Where are you from?
I was born in Moscow, Russia. I started traveling with my parents, since when I learned to walk. My parents were born into poor families in the USSR. Back then there was very little information about the world outside. In order to travel outside of the USSR, you needed to apply for permit through the government and have a very compelling reason to go. Even if you got a permission to travel, you were assigned a comrade to monitor your activities.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the entire world was open all of a sudden. So my parents got excited about the opportunity to see what was hidden all this time. They took me and my sister with them on their adventures around the world. Thanks to them, by the time I went to college I’d visited ~50 countries.
Usually when I am asked “where are you from,” I say I am from Earth.
What do you do?
I run a personal development company in Latin America, called Te Vas A Morir. It’s an effort to help people wake up, question the world around them and discover themselves. We make online courses, digital content and help thought leaders build a more authentic connection with their following.
The funnies thing is that I do not speak Spanish. and yet get to manage a 8-person team that makes content in Spanish. In fact, not speaking the language has forced me to work on the business, instead of in the business. Before I would jump into everything that needed to be done, doing the “busy” work. It’s neat to be good at many things, but the real progress is made when I started looking at my business as a system and leveraging my output.
How are you nomadic?
My nomadic journey began, when I ran out of visa in the U.S.
Before that I went to college in LA, then got involved with the startup scene in the Silicon Valley. When my visa was running out, I had to go somewhere. Moving in with my parents in Moscow seemed like a step backwards. At the time, I was really passionate about tech startups, so I thought if I can’t be in the Silicon Valley, I will find another one somewhere in the world. I went on a journey to find startup ecosystems abroad. So here I went… South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, HK, China….
Asia seemed like a safe bet at the time: flights and the cost of living were cheap. Even if I messed things up badly, I would have been able to get by.
By now, I’ve been to over 70 countries in the world. Last year (2019), for the first time ever, I set a goal “travel to as few countries as you can this year.” There were times, when I visited ~25 countries in a year organically. Last year, I managed 11. I tried my best.
What’s your favorite part of being a nomad?
The sense of freedom. I feel like I live life on my own terms. I get to choose everything in my life, as opposed to having circumstances dictate my reality.
Do you know that an average American lives just 18 miles from where he/she was born?
I don’t get to decide where I was born. I don’t get to decide the language I speak. I don’t get to decide my childhood friends and environment.
It’s naive to assume that the place I was born is optimal for my happiness and ambitions. Being nomadic allows me the freedom to learn who I am by placing myself into different cultures and context. It’s the feeling of being free that allows me to dream.
Drifting in the desert of Western Sahara. Skydiving on the Pacific Coast. Opening coliving spaces in Mexico. Shooting AK-47s in Ukraine. Taking acting classes and producing music. Running marathons in the Spanish wine country, not to mention running away from 12 bulls in Pamplona. Eating steak in Argentina. Motorcycling up a volcano in Indonesia.
When you experience the fact that most limits are self-imposed, the world is never the same.
Big thanks to technology, transportation systems and human freedoms for allowing this.
What’s your least favorite part?
The 80-year Harvard study suggests that our longevity and happiness depend on the strength of our social ties.
Being nomadic implies that you move a bunch. You don’t get to see your family and go deeper into your relationships, learn the context behind people’s lives, see events through. Maintaining relationships online is not the same. And frankly, I suck at it.
Some of the happiest moments in my life happened, when I just grabbed breakfast with my best friend and didn’t have to say a word.
Additionally, moving around makes it more difficult to go deeper into work and passions. Every time I have to move to a new location too many things change. Sometimes I feel like my job is settling in places and starting relationships. Like I do just the shit job and don’t get to reap the benefits.
I believe that the real beauty is in seeing things through. Being nomadic is cool to explore, but living life without a home is probably a recipe for unhappiness. Everything in moderation.
What’s your craziest story?
As a part of a TV show, Startup U, we got to go the farm of a billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper. Although I am not allowed to share everything that happened, here are a few pieces that may get your imagination put it together.
There were Navy SEALs. World champions in paintball. M16s, sniper rifles and explosives. A tiny survival budget for food and gear. I bought a machete. Bobbie traps and snakes. Freezing cold water and loooooooooooong hikes.
I did end up sinking a canoe with Tim Draper and his frined.
What’s next for you?
I am looking forward to building out my company, strengthening my relationships and getting more stability in some areas of my life.
My dream (and goal) is to have houses in 3 locations: Barcelona, New York and Los Angeles. I’m working on combining the best parts between being nomadic and having a home.