My Thick Accent

Amplifying The Immigrant Experience Through Collaboration and Self-Growth | Ft. Varun Negandhi Ep. 050 [Season Finale]

October 12, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 50
My Thick Accent
Amplifying The Immigrant Experience Through Collaboration and Self-Growth | Ft. Varun Negandhi Ep. 050 [Season Finale]
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Who says the journey has to be solitary? Buckle up for a transformative conversation with our guest, Varun, an immigrant from India, emphasizes the transformative power of collaboration and shares his journey to North America - a journey filled with personal growth, and a constant balance between productivity and relaxation. He offers us a glimpse into his world, revealing how he's shifted his perspective to see life as an adventure rather than a destination.

We also talked about his move to the US, his studies at the prestigious University of Michigan and his journey to becoming an entrepreneur are inspiring. What's more? Varun also discuss about his venture, BeyondGrad, and share deep insights on what people who join him can expect.

Moreover, He discusses the importance of articulating passions and overcoming constraints. His parenting approach, the freedom he found in Canada, and the importance of negotiation in the job search process. Finally, we delve in his thoughts on memory, luck, and self-growth.
Tune in to this heartwarming conversation and be inspired by the power of collaboration in the immigrant experience.

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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 Singh:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to MyThick Accent Podcast. So imagine stepping into a world where collaboration fuels success, where the spirit of unity propels you forward instead of holding you back. In countries like India, where I come from, we often navigate the competitive landscape solo, striving to carve our own paths amidst fierce competition. However, things take a turn as we step onto the shores of opportunity in places like Canada, and I guess today is a testament to the shift in perspective. He advocates shedding the crab in the bucket mentality where success is seen as a limited resource In this land of opportunities.

Gurasis Singh:

He emphasizes the transformative power of collaboration. One person's knowledge, shared and multiplied, can uplift an entire community. It's about working together, supporting one another and exhilarating each other's growth. He not only talks about breaking free from limiting beliefs, but also putting this philosophy into action. He believes in the strength of immigrant community, not just in festivities, but also in the serious realms like job search and career advancement. It's time for us to collectively rise, to contribute and to create a significant impact. Join us as we delve into his journey and discover the potential of unity within the immigrant experience. Let's unlock the immense possibilities that lie within a cohesive and supportive community. Please welcome Varun.

Varun Negandhi:

Oh, thanks. What an introduction, Gurasis!

Gurasis Singh:

Absolutely Very happy to have you on the podcast, Varun, very excited for this conversation. Varun: very excited to be here. GS: Okay, so let me start by asking you Tell us about your favorite inspirational quote or saying that resonates with you the most.

Varun Negandhi:

The favorite quote that I have, but I have a hard struggle following it is a quote from Bhagavad Gita which says the will is the true friend and the will is the true enemy. I am paraphrasing and obviously I'm using a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, but yeah, that is my favorite quote and something I strive to do, because I think it all starts from how we detect our will.

Gurasis Singh:

So you said you have like a story behind it. Tell us, why would you say that?

Varun Negandhi:

The struggle that I've always had is we've been told to kind of balance things out, and when you're trying to do something productive, when you're trying to create something, then you have to bring it through your will to bring it out to the world.

Varun Negandhi:

So I think of that as the will being my friend, but then at times when I want to be a sloth and just relax, that time I don't know whether the will is a friend or an enemy. So it is a constant struggle. The constant struggle is also to know whether there's something that my will wants to do and so it's a. I don't think I'll ever have an answer to this. I think it's more of a journey, and only recently I've become more comfortable with things being more of a journey than a destination, because I, the destination is so esoteric and so it's so far ahead or not in my grasp, that if I just focus on that, then things in the present start to get suck. So, focusing on the journey, and only recently I've gotten more comfortable with knowing that, okay, I'll have to do this for good to see where this goes.

Gurasis Singh:

I think it definitely. It seems that it's come from the experience and the famous quote no, it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey that you go through that actually matters. So yeah, I think we'd love to talk a little bit more about it in the later half of the episode, but my next question is tell us this about this one habit that you have adopted that has changed your life.

Varun Negandhi:

Investing in myself. That has been the biggest eye-opener and I'll share a story with that. Sure, it was 2014,. Four years into my US immigrant experience. Till then, I've been living with roommates. I'm having a great time.

Varun Negandhi:

I was able to learn an internship pretty soon into my education, after two semesters, so life had been going great so far. I was traveling, had a really nice, fancy car. But then I got married and then I had to move into an apartment of my own, had a dependent, my wife, who was with me, and for like a year I had to buy new furniture. So there were so many financial expenses that hit me like a wave. Then I was like the American experience or the American life that I thought I was living, which is have a job, and then your life is set. Well, it's not set and you need to figure out how to create a living worthy of your dreams, or your partner as well as your future children, which I now have to offer.

Varun Negandhi:

And I was confused. I didn't know where to go. I knew that getting better at work was much different than getting better in school. In school, you know okay what you need to do to get the A grade and it's all. It's like a Google Maps, whereas here in your career you'll be fortunate enough if somebody gives you a compass. Forget the map, forget the which direction to go to. I don't know if you'll ever get a compass, unless you go find one for yourself. What happened then was I luckily fell into a couple different entrepreneurs that I was following online where I was trying to save money. So I fell into this book called I Will Teach you to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. It's a New York Times bestseller. Really good book in my opinion $25 that can save us or help us on hundreds and thousands, and I'm not being hyperbolicistic about it.

Varun Negandhi:

But the whole effort of saving money kind of led me to start investing in myself more, reading books, and then at one point I started to realize that, say, there's only a limit to how much you can save. You need food, you need shelter, you need to be in a good neighborhood, yeah, you need to have stuff to wear. And one of the things that Ramit talked about is that when you hit that limit of saving, you need to start growing your income. And that changed my world completely, because not only did I invest in a bunch of entrepreneurship courses after that, the entrepreneurship courses taught me mindsets and psychology that I needed to improve and work on myself to get to where I am.

Gurasis Singh:

Well, definitely, I think all that has helped you start your own entrepreneur journey, for sure. But also you talked something about having that compass which can direct you in the ways, and don't you think it also starts from our childhood? By that I meant, like until the 12th grade, we know that, okay, we have to go. After 10th grade, we have 11th grade, we have 9th, 10th grade, but after 12th you are kind of just thrown out right there and you are like we don't know what to do, and I think at that time also, we do need that compass and we try to navigate them. And then coming to a new world altogether, in your case, like moving to US, definitely like the whole another battle we must be fighting, right.

Varun Negandhi:

Absolutely.

Varun Negandhi:

And if you notice when we go from schooling from first grade to 10th, if you're in the same school, if you're in the same ecosystem, when you go to 11th things completely change and you kind of have to create the same ecosystem for yourself. If you don't create an ecosystem, then you're starting to kind of lose out on grades and stuff like that Definitely happened with me, where I was doing decently well with my 10th standard, 11th and 12th. I think the aura of going to a college and just having fun and things kind of changed completely for me for a few years there. So yes, that every time your ecosystem changes you kind of have to recalibrate, but still, college provides that roadmap that, all right, you need to go and hit these grades, and to hit these grades you need to study so and so syllabus and you need to finish your assignments and you have to show up on time.

Varun Negandhi:

So there is still better than our careers where there is no exam. There is no exam, there is a performance review, but you hardly ever know what goes into the performance review and it's a lot more complicated.

Gurasis Singh:

And it's also fascinating how our mind just adapts to these new ecosystems also. It's like building a muscle. You get to learn and survive in that new atmosphere wherever you're kind of like just thrown into, and that's just fascinating to me.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah, it's our mind trying to figure out things how to survive and then we'll think about how to thrive. That's what the first year of coming to the US or Canada is that first survive and then, once you survive, then you can try to thrive.

Gurasis Singh:

So, speaking of high school and the growing up years, let me take you back to the time you spent in India, specifically Mumbai. Tell us a little bit about your growing up years and what were you doing before you moved.

Varun Negandhi:

It was fascinating. Where we grew up is a lot of luck, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be born in a city like Mumbai, because a big part of my fabric is that city, my confidence, my sense of humor if I have any- I think you do yeah, it's all part of that culture.

Varun Negandhi:

That culture taught me how to travel on my own. That culture taught me all the different festivals, because it is such a cosmopolitan environment that you kind of have celebrate so many festivals around you, and that I was blessed to be born in that city and childhood was pretty good. We were middle class, lower middle class family, so we did see struggle with money. However, the struggle was not like basic shelter, basic food, it was like a step above. So it is a different type of struggle, because you are healthy, you are loved, you are cared for and now you are wondering okay, how am I, I get ahead in this world or how am I able to improve my standard of living and stuff like that.

Varun Negandhi:

So my parents work really hard as entrepreneurs, at stationery shop owners and knew that there was not the path I wanted to take because it was so much hard work for not a whole lot of money. So then I knew that I wanted to kind of go into engineering because my dad was a civil engineer but walked out of school and there was always this talk in the house Fascinating I'm making this discovery for myself right now in this world so there was always a talk about that in our home that, oh, if he had finished civil engineering, if he had finished civil engineering, life would have been different. And I think that has always made the connection for me and drove me towards mechanical engineering and automotive engineering. And then I did that, pursued it and was able to live a really good life because of it.

Gurasis Singh:

But that wasn't like your desired career, I believe. If I just defraise it, I would say that what was your dream career growing up if not that I?

Varun Negandhi:

would say that was my dream career really, if I'm being completely honest, because I really loved physics, I loved engineering. Yes, I became wavered in my drive, in my focus during junior college, a little bit into my engineering college as well. But when I was the last two years, when I bought everything back, when I was focused, I enjoyed solving numerical problems. I enjoyed all of that. It was definitely my dream job and I have worked in that domain since the last 13 years.

Varun Negandhi:

What has shaped my external personality is a lot of being in classes, like I've done a lot of Tequando. I have danced with a big troupe in India, I have done acting classes you name it and I've done things and that has shaped my personality. But all my true not star had always been becoming an engineer and it could very well be because of that strong drive to make an income and hearing that if my dad had finished engineering, life would have been good. So I'm sure there is a part of that as well. But I won't say that that was a strong enough part where I needed to change or curb my desires, because I was part of a really loving family. My parents are very modern. In fact my friends would joke that, dude, your parents are like American graduates. They gave me complete freedom to follow anything, so it has still been driven from inside this whole engineering world. But just thought I'll give you some influences around me that kind of shaped my personality.

Gurasis Singh:

I was thinking that how, being in Mumbai, the dance, music and films did not influence you. So this explains that it did. It sure did.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah, it did and I wouldn't say it was as pervasive when we were in school. Pervasive is I don't say it with a negative connotation. There are so many kids in Mumbai and there are millions of kids in Mumbai, and not all I would say even 5%-10% might be influenced by the Bollywood side of things, because Mumbai has other characters as well. There's a lot of finance world in Mumbai. There's a lot of manufacturing, there's travel, tourism. There's a whole lot happening in that city, which is why it's called the city of dreams, for us or for India, because you dream and then you can make it happen.

Gurasis Singh:

And do you still pursue any of those like dance or acting or anything? Do you do, have you done anything?

Varun Negandhi:

Come Garba time. I am definitely in my element.

Varun Negandhi:

I have stopped choreographed. It's been a while since I've done any choreographed routines. But dance is a big part for us family. We put on music sometimes and we will dance as a family. It's a big part of me and I'm not just saying this because I'm talking to you, but I would love to do Bangra classes sometimes because I love that and also that's a form that I haven't learned yet Garba. I've learned contemporary jazz, ballroom etc. But I think I've never been into Indian dance forms like Kathak and stuff like that. My wife is, I don't know why. I've never been attracted to that, but when it comes to an Indian dance form, bangra is something that I'm definitely attracted to.

Gurasis Singh:

Sure, next time, if we are together in the same city, we'll do it for sure.

Varun Negandhi:

That will be awesome. I would love to.

Gurasis Singh:

So if I ask you, if you have to go back and relive a certain age or a certain moment from a childhood or just growing up years, which one would it be?

Varun Negandhi:

Obviously there are many happier times or my whole childhood had been really happy so I could go anywhere and have a really great time. When it comes to just my growth as a person, I would go back to 7th standard. I think after 7th standard things started to become a little bit difficult catching up in 8th, 9th and 10th because my focus wasn't there. So I would lose out on some days of schoolwork. And you know, when you lose out on some days of schoolwork, especially during like 8th, 9th and 10th standard, it kind of starts to snowball. And for a period of like 5 years my confidence took a hit because I was a really good student till 7th. I wasn't focused after that. So it took a hit till like 2nd year of engineering, where I actually failed that year.

Varun Negandhi:

And then when I failed the 2nd year of engineering, I got relaxed again, not because I failed and it was a big deal and it was like a turning moment for me. It wasn't that I was focused again because I just had to clear like 4 exams and that focus kind of helped me get back into the crew of things. Not having to go to college gave me the time to kind of set systems and everything, tuition classes. So I was able to get control back into my life and since then I've not let that control go away. So I would say 8th standard, the start of 8th standard, is where I want to go back. If I could go back with all the insights that I have gained.

Varun Negandhi:

So far or that would be such a kickass moment.

Gurasis Singh:

I'm sure about that. Yeah, so you also mentioned that you know how your parents were very modern and your friends used to joke about that. How would you describe yourself as a parent now? How do you think you are?

Varun Negandhi:

Oh, that's a tough one. I think as a parent I'm a little hypocritical. What I mean by that is I kind of force my child to have a certain screen time, to eat in a way that is healthy for her.

Varun Negandhi:

I'm a little bit too much to do things that are more productive, while not doing many of the same things that I'm asking. Some days I'm binging Netflix. I just watched Beckham's documentary, like Back to Back, because he was one of my favorite footballers. So, yeah, there's a little bit of that. So that's something that I'm working on and that I think I'm following on my parents' footsteps is that you might not be able to provide everything to them, but what you can provide is being there for them, that I am an anchor or a solid person that they can come to, and then that they are loved. Love is a big one for our family. Showing affection, expressing affection that's something that we do on a daily basis. I'll give you the good and bad, okay.

Gurasis Singh:

And do you think if your parents would have not been the way they were, your life would have turned out to be a little different? Do you think so?

Varun Negandhi:

If I look at my friends who had more conventional parents, I don't think life has been different for them as compared to me. I think what was different was because I was given the freedom to make decisions and to make mistakes. I am now able to start and learn things very quickly Because, since I was given that freedom this summer, if I wanted to do tennis classes which I have done I would do that Next summer. I would go and do football classes the other summer. After that I would do table tennis.

Varun Negandhi:

So what has helped me in that case is I don't fear starting something or being uncomfortable when starting something and I catch up to things pretty quickly. I am not saying I get great at it, but the initial burst of getting good. I am able to do that quickly. And, yes, the difference between good and great is huge. So I don't mean to say that I am delving into things that can be great, but just understanding these are the 20% that will get me 80% of the way there. And then investing in coaching and stuff like that because I've always had that is something that I do a lot differently than, I think, some of my peers who had conventional parents.

Gurasis Singh:

I think for me also it would be the fear of trying a new thing. It's like having that fear of judgment, that what if it doesn't work? What if it doesn't turn out to be wrong? What if I wasted my money? So that fear was also within me growing up. Because I don't think so. I have the most modern parents and I don't blame them. They are the product of their own time and they were trying to pass on what they knew. But I think one thing which I think I've seen myself evolved in is this only that not having that fear of trying the new thing. Give it a try if it works out, great doesn't work out. It was an experience, that's all.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah, absolutely. What I also feel is that there's a dialogue from this movie, dil Chhattar, where Akshay Khanna is sitting on the beach with a girl who fancies Aamir Khan and he talks about like sand in your hand, that the more tightly you press it, the sand starts to kind of flow away. Yes, where some of the friends that I see, because they were held so tightly, so tightly, they were the first ones to go away from things and try crazy stuff and have a crazy life because they were escaping from that tight grip that they were in through school, through college. So it always reminds me of that sand in your hand. Analogy from Akshay Khanna's dialogue is that the more tightly you hold something, the more easily it kind of escapes from your hands.

Gurasis Singh:

No, I love that great analogy. I think you explained it perfectly Awesome. So, Varun, let us pivot towards your decision to move to US. Tell us what influenced the decision and how was the process for your life?

Varun Negandhi:

So, since Shailura, have been inspired from people ahead of me. I don't mind following their footsteps, I get inspired by people who are cool, people I like, people I adore. During my engineering, I saw a friend of mine but mainly my cousin brother who came over from Mumbai to a Northeastern University, if I remember correctly, and he was the one who led the way for me as to okay, this is possible, this is a route. So he, like me, had failed one year in the university, had caught up and I was able to get into a really good school. We grew up together because he would visit his nani, which was my dadi, and we would spend summers together. So we had crazy fights and we are still pretty close. So he was kind of the person who modeled this for me.

Varun Negandhi:

Where he came to the US to study, I was always influenced by US culture Listen to rock music, watch TV series so I was already influenced. And then I saw my brother going. He would share his experiences with me and I was like, okay, I want to do that. And I was in my, I think, third year of engineering when I came my GRE exams and I was. I scored well, was able to come into a university here and get 30% scholarship on intuition. So everything was lining up to say, okay, yes, this is the right move, and that's what I did in 2010.

Gurasis Singh:

And how was the process for you Like? How long did it take you to prepare the files, visas and everything?

Varun Negandhi:

That was one other advantage of me failing after my second year. So in that drop year, the first six months I cleared all my failed subjects. I was actually able to clear them well enough where my GPA was starting to get very healthy. And then in the in the six months after that, all I did was prepare for this GRE exam and watch movies. So to give you another example of the coolness of my parents is that when I failed for that year, they obviously asked me to get serious, to get more focus. But my parents had something that I I'm still baffled by, which they said nobody is going to give you a vacation year in your life. Nobody is giving you one year of vacation in your life.

Gurasis Singh:

Yeah.

Varun Negandhi:

Enjoy this, if you can.

Gurasis Singh:

Wow.

Varun Negandhi:

And it was so surprising to hear because again it encouraged me to yes, let's finish all my subjects in six months. Then I have six months to just play football, play Counter Strike and watch movies, and that's what. That's what I did. I did all that, just gave my GRE exam in the middle. So that was the end of the drop year. The third and fourth year went into applying to universities, getting recommendation letters, making sure my GPA was healthy enough where you know colleges would accept me. So that was that two year span. I obviously used a consultant that was very popular in Mumbai, had a great time with them and his, his company and I was. They helped me immensely to transition here, so they are a big part of my journey here as well.

Gurasis Singh:

So tell us about your first day, your initial thoughts and emotions when you landed in 2010. What month was that?

Varun Negandhi:

I've said this story before. It was September. I'll share the story of my visa consulate appointment. Okay, you know how you go for like, the visa appointment and everybody's nervous around you. It's a big thing getting a US student visa, but I was lucky, I guess, where the councillor office was really chilled. She asked me about my university. Everything went very smooth. When I was leaving she said make sure you carry a winter coat. It is frigid in Michigan because I was coming to Michigan. Everybody in Canada will relate to this, I'm sure. So that was my. I was taking a bag. I was like, okay, if she's telling me and she doesn't need to tell me. You know how visa councillor officers are very torsent, to the point, absolutely. I was like if she's telling me, then I mean this must be serious yeah.

Varun Negandhi:

It was cold, but I landed here in September it was a very pleasant weather. But it was a big shock for me going from the buildings, the crowd, the speed of Mumbai to a suburb in Michigan, because you think of US as New York, san Francisco, chicago, whereas I would say 5% of US is like that. A big amount of US is suburban life, of course. And coming and landing into Michigan, I don't see buildings around me, there is no public transport. Oh really, you have to ask your seniors. Very, very bad public transportation, especially in 2010,. No Uber, no Lyft and anywhere you want to go, if you want to go walking, it's like an hour, like it's ridiculous. Sometimes things are so far away. So you have to get rights from seniors. All through the first year. You're basically depending on your seniors to kind of take you to college, bring you back, take you to grocery stores, take you for a freaking haircut. I had hair. I had hair back then. I promise I believe you. So it was a big shock in that sense.

Varun Negandhi:

What was pleasant was the university was so nice. I was having a great time having friends from different parts of India, whereas in Mumbai you have friends from different cultures and different religions, but we are all Mumbai Kurds At heart. We are Mumbai Kurds, so we are not very different from each other, whereas a person from Mumbai much different than a person from even Pune not much different. But there are elements of differences between people from Pune, nagpur, which is still Maharashtra. Now you go to Chennai, now you have a friend from Delhi and it all just changes completely Bangalore. So it was a great time with friends. It was a great time at the university. Michigan is known for its nature. It was extremely beautiful to go anywhere. So I had a good time in that sense and it was a time of immense growth.

Gurasis Singh:

So, apart from it being all suburb and no buildings and no transit and everything, was something else that completely shocked you about US, or maybe something that you were not prepared for and that you faced.

Varun Negandhi:

That I think something I was not prepared for was living with roommates. I had never lived with roommates before then, so that was an interesting dynamic that I had to learn how to navigate. Where you want to make sure that what you like in a house it's cleanliness or order or food or whatever, you have to navigate that situation delicately because not everybody has the same standards for things, of course, and they are right in their own way. I mean, we all come with internal standards about how things should be and we had a great time. We were six of us in like a three bed. We enjoyed each other's companies. There are a few niggles here and there, which were, I would say, learning experiences. So that was one thing I wasn't used to, living with roommates.

Varun Negandhi:

Overall, I had come in with a very open eyes. I had come in with the experience of my cousin, who had shared quite a bit with me. He made my transition much smoother. And then I was coming in with an understanding a little bit of an understanding of the American culture. I haven't seen the movies, music and everything. So when I went to university clubs that were predominantly non-Indian, I didn't feel out of place because I was able to bring in pop culture references, like my PlayStation video games or the TV series I was watching or the songs I was listening to. Frankly, metallica was a great icebreaker in many of the conversations, so overall, I had a great and smooth time.

Gurasis Singh:

And did you used to cook? Wasn't that a shock for you?

Varun Negandhi:

There wasn't. I had to learn from scratch. My mom taught me how to make dal and rice because they were cooker stuff.

Varun Negandhi:

So I made it in a cooker kind of a thing. There were Indian stores so we would get frozen rotis, frozen parathas Eggs was popular during that time and you would get Maggie and everything. So it wasn't difficult because Michigan does have some Indian population. So getting all this stuff wasn't difficult and cooking was fun. It's been a fun journey because now I love baking pizzas from scratch. So that's one thing I'll say is that if I was in India I would not have learned these things, because you get everything handed to you, not from your parents, but you might. At this point everybody has some kind of help at home, so you are getting everything handed, where you don't need to kind of learn these things. You go, you walk five minutes and you have 10 restaurants to cook.

Varun Negandhi:

It's insane that way. So I'm actually blessed to come here and experience my joy of cooking something, and it feels so good making something from scratch. Not only you, you are feeling your friends, you are feeling your family, you are feeling your kids such a really great feeling. So, yeah, I enjoyed that.

Gurasis Singh:

So let's talk a little bit about your experience of studying in the University of Michigan, and I asked this because when I moved here, many of my friends, or even my teachers I was in connection with then they used to ask me that how's the experience for, was for you like and how is the work culture there, or how is even like how the teachers come and teach you and everything. All that was asked me. I want to ask you the same question, and one of the biggest differences was obviously calling our teachers by their name and not saying sir or ma'am, but tell us about your experience.

Varun Negandhi:

It was. It was fun. We used to call our teachers like professor, so and so, okay, so that wasn't different. What I loved was that how relaxed the atmosphere was. I was in a school which bought in a lot of professionals to the master schools because it was so close to like Ford company and GM and stuff like that that people from those companies after their work would come and study with us. So these guys were tired man and they would come and they would have to eat something in in class and they would be. They would be eating something while the professor is teaching and they understood it as well. So that was very unique experience, like it was very relaxed. There were no desks and stuff like that. There were just rows of chairs and and and benches. Yeah, that's that was different. That was fun.

Varun Negandhi:

And then the focus on creativity in your assignments. I think that was an interesting one where you didn't get a very strict prompt or you didn't get all of the data that you need to solve numericals. You were told to use your creativity, assume things, assume situations, assume scenarios and do those assignments. So that was a lot of fun.

Gurasis Singh:

So another thing that you have mentioned earlier also, that during your masters you got your internship, and you always say that it was an amalgamation of many different factors and one of them was luck. Tell us about the other factors and along with that, you know something that you have done. The one that you were telling me is attending those culture fairs. You know which international students might hesitate to go to.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah, I got an internship after two semesters, which is when you are eligible to get an internship in the US. I got one right away and the three big factors were one was luck. I was extremely lucky. Nawal Ravikanth talks about this. He is not the originator of this concept, but there are four types of luck there is blind luck. There is luck from motion.

Varun Negandhi:

There is luck from awareness and there is luck which is unique to you. The surface area of luck increases with each. So I was extremely lucky first. So there was some blind luck involved, but then I also tried to increase the surface area of luck by motion more than anything else, and I can look back now and tell you in those ways. I was obviously not able to articulate that during that time, but, looking back, luck was a big one. But the two ways that I increased the surface area of luck was one I used whatever resources that I had available to me.

Varun Negandhi:

So going to career fairs, using career services in the university, like if they would have a resume seminar, I would go there. If they had a networking seminar, I would go there. Then there were mock interviews that they held. Even if you were a mechanical engineer and they were only bringing people from IT, they would still encourage you to attend mock interviews, because that one mock interview taught me so much about how I am answering things, the tonality that I am using, the confidence that I am coming in with. So that was one thing, using all the available resources that I could have. I would add one more thing in that is that I was part of the Formula SAE team, which is a racing team in the university. So many university clubs that you can go to. You can find a club for your interest and just go in and start work. So that's number two. And number three was walking that extra mile.

Varun Negandhi:

So this was April 2011 and it was still cold in Michigan. So you don't want to go out of the house if you don't need to. And my roommate said oh, there is a career fair, like 40 minutes away from us at the SAE World Congress, which was this big event in the auto industry. And you know, you are lazy, it's exam week and none of your roommates show any interest whatsoever, so the drive to do that is extremely low. But he kept on saying that it will be fun to go or it will be good for us to go. And there was an added element that we would have to convince a senior to take us. Again, no transportation, so you had to convince somebody to take you 40 minutes, stay with you there throughout the day and come back. So we were able to get a lot of help from this senior. He took us.

Varun Negandhi:

We did that career fair and one conversation struck and for a job, that's all you need right, you need one job. So one conversation can change your entire trajectory. So I went there, had one conversation with this Fortune 500 company, which I didn't know about but was a big company in the auto industry, and they called me in for an interview. I was given the internship and that defined the first year of my work experience in the US. That internship, and it bought me so much. It bought me financial stability, it gave me instantly mentors in the industry and it gave me so much confidence that I was able to achieve this for myself, knowing full well that a big part of that was luck having roommates, having a senior, being in the right place at the right time all that combination led to that internship.

Gurasis Singh:

Well, I'm not sure about luck, but I think it was definitely your will again to do that, the will to really making that effort to try to go to that career fair. And look at that today. You know I inside it benefited you. You actually got the internship and that was, I would say, the base of your, the job that you did eventually, right.

Varun Negandhi:

Absolutely. The internship that I did is what I did for the next 12 years, because that was my dream job. I mean, yeah, a lot of things change, a lot of the domains change because a car is a big thing and there are so much technology in it. So I changed technologies to keep fresh. But, yes, the advanced engineering part of it was what I've faced in my life.

Gurasis Singh:

Yeah, I mean definitely. I think if listeners when you're national students are listening, they know this is like a great example. I think you're definitely like a testament to all those people that, hey, you really have to walk that extra mile and make that effort and instill that will in you to do the things, and it will happen as long as you make the best use of the resources as well. In your case, like you did, that you have, and I think we are.

Gurasis Singh:

When you move to a new country especially, we are so fixated in, you know, getting the program done, making sure that we get the right work permit and make sure we get like some job that help us with the PR, yes, it's necessary, it's very important, but I would say for the, if you see the bigger picture, it all starts from the very first step that you take and you really have to put everything, give your all in, just try, just ask for even that help. I think, sometimes even hesitant to ask for that help, that okay, I don't know if the person would help me or not. We have that hesitation, I think. But now this is the time that the worst someone can say is no, as long as you don't ask it. The answer is always no, so go ahead and try your luck.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah, absolutely true, and get, and sometimes you need a buddy. To be really honest, you need a when two people are asking a senior if you will take me 40 minutes away for a career fair it's different than you know me singularly asking, I will have a lot more friction. If I need to do that, you will see. Share me about your experience walking that extra mile, or if you have a story about that, I would love to know more about it.

Gurasis Singh:

I would say it was mostly during my job search, like I would have just applied to tons of jobs online or maybe, you know, fill those online resumes and everything. But the funny thing is I actually didn't know how to get into pharma advertising, which I am in right now, whereas I was just trying to get into advertising maybe the FMCG, maybe those big brands and all those commercial advertising, and I didn't know about PAB, which is the pharmaceutical advertising and everything the health authority that we have to go through. I had no idea about it. I got to know about PAB only because I walked that extra mile of reaching out to people on LinkedIn asking them like what is their day to day look like, and I stumbled upon this one person from McCann McCann, canada.

Gurasis Singh:

Mccann is one of the ad agencies. I stumbled this one person he was, I believe, the account executive or coordinated the similar role which I want to get into and he told me that you have to know about PAB and I was like PAB, I don't know anything about that health authority. So that's how I got to know about it. And look at me now like after two years now I work in pharma advertising, the only if I would have stopped myself from reaching out to that person. I would have never be able to know about pharma advertising. So yeah, that's how I think I would answer that.

Varun Negandhi:

It's very cool is that, I think when you walk more destiny, your destiny happens to you. It's like you need motion for destiny to walk in, which is interesting because I guess it comes back to the start of our conversation and you bought to will again, which is so interesting. Is that it all boils down to that.

Gurasis Singh:

Yeah, absolutely hey. If you're enjoying the content and conversations we bring to you every week, we will love for you to join our growing community. Make sure to follow us on all major podcast directories, including Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts or wherever you consume your podcast. That way, you'll never miss an episode and you'll always stay in the loop with the latest insights and stories. And speaking of staying connected, I always always encourage you to follow your heart, but also also on Instagram, the handle is @MyThickAccent. We'll be sharing a lot more behind the scenes content, some updates and some even fun sneak peaks. So give us a follow and let's engage even more closely there.

Gurasis Singh:

And to all those who provided their feedback and input, thank you so much. It truly, truly shaped the direction of a podcast, and I would love to hear from any of the new folks who joined us today. Don't hesitate to reach out with any thoughts, ideas or even suggestions for future guests. Drop us an email at Hello@mythickaccent. com. Now let's get back to the episode. So then, you decided to move to Canada, but before that, tell me, you spent nine years in the US before you decided to move in 2019 to Canada. Can you tell us something that you might have discovered about yourself in those nine years?

Varun Negandhi:

Those nine years, the biggest discovery was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay.

Varun Negandhi:

Now, being a Gujarati and having entrepreneurial parents, you might be surprised as to why that was a discovery, but seeing my parents work so hard, I had kind of pushed me away from entrepreneurship because I thought it was so insanely hard to make a living that I was working nine to six, relaxed, in an AC, a conditioned environment, clicking things, using my brain, and I was making a decent living. So why do that route? Why go that route? But I think what pulled me towards entrepreneurship is learning from mentors. So, like I said a few while back, I really I follow my heroes. I have learned from them, I get inspired by them, and my cousin was one who came here. But through that 2014 financial struggle, through going from saving to earning, the mentors that taught me all of the things that I rely on nowadays are entrepreneurs. They had their own companies. They were teaching people, creating transformations in people's life, either by their coaching or by products.

Varun Negandhi:

And here I was in my engineering work doing something that may or may not see the light of the day five years from now, because it was an advanced engineering project. You were trying to create new technologies. It's very fulfilling. I still love that work. It just does not have the element of me seeing the impact of my work on a end user. The process is just too far off. So that, in combination to seeing and getting inspired by my mentors thought, oh, I would love to be an entrepreneur. Then, from 2016-ish, I would say to 2019, when I moved here that three years were discovery into what kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be, because you can start a SaaS company, you can have a high growth startup, you can be a consultant, you can be a freelancer, you can be a coach. There are so many ways to do this. I'm sure you know all about that. Where I needed those three years to discover, okay, what exactly I needed to do. And then that's where the genesis of BeyondGrad came into being.

Gurasis Singh:

Since you mentioned BeyondGrad, let's just talk about that. You started that in 2018. But before that, I believe you did do a lot of self-development courses and some workshops I believe workshops at Alma Matters. I heard you talking about that. Tell us about all that, the prep that went behind starting BeyondGrad.

Varun Negandhi:

Yeah. So since becoming an entrepreneur and wanting to be an entrepreneur was so new, I had systems and frameworks that I learned from my mentors, and one of them was to do a discovery, was to ask people okay, what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses? If you had to come to me to solve a problem, what would that be? And I would get confidence a lot. I would get inspiration a lot. I would also get mentorship a lot. So I was like, okay, if those are my strengths, I know that I've gone through this whole process of being a top performer at work or going from an international student to being where I was in my career. Till that point I was like, okay, how can I translate that? So my friend and I again having a buddy helped so much. My friend and I did an AMA Ask Me Anything. At our university, university of Michigan, new York and we wrote funny emails and I had fun with it and we got people together in this room and these were all international students going for their master's degree and this just started asking us questions. So we had these buckets where we started with personal finance, we did getting a job, we did thriving in a job, and then we did travel and fun topics. So we did a bunch of that in our first AMA and it was such a fun time. I had memes in my slide. My buddy is a fun guy too so we were having a great time while giving actionable insights to everybody in the room on all these different topics. So I got high from that.

Varun Negandhi:

The reviews were great. I did post workshop surveys. Those were very encouraging. So then I was like, all right, let's do this again. So we did one 2016 December. Again, that went well. So I was like okay, I know this works with students. Now let me try and bring my peers in.

Varun Negandhi:

So what I did was I hosted a workshop for negotiating a race, which is different than negotiating the job offer. Negotiating a race because I wanted to catch people who were already in their jobs, and I was so encouraged that not only did some of my peers show up which I thought was insane, because generally you want to learn from somebody who's ahead of you or you feel is ahead of you but my peers showed up extremely encouraging. My seniors showed up Some of my seniors who thought that, okay, varun knows this. Maybe he's one step ahead in this domain. Sure, I have more experience, but they showed up ready to learn and that was, I think, the I would say, an inflection point where I was like, wow, if people I know and my age or even senior to me are willing to put in their time, come to a different location and learn what I, was the one thing that I could help them with.

Varun Negandhi:

Then that changed the game and I knew that, okay, I need to start beyond grad, focus on careers, and I didn't focus on an immigration immigrant students. That was one mistake. I should have been niche from the very beginning because I could bring a lot of my immigrant personality to it. But you make so many mistakes building stuff, building businesses and I'm okay with that. So that's the genesis of beyond grad.

Varun Negandhi:

I did many more workshops and that gave me material to create my website and write blog post articles. Things kind of were okay in the sense I wasn't putting as much time because I still had my day job, became a father in 2017 for the first time. 2019, we moved to Canada. 2020, everybody knows what happened. So PESU had been okay so far, but this year this year, I think I went all in on LinkedIn, started to share a lot more of what I was trying to teach immigrant students and immigrant professionals and have been shocked by the results that I've gotten in terms of the people following me, which I would not have guessed that 35, 36,000 people would follow what I'm writing from the start of this year.

Gurasis Singh:

So tell us, our listeners, briefly, very quickly, about like why in Canada you came up and starting this and did not continue in the US.

Varun Negandhi:

That is a big pain point of immigrants in the US is that there is no easy way to start a business. There's just no easy way to do it. If you are an H1B employee which I was having an income on the side is confusing legally, so you don't want to take that risk. You can apply for an H1B through your company, through create a new company, then you need somebody in a decision making power that can hire and fire you and then apply an H1B through that company. But a big caveat there is that your business has to be in the same domain as your study.

Varun Negandhi:

Beyond that it wasn't in the same domain as automotive engineering. So again this theme of following people. Before you, I saw a couple of my friends come to Canada because they were just fed up of the US immigration process and I was like, oh wow, that's interesting, they are in Canada. Being in Canada, you can do everything on a PR. You have so much more flexibility. I was in a border city. So again, destiny Kismuth. Whatever luck, whatever you call it.

Varun Negandhi:

I was able to keep my job move 30 minutes away from where I used to live and now I have all the freedom to do whatever I want to do. It's insane how that works. It's just, I'm just 30 minutes away. I'm closer to some of my friends now from living in Canada, closer to some of my friends in the US than I used to live in the US.

Varun Negandhi:

So that's the biggest reason to build something and not be restricted by my visa for it. I'm still working with my US company, still going through the whole green card process, which is I'll be a grand, I'll have grandchildren before I'll have my green card. That's what I call it GC before GC. So it's insane how that line is and I'm still in it, but I am loving my time in Canada since 2019.

Gurasis Singh:

I love the GC before the actual GC. I love that. That's funny. You know, this one thing, which I have heard people saying a lot, especially after pandemic, is believing in people who have actually walked the talk. And I believe, like I believe, that you are doing this beyond grad because you have actually walked the talk and you have done the three main things that you focus on, and I'll quote it. Those are like the other courses that help people find jobs. Second is getting promoted at your work and then starting a side hustle, and you were telling me earlier that you have done all that and you have gone through all those experiences. Tell us, if somebody who is joining beyond grad, who is taking up your courses and started working with you, what can they expect from the program?

Varun Negandhi:

So one thing I'll caveat I'll say is that I've only started to productize recently. So, yes, if you want to get promoted, I have a product for you. If you want to find jobs, I'm actually launching my first job search cohort for students in October and for professionals in November. So first I needed to build these systems to for somebody to come and learn from it. Freelancing I still have to. Or earning a side income I still have to create a course for it. So I wanted to kind of lay the expectation before answering that question. What I would say is my intention is to help you boost your income with intention.

Varun Negandhi:

I was able to boost my income in these three ways Find or create. Find and create my dream job. Getting promoted at work where I had a partnership stay I had a lot more flexibility that I love. And then earning on the side. I have earned $30,000 from freelancing in a completely different field, in marketing and copywriting, ever since I came to Canada and I was able to do it essentially use my entrepreneurship courses and help other companies implement those systems.

Varun Negandhi:

So I have, like you said, walk these three parts. So I'm going to share my experience walking those three parts Plus. I've been in this so long that I have other examples to share as well of other people who have walked one of these three parts. So I am a lot about community learning, like you have said in this episode, of all the entrepreneurship courses I've bought, the mentors I've had. So I bring all of that in, along with my experience, into these three parts.

Varun Negandhi:

What I would say is invest in yourself, know which of these three parts you want to pursue, because each of them are so difficult that you can only focus on one, I think, and then ask me if I want to do X, what should I do? And I will have a bunch of free stuff to kind of help you, to see if you want to do that or to kind of get your feet wet. And then I have courses that you can pay for where we go in depth into the job search, the promotion and, hopefully pretty soon, on everything related to side hustles as well.

Gurasis Singh:

Well, sounds incredible. I'm sure it's going to benefit a lot and I'm also kind of tempted to join it now. Why not? Awesome, yeah absolutely Especially.

Varun Negandhi:

I don't know if you are looking for a job or not, but in terms of promotion, one thing I'll share that a lot of us immigrants don't value is the soft skills, what I call that. The analogy I use is of poker. I love playing poker, but the technical skills that we bring are like table stakes for the table. The game you are trying is your big bet and the small bet. You need your technical skills to have a seat at the table, but to win you need to use your soft skills to play the game.

Gurasis Singh:

Absolutely.

Varun Negandhi:

And the second analogy I use in that, once you have kind of put yourself in the mindset that I'm at the table because of my technical skills but it is my other skills that will help me thrive at the table, I use a concept called cardinal points of promotion. So cardinal points of direction are North, South, East and West. Same way, there are cardinal points of promotion. You need to walk and develop people skills, communication skills, mindset skills and entrepreneurial skills to become a top performer at your work and that is what will help you get promoted or create your dream job, and that's what I teach in my courses cardinal points for promotion.

Gurasis Singh:

Yeah, I love that and I also. The thing that is said about soft skills, I think, is the technical skills that get you the job is the soft skills that keep you at the job. So tell us where people can connect with you. Two places.

Varun Negandhi:

I would say on LinkedIn First of all, if you want to follow my posts daily, I write actionable posts. I was joking with somebody, why would somebody want to follow somebody daily? But the confidence that I got from other person is that, dude, you write actionable posts and I love reading them. So I'm taking confidence from him to say, if you want to follow my posts daily, linkedin is the best place to find me. Varun Nikanti. I am probably one of three hits having a unique surname, so you will find me easily and you can follow me there. If you want to ask me questions, subscribe to my newsletter and just reply to one of my introductory emails. I am much more active via email than via LinkedIn because I am flooded sometimes from LinkedIn messages. And then you can obviously go to beyond gradcom and see the promotion course that I have on offer, and if you are part of the newsletter, you'll know the job search cohorts that I'm going to start soon.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay, so for my listeners, all the links to contact Varun can be found at the show notes. So, varun, since speaking of LinkedIn posts the ones that I read so far I think I love how you bring some amazing analogies and you do bring that humor as well, which is just amazing. It keeps you hooked on the posts. And I want to talk about like a few of them, and starting with the first one where how I stumbled upon your profile. So one of my, I think, listeners was kind of engaging with your posts and I'm connected with them on LinkedIn as well and that post was regarding, you know, the question behind the question, decoding the question behind the question, where you said that meme of and as up now I know it's a while, though it's a while and everything, so that that's the few humor part to kind of bring in.

Gurasis Singh:

And I want to tell us about that post a little bit. And one of the examples you said, which I'll read it from here, is you said that why do you want the job? The question is this but behind that, what they're asking is do you really care about the job or you just applied here to get any job? This was like one of the examples you give. Tell us more about that.

Varun Negandhi:

Any behavioral question that you get in an interview. There's a question behind that question. So, like you said, tell me about yourself, for example. That's the. That's the first question. But the question behind the question is are you able to articulate your passions? So, simply, are you, do you know anything about my company and are you able to align your skills with my company? Do you like this role that I have on offer? There are these questions behind the questions and the meme about and does up. Now it comes back to like my time in Mumbai, where Mumbai is very cutthroat in the sense that your friends will rib you to no end, they will pull your leg till your leg becomes sore and you do the same. You do the same as well, so it's not.

Varun Negandhi:

it's not bullying or it's co-opted bullying by everybody. Where we are, we are all bullying each other and that's our way to show that we care about the person. We are close with that person. You don't pull somebody's leg if you're not close to that person. So I always bring my friends to mind and in when I'm writing these posts. I can't do this every time, but I'll be like, okay, if my friend read this, he'll be like I don't know what to cook or why are you boring me? So to keep myself entertained and to keep my reader entertained, I kind of bring elements that at some fun. Yes, it's a serious topic, it's an important topic, but I don't want to read it and get bored myself, or I don't want to write it and get bored myself. So it's an element of me entertaining myself and the audience while sharing something that is extremely actionable and important for me, which was there's a question behind the question. Answer the question behind the question, because that's what will get you the job.

Gurasis Singh:

So this is a fascinating day, something perspective you bring in, I see in your post that people might not see again, like sometimes it's the same thing which everybody says, but it's just the way sometimes you frame your post is something that keeps people hooked and it stays with you and I think we all have learned from stories, speaking of our histories, from Mahabharata, ramiya and everything we kind of like grown up in their stories and all that thing stays with us. Those lessons stay with us. So that's the amazing part about your posts.

Varun Negandhi:

And it's part of us right. The story of Ram and Sugriva that's what I use to share how that is. You need leverage in any negotiation. Without leverage, you have nothing. Ram wanted Sugriva's help to go to Lanka and fight with Ram. He wanted Ram, lord Ram's help to help his elder brother to defeat his elder brother Vami. Forget that, not top of mind, but yeah, to defeat his elder brother.

Varun Negandhi:

Both were bringing in something and both needed something from the other person. And when you have that leverage is only when a negotiation is a win-win. If one party has more leverage than the other, they'll have a bigger win than you Like. Companies have more leverage than job seekers. If you don't know how to play, leverage then the companies will dictate terms.

Varun Negandhi:

But if you are confident, if you're a top performer, if you have sexy indifference is something that these smartless podcast guys talk about that sexy indifference, if you have all those leverages, then you can bring in data and that leverage to kind of work with your company to get to a point where it's a win-win point. So another example of how I am weaving my childhood, the stories that we've learned to share, concepts that I had to learn for myself, and I'm just trying to pay it forward.

Gurasis Singh:

And then the another post was regarding the Ganesh Chaturthi that you said no, we celebrate the festival Ganesh Chaturthi and it is when we celebrate the birth of one of our Hindu gods, and how you were supposed to make that idol, that murti and that's. You brought that example and you said that how we stop ourselves from those various constraints and really have to look past that. So talk a little bit about that as well.

Varun Negandhi:

I am creative in my ideation and I'm creative when on my computer, creating slides and stuff like that. But tell me to draw something and you will be reminded of that horse meme. You know where the tail and the back legs start really good. But by that time you reach to the face it's like a freaking line drawing. You don't even understand. I am that person, the line drawing that. You might not even understand what's happening. So I was not creatively inclined at all.

Varun Negandhi:

But Ganesh festival is a big part of our family and ever since I moved to the US I wasn't being able to celebrate it with the same gusto that I was used to back home. But Shraddali, my wife, came into my life. She is very creative, she's really good at this. So she saw one of my friends making a murti from clay and she started to make a murti from clay. So it was great. I got that feeling back where we had the murti. We would celebrate for the 10 days. It was a blast.

Varun Negandhi:

But then our first child was born and the child needs somehow needs the mother a lot more than the father. So she couldn't put in that time to create the murti and we were sitting on the dining table just discussing what should we do this year? Should we skip? Should we just put our Mandir's murti and pray to that? She was like, why don't you make it? And I kid you not, I thought it was a joke. I thought she was pulling my leg so I started laughing. I was like what do you mean? I make the murti. But she looked at me and she was serious. She was like why don't you make it? And I was flooded with all my emotions about not being like a good art, a good drawer, a good sculptor. I have never sculpted anything in my life.

Varun Negandhi:

So I was like there's no way I'm going to do this. But there was a constraint. We wanted to celebrate my wife couldn't create the murti. I could have either stopped myself from that constraint or I could have tried to create constraint, use constraint as creativity is what I call it, and we decided that I would create something. If it was not good, we would not show anybody, just keep it on the side and just but that whole experience of sculpting something.

Varun Negandhi:

And it was my first very basic effort where I took a bunch of balls. One ball was the stomach, one ball was the face, one ball I flattened out and made the hands and it was very basic, but the joy that I got from creating it and the pleasure that even Shirali saw me having I've been the one creating the murti since then, so my first time to what I think was this one, this time was my fourth time. I am surprising myself. I'm not saying I'm great, but I'm surprising myself because that constraint has helped my creativity go from these bunch of spheres put together, kind of putting in a lot more complexity and having four hands which again I was I was surprising myself.

Varun Negandhi:

I was like what's happening. So, yes, constraints hold us back, or constraint can be used for creativity.

Gurasis Singh:

I love this example and I encourage our listeners to definitely follow Varun. You will not regret following his pose. You definitely learn a lot from it and I'm 100% sure those will stay with you. So before we get into the final segment, I just want to talk very quickly about this one thing we discussed in our earlier conversation, which was about, you know, losing that crab in the bucket mentality. We in India have, like a certain way of working. We are all driving solo and we don't have the culture which is a little bit in Canada right now. Which I stumbled upon was people are willing to lend that helping hand and if, especially we immigrants, if we come together as a community, that can actually act as a catalyst for each of our success. And I want to talk a little bit more about that and share your perspective on it.

Varun Negandhi:

So I don't know what your experience was, coming up where you, where you were brought up in that's. I don't know how your experience was in school and stuff like that. Mumbai was extremely competitive. To get into the first team in sports even was so competitive. You are competing at everything sports classes, awards in classes, the best grades, top ranks. You're competing in everything.

Varun Negandhi:

We have such a competition mindset, right from schooling to college, that when we come here we bring that with us. Where we don't, we use secrecy, we don't share things that we think and give us a leg up. Now we will share everything that is status related. We will share the new car that we bought. We will share the price of the new house that we bought, but sharing the price, sharing the salary that we have or sharing the systems that we use to kind of maybe grow at work or find the job we hold it, we are very secretive because we don't want to give somebody an advantage.

Varun Negandhi:

But I think life is different in the US and Canada, first of all, and life is different in schooling versus in life.

Varun Negandhi:

Schooling is kind of like a zero sum game sometimes, because you are fighting for one position, whereas life is a positive sum game like Gurasis can be a CEO and so can I. We might have to have different companies and everything, but everybody can achieve success in our professional career. So that's the mentality that I think we need to stop where we are. It's like a crab in the bucket analogy, where none of the crabs can go out of the bucket because we ourselves are pulling each other down. That's what's something that I think we need to switch, where more of us immigrants need to share the uncomfortable truths behind things, absolutely need to share a lot more of our path so that not only can the coming generation learn from it, but our peers are encouraged to open up a bit more. You won't imagine the number of people that have come and talked to me about things my friends, my peers, about job search, about promotion, about salary that they would have never shared with a soul.

Gurasis Singh:

So I think a lot of us need to kind of have more abundance mentality and share yeah, another thing which you mentioned was around the same concept was that not only limiting our sharing to the festivities, the celebrations, but going beyond that as well. And the one that you were saying was regarding the job search. Tell us, how did you get the job, how did you grow in the job, how did you even get this job? Or help us, even given a referral, if possible.

Varun Negandhi:

Absolutely. Even when you meet in a social setting we are talking about, like in the US especially. You're talking about green card priority dates. You're talking about which stock to buy and which stock to sell. You're talking about travel, but very seldom you're talking about okay, this is a struggle that I'm having at work and this is how I solved it. So if you have a struggle at work, this is something that you can try. Or sometimes you can take a step back and just say, hey, this is what I'm struggling with at work. Yeah, can anybody help? We don't do that. We hold our vulnerabilities to ourselves because we don't want to give somebody else a leg up.

Varun Negandhi:

Whereas it's not competition, it's community. So we need each other. And what sucks is that all of us are learning the same thing by our own, exactly. Everybody's getting promoted like a decade into their career If they want to be a people manager. Everybody's becoming a people manager a decade into their career, whereas and we're all learning by our own. But if you could kind of share all that insights, we might get there in six years, we might get there in five. Some people might look at that and say I don't want to be that, I'll just be a tech specialist. Somebody who's a tech specialist will say oh yeah, this sounds interesting, I might go into, look into becoming a people manager. So it sucks that we are doing the same learning on our own, whereas we could kind of come together and reduce the time it takes to get there, and that's the mission of Beyond Pride.

Gurasis Singh:

Absolutely and, like I said in my intro, if one person's knowledge, if shared and multiplied, can uplift an entire community, and I think it's about time that we all work together, support one another and accelerate each other's growth and I'm seeing that.

Varun Negandhi:

I'm seeing that movement where I see a lot of brown people, immigrants, talk about immigrant life and raise the collective volume on all of these things and I think this is just a stop, absolutely. It's going to be even more amazing down the line.

Gurasis Singh:

So now let's just get into 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 however you feel like. The idea is just to know more about Varun. So ready, yeah. So first is the classic question what advice would you give to Varun, who is in the initial months of landing in the US?

Varun Negandhi:

Investing yourself by money or by time with mentors.

Gurasis Singh:

If you had to describe yourself as any creature, what would it be and why?

Varun Negandhi:

Oh, this one. I've thought about this one Elephant. Okay, why is that? First of all, ganpati. So I have some affinity towards elephants being a big fan of the Ganesh festival and I think I like that they are. They have memory. I don't know if I have memory would be a strong point, but I don't know, I think affinity towards that animal and I like that they are part of the jungle. You know, you say that elephants kind of yes, lions are the king of the jungle, but elephants kind of maintain balance in the jungle, something like that, and that's what I love about it.

Gurasis Singh:

Name three things on your bucket list.

Varun Negandhi:

Three things on my bucket list. One is to sponsor my parents' Europe trip. That would be. They've been thinking and talking about Europe for a really long time, so that would be one. The other would be to take my kids on a safari. That would be awesome. The bucket list is always going to be travel, I don't know why. Sure, and I would say. The third item would be going on a photography tour just by myself, solo photography. Okay, that would be a big bucket list item.

Gurasis Singh:

Love that. So who's your go-to person when you feel stuck? My wife, okay. What's the most unusual or unique food you have ever tried, and did you like it?

Varun Negandhi:

I tried sushi once vegetarian sushi, okay, and I'm a vegetarian. I liked it, but I don't think I'm. I've not gone back since to eat it, so I guess that gives you the answer.

Gurasis Singh:

If you could swap lives with somebody for a day, who would it be?

Varun Negandhi:

Sachin Dandukar. I would love to see how it feels to be Sachin Dandukar. I mean, the only thing I know about him is to interviews and books. It would be cool to to see life from his vantage point.

Gurasis Singh:

If you could write a book for your life story so far, what would you call it?

Varun Negandhi:

Surface area of luck.

Gurasis Singh:

Very interesting. Okay, do you think of writing a book though?

Varun Negandhi:

No, not yet I, but you brought up that question and and I was also impressed by the answer, so maybe I need to look into that. Yeah, because luck has been a big part, from blind luck to the different types of luck that I've shared.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay, If you could be a contestant on a reality TV show, which one would it be?

Varun Negandhi:

So you think you can dance or dance India, something like that. That would be very cool. So all those dance reality shows, oh yeah, it would be awesome. I wouldn't go far. I wouldn't go far because the dancers are insane man, but it would be cool to be a participant.

Gurasis Singh:

If you could create any law that everybody has to follow, what would it be?

Varun Negandhi:

Everybody has to invest. Everybody has to invest 2% of their income on personal development.

Gurasis Singh:

So, lastly, describe Canada in one word or a sentence.

Varun Negandhi:

Home in diversity.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay, and the same question for the US. How would you describe US?

Varun Negandhi:

Self growth.

Gurasis Singh:

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

Varun Negandhi:

Do more of what you are doing with more intensity.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay, how would you describe your experience of being on the podcast?

Varun Negandhi:

Amazing, enlightening is what I'll say and I'll share. Why We've decided on a one hour conversation but have gone in a long conversation and I shared this during like a big video is that I have talked about topics that I have not articulated in either past podcast episodes or with my friends or with my family. So it has been enlightening to even learn more about myself through your questioning. So really, thank you for that. Grateful for that. Questions about my family, questions about you know what kind of book I would write, or you know from there to here. I think it's been an enlightening conversation for myself. Sometimes you need to say things out loud to kind of internalize things.

Gurasis Singh:

Okay, I love that. Thank you. Thank you for being on the podcast and thank you for being so open and sharing everything about your life. So thank you, and thank you for adding value to my listeners. Thank you, Varun.

Varun Negandhi:

Appreciate that. I hope they love it and if they have any other question, feel free to reach out. Thank you, Gurasis, appreciate it.

Gurasis Singh:

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 your heart, but also ask. On Instagram, the handle @MyThickAccent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent. com. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Collaboration in the Immigrant Experience
Struggles, Dreams, and Personal Growth
Parenting, Freedom, and Moving to US
US Studying and Living Experience
Discovering Entrepreneurship and Starting BeyondGrad
Moving to Canada from US and Benefits
Importance of Articulating Passions and Overcoming
Getting to Know Varun
Advices & Experiences