I know I am writing about my new year’s resolution with a little delay, but I hope that you enjoy this read as much as I enjoyed writing it back in January.
Now is a perfect time to write some things for starting this wonderful 2016 year… my observations. This year my focus will be on observations. Many of my friends and I have had many different silly goals to start previous years of our lives. Most of them probably lasted only a month or two. I think mine lasted a little longer than others.
Those goals for each year were very different for each of us. Some wanted to shed their fat (I still have the love handles that I want to shed though), some wanted to clean up their Facebook status unfriending unwanted or unknown friends (because I have so many, I gave up doing it), some wanted to start a new adventure (possibly go to school, or read a book, which I do not often do, but would love to when my time permits), and most have failed at some point, including me. Well, perfection comes with its imperfection, bit by bit. I know that I have failed at some goals, so I could succeed eventually with persistence. I am sure most of us know how important persistence is. And I know for a fact, that it does pay off. So, for those who were persistent, they have succeeded in achieving some of their goals from the start of each year. I do not remember when I succeeded very often, but I do remember when I failed… many times. Most of those failures helped me in life to become what I am today, teaching me about life. But the most important component of all of this topic is not failures or successes, but it is just for us to recognize the skills that we have or do not have. And maybe one day, will have. We need to see life as it is, not as it is not. We need to observe what is going on around us and around others around us. We should find a place where we can just stand on the side and observe. So, this is what I am writing about, “Observations 2016”. I am making this my 2016 goal: just to observe and learn.
Back in January, when I went to a Chinese restaurant in Seattle during one of my work trips, I took a moment to observe things around me. I had a tough decision to make¾ to go to this particular place, not far from my hotel, or to go to a Vietnamese restaurant. I am sure that the one I thought I would chose was not either of those (actually, it was a Mediterranean place called Treewhich that I found online. I like Mediterranean food and mostly wanted to taste their soup, which I have not tasted yet, and their chicken skewers– I’m not sure if I even know how to say that, but it looks like a shish kabob). The main reason I chose that place was not because of their price (they actually were ranked $$ on Google Maps), but because of how many people were inside, sitting and enjoying themselves and their food.
So, as I was sitting and waiting for my waiter to come by, I observed the people around me. I watched each of the three waiters running around every table occupied by guests through very narrow paths between the tables, smiling, and speaking to the guests with a sweet accent. I find it somewhat attractive when I feel sincerely welcome by a Chinse waiter. Even though I understand that I have to pay for their hospitality, I somehow feel that they are sincere. Maybe my feelings are because of their culture, or maybe because they were trained to look sincere, but in any case, I feel that Chinese, or all Asian people, as a matter of fact, are very welcoming people.
So, there I was sitting and thinking to myself, “What if I just made this 2016 year a year of observations?” And here is why… As I started to ponder, I said to myself that maybe I have a great idea or not. Maybe not, mostly because I will notice a lot of bad things around me, which may make me more depressed. I was not sure, but I was a bit certain about it, because with my chef’s background and training in culinary arts (a good background because I went through a culinary school and learned everything I needed to know about food hygiene and how to appropriately handle food and equipment.) I had the toughest teacher during my culinary arts school. Her name was Maria Omelyanivna. I’ve heard from my foster brother, Slavik, that she has passed away. I will always remember her and how strict she was. She was the principal of the culinary school who taught the hygiene class. She was the one teacher who people did not speak about out loud but whispered about her. She caused people to fear her. However, she never scared me but mostly challenged me. And, I loved it. It was hard for anyone to get a B in her class, but I was aiming for an A. And I got it, but she made me work hard for it. And now, I appreciate her tough look, and patience with me¾I am sure she had a lot of it. As I remember, I was the only one in her class who had ever gotten an A. I am not sure about the years after I left the school, if she softened her heart and gave more A’s. But for me, I felt appreciated for the efforts I put into my studies and my ability to speak up while learning. I was never afraid to say what I felt to her, even though others were afraid to. I knew for some reason that I could talk to her and she would not mind. And I did… Years later, Slavik and I went to visit her and I noticed that she was not as tough as she looked, just because of the questions she asked Slavik and me about life. She was just like a mother asking her two sons how they are doing and how they are living their independent lives. I have always known that she was kind and soft inside, but tough outside for a reason. And that was a good reason¾ to teach us food hygiene and to be a strict principal. Thankfully, I learned how to handle food and culinary equipment properly. And, after so many years, I say “Thank you, Maria. I will always miss your tough attitude and generous soul.” Yes, I was the only one in her hygiene class who has got a firm A. But it was a lot of work.
So, there I was, sitting and observing people around me at the Chinese restaurant. Honestly, I would not have given even a 2 rating, if I followed all the hygiene guidelines I learned (Google gave it a 4.4 rating, compared to the Vietnamese restaurant’s 2.5 rating that I was considering for it), but their food was ok, worth three points. I have eaten at a Chinese Garden restaurant in Portland with the best Pho ever (with dumplings, pork, noodles, veggies, etc.) I would totally go there again. I have been on a mission since then to find something similar here in Seattle or in Oregon. I have eaten in multiple Chinese restaurants since, just to experience the differences between them. And, even though I know about that place where I ate the best Pho, I was curious about other places too. That is why I kept trying to eat at different Chinese restaurants, so I can see, or let’s just say observe where good food, people, and surroundings are the best. Unfortunately, nothing beats that place in Oregon for food, (bad on hygiene and very hot inside), but at this place in Seattle, not far from Chinese restaurants and the Tamarind Tree place, I have observed a different story¾food is no good and hygiene are overrated. But I still went there, because I was curious why so many people are sitting in this little place compared to a Vietnamese restaurant. And believe me, I did want to go to the Mediterranean place first, Vietnamese place second, and my last choice was this Chinese restaurant. Well, me, being people friendly, chose bad and got the worst. Not sure if it makes sense, but compared to the food I ate at the Chinese place in Portland, this Chinese restaurant was completely worthless. I could not finish my egg soup and asked the waiter to pack it. The chew mai was also not very good.
On the way out of the restaurant, I am glad I gave my food to a wonderful homeless guy who asked me for nothing more than just a bit of food. He actually could not understand whether my food included meat or not. I kept telling him that this nice, hot soup that I just handed to him did not have chicken or any other kind of meat, that it only had eggs. But he kept wondering whether it had meat. I did not mind him not saying “Thank You!” but I was happy he got some food that I could not finish.
I think that I should stop being so naïve when it comes to business ratings, such as Zagat, Google, or YP. Any company that does ratings is overrated, if that makes sense.
While sitting and contemplating on my 2016 goal (Observations), I kept observing whether the tables were clean (no, they were not clean, because I saw some dry water spots). My soup spoon had some dried out leftover stains (even though I think that the restaurant workers thought it was. But according to my cleanliness guidelines, I gave this restaurant an “F”. And, believe me, I did not mind giving it. I still ate my soup with that spoon and I am still alive…), whether the waiters were clean (they were), and even if the kitchen was clean, which I could clearly see from my seat (I wondered how many times the frying range was cleaned before cooking my noodles with chicken, but I still ate it all), and finally, whether the teapot with Chinese tea was really stainless (I could tell it was not. For heaven’s sake, my tea cup had a chip on the edge. Who drinks from a broken tea cup? But, nevertheless, I did). I did not say anything to anyone but remained just as a nice guest and observed. If you wonder why I did not say anything, I can tell you for certain, because of the workers, and how welcoming they were to me and other guests. This good customer relation is why I did not mind eating the food and staying quiet without bitching about anything. This is also why I am not giving the name of that place, so no one will go there with the pre-judgment, but will judge for themselves. Just, whenever anyone has time to go to any of the Chinese restaurants, most of them do fail on hygiene, but they do a great job cooking great food and being very nice. Yes, this year I recommend taking the time to observe how restaurant food is prepared and served.
After leaving that place, I had a great opportunity to spend time with my old friends here in Seattle. Who would have known that even when being out and about, I would immediately place myself into the “Observe” mode? I did not, but it came to me automatically. So, I did observe the entire night, even though, much of it I do not remember, but there are people that took care of me. And, as always, I say to all my friends and to every kind person I meet “Thank you!” I do notice (Observe) what you do to or for me, even sometimes I fail to acknowledge it. I recently posted something on social media
And it is true. I have been treated well in my life and sometimes bad. But most of the time, I have learned to see good things. And that is what kept me moving forward and made me “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” (from Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley). Difficult is an easy word to describe me. But, I am sincere and true to myself.
This year has started well for me. Not exactly, but mostly well. Not exactly, because when I flew from the New Year’s celebration in San Diego to Portland, it was my first ever time where I did not want anyone to talk to me. I felt a bit down and distant. It is uncommon for me to be distant from people. Those who know me, know me as a personable, approachable, and a people person. I have not admitted before that I did not want to be talked to on the way to the airport, at the airport, and off the plane. Every time when I was talked to, I would nervously respond something that I wound not remember a few second later of what I said. I even was so nervous to respond anything that it made me shiver. I was so afraid to be noticed to be nervous that the only option for me was to put my headphones on me and listen to my peaceful music very loudly and to play my “Free Fall” game on my phone. My confidence, my enthusiasm, and my vitality were not there. I am still wondering whether it was me who set myself into that kind of mode or the surroundings that did that. I just don’t know. But what I know for a fact, that because of those observations, I was able to go forward and start a new day as a new me. So, I did prepare myself for a start of a good year, with all the knowledge of good things that I am going to achieve in 2016. I think for everyone it should start well too. I am sorry for those that do not feel that way. But, it would be good sometimes, just to take some time to “Observe”. You will be surprised how much is going on around you that is going a good direction. I feel that by observing you will learn to recognize things as they are and to learn how to recognize things as they should be and not as they should not be. You will learn to be strong and to focus on positive things which, of course, overcome all the negative outcomes (ha-ha, here is my Ethics class kicking in, where one of the questions on the very first quiz and the second question was “In most managerial decisions, the positive results outweigh the negative impacts. True or False. And, I answered “True”). When you observe, you will learn a lot about yourself. You will also remember nice things about your life as I did about mine. You will learn to appreciate things that you have rather than things that you don’t have. For example, I would have complained about the Chinese food here in Seattle, but I did not, because I remembered that in Ukraine, I have had only one or two meals a day, and most of the time it would be just Borsch, pasta, or eggs, and if I was lucky enough, I would get some Polish sausage (kielbasa) or as we called it in Ukraine “Mislivska Kovbasa”. Yes, this is what I have learned through observations. Each day, as I am driving in my car on the American roads, I appreciate a left or right turn or the surroundings around me. I do not take things for granted, and I think, that through observations you will learn to not to do that as well.
So, 2015 was a really good year for me. I have gotten a new job and educated myself a lot on NIR (Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in the Food Industry), met my new boss’s expectations (and perhaps a little exceeded them, but I’d love to hear about my performance from my boss himself), passed a mid-point of my MBA program (very intense and still doing very well), have been focusing on my book (which takes a lot of time and work), redesigned my personal website (vitalyonline.com), started a new company of which I will speak later, started a new Keto Diet (after reading “Keto Clarity” book and doing a little research on it: basically, in a few words, it is high fat, low carb, and moderate protein diet, which totally makes sense to me after trying so many years different types of diets. You feed your body with fat and train it to burn fat. So, when there is no supply of fat, it continues to burn stored fat), and told a few people in Ukraine that are very close to me, including my brother (from a different father with whom I have not been in touch for a long time after the orphanage) the biggest secret that I have held for so many years of which I am feeling the biggest relief (I will write about my secret later, perhaps in my book…), and I am feeling really good about everything. I guess I was observing the successes and failures of mine without even knowing that I was doing it, unconsciously. But I am happy that I did.
2016 is going to be a good year for a few reasons. So far I know of one. Here is what I wrote to one of my professors at the University of Utah and you will understand why:
I sincerely appreciate your help with this. After so many unsuccessful tries to get in touch with the right people to get any help, I was able to connect with Troy D Dambrosio (Lassonde Institute website) who was an excellent guide in helping me to understand what resources are available for students in order to succeed with their ideas.
I did not tell you something, but I have tried to contact U of U different departments in the past. When I was almost to give up, I decided to give two more tries: contact you and contact Chris Wadsen from the Innovations department who also gave us a class during the residency course). I received the somewhat less encouraging response from Chris and was hoping to hear something positive from you. Here is what Chris said:
“You need to be able to articulate your idea without an NDA. If your idea is so simple that after hearing it once I could copy it, then you don’t have a very good idea and you would never be able to file a patent on it. In addition, almost no Venture Capitalist or other investors will sign an NDA just to hear about your idea. So you need to be able to tell me about the idea in such a way that I can get it quickly and easily and be impressed. In my book, which you can buy at Amazon, I outline the 10 Ps & Qs of Business Models Innovation that you need to follow to test whether or not you have a good idea…”
Then I decided to follow your guide. I went to the recommended by you website and went through pages and found someone very wonderful (Katie Evans) that connected me with Troy. I must admit, that I was shocked with the prompt response and at the same time I exhaled with the feeling that finally someone actually would take the time to listen to me. Katie scheduled an appointment with Troy. I had a most wonderful conversation with him where he let me know that there are resources that are available for students like me at no charge. I was very relieved to know about that.
So, after over 20 contacts (emails and calls) I feel that finally, with your help, I got to my destination. I am immensely grateful for your help and guidance. I hope that in some ways in the future I could be of help to you as well. I know that there are kind people like yourself and Troy who can and will help when in need. Not that others do not help, but at least, give me some encouragement to move forward rather than leaving me in the state where I am feeling that there is no future. This is how I went through life, meeting different people, who once again in some ways gave me hope to look forward to something good. Thank you again!
I started to understand back in 2014 that there are ideas that are worth pursuing. But, unfortunately, all, this time, I have been trying to contact wrong people. And once again, persistence does pay off. And I hope that 2016 will not be the only successful year for my MBA graduation, but also, a successful year for my innovation. I feel that sometimes we focus too much on something we cannot do rather than what we can do or and can accomplish. 2016 should be the year where you closely listen and find something you have always wanted to do and then go for it. Do not give up! Be creative, persistent, innovative, and patient. Everything else is just the fruits of your efforts that you will eventually gather.
Happy new year to all of you my friends, those that read this post, and those that do not read this post! I would sing for you in Ukrainian, but I resist the temptation. I will do that some other time, though. As for now, “Z Novim Rokom!”