A few pictures from Lille, France

lille-5-2016

Here are a few pictures from Lille, France. I had them on my phone and I meant to post them on my blog, so that I do not forget the places and what I felt then. The first one are the two expressos in the morning. One after the other. And the city waking up.

There is Lille in the morning when I went jogging from 6 to 7am. The streets and plazas were empty. The cafes and boulangeries were closed at 6, and were putting their croissants and breads in the windows at 7. And staring at me when I made the pictures. In the mornings the streets were wet from night showers and the dumpsters smelled badly. But the streets were empty, so you could chose on what side to run.

lille-14-2016

lille-10-2016

lille-3-2016

lille-7-2016

There is this smell from the childhood. The smell comes from the trees in the park. The little yellow flowers produce the smell. And I remember our summers at my grandma’s place in Lipetzk (Russia). And those trees are called Lipas. And the smell is very sweet and it makes me smile and want to fall asleep.

lille-6-2016

lille-12-2016

And then there is a slightly everyday Lille. With people. Shoppers. Tourists. The buzz of the downtown.

lille-13-2016jpg

And the Lille at night, when the cafes are closing.

lille-4-2016

The blue doors and shutters. I always had this thing with doors. I love doors. They tell a story. But they do not tell the full story. They leave the most important behind.

lille-9-2016

And there is Lille that made me think of my two kids. The sweet Lille. My kids would have loved that.

lille-1-2016

lille-2-2016

Lille from inside of the cafe when it is raining outside. In the morning.

lille-11-2016

And the sky.

lille-8-2016

Lille, July 2016

Advertisements

Why do we have dreams?

paris-airport

I do not want to write anything pragmatic or that has logic behind it. We all work too much and do all the stuff that makes sense. A few days ago, as we were driving back home, my nine-year-old daughter asked me from the back seat of the car, “Why do we have dreams?”.  And there was this moment of quietness before I said anything. Actually I did not say, but instead asked her, “Did you have any dream recently?” And she said, “No. I am just wondering why do we have dreams.”

And I did not have any good answer. I really do not know why we have dreams. So, I told her the first thing that came to my mind. I told her that subconsciously since we are born we know what is good for us and what our life could be and these visions from inside of us become our dreams. And that if we do what is in our dreams we will be happier because we will bring the “inside” of us closer to the “outside of us”, we will bring our heart to the real life of us.

….

After I realized that no sensible investor will invest in my company at this stage, I stopped telling people how I am planning to make money. Instead I started telling what I believe in. I believe that we, those of us living in U.S., should help people who live in less fortunate environments, where opportunities are rare and everything is harder. I started this company to help people in Asia, South America, Eastern Europe to get jobs, to do well at their jobs, to be confident and succeed. I know how our confidence influences every aspect of our lives and when I read that report that said that 8 out of 10 Asians do not get jobs because of poor English, I knew that I wanted to spend my life to help these people. I was already working on a language solution then, but this made me realize why I am doing it. We are building an Enterprise software that will use the same logic and will support the whole company, and this is how we are going to make money. However, the purpose of the  whole project remains the same. And it is not that hard to go through everything when you believe in what you do. Not just believe a little bit, but truly believe because it goes with the purpose of your life: to care for others. And I feel much better since I stopped telling investors how I am planning to make money and started telling them what I believe in. The result is the same, most of them will not invest now, but I feel much better by saying the truth. You rarely hear people say what they believe in. You hear people say what they do. And it is beautiful to hear somebody on the stage or on the other side of the table say “I believe in…”. I believe is like a dream. You stop talking about tangible world and talk about dreams. And conversation is so interesting.

….

I started thinking about my dreams. Apart from the company, which I truly love and daydream about, I have other dreams. My night dreams are erratic and senseless till they make sense. I would wake up and not remember any dreams. But if I see a picture or hear some words I would remember the night stuff. Mostly about physical touch as I fall asleep. Touching the other hand. The small wrinkles around your eyes. And the yellowish lights over the big wooden doors, and our footsteps on the empty streets.  And a kiss and my hand on the back of your neck. And the noise of the night city and kissing the ear. Right ear. And the awkward feeling of the distance as you sit across the table. And the wine that is not Syrah, because in Spain they do not serve Syrah everywhere.

….

Those dreams are rare. Rare because normally I am tired and exhausted and fall asleep before my head touches the pillow and when I wake up my mind is already thinking about this latest feature we are developing for the language platform. And I like to wake up early, get my coffee and in the coldish air before sunrise start working. When you believe in something every small step is important and you want to move forward. And somehow it is nice how dreams, and love, and hours of work, and what you believe in – all of it comes together in one life.

And then you always have the Paris airport…

(The picture – one of my favorites – is from Paris airport, July 2016)

 

Hours

Training in sports made me realize a very simple truth. All you need to do to be good at something is put hours of training. There is no secret, no shortcuts, no magic. If you put less hours you are less good. If you just show to the gym and do not workout it does not count. If you workout but you are sloppy and do not care, you do not improve.

There is this point of “every day”. Yes, every single day you spend hours training. You decide not to feel tired and to forget about soreness. You do not focus on your bruises or injuries. You just quietly show up and train. And yes, you could have every excuse in the world for not doing it. You have the excuse. Right here, in front of you. So many others do not do it. And still it is no excuse at all.

Some days you feel good, some days you feel frustrated. Some days you are full of energy and others you can barely roll yourself off the car seat. Some days you win and some days you lose. And you lose more than you win. Some days you feel strong and some days you feel weak. And the only way to break through this feeling of weakness is to keep showing up and training.

A few days ago I was mentoring two founders of a startup. They asked me what is the secret in marketing to get attention from the crowd. And I told them that there were no secret, no shortcuts. It is like MMA training. If you do your work and do it with care and believe in what you do, you will succeed. It is all about hours you put in daily.

And everything in life is like that.

When you win it is because you put your heart, and sweat and will into it. When you lose you are the only one accountable. And this is the beauty of it. You have the power.