As I did not go to the USA and became President in Russia

    In this longrid, I tell you how to grow from the unemployed to the president. Have patience and a sense of humor!

    How I became unemployed

    In 2007, my workdays were held in a large “hen house” in the center of Moscow. In the role of chickens were managers, incubating their projects, on the allotted area of ​​one and a half square meters in the territory of the common open-space. The office had a very proud name, something in the style of Super Mega World Media Ventures. Oh, that's exactly what she wore, but without Super Mega.

    The business idea of ​​a global venture was to “pick up by announcement” as many managers as possible with all sorts of ideas and let them start their projects who are ready to go. Perhaps a couple of them will become new facebooks - the theory of large numbers in action.

    I was one of these managers. The working title of my project LIPA was decoded “Lovers and Professionals Abaldet”. As planned in this community, you could get advice on a question of interest to you in your area of ​​interest (from a professional or amateur). The last word in the name of the project I added abbreviations for beauty, but it seems that its presence was the decisive factor in assessing the prospects of my project.

    The selection of projects took place immediately at the first interview. The selection committee consisted of one person in the person of the company's founder named Tom Taylor. More precisely, it was I who first decided that his name was that, when he reached out his hand when meeting him and introduced himself: Tom Taylor. I shook my hand and said that my name is Alexander. Later it turned out that in fact his name was the same as me, and he read the inscription Tom Tailor on my shirt. Ah, I did not appreciate such a cool joke!

    More with Alexander, I have not seen. He did not have time for regular communication with the manager of each project, and this is understandable - there is not enough time for 50 people. Most of the managers were allowed to float freely, independently selecting contractors for outsourcing to perform all tasks, from design to programming. After a couple of months of such cooking in my own juice, doubts began to creep in on the right path with my product. I wanted to consult with someone. Of course, we discussed the work “between us managers”, shared something during lunch breaks and “in the smoking room”, but it was more like emotional outpourings, complaints about a hard life and “as I understand you, I also have”. No one wants to dive deep into someone else's project, when he has his own,

    With my whining, I turned to a higher manager, but at that time he was not at all up to me. For days on end, Anatoly disappeared at meetings with Alexander, sometimes returning to his office only at night. Alexander slept 5-6 hours a day, the rest of the time he spent at work. He didn’t approve of the concept of separation of work and personal time, the thoughts of senior managers that work can end every day at some fixed time was perceived as an insult.

    I heard how Anatoly whimed to his wife on the phone that today she could feed the theater tickets again to the cat - the chef called “on the carpet”. Every working morning I saw Tolya with red eyes from a lack of sleep and an unchanged can of energy in his hand. Once he brought a block of six redbulls and I thought - well, I’m not sure what they were, these meetings, I’m still cooking in my own juice.

    Fig. Approximate organizational structure of the company.

    So I had enough for another couple of months, during which the design was completed and development began. The further the development proceeded, the more I was overcome by the thought that we were doing no useless nonsense to anyone and the more it was done, the harder it was to fix something. Finally, I told myself that I could not continue to do so further, but I didn’t want to correct anything. There was a feeling that I was “burned out” and not just lost interest in the project - he put me on the table. I went to Tolya and said that I want to talk about dismissal. He looked at me with a completely muddy look and said that soon they would communicate with everyone with us, wait for our turn.

    The very next day, one by one, they began to call us to the office, where, in addition to Euchar, there were two other people whom I had never seen before. They looked very serious and somehow tense. The conversation began with the fact that in the United States some kind of economic turbulence, the market fell. I could not compare it with our situation and thought that if they try to blame it all on me in order to get rid of it, then it will be the most ridiculous reason for dismissal. People, where is America and where am I? My freelancers are all from Ukraine!
    Then they explained to me that venture money from our company is from American funds. In view of the crisis, these funds froze the next tranche under the contract, so they offer me to agree on a good dismissal for the present day with compensation in the amount of two monthly salaries. Apparently, a two-person support group was present for fights on the spot with those who would not agree to two salaries and would demand compliance with the Labor Code of the Russian Federation. For me, these two salaries were a gift from heaven, in my mind I wrote “of my own will” a week ago, so I signed everything quickly and left the workplace in Voznesensky Lane forever, taking all personal things from the desktop - a mug and a paper clip.

    So I turned into an unemployed for an indefinite period. Not that I did not find a new job - I was not looking. Not that I did nothing at all - sometimes I received various freelance tasks from friends and acquaintances. And so I spent almost two years ...

    How I became a manager

    It turned out to be idle for a long time is also unbearable. This is worse than any vacation, because it has no end date. I began to carefully study vacancies, without haste, so that it did not work out like last time. I made a list of questions I asked on the phone before agreeing to drag somewhere for an interview.

    Two times I chose to go. Two times I came. And both times I did not pass for the same reason - lack of knowledge of the English language. And more specifically, the lack of spoken English. I thought that this could not be a coincidence. They say the projectile does not fall twice into one funnel (by the way, did anyone check it?).
    I interpreted these two failing interviews as what life said to me: speak English or die! I thought it was too early to die, I would start talking better and started to act. Here I will greatly reduce the details of how these actions led to the appearance of the site Puzzle English - this is a long story, I will write it separately, if you like this one.

    In general, having stopped looking for work for several months, I plunged into creating a listening simulator for a single user - for myself. When the heat of deep development subsided and it was possible to sit quietly and train, I again remembered the vacancies, for some reason I went to “Work in Yandex” and answered the questions of the search results manager questionnaire.
    For some reason, they called me for an interview, although my experience was not very relevant. At the interview, this fact became clear and I was offered to try for another position - mobile Yandex card manager. I had absolutely zero experience in mobile, but I had experience in creating GIS services: five years ago in the RBC company we created an innovative interactive map of Moscow. The innovation of the whole venture was that the client did not receive raster cartography traditional for that time, and all the data remained vector objects with hierarchical connections, starting from the city districts, ending with the display of entrances to houses and organizations. And discussions, likes and shares were attached to each object. Now these ideas are very cool embodied in mobile applications,

    I’m going to write “Literally the next day” again, but it was so. The very next day after I got into Yandex, the secretary from the Altair venture fund wrote to me and called the manager to talk about Puzzle English. The site’s attendance was minimal, but somehow they noticed it. It was about investing in development and in the team. Then the project did not have a team, only I alone. And I did not have any plans for the development of the product - I was planning to work in Yandex. That's how I answered - if you give me money right now, I won't know how and what to spend it on. At that time I didn’t have that exhausting investment search experience that I described in my past longride on Habré. I did not appreciate the opportunity that had fallen from heaven, otherwise I would have thought twice. I thought and would still go to work in Yandex! )

    How I did not go to the USA

    In those days, I shared the position popular among IT specialists that living and working abroad is a success, and in Russia there are only losers who have failed to go to a developed country.
    I didn’t exclude such an option for myself that even if not right now, but in a few years I will find work in Europe or the USA, and there, you see, I’ll completely stay happily living and flourishing. In the meantime, this did not happen, in order to prepare, I actively coached my English and in the evenings I read on the Internet the stories of those who moved to permanent residence, studied information about visas and green cards.
    But then somehow everything changed. Then - this is after I traveled to different countries, visiting those who have already moved. These were my former colleagues, friends, acquaintances of friends.

    I'm at a match in American football. Los Angeles, USA.

    I stayed with them to stay, listened to stories about how they settled down, watched their lives. Suddenly, it revealed to me that none of them had improved the level of happiness and satisfaction from life. No one became happier! And if so, why all this? For me personally, such a decisive action as a change of the country of residence is justified only in this scenario: it’s bad here — it’s good there. This should definitely increase the level of happiness!

    It happens that something so obvious opens up in life that you are perplexed about how you could not see it before. Human dissatisfaction lives in your head, your “cockroaches” move with you. Who habitually grumbled at something here - just as well with the same facial expression grumbled at something else there.

    Typical grunts:
    • Everything is so expensive here. Rent, medicine, education, insurance, taxes - everything flies “in a pretty penny”, so many expenses that in Russia were somehow out of sight, did not put pressure like here.
    • The people here are weird. For example, neighbors - mY & @ ki! He turned on the music in the evening, and instead of stopping by to talk, they called the police. Or turned right from the lane where it was impossible - the other driver saw and immediately “sounded”. Well, what is his business?
    • You can't arrange a personal life here: girls are so unfeeling, spoiled by the idea of ​​gender equality, they are offended even when you let them go forward, holding the door. Oh, what beautiful girls in Russia!
    • The laws here are idiotic, they invented the same morons like ours, only here they are required to be followed.

    Internet is bad, nothing works on weekends and so on, the list goes on. No, I do not say that the conditions of life "there" are the same as "here." And I will not try to assert that our country, or even just Moscow, is the best place in the world to live. No, but all these concomitant living conditions are very secondary. Everywhere there are pros and cons. For example, in Auchan near my house, the most delicious ciabata in the world is Rustik. I was in Italy several times, I was looking for one in all supermarkets - I could not find it. All the local chiabats are worse than Rustic and now it creates an insurmountable obstacle for me at the thought of moving somewhere for permanent residence.

    For me, the main problem because of which I was thinking about moving from the Russian Federation was not at all the standard of living and the number of products in stores. I thought I was suffering because of bad Moscow weather. Especially did not like our sad winter with its short day period. Strange, but it has changed. In the weather at our latitude, I really like the bright seasonality. Each of the four seasons is well defined, unique and beautiful in its own way. How could this not be noticed? For me it became more noticeable after a relatively long stay in Thailand, where, it seems, summer is year round. At first you like it, then you get used to it and you don’t notice it, then it tires you. Constant heat stimulates only to lay down and do nothing.

    I don’t even want to go for a run ... So I was left to run in the mornings in Moscow :)

    Four seasons in Moscow. All pictures taken on the way to work.

    How I became king

    I became the king spontaneously, as a result of participation in the study group on the English language. Before finding out that classes in such a group were a waste of time, I needed to work out there. Our company had an excellent employee compensation program for 50% of the training costs. Under such conditions, classes with a teacher in a mini-group of six people twice a week were about two thousand per month - it's a sin not to try.

    I got into the intermediate group. When creating a group asked to choose the headman. In our group, everyone unanimously voted for me, as being the one who had the most organizational activity. The headman’s duties included collecting monthly payments from group members, booking a meeting room, meeting with a teacher before class and sending it to the meeting room, plus a routine for synchronizing educational materials and homework assignments.
    The job was so-so and I decided to somehow brighten up my life in this role and announced that I absolutely do not like the word “elder” - it blows old age and despondency of the Soviet heritage from it. I agree to perform the functions indicated only in the rank of king. And who does not agree - let him be the headman himself. No one was wanted. I was proclaimed king. Everything is official - a king has appeared in the list of study groups among the elders.

    It seems that my subjects took my rank too seriously (or, on the contrary, too frivolously) —the colleagues from my office at first did not know how to react when a man appeared on the threshold with the words “Tsar-Father, if you please accept dues for foreigners.”
    Two students of our group “fell off” after the first lesson. One of them realized that he did not want to spend time on such training - “I would rather spend it on work”. The second had the level incorrectly diagnosed at the interview - he was too cool for our group, the teacher sent him to the group one step higher. He never got to that group, lost somewhere on these steps.
    A month later, when you had to pay for the next one, a third person decided to end this torment with tedious homework.
    In general, a month out of six left three. As my colleague joked, “it was experimentally established: the half-life of a group of English is 1 month”. If you did well in school, then you know that this does not mean that the whole group breaks up in two months. In a month, another half should “fall off”. Something like this happened. Not taking into account the fact that a new person was added, the remaining three people left after a month and a half — the girl went on vacation and did not return, and I very much doubted whether it would be worth continuing this senseless and merciless action.

    For two and a half months, it turned out to be enough for me to understand exactly - everything that you get from classes with a teacher can be obtained without it yourself, the main thing is to have motivation. When there is no motivation, no teacher will help, such people do nothing at home, even homework, come to class and sit and stupid, the result is close to zero. In general, then I began to study independently.

    That was the sunset of my kingdom.

    How I became the chairman of the conversation club

    With the help of a simulator that I made myself, in a few months I had mastered the listening comprehension skillfully and then I had to add the development of speaking skills.

    If you wanna speak - speak!
    Riddle: What will someone who learns a language do with a teacher after hearing this advice?
    Solution: It will analyze what type of conditional sentence it is.
    Surprisingly, this obvious fact is for some reason not obvious to many: What you want to improve is what you have to practice. Do not peg the rules, do not listen to audio and watch movies, but try to express yourself in words as much as possible. Being engaged only with a teacher is impossible to get this practice in the right amount. Even if in lessons you speak half of all the time (which is never the case!), Then two one-hour lessons per week will give you 4 hours per month. It is ridiculously small. Breaks between classes are huge, but for tangible progress you need to talk every day, many times during the day.

    Understanding this, I organized a colloquial club of the English language at work, naming it after the English queen English speaking club Queen Elizabeth II. The initial composition of the participants was assembled from the collapsed groups of the English language. For the first time, everything went well, but half the people did not come to the second meeting. On the other hand, new faces began to come, not from English groups, but simply through word of mouth. The meetings were held in negotiations, after the working day they are almost all free. Sometimes we stayed up for 2-3 hours. People came to the club who knew why they were going. They did not miss meetings and the conversational level was growing right before our eyes, I was amazed.
    None of them screamed that it was boring at the club, that it was stupid and not useful to speak English with Russians, that we all know the language badly and we adopt mistakes from each other. Later, I realized where this motivation came from. People began to speak freely, and after a couple of months they left Russia. When they came to the club they had already planned departure. Here to these people with whom I met at the club, I later came to see how they settled abroad.

    So I became the leading conversational club and I can say with confidence that only your own motivation works.

    How I became a guide

    At some point in one colloquial club, I became cramped, I wanted more practice. Even though our club was visited from time to time by the neyty, more often we talked to each other. When you start speaking the language without thinking, a second wind opens. Let you make some mistakes, but in the past that time when you have to remember the right word. Now all the words in the language and if the phrase does not work out in one way or you forgot the right word - right off you are building the phrase differently, using simpler words. The time has passed when the phrase in Russian first appeared in your mind and you tried to translate it somehow in parts. Now you have a set of typical language patterns and they pop up at the right moment.

    I wanted to talk more with the netiws and found this way. It is called KOUCHSERFING. On this site you can invite you to live for a guest tourist. The location of the apartment, which I rented near the office, right at the Frunzenskaya metro station, was very convenient for tourists and I easily received responses to my invitations. Guests came from everywhere. From English-speaking countries (USA, Australia, Canada, UK) and not English-speaking, but some of them had English at a terrific level, like native (Holland, Sweden). And some felt that it was not their own and with a strong accent, under which they had to adjust their ears for a couple of hours (China, India, Germany, France).

    I asked my guests what they were interested in in Moscow, what they generally love in life. On the eve I studied relevant information and organized city tours. In English, of course. I took the Chinese to the Lenin Mausoleum, Canadians go ice-skating at Gorky Park, American students go to Patrice Lumumba’s dormitory, and the Irishman to a beer restaurant and continue to the disco to get acquainted with the girls.

    So I became a guide and loved Moscow even more.

    How I became president

    Because of the work, I almost abandoned Puzzle English. In my free time, mostly on weekends, I managed to add new tasks to “Video puzzles” (then it was the only simulator on the site and they were called simply “videos”). Well, still had time to read what users are writing to the feedback and something to answer them.
    There were no more than 50 registrations per day on the site, a couple of hundred visits and, at best, 2-3 letters, so I had enough time to answer everyone. The return address was support @, and the signature until a certain point was appropriate - Puzzle English support service.

    A certain moment came unexpectedly, as always. This happened when my answer did not satisfy the user and he demanded that his initial appeal be urgently sent to the management. The appeal contained a proposal for an “awesome” improvement of the site, which I allowed myself to criticize a little. It was the idea to add a bit of virtual reality, in which users could wander through the city’s institutions and communicate in English with the staff of the institutions (artificial intelligence).
    I was stumped. There was no one to forward the message. I did everything for the site myself, including the knee-length design, and, instead of “support,” I could have signed with the same success as a designer, layout designer, developer, manager, copywriter, you name it.

    I agree, as a support, I really allowed myself too much - it is not my support business to criticize the bright ideas of users. I began to sort out in my head what rank I could subscribe in order to avoid these humiliating demands in the future with the authorities ... How wonderful it is when you can choose any title at all, I thought, and I settled on the president. In order to comply with all standards, in order not to be found guilty of tyranny, I held an open vote and was elected president indefinitely, unanimously. I will not hide, I was very flattered that my candidacy received all 100% of the votes.

    So, since then, when I was the only employee of Puzzle English, all my working letters have the signature “President Puzzle English”. During these six years, much has changed - we now have not 50, but 5,000 registrations per day, millions of registered users, dozens of employees work in the company. And just a couple of times over the years, someone wondered why I didn’t call myself somehow more standard. For example, CEO or founder. To this I replied: where were you when the presidential elections were held in the puzzle? I am a democratically elected president!

    Personalized mug donated by employees of the sundries


    Oops, you probably did not expect that in the end he would have some kind of morality. But such a long history should have morality, or at least a conclusion! And it’s in the following: if you don’t like what you are called where you are, go away, what to expect? Name yourself the way you want, where you can be called as you like. Become to start at least the captain of your room. Look around and put things in order.

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