Inspiring OthersJan 18, 2024 11:05AM ● By Leo Adam Biga
Photo by Bill Sitzmann.
Resilience goes with being an entrepreneur, but in his journey from Afghan refugee to serial entrepreneur, Cyrus Jaffery has endured more than most—and thrived.
The business exploits of the 35-year-old netted him Entrepreneur of the Year from the Midlands Business Journal at its 40 Under 40 Awards on November 1, 2023. He hopes his story inspires other newcomers.
“I know the United States has welcomed many Cyruses lately, and I want to be an example to show them they can come here, make a life for themselves, and give back to a country that has given them freedom,” Jaffery said.
He persevered through losing family members to war, suffering abuse, and having an older brother paralyzed. When things didn’t work out with an employer, he severed ties and started over from scratch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his forthcoming memoir, “Triumph After Trauma: How a Scrappy Battle-Scarred Refugee Insured His Own Success and Can Inspire Yours,” he shares personal stories of overcoming challenges as guideposts for achieving one’s best life. The book from Concierge Marketing and Publishing of Omaha releases in winter 2024.
The Kabul, Afghanistan, native was two years old in 1990 when a rocket hit the family home during the first Taliban uprising. He and his pregnant mother suffered injuries and fled to Pakistan. After living briefly in refugee camps and other temporary housing, his family’s application for an American visa was granted. They arrived in the US in 2002. In the two decades since starting a new life here, Jaffery has leveraged hard work, natural charisma, and driving ambition to escape poverty and overcome trauma.
He earned his chops in banking before becoming an independent insurance broker. Siblings Ahmad, Bobby, and Suman work alongside him. Under the flagship business Jaffery Insurance & Financial Services, he employs dozens of associates and cultivates a workplace culture that helps people reach their potential. Reflective of his own minority experience, he hires many nontraditional candidates.
Retired University of Nebraska at Omaha Center for Afghanistan Studies director Thomas Gouttierre, who wrote a foreword for “Triumph After Trauma,” said his journey constitutes “a quintessential refugee and immigration success story.”
The Millard North and Nebraska Wesleyan graduate has achieved a multi-million dollar business portfolio in an adopted country whose language and ways he had to learn, sometimes facing ethnic discrimination. He’s managed with the support of his wife and best friend, Michelle Jaffery, a certified life coach and published children’s book author. The couple have three young children.
Through everything, the Jafferys stayed together. He values loyalty in business, too. Playing competitive soccer gave him an appreciation for teamwork. The strong work ethic modeled by his parents guides him in setting the tone at the office.
Jaffery wants it known that newcomers like himself not only contribute to making America strong but also have stories and strategies that can help others realize their dreams. In his book, he lays out an informal system for achieving success that works for him and can inform others. It’s his way of paying forward what he’s been given.
He also shares his insights as host of the Insurance Producers Podcast and as a guest commentator on others.
As an expression of the gratitude he feels for the opportunities he’s had, his companies support charitable community causes. Jaffery himself aids Afghan refugee families who settled in Omaha after US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021.
The entrepreneur hopes his book becomes a resource in people’s personal tool box for learning how to use adversity as a catalyst to turn obstacles into stepping stones and lean times into prosperity.
“You will deal with adversity daily through your business, family, life, [and] relationships. But just know that it’s God’s way of making you stronger,” Jaffery said. “Adversity makes you the person you’re looking to become. On the other side of adversity is success. You can’t go around it; you’ve just got to deal with it and go through it.”
Through positive mindset mantras and practices, Jaffery provides a formula for “winning your day, your life, and your career and making your passion your livelihood.” The results, he suggested, will set you free as it did him.
“If you love what you do,” he said, “you’ll never work a day in your life.”
For more information, visit jafferyinsurance.com. Writer Leo Adam Biga collaborated with Cyrus Jaffery on his forthcoming book, set to publish late 2024.