Vivacious. Compassionate. Curious.
I met Vicki in the jungle of Costa Rica where we bonded over the importance of storytelling and an RM Drake Quote. And I am just one of countless stories she has about meeting people in their truth without the excruciating small talk of a cocktail party.
Vicki doesn't ask you to be yourself. She demands it. The first 5 minutes of meeting Vicki you feel like you've known her for years because she dedicates her life to finding, sharing, and cultivating authentic connection. She lives her life unedited and shares with you her deepest joys and saddest heartbreaks.
I can only wonder how different the world would be if we were all a little or a lot more real and less guarded. I hope you learn spent a little time thinking about what makes you special and unique after reading her interview.
In Her Own Words:
Who I Am: I'm a Ukrainian born, ATL + NYC bred competitive storyteller, writer, and adventurer. In February 2016, after six years as an ad exec in New York, I quit my job to embark on a 24 month solo backpacking world tour to write a novel, document acts of kindness, and pay it forward.
What I Believe: Storytelling is my passion - using my voice to make people FEEL is my passion. After winning a NYC MOTH last year, I understood the healing power of sharing the stories we are taught to hide.
What I Do: After foregoing a successful media career, I've fully enjoyed throwing myself into a creative entrepreneur role; this hat fits me better = ).
First, I'm a writer, focusing on women's issues. My VICE article chronicling my own egg freezing journey has led to being featured in TIME magazine and an interview on Dr.Oz show. My last piece - an open letter to Amy Schumer about body positivity- also went viral.
Second, I teach a workshop " Hacking Human Connection via Storytelling" at conferences, festivals, and retreats all over the world. Given that the greatest single indicator of happiness is relationships, I believe a person's ability to connect to fellow humans has the potential to alter the trajectory of their life. I'm committed to teaching people small shifts to be more open hearted, vulnerable, and curious with each other both at work and outside.
Lastly, I'm an artist: I make bad ass mermaid flower crowns that combine old world traditions of my Ukrainian heritage with a new modern Frida Kahlo inspired hippie twist for weddings, Burning Man, and editorial shoots. My crowns empower women to tap into their inner goddess and feel beautiful.
How I Got Here: As a bonafide adventurer, I've traveled over 49 countries and fully immersed myself from teaching at a Cambodian orphanage, to summiting Mt. Kenya solo. I just returned from helping on the ground at the Sounio refugee camp where I implemented a rogue volunteer style and raised over $7,000 in 24 hours to provide immediate aid and supplies to three neglected Kurdish and Afhgan refugee camps; documenting the entire experience via social media and vlogs. I feel most alive when using my voice to shine light on others and values authenticity and vulnerability above all else.
Q&A with Vicki
What’s are your favorite life hack? The best way to kick the blues AND kick off my day? Dancing naked to Beyonce whilst brushing your teeth. Everyday.
What does balance look like? It looks like forgiving yourself for not getting to everything on your to- do list with a smile on your face knowing that your sanity trumps society' metrics of productivity.
What does doing things differently look like to you? Being brave enough to question authority, processes, and archaic ways of thinking because you have a gut instinct that it could be done differently. With that conviction of self, you then tactfully execute your out of-the-box vision. Whether its a success or not doesn't matter - what matters is that you were brave enough to think differently, so the lessons you learn in failure or in success will be so much more valuable and ultimately guide you to a clearer path for victory. Being different means being willing to risk it all, where others wont, so you're willing to win, where other' can't.
What is your message to the world? What do you want your grandkids to say about you when you at your funeral? Start with your legacy and work backward until you live every single day, every single action with that level of integrity. Because 70 years later, you will be proud of the empire you've built surrounded by family, employees, and friends who deeply love and respect you.
How do you handle the hard parts of marching to the beat of your own drum? I've never been ' normal ' - I wear it like a badge of honor. I choose to lean into the fact that I'm a bit louder, more eccentric, wild, and reckless than most. Instead of seeing being different as a curse, I see it as a gift. Its what makes me an impactful storyteller, its why I live my life on a much bolder frequency, its why I can write about my experiences because THEY are different, as a bi-product.
What is your favorite quote? My favorite quote was told to me by my grandpa who just passed last week. He told me something that changed my life forever for the better. " Take out the splinter. Its the tiniest break in the skin, but if you leave it in it hurts to touch anything. If you leave it in, this tiny splinter could fester an infection and turn septic. So take out the splinter, and live your life free of pain." I realized he was talking about forgiveness, and the splinter is whatever you're holding on to thats a painful narrative preventing you from living your highest potential of joy.
What is the lesson you wish you could go back and teach yourself? As a woman, I played up my sexuality and played down my intelligence through highschool and college. As a result, I never formed real meaningful relationships to men - because I wasn't attracting the caliber of men that would want to date a girl like that. I got my first boyfriend at 23 when I was finally ready to be vulnerable and real. I broke up with him 3 years later and was devastated - it took me 2 years to get over it. Experiencing your first heartbreak at 26 is a hard lesson and I know if I had let men in earlier, been my authentic self earlier, then I could have saved myself a lot of trauma later on. Now, the greatest compliment I receive is when a man sees me for my light, my story, my jokes - without ever complimenting my physicality. I've stopped wearing makeup, push up bras, heels and fancy clothes and now I'm attracting and dating the kindest, smartest men who wouldn't have talked to me a few years ago.
Who or what has been the biggest catalyst/impact on who you’ve become? My wolf pack: my two sisters, grandma, and mother consistently shape, challenge, and guide the woman I am and the woman I'm becoming. Backpacking the world, working at orphanages, and refugee camps has shown me perspective, expanded my mind and heart, and made me so grateful for the simple things I used to take for granted.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE:
To someone who has a mission they want to start or pursue? Don't worry about approval - you're not gonna get it. Don't worry about making money - its not gonna happen immediately. Don't focus on scaling - keep your business small and nimble while its in the fragile initial stages. DO follow your gut instinct, your heart, and your vision - no one can take that away from you.
To someone who is looking for her own girl gang? Be really kind to other women, shine a light on them, promote their causes, pro actively ask how you can help and spend hours working on their projects and powerpoints on a saturday night with wine in hand. Be a woman of high integrity and you will attract that same back.