Episode 167

Sean Lee ·  Changing the World with the Purist Group

“I'm dealing with emotion, dealing with people's feelings, dealing with people's needs. I'm able to provide that and do my best to continue to do that.”

Sean Lee is the founder of Purist Group, a car group and a network of all the good people who share a common passion for cars, motorcycles, and the finer things in life. Many of the members in this group are well-known drivers, journalists, tuners, car collectors, and overall car geeks. Having come from a rough childhood, he ran away from home and worked various jobs at an ice cream shop, at McDonald’s, as a door-to-door salesman, and more.


At the age of 20, he entered the freight industry as a forklift driver. From there, he decided to go back to school and eventually found his way into the logistics business at Air Tiger Express. He became the number one salesman in the local station, then number one in regional, and then the company’s number one salesman globally in terms of profit and volume. With these achievements, Sean became one of the youngest shareholders as well as vice president of the company.


Sean started a charity called the Purist Group back in 2012. It started out mainly for members in the automotive world and soon spread out to motorcycle and gear heads. They also have a Purist teens group to help influence the younger generation to continue to do good deeds for others. Currently, they have approximately 8,000 active members in Purist USA/Canada and 1,000 active members in Purist Asia. Their classified page has over 4,000 active members.


Social media handles:

Instagram: @puristgroup

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Watch the interview

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Bryan Pham: Everyone. Welcome to another episode on the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have Sean. 

[00:00:06] Sean, welcome to the podcast. 

[00:00:08] Sean Lee: It’s my owner and pleasure. We finally got to do this. 

[00:00:11] Bryan Pham: I know. For our listeners, we’ve been trying to work out arrangements to record Sean for our podcast for a while now. And we’re super excited to have him in the show.

[00:00:19] Sean, tell us about yourself. Tell us about your upbringing, and who you are. 

[00:00:23] Sean Lee: My name is Sean Lee. I came to the United States when I was 14. So my upbringing is tough. So at age of five, my parents divorced and my father was very physically abusive. And from 5 to 14, I just can’t wait to see my mom again. My mom left Taiwan at the time ever since they divorced.

[00:00:40] So, my mom came to the United States right after they divorced. And I don’t get to see my mom again until 14 because my dad decided to remarry, at age 14. And his new wife doesn’t wanna have anything to deal with me. My dad ended up sending me here to the United States to stay with my mom. And after that, and when I got here, I found out that my mom was pretty much an alcoholic. So I came here at age 14 and my mom was very mentally abusive. And after that, at 17 years old, I ran away from home and became homeless, slept on the street, and started working odd jobs. Even today I only have a high school degree. So people out there, I couldn’t apply for a job, so don’t worry. 

[00:01:16] So basically, that will summarize really quickly on my childhood and which later on you guys will understand why I do so much, what I’m doing right now for the kids out there in the community. 

[00:01:28] Bryan Pham: Yeah. I have to commend you for that. I didn’t know about your childhood to that extent but thank you so much for sharing that. It shows what kind of perseverance you have as a person, right? And I wanna understand when you were going through your darkest moments, when you were running away from home, like what was rushing through your mind?

[00:01:46] What were you thinking? Was it survival? Was it anger? Was it resentment? What were you thinking at the time? 

[00:01:51] Sean Lee: It has got them all. But it’s funny, survival was the last, so I was okay. When I first ran, I was sleeping in the park and at that time there was no pager or cell phone. So then my friends found out that I was supposed to be at certain events with them like maybe play a round of tennis, or have lunch together with them, but I ended up not showing up. And he started calling my house and my mom just wanted doesn’t wanna have anything to do with me. My mom just told him, oh, he’s dead. He no longer exists in this household. That’s when a bunch of my friends gathered and started looking for me and they found me in the park. So one of my best friends today, actually took me home and I stayed in his garage.

[00:02:24] I don’t know why a lot of people have a couch in their garage, but back in the day, that was like a thing. I slept on the couch for a while and I love that this guy was still very close friends today. And then from then on, I started looking for a job trying to rent the house and pay for rent.

[00:02:37] But I didn’t live quite a long time. Pretty much just have no money and try to survive. So yes. As you mentioned, I often have more anger, abandonment, and sadness. There’s a lot of why that you ask yourself. What did I do as a kid, right? What did I do as a five-year-old that deserves to get beat up like that? I used to be very resentful of the world. I was one of those guys who never got any love from my parents. So mother’s day and father’s day are very tough for me. But as you get older, you forget that. You have to learn to forgive things.

[00:03:06] It’s one of the biggest virtues I have learned in my life. Of course, I don’t just all of a sudden one day go oh, I found God, I can forgive everything. No, it doesn’t work like that. It’s a process. You have to actually work your way up. It’s like, you’re never gonna come to the United States to immediately know how to speak English. You have to take ESL for one year or two, and learn grammar. It’s the same thing. It’s a process, as you go through life, the more and more you know about life then you’ll understand the process. Then you learn to forgive more. It’s just that simple. 

[00:03:34] Bryan Pham: Yeah, man. That’s really it. 

[00:03:35] Sean Lee: It’s a very complicated procedure. If you say anybody can tell you that, oh, I can forgive anybody who has ever done something for me right away. That’s impossible. It takes years of practice to do that.

[00:03:44] Bryan Pham: Yeah.

[00:03:44] Sean Lee: I was on the street. Unfortunately. I used to have a lot of anger. I was in an Asian gang for a while and I got into trouble a lot back in the days. I was misused. And because I was one of those kids with a lot of anger and people wanna use me with that anger and people say, oh, I’ll pay you $500 go there and do something. And I do it because we’re making $3.25 an hour, somebody pays me $500 to do stupid stuff.

[00:04:06] We do it, you know. So let’s be on the camera little baby before you say, bye. Bye-bye. [Shows his dog] 

[00:04:13] Bryan Pham: Sean just showed us his dog. 

[00:04:15] yeah, but yeah, it’s, Ooh, I don’t know.

[00:04:19] It’s a lot to take in, I know.

[00:04:20] It is. I grew up in six and six and I could say that I have a lot of friends with similar backgrounds as well. But the thing that really separates you from them is that you’re able to realize that. Awareness is a big part of growing as a person that you are aware of what happened to you and of your situation. So outta curiosity, what was a turning point like where you realize this wasn’t, this is enough, right? I need to make something out of my life. I need to do something better for myself. And I wanna dive deep into that part. 

[00:04:49] Sean Lee: So honest to God. Okay. It was when I got arrested, it was like, this is not the life I want. I think I’m pretty smart. And do I wanna be with all his people that’s currently around me, this guy steals a car, that guy is a rapist. Am I fit in this category? Who do I want to be? Yeah, I don’t have a good degree. I know at a time when I run away from home, I don’t have the money to go to a good school. And now why I’m gonna make it outta myself. Do I wanna be a rapist? Do I wanna be the guy that talks about how to steal a car next to me? Am I wanna be one of those guys?

[00:05:19] The answer is no. Then I came out and I started looking for a real job and I was no longer in a gang. And I start looking for a real job and I work as a delivery boy. But again, I don’t have any degree. And my English was bad. Remember I came here at 14, ran away from home at 17 and I was basically ESL three, ESL four at the time.

[00:05:36] Bryan Pham: Yeah. You definitely turned it around, so you started finding a normal job. What was your first job like? And I know you mentioned earlier that it was hard for you to find a job. Who was that first person that took a chance on you? 

[00:05:47] Sean Lee: So the first person that took a chance on me actually changed my life. So before this job I was working at McDonald’s, I ate food at McDonald’s that was thrown away. Back in the day, every 18 or 21 minutes McDonald’s threw away their burgers. So what happens? I put them in a special trash bag. I hide them. And then my only transportation at a time was actually a scooter. So as you remember, even in LA Southern rain as I remember, I don’t have gloves. And once I was in a McDonald’s uniform and I had short sleeves on, and I was trying to protect that bag of food and putting it right between my legs or trying to ride it back. And the only investment I did, I had the time was actually a microwave. And the fridge and I were renting a place that’s only enough for a twin-size bed.

[00:06:27] So I work out everything at McDonald’s because of food, delivery boy, forklift driver. I work as a carry cement. And back then, how bad did older companies work because I work in a very known chemical place and they don’t have you wear a mask and I’m glad I didn’t die from that.

[00:06:43] Yeah. I’m 53, right? So you look back almost 40 years ago, 30 something years ago. There’s no protection for workers, however, that’s a different subject. So my first job, actually, I work as a delivery driver and for a company in shipping business logistics, the company is actually called Speedmark. They still exist today. And my boss at the time, his name’s Nick Chen. And he hired me based on $1100 a month, but at least for once in my life, I have actually a consistent salary because when you work at McDonald you’d understand. Today you might work for three hours tomorrow you might go over two hours. Then the next day you might be there for six hours. All different times. You might work today from nine to one the other day, work from six to 12:00 AM. You’re never stable. I met Nick and I found the ad in a Chinese newspaper and went for an interview. He said, yeah, sure. And once I started working and one day he sat me down and talked to me and said, you’re too smart for this.

[00:07:32] You got to better yourself. I said I don’t need to better myself. I’m okay. I just wanna survive. And at the time I lived in Rose Rosemead I had to drive all the way from Rosemead to LAX because it was a cargo business. I do that every morning at 6:00 AM. And at that time there was no 105 freeway. You have to drive all the way there.

[00:07:50] I was lazy too. I was really lazy. I was a really bad worker. I was like, sometimes if I get lazy, I call in sick all the time. I was getting sick all the time because I don’t eat. Eating junk food. And yeah, kids out there. You listen to this, do not eat junk food. So then he gave me a chance and slowly he goes, you need to go back to school to learn English. He actually pays me to go back to learn English. Then I don’t eat. He actually brings me a lunchbox every day. So whatever he eats I’ll have it, then he didn’t just use me as a forklift driver. Everywhere he goes, I become his chauffeur. I drive him everywhere. So I was with him almost 24/7, and if I called in sick. He actually showed up at my house to pick me up and make sure I’m sick. He’s like my father and yeah, but he’s my boss. And because of him, I learned how to type again.

[00:08:29] Remember I am only a high school graduate. I didn’t know how to type. So I learned how to type again. I learned how to speak English and not that well, not like you kids now I learned grammar. I learned proper etiquette on how to do things. And so I’ve been with him for about five, six years. Then he slowly pushed me to do operations, which is the documentation for cargo industries. So that means just typing out the documents. That time there’s no fax, just telex that’s for fax. So there’s no email at that time because there’s no modem. There was no internet at the time.

[00:08:57] Wow. I am old. So then slowly after he left, he went, you really need to focus on trying to become a salesman. So I go, okay, then right before he leaves. He promoted me to become a salesman and I started trying to learn how to sell stuff. He said, your personality’s great. You love to deal with people. You should be a salesman. So I became a salesman. And from there on, I immediately went to my second job after he left the company for about a year. I went to my second job. And another great guy, his name’s John, he hired me as a salesman and $1,800 a month. And a company called Air Tiger Express still exists.

[00:09:34] And I worked there till now. It’s like almost 30 years and I slowly worked my way up. I guess most people were gonna ask where’d you get to buy all these cars and crazy stuff. So I was a salesman. Air Tiger is a pretty big company. It’s in the top 30 in the world, constantly. So it’s quite a few thousand employees. So when I was hired, I was just a junior sales very basic position and I worked my way up and became number one. To make a long story. I work my way as the number one salesperson in the team, then again, number one, regional number one in the world. And the money I save. My boss at the time, John, told me I should become a shareholder because our structure is very private today. We got maybe about 30 shareholders. He goes, you need to become a shareholder. That’s your future. So I became the youngest shareholder and also the youngest vice president at the time. And also in my industry too. And 10 years ago, 10, 11, or 12 years ago, they sold the company to Kawasaki. That’s when we cash out a good percentage of my share. 

[00:10:26] Bryan Pham: Wow. 

[00:10:26] Sean Lee: And that’s where stuff comes from. 

[00:10:28] Bryan Pham: Everything makes sense now. But there are a lot of good takeaways from your story. For me, at least my biggest takeaway is the people that were there for you. And I wanna make it a point. Everybody has this superpower to be nice and help other people and uplift each other because your first boss essentially changed the course of your life and believed in you. 

[00:10:48] Sean Lee: Yeah, he did. Otherwise, I might still go back on the street. He really did. And he was my father and unfortunately he passed away. And right before he left for Asia to do his retirement, he came and went. I wanna sell my car and it’s his favorite car. If I go regardless, I’ll buy it. So he told me X amount of money oh, I want this amount of money. I go no, that’s too cheap. So I paid him more and now whatever he wanna sell, I bought him off for it. That’s the only way I can express my gratitude towards him because he did change my life because it wasn’t for him. I won’t be here talking to you today. He changed one person’s life.

[00:11:19] And now today I’m changing tens and thousands of people’s lives every year, and I’m proud to be the one doing it. As you said, you take one person and make a change. And he did that to me. He has faith. I don’t even have faith in myself. Look, I ditched work. I had fights with other employees. And he believed in me. I don’t know. Amazing guy.

[00:11:35] Bryan Pham: Yeah, it only takes one person to believe in you to unlock your potential. 

[00:11:40] Sean Lee: Exactly. 

[00:11:40] I’m happy about that. I’m really happy that you’re able to also work at a company for 30 years, become a shareholder, the youngest shareholder, a VP, and exit. Cause look at you, Sean. You have an amazing life. You always generously give back. And for our listeners to look up the Purist Group later, it’s Sean who has the best cars. He donates the best items to children around the world. So let’s talk about the Purist Group real quick. Like how does the idea come about? And when did you start the group? 

[00:12:07] We started in 2012, 2022 is our 10th. But of course, we’ve been doing charity events way beyond that. So we’ve been doing a total of about 14 years, just the first four years now, under the name, Purist Group. There’s an interesting story. I’ll add it to why I continue to do that about the Purist Group, which is very important in my life too. 

[00:12:22] When I was younger, I made a lot of money. I wasn’t as giving. I was a charity. Okay. I’ll donate money. I’ll donate money. That’s basically the end of my charity. I figure you call me. Yeah. You want me to do something? Okay, I’ll donate money. That’s my part of a charity. Charity takes a lot of time. Especially for us, we deliver every single item to the people that need it. Most people, don’t know that Purist, never actually fundraised. We never ask any individual to donate money.

[00:12:48] We never actually do a Go Fund Me. Okay. Then where’s the money come from? Of course, back in the day. I’m the one who’s cutting checks for the operations. Now we have a crazy amount of sponsors like Michelin USA, Nissan, and City Yokohama. These are all public traded companies. They start jumping in. And so my life’s a little easier like Nissan donated me a truck, City of Industry donated me another van, makes my life a little easier. But you’re starting out with an agenda. 

[00:13:11] Now, oh, I’m doing charity now. Can you donate me any money? For 10 years, we didn’t take one penny from other people. so we’re pretty solid, and we went from 10 years ago, we went and donated, maybe just me and a few friends. We’re pitching each other’s money. I say Hey, you know me now? So I’m good for 500 bucks, gimme 500 bucks, Bryan. And you’re giving me 500 bucks. So we pull our money together and then we go to Toys R’ Us. We paid for a bunch of toys. Then we start sending it out to the kids. What I did before is I show the receipts online and show individuals who donate how much right. 

[00:13:41] And boom, and just showed them total adds up to, to be like, say $5,000. We bought 5,000 worth of toys and we went and delivered them and made life a lot easier at the time. Yeah. That’s how Purist started. A couple of friends wanna make a difference and until today they’re still part of the Purist Group. Went from there until spiraling to this 10, 15,000 members.

[00:14:02] This is cool because all car enthusiasts or motorcycle enthusiasts but it’s no longer about car motorcycles anymore. It’s more about the agenda and what we are doing. So right now they’ve brought in a lot of school teachers. A lot of kids have to be 16 and over to come in and they volunteer because every year we do our events. It’s eight to 10,000 people are coming. We have probably about 400 volunteers coming as our biggest event. When you see that you’re humbled by the experience. I have to be humble because of that because now I’m not dealing with tangible items. 

[00:14:29] I’m dealing with emotion, dealing with people’s feelings, dealing with people’s needs. And I’m able to provide that. And I have to do my best to continue to do that. A life-changing moment for Purist was nine years ago. So most of you guys probably don’t know, but right now I’m okay to talk about it because I have already talked about it in many different magazines.

[00:14:46] So nine years ago there was a very famous car accident, it was Paul Walker’s accident. So that was actually at my event. And Paul Walker’s actually one of my best friends. I feel emotional about this every time I talk about it. So Paul Walker is my best friend.

[00:14:58] And he came to my event. All the toys that go through to his organization, reached out worldwide. And unfortunately, the accident happens, right? That’s why every year we do our t-shirt, it’s limited, we don’t sell it. Only volunteers get the T-shirt. And the staff gets t-shirts.

[00:15:11] So this is the t-shirt I’m wearing from last year. I designed it. So every time we have a shoulder, it always says 47. So he’s Paul Walker IV, with seven being his favorite number. So that’s why 47 has officially become a number. Whichever stuff I do, it carries your brother on your shoulder. That is forever with us. Yeah. Sorry. [Wipes tears] 

[00:15:29] Bryan Pham: It’s okay. Thank you, Sean. 

[00:15:31] Sean Lee: Yeah. The world lost a great guy on that day, so yeah. And for that doesn’t matter how tough, even during COVID time we wanna do delivery, we still host a toy drive. We make sure those kids have a holiday, especially during COVID time. And we made sure everybody’s taken care of. That’s the reason and motivation behind it. We lost a good friend. That’s all. 

[00:15:48] Bryan Pham: I’m really sorry to hear that. 

[00:15:50] Sean Lee: No. You gotta look at it. Okay. As an actor, he’s known, but he’s not super famous, because this is the guy that actually would go onto the street and pick up a homeless guy and take him home. I was there, so I’ve seen it. And I learned that from him. And I learned to be charitable towards human mankind. I learned to be kind and do good to people. He’s a Hollywood sorority. He doesn’t have to care about homeless people. And he’s always that kind. Imagine he’s that kind towards a random stranger., 

[00:16:19] It’s heaven to be his friend, he always texts, you say, how are you doing today? I might not shoot, are you okay? Just checking on you. He’s that kind of guy. And it’s sad. We lost him. It’s just, but yeah, let’s move on to a different topic. Yeah. But that’s the reason why. The accident happened is one of the reasons. It’s a wake-up call. You wake up and you don’t understand. Life is really too short. Yes, I have a lot of stuff. It could go away just like that. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. And what are you gonna use your life for? After that moment, I devoted my life to making a change in different people’s lives, as much as I can. I’m not God. So I cannot deal with them all, but I try my best to do as much as I can. 

[00:16:56] Bryan Pham: Yeah. And your reputation supersedes you. And that’s how I heard of you too. And it’s like people were telling me that, Hey, like you need to reach out to this guy named Sean Lee and you need to talk to him. He’s doing some great things. The more I look into who you are as a person and the stories that you share, you’re very humble. You don’t share a lot about yourself at all. I feel like this is the first podcast out there where we’re getting a deep insight into who you really are. 

[00:17:23] Sean Lee: Yeah, I like podcasts. We’ve been talking to each other for a few times. I like podcasts because it’s personal in a way. And this one’s very personal and yeah, like yesterday we just saved 53 dogs from getting killed. 

[00:17:33] Bryan Pham: Oh my goodness.

[00:17:33] Sean Lee: One Facebook live. And in two days it went out, and adopted 53 dogs. Yeah. They were supposed to kill all 53 today.

[00:17:39] Thank you. 

[00:17:39] I just posted on my IG and it was great today. Like I was so frustrated I was losing it. So from Tuesday, when I got the news on Wednesday, we did Facebook live and Thursday morning, I got the news that all 53 dogs got rescued. I was like, oh man, it’s cool. And that’s a cool day.

[00:17:53] That moment when I hear the news that text – money, cars, anything fancy in the world cannot buy that. And people don’t understand that. People buy stuff because for instant gratifications, they’re lacking something. They need to buy something to show that I have. Not the wrong thing to do, but that moment I had, it’s epic. It’s a Picasso moment. And it’s just I think about it. Brings a smile to my face. 

[00:18:17] Bryan Pham: We’ll never know those things unless you share them with us. And I’m so glad that you’re sharing with us. And I don’t know, I just feel a connection with you because of the way that you operate with your heart. It’s very similar to the way I operate as well. I like to do things that will benefit the world, right? Yeah. I’m curious too. I feel like you’re such a giver. So like how have you been taking care of yourself? You’re always constantly fundraising, helping friends, and supporting other people, and children. What do you do to take care of your personal wellbeing and essentially your mental health as well? 

[00:18:50] Sean Lee: Actually, to be honest, there was a time when Paul passed away, and my mental health was not in a good stage. I suffered depression, and PTSD because I actually saw the accident happen right in front of me. So it was very tough for me for about two years of time. I went down, went on a downward spiral and I understand what PTSD is all about now. I was drinking and was not eating right. Lost a lot of weight. I’m six foot one. I went down to about 130 pounds for a while. And I don’t wanna see anybody. I locked myself in a room and I went to that cycle and now I learned, and guess what? I’m not saying it today as a Purist Founder, I’m saying Purist changed my life because Purist members come out, say you have to come out, then when I go outside, the first time I walk out of my house, they’re taking me to see a couple of kids that suffer terminal illnesses.

[00:19:30] I really don’t wanna do this at the time. I was very sad. Again, that goes back to my childhood. Then the car accident, I was very self-pity. I was like, oh man, that’s, I’m not gonna save the world. Why do I wanna do that? I can’t even deal with myself. The moment I see those kids. I stood up. I go, if I could do something for them right now, I’d do it. Then I did it and I went back and saw them almost every other day. So by doing good deeds out there, it’s like if you just lock yourself in a room by yourself, you don’t deal with the outside world. You do not understand what interaction with humans is all about. When you first see a human, you’re gonna be like, oh my God, you’re a human being, other than me. Human interaction has some intricate details. You have to go out and do it. Then you will feel it. That moment when I see those kids that they’re dying. They want a last breath of life and they still want to be there. Me, I’m perfectly okay. I have my legs, I have my eyes, I don’t have a tumor growing on my brain like this and am about to die next week, but they have the will of survival. I should too. And that’s when I woke up.

[00:20:29] Now, I go out and do more and more each year. Our first year, 2011. If you Google, we did a toy drive. Maybe 30 people showed up. We got maybe about four suitcases or five suitcases worth of toys now we’re pushing 30, 35,000 toys. Back-to-school backpack, that’s one of my favorite events. The back-to-school backpack we started a couple of years ago delivered 40 backpacks to one school because one teacher said one student was bullied because he’s carrying a shitty, excuse me, really bad backpack. I was like, really? I don’t even know that thing like that exists. Because on my day we could bully like that, plus we’re Asian. However, then I go, okay, I’ll go to your school. And since you have one in your classroom, check out with other teachers, how many do you need? So she says 40, we send about 40. I say, and I told my team to go, this is what we should do every year from now on. So now every year now we do get so much, we’re doing 5,000 backpacks. Next year, we’re gonna break the world record, we shoot for 7,500. The world record is only 6,300 or something like that. 

[00:21:20] So tragedy doesn’t mean you’re gonna be stuck in the room. Only one person can pull you out. Therapy, alcohol, anything. Couldn’t pull you out. It’s here. It’s all mental. It’s the hardest. Yeah. It’s hard. I cry. I cry my heart out. So I just cry because I miss him. That’s emotion, controlling your emotion and channeling it in the right directions. That’s the key thing. 

[00:21:42] Bryan Pham: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. 

[00:21:43] Sean Lee: And you’re doing great too. You look at, I remember when I first got on Asian Hustle Network, somebody added me in and there, you guys only had three, 400 members. Right now you’re doing great. You’re doing this podcast. You’re telling people the story about fellow Asians in the community. And it’s wonderful. I got to know you. I see the younger generation when I see now, you, I see hope in Asian Americans that in America, we have hope because you can influence other younger generations to do the right thing, to think with the right mindset. That’s big. That’s huge. I think I told you, when you were your age, I couldn’t do this. I’m not as good as you. 

[00:22:16] Bryan Pham: No, I wouldn’t say that. I feel like you definitely trail-blazed the trail for us to be someone to look up to. Because even before this podcast. I already look up to you. And in a weird way, I’m envisioning myself for 10, 20 years and what would I be doing? And to be honest, it gives me a lot of hope because I feel like personally, I would never give up on this. And I want to continue building great things for the community, right? Yeah. I feel like there are still a lot of things left to do. We barely scratch the surface of what needs to go, right? 

[00:22:47] Sean Lee: Oh yeah. Look at Elon Musk, man. He started his life as a dream. He’s sending people to the moon. He’s covering the earth with 42,000 satellites. Started with a dream, man. 

[00:22:56] Bryan Pham: Yeah. It always starts with a dream. And outta curiosity, like what is your legacy that you wanna be behind with the Purist group? What do you hope that the people in the organization will continue doing for the next thirty, forty, or a hundred years? And retain the mission that you have of the Purist group. 

[00:23:14] Sean Lee: There’s a book someone gave to me. It’s called “Built To Last”. I think every person out there should read that book. I never go to school, so I don’t read that many books. So all the books I read in my life add up to maybe 30, 40 books in my whole life. Besides the textbook. And I also remember Norman Rockefeller always telling me that, if you build it they will come. So that’s a very important word for me in my life. Purist has to go on and I’m building Purist right now. We are actually turning, we’re actually official 501(c)(3) as of last year.

[00:23:40] But again, my strict rule is we’re not doing any fundraising. We will take sponsorship money from a major corporation, which is easier for us to explain. How we use the money, but individually, I get $20, $50 from here is no point. And plus I like to keep our agenda pure and simple. That means, when you donate merchandise, let’s say if you donate a diaper to me, unless I’m wearing it, the diaper’s gonna go to somebody, so we always ask for merchandise. That’s one of the rules. We’re launching Purist globally, especially in Asia. We officially turned 501(c)(3) and the idea is to run it as not with Sean Lee’s name on there. Doing something right, it shouldn’t have one person’s name on there.

[00:24:14] I shouldn’t be well known. Purist should be well known because of Purist, not because of Sean Lee. Do you see my point? This is not like an endorsement or like Coca-Cola. Hey, I’m Sean Lee. I endorse Coca-Cola. I’m sorry. I used Coca-Cola a bit. But you see my point, right? Purist should not be a brand, but Purist should be aware of why do you wanna be a Purist? Why do you wanna be in this group of people? Because this group of people is doing good deeds. And if I have kids one day, they grow up. I want them to play with the people that are within Purist. Because, I’m not gonna say a hundred percent, but most people in there are going to be good people, just like you going to a good school, you’re going to a good school. You join a fraternity. Why? Because you want to hang around with a good group of people. Most people in Purist are very influential. They’re actually a group of very good people. That’s why they have good intentions. That’s why they stay in Purist. 

[00:24:59] Purist have a very strict rule. We see a lot of posts. If you have one post that’s, we have one strike rule, not three, that’s you discredit somebody or you’re cursing somebody or you’re being anything. Because when you say something, you’re able to tell that person’s intention, what they’re thinking, they’re out. So a lot of people get kicked out of Purist and get mad. But think about it. We don’t charge you a membership fee. We don’t sell you any products. You come in and it’s for free, which is to ask you to come to a charity event, be good and do good to people. Even with our stickers, I print them to give away for free. You come to a charity event, you earn yourself a sticker, right? Then the more charity you go to, the more stickers you have. And people said they couldn’t buy the sticker. You couldn’t get a sticker. We got people to actually go out and print their own stickers. They’re mad. They couldn’t get it because they never come to the events. And they went to their Instagram and went, oh, I didn’t get a sticker. Because you didn’t come to charity events.

[00:25:49] Bryan Pham: Yeah, I need to get a sticker one day. I’m gonna ask you for a sticker, Sean. 

[00:25:52] Sean Lee: Your sticker. I will hand-deliver. How’s that? I’ll hit up North Cal and hand-deliver my stickers. I go up there very often anyway. 

[00:25:59] Bryan Pham: Sean, I think your story is amazing. A story of perseverance of literally starting from the ground up. And I hope that people who listen to this podcast will feel inspired because you can’t change your past but you can always take control of your future. You can always take control of your mentality and it’s crazy what people will accomplish after they break out of the victim mentality of the restrictions and the scarcity mindset that you have. And when they enter into a world of more abundance, That’s where things happen, right? Where things change where you, can you start asking yourself a question? Why not me? Why can’t I do it? And if I can do it, why can’t you do it? 

[00:26:41] Sean Lee: Exactly. 

[00:26:42] Bryan Pham: A lot of us are always stacked with some sort of odds and it’s all on our mentality for us to do more.

[00:26:47] Sean Lee: Exactly. 

[00:26:47] Bryan Pham: Really appreciated that Sean. 

[00:26:49] Sean Lee: People are always afraid to take out the first step. I’m 52 now. My rule right now is to take the first step. If it doesn’t break your leg if you’re not gonna come out with one of your fingers missings. Take the first step. I did that on many occasions, in my job, my career, Purist, and always be kind. If you carry a true intention. If you carry a business intention with a person that has a good heart, okay, oh, Brian has a good heart. I have a good heart, and team out together. And we try to help each other, and a business will grow.

[00:27:15] So Paul always says something, okay. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you put goodwill out there? So goodwill is very important. Sometimes we, as human beings, we forget that and I ask people to do the same, do good, and be kind very simple. 

[00:27:29] Bryan Pham: Absolutely. 

[00:27:29] Sean Lee: Then just real simple stuff. 

[00:27:31] Bryan Pham: Yeah.

[00:27:31] Sean Lee: Be kind to people. People notice you, they’re more than willing to come and help you. I experienced that. I experienced more help in the last 10 years. Not because of money, it’s because of status, it’s because people know that I’m doing good. Every time I wanna do something, people jump in like the 53 dogs we saved yesterday in 48 hours. And there’s no agenda, nobody’s making money out of it, but it’s true purpose.

[00:27:55] Bryan Pham: I really like that a lot. And Sean, as we are near the end of our podcast, I have to ask this question. You have a lot of cars, which one is your favorite car? 

[00:28:05] Sean Lee: Oh, so me and Paul, back in the day we got a 997 GT3 RS together, you’ll be that car. Because the sound of it, the, how you drive it. The car is actually right over there, it’s just messy, but that’s my holy grail.[Pointing to the car]

[00:28:16] That’s a car. I’ll probably take it to my grave. And if I ever, unfortunately, pass one day and I will donate a car back to Paul’s family. 

[00:28:24] Bryan Pham: Oh, wow. 

[00:28:24] Sean Lee: Yeah. And whatever they wanna do to it, because you’re gonna make me cry again. Imagine what’s on Fast and the Furious. At the end of the day, Vin Diesel looked at each other and everybody went their separate ways. That’s the moment that, that, that really gets me. And I’ve been doing a lot of charity with his brother Cody right now. Unfortunately, he moved to Arizona. 

[00:28:41] That movie really got me. And it was that moment with that song, “See you again”. I’m looking at a car right now. I remember when we talked about how we’re gonna build it, what we’re gonna put on there, what wheel offender, what kind of seats, and what kind of horsepower I’ll put in. Yeah, definitely that car.

[00:28:55] And even the Alcantara, on the steering wheel, has a habit of digging his fingernails right through it. So when I bought a car, I bought a brand new steering wheel and shift knob for it. Now I kept the original shift knob in there because he’s got his fingernails on there. And I just remember a good friend that changed my life. 

[00:29:12] Bryan Pham: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you again. My apologies for making you emotional.

[00:29:17] Sean Lee: No. Don’t get around. Emotions are good. Sometimes a little tear here is really good for a human being. A lot of people like they’re stiffened up, go oh, I’m a man. I don’t wanna cry. No, this is not sad. I am happy that I had this person in my life. That brings so much added value to who I am today. Yeah. Am I sad and miss him? Yes. But sooner or later we all have to go. It’s either when we did it in our forties or seventies, or eighties, right? Yeah. Do I want him to be here a little longer with us? Hell yeah. But for a short time we knew each other, maybe about 10 years. He has so much value in my life. And that’s why there’s Purist there’s everything that we’re doing. I’m more content, I’m more than happy and cheerful that I met this person in my life. 

[00:29:58] Not because of cars. Yeah. But unfortunately, I rarely post all my cars because I don’t want people to follow me for the stuff. I’m not trying to get popularity off cars and all the stuff I own. That’s why I don’t want people to follow me for that. I want people to follow me because I want to see myself out there doing things for the community. I want them to join me, to go out and, help out one of the kids, help out one of the animals.

[00:30:19] Bryan Pham: Yeah. You definitely have one of the purest heart people I ever had on a podcast. Hence, thank you Purist. Thank you so much, Sean, for sharing your story.

[00:30:28] How can people in our community reach out to the Purist Group and connect with you and support you? 

[00:30:34] Sean Lee: So Purist Group has a website puristgroup.com, but that’s outdated. But our most active is actually still within Facebook about our current activities, but if you don’t wanna read constantly notifications from a bunch of car guys talking about which car is faster, you don’t have to join a Purist Group, but our activity is always best on our Instagram, which is @puristgroup.

[00:30:53] In my personal one, of course, @seanlee768 and but, follow Purist Group, it’s quite active with all the charity stuff. For some of the charity events I don’t bring Purist and I simply do it myself because there’s a reason for that. So yeah, 

[00:31:09] Bryan Pham: I’ll put all that in the show notes. Sean, thank you so much again for everything that you do. And thank you so much for being in this podcast today. 

[00:31:18] Sean Lee: Oh, thank you. You gotta keep up doing good too. You’re awesome. 

[00:31:21] Bryan Pham: Thank you so much. 

[00:31:22] Sean Lee: Let’s connect sometime when you come to LA, 

[00:31:23] Bryan Pham: Will do. Thank you, Sean.