In September of 2015 we started working on a new company called — LavishShoestring.com. In LS we help people from over the world buy vintage and antique homewares without a hassle. We have a warehouse in a small village close to Oxford, and we develop IT infrastructure and work on marketing from Saint Petersburg. I want to tell a whole story about how we started working on LS and what milestones we have already passed. But at the beginning I would like to tell you a little bit more about who I am.
I co-founded Biz-cen.ru in 2011, service that helps potential leasers find an office space without spending to much time on this task. On our web-site potential leasers can set-up parameters of desired office and immediately get a list of free spaces. All information is presented in a very consistent way: for each business-centre we create a mini-web site, take professional photos of interior and exterior, gather information about infrastructure objects and draw floor plans where we mark free offices. What is more, we consistently update information about free offices.
There were several huge real estate international companies that operated on the office market in Saint Petersburg. Today they act the same way as they did in 2011: they work only with clients who are looking for huge office spaces, mostly because if they close a huge deal they earn a bigger commission. But there is a limited amount of clients who are seeking for big offices. There are much more clients who want smaller offices. If you use old fashioned methods, like holding a lot of meetings between leaser and landlords, you will spend quite the same time on closing deal on a small office as or a big one. You need to have far different business processes in your company than international companies have. So we built them mostly by using automation in different part of our business.
At the beginning of 2015 I bought the ticket for a 70,3 Ironman triathlon which take place in Pescara in 14 of June. I found trainers for each discipline, for bicycling, swimming and running. Exercises on a bicycle took places on a track where a surface is partly horisontal and partly inclined up to 42°. This is how our track looks like:
In this sport every sportsman use trackers to measure different aspects of each training to learn how to increase performance of particular activity. I use Garmin 920 XT with a hart rate monitor.
Three weeks ago I sloped from my bike at the beginning of a training and broke my clavicle. My tracker wes switched on at the moment of the slope. On the graphic bellow you can see how my heart reacted on this. Three minutes from the slope my HRM falled from 136 bpm(bit per minute) to 46 bpm. After an hour it stabilised at the level of 58 bpm.
Here the picture of my fracture.
At the day of the slope I was operated and got a titanium plate with 6 screws. Nowadays I am recovering and have a plan to return back to my trainings.
There is a myth that states that if you can name your goals, write them, print them out, frame them and then hang them on the wall in your bedroom they will motivate you to achieve them. This is wrong, especially if we talk about long term goals(LTG). The LTG are great when you create a plan that contains small steps that you need to take to get the final result. And you need energy to fulfill these steps.
You can get a small amount of energy when you, for example visualize your future LTG. But mostly you energise from some present sources. This is where most people make a mistake while they are thinking about how to achieve their goals. They think that the LTG are the main source of energy but it is totally wrong. If you want to fulfill these steps to achieve a great result you need to think precisely about sources of energy you have at the time you are acting. Moreover, these sources might don't have anything common with the LTG at all. They might be sport activities, family or even farming; actually, it dosen't matter.
If you think that the LTG can give you enough energy to achieve them. Once you might face a problem on your way, and to overcome this problem you can not get enough energy from the LTG and you fall in depression in such a situation. Hence, it is smart to have another source of energy to prevent such a situation.
This is why I think it is important to know that the LTG are great to create a strong plan. And to follow this plan it is wise to know what sources of energy can help you stay motivated during your way towards them.
A right rule to make a great deal when you negotiate about price: for the seller — to name the highest real price, and for the buyer to start negotiation from lowest real price. The word ‘real’ in this context means that if any side claims an unrealistic (too low or too high) price other side might lose their interest in any further negotiation. To guess the right boundaries for the price each side tries to collect more information about the deal. For instance, it is easy for the buyer to propose for the seller the minimum real price for one kilo of apples if he bargains in the fruit market, because there is enough other sellers there, so anyone in this situation knows the real highest and lowest prices.
But what about situations, when nobody knows enough details to name a proper price? First of all, you need to collect any information about the future deal. So negotiation process, in such conditions, starts when each side presents its' understanding of situation. And only then they start negotiating about the price. This is the trick! In the first round of a negotiation process you need to force the other side to look on the deal from your point of view, this is what you need to be worried about at first of all.
For example, you decided to start a company with your classmate. Neither your friend nor you do not know how to divide the ownership of the company. So you need to arrange a start point for negation. For instance, you choose the position that the one who invests more money get a bigger part of the company. And your friend's position is that the one who invests more times during the first year of building the product needs to get a bigger assets. In this way, the first round of the negotiation is to make the believe the other side believe that your point of view on the deal is the right one. This round is the most important one. For example, you accept the position of your partner. From this moment he is in a better position:
- he had a better opportunity to think over his strategy in this position, than you did;
- as you do not know all his ideas, it will be a challenge for you to attack his position.
Note here that in the situations when both sides of the negotiation process don't know enough information to start discussing the price it is very important to win the first round and create the great foundation for a future victory.
I had a small trip to London, at the end of 2014. In my view, this city is more closer to St. Petersburg than to Moscow if we compare common sense of speed and life style of each city. I want to share some interesting details that I collect through my journey.
Public transport is very popular in London. Most cars on the street are cabs. It's costly to have your own car there, because there is no enough parking places, moreover, taxes and petrol prices are quite high.
Interesting hand-rails in Gatwick Express on the way to Victoria station:
Perhaps, to save place for pedestrians, all bus stops have constructed in the way that their backs turned to the road:
Double-decker buses cut branches of trees on their routs:
When person on a wheelchair wants to get into the bus. The bus stops in front of him, lowers the closest side to stand nearer disabled person and a small bridge appears.
A ceiling in carriages is curved so passengers don't stand in front of doors as they do in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Moreover, you can find a small standing seats at the beginning and at the end of each carriage.
Everywhere in subway you can find different posters with an information about future changes in timetable, recommendations of how to reduce money for metro tickets or other announces.
The are a lot of different small things that make this city so charming. One of such details is the way how they name streets or write warnings.
It is hard to guess what it is. By the way, it is a ceiling in Starbucks. Yeah, you can see pedestrians right over you.
Dinner tables with scooters as chairs, along river shores at Camden Town market:
Other typical views of London:
When you change the place of living, you invest your energy to recreate infrastructure around you. If you change place within one city you still need to relocate all your staff, buy some things that you do not have there and choose the best way to find your job.
The amount of energy that you need for acclimatization when you relocate to another city is much higher. And each nation has it's own capacity of such energy. In my view, Russians have lower level of it comparing to Americans or Europeans. Mostly, because there are only two cities in Russia that have something to offer for new settlers — Saint-Petersburg and Moscow. Furthermore, Russians do not have such habit to change cities often through their life.
From my point of view, if someone from Russia thinking about possibility to change place of living and would like to choose some city outside the country it is better to relocate there directly without any stops in another city.
I would like to share some quotations from Thiel's book about startup's journey:
As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic adventure.
The perfect market for a startup is a small group of particular people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors. Any big market is a bad choice, and big market already served by competing companies is even worse.
The most successful companies make the core progression — to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets — a part of their founding narrative.
As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don't disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible.
In this one particular at least. business is like chess. Grandmaster Jose Raul Capablanca put it well: to succeed, «you must study the endgame before everything else».
Far more important are questions about the future: is it a matter of chance or design?
To a difinite optimist, the future will be better than the present if he plans and works to make it better.
What is more, in one of chapters, you can find an interesting moment about gender of founder: «An entrepreneur makes a major investment just by spending her time working on startup.»
Most time of a day you act in situation where you can predict consequences of each of your movement. In such situations you usually use your mind only to choose the better algorithm to get a result. What is more, when you face with some problem, you can predict the outcomes of your acting with great probability.
Things change, when you get into situation where the complexity of situation is high and you have two or more decision that you can choose between. In such situation you probably will use your intuition to choose one of them. Your decision in such condition will be as great as your formal knowledge of the area of such problem.
For example, you can't make a decision based on your intuition, what move in chess game is greater, if you do not know how to play them. The only way, to grow your intuition is to learn rules of this game. Furthermore, if you want to build a strong intuition you need to know more about the area where you can face with ambiguity situation. By the way, if you already know basic rules of how to play chess, it might be effective for you to gain knowledge in psychology. It can help you to choose the better game tactic to fight with your opponent. Hence, be smart once you are thinking about improvement of your intuition.
In my view, the most meaningful quality of a person — is an ability to solve problems in situations with high level uncertainty. We are living in world where all change in high speed, nothing is stay the same for a moment. Yes, some changes come faster other slower, but any way changes happen constantly. Of course, you can use the same technique that you use previously to achieve the result.
And you will get less and less result every time you do not improve you way of doing. At the beginning, you might do not fell this downgrade but later it will be obviously.
As we already know, that changes in the world happen constantly we need to improve our way of achieving result constantly too. There are two ways how we can guide ourself through this process. First, we can be attentive to all changes in the area where we are dealing and make some improvements in our technique. Second, we can predict future changes and construct a hypothesis that we need to apply to our working algorithm to achieve a better result.
The second way is the best one, because you will already change your working framework when you need to apply it. The first way is just a reaction to the changes, so you will lose some productivity while you are working on changes. To construct great hypothesis, you need to improve your intuition in area where you working. To make better your intuition you need to know more about the area where your are dealing. Hence, you need to learn constantly to be affective in any area of your life.