Came, saw, fell in love: how an immigrant from Russia moved to the USA and built a successful business
Ruslan Safarov fell in love with the United States on his first visit there. He says that although he went from a criminal investigation officer and plumber to a businessman in Russia, only the States gave him the opportunity to feel truly free. In Silicon Valley, he studies how the largest organizations work and talks about it at business trainings. More details about his move and success were told by the publication Lenta.ru report.
“I first visited the United States in 2015. My family and I decided to go to the States in order to understand this country. My wife had been there before and talked a lot about America. It was she who prompted me to travel, - says Ruslan. - To be honest, I did not even believe that they would give me a visa, because at one time I worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the criminal investigation department, and I thought that this could be a problem. However, everything worked out. "
“The first trip just blew our heads off. We realized: everything that we saw in the films actually exists - it's not just scenery, people really live like that. We immediately visited several states, were in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, flew to Miami, and eventually drove about six thousand kilometers. We saw how people live in different parts of America, and, of course, we liked California the most, ”the Russian recalls.
And when he first saw Steve Jobs's garage, he realized: it's time to dream big.
“Then for the first time I got into the garage of Steve Jobs, my idol, for whom I came to Silicon Valley. And I realized that if a man who worked as a plumber in a housing department and as a simple clerk in a bank made it to Steve Jobs's garage, you can already set yourself more ambitious goals. It may sound strange, but this small achievement gave me confidence in myself. In general, this trip showed me that there is a country in which you can feel free, ”explains Ruslan.
After the first visit, he decided to come to the United States more often.
“I realized that I want to study here, I want to understand these people. And that's how the #maliktrip project was born. Soon he invited his Instagram followers to organize a business tour for them to show everything that I myself saw in the USA. We agreed that companies from Silicon Valley would meet us and tell us everything, - the businessman shares. - I myself wanted to get on such a business tour, but there were no such ones then, so I organized it myself. Friends, acquaintances, subscribers went with us. In New York we visited Keller Williams, the United Nations, in Nevada - Zappos, we went to film studios. "
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Initially, he just often visited the United States, but when the project began to gain momentum, the spouses had to move.
“Until 2018, my family and I visited the United States on short visits, with the development of the project, we settled in Silicon Valley, in the city of Palo Alto. I decided to focus on studying business while inviting people on business tours. After the pandemic, I packed all this experience into the book “Culture of Silicon Valley Organizations,” Ruslan continued.
USA and Russia
When he moved to the United States, he realized that business in Russia and the United States is built in completely different ways.
“I saw that Russia is adopting many business models from the West, but the business that was being built in Russia was not a business, but the elimination of the deficit that arose after the collapse of the USSR. Unfortunately, we have not learned to create something new, - the businessman notes. - I realized that in Russia there is no idea, but there are double standards: there are written and unwritten laws. For example, there is an entrepreneur who studied law and attended business school, and there is someone who did not study business, but he has a rich mom and dad, and they say what he should do. And it is clear that the second will be more successful. This leads to inequality. It seems to me that inequality also kills the desire to create something new in people ”.
As it turned out, getting a visa is not so easy. There is a lot of competition in the USA, but you can always find a way out.
“If you have done a successful business in Russia, you can definitely find some way out. For me, the O1 visa was the right option. I have collected evidence that for the past 10 years I have been doing a successful business in Russia, spoke at various venues, and showed that I am one of the few who speaks about the culture of organizations. The consulate studied this, saw that I was developing as an entrepreneur, so that I could potentially do business in California and pay taxes, ”the immigrant explained.
At first, he says, it was very difficult: there were many functions to be performed, many solutions had to be found - all at the same time.
“It was hard both at the start and during the pandemic. At the start, a lot is not clear: how to open a bank account, how to find housing, how to buy a car, how to open a visa. All these questions had to be answered simultaneously. And not only to answer, but also to draw up a lot of documents. Therefore, it was very difficult, - says Safarov. “However, the most difficult part of the move was doing business remotely. The team had to be left without physical attention. Due to the time difference, we could only communicate for two hours. We had to simultaneously change business processes and work schedule, so as a result, the team was greatly transformed. The knowledge that I gained in Silicon Valley helped me a lot to cope with all this. "
“Everything we can only dream of was created in the USA 30 years ago. For example, a developed infrastructure for travelers, ideal roads, a lot of gas stations. You will not find such a developed domestic tourism as here anywhere in the world, ”the businessman notes.
There are nuances that our immigrants find it difficult to get used to. For example, paying for mowing the lawn, which is essentially considered public utilities.
"But there are also disadvantages. There are very few quality houses in the valley where I live. However, throughout the country, there are mainly one-story structures made of plywood and chipboard. The roof is made simply: boards - that's all. Because the USA is about practicality. The climate here is mild, so almost no one spends a lot of money on building houses, ”he says. - But you have to pay a lot of money for a communal apartment. I pay $ 900 for gas, but the whole house is full of holes, and all the heat that the gas gives is dissipated by these holes. Since I'm renting a house, it's not profitable to remodel everything, so you just accept the rules and live. And so in most of the houses where we lived. "
“When you watch films about how the criminal investigation department works, for example,“ Streets of Broken Lanterns, ”and then you come to work in the authorities in Russia, you understand that everything in the cinema is clearly embellished. But when you watch TV series about medicine in the USA, and then you have to put your wife in the hospital, you understand that the directors did not lie. Here, everyone is really doing their job very cool, ”says Ruslan. - The quality of medicine is largely due to the fact that there are no public hospitals in Silicon Valley, only private ones. The doctor here is the highest paid profession. The demand for their services is huge. But the price of insurance in Silicon Valley and, for example, in Georgia differs by about five times. We turn to doctors for insurance and are sure that if something happens to us, God forbid, happens, they will help us, because we have good insurance. "
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Well, without insurance, of course, it's better not to go to the doctor and even in Silicon Valley.
“If you don't have insurance, then expect problems. Cure something will be cured, but left with a huge debt.
Some of my acquaintances wanted to save money on insurance, but then they wrung their hands. As a result, they flew to Russia with fractures, because they were billed for tens of thousands of dollars. But, as far as I know, we treat COVID-19 free of charge. And if the patient is over 50 years old, then you can come to the doctor, regardless of whether he has a US passport, visa and insurance. That is, if my mother was staying with me, I could send her here to the doctor, ”the businessman explains.
“If we talk about locals, everyone is very sociable and friendly. I traveled across 20 states in a trailer and realized that Americans are the people who came here to jointly create something of value and sell this value, ”Ruslan says. - Each state is almost a separate state, each of them has its own rules and laws. Because of this, there is a very high level of self-organization throughout the country. The states differ from each other in mentality. "
Therefore, when moving, it is very important to understand the "character" of the state in order to find like-minded people there and to settle down.
“We need to clearly understand that each state has its own mission, which is broadcast to citizens. When choosing a place to live, you need to be aware of what kind of people live there. Americans are proud of their country. In this regard, they are very different from people from other countries, and I have been in many places - I have visited about 30 countries. It is the Americans who stand out for their benevolence, openness and practicality in everything, ”the source said.
“Most of them don't care what nationality you are or what your sexual orientation is. However, in fairness, it was such that people came up to me, smiled and made friends, and when they found out that I was Russian, they turned around and left. But in California, most of the time, no one cares who you are. They will not look at your past here. It takes into account what you can bring valuable. This will be appreciated in you, ”the entrepreneur emphasizes.
2020 has changed a lot, it has affected almost all business in the United States. Ruslan and his family decided to spend this time in an unusual way.
“In 2020, we decided on a six-month tour of the states in a trailer. With the onset of the pandemic, everything changed: we realized that the world had collapsed to online communication. All the live meetings that we had planned for several years in advance were canceled, we had to communicate at work only remotely, '' says the businessman. - Emotionally it was very difficult, I wanted to bring some kind of adventure, new emotions into life: for me, my wife, my daughter. We often traveled in our trailer before. When we were returning from a two-week trip from Yellowstone again, I suggested to my wife not to go home, but to continue traveling around the country. "
Without hesitation, the whole family went on a trip to the United States.
“It was summer, my daughter was on vacation, and in the fall it was supposed to study online again. We warned the school, sold the car, solved housing issues, collected all our things and deposited them, and on August 19 we went on a trip, - Ruslan recalls. - Every school day on the trip, my daughter was present at all classes. During this time, she pulled up very cool mathematics, English and other subjects. And I realized that working on a journey is amazingly energizing, because on the way you are constantly in a state of flux. And once again I was convinced that I made the right choice of the state for life. "
Pandemic and protests
The businessman notes that Californians follow the safety rules very strictly, unlike, say, Florida residents. But there are black days in California too.
“When the massive protests against police violence began, it was scary. People were shouting, there were many police officers. It is very sad to watch the broken shop windows. This whole situation made people restless, and when I returned to the valley, I saw that things were not even financial, but emotionally difficult, ”explains Ruslan. - People worry, especially if someone has something to lose. Someone has to sell their business. It's not easy for investors either, because banks have introduced tough policies and started monitoring all financial flows. "
He says he really misses his family and relatives who stayed in Russia. But the current situation forces us not only to find extraordinary solutions, but also to work harder. In the coming years, Ruslan plans to live in the United States and engage in a startup.
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