One reason why inspiration is good is that it keeps us moving forward. That is why I love taking inspiration from successful and influential people. On this post, you can live through the experience of a wonderful person doing amazing things. She is an accomplished travel journalist and photographer, TV host, blogger, and owner of Siniciliya. Her name is Veronica Pototska.
A decade or two ago, IBM came out with an ad and said, “The world is getting smaller.” For generations, what was once impossible became a reality. Technology evolved. Instead of sailing in treacherous waters with only the stars for navigation, social media made it possible for me to communicate. And that is how I was able to do this interview with Veronica Pototska. Born in Ukraine and a citizen of the world, she captures life with the lens of her camera with style.
Veronica Pototska Defines the World
Veronica, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s begin with travel. After having spoken with many people, I came to realize travel is high on the list of things to do. What makes you different from most other people is that you are doing this for a living.
How did you transition from the young little girl with dreams of seeing the world to what you are and what you do today?
“Robert, thank you so much for the opportunity. That little girl still dreams a lot. She dreams to cross the Sahara Desert, to play with Penguins in the Antarctica, dive in a cage with a shark, and see the Carnival in Rio! So every day I follow my dreams.”
“I have a strong belief that dreams have to come true, because if they don’t, they stay inside the person’s heart and rot, making that person unhappy.”
“When it comes to making my dream come true, no one and nothing can stop me. I started working at the age of 14 and saved all my money to be able to visit a conference in the Netherlands with my schoolmates. That was how my travel story began.”
I have been visiting travel blogs and saw how some quit their jobs to be traveling nomads. But that is not what you did.
How did you get started in an industry that allowed you to travel? Furthermore, what did you do to make it happen?
“There isn’t any single industry that allows me to travel and have the lifestyle that I am living today! It’s more about my way of thinking and ability to find opportunities.”
“My brain works business-wise and it has always been like that. For example, at the age of ten, I was making bracelets and displayed them at a local souvenirs shop to earn some pocket money.”
“When I grew up, I opened an advertising agency that was doing well for one year until a crisis happened. All that I had left was $2,000 and a depression.”
“I bought tickets and went to Bali. To make the story short, I found accessories made by locals. Before returning home, I used the last $400 that I had to buy them. I don’t know whether it was luck, or maybe this is how it works according to the laws of the universe when you take a risk. I was able to sell them many times more expensive. So this is one of the examples of being able to see opportunities.”
The advertising agency did not work out well. Despite the setback, you continued to be entrepreneurial. Because of that, you saw an opportunity and took a risk that paid off. Well done, Veronica Pototska.
You have been to many countries and had seen amazing sights as well as met wonderful people. How has the experience shaped you and what are some of the life lessons you learned?
“I agree with you. If someone wants to start any business, it is never too late or too early. It is never a bad time, era, crisis, mood, etc. So I’d like to tell the readers that the perfect time to start their own business is now. I believe that everyone is capable of doing much more than they think.”
“Traveling has completely changed me and my life. The two biggest lessons I learned were that: happiness comes through acceptance; happiness is an attitude.”
“It’s one person’s choice to be happy or not. I’ll tell you a story from my first visit to India. From the airport, it took two hours for the driver to find the hotel a friend booked for me. It was a cheap hotel with broken windows, no bed sheets, and smelled horrible. Even worse, there were excrements on the bathroom floor. I was young and inexperienced. It was late and I didn’t know where else to go.”
“So I took out my beach towel and tried to have some rest. I was afraid to eat and drink anything. And here is how that experience shaped me. You see, at some point, anyone would need water, food, and sleep. How much time could I bear without them? So I opened myself to new experiences and allowed myself to see and feel this country and accept everything that was happening. And then I fell in love with India and visited it again five more times. So this is an example of how happiness comes through acceptance and choice.”
You came to the Philippines not too long ago. I am ethnic Chinese but I was born and raised here, so I consider myself a Filipino, and naturally curious. Could you share with us your impression of the places you visited and the people?
“I spent almost three months in the Philippines during winter. This was my first visit and the beauty of the islands amazed me. I spent most of the time in Panglao, Bohol, and I also visited Palawan.”
“My first impression was that the Philippines is a very safe country. I drove my motorbike alone in the middle of the night, went everywhere and felt very safe. There is one thing I didn’t understand, though, and maybe you know the answer? Sometimes, when I drive at night, I would hear other motorbikes a few hundred meters from me. But they would not turn their headlights on. Why so?”
“I honestly think that Filipinos are the nicest people in the world. They are very honest, kind, and always willing to help.”
“I found it difficult to travel and make reservations, though. Internet connection was not always good. Also, it was expensive to make calls between different operators, so everyone texts. That was a challenge for me.”
First of all, I am glad that you had a good impression of the Philippines. I agree with you, the Filipino people are the happiest and friendliest people on earth. We are also known for our hospitality trait. As for riders not turning on their headlights, I have no idea why.
Earlier, you mentioned a failed business venture in advertising. Why did you decide to put up a new advertising company despite having failed in the past?
“I love marketing and advertising, their tools and the result that I can see. I also love that creativity always comes with numbers and analysis. Even though the first venture failed, I decided to do it again and this time, with a new perspective.”
“I was looking for a new concept for myself that would allow me to combine my passion of traveling and talents in photography and marketing. So my main business today is creating content for brands. These could be hotels, properties, accessories, designers, and tourism boards. I have worked with InterContinental, Bentley, and some companies located in the Philippines, as well. I use my social media channels to communicate with many amazing people and many of them match the profile of the brands that I work with.”
“Sometimes, I just need to create content for the brand. And sometimes they also want to be featured in my social media. In this case, I would only work with a brand that I love and would naturally want to spread the word about.”
People often see successful people and admire what they accomplished. Unfortunately, they fail to see the challenges and obstacles those individuals have to endure before succeeding. A failed business venture could break a person and shatter one’s confidence.
What have you learned from the failed venture that helped you become who you are today as a person, and as a businesswoman?
“No, I don’t believe that a failure can break a person. It can shatter one’s confidence, but if it were there it will come back sooner or later.”
“What have I learned from a failed venture? Nothing new, really. See, before we can walk a mile, we have to learn how to walk. We make our first steps as babies and fall. Have you ever seen a baby that would stay lying on a floor saying ‘I will never take a step again because I failed?’ No, that is not natural. We were born to move forward, learn and develop ourselves. And any success is a result of tries and failures.”
Far too often, people do not get started because they fear to fail. Beyond fear, there is the matter of priorities and personal development. A lot of employees I talk to want to have a business of their own. But they don’t think about a specific business because they lack the capital. To these people, what advice could you give them?
“You’d be surprised to know some of the biggest businesses started with an idea and no money. I am talking about an idea that does not allow you to sleep at night. The kind of idea that makes your heart beat so fast that you feel like there is not enough air for you to breathe.”
“I learned that there is more money than good ideas in this world. When you come up with an idea, think of the value that it gives to others. Think big, but start small.”
“Test it on a few people. Try to sell your service or product to them. My recommendation to readers is to not begin with friends and relatives. They will not be objective. They might be just too sweet and want to support you, or even worse, they might not believe in you. My case was the second.”
“You will be making mistakes and that is great. Because you will be growing and become better. Then step-by-step, you will develop your idea and become ready for an investment. Trust me, it is easy to find investment for something that sells.”
“Also, if you have never done business before, you might not be able to handle capitals if you suddenly find it. Make mistakes, grow, think big, but begin small.”
I agree with you, Veronica. Every business begins with an idea. But that idea remains an idea until one gets into the act of making it happen. That is why intentional living is important.
A part of intentional living is putting the time to learning and acquiring the attitude of success.
Hold on, before you leave, why don’t you leave your thoughts by commenting?