Continuing with our LA Tribune E-Commerce Series, we bring you exclusive interviews of leaders making an impact. We had the pleasure of interviewing Nilly Naseer-Farooqui, an Entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, Computer Scientist, and a Corporate Trainer. Mentored by the renowned author, Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), she is a Certified Canfield Trainer in teaching his success principles nationwide. Nilly has been featured on numerous podcasts, modeled for high end modest fashion companies, and starred in an international commercial airing in the regions of Middle East, Australia, Canada, and USA. She is also an ambassador and prevention education speaker for Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and restoring the lives of human trafficking victims.
So Nilly, you have quite an impressive resume. How do you do it all?
Thank you so much. Honestly, I don’t realize the number of activities I’m involved in until someone points it out to me, or I hear it being read so thank you for that. I’d say I’m someone who rarely sits still. I constantly have ideas forming in the back of my mind and visions to implement. I go wherever my passion takes me. Having said that, I felt earlier in life I would almost get too caught up and have all these unfinished projects across the board instead of few impactful ventures that have taken off. In order to make that change, I really had to strengthen my time management skills and create core action plans. I created a schedule of what I want to do in life, how, and by when. There was once a time when every one of my minute was accounted for. Obviously life won’t follow your exact outline, but I try to get as close as I can.
How would you say your goals have changed since you’ve made that shift to impactful ventures?
I wouldn’t say my goals have changed, but the way I define my goals and go after them definitely have. I’m a huge believer of Law of Attraction (LOA), and I’ve heard both sides on why someone may or may not believe in it so let me clear up that part real quick. The Law of Attraction exists whether you believe in it or not, it’s like saying you don’t believe in gravity— it will exist regardless. The notion people have with LOA is that if you think hard enough about something and want it bad enough, it will show up in front of you. That’s a flawed approach because what I just described to you is wishful thinking, not LOA. What LOA is if you want something bad enough, you write it out, focus on it, talk about it, give gratitude as though you already have it, and most importantly— you WORK towards it. There’s a lot more involved here, but my main turning point was going from wishful thinking to implementing the true rules of LOA.
What’s your number one time management tip you’d like to give others?
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Or place it where you can’t check it every few minutes. It extremely helps in finishing tasks or reaching deadlines. I think people are bombarded with unnecessary notifications every day that can be a constant source of distraction. As a general rule of thumb, when I install a new app, I turn off notifications for it and will only see it if I were to access that said app; this goes for all my social media apps specifically and any chat apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, etc. Airplane mode is also a great tool. I used to use it 8-5 but I was getting a lot of complaints from my family not being able to reach me during business hours, so I went a bit easier with it.
Would you describe yourself as a big picture person or someone more detail-oriented?
Hm, that’s a tough one. I was a heavily detail-oriented person but over time, I had to learn to be both in undertaking my various projects and playing all these different roles. I’d say I’m a healthy balance of both now, but when it comes to planning events or vacations, I become my meticulous detail-oriented self again.
You’re a computer scientist, which is a predominately male field. What drove your decision?
Well, I never thought of it that way. I’ve grown up with the belief that all career options were open to me regardless of my gender and that it shouldn’t stop me. I’ve always been engrossed in a computer since the dial-up internet days. When Myspace was fairly new then, I was coding innovative flashy Myspace background templates and offering them to friends in return for doing my homework. I now realize I could’ve easily charged a small fee and started my first business then but didn’t think of doing so at the time. It’s so funny to look back on that now; I was eleven or twelve when all this was happening. So I was naturally inclined towards technology, and it sort of faded in and out during high school and came back around senior year when I was applying for colleges. I even did a coding assignment, similar to the Myspace templates using HTML, for a friend who I believe was a junior in college while I was a senior in high school. Albeit, majoring in computer science took me by surprise. It was nowhere near as “fun” as coding those Myspace templates. It was rough. I don’t think it mattered what gender you were; it was hard for all the students involved. Several of the guys in my class switched majors. Every part of me wanted to quit two years in, but I stuck through it. It taught me resilience, and the belief, if I could make it through that, I can make it through anything. Out of all my accomplishments in life, graduating with a Computer Science degree definitely makes the top three.
Being an entrepreneur comes with its own challenges. What were yours?
Implementation and rising above my fears. I think they went hand in hand. Every step of the way before implementing a change, there was a small voice in my head going, “What if it doesn’t work?” And every step of the way, I had to keep reminding it, “Oh, but what if it does?” There is no 100% success formula, which is scary but hopeful because it’s kept me on my toes trying new strategies in my business. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by those who support me and mentors who have helped me in areas I felt stuck. I’m constantly learning. I now know a ridiculous amount of tax rules about states and countries I don’t even live in, but I’d rather be informed than uninformed.
What’s a favorite quote or advice that has kept you motivated as an entrepreneur?
There is no such thing as a stupid idea. I don’t know where I had seen this years back, but it said, “If anyone tells you your dream are silly, remember there is a millionaire walking around who invented these.” It was a picture of pool noodles. I think that quote is even more relevant now because there are new unconventional product/services being created and offered every day in the most unique way. There is no “normal” anymore, and as a creative, that is music to my ears.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Focus on what really matters, and dare to dream differently. What works for others may not necessarily work for you. I think growing up you can subconsciously get put into a mold by either your peers, family, or the media. You start to think more about what others think of you and what others want from you. As a result, you start doing things to make others happy instead of yourself; you follow a template instead of creating your own. Don’t do that. The version of you people create in their minds is NOT your responsibility. Be true to yourself— be different.
Any final words to our audience? Where can they find you?
You are who you surround yourself with. Energy is contagious! I cannot express this enough. Sometimes you have to realize watering a rock doesn’t make it soft. By that I mean, don’t waste your time/energy. Find people that match your energy and stay away from those who don’t. It changed my life for the better. As for where you can find me, I’m on Instagram @wordsbehindasmile. Or, you can visit www.nillynf.com.