"I always feel like awards come too early in life. There is so much more to do," said former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez on Tuesday evening. Gutierrez was at the National Press Club to accept an American Dream National Leadership Awards from the Merage Foundation.
On the day before his wedding anniversary, the Cuban-born American shared credit for his success in leadership and public service with his wife and country.
"I sometimes ask the question... with what I have been able to do, what I have been given the opportunity to do, would it have been possible had I lived elsewhere? No," he said. "And my sense is that that is the magic of this country. People come here and they do extraordinary things. They do the type of things that they wouldn't have the opportunity to do back home."
Gutierrez was also a CEO of the Kellogg Company, and is now vice chairman of the Institutional Clients Group for Citigroup. "I can tell you for a fact that I know that I would not have been CEO of a major multinational corporation had I stayed in Cuba," he added amongst cuckles from the audience.
"And my son Carlos will tell you that I have lost everything I have ever been given," he added. "I lose keys, I lose wallets... But I have never lost my U.S. passport."