“If you really want something, you will always have time. You make the time and you make things happen” Chinh Pham (Romeo) told a group of young leaders at the Sauvé House today.

Romeo makes a lot happen with his time. Leaving Vietnam on a boat in the midst of war, he is now the chef and co-owner of Sho-Dan, one of downtown Montreal`s most popular sushi establishments.

The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation was delighted he made the time to come here today and share stories from his remarkable life journey – so far – and impart some wisdom with Fellows about his inspiring success story.

Born in the 1960s in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he was raised as a child in the midst of the political turmoil and violence of the Vietnam War. At the age of 12, his father put him on a small and cramped boat with two of his brothers with nothing but a small bag, and off he sailed, never to see his father again.

The boat reached Thailand, and he eventually reached Montreal where he was placed in a foster home, separated from all his family and brothers, and sent to a school where he didn`t speak any English or French. Although the barriers were huge, Romeo is quick to waive away the possibility that he ever had any down time or depression. “When there is a problem, I don’t focus on the problem, but on the solution” he says with a charming smile. “I am not afraid of anything. If I have a problem, I ask for help to always become better”.

It seems that this philosophy of always getting better must be behind some of his mouth-watering sushi that he serves so fresh at Sho-Dan. All it takes is one bite into one of his colorful pieces of sushi, and it seems that perfection isn’t too far away ;).  We were all so lucky to be treated to some of his sushi for lunch today. Sho Dan is just down the hill from Sauvé House and has become an “incontournable” for sushi-lovers passing through Montreal.

And it doesn`t stop there. Romeo is also an accomplished painter. He has also launched a line of jewellery and accessories. When asked about the secret to his success, Romeo smiles “There are no secrets. If you want something, go and get it. Work really hard. Go with your passion, heart and body, and everything will follow, you won’t even feel you are working.”

Romeo came to the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation as part of our Leadership Encounters series, in which leaders from all walks of life come to share their stories with the emerging leaders at the Foundation.