-Good afternoon, everybody. I’m Dmitry Voloshin, I represent Simpals, and today I want to tell you not about how to do business, but how to try to become a happy, successful person in life and enjoy it.
They say that in order to be successful, you have to be a smart, flexible and fairly rational person. I think this is complete nonsense. Success is achieved by stupid, stubborn dreamers. Now I will explain why.
Why dreamers? It seems to me that you need to set yourself unrealistic goals. You need to dream and want to achieve something that somewhere in the depths of your soul think that it is impossible to achieve. You will be told that you are crazy. You just smile at that and move on.
Be stubborn. Never listen to what others tell you. If you start listening to other people’s opinions and you don’t agree with those opinions deep down, even if it seems rational and right to you, it will make you money, it will allow you to grow your business faster, but you don’t agree with what you are being offered, you will lose yourself and you will probably lose your business because when you did it, nobody helped you and it lives by the laws that you put into it.
Be foolish, because only a foolish person learns from his mistakes. A smart person learns from someone else’s. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll gain someone else’s experience, and then you won’t gain anything at all, because a person learns only when he himself steps on a rake.
I’ve had to step on a rake many times, and even on the same rake. I’ve had to do the same thing several times until I realize that’s what I’m fixing, and I won’t do it again. Until I realize that, I’m going to keep stepping in and stepping out and stepping in.
You can’t make a movie by watching movies a thousand times. You have to do it yourself many, many times. Don’t learn from other people’s mistakes. Make mistakes as much and as often as you can. That will teach you how to do business.
In order for you to better understand what I mean, let me tell you a case from my life that confirms that you have to have these strange qualities. I want to share with you stories from three areas other than just business. I want to tell about business, about creativity, about art, and about sports. They are all related to me, so as a small expert, I have something to tell you.
Let’s start with business. You probably know about the 999 site. A long time ago, in the late 90’s I decided to make a business that allowed me to earn money. At that time I didn’t formulate concrete figures – a billion or 100 thousand, I just had a dream to make a business where I could get at least one banuza or one leu from any transaction in Moldova. I bought something, sold something, and I made a little money from it. That was my dream, a very strange dream.
When I talked about it, everyone said it was stupid and impossible to do. Moreover, I myself did not understand how it could be done. I just had this fantasy in my head that it would be great. I started slowly moving in that direction. That’s when the 999 website came up. I faced a lot of pressure from my friends, relatives and colleagues who told me: “Dima, it’s absolutely irrational, it’s stupid to do what you do”.
First of all, the site in the late ’90s was the domain of some amateur hackers. It wasn’t like a business at all. It was more like killing time. Sitting in a one-room apartment in Bujukans, making some websites instead of going to make normal money. It was very strange. It was unclear why there was a need for a bulletin board in Moldova, if there were Makler, if there were other big companies.
I was told, “Drop it. You’re wasting your time,” but I stubbornly kept doing what I was doing. When there was a final argument that “Dima, you can’t do big business without initial investment or a rich daddy,” to which I also nodded silently and kept going.
Thus, I let this advice from my friends and family pass me by and did what I did. The rake I stepped on and the stupid things I did still haunts me to this day, but they made it possible to make exactly the model I dreamed of.
Here is one example of the stupid things I did. It was 2008, when there was a crisis, the “999” was already a more or less well promoted project. Our business at “999” was as advertisers. We were just placing banners and getting advertising money every month.
By then we had one big advertiser who guaranteed us serious annual budgets and increased them year after year. So we forgot about other business models and focused on this one, because it was convenient to sign a one-time contract and then get paid the whole year. That’s great.
But it was 2008, and the advertiser said: “Guys, it’s not that I can’t increase your budget one and a half times next year like I used to increase it all the time. I’m cutting it in half, because there is a crisis and there is no money”. And we have a growing staff, we have programmers, designers, we have office space, loans. We were counting on that money, and he says, “Sorry, no.”
We come back from a meeting. What to do? We have a huge hole in our budget, no other business models. Then we hung around for about a week to do something about it. Thanks to this rake we stepped on, it was that week that we came up with a business model that now allows us to make one euro each from ads. That model now makes more money than advertising. On “999,” you can do away with advertising and make money just by having people periodically recharge their account, one leu at a time. That said, don’t pay attention to the mistakes of others. Make your own mistakes.
As far as creativity goes, we do animation. We’re making a movie called “Gypsy and Death. Probably a lot of people have seen it. I had this dream 7-8 years ago, when we were leaders in the advertising market, we had big turnovers, the biggest clients, we were doing super advertising. But it was just bringing in money.
I hate those people who are in business just for the money. It’s not right. A business shouldn’t be built for the sake of it. Business should be done for the sake of the dream, because business is your way to making your dream come true.
We got tired of the model of just making money and spending it. Then I had a dream to make a cartoon that could surprise not only me, my family, not only our country, but the whole world could watch this cartoon, be amazed and say: “How great that there are such people, such a country, where they make such wonderful films.
Since then our journey into animation began, which has not yet ended. When I came to this dream, they also started telling me that it was impossible, it was stupid. How is it possible to make a cartoon which millions of people all over the world will see, and still it will be interesting. Especially with the crisis outside. What money is it all going to be made on?
But despite the fact that we were dissuaded and said that it was stupid, 20 people who earn money on advertising here and now, it’s already a successful business, and suddenly you give up that money, you roughly speaking, send all the clients and say that we no longer do advertising, we do cartoon. I mean, that’s absurd. That’s nonsense. now we have to pay these people ourselves. They live on our balance sheet. And they used to make great money.
But I couldn’t get people to do both commercials and the cartoon, because both suffered for us. We had to make a choice, and we did such a stupid thing that we left the advertising market and lost clients.
But now we are making a cartoon that was viewed by 2 million people on Youtube (a recent statistic). I recently came from a festival in Annecy. We got whistles, we clapped, it was very nice. We were in Stuttgart.
Now we’re releasing another cartoon about death and a shipwrecked pirate who can’t let go of his chest. I hope that next year we’ll finish working on the script and start looking to make a full-length film that will spin not only in Moldova, but hopefully around the world.
Now about sports. I’ve recently decided to take up sports. I have a new dream. I read on a blog that there is a test of a person’s abilities. The kind of test that looks just unrealistic, but there are people who pass it. The challenge is called Ironman.
It’s a race where a person has to swim 4 km, get out of the water, change clothes, get on a bike, ride a bike 180 km, change clothes, put on sneakers and run a marathon, and do it all non-stop for 20 hours.
I thought it was silly. But when I started reading, I saw that people were really doing it, preparing for this competition, and they were doing well. This happened last June. Now I’m preparing for this competition. But along the way, I met a lot of problems from my friends, family and colleagues. When I told them about it, everyone started to twist their fingers, that you are old, you are already sick, where are you going to go in the sport? That’s the business of the young and strong. You have a business, kids, family. Give it all up. I nodded my head, I said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,” but I will do sports and try my hand at this competition. I stubbornly continued to exercise.
I was told by fitness trainers that it was bad for me, that I couldn’t exercise every day, much less for 1.5-2 hours, that I would kill my joints, that I would tear my heart, that I would go to the hospital, that I would die young, that my heart couldn’t take the strain, that I could drown, break my legs and hurt myself on a bike. I nodded and moved on.
What other problems were there? Imagine, I have a business, a family, kids, a wife, drunken friends and everyone is pulling in their direction. My colleagues have a meeting: “Dima, you have to be at the meeting. My wife says, “Let’s go to the movies. Let’s go to the movies. The children say, “We want to go to the park. Let’s go. My friends say, “Let’s go get a drink. If you get torn up like that, there’s no time left for sports. I had to squeeze in there, there, half an hour, 15 minutes, an hour, and try to cram sports into my routine.
If you really want it, you can do it. Wake up earlier, go to bed later. You can do sports whenever you want. I’ve stepped on rakes in sports countless times. I’m the record holder for stepping on rakes.
First of all, it’s overtraining. In the beginning, you get carried away, you start fucking up. It’s one thing when you do it in business, you sit up late. But when you do it in sports, it leads to very unpleasant consequences.
I’ve had a couple of periods of overtraining where I was actively exercising, felt strong, then found out I couldn’t do it. When a person hasn’t exercised for a long time (his whole life) and then suddenly starts, he has accumulated a resource for 30 years, the strength has accumulated badly, but a month, two, three – and it has dried up.
One day I wake up and feel that I do not want to get out of bed, I hate running, I despise swimming and cycling, that my feet hurt, I have fever and snot. I realize that my sports are over. I spend a week in bed like this, just coming to my senses. Then I start reading, learning. They tell me – you’re overtraining. You can’t let that happen. You have to listen to your body. As soon as there are the first signs – elevated heart rate in the morning, when you get injuries in your legs, when you feel like you’re starting to cough, stop, rest for a day or two and don’t do anything. That’s something I know now. But then I had to go through this experience to understand it.
I did a lot of stupid things. Just now we were in Turkey with my family, I was swimming 4 km in the open sea. No matter how many times I read on the internet that when you swim in open water, make sure you rub Vaseline on the special places in your wetsuit so you don’t chafe. I didn’t do anything, it’s all nonsense. It’s the wrong wear, wrong skin, wrong wetsuit. My spouse won’t let me lie, I swam in – there was a red spot with blood on it, then that I swam in and rubbed myself. Then I walked around like that for a few days, dried in the sun.
Neither the internet, nor the advice of doctors, nor the advice of fitness trainers helps. You have to burn yourself, so that next time you already took a jar of Vaseline, put it on your neck and swim as much as you want.
Nevertheless, despite all my mistakes, despite the problems with my environment, I am moving forward with the ride. In July I’m going to Turkey to swim across the Bosphorus, and on September 1 I will have half of the Ironman – the same distance, only shortened by half. Next year I’m sure I’ll be the Ironman. It will happen in Austria.
Gentlemen, I want to summarize. I think it is very important to develop qualities in a person: stubbornness, dreaminess and stupidity, because that is a characteristic of children. If you want to truly become an adult, keep a child in you. Thank you.
-Thank you, Dimitri. We’ll invite you back next year to share a sense of what it means to be an Iron Man.
-Good. Thank you.