My Thick Accent

The Immigrant Pioneer of Canada | Ft. Nick (Naeem) Noorani Ep. 037

July 13, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 37
My Thick Accent
The Immigrant Pioneer of Canada | Ft. Nick (Naeem) Noorani Ep. 037
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine being a newcomer in a foreign country with all the potential and challenges that it brings. Meet Nick Norrani, an Indian immigrant to Canada who turned his journey into a beacon of light for countless other immigrants.
We dive into his fascinating life, from his multicultural roots in Mumbai to his entrepreneurial ventures, including the groundbreaking 'Canadian Immigrant Magazine', the 'Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards', and the 'Prepare for Canada' program. Nick's insight, experience, and dedication to the immigrant cause are truly inspiring - a conversation you won't want to miss.

Nick’s success wasn't just about getting a job; it was about breaking barriers and fostering inclusivity. We also delve into the challenges immigrants face, from prejudice to the hidden job market, and Nick's practical advice for overcoming these hurdles.

This isn't your average success story; it's about creating your own unique canvas, from the small victories to the grand triumphs. Nick’s passion is palpable as we discuss the importance of dreaming big and the courage to chase those dreams.
So, whether you are an immigrant, planning to be one, or interested in the immigrant experience, join us in this riveting conversation with Nick Norrani.

Follow the host and the podcast on Social Media channels below:  

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Stay tuned for the exciting new episode every Thursday and let's continue knowing each other Beneath The Accent!

Want to share your story? Or know someone I should invite next on the show? DM us or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent.com


Gurasis:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to my Thick Accent Podcast. So let's get straight into introducing our guest today, because there's a lot to unpack about his journey. He arrived in Canada with the vision of creating a better life, better future for himself and his family. Little did he know that his path would lead him to become a beacon of support for countless immigrants. His entrepreneurial ventures, including the pioneering Canadian immigrant magazine, the prestigious top 25 Canadian immigrant awards and the transformative Prepare for Canada program, and now the innovative immigrant networks platform, have all left an indelible mark over decades. Also, as a best-selling author of Arrival, survival Canada and the official government of Canada handbook, welcome to Canada.

Gurasis:

His wisdom and insights have reached countless newcomers, students and refugees, and the list doesn't end here. Recognized for his contributions, he has received prestigious accolades, including the HM Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and being voted among Canada's top 25 immigrants. His voluntary work on various boards, committees and task forces, including the RCMP Commissioner's Advocacy Committee on Visible Minorities, showcases his commitment to fostering inclusivity and cultural diversity. Join us as we uncover his inspiring story, his dedication to empowering newcomers and his ongoing mission to break down barriers and create positive outcomes for immigrants in Canada. Please welcome Nick Norrani.

Nick:

Thank you. Oh my God, that's a lot. Yes, I was wondering who you're talking about.

Gurasis:

Well, it was you. Definitely you. Welcome to the podcast, nick. Very, very glad to have you.

Nick:

Thank you. Thank you, and it's a pleasure I've been. I've been laughing and smiling and listening to your podcast and I think it's. It's such a great thing that you're doing and so it's an honor to be here with you. I think you've done an amazing job in creating that, in creating that wedge. You know, and that's what it's all about. How do you create that wedge? And your hook the hook about the thick accent is so brilliant it is. It is it's brilliant in the simplicity, right, and so so when when people talk to me, you know, nick, you you've built brands right Canadian immigrant, prepare for Canada, immigrant networks. So these are very strong brands. I said they're actually just descriptors of what I've created and if you keep it simple, you'll get people coming to you. So you've done a great job of that, absolutely.

Gurasis:

Thank you, thank you for saying that. I really, really appreciate it. It means a lot. So let's just talk about you today, because it is about you and your journey today. But I want to start by asking you this one thing since you have lived, you know, all around the country world, here and there, middle East Tell me what is that? One cultural aspect or tradition from a home country that you have managed to preserve and cherish wherever you have lived?

Nick:

It's a really interesting question. You know, I tell you, one of the things, one of the habits I've got is that I'll always have a small token of my past. So, for example, every morning when I have my coffee I have this old teaspoon that I use. That was bought first when I landed in Dubai, so that reminds me of that journey, so that's there. Then, even in our home there are small things that are part of India, of Bombay, growing up in those places. So all of those, you know, people use photographs, and photographs are great, but I also like to use sometimes inanimate objects that take you back. So it's interesting that you ask that how do I preserve my culture? So I'm very fortunate.

Nick:

Versus, like, my family has gone on. My children have gone on to find life partners who are not Indians. They are all immigrants, by the way. So it wasn't like I told them go and find an immigrant, marry an immigrant. But my daughter, who's the elder one, her partner, significant other, is a Romanian immigrant, blonde, blue-eyed, you know. So he brings in a different perspective from Eastern Europe. My daughter-in-law, who's given me two beautiful grandchildren, is from Fiji, so her ancestors were from India, but she is Fijian and she's an immigrant. So everything in all families and all ethnicities, it all comes down to food. Absolutely, it's the connector. So, as we speak, my wife is cooking biryani for tomorrow. That is a recipe that my mother gave to my wife, which she got from her great grandmother, so these are generational. So I think it's basically like every year with graduate, your food is your biggest cultural heritage.

Gurasis:

Very, very true. I think I talk about food a lot on the podcast because I myself am a foodie and I think a lot of people I've connected to here we have nothing in common. Literally, our education and trust are different. Even the activities we do are very different, but the only thing that connected me and people from, for example, iran or from Lebanon or from somewhere from Dubai is only and only because of food. So you are very right on that. Okay, you all talked a lot about your children, but let me take you back to the time you spent in India, about your childhood. Tell us a little bit about your formative years and your family.

Nick:

Yeah, I was born in a middle class family and I was probably one of the. My family was probably one of the one percenters in India. This is at that time. My father was the vice president for a large pharmaceutical company and we had a beautiful house given by the company Breach Candy in Bombay and we had a show for driven car at our command. We had servants. So it's a very different world we lived in. We had servants in the house, we had drivers and we had Danis and we had cooks. So it was very different world and so it was.

Nick:

It was, and I think the real world is privileged world, but my father was the kind of person who always wanted us to recognize that privilege and recognize people who are not in this, who having the same privilege, and to reach out to this. And he did that, not as a, it wasn't like he set out to teach us, but it was through his actions, because it's so. So our driver would tell us stories about how he went out to the factory and he sat my father sat with the workers in the canteen and ate with them their food. So so it was talking about how we have to look at people beyond class and not to have people only from your own class, so that created the understanding, the empathy, the compassion that I bring to all my work.

Gurasis:

How do you make sure that you instill that in your children? How did you make sure that you did that?

Nick:

I think it's my example, Because if you try and teach children something, they're not interested. I take my granddaughter to school every day. Today I took her to school and she's 11 years old 11 years old next month. She talks to me and she and I have these wonderful conversations. The conversations are about life, about friendship, about conflict. We talk about all these things, but I talk to her about my life. I talk to her about how I handle it in my life. That's where you take this journey on to the next generation.

Gurasis:

Nick, tell us how did you plan to move out of India? I think you were telling me that Muscat was the first place you moved to.

Nick:

Yes, so growing up in India. After getting married my wife and my two kids we were again part of the same middle class, literally living from month to month with paycheck to paycheck. So lots of friends went to the Middle East and so we moved there. My brother moved to the Middle East a couple of years before me. Then I followed. I went to Muscat, then from Muscat I moved to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi I moved to Dubai. So I had the advantage of living in these three countries.

Nick:

Muscat is a beautiful city. You have to see it once in your lifetime. If I had to say which is the city that comes closest to my heart, apart from Vancouver, it would be Muscat. It's gorgeous. It's so beautiful. You're driving and you're looking around. You think you're going to crash the car because you're paying attention to the roads. It's that beautiful and the people are amazing. The people are very nice. The average Omani, very nice person, very different from the rest of the Arabs you'll meet. No, there are different types of different, but the average Omani is a very nice human being. It was a great experience. I was taking my advertising experience that I built up over the years in India and I started working over there, and then, when I was in Abu, dhabi, I launched a magazine called and it was again like my brand name the Gulf Indian Weekly.

Gurasis:

Okay, go on.

Nick:

So I started that it was a pretty big venture and then afterwards it was acquired by a group of people and then after that I don't know what happened. Then I moved to the Middle East. I moved to the Middle East because my daughter had finished school and she had to go into college. So college was meant either she goes to India or she goes outside of India, so to the West. So then at that time we started thinking about it and my wife and my brother. My brother had already come here two years before and he started working on my wife and said you know, you guys are the only people who are not here, because my sister had come first and then my youngest brother had come. They're still in the US. And then my, when my brother came, he kept telling my wife you know you guys should come here, blah, blah, blah, blah. So I said so. My wife was after me. She said let's do the visa thing. I said sure, but I don't think we'll get the visa. I said not going to happen. So we applied and then I got a call saying your visa is here. I said now what she said let's go and take a vacation. We haven't been for a vacation for a while.

Nick:

So we came to Vancouver on a vacation in April 98. And I said I think it did not rain for a single day For three weeks we were here. Not one day did it rain Really. And I think this was the you know the stars that literally worked to get me here. It's always sunny out here, but I fell in love with the place. It's a beautiful place, it was beautiful, people were amazing, and so I said, yeah, you know, we'll move here.

Nick:

So we packed up and came here and then I went through the journey like every immigrant does, and that's the turning point. After 23 years of experience in advertising, I came here and I could not get a job because people said that you have no Canadian experience. Now I went to the same agency that I was working with in the Gulf in the Middle East and I said hey guys, it's me, nick, I'm here. They said, nick, great to meet you, got to buy you a drink and get a cup of coffee. I said, yeah, that's all fine. What about a job? They said you have no Canadian experience, and so that started my journey.

Nick:

So what happened at that time is I turned around and said, ok, let me see. Let me see, what can I do? At that time, all my friends from the Middle East kept asking me questions, and so I'd write these long emails, and then my wife said those famous words that wives always say well, why don't you write a book about your journey to Canada? That's how our survival survival happened, because my emails were so long that I actually turned that into a book, and then the book turned into the magazine, and then you know the rest of the story. So that's how my journey began.

Nick:

My journey began because I understood one thing If all the education and all the travels that I did were still left me in equipped to get a job matching my profession and the level I was at, what was that missing part? And so, from there, I have been working on filling the gaps, and Canadian Immigrant Magazine was born because media talked about immigrants who failed and I said if immigrants fail, why did I come here? And so for me, it was that realization that there are huge gaps. The gaps are there, they still exist.

Nick:

I believe that, whether it is Canadian immigrant, doc 25 and Prepared for Canada, these are entrepreneurial ventures that I created that have moved the needle braces from where it was. It has moved it closer so that immigrants get prepared. Immigrants feel good about themselves when they read about successful immigrants. That's all you want to know. In the case of Canadian immigrant, here was the turning point. Canadian immigrant changed the media landscape. So what happened was that the mainstream media, who talked about immigrants who failed, now started covering those who are in the top 25 awards, those who are on the covers of the magazine, because now they have suddenly got. Oh my God, this is a growing part of the population.

Gurasis:

Yeah, these people are making an impact. That changed that.

Nick:

So after I finished that, I said okay, my job is done. I got to get out of here and do something else. So then I started Prepared for Canada. Prepared for Canada became the largest pre-arrival company organization and it was working with all the government agencies. So then during the pandemic, when the pandemic came, I said I have time for one more and I said I want to address the biggest pain point that newcomers have. I've come to Canada. I'm an HR professional, I'm an IT professional. I don't know anyone in this profession. So I go to LinkedIn and I try to connect with people. No one answers me. Right, yeah, that's what immigrant networks does. It connects you for a video chat. Based on our AI system, we match you with someone from your profession for a free video call every week after week after week.

Nick:

Yeah, and here's the thing First year we did 4,400 to be specific.

Gurasis:

That's incredible 4,400.

Nick:

The second year we got to 10,000. This year we on track to do 20,000. The point is this we did a survey and we found 70% of our employees who had five or more video chats were working in their profession. Now, that's a statistic even surprising to the government, because that is incredible. What happens is once you start understanding the difference between what you were learning in India or Nigeria or the Philippines or Mexico City that's not what happens in Canada you learn about that and you put those learnings to use when you go for your interview and you're acing jobs.

Gurasis:

I want to talk more about immigrant networks and, obviously, the other platforms that you mentioned, but I want to go back to your immigrant experience once again. I want to go back to the Gulf, to Middle East once again. I'm asking because it was also the first time you were exposed to a new culture, a new country, right, absolutely like a new environment. Tell me about that experience. What was that for you like?

Nick:

It's a very interesting thing. That's a great question. My school was very unusual because all the students were Indians, of course, but we had a large I'd say about 20% of our class was made up of all the students who were from the consulates. So we had people who were Polish, we had people who were Czech. So we grew up with differences in our school. That was in Mumbai, in Mumbai. So what happened was for us it was easy, because we grew up from a very young age. We went all the way to graduation with these people who were from outside the country, whether they were Persian and they were Polish, they were Czech, they were Russian. So we grew up with these so-called differences. So for us, it was someone who was blonde and blue. I didn't bomb. They were speaking fluent Hindi and Marathi. That's what would happen, right? So that, I think, has been the grounding for me and my siblings. All four of us are in North America.

Nick:

So when my turn came to move to the Middle East, I was fine dealing with Arabs. I was absolutely fine dealing with them in Dubai and dealing with them in Abu Dhabi. I would walk up to an Arab and speak to them in broken Arabic and I'd talk to them and I'd get business. So I didn't find it difficult. So in many ways I have been called a serial immigrant because of the journey. You go to the Dubai, you go to Muscat, you go to Abu Dhabi, you go to Dubai. You are literally moving. And there is a growing number of those who come in from the Middle East into Canada and they have great success because they've already gone through the change. They've already gone through moving out of their comfort zone and making it happen.

Gurasis:

So you said that you called us a serial immigrant. Tell me, if you would talk to your younger self, what advice would you give in terms of adapting to a new country or a new culture, since you were moving all the time?

Nick:

I talk about speaking to strangers, so I don't know if you've heard of my broccoli challenge.

Gurasis:

Of course, tell us about that.

Nick:

The broccoli challenge is for every immigrant. You come in the country, go to your groceries and look for someone who doesn't look like you and pick up your broccoli or pick up your cabbage or anything that you find and talk to people and say, hey, excuse me, what is this? It looks like a green cauliflower. What does it taste like? How do you cook it? What is your favorite dish that you make with it? And suddenly what is happening is the barriers which are there. I was fortunate because I grew up with these people, who are so-called white people, so I didn't make a difference to me. But for people who have come in from parts of the world where they've never seen someone different, they've never interacted with someone who's different, suddenly you're breaking the barriers and those people are able to adapt in Canadian workplaces much easier Because they've done the broccoli challenge.

Gurasis:

Yeah, and remember it's one of your ambassadors shared that with me and I was like, okay, that's incredible. I absolutely love that. I hope that you know, if you're for listeners, who are especially the ones who are new to the country, take on this challenge and please do try. And if you do try, reach out to me or tell Nick as well. How was the experience?

Nick:

Absolutely. If anyone has done it, call me up, I'll do a one-on-one with you, I'll do a video interview and we'll put it on LinkedIn. The biggest thing is that it is addictive. It is addictive because people, when they do it, they continue doing it. I know people have done it for years Because it works, because it's so and it makes you feel this is your country. You know the same thing that we feel when we buy a house we feel this is our country. We feel the same thing we feel when someone is born in our family this is our country. Similar feeling you'll get once you start doing this, and so I started with my seven success equals, and this is exactly what it's all about.

Gurasis:

I want to go back once again to the point when you first moved to Canada. You said in 1998, you landed. Tell us about your first day. What were like your initial impressions and emotions?

Nick:

So my wife left with the kids and landed here in August, because the school starts in September, so she had to be ready for that, and so she was going through her own challenges because she was all alone. Now this is the first time she's living in a new country with two children and trying to manage everything on her own, which is pretty daunting, so she had her own challenges. I landed on I think it was the 23rd, 24th of October no, it was November and it was the worst rainstorm that Vancouver had. That night my brother came to the airport to fetch me and I looked out and said I've got off in the wrong place. This can't be the same Vancouver.

Nick:

I had the sunny days, right, and it was very challenging, but again, it is part of my makeup, my personality. I landed at night, went to sleep, woke up in the morning and I said to my wife I have to go for an interview. She says are you mad? You just come in your jet like this, and no. So I went to New Westminster, my first interview. So the guy took, said my resume and said nah, nah, what's your nickname, man?

Nick:

That's how I got the name Nick.

Gurasis:

No man, really Are you kidding, Is it true?

Nick:

No, I am very serious. My full name is Naim Nurani. I figured, if they can't pronounce my name to give me a job, let me make it easy. That's the adaptability there are lots of academics who talk about oh, you should not change your name and all that. I don't want to. I have to put food on the table. I don't want to hear an academician telling me what I should do and change the country. I don't want to do that. So, yeah, I. So I. When he turned on, ask me what's your nickname, I said Nick Wow that's amazing.

Nick:

No one had a problem pronouncing my name after that. Yeah, so so that's so. That was my first day in Canada, and so I. So the guy said, yes, you're hired, but I'm not going to pay you, I'm going to give you only on commission. I said, sorry, that doesn't work. I Will not work only on commission because you're asking me to believe in your product.

Nick:

Yeah that's the case, you should be doing all your sales yourself walked out and then I I started doing telemarketing. Now, before I came here, I owned the largest telemarketing company in the Middle East. My clients was a city bank and Howard Johnson and Renaissance hotels, and so I came to, came to Vancouver and and I saw an ad for telemarketer. So I joined the telemarketing company and In a week's time I ranked four out of a hundred people. Okay. So the team leader constantly says so, have you done this before? I said yeah, occasionally.

Nick:

I used to train a hundred. I used to train a hundred housewives in Dubai every Monday. So I know what I was doing and so I was doing that, and in the evening shift and in the morning I'd go for interviews. Whatever, it was luck, whether it was my way of speaking, but I land, I went for an interview and I got the job and how long did you do that job?

Nick:

Well, I was there for three years. Three years, okay. I started, and so I started as an account manager, which is the lowest run when I left as vice president sales and marketing.

Gurasis:

So all that experience you had from you know Middle East definitely worked in your favorite here, even though they didn't recognize it initially, but it did work in your favor.

Nick:

Yes, yes, because the again it boils down to the communication skills. Language skills is a must have. It's the ability to have the communication skills that makes a difference, because you are now talking to someone and you're able to convince them. I took up the phone and I talked to complete strangers in Toronto and make sales worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Gurasis:

Okay, nick, I just want to circle back on the point where you talked about, you know, changing the names for the resume and people say to do that and people are little Taken aback by that. They don't want to do that. Honestly, I am on their side. I would also not prefer to change the name on the resume because I think that's my identity. That's how I am, even if at some point I changed my name and it goes through the ATS, you know applicant tracking system.

Gurasis:

But at at some point they are going to have like a video interview, even if an audio interview. I am going to end up working for them. So I just want to know do you really think that changing name is necessary, or is it not?

Nick:

You know, I'm a very simple person and I put things into two basic buckets things I can do something about and things I cannot. Things I cannot do something about is how someone sees my name and they say Naim Nurani okay.

Nick:

Ram. We must also remember we went through the entire period of Islamophobia. Yeah, so Naim Nurani is not exactly a name that would be accepted. Um, for me, it, it, it, it.

Nick:

Here's what I did realize. I can't change the population of this country, the people who are going to give me a job. I can't change them. What is in my control is I make it easier for me to get into a company. I work for this first company for three years. I was there. I was their right hand man. I was everything, my, my boss and friend. I called them my first Canadian family. They, they still can't pronounce my first name.

Nick:

So is it? Is it a barrier? It is. Is it unfair? It is absolutely. Did it hurt to change it? Yes, it did. But I'll tell you something it it did not hurt when I put food on the table. Yeah, I think it's a good idea. Yeah, that's a good perspective. Yeah, the, the reports and this is not just Canada, north America, yeah, uh, uk, europe, it's, it's everywhere, because they used to and anglo-saxon names. So it is a personal choice. I am not going to tell everyone to change and I have so many people asking me Nick, you changed your name. Should we change our name? I said that is entirely your decision. Here is my reason for doing it. You can choose. I am not willing to to have something that is going to trip me up for no fault of mine. Yeah, it's a name. Yes, today I'll tell you there's a funny thing, because I was. I was walking down one of the main streets in in Vancouver and someone yelled out naeem and I didn't even turn around. It was one of my classmates.

Gurasis:

You got so used to calling Nick.

Nick:

I'm so used to it. So some of my close clients and partners and business associates call me naeem and I and I am so thrilled that they would do that, because it takes an effort and I appreciate the fact that they've made that effort to to to recognize my name.

Gurasis:

Hmm.

Nick:

Um, does it stop me from using Nick? Now you know what it's 25 years mate, yeah.

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Nick:

I've been called worse names than Nick and so, yes, I, I do speak up against things that are, that are wrong, that are stupid. I talk about it bluntly, I am, I am a disruptor. I'm a disruptor when you have someone who tells us we are the largest mentorship platform in the country and you do 350 matches in a year, I'm not interested. My, my business strategy has three Points. Number one it has to be strategy. If there's no strategy, it's not going to work. I started immigrant networks with a strategy. I started prepare for Canada. I started immigrant Canadian immigrant with a strategy. Strategy is number one. Number two is scalability. What do I mean by scalability? I want to, I want to handle On immigrant networks be half a million who are going to come in next year. Scalability third is sustainability who is going to pay for that half? I mean, I don't have that money. Yeah, so that's where that's. These are my three principles for a business.

Gurasis:

You also talked about, you know, the rivals, arrival Canada and the Canadian immigrant magazine. Tell me, like obviously somebody who didn't know about these magazines you know, and this arrival Survival Canada, tell me, like, how that book addresses the issues of immigrants and how that green immigrant magazine has had, what kind of impact it has had on the immigrant community.

Nick:

Oh, you know so, so. So arrival survival Canada was was written in the basement of my house, and Canadian immigrant magazine, which you can see, that's the first edition out there. It's the. It's the. It's a dream that I built in the basement of my home, and so Arrival Survival gave people the roadmap when you come here, this is what's gonna happen, this is what's gonna take place. All of that stuff which, basically, when, after Arrival Survival, then the welcome to Canada, the official government of Canada book they're very aligned right and then the magazine.

Nick:

So the magazine changed the impact for newcomers. It gave them an identity crisis. Even the publisher's name is Nick. That didn't matter. What mattered was you have someone who's Mexican, portuguese, indian, chinese, pakistani, bangladeshi, nigerian people from over 60 countries on the cover of the magazine. For every one of those people who got an award, imagine what that community felt crisis. I matter, absolutely. I matter. I count. Yeah, I am being recognized. There are people today.

Nick:

Even I was in Metropolis early this year in March and I was walking through Metropolis and people said aren't you the guy from Canadian Immigrant Magazine? Now, you gotta remember Canadian Immigrant Magazine. I left in 2010. 2010,. Yeah, I still have people who recognize me because of that. Wow. So it changed the way people looked at themselves. Canadian Immigrant Magazine was an incredibly powerful product, yeah, and then to move from that to the top 25, those two are so critical to the movement, the movement afterwards you saw so many other products come in and you saw the growth of this entire demographic and as a marketer, I know that that was the tipping point. The magazine was the tipping point for Canada, not for me. I got to write the tale of that comet. If it's the comet, that was the important thing and the impact of that comet.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, I love that. I was also reading about it and I saw that you know immigrants saying that they felt more belonged. They felt that, okay, we are here, we are not alone here, we have people we can reach out to. Maybe it's for help, maybe it's for taking the next test, maybe just having a conversation to see that, yes, we are together in this new world and we are there to help each other, and I really love that. That's so amazing. And you've also said always that you know your life is a series of events, series of accidents. Tell me, what was that pivotal moment or like a turning point that stands out to you the most?

Nick:

Well, the magazine was an accident itself, right? So the magazine came to me. So magazine came to me in a dream, at 3 am, a dream. So I woke up at 3 am and said there's no magazine for immigrants. And I sat down. I wrote this so clearly. I sat down and I wrote on what I wanted the magazine to be. That's exactly what I built. And after the Toronto Star Board and of course they wanted to do research on it they did all the research they wanted. Every one of the points I had in the magazine. Research showed that that was necessary. So, yes, so you know. I guess it was a series of accidents.

Nick:

I call it an accident, people call me brilliant. I don't know what the heck is the difference, you know, but the point is this. The point is this to the people who it touched, it made a huge difference the hundreds of thousands of individuals who it touched, the top 25 awards. Now think about this, girls, from a brand perspective. When do you have a situation where you have a magazine? That is, it was launched in 2004.

Nick:

2004, yeah, it's almost 20 years for the magazine.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Nick:

You've got the top 25 awards, which was launched in 2009,. I think After I launched the awards, I saw the. It was the tsunami of emotion from every immigrant community that came up. I said, man, I could die today and I've done what I wanted to do.

Gurasis:

You gave people a hope, right.

Nick:

Because, again, from a marketing perspective Guresh, I look at the immigrant at the center. I'm surprised how in Canada people don't factor in simple marketing economics and I factored in marketing economics. Today we've got a situation where, on an average Guresh, I speak to about a thousand immigrants a month. Hmm, yeah, I've got multiple products, multiple product platforms. So when we talk about immigrant networks, I'll talk to you about that, but the thing is they're all built for newcomers.

Gurasis:

What do you say? Nick was your biggest challenge while being an immigrant entrepreneur.

Nick:

Well, first of all, no one thought I could make it.

Gurasis:

Okay.

Nick:

And I love when people underestimate me. It's a better situation when they underestimate you, because then when you come out of the bank and you're actually making all that impact, then they turn and say why weren't we looking at this?

Gurasis:

Yeah. So if you had to create the same magazine today, in 2023, what something different would you do?

Nick:

I wouldn't create it today. And first of all, the era of magazines has gone. It has changed. Communication has changed. Social media is critical, so the communication has changed. So that's number one. Number two is, if I was to create success stories, you know, I think it's beyond success stories. So the Canadian immigrant did something that was needed in 2004. And it did 2010,. I continued running it, but I didn't think that there was anything more that could be done. Okay, and when you're working for a large corporation, all they're interested in how much of the sales is this quarter? That's all they're interested in.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Nick:

And that is not me. So the pivotal time pivotal point was was the magazine being acquired by the Toronto Star? Because the Toronto Star spent money in building the Canadian immigrant magazine as a national product and it gave me I was on the tail of that comment. So as simple as that.

Gurasis:

Very, very, very inspiring, nick. So how can I have you on the podcast and I can skip asking the questions which can facilitate an immigrant's journey to success? Right? So you know, after a lot of thinking and mind mapping, I'm calling this next segment Nick's Success Express. Okay, okay, so you, obviously you founded, you know, the Prepare for Canada program focused on providing essential soft skills for immigrants. Tell us, nick, how essential are these soft skills for immigrants? 100%.

Nick:

There are so many phrases I've heard over the years. My favorite one is your hard skills will get you the job. Your soft skills will allow you to keep that job. Keep the job.

Nick:

Yeah, grow that job and move on to another job. Your journey, your career progression happens with your soft skills, not with your hard skills. Again, when I came here I didn't, so you know, you got to recognize that came here in 1998. So my job, my first job, was in January 1999 in Canada, and in those days my boss gave me a computer. He said here is our database, it's called Maximizer. Use the database and call people. And it had a list of people's names. All I had to do was use my hard skills in understanding. Ok, this is how the software works. Ok, fine, everything was new In those days.

Nick:

You know even the arrival, some of it. I sold it on that. I sold it through that new platform in those days called Amazoncom. Ok, right, but I used my technical skills. I was always very fond of technology. As you can probably figure out, I'm not very good at technology, with all the challenges in setting up the computers, but I know what technology can do and I know how I can use technology to help newcomers.

Nick:

So, to come to your point, soft skills are critical. When you look at the fact that when you come into the company, you're looking, you look different, you speak different, you dress different, you eat different. Everything's different about you. What is common is your soft skills. It's not that immigrants don't have and this is a very important point it's not that immigrants don't have soft skills. It's that they don't have the soft skills that Canada wants you to have, that the Canadian employer wants you to have. Right, right, sris. That's the important part when we talk about so, when I talk to newcomers today, we are now talking about Nick Narani.

Nick:

25 years later, what is your learning? And someone asked me this question what is your learning and what would you say to people who are here now? I'd say number one is here are the top things you need to have Language skills, communication skills completely different from language skills. Communication skills means a combination of soft skills the ability to do presentations, the ability to sell on the phone, the ability to have video chats All of this right. Then I talk about coachability. I always say the Canadian dream is achievable as long as you are teachable.

Gurasis:

Yeah, you need to become that sponge. You are able to have that ability to absorb everything that's around you.

Nick:

Yes, yes, yes, yes, you know you have to be humble, you have to accept and lie back and let the change envelope you, let it wash over you, absorb the change and use that in order to succeed. So those three I told you that is number one is language skills, communication skills, coachability. The next one is digital skills. You can't turn around and say I don't know how to operate MS-DOS systems. I mean Microsoft Office.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Nick:

That should not even be on your resume, because if you put it on your resume, it shows that those are the only skills you have.

Gurasis:

Yeah, they should be given, they should be there Exactly you should be talking about.

Nick:

You know, do you have the ability to operate CRMs, Manage CRMs? This is what the world requires.

Gurasis:

Yeah, you have also said that you know failure happened when immigrants decide to cherry pick. What did you mean by that?

Nick:

Well, you know, if someone turns around and says, well, I'll do this one, but you know I'll do the language skills, but they saw you did these, these communication skills, I don't want to do it. Don't do it. You are, you know, you are. Here's the harsh truth. And I speak bluntly to immigrants. Some people are taken aback Mostly my Canadian brethren are taken aback when I speak bluntly to immigrants because I don't know how to tell immigrants the facts. You will not get a job if we don't do this In the Canadian communication very nice, polite communication Well, perhaps you should look at doing this is what they would say. So no, you will die if you don't do this. That's the Indian way, that's the immigrant way of communicating. That's the way an immigrant understands another immigrant. That is the most powerful tool, the tool of immigrants, helping immigrants. Guresh is valid, it's true, it's relevant, it's genuine.

Gurasis:

I think it's like the immigrant understand and other immigrants pain points right. Absolutely.

Nick:

Nobody else can, Absolutely no no, and you, you know it's such a natural progression. So I I want to do an experiment and I launched the WhatsApp group. It's an explosion. I've got 370 people in days who are talking to each other. Here's the beauty. They're now. You now have immigrants who are who have been here for years, who are posting jobs in there because they don't want to post it in public, but they'll do it in a WhatsApp.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Nick:

Isn't that interesting? Interesting, yeah, that's the hidden job market, yeah. So out of all the different channels I've got, I've got, I am giving immigrants multiple opportunities to use the networking tools that are needed. For me, it's networking to get working, that's it. Yeah, love that.

Gurasis:

Yeah, another quote which I love from you is you know you were telling me in an earlier conversation also that in Canada you decide the canvas of your life. It could be as small as the size of a postcard or as big as this country.

Nick:

Please expand on that a little more so people kept asking me Nick, you talk about success, and so does everyone have to measure success by the number of houses you have, a number of cars, that you have, a number of international vacations you take no, you decide your own canvas. This is what Canada allows you to do. If you want to be the best in your field, that's up to you. You've got that pathway. Canada gives you that pathway, canada gives you the opportunities for that pathway. But if you decide no, I just want to be a bank teller, that too is okay. No one tells you that you must do this. I know a software developer from Eastern Europe who came here and he says I don't want to do anything, I want to drive a truck. I just want to drive a truck. Sure, but you've got to. You've got all the no too much stress. I just I need is happy driving a truck.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Nick:

You choose. But here's what it does do it tells you you can be who you were when you came into this country, before you came to this country. You can be there Today. When I look at what I was before I came to Canada and look at where I am today, I am like years ahead of what I was back home.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, and I like how you said. You know there's. The definition of success is very subjective. Everybody has their personal, different motivations and it depends how they navigate the life here depending on those. Yeah.

Nick:

The mother who told me in a public forum that you know, for me my success is I see my children coming home to me safe. That's such a huge thing. We take it for granted. That is such a huge thing.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, and how we used to say that in COVID that being able to get up every morning and breathe is your success of the day in this Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. And since we are on the topic of networking and connecting with people, tell us what all we need to know about immigrant networks, what my listeners need to know about immigrant networks, and also tell us about those Wednesday lives that happen.

Nick:

Immigrant networks gives you multiple opportunities to network. Number one is the software allows you to get matched with someone from your profession for a free video chat until you got a job. That's it. I've had people who got a job within the second match and I've had people who got their jobs within four matches. Five matches Again. It's the only system that exists in Canada that works. It's simple. When immigrants say that I don't want to do that, that's the cherry picking I talk about.

Nick:

The second part of it is we bolster this by the Wednesday calls. After the first year, a lot of my members came to me and said this is working. This is work for me. I got a job. Can we create a bachelor program? I said, yeah, sure. Today the ambassador program is over a year and a half old. Every Wednesday, like clockwork, for 90 minutes, we have my ambassadors. My ambassadors are 25 and they're from 12 different countries and 15 different professions. They come in and they share their wisdom and they share their real stories and they share their own lived experiences with the audience and inspire them through their journeys and by giving them tips. This is what happens in the Wednesday calls. And then we've got. In addition to that, we've also got my LinkedIn audience. I have a huge LinkedIn audience. My last year I had 1.5 million impressions on LinkedIn.

Gurasis:

Wow.

Nick:

So I have a significant reach. In addition to my posts that I do, I regularly put up videos. I put up a video about the scam just recently I don't know if you saw that and I address issues that are immigrant pain points. No one talks about the stuff that I talk about. I have a newsletter that I do every week. I have multiple things and now I've launched the WhatsApp group.

Nick:

We also launched an India chapter through our program called Cello Canada, and that's given us a lot of mileage as well. So we work with partners. So we don't work with advertisers. We work with partners, partners who have that philosophical belief and ideology that I have and who want to be a part of that change. So for me, it's the entire ecosystem, it's not one, it's multipoint. We're now in the process of launching our own marketplace. So what happens is if Guresh says, come new, he wants to get all the products that he needs, like a resume and a cover letter, he can get all of that at a really reasonable price on the website. You can have one-on-ones with people, you can actually go into a master class, get master class information. All of that you can get through the marketplace. We're also launching a mentorship platform. And then, lastly, the penultimate goal is to have a recruitment platform.

Gurasis:

Oh, wow, sounds so incredible, very excited for this. If any of our listeners want to connect with you as an ambassador, or maybe they want to join as a mentee where they can connect with you, Always on LinkedIn.

Nick:

On an average, I get 100 messages on LinkedIn a day. So yeah, linkedin is the best way. And, of course, immigrant Networks ImmigrantNetworkscom. It's exactly as I say it is Immigrant Networks, it's not Immigrant's network, so it is.

Gurasis:

ImmigrantNetworkscom. So, to all my listeners, the links to connect with Nick and to check out the platform can be found in the show notes. Okay, nick, so now we're in the final segment of the podcast. I call it Beneath the Accent because we are knowing each other beneath the accent. I'm going to ask a couple of questions. You can answer them in one word or a sentence, or house server, you feel like the idea is just to know more about you. Okay, all right. So what's the one habit you adopted that has changed your life?

Nick:

Be a sponge, absorb everything from technology, from technology. I'm using AI, I'm adopting, adapting AI. We're talking about AI driven bots having conversations with my audience All of this technology. I always like to absorb the technology and put it, deliver it on a plate to the Immigrant, show them how to use it. You know, even just doing the registration with Immigrant Networks, there are challenges. Some people don't understand it. So I'm always there, so my touch points are multiple. So, yes, the biggest one is absorb. Look around, you see what's important to people. Talk to immigrants. I talk to a thousand of them a month, 12,000 immigrants a year I talk to.

Gurasis:

Okay, so is this something you recently bought and you're not regret my computer? Okay, seriously.

Nick:

No, I don't. I don't spend a life on regrets. I always look to look towards what is it I can do. So I saw a quote by someone very, very wise who said that if you could build the ultimate solution for a problem, what is stopping you? Why aren't you doing that? If you know what the solution to a problem is, build it. And I've built that and I'm so fortunate I have people like you who support me. So thank you very much. That's what helps me. That's what helps me drive this forward. So thank you for that, Absolutely.

Gurasis:

So who's your go-to person when you feel stuck?

Nick:

My wife.

Gurasis:

Are there any movies you like to watch over and over again?

Nick:

Three idiots. Okay, I love three idiots and I love the Godfather series. I'm fond of movies, but everything in my life, my passion, is so overwhelming Everything in my wife's life comes secondary. If you could have one superpower, what would it be To change immigrant outcomes, to change employers' attitudes towards immigrants? If there's one superpower, I'd like employers to understand that. The same courage I exhibited in leaving a country. I knew everything about it and I had everything in my pocket. I left everything for the unknown because I believed in myself. Why can't you believe in me? So describe.

Gurasis:

Canada in one word or a sentence.

Nick:

My home and native land.

Gurasis:

Finally, Nick, if you could leave me with one piece of advice, what would it be Soar?

Nick:

Soar so high that when you look up at the sky, you see a soaring so high that the sun blinds you Always, always be what you want, achieve. Don't let people put you in boundaries and put you in frameworks and die you down. Go do what you want to do. That may exactly be what you were born to do.

Gurasis:

Yeah, love that, thank you. Thanks a lot. Thank you so much for being on the podcast and adding value to my list.

Nick:

It's a pleasure, thank you.

Gurasis:

Hey listener, thank you for making it to the end. I highly, highly appreciate you listening to the podcast. Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't as yet, and please share with your friends or anybody you think would like it. And, like I always say, we encourage you to follow our heart, but also ask. On Instagram, the handle is my thick accent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at hello at my thick accentcom. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Nick Norrani
Success Through Immigrant Networks and Adaptation
Story of "Nick" Name
Soft Skills Keep You At The Job
Soaring High