Success is not for the extraordinary.
It’s for everyone.
This week, I was honored to give the freshmen speech at the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering in Skopje.
Ever since I remember, I never felt of myself as extraordinary, or superior in any way. So, I was thrilled to be there and prove them you don’t need to be the best, or feel like it, to succeed.
You don’t need to drop out, or live in your parents’ garage like startup cliches teach us.
You don’t need to come from an entrepreneurial family, or have that inside you, like we’re taught by our parents.
You only need to be your unique self, follow your dreams and fight for what you stand for.
Today, I want to share that message with every freshman in the world. With every junior at the dawn of their career. With every person who believes success is something that happens to others.
For that, I’d like to tell you my story through three points.
9 years passed since I was a freshman, but I relive the feeling. It was a mix of excitement about the independence that follows, and fear of it.
Similar was the feeling when the Dean suggested that I share my experience with the crowd at this year’s ceremony. To have the professor, who took me through my first steps of this journey, ask me to share what I’ve learnt on the way is quite an honor. Expectedly, the fear of not meeting his expectations was again present.
Looking back, fear was part of my life’s major twists. Together with mistakes, wrong decisions and being judged by others.
I was a junior when I decided I want to be an entrepreneur. I felt it then. What I wanted in life is to make a difference. With six months of working experience, I packed my desk and gave my resignation. Yes, it was scary. But, I knew that I should do it.
It was the first time I fought the prejudice and followed my instincts.
I chose to live on my own in a foreign city, with high costs and unstable income. Welcome old friend, Fear. Not only did I face it myself, this time I felt fear and judgment in my closest ones as well.
Do you know what’s harder than being afraid? Your fear being confirmed by people you trust most.
Together with my colleague (today a co-founder), we started working night and day on projects that hardly paid our bills. Our only focus was moving forward. We were both engineering grads with no experience of how to lead a project or communicate with clients.
We made wrong decisions.
We were played by clients who disappeared just when we’ve sent the bill.
It made us stronger, better, and ready for what we are today.
To me, every step of the way is indispensable. I’d tell you to learn from my mistakes, but I know how tough that is. So, I’ll only ask that you look for the positive in every mistake. In every failure. To see in every fear an information about what matters to you. And use it to become better.
If you fear you’re not good enough to do something, focus on becoming better instead of focusing on how to back off.
Don’t let fear stand in the way of achieving your goals.
What was success to me when I decided to become an entrepreneur, for everyone else was a mistake.
Five years later, I’m leading a company with incredible energy, now working with established organizations from around the globe. Five years later I feel I’m finally making that difference, together with the whole team at Adeva.
Every day I learn I shouldn’t be measuring my success with someone else’s metrics. I learn not to compare myself with others.
I’ve realized you’re only successful if you choose your own path and stand behind it. If you’re happy with yourself, and your choices. And you don’t need anyone’s approval for that.
Tech advancements change the world in a direction where everyone is able to do what they want, not what they have to. No matter what end of the world they are in. We’re all unique. Find your purpose. Fight for it. It’s as easy now as it will ever get.
My favorite: Community.
As a student, I took part of a volunteering organization that aimed to make student life better. I did it because of my personal drive to contribute to something. To be part of something bigger.
Over time, I realized that by giving you get back a lot.
Having all that pleasant experience, I continued volunteering after graduation. It’s unreal how what you give to help others returns several times bigger. I like the idea of karma, but it’s not it. Simply, when you do something out of your usual horizons, you meet different people you can learn from. You gain experiences and skills you can’t get elsewhere.
Оur latest initiative, WeTalkIT, was a result of that drive to contribute to the community. We built our own developers’ community, with the goal to support each other and promote ourselves globally.
It started great. Our first project, built in a weekend hackathon was featured in TechCrunch. Imagine that. An amateur's project built by a few tech enthusiasts from Macedonia, got global reach in such a short time.
There are no borders in the online world. Your voice has the power to spread in an instance, no matter where you are.
At the end, I want to ask you to look farther than your daily chores. Expand your horizons. Volunteer. Blog. Share experiences. Meet people. You never know, the next game changer might sit just right next to you.
Invest into building genuine connections. Approach people thinking how you can help them, not how they can help you.
I wish you success no matter what your endeavor is. And please, have fun on the way.