April Update

IVHQRecently I received an invitation by IVHQ to volunteer in Bali. I volunteered with IVHQ in Vietnam three years ago and had a great experience. I taught six female students in a shelter in HCMC how to use OLPC computers and the Internet. the-blue-sweaterEven though Facebook was officially banned in Vietnam at that time, we opened Facebook accounts to keep in touch when I go back to the US. Today they are all on FB, even though they don’t speak English well and I can’t speak Vietnamese at all, I’m glad we are connected. I see their pics and posts and plan to visit them soon. Volunteering was such a profound experience for me that I highly recommend it and advise to volunteer whenever you travel abroad as there are quite a few organizations that will place you where help is needed. By volunteering we do impact others for the better. Lets help people in developing countries, who don’t have the luxury of our quality of life, civil rights and democracy. A great book about interconnectedness is “The Blue Sweater” by Jacqueline Novogratz.

To finance your volunteer traveling try Itravelforgood. I met Carlos, the founder, at Pay It Forward event in LA, and he told me about his great co-op community.

March Update

This month Julia Fedotova recognized our site as the “Online tool for depression treatment” in her school research.  Julia is taking “Psychological Treatment Research” class at Harvard University this semester and finishing her Master’s degree in Psychology.

This class is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of basic concepts in psychotherapy research, including the history of psychotherapy, basic methodological issues in studying therapeutic change (group and single-case designs, measuring change, reviewing progress), major approaches to psychotherapy (for example, CBT, psychodynamic, experiential), and psychotherapy with special populations. Prerequisites: introductory psychology and abnormal psychology. (4 credits)

TUA Harvard Presentation March 2013

PSYC E-2455 Psychological Treatment Research (22622)
Spring term. Matthew K. Nock, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University. Class times: Mondays beginning Jan. 28, 7:40-9:40 pm.

You can check out her full presentation: The Ultimate Answer.

Also read this interesting story by a famous Russian painter Vasily Perov “New Legend of Happiness”. I read this story years ago and just rediscovered it again.

The story is about one-eyed Happiness wondering around and looking for her stolen children. She touches everyone she stumbles into on her way, but doesn’t recognize her pure children in them and throws them away. And then she wonders off again. Russian version of it online: http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/i-wolga/post252819827/


February Interview

Ben Tao from MyTreat interviewed me about Santa Monica New Tech Meetup group:

Santa_Monica_New_TechTell us more about your Meetup group, Santa Monica New Tech. Why did you decide to start it? How is it different from other tech related Meetup groups?

When I relocated to LA from the East Coast one year ago I was looking for a group with monthly pitch events similar to Boston New Tech.  I didn’t find it, so I started one in Santa Monica.  I wanted to be a part of the LA Tech community to network and find a technical co-founder for my startup, which I did shortly after. Today our group hosts the most frequent and well attended pitch/demo events for tech startups in LA area! And they are free of charge.

What are the backgrounds of your members? What are they looking to get out of the group?

It is a high energy group of people passionate about innovation in web and mobile technology. Our members come from various backgrounds with different goals: founders of startups to promote their creation, technical and business people who have corporate jobs to get inspired and possibly launch a startup of their own in the future, people who already have ideas and look for co-founders, service providers to help startups grow, investors to find their next investment and media to cover this tech entrepreneurial movement.

What have been some of your most popular events? Why do you think they were popular?

So far we’ve had mainly pitch events with 5-7 tech startups giving 5 min presentation (demo/slides) and 5 min Q&A. I think this format is easy to digest, as 5 min is long enough to explain the gist of the idea. We also have different industries represented. This way it never gets boring. Presenters are full of passion about what they do and it charges the audience with great positive energy. It is especially fascinating to hear about solutions to problems that you experience yourself. We usually have an open mike session at the end to help people better connect with each other. There is an opportunity to approach presenters after the event, converse more and exchange ideas.

Besides pitch/demo events, we invite some interesting speakers and hold social events. We plan to create other events, like Technology Pay It Forward and tech panels.

What do you think of the Los Angeles Tech Community? What excites you about it?Gold Rush

It is the Wild West and the California gold rush all over again with numerous opportunities, if only you are brave enough and willing to take risks. Vast pool of entrepreneurs and tech pros who are going solo or with a buddy trying to find “gold” but in reality are gold themselves.

They just need to be persistent, connect to the similar minded people and get feedback. Los Angeles has a lot of newcomers, and migration constantly brings new waves of talent. This talent should be plugged into the community and that is what our group is for.

What do you think it takes to run a successful tech Meetup group?

Positive attitude and perseverance. In the past I had difficulties with venues, unreliable presenters and low attendance, but it was all temporary and I had to go through it to get to where we are now. I always knew that our events inspire Los Angelenos to pursue their dreams, and if that doesn’t work try again and again. As one of our members said, this Meetup group is a tree and members are the birds that come and make it live. Only together they make a prosperous living ecosystem, neither one can do without another. It is a community of people passionate about tech innovation, helping each other and creating a better quality of life. In the end life is not that much enjoyable without passion and people to share it with.

January Update

Happy New Year 2013!  The Ultimate Answer participated in the Fred Talk on Jan 2, 2013. The topic of the presentation was “Hector and the happiness formula”.

“Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector who was not very satisfied with himself…
Hector works with patients, who don’t necessary suffer from any psychological disorders but are simply dissatisfied with life and are clearly unhappy. He can’t help them and that is beginning to depress him.
Hector takes a trip around the world to learn what makes people happy-and sad. As he travels from Paris to China to Africa to the United States, he meets many different people and learns many valuable Lessons.
Along the way Hector constantly reassesses what ‘happiness’ means, realizing how very different it can be in different circumstances.”From the book “Hector and the search for happiness” by Francois Lelord.

Happiness is different things to different people. Happiness is how satisfied we are with what is important to us, but we can choose and decide what we pay attention to when we build our happiness. We are the creators of our personal happiness formulas!

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Road Less TraveledThen took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

December Story

So the world didn’t end on Dec 21, 2012 as someone predicted, and the story below is a good reminder on what is important in the rules of living:

“There was a man who spent his whole life robbing banks. He was a criminal genius who could easily break through the most sophisticated security systems. When he died an angel greeted him and showed him around. the man thought, “Wow, this is a great place! there is food; there’s a spa. Nice sleeping accommodations. There is everything I could ever need.”

But eventually he became bored.  He sought out the angel and said, “Angel, can you help me out? I’d like to rob a bank.”

The angel said, “Sure. Which bank would you like to rob?”

“You see that bank over there? That’s the one I want to hit.”

“What time would you like to do so?”

“Three this afternoon.”

“How much money wold you like in the safe?”

“Two million.”

“Perfect, two million dollars will be there, waiting for you. Here are the plans of the bank layout. Just walk in and take it.”

The man said. “No, no, no, no. You don’t understand. I want to plan this. I want to bypass the alarms and security on my own.”

“You can’t do that.” The angel told him. “Now that you’ve died, things are a little different. You just tell us what you want and we provide it for you.”

“But I’m the greatest bank robber the world has ever known. There is no thrill in doing it this way. What kind of racket do you have going on here in heaven?”

The angel looked at him gravely and replied: “Who said this is heaven?”

When you are a bank robber or a philanthropist, satisfaction comes from overcoming a challenge and thereby earning the sense of accomplishment. When we don’t feel challenged or don’t feel any sense of having earned something, we slip toward chaos. But when we earn, overcome or change an aspect of ourselves for the better, we experience the heavenly energy of Light.

It is the possibility  of losing against an opponent that gives fulfillment to winning.”

From “The Power of Kabbalah”  by Y. Berg.

November 2012 Update

I felt compelled to participate in Quora’s discussion “Why are some people more resilient than others?” Please, share your comments either here or at http://qr.ae/8Loot. My answer:

I took Psychological Resilience Class PSYC-E-1018 led with Dr. Shelley Carson at Harvard Extension School in Jan 2012. Criteria: a prerequisite for resilience is adversity. A consequence of resilience is positive adaptation or growth.
Resilience is a combination of risk and protective factors throughout life. There are many pathways in and out of resilient behavior; you have to have risk factors and protective factors.

“From developmental PPath studies protective factors are:

Within the child:
high IQ; temperamental characteristics (extraversion, pleasant disposition); physical attractiveness; religious orientation
Family characteristics:
maternal warmth; good father/child relationship; absence of parental mental disorders; father employment
Outside the family:
positive school experience; good peer relations; extended social network; positive role model; safe neighborhood; availability of community resources”

The main thing I got out of the class is that is all about the formula:

E+R=O (Event+Response=Outcome) or ABC:
A-     Activating or adverse event
B-     Beliefs about event
C-     Consequences

When you change your beliefs about the event/create good response to even a negative event, you ameliorate risk. How to do it? Through meditation, physical exercise, volunteering, learning new skills, and discovering and doing what you love, finding meaning in what you do, creating positive relationships, learning copying strategies (emotional sharing or problem-solving).
Pillars of resilience:

1.      Positive attitude, including activities you enjoy
2.      Cognitive flexibility (learning), including habits
3.      Problem-focused copying and instrumental social support
4.      Meaning making
5.      Social support

“Take-home message: Adversity is part of life. We have the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity. We can learn resilience from role-models. We have a toolkit of developable skills. We have the ability to use our resilience to emerge even stronger after adversity”. I highly recommend this class to all interested in this topic.

Also see a Roadmap on problem resolution, Martin Seligman’s article on Building Resilience and Students Feedback on this class.

We had another Santa Monica New Tech event at CrossCampus in November and Heather Martin wrote an article about it “New Tech Meetup – Creating Your Happiness Formula and Other Cool Stuff!”

October 2012 Update

October is a happening month. I went to Paris and visited several museums. Napoleon has a controversial reputation: some think of him as a hero who came from nothing and created the First French Empire, others – devil who was thirsty for power at the expense of other nations. Victor Hugo, on the other hand, has a much better reputation. He was a poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman and human rights campaigner. No wonder he, not Napoleon, was proclaimed a saint in Cao Dai religion in Vietnam.

France is full of inspiration for artists of all sorts, and their beautiful works of art are created in architecture, paintings, literature, cinema (films like “The beautiful person”, “Love me if you dare”, “Girl on the bridge”), and of course music: from French chanson  of “Au Lapin Agile” to “Notre Dame de Paris” musical or “La Seine” with Vanessa Paradis singing:

La Seine Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z-NbQvhzKM

When I came back to LA, I attended half of Intuitive Warrior Workshop. About 70 people were guided by Amir Zoghi to listen to their hearts by trusting their intuition.

“Present moment is the essence of love. Love this part of me that is empty, part that is missing and incomplete, then I feel loved. But we are love already, we don’t need love from another to find completeness. When you no longer need to be in a relationship, you are in a relationship because you love that person. Love is universal energy and infinite source.”

Knowing truth is different from wisdom.  Knowing is a feeling, wisdom is experiencing. We need to listen to our intuitive flow, creative side without having an agenda or expectations. Nothing needs to be fixed in us, when we do what is true for us, our confidence goes up. Never underestimate of what is inside you, that makes you special! Believe in self, like Paul Potts does:

Nissan Dorma Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=1k08yxu57NA

I went to Moscow Sretensky Monastery Choir concert at the Royce Hall in UCLA. It was a gift from the Universe: when I visited my friend in NYC on Sept 16 (during my 12 hour layover on my way to Russia), her friend came to see her and invited me to this concert 5 weeks later. It was divine.

Last week I organized Santa Monica New Tech event, where I told about Qwiki. Watch October Fred eventvideo-recording for Michael Levine’s “Secrets of Super-Success” and check out two new articles on happiness: Experial and Happier.

September 2012 Update

In September we were on sabbatical. I went to my home town Sochi  and didn’t recognize it after 3 years: new condominiums, new supermarkets and new highways. It is so different today. I visited Olympic complexes both in Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana, as Sochi will be hosting Winter Olympic Games in 2014. See my Born to Wonder blog for more pictures and read the article about Sochi.Sochi0

To me happiness is several things: being in good health, working on what I like to do and being with people I love. So visiting my parents in my hometown and spending time with them is my happiness. I walked the streets of Sochi, visited my school, kindergarten, dacha, went to the beach, to Sochi quay, and saw other attractions with my parents. Everything is familiar and feels home. I walked the pedestrian forest walk on Bytkha, checked out Trade Gallery and many other places dear to my heart.

I took a lot of pictures of the places I grew up around. I bumped into two of my classmates: Vladimir from my high school and Sergey from Sochi State University. The former is a policeman on Bytkha and the later works at the digital store where dad and I bought flashdrives. I also saw a former “bandit” from Bytkha at the concert by the Sea Port. There was a rumor he was a member of agang. Back then we were all afraid of him, today he looked small and skinny and not frightening at all. Things change, and that is the part of life. Things I was afraid of changed and I changed. But I still find things I love even when they don’t exist anymore.

Growing up I was afraid of being imprisoned in Sochi, even

though it is a beautiful city (“The City of the Future”) and has a great climate similar to that of California (sub tropical with palm trees everywhere). It is the most beautiful resort in Russia with lush vegetation, clean streets and Black Sea Coast for many miles. And yet, I wanted to see the world, to do something I was not able to do in Sochi. A friend of mine asked: “Why would you want to leave paradise?” Because I cou

ldn’t create there. But in the end, “the treasure is where our heart is” as Paolo Coelho said.

Here are more quotes from “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho:

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

“This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.”

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

“making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him.”

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”

“But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”

See more Paolo Coelho quotes.

August 2012 Update

The Olympics was a major highlight of August 2012! It was great to see world athletes together in London and watch them compete in peace with no boycotting countries. Next Olympics will be in my home town Sochi! So stay tuned for more news when I go to visit Sochi in just 2 weeks!2012-Olympics.jpg

The Ultimate Answer was a sponsor of Santa Monica New Tech Meetup in Coloft on Aug 22, 2012. We provided Krispy Kreme donuts, brownies and biscuit cookies. There were 100 new technologists in attendance. Read more about the event and our presentation from the blog article by Jason Thompson http://su.pr/3wMqmH.

We were not picked to go to Chile Startup this time, but will try again in the next round.

We made all the changes as promised to our front page, and now you can see current world happiness index and how many people created it, plus three areas the world needs help with and three areas that go really well for those participating.

Our upcoming changes: make over of About page, creation of FAQ and a new second step to increase world happiness. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

What Is Coming Up

Since our Happiness Formula launch in June, we have been working hard.

First of all we applied to Startup Chile, which is an international incubator program in Santiago, Chile.  We submitted our application for the fifth round of the program (second this year) by July 10, 2012. 1509 startups from 61 countries are competing for 100 spots. So wish us good luck and if all goes well, we will be in Chile from Oct 2012 – April 2013.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=415iM8rr1X8

We have been actively gathering feedback from people who created their formulas. One way to give us feedback is via our 5 Question Survey. So far we learned that participants want to know the world happiness ratio. When asked whether they would share their formulas, they said they would share any data if it was anonymous. One person said he still needs clarification on what the happiness formula is. One user’s answers to questions 4 and 5:

What do you like the most about this site and formula? “Chance to break down and think about various aspects of my happiness”.

What do you like the least about the site? How can we improve it? “Formula seems a little simplistic, ranking life aspects and then ranking their importance – I feel like I do that already in my own head. Also, site didn’t explain what the % was at the end.”

Besides the survey, we received other feedback from participants via live testing or email. They told us that after the test they want to be told what their biggest gaps are and to be directed to generated solutions or worksheets on what to do for specific categories. They want to be able to ask their own questions and to have more stats on The Ultimate Answer community, their highs and lows and how they change day to day.

What we are going to do: Add world happiness ratio and user count and three highest gaps from the world happiness formula to the front page. We will create a Facebook app to make it easier to share your happiness stats with friends.

We will be showing our demo on Aug 22, 2012 at 7PM at Santa Monica New Tech Meetup in Coloft on 920 Santa Monica Blvd. Come to see our presentation!

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