I was recently dining at a landmark restaurant in Washington, D.C. A true institution within the capital region dining scene, this restaurant is known for its early 20th-century theme and ambiance.

As I walked through the restaurant on dark-green and brown carpet laced with unintelligible vintage patterns, I was surrounded by rich, dark walnut walls donning reproductions of famous paintings and photos from the early 20th century.

Illuminating down at me from the ceiling vantage point were antique chandeliers from a time long past. And, just to complete the visual description, there was taxidermy abound in multiple places in the restaurant of various types of exotic animals.

Of all the photos on the wall, there was one photo in particular that completely stood out to me and captured my gaze for what seemed like 10 minutes. The photo was that of a business meeting circa the mid-20th century of about 13 CEOs from various companies at a business dinner function of sorts.

Why was this photo so captivating to me?

Well, simply put, the CEOs were all white males.

Things are different now. In fact, many of the leading Fortune 500 companies, Silicon Valley Unicorns, and iconic American brands have CEOs, CFOs, General Counsels, and other C-suite executive roles that are led by first-generation immigrants.

These include Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, Uber, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Fender, Chanel, Micron Technology, Palo Alto Networks, Mastercard, and Intuit, just to name a few.

To date, 56 Fortune 500 CEOs, representing about 11%, are immigrants. Hailing from such countries as India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Korea, China/Taiwan, Argentina, and Brazil. This is truly a remarkable feat when you consider the fact that these are individuals for whom English is many times their second or third language and who've only been in the U.S. for a few decades.

But, how are immigrants dominating the executive ranks of corporate America?

The short answer is because of a combination of what the "Immigrant Mindset" combined with the foundational tenets of the U.S. which are democracy, freedom and capitalism. This creates a perfect storm that gives rise to this incredible immigrant success phenomenon.

So, let's take a closer look at what constitutes the Immigrant Mindset.

First and foremost, for immigrants failure is not an option. Think about it. These are people that have left their countries, their extended families, and everything that they have known up to the time they departed their homeland only to come to a foreign country to hear an unfamiliar language and partake in strange local customs.

Some are escaping persecution. Others are seeking economic opportunities. While some are seeking both. In either case, there is no way back home. Failure is not an option. This mindset creates such a powerful sense of drive in the mind of the immigrant that they see no obstacles, just stepping stones to their ultimate dream and vision.

Similar to countless generals from antiquity that positioned their soldiers with their backs against the mountain, so that they would have no way to retreat and thus would fight for their lives, immigrants face everyday challenges head-on with the same survival mindset.

Second, immigrants can weather significant societal and economic storms like deep recessions, pandemics, and real estate and stock market crashes in a much better fashion than native-born Americans.

This is primarily because of the fact that, generally speaking, many immigrants come from countries that have experienced significantly worse societal and economic events than anything the U.S. has experienced.

This includes all-out actual war on a nation's soil, atrocities, revolutions overthrowing standing governments, mass persecution, hyperinflation, deep currency devaluation, human rights abuses, religious intolerance, high unemployment and underemployment, inequality, mass poverty, widespread corruption, and generally just a more difficult environment to survive in. And, just like the old adage, if you can make it in a country that faces such challenges and survive, then you can certainly make it anywhere.

This is what happens when major American corporations hire immigrants as high-ranking executives. By the time they are brought on, they have gone through so many invaluable, real-life experiences that have equipped them with the knowledge, wisdom, and general tenacity to overcome any corporate challenge which may present itself with relative ease.

A great example is the COVID-19 global pandemic. It brought not only corporations to a complete halt, but also the entire nation. Not intending to diminish the significance of this global pandemic, however, to immigrants the pandemic was merely another one of life's challenges to overcome. This is why it's no coincidence that the rate of appointment of immigrant C-suite executives within major U.S. corporations significantly increased during the pandemic as opposed to any other time in U.S. corporate history.

Third, for immigrants, fear is a familiar friend that has presented itself so many times in the past that it has become quite ubiquitous and relatively insignificant when viewed in the grand scheme of things. Taking risks in the face of immense fear and daily challenges is nothing new to most immigrants. As mentioned above, many times immigrants come from countries that face extreme societal and economic challenges on a daily basis. Fear is simply accepted. A minor emotion that is quickly overcome when the ultimate goal is survival.

So, when these courageous individuals trek halfway across the world to immigrate to the U.S., the fear of the unknown is very easily overcome and counterbalanced by the excitement of tapping into the unlimited opportunities America has to offer. By the time immigrants enter positions of leadership within corporate America, overcoming fear and making key decisions by finding practical solutions come quite naturally, for they've been doing this as a part of their daily survival for a very long time.

Lastly, immigrants look at America through a completely different lens than native-born Americans. I call this an immigrant's comparative lens. What this means is that contrary to most Americans who were born and raised in the U.S. and haven't really lived in any other country but the U.S., on the other hand, immigrants lived at least up to adulthood in a completely different country.

As such, they can easily compare everything that this country has to offer versus what their homeland offers.

This is why it may be quite shocking for most native-born Americans to learn that immigrants actually appreciate this great nation comparatively more than anyone.

In the mind of a new immigrant, the following thoughts are quite common: "So, you're telling me that if I wanted to get an education, you would provide me with a student loan? And, after I graduate, you'll help me find a job? Further, if I need a home and a car, you'll help me get a mortgage and loan? You're telling me that should I desire to follow my entrepreneurial dreams then you'll provide me with venture capital funding, loans and tax incentives to make my business successful?"

America responds to these questions with a resounding yes!

This is why immigrants absolutely and unequivocally love this great nation and what it stands for. Because there simply is no other country on the face of the earth that welcomes immigrants with such open arms and helps them and their loved ones realize their dreams.

If you take the time to really hear the story of immigrants, where they came from, why they decided to leave their homeland, how they got to the U.S., and what challenges they have overcome being a stranger in a strange land, you will undoubtedly hear countless inspirational stories of courage, hope, overcoming fear, and perseverance. All invaluable leadership traits have enabled immigrants to the U.S. to become some of the most prolific leaders of corporate America.

Aarash Darroodi is General Counsel, Executive Vice President & Corporate Secretary of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation