My name is Val Slastnikov and I am the Webmaster of this site.

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Family stories:Val's Bio
Posted by: Val Slastnikov on June 20 2007 00:12


My life story

I was born on August 9, 1963 in Novosibirsk, Russia. My Father was a Civil Engineer and Architect, and a real expert in his field. Many government buildings in my City were built based on my Father’s blueprints, such as the City Railroad Station (see the picture below), and a lot of Administrative buildings and railroad bridges.

My Dad worked day and night, and died from ruptured brain aneurysm that no one, including himself, was aware of at the time. This is what I found out about brain aneurysms while doing a research for this story:

“A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulging outward of one of the arteries in the brain.

Brain aneurysms are often discovered when they rupture, causing bleeding into the brain or the space closely surrounding the brain. Blood hemorrhage from a ruptured brain aneurysm can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage and death. 10 to 15% of all patients with these symptoms will die before reaching the hospital and over 50% will die within the first thirty days after rupture. Of those who survive, about half suffer some permanent neurological deficit…”

My dad wasn’t lucky at all. He died on the way to the hospital, at an early age of 30, right after Christmas, during a cold winter of 1969. I was 6 years of age at that time.

My Mother who was a technical writer all her life and who never re-married ever since, had to raise me by herself. As if she made a promise to my dad to do the best she could in my upbringing. At the age of seven, I joined my first grade of school No 10 in Novosibisk, the “Elite” school which was specializing in English and Mathematics.

At the same year, my Mom put me in a Boys Choir and Music school within the City’s Conservatory where I took violin classes for 5 years.

That was my first time when I got exposure to fame and success. We traveled a lot with the Boys Choir, I was chosen to announce the songs and occasionally play violin in between the numbers. I remember when I saw myself on TV for the very first time. I was only about 8 years old or so, but it made me feel very special.

When I went outside, I felt as if all eyes of all people were glued to me, I was a center of attention, and I could almost heard them whisper, “This is the boy I just saw on TV! He plays violin and sings in boys choir…” Even the ice cream tasted sweeter to me that day, I felt so thrilled!

Music surrounded me all my life. I even joined MusicCollege after finishing eighth grade, but all of a sudden lost interest in music. I guess something told me that I would never be a professional musician, so I decided not to pursue Conservatory degree. My mom still thinks that was the wrong decision on my part. But I never regret it because it was my first time when I made my own decision. And it felt good ever since – my ability to make decisions, like Rich Schefren says, “Even in the face of uncertainty!”

So, after spending 1 year at College, I abandoned it, went back to High School and then joined NovosibirskUniversity.

At the end of my third year, I staged and produced a play for the year’s Final Exams called “Tina, the Laughing Hyena” where my group mates played all the characters. The play won the first prize that year, an they put me in charge of all Student Productions ever since.

I had to leave University for 2 years because I was drafted in Russian Army. During my Army days that I spent in Moscow, I formed a rock band where I selected all songs for the band, made all arrangements for voices and instruments and where I also was a lead singer. With that band, I was traveling all over Moscow and the area, and we won a number of awards and first prizes at Military Band Contests.

And, by winning those Contests, we gained a lot of popularity in the Military Music circles, to the point that the girls would shower us with flowers, the Generals would shower us with vodka and caviar, and General’s daughters would throw themselves to our feet … Those days were so great, I didn’t even want to leave Moscow when the time came to leave the Army!

But I did go back to Novosibirsk, to my wife and Son, who was only 3 years old at that time. And I finished University, even though I had to work full time at the Fire Station and study at night time. During those years, I realized how hard it was to work, study and support my family at the same time, and it was then when I started thinking to myself – there has to be a better way!

Right after I finished University, I started working in Foreign Trade. At first, I was with a factory that sold Lathe Machines, and then I also represented Association of Siberian Cities and helped Russian companies find foreign partners and sign joint ventures with them.

My biggest business achievement at the time was signing of 2 large joint ventures in China – one in Electronics Manufacturing, and one in Wood processing. I was representing 2 Russian companies there. I went to China, did all negotiations with Foreign Trade Association of Northern China and after 2 weeks of negotiations both deals were signed. I did it all on my own, without anybody’s help, and I felt very proud of myself.

That was the first time when I actually started identifying myself with a more entrepreneurial crowd, and that was what led me to believe that I could be successful if I started a business of my own.

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