Anna Belyaev

September 25, 2006
Posted in interviews
September 25, 2006 Terkel

The day before we were to depart for Chicago, I emerged from Trader Joe’s into the blistering triple digit desert heat in Phoenix, talking with Type A’s CEO Anna Belyaev with my phone pinched between ear and shoulder while clutching an armful of groceries.

“Uh huh. Yeah. That’ll work. 8:30 Thursday morning at the Westin? Great, yeah, yeah, we’ll see you there,” was what my end of the conversation was like as I opened the trunk to my eyesore of a ‘95 Mazda Protégé.

Once I got into the driver’s seat, I quickly scribbled our 21st interview of the week into our frenzied Chicago schedule on my receipt with a black Sharpie.

Flash forward to Thursday morning at 8:30, at our business office headquarters, Starbucks. Daniel and I casually wait for Anna as I read over notes from and Daniel sips his coffee.

Fifteen minutes go by and I’m beginning to get annoyed with Ms. Belyaev, who I’m thinking could be the second person to stand us up on the tour. I phone the person who referred me to this irresponsible CEO and received the phone number (that I did not bother to write down or save originally) to reach Anna.

I receive a pleasant answering machine with Anna’s voice telling me to leave a message, so I do at 8:50 am to see if she would care to join us for coffee this morning.

At 8:52 my phone vibrates and I answer to hear a slightly agitated female voice exclaiming that yes, she would like to have a cup of coffee, and that in fact, she had been waiting for a half an hour at the West Egg (not the Westin, or Starbucks) and was now en route to her office. But, she could change her route and meet with us briefly if we would still like.

Immediately I begin to think of how much a dumbass I am for not getting information correct.

This story is a perfect example of the two way street of communication, and I am the character that does not know the road rules. In this writeup I could talk about how interesting Anna is, how she majored in Slavic linguistics and has a passion for Russia, actually living over there for a while and witnessed the struggles the Russian people. Or I could expand on her ambitious goal of creating 10,000 jobs for people in her lifetime (right now she has created enough jobs to feed and support 15 families). But instead, the message that hit home with us was about simple communication, and the importance of perfecting this skill.

Anna’s message was that simple communication is the key to all changes. Communication can be in the form of body language, or in can be through conversation, which is really all you have at times. She pointed out that people often have conversations with themselves, but a conversation with yourself isn’t really communication and won’t be responsible for changes. Through conversations with others, you have a network of people to hold you accountable, and having that network can be the motivating tool to help you reach a goal.

On the way to reaching the potential for excelling in the area of communication you have to portray confidence, because the biggest obstacle is yourself and not being brave enough.

The basis for this advice is that simple conversation goes a long way. It may sound obvious, it may sound repetitive, but take a minute to look at the importance of communication in life. I know that I overlooked the issue, and as a result we could have never met Anna and heard her advice because of my lack of simple communication.