A CEO explains how a choice he's made since moving to the US at age 13 helped him go on to build a $600 million business

A CEO explains how a choice he's made since moving to the US at age 13 helped him go on to build a $600 million business

Tariq Farid, Founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements

Edible Arrangements

Tariq Farid has made Edible Arrangements into a successful company.

  • Edible Arrangements founder Tariq Farid moved to Connecticut from Pakistan as a child. 
  • Farid has always chosen to focus on positivity, and ignored negativity that could distract from his goal.
  • A conspiracy theory has connected Farid's philanthropy to Hamas, but the rumor has only made him contribute more to charitable causes.

Tariq Farid moved to Connecticut from Pakistan when he was 13, and his family had very little money.

"Just imagine being an immigrant who, one, parents can't afford to dress them well because they're poor, and second, you wear the wrong sneakers and you're not the hip person, your English isn't that good, and you're intimidated," Farid told Business Insider on an episode of our podcast, "Success! How I Did It." "And then you come to this country where things are so much more sophisticated than where you grew up. I mean, we grew up on a farm, so we didn't have anything. We didn't have a car. My grandmother's house didn't even have electricity."

Decades later, things are pretty different. Farid is the founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements, which has grown to over 900 franchisees in nine countries and has revenue of about $600 million a year.

He finds choosing to focus on positivity over negativity to be key to his success.

"I didn't stop a long time ago when people said something like, 'Go back to your country.' I'm like, 'I am in my country. This is my country,'" Farid said.

Farid says the majority of people who were open and accepting of him. He specifically cited Charlie Farricielli, who Farid called an "amazing neighborhood" person. Farricielli owned a flower shop, gave a 13-year-old Farid a job, and taught Farid about hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit.

"... Maybe 99% of the people who had open arms and were amazing. I mean, there were the Charlie Farriciellis who were helping you to succeed, so it would be disingenuous of me to spend a lot of time on all of this discrimination," Farid said.

He continued: "If you want to focus on pessimism, if people want to focus on negativity, then you get negativity and you only stay within negativity. But if you want to focus on what you can do not only to better yourself but to better your community and to better the people around you, then you will do that."

Farid kept this focus on positivity when a conspiracy theory arose that linked Farid's philanthropic achievements with financial support of the Islamic paramilitary group Hamas. Despite the Anti-Defamation League declaring the accusations baseless, Farid has continued to be active in philanthropy and even doubled down.

"A lot of times people attack you because they want to call something out that is not true or they want to say something to discourage you," Farid said. "And people asked me [after the Hamas accusations], 'Oh, does this mean you're going to stop giving?' I said, 'No, no, no. This means we give more. We do more.'"

He continued: "I am built by many people who gave their time and gave their resources, and encouraged me, so I think that part has only gotten stronger, this desire to do a lot more to do in giving back and everything. I think it's no different than a bump in the road. I think you can't let it get to you."