I stumbled upon a video on LinkedIn and learned about AsrorJon Shukurov, his business and how he feels about Go for No!  I reached out to him and asked if he would share his story. Thank you, Asrorjon, for sharing your amazing story of courage and overcoming obstacles!

Here is his story unedited:

In the Soviet Union, selling was not just untaught; it was almost seen as taboo. The concept of small business, as we understand it today, simply didn’t exist. Everything was owned by the Communist Party and the “Soviet people,” and nothing was private, not even the small 2 BR beehive apartment we lived in, which, like everything else, was rented from the government—capable of reclaiming it at any time.

In school, we were taught that The Party gave us our “great free lives” and that working for the common good was the most important thing. Education did not cover how to run a business or how to think independently about media and politics, nor did it encourage us to choose our own paths in life.

I was raised by hardworking teachers; my mom taught elementary school, and my dad was a university professor of math and physics. They both worked long hours but filled our home with love and did their best to prepare us for a future they couldn’t imagine—one where their world would collapse overnight, making all their savings, even the cash hidden in a sock drawer, worthless.

As the Soviet Union fell apart and Uzbekistan became independent, we started experiencing Western culture—things like Sony Walkmans, blue jeans, and jazz, which were signs of new freedom. Seduced by Hollywood’s glamorous view of America, I decided to try my luck in this new world, unaware of the tough challenges that lay ahead.

In 2005, I landed at JFK Airport with just $200 and a bag of clothes.

My dream of a new life was quickly tainted by an employer who not only was driven by greed but also imposed conditions that felt akin to modern-day slavery. Thankfully, with help from a cousin in Baltimore, I escaped these oppressive circumstances and started over, now free to choose my own path. However, I soon realized that all my previous knowledge was useless. Having studied English and aiming to become a teacher like my parents, I faced a stark reality: I couldn’t teach English to Americans who spoke it better than I ever could. This is when I learned how to clean toilets and mop floors with a smile on my face.

Over time, things got better, with nicer friends and fairer employers.

In 2009, I started Interworld Cleaning, running everything myself, including sales—a skill I had never learned or been taught. As my business grew, so did the number of rejections. Each ‘no’ hurt my self-esteem and reminded me that I was still an outsider.

In a painful pursuit of turning things around, I discovered “Go For No.” This book was transformational. It taught me that each rejection was not a step back but a step forward, conditioning me to persevere rather than retreat. It taught me to embrace and celebrate ‘no.’ It taught me to place myself in circumstances where I would actually get more ‘nos.’ But that meant I was taking more action.

More action = more rejections = (learn/pivot) = more yesses = success.

Embracing the word ‘no’ reshaped not only my business strategies but also my personal life, allowing me to approach new relationships and opportunities with confidence rather than fear.

Today, I share this approach with every new salesperson at Interworld Cleaning, giving them “Go For No” as a guide. This mindset has not only propelled my company to new heights—including receiving the SBA’s 2023 Maryland Minority Small Business Person of the Year Award—but has also enriched my personal life.

I learned to dream big, take big actions, and increase impact. I authored ‘The Immigrant’s Companion: Making Your American Dream a Reality’, teach SBDC Maryland classes on how to “Start and Scale 7 Figure Cleaning Business”, and share my knowledge on my YouTube channel. Now, alongside my partners, I am tackling a significant challenge in the cleaning industry by launching KLEENUP, a tech company that leverages advanced automation and technology to transform cleaning services. We are committed to solving longstanding inefficiencies and enhancing the industry’s standards. And I am well aware that this is just the beginning.

As a father to two wonderful girls and one little Superman, and a partner to a woman who inspires me every day, I am living proof that embracing ‘no’ can lead to incredible success.

How did an immigrant with $200 and a bag of clothes achieve so much? It was my drive, my refusal to give up, my relentless pursuit of the American dream, and the mentors and strategies I learned along the way, such as those from “Go for No.”

Catch up with AsrorJon Shukurov on YouTube!