Tales of Entrepreneurship: How Magic Happens When You Leap Into the Unknown…
… Or How I Found Myself on a Stage in Front of 4,000 People in St. Petersburg, Russia and Toasting Vodka with a Bear
When I made a huge career change to leave my high-tech consultancy in Silicon Valley to create Spice Pharm, it was a whole new world.
I was following a wild passion for botanical medicine and natural healing with no idea where it might lead. Things got pretty scary sometimes as I was navigating uncharted waters. I wondered if I made a huge mistake, would I go broke, would my world collapse… I needed some new touchpoints to know that I was going in the right direction.
This is one of my favorite experiences that told me that I was indeed going in the right direction.
This particular adventure started a while back with the fourth public talk I ever did on spices. (The first 2 were in Costa Rica — another bit of magic for another story.) Called “Anti-Aging Secrets in the Spice Rack,” the venue was the Successful Aging Expo at the Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
As I walked towards the the room, I expected that 5 or 10 people might show up.
Much to my amazement, the room was packed. Standing room only, people sitting on the floor. They had come to see me.
I was flabbergasted. Delighted. And prepared.
I’d done my research and had a great talk ready. I dove into my love of spices and the science behind how they are botanical allies in healthy aging. It was a hit.
After the talk, a woman came up to me and asked, “Who is the most technical person in your company?”
“I am,” I told her. “I’m the spice geek.”
Upping the Ante
She invited me to come speak at her conference, which attracts scientists, doctors and the most serious life extension geeks of Silicon Valley.
I upped the science level and adjusted the focus to be “Spices as Nature’s Designer Drugs for Anti-Aging.”
This time I was on stage with notable doctors, researchers and serious geeks and biohackers – Dave Asprey of Bulletproof fame, Dr. Larry Smarr, Dr. Terry Grossman, Dr. Sara Gottfried, to name a few.
And Bill Andrews, one of the 2 scientists featured in the film “The Immortalists.” I even got a cameo appearance in the film while at the conference, but that’s another story…
So… the talk was a hit and magic was afoot.
One thing leading to another…
I got an email that I almost deleted as spam. It was in Cyrillic – Russian characters. But when I clicked on it, it actually addressed me personally with an invitation to meet a Russian delegation that was attending the conference.
Duly intrigued, my partner Frank and I met them at the fancy hotel in San Francisco where they were staying.
It turned out that they were top executives from the top wellness and anti-aging products company in Russia, the National Research & Production Center for Rejuvenation Technology. A $900 million dollar company, they produce advanced anti-aging products.
And they were inviting me to speak at their annual conference to over 4,000 of their partners.
Talk about exciting! Wow! They wanted to share my message of “Spices as Nature’s Designer Drugs for Anti-Aging.”
Russia has a deep tradition of botanical medicine and natural healing. In Russia – unlike the U.S. and Europe — plant medicine is an official and separate branch of medicine. Herbal medicines are considered official medicines and are treated with great respect.
Going back to the 1940’s, Russian scientists have done some of the most important research on adaptogenic herbs, which is a favorite topic of mine. Their pioneering research on herbs such as schisandra (a Chinese tonic herb), rhodiola and eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) opened the entire field of adaptogen science.
Our host, NNPCTO, is an amazing company. Their premium wellness and beauty products combine natural ingredients with leading edge science and beautiful packaging. There’s nothing in the U.S. quite like it. They create healthy livelihood for their thousands of partners and provide them top-notch education in wellness and beauty.
Our Magical Time in Russia
Frank and I flew into St. Petersburg on a beautiful autumn day. The weather in September was still mild – the same temperature that we had left in San Francisco! My fur coat was unnecessary.
We had a couple of days to adjust to the time change and to work with the interpreter. A true pleasure to work with, this brilliant young fellow flushed out the American English idioms in my speech so it would all make sense in Russian.
The big day arrived.
We were whisked in a black limo to the Ice Palace Stadium. This gorgeous arena also hosts ice hockey world championships and concerts with artists like Sting, Cher, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
We were escorted upstairs to a private box, where our interpreter translated the proceedings. The CEO’s inspiring speech included something that stuck with me in every talk I’ve ever done since: “Keep smiling,” he said. Always keep smiling.
Then it was my turn.
I walked out on the stage to address over 4,000 people with a huge non-stop genuine smile on my face.
I felt enormous gratitude for the beautiful set design they created for my talk. I was surrounded by large-scale colorful spices and stars projected on jumbo video screens. My face beamed down to me from the Jumbotron screens above.
Good thing for Golden Goddess Elixirs! I enjoy my own products daily. KSM-66 ashwaganda, eleuthero, spices and cacao had my cortisol and neurotransmitters balanced and humming.
I was in the zone, and it felt fabulous!
The audience was awesome – attentive, dedicated to learning new ideas about health and wellness. They laughed at my jokes and applauded five times in the course of my talk! The interpreter did his job beautifully. I was thrilled to share the spice magic. I felt like a rock star.
Just after my talk, we were treated to lunch. The table was spread with a glorious array of dishes…and these were only the appetizers! While Russian cuisine does not make heavy use of spices, it has other fabulously healthy traditional components.
What really stands out for me is the fermented foods, forest foods (particularly wild mushrooms), buckwheat blinis, and of course, sturgeon and caviar.
We had fermented pickles with breakfast, pickles with vodka – pickles with every meal! Plus yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, pickled herring, and kvass. Kvass is a traditional Russian fermented beverage made with various combinations of black bread, barley, rye, beets, berries, and herbs. Like kombucha, it can be an acquired taste – but I found it delicious!
Throughout the week, NNPCTO treated us with legendary Russian hospitality. The tales about the great soul of Mother Russia have a very good reason to exist. It is poetic, mystical and emotional. We deeply felt the outstanding warmth and soulfulness of her people.
We spent several glorious days touring St. Petersburg in a black limo with a wonderfully witty and knowledgeable private guide. The sights are dazzling: the Hermitage, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace and much more.
This friendly bear was in a charming Hansel and Gretel country cottage made of rough-hewn logs near the Summer Palace. I couldn’t resist a toast of vodka with him!
Click here to see my Russian photo album on Facebook – and please give Spice Pharm a “like” while you’re there!
Magic can happen when you take a leap of faith into the unknown. And it pays to be prepared and open!
I feel deeply in love with Mother Russia, her people, her food, and her very soul. So grateful and honored to have this experience, I hope to return and bring delicious spice medicine to this extraordinary part of the world.