National Stuttering Association

Purple and turquoise starburst with the letters NSA in the middle.

It’s been said that life starts at the lowest point. If that’s true, then the moment arrived for Shaun Ghulam at the Scarborough Town Center Mall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His journey to the top of the business community started with cleaning jobs. To see how he got to where he is, we must begin where he was.

Ghulam, 35, is a person who stutters, but never really thought much about it growing up. As a native of Scarborough, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto), he knew there was a family history of stuttering. “My brother and some of my cousins do it as well as my uncle, who is a doctor in Princeton, N.J.” Yet Ghulam didn’t pay his speech any attention. “At that time, I did not realize it would affect my entire life. I thought it would be there and go away.”

Ghulam’s parents tried to lessen their son’s feelings with some suggestions about how to speak. “I never had any therapy, so their reaction was, ‘it’s okay’ and ‘talk slow’. The standard stuff.”

His stutter, though, never stopped him from achieving athletic excellence in high school. “I was a quiet one, and I wasn’t the one who spoke up in class,” he remarked. “I used basketball to overcome what my speech issues were, and I was actually a good player from sixth grade onward to age 18. I used hoops so people focused on that.”

Inevitably, though, the struggles with stuttering began to rear their head in the real world.

“My first job was unloading barbecue trucks for a party rental company so it wasn’t like I was communicating,” he said. “From ages 16 to 22, I was working at cleaning jobs, shopping malls, even pushing around a cart around one of the busiest malls in Ontario. I was there for two years until. At 22, I hit my breaking point. I had a bad case of acne, so that lowered my self-esteem even more to the point of contemplating suicide.”

When you add in the fact that he was losing his hair at age 20, it just seemed like he was living a life where dark gray skies permeated his being.

Then, Shaun Ghulam decided to make his own destiny.

“Once I was 22, I had that urge where I am tired of this, I got accepted into an IT program and went there for three months and they kicked me out because I failed six out of the eight classes,” he explained. “I took off a term and then reapplied to school. The college I went to was Seneca College, and the course I took was Digital Media Arts. I had a difficult time getting in but had to fight my way back in. The school forced me to take general arts and science classes to show I was worthy of their time, but when I was in my program, I met my wife (Janet, who is a special education and ESL teacher, and the mother of their son, Prince, who turns one on Oct. 29).”

Ghulam continued, “I had the urgency that I had to get my life in order, and in college, I founded my business. DMINDED is a creative agency, where we specialize in web design, branding, and design. We help businesses fulfill their dreams”.

His journey has taken him on a challenging ride, but one that has been rewarding.

Ghulam is quickly being recognized as a force in the business community, having been the recipient of the Small & Mighty 2018 Young Professional Of the Year in the Greater Toronto Area. He is using his voice to work with young business owners and motivate them to do better in their lives through presentations and interviews.

Shaun’s advice for the stuttering community can be summed up in three simple words: “Never give up.”

“Even with what I am doing now, I am looking to do more speaking, more schools and more businesses,” he stated. “It’s not just about stuttering, but overcoming fear and self-doubt. You can overcome it to fulfill your dreams. I did not even think I would become a business owner because everyone would make fun of me, and I heard every joke in the book but those who did are now my friends. I do not hold a grudge against anyone, God made me this way for a reason.”


by: Steven Kaufman
photo credit: Brampton Guardian