While planning a trip to Ukraine to visit my Fiancee's family and friends, I got asked to speak for 5th Element, an initiative sponsored by the YMCA in Odessa. Odessa is the third largest city in Ukraine as well as a major seaport located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. The audience consited of many engineers and IT consultants, some of which work for outsourcing firms. Ukraine is quickly becoming known for its' excellent quality of coders and its' incredibly competitive cost to quality ratio. That said, there are many struggles people in Ukraine face, including deep corruption, depressed economy and an overall feeling of hopelessness. In this setting I wanted to be as practical as possible and share universal truths that were not only relevant in the western settings I was accustomed to. I feel like I accomplished this to some extent although there were a couple notable challenges. 1.I suggested that people could go to school for computer science and they would not have to worry about money. This was met with some confused looks and muttering to which I asked, is that not a thing here? Come to find out, the market in Ukraine is flooded with people holding Masters degrees in Computer Science and while it does help to have these credentials, it is almost like the competitive advantages of having a Bachelors degree in Business in the States. 2.There was a man in the audience who had recently lost everything. His job, his family his life. He challenged me and the rest of the audience openly in regards to the spiritual aspect. He said: Why would God allow this to happen in my life? Tough question. To which I replied, I believe that a day will come when all things are put right and if we do all we can with what we have in the mean time, good things will come to us. I felt like this was a pretty weak answer especially considering I had just come off of the best year of my life in terms of financial, relational and spiritual successes. Next time I am faced with that question I will certainly have more empathy and perspective.
YMCA Odessa's President and founder of The Fifth Element Project made the following comments about my talk:
On March 27, 2016 Fifth Element Project invited Lance Weisser to speak at a meeting. The purpose of the meeting and the Project as a whole is to motivate young people to develop and achieve their goals in life, find ways out of difficult situations during the economic crisis, start their businesses without much experience in a specific field. To put it short, the Project gives hope that there are no hopeless situations. Our special thanks to Lance! He shared his personal experience in achieving his goals. This was particularly necessary in current conditions in Ukraine. Lance’s story about how he worked as an electrician and was able to dramatically change his life and achieve success in the field of IT design and start his own business, inspired young people to actively involved in their destiny and life. It was useful to find out what motivated him and helped him to develop. Time management, self-education, reading of literature, learning how to write CV and negotiate - this is only a small part of what we heard. It was particularly important to learn about experience in IT design, some nuances of work and upgrade our skills. Meeting with Lance gave a good charge of optimism and hope for change. All the above mentioned was reinforced by the fact that Lance goes through life with God, trusting Him, seeking His will and acting in His strength. Tatyana Kravchenko • President YMCA – Odessa, Ukraine