Interview #4 - Kateryna Shepeliuk

Kateryna is 28 years old and was raised in Donetsk, Ukraine. Four years ago Kateryna moved due to political violence that was erupting in her city. She now lives in Figueira da Foz, located in Northern Portugal just south of Porto.

Kateryna is an avid social entrepreneur and was a pleasure to connect with. She co-founded Gifted English, which provides online English classes for young kids in Uganda. In the first two weeks through connections via Facebook, Kateryna generated 20 part-time English teachers for Gifted English. Kateryna plans on monetizing the company in the near future. Kateryna is also the president of Youth Line, an NGO spread across several countries in Europe. Youth Line organizes usage changes and training courses; it also helped create her social enterprise, Gifted English.

Question 1: Success. What does this word mean to you? How can someone achieve being ‘successful’?

Kateryna began by stating that it is just a widespread illusion that someone with a lot of money, a cool car and penthouse is deemed successful. She commented that the person could actually be depressed or in debt behind the scenes and is just masking it with these materialistic objects for other to see. Many people measure success with the word ‘rich’. Being rich and reaching success are not synonymous.

Success is really simple for me, if you have good sleeps, if you eat nicely, and if you have time to do usual things, good work-life balance, then that is being successful”. The time for self development is necessary to keep improving and generate internal happiness. “If I go to sleep without anxiety and wake up without an alarm clock, then for me I’m successful”. I thought that through these statements Kateryna classified success as the ability to be happy. When I reiterated my assumption to her she clarified; for her being calm is being successful. If you are too happy or jittery then there is a downfall, being calm and centered with yourself is success for Kateryna.

In addition to being calm, the pursuit of intellectual achievements is also a measure of success for Kateryna. This is not the same as achieving material objects, that is not a form of success. Finally, having a close group of loved ones to surround yourself with is her last step of being successful.

Question 2: From your perspective, what is the one main trait that a great leader must possess?

“I think it is what I have, being able to inspire people”.

To be an effective leader you should have smarter and more skilled people underneath you. The job of a great leader is to visualize these employees’ strong suits and skills, and delegate them accordingly. A great leader must organize, schedule, plan logistically, and inspire, she stated.

“For me, I am good at creating ideas, but not as good at finalizing the projects. Now, I’ve made this my advantage. I can do what I’m good at, and delegate these tasks to my talented co-workers”.

Leadership is about the ability to unite a team and inspire them to work hard together. Further to this Kateryna stated that a good leader must not have an ego. Kateryna also says that leaders must be able to visualize when someone can do something better than themselves and assign these people to the tasks that will better the organization going forward.

Finally, she believes leaders must be able to help their colleagues. If a good leader sees an employee is struggling in one area, he/she should go out of their way to guide them to a beneficial course of action.

Question 3: If I were to give you $50,000 to put into tomorrow’s technologies in order to generate the most profit, where would you allocate it?

“Since this isn’t such a large amount, I would put it towards something with a high level of risk”.

Kateryna says that she would buy some assets or a project that utilizes new technologies and invest in that. If she was not going to spend the money that way, then she would invest in travel and education.

“I’ve lived for more than three months in several countries, some in Asia, Europe; and every time they have turned out to be my best investments. I met my co-founder on a little island in Thailand, and now this company is feeding me. So, I would probably travel with my family for a year to build connections.” Kateryna says that money is not the asset that creates the most value, that asset is time. And the best investment for time is travelling.

“Many people are scared of money. People think you need money to start something and without it they cannot progress. There are so many different ways to generate funding or work without money. For example, I started a gofundme account that raised 500 euros. That 500 euros has turned into Gifted English. Great enthusiasm can replace a lack of money.”

How does this answer change if the number was only $5,000?

“I would just go shopping,” Kateryna joked.

After sharing a few laughs Kateryna reiterated that education, travel, and charity are the three best investments to spread the funds on.

I hope to keep in contact with Kateryna going forward as I find her social initiatives very meaningful. This interview was interesting for me as it was the first one that was not structured around the accumulation of wealth but more so with helping others, and that was refreshing! Learning from different people from all over the world and different demographics is really changing my perspective on life and business alike; and I cannot wait to keep it going.

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