American values attract the best minds from across the globe. We want them here, starting businesses that fuel our economic growth.

Are globalization and clean energy killing the American dream?

If you work in a Pennsylvania factory that is about to close and reopen in China, or you coal mine is shutting down, your anger is justified.

However, a U.S. Department of Energy's report shows the solar industry has more than twice as many U.S. jobs to offer American workers than coal – 374,000 versus 160,000.

Over the next 15 years, solar will "easily absorb" layoffs occurring in the coal industry, according to a study by Michigan Technological University.

Leading the global clean energy movement will ensure America's long-term economic success, but try telling the unemployed coal worker to hold off on paying their mortgage for 15 years.

I am proud that our government's Power Plus Plan has already allotted $75 million to retrain coal workers and the Solar Training Network aims to train 75,000 people by 2020. We should not fear the global economy, we must lead it. It allows companies like mine to overcome geographical barriers and do business from Rome to Rio de Janeiro. 

While student loan debt has reached $1.4 trillion in the U.S. according to, education is the great equalizer, and it is critical that, as a nation, we continue to prepare our children for the jobs of the future without accruing such enormous debt. 

Are diversity hires killing the American dream?

If you lost a job to a diversity hire, you should be upset. However, this does not mean the American dream is dead and there will not be other good jobs.

Even though I’m a minority business owner, my priority is to grow my business, and I hire based on merit. Yet I have seen from my experience the benefits of having a diverse workforce. Fresh ideas and perspectives from employees of different races and genders have driven my company forward. Studies from MITMcKinsey & Company and Gallup prove diversity in the workplace increases revenue.    

The American dream has been a beacon of hope for people around the world for decades. As a red-blooded, brown, American entrepreneur, I uniquely understand the challenges we face. Like previous generations, we will rise to the occasion. The American dream is not dead. Not dead at all.

Image Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Tom Alexander
Tom Alexander Member
Tom Alexander is the Founder and CEO of 15-time award-winning PK4 Media, the advertising industry’s first Omni-Channel PMP Media Company. Founded in 2009, PK4 Media uses proprietary technology that enables brand campaigns to serve and collect data from 200 million unique consumers across an unprecedented eight digital channels: Desktop, Mobile, Tablet, CTV, VOD, In-Mall, In-Theater and Digital-Out-Of-Home. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the company has a click-through rate four times the industry average and a 93% client retention rate with world-class clients including: Activision, Amazon, Bacardi, Esurance, Ford, Honda, KitchenAid, Lionsgate, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble. PK4 Media is a two-time Forbes Most Promising Company, three-time Inc. 500/5000 winner, Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 winner and LA Business Journal recognized the company as a ‘Best Place to Work.’ Alexander contributes for Advertising Age, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.