nikolai ukrainian immigrant

Starting from Nothing


A story about an immigrant.


fail convinced Soviet Union
try collapse conceivable
fluent key (2) over and over
obtain deliver found his way
within sponge opportunity
get by absorb take advantage of
author block (3) responsible
luck master take advantage of
audio personal achievement
sales effective personal management
as well narrator dream (2)
bill (3) principle at the same time
radius grow up good enough
own broker break/broke/broken
visa liability background
type handicap wonderful



by Tracy B.


A Ukrainian immigrant by the name of Nikolai Strigorsky told me a story not long ago. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, his dream was to come to the United States.

After several years of trying and failing, over and over, he finally obtained a immigration visa and a plane ticket to the US.

New York City

Nikolai arrived in New York City with everything he owned in a sports bag.

He could not speak a word of English.

Nikolai found his way to the neighborhood in New York called “Little Odessa”, where a large number of Ukrainian immigrants lived.

Delivering Pizza

In his first year in the US, the only job he could get was delivering pizza out of a Ukrainian-owned pizza place to other Ukrainian within a radius of a several blocks.

He earned by enough to pay his bills and get by.

But Nikolai was absolutely convinced that America was a land of opportunity, and that he was completely responsible for taking advantage of those opportunities. No one would do it for him. He had to make his own luck.


He also knew that the key to success in the United States was speaking English fluently.

To master this new language, he began listening to my audio programs on success and achievement, and on sales and personal management. Nikolai listened to those of other success authors and narrators as well. He read our book and articles on personal and business effectiveness.

He learned English and learned basic success principles at the same time.

All these ideas were new to him, and he absorbed them like a sponge. He had never heard them growing up in the Soviet Union.


At the end of his second year in the United States, Nikolai’s English was good enough for him to get a job in sales with a printing company. At the end of his fourth year, he was doing so well selling printing services for others that he decided to start his own company as a printing broker.

In his seventh year, he sold $2 million worth of printing services and made more than $400,000 in personal income. And his success had nothing to do with luck.


There are millions of men and women in the United States who have come from difficult backgrounds, with every conceivable type of handicap and liability, but who have gone on to build wonderful lives for themselves.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



1. It was easy for Nikolai to come to the United States. True or false?

2. Did he landed in New York with two large suitcases?

3. Why did he move to New York (and not Ohio or Missouri)?

4. In Nikolai’s first job, he worked with native-born Americans. Is this right or wrong?

5. For him what was the first key to success in the US?

6. How did Nikolai learn English? Did he only learn English?

7. He had heard and read about personal and business success in the Soviet Union. Is this correct or incorrect?

8. What happened to him in his first, second, third, and fourth years?

9. All successful people come from rich or middle-class backgrounds. Do you agree?
A. I am an immigrant or migrant. Yes or no?

B. Are there many immigrants or migrants in your town or city? If yes, who are they? Where do they come from?

C. What kinds of jobs, professions, or occupations do migrants have?

D. Do people from your city or country emigrate? Where do they emigrate to? Why do they emigrate?

E. The keys to success are . . . . . . . .

F. Do you know any successful immigrants or migrants? What is their story?

G. What will happen in the future?

Share Button

Email this page

Comments are closed.