Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Photo: Pavel Fedorov
What is the funniest or annoying stereotype surrounding the IT industry?
An IT guy wearing a sweater and huge glasses would be the typical stereotype. The funny thing is that at school everyone first laughs at them, and then they work for them.
If you were an app, which one?
Email. It did a lot of good things: it connected a large number of people, did a lot of good for humanity in general. There are, of course, negative aspects, but let’s not mention them. But the first and certainly the most important thing is the ‘connecting people’ aspect which is very beneficial for society.
If you were part of the SpaceX colonization plan, what would you miss the most about Earth?
I would miss the oceans and palm trees.
And what is the most beautiful thing or place you’ve ever seen in your life?
It was in Tulum, Mexico. There was a huge separately formed spherical cloud during the sunset. It was incredibly beautiful.
Who was the most memorable person you’ve met and why?
Recently, I was pleasantly struck and surprised by a completely random meeting after the TEDx event in Vancouver. After the official part, we went to someone’s house for dinner. A couple from Sweden approached me there and I was struck by their openness and how diverse people can be. The man started the conversation by asking how old I was and when he heard that I was 30, he told me the story that when he was 30, he lost everything. How he later moved from Sweden to Kuwait and about the liberation of Kuwait campaign, how his house was destroyed and how he ended up with nothing. Now he runs a huge business in Dubai. He wanted to be a musician, but he did not succeed, but he became a DJ nonetheless and now he has 2 platinum songs, despite the fact that he is a businessman. Then he discovered an admiration for art and began to paint for both himself and the gallery. When he was 30, his paintings were stored in his house, through which three armies passed through and took apart absolutely everything except the paintings. In addition to the fact that they walked on them, they also damaged them. After that, he was simply obliged to open a gallery. He is such an open and great person. He does everything that he likes in absolutely different areas. It really struck me. He and his wife are together for 30 years and they have 2 daughters. It’s just great.
If not IT, what would you do? What do you think your alternative life would be like?
It is impossible to predict, but most likely it would be something creative. Perhaps I would open a creative agency, or something related to being creative, art, or cinema.
What are some of your favorite films?
“Interstellar”, “Inception”, “Cloud Atlas”.
So what film reality would you like to live in?
Just like in “Inception”, I would like to jump through different levels of consciousness and the subconsciousness. I would like to create worlds.
If you could travel in time, where would you go and why?
To the future. I would like to experience an intergalactic journey. I would like to know what else besides our planet is in the galaxy, to learn about and try out all this popular science fiction stuff about the relocation of consciousness, about the robotization of the human body and brain. It would be very interesting.
What modern trend annoys you?
People lose the human aspect of themselves. People obey algorithms and become hostages of technology. We see this with Facebook and other social media, with how and where we spend time. In the future, algorithms will know us better and what is better for us to say and do. Therefore, who will control who is still a big question.
Do you fall under this influence yourself?
Sure. I am aware of it and try to minimize it. But, of course, I cannot help but give in. Moreover, I work in this industry. I have an excellent excuse in this regard that I do it because of work. Market research – I look at how this affects the fate of people.
What is the wisest thing you’ve ever heard?
When I needed advice, my friend said: “Listen, ask yourself and answer honestly to yourself. You already know the answer to this question. Do not lie to yourself. ” We know the answers, we just don’t want to admit it to ourselves.
If you could live forever, what would your eternity look like?
I think that the limited duration of human life is important, but somehow it’s still not enough. I want to have more time, I want to see more, feel more, learn more, travel more, help people more. Therefore, I think that forever is not a very good idea, because the magic of life would be lost. My long life would be directed and devoted to the knowledge of all that is around; to help others and the creation of something good and useful for people.
What longevity do you have in mind?
I thought about it. Well, somewhere around 700 years would be just right. But you know what’s the catch, if we were to live 700 years, then everything would be arranged and function in a completely different way. If we lived so long, the planet would be immensely overpopulated and we would need to introduce a restriction and a birth permit. Imagine you live 700 or 1000 years and you have only two slots when you can have only 2 children. How difficult would this choice be, to do it with the right person at the right time? I think people would approach these things more consciously.
The first few minutes the movie ‘Idiocracy’ depicts a scenario of two families: one with a low IQ and one with a high IQ. The latter postponed having a child because they wanted to earn more money to give their child a better life. Unfortunately, they died of old age, whereas the couple with a smaller IQ reproduced with the speed of rabbits, which led to the majority of the planet being stupid.
As if based on real-life events. Education is the leading influence factor on the population’s reproduction. The best that can be done in order to reduce the birth rate is to increase the level of education and the standard of living. This is clearly seen in world statistics: countries with a higher standard of living and education have lower birth rates.
Who is or was your biggest teacher.
What have you learned from her?
Firstly, a positive attitude. In any given situation. Secondly, resilience – to never give up. Well, I’m grateful for the good DNA both to her and my father.
Could you share a funny story from your childhood?
Ever since childhood, I had very good organizational skills. When I was in middle school, I had a conflict with a high school student. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand up to him so had to take a punch. But soon later, I resorted to the aforementioned ability and organized a group of retaliation consisting of the older guys, and was avenged. I think I was 8 years old.
Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory?
Probably not. The world is too big and complicated. There is just too much of the unknown and too many variables. Smarter people will control the rest. More or less like that.
If you could go back in time with the knowledge that you have now and change the course of history, what would you change?
You know, creating a car on an internal combustion engine was a big mistake. We had to immediately switch to electricity. There was a single moment due to which the entire industry developed according to this principle of engine operation, which immensely pollutes the atmosphere. It all happened before the achievements of the electric motor. Unfortunately, because of the oil companies and their lobbying, we went this way. Therefore, if I could change something, I would change this situation by killing two birds with one stone: it would affect the environment (the problem of global warming really bothers me) and we would save 100 years.
If you had the opportunity to change your gender for 24 hours, what would you do with that time?
I don’t quite know. I never even had such a desire. For instance, I didn’t even know that there is an issue of discrimination and it is more difficult for women to do business, especially here in Ukraine and in the post soviet countries. Yet when talking with women, I hear not very pleasant stories. I think it would be great to realize that such a problem still exists and help resolve it; to be a catalyst for changing this, to create a more correct and safe space for any person.
Based on the movie of Yorgos Lantimos ‘Lobster’, which animal would you choose for transformation?
A dolphin. They are very positive, very smart. They are very social and they love freedom.
If you had to choose between the field of IT or sex, what would you choose?
Life doesn’t end with IT.
Among historical figures that have ever existed, or the heroes of films and books, is there a character with whom you would like to talk?
I would like to talk to the Dalai Lama. It is fascinating how he relates to life, to the world, what thoughts he has about things, how he came to a state of enlightenment and to a different perception of reality, which differs so much from other people’s.
What was the last thing you’ve done or experienced for the first time?
It even happened today. Okay, not today. I don’t remember.
Since you live between three cities (Odesa, Kyiv, San Francisco), could you give some advice on where one should not go and what one should not do in these cities?
In San Francisco, you shouldn’t go to Tenderloin at night. It’s a very dangerous and unfavorable area. In Odessa, you shouldn’t buy crustaceans during the heat.
What was the most memorable question you were asked?
My friend constantly asks me: “What did you learn today?”. This makes you reflect and fill every day with new knowledge.
What moment in your life will you recall to your death?
Well, probably the story that I told you about: Tulum, sunset and incredible clouds after the storm. Incredibly beautiful. Add a state of absolute peace into the mix and there you have it.
Is a state of absolute peace something that is familiar to you?
Not really, even though I try. Too many things are happening, but, in general, it happens more often than before, so that’s a good thing.
What’s it like to be you?
Truth be told, I am very self-critical and I demand from myself the most because I know of my capabilities and I know what my potential is. I know my ambitions. Sometimes it’s difficult because you place high demands on yourself. On the other hand, I believe that I was very lucky in life. I’ve never had any significant problems. I’ve worked hard on myself and work when everyone else is sleeping.
What things interest you outside of work?
I really like film, art. I like to listen to people who have achieved something cool, to understand how they think in order to broaden my horizons. I even bought Masterclass which are long interviews with people who are successful in completely different areas. People think differently, so you can learn a way of thinking or some kind of wisdom. It’s fascinating. I’m just interested in everything, whether it’s history, engineering (how bridges are built ..), how society works, finances, art and how people express themselves, Buddhism as a way of thinking… Everything is interesting because life is super interesting.
How many hours are there in your day?
Even less now because I sleep more ever since watching Matthew Walker’s talk on TED. You need to sleep 8 hours, otherwise, the brain does not recover and you work worse and live less. Therefore, you have to sleep 7-7.5 hours a day.
What do you think really matters at the end of life?
There is a Harvard study that lasted 70 years. They tried to understand what makes people happy and the answer is very simple – relationships with other people. Long-term, good relationships with other people. At the end of life, probably these points will count: first of all, how was I able to build good relationships with other people, and, second of all, how satisfied will I be with what I have done in my life and whether I seized my full potential. The third thing would be what have I left behind – my legacy.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Good question. There are two parts to this answer, one is more sentimental. I would like people to remember me with a smile on their faces, I would like to have inspired and changed people, for them to look back on the great times they’ve shared with me, with smiles and jokes. In the second part, I would like to do something useful – something that I’ve created that would help people live a good life, save time from doing unnecessary things, and give back at least an hour a day (which is actually very small). Not spending an hour a day on Instagram, but on something more important and more valuable.
What is your perception of love?
It’s a palette of so many things: respect, trust, interest, playfulness, passion, attraction, mutual growth, and with all this – independence. The acknowledgment of how amazing it is. Love is within, not the other way around.
What absurd or useless information are you in possession of?
I remember all the songs from the 90s that were played on radio and cassettes. For example, Malinina, Buinova. I don’t understand why and how, but I remember all the lyrics of their songs.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would you answer?
You’ve already asked many of those questions relating to what I wanted to share and what I thought about. For example, the one about what I would like to be remembered for. Another very important question is what kind of people you surround yourself with, what kind of relationships you have, what kind of dynamics. Both outside of work and in one’s field of activity.
What advice would you give to humanity?
Do you set an example yourself?
You know, sometimes I delete the app from my phone for 3-5 days, then I install it back. Then I delete it again. I try my best.
Translation: Elena Savlokhova