I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and emigrated with my family to the United States when I was 5 years old. Growing up in Milwaukee (WI) provided me with an abiding love for snow and crisp winter mornings. If ever you have an opportunity to visit Milwaukee during the winter, take time to walk or drive along the beautiful Lake Drive in Downtown amidst a snowfall - it is awe inspiring; although you may want to have a thermos of hot cocoa and plenty of marshmallows to keep you cosy.
Whilst I was not a particularly engaged student as a young child or young adult, the whole educational system proved irrational and cumbersome, I found my voice in photography and writing. After successfully leading my HS newspaper as Editor-in-Chief and selling my photography throughout my late teens (and even winning some awards- go figure) I worked with Tom Bamberger, a fine art photographer and journalist. Upon graduating HS, I attended the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin with a triple major in Comparative Literature, Comparative Religion and History. You know, to stave off boredom. I also studied English Literature abroad at the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) where I met my husband. That's a story for another time!
It's very difficult not to fall in love with a British man, especially one as handsome and kind as my husband. And so, we embarked on a long distance relationship for two years as I completed my undergraduate studies. In the meantime, he too fell in love with Milwaukee during his frequent visits. Once I completed my studies, and graduated in the top ten percent of my class no less (holla), I decided to move to the UK; to the deep dismay and confusion of my family.
I was accepted to the University of Cambridge for my postgraduate studies in Education, with a focus in Ethics & Philosophy, and received my teaching degree. We moved to Bristol and within four years, I was Head of Ethics & Philosophy at a local school. After five years of teaching, and that is also a story for another time, I began looking for a different type of challenge; one that did not leave me physically and emotionally bereft with undertones of disillusioned dismay.
Over the past few years, my husband and I have been fortunate to meet successful entrepreneurs around the world who inspired us to think differently about our life; more so than any philosopher or ethicist that I dutifully studied at University! They challenged us to think holistically about our life vision, from our marriage to our finances to how we were building our life- they taught us to to dream in a way that was wildly ambitious yet rested firmly upon a foundation of practicality, discipline, action and a growth mindset. With love and support, they stripped bare our assumptions and beliefs in order for us to interrogate their relevance to our values. These entrepreneurs do not think or behave like most people, which is why their life is not like most- and we found that most fascinating!
Inspired and woke, we've spent the past few years identifying how we could mold our pursuits to fit a larger than life vision. For me, this has led to a strange and wonderful journey of self-discovery, frustration, triumph and utter confusion. It has led me to meet some of the most interesting people from across the globe. And it has forced me to face some harsh truths and failures, as all worthwhile journeys do, alongside humility (still learning that lesson).
Recently, my husband (lawyer by day and budding entrepreneur by night) has encouraged me to learn coding. This gem of a story you can read here; perhaps even some of you who are newbie coders may relate to my experience! Receiving guidance and support from the wonderful freeCodeCamp community and the legion of #100DaysOfCode superstars is thrilling. In any case, I am continuing to develop skills in social media marketing, through our company THE Co., and working with some brilliant start-ups like BE School in Mexico City. Now that I'm learning to code, I'm looking forward to creating a bespke website for THE Co. and adding value to other start-ups, be they from Bristol or any other region of the world!
As the story goes in my family, my very first sentence as a stroppy youngster (as I held my tiny fists on my hips) was a defiant "I'll do what I want, when I want", said in Russian. My long suffering family knew at that point they had a hell of a challenge on their hands.
For the next three decades, I desperately attempted to make that statement a fact of life. I mean, I've failed miserably thus far, but the sentiment and overwhelming desire remains. Of course, since then, the idea has matured and is cocooned in a life vision characterised by having the abundance of time and resources to live holistically without negotiation: to spend unlimited time with family and friends around the globe with ease, to travel with my husband (and future children) to wherever our fancy takes us, to give freely of ourselves and our resources in charitable foundations as philanthropists. Most importantly, to live a life adding value and love to those around us.
Understandably, to live such a blessed life takes determination and fostering a mentality (as well as skills) that lends itself to being unfettered. And so, we have identified our 2-5 year plan and have surrounded ourselves with inspiring mentors and entrepreneurs who have a vested interest in our success (this is crucial). Although still a seedling, THE Co. has an ambitious vision that I will develop over the course of the next few years: from expanding the already existing Media branch to building (coding) our own online platform, I'm committed to make our vision a reality. I'm fortunate to have humbly learned from failed ventures, I even have a shiny bruised ego and slightly tattered pride to prove it! And that is all part of the process, which I wouldn't trade for the comfort of complacency.
I'm also pleased to note my re-discovery of writing. It's been a rather strange journey to meet this old friend, but here is the story for your amusement. I've committed to write at least 30 minutes per day (not necessarily publishing anything) for a #100DaysOfX challenge. I'd like the future to hold a space for my writing, although I haven't yet entirely definted what that may look like. I'm happy for the writing to take the lead and I'll follow it down whichever path(s) it carves. Have a look below at some of my most recent work!
Below is a list of books that continually help to facilitate a growth mindset
Below is a list of my favourite podcasts to get my mindset in the right place