Tofu Story

I was very little, but I remember this story very well, so I wanted to share it with you.

Back in my home country, we often see food stalls along the road, all over the place really. One of my late Grandfather’s cousins made tofu for a living. He was one of those guys who pushed his cart and setup the food stall every day to sell his tofu. We called him Grand Uncle Apiao.

He wasn’t the healthiest person (he moved from China to Indonesia when he was 3-4 during the World War II), he was a thin man. He was very poor but always lived his life with dignity. He refused to get help from other people because he believed that as long as he was healthy, he should be able to put food on the table for his family.  He had met great obstacles in life: his food cart being stolen, lived in poverty, had people who cheated his money and ran away. But he always came back and pushed his tofu cart daily without fail, every day, 7 days a week.

My parents often took me to visit his food stall to buy out a good amount of his tofu to give to my grandparents. Just like any other day whenever my parents bought his tofu, he often refused to accept payment. However my parents always insisted for him to accept the money in exchange for the tofu. Sometimes both sides can be so pushy, I’d watch my Grand Uncle refused to accept the money, and my parents insisted or they wouldn’t take the tofu.
One time, I saw how he had three different drawers for the cash payment (back then there was no one use credit card in my country).  He accepted the money and put the money into three different drawers. I was curious, so I went ahead and asked him why he split the money and put them into three different drawers. He smiled and looked at me:

“I split the money into three different drawers for three reasons. The first one is for my family, my children. The second one is to help others who’re much less fortunate than I am. I realize that God loves me and I’m still considerably healthy; this second one represents my gratefulness and never forget the less fortunate.  The third one, is to save and invest into better equipment so I can grow my tofu business.”

I was little (probably 4 or 5 years old) but I understood everything he mentioned.

Fast forward five years later (give or take), he had the money to build a factory from the ground up, hired employees and started living a good life. His dream came true. He lived a good life until he passed away ten years ago.

I see similarities in how I run my business now with how he ran his business back then. The only difference is our “offers“. His tofu, vs. my ‘services and digital products’. I believe hard work will pay off.  I believe in giving away a percentage of my income every month, (and it always come back tenfold) . I believe in investing into myself (education) and the right tools.

All too often, I see people who come to me and tell me that they have no money. They use the excuse of “being broke” as a hindrance, as a major block to becoming successful in life.  When I first started, I could of used the same excuse but I never allowed circumstances dictate my outcome. If you determine that you’re broke and you’re doing nothing to fix that, realize that being broke is going to cost you more in the long run. Yes, being broke is going to be expensive for you.

Make a decision to better your life regardless of your situation and circumstances. All it takes is a mindset shift. Realize that you can achieve your dream when you want it bad enough. Only when you want it bad enough you’ll do whatever it takes to reach your dream destination.


Val Geerken


  1. William Silva says:

    Your uncle was a very smart man for putting his money in 3 drawers and always investing in his business and never forgetting to be grateful and help others! This is a very simple and very effective way to progress in life. I am going to follow this principle as well. Thank you for sharing this wonderful little story!

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