The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.By Fotis Georgiadis, Passionate about bringing emerging technology to the market.
Treat challenges as fun. The harder it is to win, the bigger the price, the greater you feel after accomplishment. The atmosphere of playfulness encourages experimentation and creativity — they are your key assets that differentiate between winners and losers in a hard time.
As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Borys Pikalov.
Borys is Co-Founder at Stobox, an award-winning startup that develops a disruptive financial technology that provides alternative business financing for enterprises. He is also a researcher with over 2,500 hours of research in the industry of securities tokenization and author of the book “How to attract investments with STO. A practical guide”, supported by the Maltese government. Borys shares his knowledge as a speaker and contributor to professional industry media, Securities.io, TheTokenist, Finovate. He also assits government of Ukraine with the education of business community and design of legislation for virtual assets. What is the most impressive, Borys achieved all this at the age of 22.Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’ll go into detail here because all the lessons I applied in business have been learned before I started. In the hindsight, it seems like all things that happened to me in the early years were a preparation to handle challenges to come.
In childhood, I was a “prodigy” child, learning was naturally easy for me. However, as many of such children, I struggled with emotional intelligence and social skills. This is a dangerous combination as it makes you someone classmates envy and someone who is barely able to protect himself from emotional abuse.
Those years left deep scars but also provided a key revelation that changed my life and made it possible to become who I am now. It is was that these skills may be learned through continuous practice of overcoming yourself. If you are ready to struggle, to do what feels uncomfortable and embarrassing repeatedly, eventually you learn the skills and become comfortable. Learning to struggle is critical. But there is also another key element.
In the university years, I’ve studied theoretical physics (quite uncommon for entrepreneurs). In the community of physicists, there is a unique culture that is very lacking in business: complex challenges are fun.
We would often gather with friends to solve the hardest problems that we could find. This attitude makes it possible to handle long-term continuous pressure for years!
Another element that thought me resilience was my sports career. For 3 years, I was professionally engaged in competitive debating in British Parliamentary Style. The uniqueness of this style is that you have only 15 minutes to prepare a speech after hearing the motion. Limited time and high stakes create a different kind of pressure, which couldn’t handle for a long time. In my most active year, I lost 10 final rounds in a row (!) because of it.
The key to winning I have found is surrendering the result. It is another extremely uncommon business advice. Mostly, it is advised to focus on revenue, growth, KPIs. The problem is, those are not things you fully control — they are determined by hundreds of factors, such as the wider economy, your competitors, etc. To achieve efficiency and mental resilience, you should focus on what’s under your control — doing your best work and realizing your higher purpose. Since I surrendered winning, I won 6 competitions in a row.
All of these lessons later have shown themselves crucial. The industry of securities tokenization is very complex, and I don’t think we could have survived without having these lessons learned. It is highly competitive (literally hundreds of other tokenization providers) but at the same time only emerging, with only a few dozens of clients in 2020.Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
It is funny to look at my communication at the beginning. I was trying to be very formal in all messages, letters, documents. This made some of them barely readable. At that time, I thought it was impressive. Only with time you learn that however cool is the CEO you are speaking with, he or she is only a person, as well as you. If you want to other people to trust you and work with you, you have to connect with them on a human level. When I realized that, our sales conversion rate increased two-fold.None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There were many great people in my life, it’s hard to pinpoint anyone particular. It refers not only to those who I know personally, but to people who share their insights in books and articles. I’ve been deeply impacted by the book 80,000 hours, by the works of Eliezer Yudkowskiy, Mark Manson. These were definitely lifechaning for me.Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
We started with the mere purpose of making money in a promising niche. I don’t think that many businesses start with the goal of changing the world. Most often you simply want to do something cool, solve the problem for yourself or your friends or simply to make some money. The purpose is discovered later when you realize what you are capable of, how you impact people’s lives, how your business fits into the bigger picture.
This happened to us as well. The more we were doing research, speaking to potential clients, the more we realized how disruptive we can be to financial markets. Now we have found that our purpose is to democratize financial markets, giving businesses more access to capital and people access to better investment opportunities, the vision in which each company from day 1 can make it open to investment from any people in any part of the world.