For those who are not familiar with you, what is your story?
I’m a 25-year-old second generation Tamil-Canadian entrepreneur, real estate agent and financial advisor. I believe a large part of my story comes from my dual identity. Throughout my life, I’ve constantly had to balance Western ideologies with Eastern ideologies. Being a second-generation immigrant, I was constantly bridging the knowledge gap between my parents and myself. So throughout my experiences, I found that certain aspects of financial literacy were taught to my Western colleagues at such a young age. However, it was unrealistic to expect this from our immigrant parents who ultimately came to Canada to better their lives and their children’s lives. Therefore, this understanding, coupled with my academic background in financial economics, and my experience as a financial adviser, started my motivation to educate young adults in the South Asian community to be more financially literate.
I started working at Scotiabank as a financial advisor and enjoyed assisting my clients, especially young families who are planning their future through various investments. This further developed my passion: I wanted to not only help families invest, but to also provide them with insight on how to use these investments and savings to achieve their goals, such as buying their dream home. I found that working at the bank limited my options, so I went independent to help people with their financial goals for free. But this is just the beginning of my story. Ultimately, I want to achieve financial freedom for myself. With that, I want to help my community and the rest of the world with issues such as financial literacy and climate change, which I’m also passionate about. I actually own an e-commerce business called Animal Cuddlers with my best friend that focuses on sustainability and helping the environment. We are working on releasing socks made with sustainable materials. Each pair will feature a certain endangered species, a sloth for example, and a share of the profits will be donated to help that featured animal.
What are some of the biggest things you’ve taken away from your journey so far?
So one of the key takeaways from my journey is the realization that I’ve been provided with amazing opportunities to follow my passion through the support of my dad. Growing up, I realized that one of the main things I took for granted is how much my dad supported my dream to pursue finance and how much knowledge he had. He was really interested in economics and finance, so he provided me with that. At a young age, he inspired me by talking to me about business, even including me in some of the business decisions he made when attempting to start his own restaurant, and encouraged risk-taking instead of suppressing my passions. When I spoke to my dad about taking the risk of leaving a stable job at Scotiabank to study real estate and begin my own journey as an entrepreneur, my dad was the first person to encourage me even though he knew that I could have easily failed at my venture. He taught me important business lessons, from which I still take away to this day.
Another takeaway from my journey was patience, especially as an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of work initially, with barely any reward; you don’t see the reward right away for putting in the work. There are many situations such as with my business, Animal Cuddlers, where there’s a lot of trial and error, and we weren’t making any profit. We had to learn everything from marketing, manufacturing and international shipping. So for a long time, we were struggling to break even, but those difficult days taught me patience. Another lesson I would say I learned is the importance of taking risks, as high risk involves high reward, but also the potential of low reward or even high loss. So I realized that there are many opportunities to fulfill your passion, but without taking that risk of leaving your comfortable job and your comfortable salary, it’s difficult to achieve your goals. Your passion doesn’t deserve only half of your energy and commitment. Therefore, you must always be able to take the risk and invest 110% of your energy. My friends and colleagues thought I was insane for leaving my job. But without that risk, I couldn’t have achieved all that I have now, so I’m happy I took it.
What is your advice to youth who have not yet found their passion?
My advice is to be curious. I think it’s very important to explore new things, whether you’re unsure if you like it or not. It’s important to try different things and seek different opportunities to enhance your mind and grow. So keep trying new things until you reach a point in time where you’re enjoying yourself and your career. It’s not a quick process, but it’s a slow process where you take it in that you’re actually enjoying what you’re doing. It may sound cliché to hear that you reach your passion when work doesn’t feel like work anymore. However, I can attest to the fact that I know I’ve achieved my passion because I thoroughly enjoy every minute of what I’m doing right now. I don’t even realize that I’ve spent hours working on my financial tutorials, podcasts or researching investment opportunities, or even socializing with my clients to strengthen my professional relationships. Don’t lose hope — hope and perseverance are key aspects for achieving your passion.
What was the most important thing that you’ve learned this year?
Honestly, the most important thing I’ve learned is to count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have and recognize the things that you take for granted. It could be a loving family or supportive friends. Nowadays, I’m grateful for simple things, such as going grocery shopping without the fear of catching the virus. This pandemic has changed everything and nothing will be the same, but we still have to focus on the positive aspects and realize that there couldn’t have been a better time to be quarantined at home. We have everything at our fingertips through the internet. We can learn new skills, talk to friends and even conduct business transactions online. Instead of thinking about the things we can’t do anymore, we have to be grateful for the things that we still can do.
If you didn’t have a worry in the world, what would be the first thing that you’d want to do?
If I had absolutely no restrictions or worries in the world, I would be halfway across the world. I absolutely love traveling. I originally planned to spend three months of 2020 in Southeast Asia. At a young age, I’d often pour over world maps and geography books; I would be that weird kid that would ask for maps as a gift for my birthday. I want to explore the world, and I want to experience each country in its natural state with the people that live there. My parents are amazing cooks, so that made me passionate about food as well. It is one of my favourite aspects of traveling: the opportunity to try new cuisines. We would also move a lot when I was younger, so I would often explore new neighbourhoods and find little spots. I also love learning about new cultures and earlier this year, before all this happened, I actually went on a trip to Asia. I took a trip to Sri Lanka where I learned about my parents’ upbringing, but also the history. I’ve traveled to India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. I enjoy sharing these experiences too. I actually do vlogs as well on my real estate page to engage my audience.
In these uncertain times, how do you stay resilient? How are you adapting to this new norm of physical distancing and working from home if that applies to you?
So like I said, it’s trying to be grateful for what I do have and what I have access to; the internet is an amazing tool. I’ve actually been learning a lot of new skills because I’m home now. I’ve been learning trading, video editing, and I’m putting out a lot more content. My parents are home now, so that’s not something I usually had access to before. Now that they’re home too, I’m learning from my dad. Working from home is different. Instead of meeting with clients, I’m using Zoom, making phone calls to connect with clients, using social media. I use online tools so much more to keep the business going. Honestly, I feel like I’ve definitely grown a lot through this quarantine; it’s been a huge difference. I feel like it’s all for the better once this is all over.