It is always a pleasure to host young, gorgeous ladies who possess versatile characteristics and can communicate in different languages. Today, we are meeting Katia Stefanova whose unpretentious charm and sense of humour are truly inimitable.
Hailing from the small but spellbindingly beautiful country of Bulgaria, Katia is the embodiment of an aspiring young entrepreneur. And the epitome of a visionary. A non-conformist visionary, that is.
- Dear Katia, welcome! Please get yourself comfortable on the entrepreneurial seat and share with us why did you opt for a life outside the 9-5 “fiesta” billions of people follow?
You mean a life inside the 24/7 madness? (Laughs) Thank you so much for having me, Svet! I’m very happy that I can share with you and your readers some parts of my story.
I´ve never really had a normal office 9-5 (I’ve been a waitress for 8+ hours per day but I don’t know if it counts).
While in university, I was very active and I used my time volunteering in many different projects, some of which surprisingly ended up giving me useful professional experience and, of course, most importantly, confidence. Then, after graduating, I had some internships for almost a year, and while doing the internships, I felt I wasn´t challenged enough, so I decided to go after blogging.
Once I started learning about all the opportunities the online world offered, I realized I had marketable skills I could use, so I decided to give it a try. First with Upwork, then some Facebook groups, and one by one, different projects started appearing on the horizon.
It’s been a crazy year so far! For personal motives, I’ve changed three countries of residence already and working online turned out to be a blessing because it allowed me to make these changes without worrying I´d lose my job.
I’m currently in the Dominican Republic for an indefinite period of time and while I´m building my virtual assistance business (surprise, surprise! I kind of want to concentrate on my own writing projects right now and keep helping people with the rest of the things I know), I’ve also talked to a local company about helping them with their online presence. (What can I say, I’m curious to experience as much as I can of this life :D)
- What’s your take on competition? How do you stick out from the legions of people online?
This might shock you but frankly speaking, I need competition in order to thrive. As a matter of fact, I consider competition vital for achieving anything in life.
I know, I know…competition and the online world are two opposite things. Well, yes and no. Not in the sense that I understand competition.
To explain, I must go back in time.
Back in middle school and then in high-school, if there was a competition in maths or languages, I was there. Ours were not times when “everyone got a trophy” just for showing up and I’m very grateful for that since there was no bigger motivation to me than my losses and no higher joy than proudly celebrating every win.
Competitions taught me the importance of effort and granted me with emotions and memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.
But it wasn’t just that.
Competitions had three rounds: local, regional, and national. And it turned out that every year, we were more or less the same 20 people who managed to get to the national event. I don’t know if my generation’s case was extraordinary, but it surely was outstanding. For maybe two, three or four hours just one day every year, we sat in a room and put our knowledge to test. We were all competitors for that period of time because there was eventually going to be a winner. But for the rest of the time? We were all invaluable friends. How so?
Well, just like in marketing, our competitions took place in a certain niche. We all formed part of that niche, therefore we had many characteristics in common.
Obviously, we were all ambitious, we shared interests, we were open-minded and young (read carefree), and we all possessed one quality that I believe will serve each one of us for the rest of our lives.
We were wise enough to see each other as catalysts to everyone’s success.
Because one of us winning challenged the rest of us to work harder. And the most beautiful part was that we were constantly sharing information, opportunities, books, and contacts. Anything that could make us grow.
We were trying to build each one up because, I suppose, we unconsciously knew that the better the opponent we were facing, the better we, ourselves, had to become.
We literally challenged each other towards improving and developing. And that type of competition is what I try to recreate in my “adult” life. Let’s call it “colletition”, competition with solid collaboration. What do you think? :))
- Do you seek customers or they discover you?
Oh well, maybe both. I seek interesting projects and if I see one, I’m all there. But I’m glad that I can finally say I have content recurring clients who not only come back to me but also gladly recommend me to their network. It is a wonderful sensation. In the beginning, it´s always the hardest. Nobody knows you, nobody sees a reason to trust you. It´s normal. I´m happy I got lucky and found my first clients relatively quickly.
In the online world, it’s all about proving that you´re trustworthy. And one of my best qualities is that I’m ultra-responsible, which is great for the clients (although, not that good for me, sometimes :D)
- I bet your life is demanding. How do you juggle all your daily errands?
I believe here you might agree with me when I say that the more the work, the better the organization. I´m more productive, more concentrated, and more satisfied by the end of the day when I have more than one thing pending (Keep in mind, I´m not a workaholic! Working-out and having some me time is also included).
- Who is your role model, Katia, and why you’d love to co-operate with him/her?
This is going to sound kind of trivial, maybe even a little bit like Matthew McConaughey on the Oscars’ podium, but I don’t really believe in role models. I respect many people for who they are and what they do, but I’m afraid that if looked at them as role models, I’d start aspiring to become like them instead of letting them, their actions, and ideas inspire me to create a better me.
- You speak four languages. How did you master them? Any tips for our knowledge-craving readers?
Okay, so in my case, there are two things that play a role.
First, all of the languages I speak are languages that I LOVE.
And second, I believe that if I´m going to do something, I should go all in and give it my best.
So, that´s what happened first with English, then with Spanish (competitions, remember?), and now it´s happening with Italian. I chose Italian partially because it´s my boyfriend´s native language and
mostly because every time I hear Italian I imagine myself eating spaghetti while dancing.
It fills me with love and excitement and it makes everything feel better. It may sound cheesy, but it’s enough of a reason for me – a language that makes me experience life that way definitely deserves my attention.
So I guess my tips are, choose a language that you love and that makes you think of your favorite food. It can’t get any simpler.
- I know you worship healthy food. How about you provide us with a healthy formula for a success in today’s not-so-healthy world?
Sounds to me like the answer is in the question. Truth is, we no longer live in the industrial era when success was pretty much a standardized idea. Times have changed, but it seems that our collective minds change slower. Success now has different forms and can manifest in many diverse ways.
What a healthy formula for success means to me is pretty simple: just come up with your own healthy definition of success. One that feels good to you. One that feels right to you.
We, as individuals, have the right to imagine success in different ways and live our lives without the need to prove ourselves to others, chasing a common outdated idea of what success is.
I believe a very big part of everyday stress comes from the fact that we’re trying to convince others we’re successful. Ironically, that’s the moment we’ve lost success.
Success is about achieving personal gratification, but, unfortunately, we don’t realize that as we’re too busy chasing popular recognition.
- Having a rest is of paramount importance for our well-being. How do you escape the craze and buzz?
You mean besides living in paradise? (laughs) Well, sleep, meditation, yoga, books, music, good food, and sunbathing. And just general self-awareness in the moments of craze and buzz. I’m training myself in being more self-aware and not letting the craze and buzz get that easily onto me. Being surrounded by green everywhere also helps tremendously.
- How do you perceive regrets? Do you possess any until now?
I’m 24, it’s too early for me to have any regrets (laughs). Plus, I’ve pretty much taken every opportunity that I’ve encountered along my way.
However, I believe fear of rejection is probably the most common cause of regrets. Especially for creatives. We decide not to try things because we´re afraid they won´t work out and we´d be rejected.
I´ve read about many ways to deal with that. There’s even one super interesting video about a guy who went on a quest of seeking rejection on purpose for 100 days. Highly recommend it!
Another thing I find very useful, is to always keep in mind what´s your worst case scenario. This guy taught me about it. He wisely pointed out that our common, ultimate, worst case scenario is that we´re all going to die. I´m sorry to say it but it´s inevitable. And often, when we put things in that perspective, it all changes.
One of the latest books I read in Italian (see, all in!) was about a guy who is constantly panicked that something bad is going to happen to him. He goes to the doctor and asks for all the possible analyses there are. And when the results are ready, he goes and asks the doctor “What is it? Is it very serious? Is it cancer? Am I dying? I´m so afraid…” and the doctor looks him in the eyes and says “Everything is okay with your medical analyses. But can I be frank with you, my friend? You’re not really terrified of dying. You’re absolutely afraid of living.” The book is titled “É una vita che ti aspetto” by Fabio Volo.
- Imagine you had $3 million, but you could only use it to help a single country in the world. Which one would you choose and why?
Neverland, I guess? (laughs)
3 million is not a lot of money for any country. If I give it to the government, it would end up in the pockets of all the wrong people. If I give it to charities… it would end up in the pockets of all the wrong people. After working for some charities and carefully studying their type of campaigning and communications, I´m sorry but I no longer believe in them. So no, that´s definitely not an option.
However, 3 million would be just enough to start a school outside of the current educational system. One that feeds curiosity rather than killing it. One that understands that people are rationalizing humans capable of critical thinking and personal opinions and helps them develop skills that are actually useful in life. More contact with nature, more creativity, and more freedom. Kids also need challenges. Individual challenges that develop their personal potential, and co-operative projects that teach them the power of collaboration. Oh, my… what a wonderful school this would be <3. And when everyone sees how great this is… others are going to follow. You got me dreaming here, Svet, thank you!
As of where… well, of course, in the country where the grass smells like home. Bulgaria.
Katia Stefanova is one hell of a dreamer, isn’t she? She is not only a dreamer, though. She is also a doer. She is a fantastic lady who speaks four world languages. However, Katia also speaks the language of art. The art of curating words in a sensational sequence. A sequence that captivates, enthrals, and beguiles, all at the same time.
Have you checked my previous interviews with young entrepreneurs that are taking the world by a storm?
Are you one of those? Let’s chat!