‘Power of Small Steps’: Experience of Leaders from Different Fields
The Women Influence Community (WIC) is a group of women leaders supporting the philosophy of women’s influence. During one of the WIC open meetings, the community members talked about how even small projects can change the world and make people’s lives better. Experts from different fields shared their experience in taking small steps to achieve major results.
Today’s world is more changeable than ever and therefore it is unstable. Under such conditions, long-term planning is not always effective and justified. That’s why leaders often divide their path to big goals into short segments.
The ‘Power of Small Steps’ session was part of the extensive programme of the WIC open meeting devoted to the inner strength of women leaders. The community members talked about where they draw resources to move forward, what projects they undertake, and what they see as their mission in times of uncertainty.
The session was moderated by Elena Stupnikova, CEO of the Agency for Strategic Marketing, Managing Partner of the DIALOGUES International Centre. She invited the event participants to share their personal stories and vision of the greatest value in small actions that each person can do.
Elena Orlova, creator and owner of a five-star hotel included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, President of the ‘Science. Art. Technology’ Foundation, expert in emotional intelligence
Elena Orlova has achieved considerable success in a number of areas largely thanks to the power of small steps. During the WIC meeting, the expert spoke about the small projects that make it possible to stay afloat in turbulent times when long-term planning is ineffective.
The speaker has a five-star hotel in Riga. That historically valuable site attracts the world’s richest people, famous artists, and politicians as a place for rest. However, during the pandemic, the hotel was closed for visitors willing to live in it. To this day it doesn’t receive visitors because of the unstable situation.
However, the hotel with historic interiors has always attracted the world’s biggest film studios and continues to do so. Allocating it for film locations used to be only a small part of the place’s functions. Today, that has actually come to the fore. In addition, the hotel provides film crews with more different spaces due to the lack of visitors.
Such a project used only to supplement the main activities of the hotel. However, it currently not only helps the major business stay afloat but also motivates the team to keep moving forward and serves as a pillar of emotional support.
Corporate education is the second area where Elena Orlova fulfils her potential. At a time when the world was experiencing increasingly unstable times, the expert felt that the employees of the many companies with whom she interacted needed support. She started flying to different cities more often than usual to meet the teams in person. These were small steps that made a big difference not only for clients but also for Elena herself. The expert emphasizes that, as a professional in the field of emotional intelligence, she certainly helped people to cope with challenges and also got a powerful feedback. The feeling that she could be useful filled her with incredible energy.
Small projects that bring ‘immediate’ results give people an extra boost of energy. That makes it possible for them to move forward over longer distances.
The third area of the expert’s work is related to the development of the ‘Science. Art. Technology’ Foundation. The organisation has a unique collection of industrial design objects belonging to the space age. For example, one of London’s museums stores the first monoblock phone that Ericsson company gave to the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The exhibit belongs to the ‘Science. Art. Technology’ Foundation and is one of the top 50 design objects of the 20th century.
There are many interesting items in the Foundation’s collection. Experts have been collecting them for several years. Today, the project team regularly organises not only space design exhibitions but also creativity workshops and creative meetings for students, young scientists, and employees of various organisations.
Elena Orlova has been involved in charity work for more than 15 years. However, she believes that the projects of the ‘Science. Art. Technology’ Foundation are not charitable but educational: they inspire people to create something new.
According to the expert, the power of small steps is most clearly embodied in the creative self-realization opportunities. After all, it is creativity that allows a person to create ‘here and now’ without putting off the result for later.
Natalie Velgusheva, CEO of the Astrel advertising company
In her report, Natalie Velgusheva talked about what major results one can achieve through taking small steps regularly. That approach makes it possible to overcome one’s fear of global changes taking place in one’s life.
Moving from Tajikistan to Russia, from the city to the countryside, has become one of the most important moments in the expert’s life. Changing the field of her activity was a big challenge for Natalie Velgusheva. In Tajikistan, she worked as an engineer in an aluminium factory. In the countryside, she had to devote herself to farming. Later Natalie Velgusheva became a teacher in the local school but even there she felt out of place. The idea of moving to Moscow came to her gradually. Although Natalie had no idea what she would do in the capital, what field she would choose to fulfil her potential, and how she would arrange her life in the new place, she decided to start and follow that path by all means.
Small steps are particularly good when you move forward by ‘feeling your path’. If you feel that the path is wrong, you can always find your way back.
Over time, Natalie Velgusheva found herself in the advertising business. She understood that she really enjoyed working with people and that field gave her many opportunities. The Astrel advertising company has been functioning for 12 years already and continues to develop successfully.
Gulnara Bikkulova, Deputy General Director at the Rosatom Corporate Academy, Director of International Initiatives and Partnerships
For Gulnara Bikkulova, constant movement is a way of life. That is the most effective way to not only develop but also relax. As the expert recalls, in all situations when her energy was running out, she would buy a ticket to any city or country where she simply passed tens of thousands of steps. At some moment, her physical exhaustion overcame emotional exhaustion. That is when Gulnara regained the ability to feel the beauty of the world around her and to keep moving forward in her work and life upon returning home.
Today, she continues walking fast and helps other people pave their way.
Gulnara Bikkulova carries out projects related to development. She has sufficient resources to help employees of different companies unleash their potential fully. The expert strives to use available tools of the companies with which she works to change people’s thinking, open new opportunities for them, provide them with knowledge, and develop skills necessary for their career advancement.
Many of Gulnara Bikkulova’s projects are small in terms of their scale but can be joined together into a common system. For example, within one of her initiatives, the expert managed to create Russia’s first accelerator, which has gradually become a platform providing tens of thousands of entrepreneurs from different regions of Russia with necessary support.
Viktoria Tuchinskaya, doctor, musician, designer, doctor of Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze
Viktoria Tuchinskaya considers creativity and art to be extremely resourceful. In her case, the power of small steps can also be called the ‘power of small stitches’. Thanks to immersing herself in embroidery, the designer finds strength in herself and shares it with those around her. Within her speech at the WIC meeting, Viktoria Tuchinskaya shared the long story of one of her works created step by step.
One day she opened her father’s wardrobe and a book fell off the shelf on her. That was an anatomical atlas that her parents (who were doctors as well), her eldest son, and she had studied. The book opened and Viktoria Tuchinskaya saw a page showing the heart. The expert remembered that she had long had a red piece of fabric that didn’t fit anything. At that moment, the idea of how to use it came to her.
She decided to embroider two hearts: the first one full of love and the other one full of sorrow. These two images contradicting each other are at the same time inextricably interrelated.
At first, Viktoria Tuchinskaya wanted to create two identical embroidered images. However, she soon understood: a heart full of love is always bigger than a heart full of sorrow. The artist embroidered a black heart in 33 shades on the left side of the red fabric and a scarlet heart in 36 shades on the right one. The author’s idea is that love has more colours and shades than sorrow.
As Viktoria recalls, she embroidered her work with maddening inspiration. She woke up in a hurry every day willing to finish what she had started. That creative activity took her up to 13 hours a day. Even after the hearts were embroidered, the artist still wanted to improve them: she enlarged and deepened them layer after layer and added more details and shades.
The author decided to connect the hearts with a line representing her father’s last musical phrase. As a surgeon as well as a musician, he composed the musical line just several hours before his death. The melody was supposed to be played sadly and lovingly. Symbolically, in Viktoria’s piece of art, the musical line appeared from a sad heart in the form of a cardiogram and gradually connected the loving heart.
When the artwork was almost completed and Viktoria was taking the anatomical atlas back to her father’s wardrobe, she noticed three small bags of old surgical silk in a box with spare piano strings. She returned to her piece of embroidery once again. The artist unstitched the hearts and added the new element on the inner face of the artwork.
Each piece of that work was made using objects valuable to the author. Therefore, they convey only visual but also energetic meaning.
The piece was supposed to be sent to a contest at a major European festival. Initially, Viktoria Tuchinskaya was not planning to take part in it. However, her resulting project matched the topic of ‘Love’ perfectly. The contest required her to write a description of the work in a concise form of not more than 250 words. It turned out to be more complicated than the work itself. However, Viktoria Tuchinskaya managed to compose that text. She decided to print it on her father’s paper with the musical notes. On that very paper, he had composed a romance on the day he took Viktoria’s mother to the hospital after her heart attack. He never returned from it.
After Viktoria Tuchinskaya sent her work to the contest, she received a call from the exhibitors very soon. They said that they couldn’t even touch her artwork: the hearts seemed to be alive. After reaching one’s fingers toward the piece of embroidery art, one would stop just a few millimeters from it. That piece of art had such a strong energy that it could not tolerate any neighbourhood at the exhibition and was placed separately from the other objects on the large concrete wall. The artwork was also accompanied by the recorded music by Viktoria’s father. That’s how it was displayed until the very end of the contest. The work won the grand prize in it.
In addition to those hearts, Viktoria Tuchinskaya’s works include embroideries depicting brain and hands. The author believes that these two things make up the essence of a creative person. In her opinion, the spirit ‘wanders’ somewhere between the soul, brain, and hands, thus connecting such three important points.
At the end of her report, Viktoria Tuchinskaya played the piano for the WIC members. As she confessed, she had originally planned to turn to the audience not with words but with music. Talking about creativity and art is impossible: one must feel them. That is the essence of their great energy and the most powerful resource.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov