How to achieve success in life: 5 valuable lessons from Ukrainians in the USA - ForumDaily
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How to achieve success in life: 5 valuable lessons from Ukrainians in the United States

Photo: Oleg Roginsky.

I left for the States at 21. Emigration brought many challenges and opportunities into my life, which entailed many changes - in personal habits, way of thinking, and approach to decision-making. To create a place for myself in a new environment, I had to reinvent myself and understand the world around me.

And my experience is not unique - culture shock, adaptation and identity crisis, which Texas researcher Svetlana Yarmolenko Reimer talks about in her insightful TEDx talk, are integral elements of emigration that are common to new arrivals. This experience is often a real challenge, but as a result it gives expats a unique perspective from which life's principles are assessed in a slightly different way.

In an attempt to restore my identity and write a script for my new life, I turned to people who went through this and found out about those who were able to reach the top even after dramatic changes in life. Over the years, this process did not come to an end, but only moved into new formats: now I not only communicate with people to draw conclusions for myself, but also share stories of extraordinary people.

Every time I get valuable knowledge from the heroes of my materials and from interviews with colleagues, which help me to look at familiar things in a new way, overestimate my own views and priorities, plan for the future and choose steps to implement my ideas. However, the most important conclusion that I made from the numerous stories I have heard is the following:

There is no ready-made life scenario that could be applied in any circumstances, as there is no single universal recipe for success. However, there are proven ways to achieve the desired, which are repeated in almost every case.

It is about these truths that will be discussed further.

Lesson #1: Challenges are an integral part of life. Overcome barriers and move on

Difficulties do not choose poor or rich, young or experienced, local or expat. Some categories statistically receive more tests, but in general everyone has them, just in different areas and at different stages. What really makes a difference is how we perceive obstacles and how we respond to them. And although everyone has their own definition of success, the ability to overcome difficulties is not the only criterion that most people agree on. It is this quality that distinguishes the winners.

Remarkable examples of success are the strong women Oksana Tanakh and Anna Zayachkivska, who are united not only by the fact that they are talented artists, but also by similar stories of domestic violence. Actually, it was the unbearable situation at home that prompted them to change something in life and give a chance to their dreams.

Anna escaped from the golden cage, from the man who demanded undivided attention and criticized her endeavors, and left for another country. While rebuilding her life, she continues to paint and volunteer. “I believe that every woman should have the right to choose and not be afraid, no matter what happens,” notes Anna.

Oksana Tanakh with the author's picture. Photos from the personal archive

Oksana put an end to the humiliation and humiliation of her ex-husband, who convinced her that she was worth nothing, criticized her work and condemned her intention to get an education. She was able to form as an artist, whose paintings are exhibited at high fashion weeks in New York and international art shows.

The heroes of these stories had to find the strength and motivation to start a new stage in life, but the results were certainly worth the effort.

Lesson # XXUMX: Work on your own projects in parallel with the main work.

We all have dreams, but they do not always lie on the same plane as our main activity. Giving up everything and starting to realize your own plans is not an option if there are no savings or additional sources of income, however, giving up your desires is also not worth it if they can make us happy and benefit others. How to solve this dilemma?

Oksana Tanakh, whom I mentioned earlier, told me about the period of her development as an artist. Since this profession does not provide financial guarantees and regular income, it had to combine artistic activity with traditional work. For years, a woman invested a large amount of time in drawing and creating collections of paintings, working as a design manager in a furniture company.

“I worked during the day, and in the evening, when I finished my household chores, I sat down at the canvas and painted for 5-6 hours, often until three in the morning, and in the morning I went to work again,” Oksana shared.

A similar situation was in the talented masters and successful businesswoman Kristina Balushki from Texas: although she understood that her calling was to make paper flowers, and saw the profitability of this business from the first days, she was in no hurry to leave her job, but instead developed gradually.

“A lot of people give up everything and try to build something, but it takes so much time and energy,” explains Christina. “You can’t be under such stress and organize a business while you have to pay for a house, a child, and the like.” Everything needs to be done gradually. There must be a certain base - education, savings, which will allow you to cover mandatory expenses, feed yourself and your family, and at the same time build a business.”

Photo: Facebook / Paper Floral Artistry

Now, after six years of existence, the company "Balushki" cooperates with the fashion week in New York and famous companies such as Macy's, Lord & Taylor and Vera Bradleyand Christina can fully surrender to her beloved work. She encourages you to invest time and effort in your dreams:

“Go to work, work your 8 hours, come home and continue working for yourself. Even if you don't make money on what you invest in, it's all an investment in the future. Even if you haven’t achieved anything in two or three years, some things take ten years. Even if you don't see results, you must motivate yourself. Everything needs to be looked at in projection. And the most important thing is not to give up, if you work and believe in yourself, then you will be completely successful.”

Lesson # XXUMX: Surround yourself with smart people and build relationships with those from whom you can learn something.

The circle of friends should be a reflection of our values ​​and who we want to be. The people with whom we surround ourselves, to a greater or lesser extent, influence our thoughts and actions, and it will be better for us if this influence serves our purposes. Friendship requires an investment of time, and this is the most valuable thing a person has, so it’s fair that relationships should enrich us with knowledge or spiritually.

Ukrainian Natalia Stelmakh from Lugansk, a teacher by training, came to the United States three years ago and became one of the most successful young real estate commercial realtors in New York. Over the course of her career, she made deals worth 750 000 000 dollars.

In an interview with Voice of America, Natalya shared a method that helped her after moving to the States to get into an area that interested her: a woman found e-mail addresses of commercial real estate leaders in New York on the Internet and wrote them personal letters. The woman told the e-mail that she came from Europe, where there was a good professional experience, and invited her to meet over a cup of coffee so that they could give her advice on how to break into the real estate market.

Photo: video frame

“If I had immediately asked for a job, the chance would have been much smaller, but this way I was able to go for coffee with the very leaders, because it only took them 10-15 minutes,” emphasizes Natalya.

The same method was used by Christina Balushka, a master of paper flowers, when she built her business. “Find an intelligent and successful person and write him an email,” the entrepreneur recommends. “He may answer that he doesn’t have time now, but he will have time later.”

The girl notes the values ​​of such communication: “Every person from my environment gave me some advice on business, so I never say that I built it myself. I talked to people who worked in large corporations. I invited them to my dinner, and we talked about business. ”

Oleg Roginsky, a 30-year-old entrepreneur, a multimillionaire who achieved success on his own, adheres to the same principle - surrounding himself with smart people. Oleg now lives in Silicon Valley and is a mentor for startups, including Ukrainian ones.

According to the entrepreneur, his most beloved girlfriend and friends inspire him most: “She’s (Oleg’s favorite - GA’s note) she is from Canada, of non-Ukrainian origin, studied at McGill University, the best in Canada, then ended up at Stanford. I never work as hard as she does. In addition, I had friends in Boston and MIT who achieved great things. Now my best friend from MIT is one of the top people at Google.”

Oleg Roginsky with friends. Photos from the personal archive

“You need to surround yourself with people of this caliber,” continues Oleg. “And that’s what I love about Silicon Valley: yes, it’s a bubble where no one knows what’s going on outside, but here they’ve managed to gather smart people from the whole planet and make everyone work on very hard problems to motivate others.” Here everyone helps each other with motivation because everyone is working on something interesting.”

Building connections is a very important skill, and in the West it is perceived as a healthy initiative that does not speak of our greed, but rather of a rational approach to life. The only important condition is to give, and not just expect something from others. When we give ourselves to people, they tend to reciprocate.

Lesson # XXUMX: If possible, acquire a higher education, but continue to study independently: in the modern world, the skills outweigh the diplomas

Formal education, unfortunately, does not open all doors, but it is of great value to which people who have managed to achieve something in life draw attention: in the words of Christina Balushka, it serves as a “gymnasium for the brain.”

Co-founder and CEO of a technology company Petcube Yaroslav Azhnyuk, whose edition Financial Times made hundreds of people who make changes in Central and Eastern Europe to the rating, also adheres to this opinion and is confident that formal education has not lost its relevance:

“I often hear from people: “I didn’t need anything I studied at university.” It’s like if a person went to the gym and then says: “I walked down the street for a whole month, I never needed triceps.” That is, education is not needed to specifically, almost immediately rush to use all the integrals that you have studied. Education is needed in order to develop what is in the head - this is such “brainbuilding”.

Yaroslav says that he is grateful to the Ukrainian university for providing fundamental knowledge - in mathematics, physics, philosophy.

Oleg Roginsky, who graduated in the United States, notes that in an American college he was taught to learn and helped to develop such skills as critical thinking and research.

However, not only diplomas matter, and not all the keys to success are hidden in textbooks and university classrooms - knowledge gleaned from the Internet and skills developed in practice give impetus to new achievements like never before.

According to Jaroslav Azhnyuk, some very important things are not studied either in schools or universities. In addition, in areas where rapid progress is occurring every day, it is difficult to be content with formal education:

“When I was still at university, I realized that as far as the latest knowledge about technology is concerned, it can only be obtained through self-education. […] More and more knowledge is available via the Internet. The biggest question is whether people want to learn on their own, to what extent they recognize this need.”

Why is it important to engage in self-education? An entrepreneur explains this:

“One of the big problems of the 21st century, especially given that artificial intelligence is gradually taking over different types of jobs, is that people will need to retrain. Therefore, the question of whether people want to learn and how quickly and efficiently they can learn is becoming increasingly relevant.”

A technology company founded by a Ukrainian is thriving in Washington state, producing stage headphones (monitors) for musicians around the world - from the Ukrainian Boombox of the American Rihanna. The monitors are molded individually for each client. The founder of the company, Vitaly Bilonozhko, does not have a formal engineering education, only at school he took a course in electromechanics - he drew knowledge for developing the idea of ​​​​headphones from the web:

“Google is our best friend. I used various sources to understand how to make a particular part.”

Thus, knowledge is not only available in expensive universities, but there are other channels as well. The main thing is to have a desire to receive them and find ways to apply them.

Lesson # XXUMX: If you want to succeed, keep authentic and develop original ideas.

In a conversation with me, Oleg Roginsky raised an important problem: the attempts of many to do what has already been done and to copy other people's ideas, that is, to follow the path of least resistance and minimal risk. However, in such a scenario, the results will be mediocre. To truly realize your potential and serve society, you need to look inside yourself.


Oleg Roginsky. Photos from the personal archive

“Innovation comes where you do something and where something hurts you,” Oleg emphasizes. - There is no such culture yet - I think it is being created in Ukraine - where in order to launch your company, you need to become an expert in some field - find what does not work there and then solve the problem. Very often I see teams that build something because it's cool, not because it's needed.

For those who want to start a startup, an entrepreneur advises to choose a field of activity and become an expert in it, then find that it does not work and give people a solution to this problem: “To find out what people want, you need to feel this pain. Do not make up a problem, but solve someone's problem. ”

And this is the truth, confirmed by numerous examples.

Company idea Petcube, which is now one of the leaders in the international video camera market for pet owners and has offices in Kiev, San Francisco and Shenzhen, has grown from the fact that one of the co-founders tried to solve their own problem: Alexander Neskin, who only started a dog and was very worried about what makes his darling, when left alone at home, made a device that has become the prototype of the camera, which is now released Petcube.

Vitaly Belonozhko tried to make headphones for his wife, the singer, because it was too expensive to purchase a pair of individual monitors, and in no way planned a business at that stage.

Here is another example, this time of a non-profit project. Alenka Sitsevaya Villarreal, a member of the Ukrainian diaspora in California, was able to create the most innovative and inclusive playground in the United States and gave impetus to an entire global movement. It all started with the fact that Alenka could not find swings in public parks on which her youngest daughter with special needs could swing.

In addition to the development of original ideas, the principle of authenticity remains important.

Nick Rozary, a Ukrainian by birth who lives in Brooklyn, has created a unique product for a highly competitive market - sunglasses that have amazed singer Bria Blessing and American television star. He succeeded due to the fact that the entrepreneur added original elements of Ukrainian culture to consumer goods: the glasses have wooden frames with authentic carved patterns on the arms by folk craftsmen.

It is important to remember that the principle of authenticity and originality does not only apply to entrepreneurship - it applies in all areas: a person is attractive when he remains himself and is aware of his uniqueness. All success stories are united by the fact that their heroes chose their roles themselves, according to their inclinations and talents, and, while playing them, remain natural and relaxed. This is exactly what I wish for you - to understand your strengths and start using them.


The original column is published on the website of the Ukrainian service.VOA".

ForumDaily is not responsible for the content of blogs and may not share the views of the author. If you want to become the author of the column, send your materials to [email protected]

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