Three Questions That Changed the Trajectory of My Life in Vancouver

Hussein Hallak
4 min readAug 12, 2023

Ray Walia, CEO of Launch Ventures, always reminds the founders he mentors “ask for money, get advice, ask for advice, get your money twice.”

Put simply, always find people to learn from.

Another thing he says that I really like is “everybody has something to teach, and everybody has something to learn”

It’s one of the core principles of success. It never happens in a vacuum. Great people stand on the shoulders of giants, who came before them, supported them, and paved the way for them.

Choose a group of people you want to learn from.

Usually, people who are leaders in your community, people who are experts in the business field you are in, and people like you who are just a few steps ahead of you.

You would be surprised how much you can learn by asking a few questions.

When I came to Vancouver in 2014, I was quickly running out of money, and my search for a job was not going well.

I stopped searching and started connecting with people.

I thought to myself, I’m missing something here, there must be something I’m not doing or doing wrong.

But instead of sitting with my own thoughts, I reached out to people.

I remembered that the best learning I got was from people. What do I have to lose, at the end the worst thing that could happen is that I’ve met a few people and started to build a tribe.

So I reached out to those on LinkedIn who are in the startup world, founders, investors, and mentors. I also reached out to marketers, writers, and brand specialists.

These are the people that I knew I could learn from. A conversion with any of them will give me insight into the market here in Vancouver, which I obviously knew very little about since all of my background and experience couldn’t help me get even one interview after 200 job applications!

I reach out to thousands of people. In 3 months I connected with over 6000 people in Vancouver.

That led me to hundreds of coffee meetings.

One of them was Praveen Varshney. Who kindly responded to my LinkedIn invitation with “Your profile looks interesting, let’s get together for lunch or coffee.”

Here I was having a conversation with Praveen over lunch.

I learned that Praveen is a prolific entrepreneur and investor who is part of 9 startups at the time.

I asked him one of my favourite questions “what are you most excited about these days”

He shared that a recent exit was one of the exciting things that just happened. He sold a company for $400 million dollars.

My jaw dropped!

Here I was, looking for a job, running out of money, wondering who will pick up the tab. And right across the table from me is someone who can help me solve these problems.

I could’ve asked him for money, for a job, for anything really. But I didn’t.

I made a very different choice.

I asked Praveen three questions that changed the trajectory of my life in Vancouver.

Whom do you think I should meet in Vancouver?

Where do you think I should network?

And what books do you think I should read?

Praveen not only shared his answers, but a couple of hours after our meeting he sent six emails introducing me to a few people I should meet, sharing where I should network, and suggesting books and articles I can read.

For many people, that’s where the story ends.

Ask your mentor, how many people do they meet who never follow up. Most people don’t.

I knew I should not let this opportunity go.

So I followed up with massive action.

I reached out to the people he introduced me to, met them, and did my best to help in any way.

I went to the venues and events he recommended and networked with the community.

And I read what Praveen has shared.

Then I followed up with him every step of the way.

Not only did I thank Praveen, but I also shared that I met the people and my impressions about the meeting.

I let him know I took action, networked, read, and pointed out what value I got.

I honoured his contribution to me by taking action and reporting back to him.

As a result, Praveen and I are friends, we talk all the time, and he made some of the most impactful recommendations of my work and who I am to the people I know and work with.

I had something to learn, and Praveen had something to teach.

I asked, listened, and took action.

Once you start reaching out to the community around you physically or virtually around the world, you will be amazed how many people are willing and able to contribute to your journey in ways you could never imagine.

--

--