-First of all, I want to remind you of a long-held expression that a real man must do three things in his life: plant a tree, raise a son, and build a house. It always seemed strange to me why such serious important things as building a house, like a son, which take a lot of time, and next to a tree that can be planted in 15 minutes for $10. Let’s think about that, and I’ll switch the slide.
That’s a strange slide title, and it’s explained as follows. I didn’t get any special education related to business, I don’t know marketing terminology, and I’m very bad at accounting. It’s honestly a big mystery to me what VAT is. Several times the girls tried to explain what VAT is, but for me it is a mystery why it is 18% and sometimes for some reason 20%. So I gave up on it all, decided not to get into it. But recently I have derived some principles that allow me to successfully complete projects. And today I want you to learn about them.
Projects. Let’s first define the concepts. What is a project? Usually, a project is a business, a thing that makes money. For example, it could be a gas station or an oil refinery, it could be a freezer or a bakery. It could be an oil company or a cucumber greenhouse. But I believe a project can be any human endeavor. It can be a goal to climb Mount Elbrus. It could be the desire to learn to play the violin at age 50. It might even be to cure your old prostatitis. It’s all projects. Even our children are our projects.
How are we supposed to choose? There are so many of them around. There are so many interesting ideas around. How do we decide which to take on and which to ignore? There are several ways to do this. But I think the most important, the most correct one is to choose by intuition, by heart.
What does it mean? Let’s define the concept. What is intuition? Imagine a paratrooper who has not opened his emergency parachute. What does his intuition tell him? That’s an unfortunate example, so let’s do another one. Suppose you’re 20 years old and you’ve decided to build your family and get married. There’s a bunch of girls around you, all different kinds. How will you choose? Maybe some will choose who has a rich daddy, some will choose how wide her hips are so she can have as many kids as possible. You can choose by health, you can choose by nationality – whatever.
But that’s all bullshit. You have to choose with your heart. And you know that very well. If you want your family to be happy and successful, you want that girl to make you sick, you want to wake up with her, you want to go to bed with her in your mind. You have to get high at the thought of her. And then your family will be successful, everything will be great.
So that’s exactly what you have to do in the project. If you like something, you do it. If a project doesn’t make you feel like it’s just for the money, you shouldn’t do it. It’s not a project worth spending time on.
Obsession. What I wanted to say here. Now I want to tell you about what the project needs from you in order to be successful, in order to do well with it. You have to burn with this project. Take Joan of Arc, for example. That’s an unfortunate example, too.
I’ll tell you a story. Another example, an example from life. Back in 1997, when everything was just beginning, I finished my training and went to work. I was hired by an ad in a design agency, and there they put me at the computer and told me: Dmitry, this is your workplace, and this is a wonderful program ArchiCAD, and here you can make interior design in 3D. It was a mystery to me what 3D was. And I was introduced to computer graphics that day.
Within a week I was raving about it, it was a revelation to me. And after three months, having learned everything I could about ArchiCAD, I quit my job and decided to start my own business. I decided to become the most important computer graphics guy in the country. But in order to prove to the whole of Chisinau that I was the most important, I had to do something first. And since no one trusted me with anything, I went out on the street – I lived near Alpha at the time – and there were wonderful TVT televisions for sale. I went over and looked at them and I thought they were interesting. So I decided, I’ll make an ad for TVT televisions. I photographed them from all sides, went home and a month later this masterpiece was born which I was very proud of.
-I guess the creator of Titanic wasn’t as proud of his project as I was of this commercial. And I was inspired, obsessed with the idea of conquering Chisinau, put on my gray coat, recorded the reel on a VHS tape and went in search of happiness.
My plan was very simple: I entered a business center and started going into all the offices in a row with a tape, offering my wonderful services. I was very surprised when the first day no one was interested in my work. On the second day, too. On the third… A week went by, I changed neighborhoods. There were different occasions in that neighborhood. Usually it went like this.
– Knock, knock, knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock.
– You go.
– Knock, knock, knock. Five pours. Thank you. Ah, I’ve been here before, sorry.
That’s how I walked. But the interesting thing was that the idea wouldn’t let me go. I felt like there was something wrong with people, and there was nothing wrong with me. The idea was super, I was obsessed, I walked, walked, walked. And about a month later, when I was starting to get my head around the TV center, I stumbled upon this company called Sun TV. When I got there, it turned out that they were now looking for an inexpensive contractor who could do the channel design. Amazingly, they had a tape recorder that could understand these tapes. And this project. When that came together, I got my first order for a commercial for the Sun TV channel. It was the design of the channel.
And that’s how my career as a tridester started. And I think it was because of the obsession, not because it had to be very financially promising, that I got it.
Joy. What a childish word and what a childish background. Let us define another concept. What does a person need from a project? What does he do them for? What is he counting on? Some will say: money. I’ll say: you can be rich, but you can be sick. Others will say: maybe health. You can be healthy and be in prison. Well, then freedom can be given projects. I say: okay, you can be a free man, a rich man, a healthy man, but a lonely man. That is, it is always possible to find an anti-movement for any particular movement.
Therefore, I believe that a person should strive in life to live his life with the maximum number of positive emotions, to live a life of joy. Everything else is unimportant. You can sit in prison sick, poor, alone, and be happy. But that’s the exception.
Now about our Cartoon Project, as an example. It is very successful. Even though the losses are already over 200,000 euros, it is very successful. Why? It brought joy to us as creators. It allowed us to fulfill ourselves. It has brought joy to you. It gave joy to millions of people who watched it on YouTube. How can you consider something like that a loss-making project?
So once again, I want to say that projects have to bring joy. Because that’s what we live for. If you worked on a project for three years and you just made $500,000, but those three years were a hard labor for you, why did you do it?
Natural Selection. Even if you love projects, even if you’re obsessed with them, there are times when they go away, they die.
It’s a normal process. It’s natural selection, just like in nature. There is nothing wrong with that. The fact that projects die is nothing new. Let’s take Google for example. No, that’s not a good example. Let’s take GSM.MD, for example. Does anyone remember this site? Almost nobody knows it now, but it used to be a very popular Moldovan portal. I launched it in 1999 with a huge traffic of 300 people a day. It had news from mobile operators, a flea market and a forum. And I was very terribly proud of it, I was practically such a web oligarch.
Three years later, GSM.MD died, passed away safely. But can we call it an unsuccessful project even if it died? Let’s look at what happened. GSM.MD died, but from its forum came the forum MD, which you probably know, and from the flea market on GSM.MD came “999”. And total traffic went up 10,000 times. So dead projects are like milk teeth. They don’t need to be mourned, the indigenous ones will grow in their place.
Independence. Here is one point I would like to approach in particular. It is a very difficult point to understand, and I want to explain it in more detail. Independence. In a nutshell, I believe that the projects we manage are not dependent on us. They evolve at the speed and pace that is hardwired into their DNA. If it’s supposed to live for five years, it will live for five years. And no matter how much you work on it, no matter how much time, effort, money you spend on it, it will not evolve any faster. It seems paradoxical, but I’ll give you an example.
Let’s take, for example, a child as one version of a project. If you give a 10-year-old child 10,000 euros to go into business, what will he do with it? He will go to the cafeteria and buy himself and his friends lollipops. It’s the same with the project. If you give him investment before he is able to digest it, that money will go down the drain.
Independence has two aspects, positive and negative. The negative aspect is that, for example, in our cartoon, we would have liked to make it faster, I tell you honestly. We planned to make it three years ago. We invested a lot of effort, a lot of time, money, resources, but we are very slow to make this cartoon. Because we’re not ready for it. And the fact that we found a producer 2 years ago, with whom we signed an agreement for 3 million euros, if we had received it then, we would have blown it, and now there would be nothing – no cartoon, no money.
So we have to patiently wait until we are mature enough to digest that money. We are now learning, we are now writing a script, we are now recruiting people, we are now getting ready to absorb this money.
But independence has a silver lining. Because if the project is destined to survive, it will survive no matter what. No matter how hard you try to sink it, it will go forward. In the example of our cartoon, we had some very difficult stages. When we ran out of money, we had advertising agencies come in with annual contracts. We were able to expand the studio and move the studio and move the cartoon forward. When we did three cartoons and didn’t know where to go next, a Russian producer Selyanov found us himself and said we were going to do a full-length film and let’s work on the script. Even literally six months ago, when we started working on the series, and we had no money to buy a render-farm, such a bunch of computers to make quality pictures, and we were scratching our heads, where to get it, a week later the Russian Kaspersky came to us and offered to sponsor the series. With this money we bought a render farm.
So I absolutely believe that every project has its own life cycle, which we can not influence in any way. We can only love it, only be obsessed with it, and it will come out and it will be successful.
It’s a strange picture, not at all by design, and somehow it falls out of the general presentation. But that’s what I wanted to show. Because the ideas I was just telling you about, especially the last one, came to me at the swimming pool. I have been swimming for four years, and in the last year I noticed that my speed has stopped increasing. In one year, it went up 5%. In one year. Even though I’m constantly exercising, I row very hard, I go to the gym, but I can’t swim any faster. That’s when I thought: there’s something wrong with my technique. I started reasoning. When I’m paddling, I’m moving forward. But I also go forward when I’m not paddling, when I’m slipping between strokes. What is the conclusion? Let me try swimming, paddling less and gliding longer.
I tried it. That day I increased my speed by 20% in one day. It was very cool.
I thought this principle could be put into project management as well. And since then, I’ve been guided by this rule of thumb that it’s less about flailing your arms and getting in the way of your own sailing. It’s better to glide alongside the project and watch it evolve.
In closing, I want to go back to our first slide. To that little sprout, that tree that a real person has to plant in their life. So that tree is our projects, small and large, that we’re going to leave behind. And it’s very important to do what you love, to give it to the world, and the world will give you whatever you want. I promise you that. Thank you.
That’s not all. Tonight’s the premiere, gentlemen, Tonight we have a treat for you. We want to show you a prequel to our feature film. It’s a series about our loser death, G. That is, while we’re getting ready for the feature film, we’ve decided to make a little series in which in each episode the Death Loser, our lovable image, will try to take someone’s soul.
I’m not done yet, I still have one last thing to say. I have a lot of different projects, big ones, small ones. But I have the most challenging, the biggest, and my favorite project is my family. Present in the audience is my favorite woman, Vika. I would like to ask her forgiveness for the fact that I give her very little time, not as much as she deserves. I would like to thank her for being with me through all the difficult times, and for helping me with so many projects. And I would also like to say that I really, really love her, as well as our two little projects. Thank you.