You don’t have to know flexbox or do 9–5

I’m doing something unusual and would love to share a story about entrepreneurship and ways technology enables that. Initially authored in Russian, it received great enough response for me to share it with you!


High schoolers Nastya and Gosha fooling around.

A couple of years back. High school. I’ve made friends with Nastya recently, and she seemed like a decent and versatile person. When we were on a walk once, she barely mentioned she’d lost $300 at a party (for the context, $400 is the average monthly salary in here). Sucks! What made me interested, though, is why she didn’t care for that loss much.

I got to know that her then-boyfriend taught her some HTML and CSS, enough that she made quite some money freelancing. She did small projects primarily when starting out. Then came some bigger and nicer projects, Apple things, the travel.

Fast-forward to now. Just this week we had lunch together in a Thai place and synced about life, business, and more.

She’s not a full-time student anymore; she’s never worked in an office, and never will; worked at her own pace; she gets to decide who she wants to work with. She had several businesses, including a design studio targeting Belarusian market and a MY BOTTLE shop. Right now she’s launching her new project, Go.Studio, which is a consultancy specializing in design and e-commerce, and targeting the Russian market.

She works with Russians — the kind of clients I could not work with. She didn’t learn marketing, but the Go.Studio’s website is pretty compelling. She didn’t follow Brennan Dunn and other consulting influencers, but she did come up with an idea to productize her services anyway. (Though if she does follow them now, I’m sure that’ll make her business even more successful!)

She doesn’t know the entirety of CSS3, in fact, she hasn’t even heard of flexbox; no React; she doesn’t spend weeks refactoring her code. Does it matter, though, if you deliver quality results, making your client’s businesses even more awesome? Not at all!

Her parents aren’t rich and famous, they don’t have a villa on the other side of the world, they don’t fly on a private jet, or drive a BMW.

She didn’t spend all her time complaining how bad everything is; didn’t waste time on TV shows; didn’t watch the feel-good business channels on youtube. What she did have is a goal, and she figured out how to get there.

It sure is easier complain and surround yourself with “growth hacking” and other bullshit, without doing a thing. What you get in return, though, is also beyond mediocre. The illusion of work, that you might be after if you read business advice while watching a TV show all day long, doesn’t help either.

To get anywhere in life, you do have to struggle and work smart. Figure things out.

I’m really fascinated by people like Nastya, who start their life with nothing and work their way up.

The thing is, you can do it, too. Find your place and make yourself the life you’ve always wanted! Life is not something that just happens to you, it’s an active experience that you have direct control of.

Stop wasting your life, yo. Figure out where you want to be. Think how you’ll get there. Execute. Execute instead of falling into the feel-good trap.

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