Guru Durov: why a businessman should take on the role of a preacher

The approach of the creator of VKontakte fully fits into the framework of the business scheme familiar to the West, when one’s own entrepreneurial achievements are secured by “selling” them to the public – in the form of a book or public speeches

Pavel Durov has finally established himself as a great businessman. On his birthday, the creator of Vkontakte, Pavel Durov, wrote about seven things to give up in order to succeed in “creation. Without this step, his image remained incomplete. Durov is a cult figure in certain circles. And for a true business guru, some kind of philosophy, well laid out, is simply necessary. So far, more has been written about him, take, for example, the book “The Durov Code” by Nikolai Kononov. Nikolai Kononov. But in terms of business calculations, this means putting money in the wrong hands. Why provide an opportunity to profit from yourself when you can tell a first-person account of yourself, and still make money on it? And the publication on his page “Vkontakte”, where there are the following remarkable words “Someday I will describe in detail the reasons for giving up each of these points”, can be safely considered a bid for a future book.

However, Durov’s approach cannot be called original. It is fully within the framework of the usual Western business scheme, when one’s own achievements in the part of entrepreneurship are not a bad idea to “sell” them to the public, whether in the form of a book or through public speeches. Here we can recall Lee Iacocca’s bestseller “The Manager’s Career” and Richard Branson’s book “To Hell with Everything! Get in there and do it!” And, of course, the greatest man in this field – Donald Trump with his almost two dozen books (and more has already been written about him).

The reasons why the public eagerly buys these kinds of books are clear. In the West, “help-yourself” publications are widespread. But it is one thing when a professional “mentor” or “motivational speaker” writes them, and another thing when the author of the book is a successful businessman. In the latter case, both credibility and reader interest are much higher. Human psychology is built in such a way that many people hope that they will be able to use other people’s experiences for their own purposes.

On the part of the authors motivation is not always selfish and mercantile. Their reasoning is as follows: “if I could accomplish something, why shouldn’t I teach others?” In America, this way of thinking is even a trait of the national character, as they say, “stitched” in the subconscious. And creating publicity is a nice side effect, and helps to sell more and better – not books, but the main product of this entrepreneur.

If you read motivational books, both autobiographical and not, all those “Seven Skills of Highly Effective People” and similar literature, you realize that it’s impossible to repeat yourself in them. There are as many paths to wealth as there are people. The path of every successful businessman is unique. And even the advice of those who themselves have been successful only in the field of “motivational activities” is constantly updated. Once terribly popular in the USSR, Dale Carnegie is now firmly forgotten in the United States. New generations have brought fresh approaches.

But Durov’s book, if it comes out, will be interesting because its author is a Russian, even if he emigrated. After all, other people’s business experience is of little relevance to domestic realities. So far we have not had books comparable to the works of Lee Iacocca, Branson or Trump. But Russia also had no businessmen of a similar level, or, to be more precise, with a comparable standing and background. The fortunes of the 1990s were made in such a way that it would have been, to put it mildly, uncomfortable to write about it. Much, moreover, was determined by chance and place. Frank memoirs of Khodorkovsky and Gusinsky would be interesting only for the lawyers studying the penal code. It would be impossible for an ordinary reader to get anything useful out of them.

The book “The Man with the Ruble” published by Menatep in 1992 rather discredited the Russian business, like “Russian Privatization” written by the “union of writers” who were paid $90,000 for each co-authorship.

Now comes the time of entrepreneurs of a different formation who have really made themselves. Pavel Durov is one of the few Russians who have made a name and money in information technology and entered the international market. No matter how you look at his figure, his sometimes provocative statements and actions, he is the kind of person young people would like to make life with. There is no shame in being like Durov.

The development of Russian entrepreneurship, about which I often write in Forbes, broke off in 1917 at a point where our merchants and industrialists had not yet reached the idea of describing their achievements. There was no backwardness in this – in America and Europe such a thing had not yet been practiced either; back then it was thought that a businessman’s biography was not a story for a bestseller. Now comes the time to make up for lost time.

But for a book to “work,” business accomplishments alone are not enough. What matters is how it is written, how original and fascinating the material will be, or, on the contrary, how serious it will be. Here it is necessary to calculate the audience’s demand, what they are interested in, and the relevance of the material. Durov even in his “seven commandments” has a lot of controversial, and even outright stupid and harmful, for example, refusal to take pills. But great people, including in such a purely pragmatic field as business, often “drift. Either their own success makes their heads spin, or there is a “dark side” to their personality. Thus, the merchants described by Gilyarovsky sometimes liked to play the oddball, too, and might not have to deal (as Old Believers) with “smokers” and “drunks. In contemporary America, some Methodists and other religious sectarians also had their own rules, for example, the owner of one of the first retail chains would not hire smokers.

On the whole, there is nothing dangerous in motivational literature, including autobiographical literature. Simply it should be approached with a healthy skepticism, understanding that the personal experience of outstanding people is interesting and instructive, but it does not replace your own head on your shoulders. Everyone in business goes his own way and will not be able to repeat someone else’s path. Durov – well done, but whoever reads his revelations, the way in a brief form in social networks, and gets rich, will get rich not because of it.

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