Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was born in a small city in Russia. I always was a little kid but with a big dreams. I remember when I was 8 I was writing a scripts and making a small acts for our neighbors, I loved to be on stage and to perform even when my mom called me a “shy kid”. After my 13th birthday, I began to work and study at a modeling agency. I took part in beauty contests, concerts, fashion shows and festivals. But on top of that I graduated with a master’s degree in linguistics, philology and journalism. This university ranks among the most respected schools in Russia. The university selected me as one of its top 20 students and I received a gold medal and a presidential scholarship. Also I was a published journalist and worked on Russian TV. At the same time, I worked as a reporter for Business newspaper. I gained experience in the advertising industry as well. After winning the “White Gold” Beauty Pageant crown, I moved to the United States in 2006. My first stop was in NYC. I came to USA with a small bag, I never wanted to stay here because of my successful carrier in Russia. But my sister was begging me to stay with her and to build my carrier in USA. I listened to her and I never regretted. At the age of 23 I got married to a guy that I saw only 3 times in my life and moved to LA from NYC. It was a big excited adventure and a huge risk for both of us, but somehow in a short period of time we became a real soul mates and supporters to each other. Living in LA- in a center of show business I decided to create my own project and successfully organized, produced and directed the first ever Russian beauty and Talent show, called “Miss Russian LA” in March of 2012.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
When I created my project and when the show became popular I was started getting a lot of invitations for the prestigious events like an Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and other awards. It was a big honor for me to attend these events and of course I always was prepared my looks in advance and all the details for my gowns to shine on a red carpet. Once I went to DGA award to support my good friend who was nominated, when we walked in I’ve noticed that a lot of people were looking at me in a weird way. I was really confused; I thought something was wrong with me and my outfit. When we went to the red carpet for the interviews literally almost all the cameras was on me. I felt a real minute of fame, yes it was just a minute, they mixed me up with Iggy Azalea, Australian rapper but found out very quickly that I was not that person that they were expected. It was really funny and memorable moment.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I always knew that the secret to creating your unique project is understanding what your viewers really want to see and what will motivate a potential contestants to come and to be part of the event. It takes a lot of thought, brainstorming to realize what works and how to do the show not like any other, but with something that will make a difference. I think that the best way to stand out from competitors is to always strive to be better than before. I was a contestant by myself and I know what it is so first of all I accommodate the interests of the participants. I never charge the finalists for the participation; I’m working with them after the grand show is over. All of the contestants are very talented and some of them are successfully making a Hollywood carrier after the show, using the connections that they got during the preparation for the show. I feel very proud that this project is helping to raise and to build bigger opportunities.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Well we all have a different views and beliefs on what success is. Some people feel that success is having a happy family or have status while others think about being rich or being famous. As for me, I think that success is a mix of wealth, family, love, purpose and luck. There are a lot of people in our life’s that trying to put us down on our way to success. How not be affected by them? I always say if you love, respect and value yourself, you will not let anyone make you feel the way you don’t want to feel. Ironically but these people are helping to grow because only become better and more successful you can beat them. I feel blessed that I had a good supporters and very powerful people around me who motivated me every second and were great examples for me to follow. I believe in God and I thank God for every day, for everything that happens to me. I have a person who was helping me to achieve all my goals- my amazing mom who always believed in me and pushed me to go further and never stop. I’m who I am only because of her. My parents divorced when I was 11, mom raised me and my sister by herself without any help, but we never felt that we don’t have a father because she did everything she could for us. At that time life wasn’t that easy and she always showed us an example of successful and independent woman that always hits her goals no matter what.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, projects never stop. Right now I’m shooting the third season of my Reality TV Show “Miss Russian LA”. It was a spontaneous idea to record everything that was going on during the working process before the competition. It’s always interesting to watch behind the scene stuff and to know more about each character — each contestant: to know more about their background, interests, hobby and private life. Also, I’m currently recording a song (it will be a big surprise for my followers) with a famous Russian accordionist, singer and songwriter Peter Dranga. I’m always excited to challenge myself and to try something new especially when I’m getting proposals from such a talented people.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe in Karma. I strongly believe that what you do now will come back to you in the future. Life has a funny way of making you deal with what you make others go through. The success that I’ve had in my life come from helping other people reach their goals and I never wait for something in return. I was really happy to be involved in a fundraiser event dedicated for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in NY. The event that I was hosted collected funds for the families who lost their homes and struggled after this terrible accident. I’m happy that my Miss Russian LA team was willing to help and be part of the Children Hospital Fundraiser Event. Our team is supporting low-income families in Ukraine and Russia, we are constantly sending them gifts, clothes and food. There is a Chinese saying that goes “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody”.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I love to read. Books have the ability to suck us in, take us on adventures, teach us and change our lives forever. The first book that made a deep impact on me was “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. I read it when I was 17 years old. This classic tale of love made me want to be a more moral and better person. This book about love and friendship, pride and jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness, about the instable variety of happiness and unhappiness. Reading this book made me want to fly, to change myself and to fell in love.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Be Different- People who change the world and accomplish incredible things are usually are very different from most people. Your interests, good qualities, and personality are what make you. Be proud of who you are, and don’t care if people like it. Don’t concentrate on what people say about your ideas, follow your desires and create your projects the way you feel is right. Don’t let negative people to break you. I remember how one of my employers to whom I did a favor bringing her on board posted some negative things about me and my project on social media, all that she posted was absolutely not true and I was really upset that someone I know did that bad things to me only because I refused to continue working with her. I was nice at the beginning and asked to remove this post, but she ignored, so I had to sue her. It was a big lesson for her; soon after the case was filed I got an apology letter from her and request to be friends again. But I wish someone told me at that time that I just need to ignore and forgive these unhappy people.
Be Fearless — Maybe you didn’t meet a goal on your preferred timeline or you’ve wasted a lot of time being afraid and you’re ashamed of that. Whatever it is, you can’t let fear and guilt paralyze you. Let your desire to achieve your goal overcome any fear you have of failing. Always try something new, don’t be afraid to be different, to be yourself. Don’t be a prisoner of your own fears.
Write down your thoughts and ideas- Fine or awesome ideas can pop up at the strangest times but they tend to not stay for long in your head. So you need to capture them fast or they are gone in the wind. Since I’ve started to write things down more often I have also noticed when reviewing old notes how much my memory can leak. You can’t hold that many thoughts in your head at once. If you want to solve a problem it can be helpful to write down your thoughts, facts and feelings about it. I learned how to do it constantly and I feel bad that I didn’t do it before.
Engage with your audience– Interacting your audience will expand your online presence and brand, and will bring some new business for your organization. I didn’t think about it when I just started, only a few years after I realized how important it is. My main goal is to engage with my visitors via all social media websites. I’m also trying to answer personally for all comments left on my blog and emails sent from my subscribers. Investing some time to engage on a personal level with your audience is extremely important as this relationship is building trust.
Never give up- When I started creating my show, I didn’t have any sponsors who helped me. Yes I was the best in my field and so what? Who knew about it? I had to show what I can do. I had no mentor, no adviser or investor. I was new in LA and no one knew me. I thought that everything went in the wrong direction, and I had to shut it down and don’t do it. But I did not give up! I believed I could and I did. I continued to develop business skills and educate myself. You should not give up, either. Hustle every day and there is no way you will not succeed.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
With Bill Gates, as he is one of the few people alive that has changed global history in a most positive way. He created large charity organizations with his wife and because of him so many people are having careers in the software industry, helping to bring a better for the world. It would be my honor to talk to this person, to get an advises and to gain some skills.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!