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His Parents' Good Deed Shaped How One Founder Runs His Company Do the right thing.

By Alex Fielding

This story appears in the April 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Getty Images/Caiaimage/Martin Barraud

Throughout my childhood, my parents had the same morning routine. They'd wake up at 5 a.m. and drive to the local mosque; my mother would go inside to pray while my father waited in the car. Then they'd drive to the Roman Catholic church, where my father would go inside to pray while my mom drove home to take care of me and my siblings. As a kid, I thought this was perfectly normal. Now, as an adult, I realize how special it was -- that two deeply religious people, of different faiths, loved each other enough to not try changing the other.

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That was just the way my parents were. My father was a white British citizen who fought in World War II, got stationed in East Africa and ended up as CEO of a Nairobi power company. One day in 1961, my mother applied to be his secretary. She was 22 years his junior, and a black Muslim. Their marriage upset his deeply conservative family -- and, this being the age of apartheid, also made their lives in Africa challenging and sometimes dangerous. So in 1965, they moved to America, where I was born.

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