Letter #4 Trolls will Hate Your Beauty

new year tashie

How many times do you want to do, say or write something important, but hesitate because those inside voices always stop you:  Not now, this is not the time, you might hurt someone’s feelings, someone might sue you if they get offended…

You wanted to write about online bullying and digital sexual harassment since the day  you have discovered social media and brutal world of online publicity. God only knows how many times you have stopped yourself from writing about a HUGE elephant in the room—that being the online code of sexual conduct or rather the NONEXISTENCE of such a code—for the same exact reasons: What if you offend someone, what if it doesn’t matter, what if you were not strong enough to stand by your beliefs? This blog would probably never have been written if you didn’t come across an article (from a very reputable publication) called “Don’t Hate Me because I’m beautiful.”

The article is about research conducted by two Israelis analysts, on who gets advantages during a recruitment process and why. “Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre looked at what happens when job hunters include photos with their curricula vitae, as is the norm in much of Europe and Asia.” Their “shocking” results:

Attractive female candidates have lesser chances to be hired than their not-so attractive sisters.

They might be shocking to many readers, but not to you. You saw this article as a sign from above, a chance to finally write about your own story—of an intelligent, attractive professional trying to succeed in life using her brains (you know that you are smarter than a fifth grader) and her ability to learn quickly, manage difficult tasks, be strong when others need a shoulder to lean on, and be brave enough to step up when others are afraid to move.

This is your own story of the digital sexual and emotional harassment that you will be dealing with for many years, simply because of the fact that you are an attractive woman who dared to become a professional in a social arena. Who would have thought you would have to become a Gladiator…

LinkedIn was originally designed as a social platform for strictly professional use, job hunting, sales and marketing promotions and opportunities, co-worker and former colleague connections, and recently, for writing and blogging opportunities. But like many social media sites it has gradually transformed into a “free-for-all”  with “Gangs of New York”-type communication. Anyone can say or write whatever (they feel) is appropriate.

The most depressing thing is that you would get more offensive emails and indecent, often creepy proposals on LinkedIn than on any other social media platform!!! Tinder is a little tiny “sandbox” compared to this giant ocean of hookups and date proposals.

Here are some groups of people who harassed you.

“Online-only trolls”—offensive but not malicious.

Troll #1:  “Oh, are you single? Would love to have you.”

Your mind says back, “I’d love to smack you, you little $h-t!”

Please don’t respond to these.

Troll #2:  “Do you use Cyber Dust?”

You:  “No, What’s Cyber Dust?”

Troll #2:  “Oh.. it is a discreet chat application with no traces left.”

Well, you installed Cyber Dust, and your recent contact immediately started sending you his naked pictures. Your stomach could not bear this torture, and you quickly deleted Cyber Dust along with the guy (who, I suspect, never saw a mirror in his life).

Troll # 3:  “You are so beautiful.”

You:  “Yeah.. I get that a lot.” (Luckily, your dear friend taught you this sarcastic expression.)

Troll #3:  “When are we going for dinner?”

You:  “Never sounds good.”

Just don’t respond to those either.

“Cross-platforms trolls” —people you meet on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and then connect with on LinkedIn. Those can be slightly dangerous, judging by their comments.

Once you have posted that you were bringing your team to one of the trade shows. Here is a comment you have received from one Facebook/LinkedIn “buddy”:

“Oh you went from being single to having a boyfriend, now you are having a team, what’s next- an army?”

To this day I am trying to decrypt this sentence, looking for a small drop of common sense and failing every time. Do me a favor,  block this “Winston Churchill” from all of your sites to eliminate his ingenious comments.

Stalkers—very dangerous, they can show up at your door!

One time you made the mistake of including your cell phone number on your LinkedIn profile (what were you thinking, girl?) You started getting bombarded by random texts at wee hours, messages on Twitter, and emails to your personal email account from a guy who probably would have camped outside of your house if he didn’t live abroad. Thank God for Atlantic Ocean!

Remember, there is no such thing as privacy on social media. You will learn that the hard way.  For some unexplainable reason, people think that they can violate your privacy just because you are active on social media.

But this recent email put your entire troll email collection to shame. Here it is:

“Like that Steve Jobs post is one of my favorites! (he meant one of your posts) So..only a social media diva with a shamelessly courageous personality would appreciate how it came about that I’m messaging you.

Your pic caught my attention and profile did make me crack a smile. I’m sure you’ve left a trail of broken hearts and spirits around the globe, but no matter. We have much to discuss. If you care to. I’ve traveled the globe giving lectures about Internet search and touch on social media as part of that. And I’ve never thought of it, but yes, help demystify it all for many.Let me know when you’re planning to take me out . . . and where. Lol. Have a great day.

ps: several of your pics look like you’re wearing a wedding ring. If so, please disregard this message (well, except for the part about having a nice day)”
Yes, LinkedIn has blocking features, and thank God for those, as they stop some people from writing nonsense. Unfortunately, other people don’t take online rejections well—in their minds, attractiveness is a valid reason for harassment. They see an attractive person as an object who almost “deserves” to be abused.

You are certainly not one who can be easily run over. I know, you fight till the end.

Your beauty (inner and outer) is a priceless gift from God, be grateful for it.

Your heart is just as beautiful as your face, and it belongs to only one man—not the whole LinkedIn nation.

Your beauty is your blessing, and NO ONE can tell you it is your curse or your fault.

So don’t be afraid to tell them : “Go ahead, hate me…because I am, indeed, beautiful.”


Letter #3 Primum non nocere

Primum non nocere, the origin of this Latin saying is unknown, but for many centuries it represents the main concept of philosophy of medicine and medical practice. The Hippocratic Oath includes the promise to, first and foremost, “abstain from doing harm.”  Growing up as a doctor’s daughter, you heard this expression many times in your house.

But you never knew that one day this concept would become one of the main principles in your relationships with others, your health and your career. It would become a core of your philosophic outlook, which victoriously ended your lifelong internal battle with yourself and let’s focus on your serenity and wellbeing.

For many years you were convinced that the best, most fulfilling and meaningful way to live your life was to be helpful and useful to others. You were always proud of your reputation among your true friends as one of the nicest girls, someone with “no selfish bone in her body.” Among Russians, loyalty and endless dedication to friends and family are not just well-known qualities; they are core aspects of ourselves, deeply embedded in our hearts since birth.”

“So, what’s wrong with being loyal and helpful?” you might ask.  “Mother Teresa will always be remembered for her selfless act of caring for others.”  You are absolutely right; she was a remarkable woman.  And it is a true blessing to have trusted friends or partners, people who never betray you, who are always there for you—friends for life, as we call them.

Your biggest problem throughout your life was that you were a people pleaser. You never cared about your own wellbeing more than you cared about others.

When your were in a relationship, the only thought occupying your mind was how to make that other person happy. His life, his busy schedule, his habits and interests were your biggest priorities. His wish was literally your command. Your self-esteem was lower than the “snake’s -eye level”, and the only person who could not see that was You. You were just proud to be “the best girlfriend.” 

Most of your college friends didn’t keep in close touch with one another, even those who live in the same town. One time you convinced yourself that your main purpose in life was to bring my close college buddies together; therefore you should fly across the ocean and organize “long time no see” gatherings, trying to fill the gaps in their communications.  Don’t get me wrong, all of your friends were happy to see you, but were they thrilled to see one another? Meh… You were always the driver, the “locomotive,” the “Energizer Bunny” who would keep the remaining connections alive. tashie and college friends

Funniest thing…You loved giving presents more than you liked receiving them.  You always get that tingling excited sensation, anticipating the OTHER person’s reaction when they get your gifts. You weren’t trying to bribe anybody or buy their friendship; You were simply getting “high” on their happiness.  For many years, you bought gifts and meals that you couldn’t afford, you gave away my own possessions that you could have used myself, you used your vacation time to fly thousands of miles to see someone, you did homework for other students even when they never asked for help…and your only drive was to please other people.

You became an ENABLER.

Involuntarily, you would get dragged into every friend’s drama- One was unhappy with her hairstylist prices, and demanded you to call back in the middle of your workday, because she was upset. She honestly expected you to call that hairstylist and argue about her pricing. 

You would always be pulled in whenever your friends got into arguments. Bitching about other people’s imperfections is fun only once; doing it over and over drove you absolutely insane, especially if the topic hadn’t changed since the last venting session. 

You would buy expensive shoes and clothing, trying not to look different from my friends. Once a year you would send your mother on at least one (last year she got two) international trip. Frankly, though, out of all the people you had taken care of in your life; she deserves every dime and every second of your time. mom in greece

On the façade, you were a fearless “Russian pit bull” who would tear anyone apart in defending her friends and family, but inside your heart you were suffering from a classic case of “Stockholm syndrome,” protecting every person you loved and cared for.  And any time a relationship or business adventure failed, you would look up at the sky and ask the same question—WHY ME?

According to the laws of attraction, your thoughts attract the same energy you express. Positive thoughts bring happiness, and negativity brings losers into your life because “misery loves company.” Your case was completely the opposite. You were the “Sun” (hypothetically speaking) shining down on others with rays of unconditional love and support, and all you were getting back was their drama and jealousy.  The more you were giving out, the less you were getting back in. The law of attraction math clearly didn’t work for you.

You slowly started noticing that things change when you invest more time and money in yourself first, before putting on your Superwoman costume and running out to “save the world.” If you get your things done first, you would feel better doing things for others. If you made your own plans to go somewhere without relying on others, no one can cancel your trip and disappoint you. To “be kind to yourself” became your number one goal.

But.. On the morning of January 3rd, 2016 you found yourself in tears, texting to your dear friend about everyone who didn’t appreciate your generosity and your undivided attention.  Your mind became crystal clear when he simply said, “Stop running around for everybody, don’t you have your own things to do?” And I think he also called you a “bone head” for crying over others.  Gotta love those New Yorkers…

That day you said to yourself: 

Be kind to yourself, silly… Remember??

Run from the negativity and drama; concentrate on your own life first.  This life is indeed beautiful, and you are a lucky girl to have a loving family, wonderful co-workers and supporting managers.  You love what you do and you’re darn good at it.  You live in the greatest country in the world.  You are a child of two super powerful “parents” (the U.S. and Russia).  You are strong and smart, funny and kind…

Stop trying solving everyone else’s problems. Clean your house first.They can figure their own $hit out.

Accept the fact that not everyone will always like you.  (I know this one was hard for you.) Being likable doesn’t mean being a pushover. Being considerate is acceptable; letting people take advantage of your kindness is not.

Being assertive and speaking openly about things that matter is welcomed by honest and intelligent people. Don’t be afraid to offend fools—they will rain on your parade no matter what you say or do.

Primum non nocere. Another way to explain it is:  “It may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.”i-741513_640

If your life is seems meaningless without other people’s affirmation, if your love to please others is doing more harm than good, please stop hurting yourself any further.  Be kind and treat yourself with love, respect and dignity.  You matter. Learn it now, my darling, when you are just 24. 

Letter #2 Jersey Girl



You will be living on the East Coast for the next 24 years of your life. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, because at this moment you don’t even know which East Coast I am talking about. You’ve certainly heard about New York. You like Bon Jovi’s music, and you’ve probably heard that they’re from New Jersey. But I bet you’ve never heard anything about Connecticut, the state where you will spend the most of your lifetime.

1992. First stop: Brooklyn, NY.  (In 2016, your son’s Facebook profile will proudly state that he was born there. Strangely enough, among local teenagers, Brooklyn is respectfully recognized as a “bad ass” birth town location.) Then, in six years, your second husband will move you to New Jersey. And then, after another eight years, you will be a “proud” resident of Constitution State, a.k.a. Connecticut.

I’ll explain to you about Facebook and the whole social media concept a little later, but for now, let me tell you about your happy life in New Jersey.

New Jersey will always have a special place in your heart. Just like when you’re at home, secure and happy, you will feel the same every time you see that “Welcome to the Garden State” sign on the Parkway.  See, in New Jersey, we don’t say “Garden State Parkway”—we just say “Parkway.” We say we are going “to the Shore,” and everyone knows where we are going to the beach.  Things are simple in New Jersey.  We don’t even need to say the “New” – it’s just “Jersey.”

We cringe when someone says “Joisey.” We don’t talk like that. By the way, you will speak English with an adorable, very slight Russian (somehow mixed with English) accent. You want to know something really funny? You will even dream in both languages. When people ask you that silly question whether you dream in Russian or English, just tell them your dreams are BIG, and it doesn’t matter what language you speak in them.

In Jersey we define where we live based on turnpike (or parkway) exits. And by malls. Are you near Cherry Hill, Bridgewater, Palisades, Freehold Raceway or Short Hills? Short Hills Mall will be your favorite place to shop. This place has everything that excites you about the fashion world—elegant stores, beautiful shoes and clothing, designer jewelry and watches. Short Hills “lives and breathes” luxury. For an extensive period of time you will be obsessed with luxurious things. Eventually, you will realize that just owning THINGS does not make you happy, but your love of elegance and class will always be a signature part of your style.new year tashie

Please don’t be ashamed to look dressier than people who prefer casual clothing. You are a fashionista!  Wear your crown proudly. Don’t apologize for wearing high heels to a baseball game. Never apologize for your looks, but at the same time, don’t you dare to judge anyone who looks different than you. You will be loved just the way you are.

Every Jersey girl owns at least one Louis Vuitton pocketbook. You own several. Don’t get it twisted, girlfriend—it doesn’t make you a better person. BUT…it certainly will radiate a hell of a lot of confidence and style when you hold that beautiful shiny Louis clutch (the new 2016 model) at glamorous events or dinners. You are a classy, smart, funny and beautiful girl. Don’t be afraid to show it off, that Jersey style!

Jersey diners are the best IN THE WORLD! You can get your favorite Eggs Benedict 24/7 at any diner in Jersey. New Jersey diners are the institutional, cultural treasures of this state and should be treated like historical landmarks.

To this day it is unclear why New Jersey was named The Garden State.

“Agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry, behind pharmaceuticals and tourism, generating $65 billion a year…A full 806,000 acres, or 17 percent of the state, still comprises farmland, a designation that includes nurseries, vineyards and orchards, horse farms, and produce and livestock farms.”


Maybe that’s why. Still, if I could, I would change the words on local license plates to “The Bada Bing State” There is just so much culture and hidden meaning in that name.

tony soprano“The Sopranos” will be your favorite show after “Breaking Bad.” This brilliant TV show is a story about the life of a North Jersey mob boss, dealing with “casual retirements” (in other words, people getting killed), FBI investigations, infidelities (again, just a “casual” thing for Tony, the main character) and panic attacks. Imagine that—a mobster on Xanax? You’ll just have to admit that you like the main character of this show.  A lot.

Men in power have always excited you—intellectually and physically. THEY HAVE SOMETHING YOU DON’T. They can easily walk away and not return your calls. Men in power will be your weakness for the rest of your life…because your ego has been bruised by them. For a tiny little girl, you have a huge—no, rather, humongous—ego, my friend. Remember to listen to your heart more often than that big “E,” or you will waste a lot of time and energy chasing people who are just not worthy of being chased.

But we’ll discuss that later. Today is all about Jersey (the happy place).

New Jersey will be home for you because you’ll be truly HAPPY there. You’ll have your family and friends living close by. You’ll have your first job in IT. You’ll be happy and content internally. That’s what makes Jersey a special place for you. Your soul and your heart will be at peace there.

Unfortunately, when you move back to The Garden State for work in 2007, you will be miserable. You will hate it there—because home is the place where your heart lives. Remember that, my darling…

But more on that later…

Letter #1- The “No” Button

downloadGrowing up as the only child to a single mother, you never accepted the word “NO” as something meaningful or restrictive. That word always had hypothetical rather functional meaning, and never bothered you.  You could get away with murder, as they say in America. But in Russia, as you know, we don’t judge winners, and you’ve always been a winner — a leader, a center of attention, the life of the party, a girl with thousands of friends and with teachers who admired her. You selfish ways of doing things, managing my relationships, dictating your own rules to others, were always accepted and sadly even encouraged by family and friends.

Remember your first rejection when you were 22 years old (just two years ago.) You college boyfriend, whom you had been dating for some time, told you that he wasn’t going to marry you. More than that, he was going to break up with you that summer!!! Huh? Was he out of his mind? NO, REALLY, WAS HE OUT OF HIS DAMN MIND? Remember feeling a hurricane of anger and disbelief filling every cell of you body with a poisonous desire for revenge. Your response to a loss of control was unmanageable anger and self-destruction. And you started to blame yourself for every little fall, every disappointment, every wrong decision and consequential action. You became part of a problem, not a solution.

You developed an imposter syndrome: “First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression . “ (American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/index.aspx)

You almost embedded rejection in your “programming function.” The big NO became expected and even welcomed into your personal and professional lives. You own self-inflicted misery would probably have killed you one day, except that you finally realized, after another painful personal disappointment, that your life needed to be, and could be, changed.

Skip to 2007 – first outside sales job in the Metro NY area. Another relationship was over, and nothing was holding you in the cold, snowy Constitutional State.  You had no idea what you were doing. No special sales training and no preparation for more rejection. A constant fear of failure was giving you daily migraines and nightmares.

At one of the monthly sales meeting, you were giving your first sales presentation, in front of your colleagues as a part of the usual exercise, feeling like dying from the anxiety and stress. Nerves got the best of you, and you failed miserably at the whole thing. But this time, you felt differently. You finally got tired of “being sick and tired,” and at the end of the presentation, you have  realized…that YOU NEEDED TO ASK FOR HELP. You gave my big ego a “leave of absence” and reached out to your peers (who loved your dearly) for critique and guidelines.

Finally, you stopped blaming myself for every world catastrophe, and you started looking at the road ahead of you, instead of looking in the rearview mirror. Paraphrasing  Jeffrey Gitomer (you will meet him in person, later) you resigned from a position of General Manager of the Universe. You gave up in order to receive a blessing – the blessing of learning my lesson.

Patricia Fripp, the most successful public speaking coach of all time, once said,

The answer is always NO if you don’t ask.

But what if you do ask, and the answer is still NO?

  • Or, better yet, you work really hard to receive a positive result, and you hear NO again.
  • You and your team train really hard, but you still lose the game.
  • You work every stage of a project – from prospecting to closing (or almost closing) – only to lose that project to the competition.
  • You interview for the job of your dreams, but you don’t receive that phone call back.
  • You meet a guy (or a girl) who you think is perfect for you, but he (or she) doesn’t want to do anything with you. (This one happened to me recently…well, I am certainly not everybody’s cup of tea. )

The list of life’s situations, where you do not get the results as you wanted and expected, is endless. But also endless are life’s opportunities.

Remember this legendary phrase of Mike Corleone from “The Godfather”? (It will become your favorite movie)


Exactly: “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Not a lot of business decisions are personal, and their consequences do not necessarily point in your direction.

And if they are not personal, you can deal with them with a clear head and an understanding of the nature of possible risks and rewards. The simple principle of finance model says (finance folks will appreciate this) that bigger risk usually means bigger rewards, but at the same time it can lead to bigger losses. In this case, ALWAYS vote for calculated risk decisions.

Failures in sports are inevitable. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever walk on this planet said:

At the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (2014) expected their men’s hockey team at least to bring home medals, considering they were playing at home with the help and support of millions of Russian fans. We got NOTHING…NADA, ZERO, НИЧЕГО. Whose fault was that? Players, coaches, fans, expectations, pressure? I don’t know. I do know one thing, though: most Russian fans, including your mother, still don’t want to hear anything about our mighty hockey team, bluntly blaming them for their loss. We don’t like losers in Russia; it is a tough country to grow up in. But we all share a huge, unconditional love for this amazing, courageous and exciting sport, for its legacy and our country. Soon after Sochi, in April of 2014, the Russian team became the World Champions.

Business projects’ losses are the lessons we learn every day. That is why you will conduct meetings called “Lessons Learned” at the end of each project, whether it was successful or not. There is always something positive in every negative instance.

For every job we don’t get, we get another, a new opportunity to explore.

For every relationship we lose, or don’t succeed at, there’s another one, around the corner. Think about it. There are 7 billion people living on this planet. There has got to be someone out there for you. (You haven’t met him yet, I have.. You will learn about him in my last letter, just be patient.)

Just open your heart and your mind, and don’t get caught up in your own drama or self-pity. Nobody likes whiners!!

Rejection is painful and sometimes can be deadly.  By losing we win our blessings.

Remember, Tashie, the biggest blessing is that your heart knows how to love, how to give it and how to let it go.

The Book of Your Life

Before we become someone—a writer, a doctor, a lawyer, a mass murderer or a hero, a dictator or a president—before we make life-changing decisions, numerous mistakes and commitments, we all arrive to this world in the same fashion—naked and innocent.

We haven’t pissed anyone off yet, and we haven’t loved anyone else either. We have done absolutely nothing that we will regret later. We haven’t said one word yet.

Even our first scream is innocent: we’re simply trying to breathe. Last time I checked, breathing wasn’t against the law.

But later, after we’ve done some breathing, eating, and growing, we learn how to speak. The moment we communicate with the outside world, we lose the innocence we had at birth, and everything we do or say affects either our own or someone else’s life.

From the early stages of our development, we make choices for what we hope are the right reasons. Many of those decisions make us happy, others bring sadness, and of course, there are those (my favorite) in the special category called “What the hell was I thinking?”

north korean leaders - letters to myselfLife is not like a presidential election—we know we’re not coming back to Earth for a second term (at least not in the same shape). Well, there may be a few exceptions, such as the Russian President Putin, who, like a cat, has nine (or more) terms, and North Korean dictators, who rule the country until they die.

“If I only knew then what I know now” is more than just an expression. It is a hopeless cry about wishing we could predict the future.

Ever asked yourself what would happen if we could read the books of our own lives, way before we make mistakes or hurt others?

Buckle up, everyone, and hang on for the ride! Let’s see what the future holds…


Letters to Myself

1992 - letters to myself (Natasha and Lori)It is the summer of 1992 and you’ve just graduated from college, but you have no idea what you are going to do with that master’s degree in engineering you’ve spent the last five years working for. But who cares? You are only 24!!! And it is June, the famous time of the breathtaking White Nights in Saint Petersburg. The air is filled with love and excitement.

In just 10 days, you will be leaving for your first journey by plane, across the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of miles away from home, to the land of the Dreams, called America! Your dreams! Your stomach is turning, you are restless, and you can’t stop thinking about that day you will tell your mom “Do Svidania” at the airport, and start your OWN, adult chapter in the book of your life, a life full of the UNKNOWN…

But before you board that plane…you want to read your life story? Yes, that’s what I thought you said. Of course you do!

Well, girl, grab your favorite orange blanket that you had since you were born (made from real camel hair!). Don’t forget a box of chocolates (don’t worry, in a couple of years you will lose all that weight and be a size 0 for rest of your life…or at least ’til you’re 48). Get comfy in your reading chair—you are in for a treat.

Will your life be perfect? You’ll have to decide for yourself which parts of your lifetime journey you want to rewrite and which chapters you would do all over again. Hopefully, you’ll make fewer mistakes in your life, and you’ll be kinder to some people and less loving to others, those who don’t deserve your heart.

Here are the letters of 24 years of your life—the good, the bad and the ugly…

So go on, Tash, and open the first letter. Don’t be afraid. You are a lucky girl. Soon you will be calling yourself “A girl with a Dream.”