Who is Evgeniy Popov?

Evgeniy Popov is one of the most renown and famous businessmen of the Russian-speaking Internet (called RuNet). In this interview he shares his personal story – from a student to the successful and happy businessman Evgeniy is today. The interviewer is Vladimir Miromanov.

Evgeniy, please tell us more about yourself. Where were you born? Where did you study? How did you chose your college?

Evgeniy Popov– I was born in a city called October, which is located on the borders of two republics – Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. The most interesting part is that these two republics have two different time zones! I studied in a regular high school. When the time came to decide what to do after the 9th grade, I spoke with my parents and our opinions were different.

I wanted to study till the 11th grade and then apply to college, and my parents insisted that I go to college and study to become a “programmer.” It was the end of the 90’s, and back then everything that is connected with computers, was a novelty, and there was a wide-spread idea that being a “web developer” was very cool. «The future is behind the computer!» – they told me.

Everything related with computers was close to me from the very beginning so I didn’t resist much and made my decision. As a result, I went to study «Computers, systems and networks» at October Oil College. After 5 years of training and permanent work with my computer at home, I became a more experienced user and was ready for further training.

After graduating from college, I and two fellow students went to apply to USMU (the Ural State Mining University) to the city of Yekaterinburg with a very similar degree – “Automated control systems.” We all passed our entrance exam successfully, and according to the arrangement we had with the college at that time, we were at once transferred to the 3rd course. As a result I lived in Yekaterinburg  for 3 years and during this time I went from a beginning programmer to a web-master.

How many hours a day did you spend studying programming in the University?

– It is difficult to answer explicitly. At the beginning, programming was not so much, but gradually we came to figure out that one-two pairs a day appeared to be  connected with programming. We studied work with databases, bases in flash-programming, in the Delphi environment, the creation of programs and at last, programming for the Web.

All this was stretched in time for the 3rd, 4th and 5th courses. We also had homework, of course, which at first we did on the one and only computer we had for the three of us. And then I got a laptop and worked independently.

What subjects were you interested in, besides programming?

– As soon as I learned about the process of creating websites, I became interested in all subjects which were related to that. First of all, it was Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash-technologies, etc.

Tell us about your first income. What was the sum in rubles?

– My first income as a businessman began at school when I asked my parents to cut flowers for me which grew near our house, so I could wrap them into bouquets. With these bouquets I went to the market and sold them for quite decent money for a school student. Then, in the same way, my brother and I went to sell cherries, black currants and other fruit and vegetables from our garden.

While in college, during the summer vacations I sold books, textbooks and stationery. The end of the summer is the most profitable time for a similar trade since all parents prepare their children for school, and in our country textbooks were not free so it was possible to earn good money in only one month.

vaz 2104

Thus, still being a student, I bought my first car – a well-kept white-colored VAZ 2104. It was at the beginning of 2000, and at those times it cost about 70,000 rubles. Also, in those days I created my own small business. It was a business on production and sale of cotton candy on various mass events (The City Day, motorcycle races, etc.).

I remember I borrowed money from my parents and bought the machine which makes the cotton candy which cost 24,000 rubles. I prepared all the papers and permissions and started working. I paid back all my expenses approximately in a month, and then worked for myself and took away all the profit.

It was a cool business – one could sell a spoon of sugar for 15-20 rubles. Then I established the record which I still remember – in one evening I turned 25 kg of sugar into cotton candy and earned more than 10,000 rubles, which consisted generally of small bills and completely filled the big sugar bag.

When did you start to work for yourself? How did the schedule of your life change?

– It somehow turned out that ever since I was a child I had worked generally for myself and already then I knew that I liked it. This conviction became even stronger when, being students, my fellow-student and I were hired to work as cleaners on night shifts. All night long we had to work so hard with solvents in our teeth for 300 rubles. But, thank God, it lasted for only two months.

Evgeniy, how did you understand that programming was what you liked? Perhaps something important happened in your life at that time?

– As I already said, while in the university we also studied work with databases, both flash, and programming in Delphi, and a little bit of HTML with CSS by means of which it was possible to create static sites. And from all of this I was mostly impressed by the HTML and CSS.

I somehow understood at once that this was for me. And if I worked with other technologies only occasionally in the university, I imperceptibly began to work on creating sites in my spare time, and every day I became more and more interested in this subject.

I smoothly passed to studying PHP, and I remember that I even bought a book and practiced during summer vacations even though my fellow students treated this subject quietly and didn’t really seem to share my interest.

How many times did you give up on this and did you at all give up on it?

– I never gave up. Nearly everyday I am learning something new about web development and I am sharing it with the audience within my free online magazine.

Please describe your biggest failure.

– The biggest failure I remember, was when I started studying PHP which gave me the chance to make dynamic sites, I didn’t get the best textbook on this subject and so what was left in my head was a big mess, instead of useful and organized knowledge.

For some time I couldn’t come to a good application of PHP in practice. At that time books on PHP in Russian were lacking, especially in a remote place such as my town, so I had to go through that textbook two more times. In the end, I finally understood what the textbook was saying but only then did I realize that the problem was not in me, and that the author had absolutely incorrectly constructed the process of training.

For some reason, at the beginning of the book some quite difficult things were given all at once, without a mention of the basics. As I found out later, this is a problem for many authors and textbooks. Now I am even glad that book came into my hands. For then, when I started my info business, I built all the training materials in a way that they were clear to the person who has never heard about the specific topic. As it seems to me, for this particular reason I became so successful in the area of training for site-creation.

What was the time difference between your first interest in programming and the first time you earned money from it?

– About a year and a half passed. Initially I didn’t set it as my goal to earn money on the creation of sites. I simply liked it and did it for my own pleasure.

What helped you support the desire to continue working when there was still no profit?

– Probably, that same fact that I didn’t crave for money, and did it out of pleasure. In fact, I didn’t have to support myself  in this desire at all, as the work itself gave me joy.

I know that you  also have other hobbies. Please, tell us about them.

orientation on bicycles

– Ever since I was a child I practiced a sport, which many people have never heard of. It is called «Sports orientation», and the purpose of it is in the searching of the checkpoints of the region using а map and a compass. In the summer it is done on foot or on a bicycle, and in the winter on skis. At present,  I am а master  of sports orientation on bicycles. Also I like to play tennis and soccer. Аpart from that I have recently become interested in digital photography, but I’m still a beginner at it.

Evgeniy, you possess the remarkable thinking of а businessman. Tell us – when did you notice that you think in a different way?

– Around the time I was in college while I was working as a cleaner at night, I realized that it is much more interesting and more profitable to work for myself, even if it is more risky and not as stable at the beginning  as one would have wanted it. By that moment I already had an experience of conducting my own business; having also received experience as an employee, so I could define which option I preferred and I chose business.

What books, films and people helped you with forming your new view of life?

– First of all I am grateful to my parents who in the Soviet period worked anything they could, in shops and factories, and then after the dissolution of the USSR, they established their own business and became an example for me. It often happens that if the father and mother work as employees all their lives that the child ever since childhood absorbs this “model,” and then when they grow up and the time comes to choose a way to earn money, the child doesn’t even consider the possibility of opening their own business since all thoughts and forces are directed on finding a good job. Simple observation helped me as well. Who drives an expensive car, lives in a beautiful house and visits the best holiday resorts? No, it is not teachers, doctors and advisers, but businessmen.

There is a statement: «To start to earn an N amount of money, first one has to BELIEVE in it!». Do you agree with this? If yes – why? If no – why?

– Yes and no. In my opinion, it is necessary not to simply believe, but to grow to the level of being the person who earns such an amount of money. As it is in sports – if only yesterday you sat on a bicycle and at once tried to win the World Cup, no matter how  hard you believe in it, you will fail.

In the beginning one has to realize where they are at present, and then aim at the next step. In my example it is possible to first aim at winning the city competitions. Then it is possible to set the following purpose – to win regional or republican competitions, etc. It is a lot easier to believe in the purpose which is at the following step from one’s present situation, and that way one would also keep their motivation.  And thus, by gradual training, accumulating experience and taking one step at a time, it is possible to become a world champion.

It is the same in life. If a person earns, for example, 15,000 rubles a month,  they will find it much easier to believe in reaching the sum of 20,000 rubles next month and achieving it, than at once try to believe in the sum of 100,000 rubles and be disappointed in a few weeks.

They would simply not be ready yet to earn 100,000 rubles. It is impossible to turn from a slacker into a master of sports over night. It is necessary to pass all the stages, gradually gain experience and improve.

Let’s say a person begins a big and interesting project, but they are uncertain in many areas. What practical advice can you give which can help that person change their thinking and believe in achieving their goal?

1. Not to do this project only for the sake of money. The project should have an idea and be a service for people. If the project is initially started for the sole purpose of earning money, it will most likely fail. The number one priority of your project should be that it is advantageous to people and when it gains popularity, money will come as well.

2. To perceive all barriers and failures on the way positively. In any business before becoming a master, one has to go through some turbulence. Believe me, there is not a single successful person who has come to true success easily. Therefore, when a difficult situation occurs, say to yourself: «Everything’s alright! This is simply one more bump on the road which will make me stronger and more skilled!».

3. Present the final version of the project more often. When you look at your own project when it is complete, you inevitably move ahead in the necessary direction, and sooner or later you will achieve your goal. It really works.

keep digging

Evgeniy, what do you think of people? Into what categories do you divide them?

– I have a positive view of people. Concerning categories there is an interesting phrase that came to my mind. It is something like this: «Some run the world, and others run nearby and shout: “Where is this world headed?”». And the meaning of this saying is that the active part of society constantly develops, discovers new things and forms reality, whereas the passive part simply lives in it and watches all the events.

This is neither good nor bad; it is simply how our world works, anyone can pass from the majority to the minority and vice versa.

What qualities should a person possess to become your friend and partner?

– It’s hard to say. I think that maybe they should be a bit like me. After all, look at the lives of people, who are their friends and partners? Usually they are people with similar interests and habits.

How many friends do you have?

– Let me check my social network account’s statistics… About 120. But if I have to be serious, in reality there are 20 people with whom I communicate regularly.

And how many partners do you have? If such statistics exists.

– If you mean the participants of my partner program, these are more than 7,000 registered, of whom about 2,000 are active.

Tell us, why is it important to love yourself?

– Because loving yourself is the basis of a happy life. It has been proven that the more positively you treat yourself, the easier you do everything and the better other people treat you. And self-castigation is a very dangerous habit because the person with this kind of mind set not only pushes away from themselves all positive moments of life, but also wastes mental energy for nothing.

What does it mean in your opinion to respect a person?

– Respect is a difficult and intangible concept. It is possible to respect yourself, you parents, friends, colleagues, the president and a lot more people, and in each of these cases respect will be described by different words.

If I have to summarize it, I would define it the following way: respect is a positive feeling which arises in relation to a person, depending on their actions, achievements and personal qualities.

Evgeny, I know that you are very serious when it comes to planning your life. Tell us how you started  planning?

– I read a lot of literature on personal growth, and in all similar books there are chapters about planning and setting goals. I remember being so struck by a simple thought that it is impossible to strike a target if you don’t see it. It is the same in life – if you don’t have an accurate vision of the life to which you aim, most likely you will never get there. Proceeding from these thoughts, I started working on my purposes and many other aspects which are related with this subject.

How often do you analyze the achievement of your goals?

– We have a remarkable tradition in our family – at the end of the year we make a collage about what we have managed to accomplish for the last 12 months. Thus if we look at such collages together, for example, over the last 5 years, it is possible to see well that progress which we have all made, and we can also trace the achievement of the goals which were once set out.

You use planning on paper or on your computer? Why?

– I use both options. It is more convenient to do it on my computer, because I can do it in the form of mind-maps which allows the classification of a large number of information. Sometimes I plan on paper because I have often heard and read that when you write your goals with your own hand, at that some sort of connection is made with your subconsciousness, the Universe etc., and thus the desires which have been written down on paper, start to magically come true!

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to a person who cannot plan, but wants to learn how to  do it?

David Allen

– In my opinion nowadays’ the most successful system for planning your work and life is GTD by David Allen (Getting Things Done). I have been working with it for the past 2 years and I have to say – it really helps people get rid of the chaos in their heads. Make sure you don’t spare your efforts and time and really work through it, because it gives you a completely different method of doing things and in the beginning your old habits of working will try to resist this system. But if you stick to it and apply it to your lifestyle, you will be amazed at how much easier it will get for you to control all the aspects of your life and business. In the end, I would only like to give one bit of advice, and not three: plan in the GTD way.

Evgeni, what importance do you give to being active?

– I think that action is one of the main components of success. However, action by itself means nothing. After all you could spend a lot of time climbing up a ladder to the top but only near the end of the finish line find out that the ladder was not put against the right wall. Therefore it is clear that one has to act in a strictly set-out direction, which will lead to the reaching of the goal.

Did you ever have a period in your life when you were lazy and put off things for later?

– I don’t remember big periods like this, but I’ve had moments like these for 2-3 days. However, I am sure everyone has those. I call them “The Theory of Ups and Down” and I even wrote once about this in my blog. It means that our lives are not straightforward, there always ups and downs in all areas of life.

So when I get into this type of “down” and I start feeling that working becomes hard for me, then I just stop working for a couple of days and do something else. Then when that “down” is gone, it is replaces by an “up” and I start working twice as hard, quickly catching up to that schedule, to which I would have stuck had that “down” moment not appeared.  In the end I reach the balance which is the basis of our world.

How did you solve your laziness problem?

– There is a very good medicine which is called, “Start earning money through your hobbies – and you will never work in your life”. This is how it happened for me. I enjoy my job, which is why I am never too lazy to work. Ambitious goals which you set out before yourself and devote yourself to reaching them no matter what also scare off laziness. I also like observing my competitors, because they chase away my laziness for free.

How many hours a day do you work?

– Usually I work from 8 to 6 but sometimes I work less or more, depending on the project on which I’m working on.

How often do you take breaks?

– I don’t have a specific schedule which would tell me when to take a break. If I feel tired I simply get up from my desk and walk away from my computer for 10-15 minutes, drink a glass of water or get some fresh air.

How would you advise lazy people to start being more active?

– Stop doing what you don’t enjoy and look for a way of earning money in a way that you would like. After all, work is a third of our lives! We can’t turn this third into a prison, especially when we keep in mind the fact that another 1/3 of your lives we spend sleeping. And I would also advise that person to read again my answer on planning and laying down goals which makes laziness go away on its own.

Evgeniy,  what do you think of the fact that nowadays one could download for free practically everything from the Internet?

– I treat it neutrally. In my opinion, there is both a negative and a positive side. The negative side is that a lot of businessmen and organizations earn less than they hope to. And the positive side is that pirates indirectly advertize those products which they crack and spread for free. Let’s take for example the Windows operating system. I think that if pirates hadn’t at that time started to spread it all over the Internet and to sell it everywhere for 50 rubles, then it wouldn’t have become the most popular operating system in the world. But this is only my opinion; other people probably think differently.

In the network there are authors who use passwords for their courses. What do you think of such types of protection against piracy? Would you use something similar?

– I already tried such protection for one of my products and very quickly I realized that this approach doesn’t work. The problem is that today there is no such 100% protection. If one can see it or hear it, it means that one could make a copy of it with a program for screen capture, and record the sound with a program for capture of sound. Then put it all together and there you have it – the same product without any protection.

In the end you get the following situation: honest clients who have paid for the product, will start to have problems with all these activations and ask the author for another, second, third key for all their computers, thus the author will start wasting a lot of time for all these requests, and those who have downloaded the course for free, will quietly look at it without any problems. I do not like this at all.

Do you download for free? If yes, why?

– In 2009, I decided to completely leave our piracy software and video. As a result now on all our office computers, as well as on my own, there is licensed software. Concerning movies, if I want to watch one, I go to the closest rental, pay 50 rubles and simply watch a legal high quality version, and the next day I return the movie. In the last two years I have downloaded for free only 3 movies, and only because I couldn’t find them in the stores since they were very old.

Plus I would love to find out how these so popular torrent-piracies work. At the end of the day I sleep peacefully, I am not tormented by remorse, and I can sell with a light heart my information products, understanding that every labor should be paid for.

What do you think piracy will look like in 5-15 years?

– The Internet and all the computer industry develop so quickly that it is impossible to predict a course of events for such a long term ahead. After all, we are in the beginning and unbelievable technologies of the future are waiting for us, production of robots with artificial intelligence and other amazing things. Maybe in 15 years our society will turn into a certain structure of order where everyone will be implanted by a microchip by means of which all interactions with organizations, people, Internet (or however it will be called then) will be carried out.

This will of course help get rid of piracy and crime, but what new issues will society have to face – we don’t know.  However, this still remains in the area of fantasy.

There is such a belief that the bigger result you want, the more time you have to work for achieving it. What do you think – is it true?

– It is both true and false, because everything depends on how a person manages their time and resources. It is clear that one would need less time to pass 1,000 kilometers by car, than driving for 2,000 kilometers on the same car. But if we assume that one would drive for 1,000 kilometers and another person flies an airplane and passes 2,000 kilometers, then, despite the double distance the second person will reach the destination a lot faster, and all because of the different resource. It is the same both in life, and in business – it is necessary to firstly look for the most optimal way of achieving a goal and use time efficiently, and managing employees effectively.

How you define the concept “power of will,” and does an Internet entrepreneur need it?

– In my opinion, power of will is the ability to walk towards reaching your goal, despite all the obstacles that might occur on the way. All purpose-driven people including Internet to entrepreneurs need power of will, since they also meet impediments on their way. The most important thing here is not to get upset, and to meet such events positively, after all each situation like this makes you stronger and more skilled, and in 2-3 years you will not even remember that obstacle.

I even remember a story about how one of the top managers of IBM made a mistake, costing the company about one million dollars. But contrary to expectations this manager wasn’t dismissed, and when he came to the office of the owner of the company and asked why he was not dismissed the owner replied: «To dismiss you? Are you joking? I just invested one million dollars in your training!». So it is necessary to look positively at all mistakes, and then they will become important elements of that base on which your successful business will stand firm.

What does one have to do to develop in themselves the ability «endure until the result»?

– One has to develop in themselves the habit of positively looking at all temporary difficulties which arise on the way towards reaching the goal, and, of course, imagine more often the ultimate goal, remembering a wise saying: «When you cease to see the purpose, you start to notice the obstacles».

Evgeniy, you have achieved outstanding results. Your name is known practically by each blogger of a Russian Internet (RuNet) and a large number of users in the whole world. Tell us, what do you consider most important and necessary? Please sum up this narration and give the 3 most important pieces of advice to our readers: how to reach the result which they aim for?

1. Always remember that where you are right now, is a result of those thoughts and actions which you have thought and made in the past up to the present moment. And if you want to change something in your life for the better, you should start to act differently. It might seem as a simple truth, but look around –you will see a great number of people which complain about their lives, but continue to walk the same paths. Don’t get in their midst, look at your life with a new view and think about what needs to change in your behavior and thinking in order for you to receive new, and better results.

2. Remember that the amount of your income at present always reflects the level of benefit which you bring to society. In every field of activity there are 1-2% of people which earn, as the rest 98% taken together. Therefore choose your niche, make sure that your work brings maximum advantage to other people, by all means aim at becoming one of those 1-2% – and then the result won’t be late.

I will give an example out of my personal experience. At the beginning of my time, I spent about half a year making 3D-covers, banners, buttons for sites and other elements of design which other people ordered. Thus, I managed to earn $100-200 a month. But this activity brought insignificant benefit to society, therefore I earned an insignificant amount of money.

Evgeniy Popov's digital products

Now I am the author of ten quality training courses and the owner of several useful sites with general attendance of around 100,000 people per day. I daily receive letters of gratitude. Some people tell me that thanks to my courses they have created a site and have begun earning their first money.

Some people got a job as programmers after studying my courses; some have become real Photoshop masters thanks to our free lessons, etc. And this is only a drop in the ocean since there are also those who have benefited from my course but for some reason have not written to me about it.

By my calculations, at least 50,000 people have changed their lives for the better thanks to my sites and training materials. Do you see the difference? This is an absolutely different type of benefit I bring to society with what I do. And as a result, now I earn much more, than when I was a student.

This is why I advise you to look at yourself and find out what benefit you bring to society today and what needs to be done for you to increase this benefit tomorrow.

3. Develop in yourself the habit of managing your time diligently. If your job is connected with using a computer, during the day ask yourself more often: «Does what I am doing right now lead me towards reaching my goal?». Today many people don’t appreciate their time, and one of the main elements of success lays in rational management of time and not wasting it.

Television, social networks, entertainment on the Internet – these are the most powerful traps for time which slow down the development of all society and, in particular, those people who get into those traps. Don’t get into them and value your time!

Evgeny Popov

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