Growing up outside Bath in the UK Paris Norriss relocated to Oman in 2009 where was the founder of Mustcompare LLC. He then moved to Dubai a few years later and has been based there ever since.
Paris otherwise known as the Guy in Dubai is the Executive Producer and Presenter of the on-demand TV show seeking out the best experiences Dubai has to offer. From learning to be a F1 driving to racing the world’s fastest powerboat and ziplining between mountains.
Tune in to find out how Paris started his entrepreneurial journey as well as his favorite adventures and experiences in Dubai and what projects has coming up.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Were you looking at all the development happening in Dubai and thought this is the place that you want to be?
Paris Norriss: When I got here with my mate from university in 2008, the Burj Khalifa was two thirds built. There was rumors of them building one twice the height and one that was going to be a kilometer squared. Apparently, 38% of the world’s cranes were all in Dubai. So you could almost say that more than a third of the world’s construction was taking place in one city.
It was a place where what Sheikh Mohammed was saying was inspiring. Everyone was looking at all these amazing things going on, and he says, we haven’t even reached 5% of my vision. It really got people believing that things can happen here. I think I was drawn to Dubai, for that reason, the kind of limitless nature.
One of the things that I guess frustrated me about the UK. Especially being a young guy in the UK, who naively believes he can do anything and has a lot of energy. I always felt that there was this kind of a pecking order. You have to work your way up the ladder. You can’t have a meeting with a very top end CEO, if you’re just out of university. You sit your turn, you’re a trainee and there’s an order. People don’t like you skipping steps in the ladder, because they’re finding it difficult, and they don’t like that.
So you come along and say, ‘Look, I’m going to set up a business, I’m going to do this and that. I’m going to make millions, I’m going to be on a TV show where I’m going to be the guy in Dubai.’
If I came up with those kind of wacky ideas, you get shot down in the UK. We’re incredibly critical anyway. People aren’t scared to shoot you down. People really don’t mind just telling you that they think what you’re saying is a load of rubbish.
It’s difficult to really not listen to all that and to just get on with it. I just found that the atmosphere out here was positive and everybody was trying to do what I was trying to do. That, for me, was inspiring and that’s why I came and I’m still here for the same reason to be honest.
Oli: It’s quite a young population as well. Things were moving quickly. People were coming up with these ideas. What happened when you looked at presenting before you produced your own show?
Paris Norriss: When I set up the mentor leadership development company, I found myself getting into a lot of public speaking. I ended up doing a lot of trainings and things like that. The way I looked at it I was 27 at the time and it was nerve wracking, going up in front of 300 people and giving a talk.
I thought, well, go and make your mistakes now because you better have it sorted by the time you’re someone important. If you’re someone important and you can’t string a sentence together in front of 300 people and you can’t inspire and move people, then you’ve lost it. So I was like, You know what, I’m still young, get out there, get my ass kicked. I just took on every speaking event I could, I was everywhere. It was easier to do that in Dubai than I imagined it would be in the UK.
There are a lot of events. I’m an English speaking mother tongue. So it gave me a little bit of advantage here. I didn’t realize that that was going to take me somewhere. But I got a lot of practice at that.
That business ended in a messy way, unfortunately. It ended with a fallout between partners, and even ended up getting legal threats and stuff like this. It ended in a way that you don’t want business to end that way, when you start off with all the good intentions. It was disappointing.
That formed a lot of my thought process after that. I started to collect my thoughts. I thought if I’m gonna put all of my time and effort into setting up another business. I was working night and day not seeing my friends not spending my weekends, I was working all the time I could.
If I was going to be sacrificing all that, even I remember sacrificing Christmas Day, and I didn’t see my family because I wanted to get this business off the ground. I thought if I’m gonna sacrifice that and I’m doing it for some pot of gold at the end, which you may or may not get, and maybe if you get it, you won’t get it until much, much later. You have to enjoy the journey to get there. It can’t be that you’re sacrificing in order to get there.
You need to come up with something where the journey to get there is giving you your ideal life.
I thought, okay, that’s an interesting thought, What is my ideal life. We’re conditioned, especially when you do things like University and you go through the same kind of funnel that everybody goes to. You go to a good school, you go to university, then, generally speaking, you go into investment banking, or consulting. You’re all funneled through the same process, we all started to think that what we want in life is to be the CEO of a business. But when we think about it a bit deeper, we realize, well, is that really what I want?
When I was eight years old, is that what I wanted, I was like, Well, not really, I wanted to be an astronaut and I wanted to climb Mount Everest. I wanted to travel and I wanted to have amazing fun with my friends. I want to spend every Christmas with my family, you know, and be there when I needed to be there.
So I started to paint this picture in my head about what an ideal life is, if I didn’t have to work for money. And it certainly included a lot of adventures, a lot of travel and taking on challenges that really would make me feel alive.
I thought, Okay, well, how do I make money out of that? I’d understood a little bit about productions and things like this, I thought, well, the great thing about this is if I can convince a channel that this is entertaining content, that I’m going to be the guy that goes and does all these wacky things, all the limitless things that happen in Dubai like people racing jetpacks past A380s, people BASE jumping off of the Burj Khalifa all these crazy things that have happened here. What if I was the guy, right, who goes and tries it and takes it on.
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