If you could write a brief note to your 13 year old self, what advice would you impart in it?
When I was 13, it was the very beginning of a transformation from an immigrant no one is happy to deal with, to the guy ready to fight for his opinion. I can imagine how I’m standing in front of thirteen-year-old Narek, extremely shy and humble guy. The only thing I want to share with him is:
“Don’t be afraid man, don’t avoid them. People love you”
What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?
I remember the first time I ended up in Armenia in a non-tourist season. After leaving my country at the age of 3, I’ve decided to accept my friend’s invitation to visit Armenia almost 15 years later. And so, I’m here, I’m walking in downtown. It’s December – and after Moscow’s typical winter – I landed to the middle of Armenian spring. And there was just a little thought, just a fleeting feeling that here is my place. That couldn’t be a decision, but I was sure that it was.
And after 8 years of living with that decision, I’ve changed my life irrevocably and moved to Yerevan.
What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?
Most of the people in my network think living in a megapolis is the best thing in life. I have very bad news for you my friends 🙂 My life became way better after relocating to а smaller city, and even now I’m trying to find an opportunity to move somewhere with up to 1k residents.
Also, most of my network thinks corporate career is not an option for an entrepreneur. I’m sure it is, and I would like to recommend all the people to hire entrepreneurs if they are ready to give them enough freedom.
When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important? What was it and what lead you to change your view?
I used to think a good leader selects the right words, prepares amazing and motivational speeches and does a lot of stuff like that to inspire people. It was really important for me to understand that it’s not true.
“A good leader is extremely transparent, they take off their masks and share all the weaknesses they have, all the fears bothering them”
If we were to go and speak to people who don’t think very highly of you, what would they say?
Once at the party we played a game where people were sharing honest impressions about each other. And one of my mates shared that I’m always trying to please others and stay loved. It led to a lot of self-reflections and attempts to understand the reasons why I’m doing that. Honestly, I have no clue, even now. The most plausible explanation was my business development experience, and I started to think about sales strategies I want to implement but according to sales best practices and rules, those strategies shouldn’t be used. And here I am, the first friendly and non-pushy introvert sales
What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?
I used to underestimate everything about the abilities and resources I have. Everywhere, at work, in personal life, in sports. And all the time, literally. Even now, I’m sharing my personal story, and I’m quite sure it’s extremely boring and won’t catch anyone’s attention. It causes unnoticeable trouble called “Lost opportunities” when you think you’re not cool enough to start something bigger.
Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?
I’ve always tried to stay out of politics, but it’s only possible until the moment politics affects your life or business. That’s why I’ve never succeeded to be out of politics. My political beliefs don’t stand a chance to remain the same: it’s not a football team or indie band someone can support and love lifelong. Living in the post-soviet region only intensifies that, you never know what is the most beneficial way for the country you live in. Just like a startup. At some point, you need a ruthless manager, and then at another point, a representative of people.
“At some point, you need a ruthless manager, and then at another point, a representative of people”
What do you think is acceptable today but will become taboo tomorrow?
Today we still can be on our own. Not being a part of something big, just us. Tomorrow corporations, tech products and government will be so deeply involved in our personal lives that we won’t be able to think and act freely ignoring the beliefs imposed by others and those big institutions.
What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?
Apple Music is my love, and weekly Chill playlists I’m receiving last 6 months are like a conversation with AI. Every time we communicate with each other (omg, what I’m talking about), polishing my preferences. And as a result, I have the most precious digital asset in my life and the only thing from my digital belongings that I want to save in any situation: my playlists.
What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?
I bought a bike last August аnd it was the first time I tried to ride a bike for real. I never thought a vehicle could possibly provide so many emotions, so much freedom.
If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?
If Wong Kar-wai doesn’t mind I’d love to launch a cafe like the Klyuch from “My Blueberry Nights”. I felt in love with that atmosphere of calm and serenity Jude Law had in that place. And that was the Klyuch (“the clue” in Russian) of everything.
If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?
I want to be the screenwriter of that upcoming world. There will be R&D dept of the new version of human relationships, trying new types of interactions, creating experimental groups of societies.
What’s a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?
There is a skill I don’t think I can articulate properly. It’s something like the speed of thoughts. It’s how much time I need to dive into something new and suggest solutions or improvements to it.
Tell me about that one project that was a total off-the-rails disaster? What was your role in that shitshow?
Once I’ve heard that every single human should do what they love and love what they do.
But it was 2011, I was a newbie in business and knew nothing about product development. And I had an idea (actually not such a bad idea when I think about it now) to develop films and books search engine with one search criteria only – the mood. It totally failed, we had a seed round from FFF, but in 12 months we decided to return the money from our savings and close the project.
I was the co-founder and mostly the content creator, but I still have no clue why I’ve started it being a recruiter. 🙂
Who was the best person you ever hired? Why were they so good?
I’m happy to work with that person until today. Her name is Tatev Blbulyan, the only business partner I gained after hiring an employee. Outstanding professional and amazing friend. She shared with me and Ach Petrosyan all the responsibility in our business. This kind of events in my life are the main reason I can’t consider myself an unlucky person.
What hiring heuristic do you generally go with?
My hiring heuristic is persuading a person not to join my team, not to become a recruiter. I try to discourage every candidate that enters our meeting room. Afterwards, I’m checking if that worked. I want to be sure (or at least to believe in it) that joining my team is one of the most mindful decisions my colleagues make.
What common wisdom in our industry needs to be debunked?
My industry still considers sourcer to be a junior recruiter. I know, this is not even funny, but in most companies worldwide the sourcer’s role is underestimated. Despite all the huge impact sourcing community has on many tech companies, we still need to define who is the sourcer, and why it’s not the same with the researcher or recruiter.
Who will be the winners & losers in our industry in the post-Covid19 world?
Post-Covid19 world is a world of flexible, they will be the only ones to stay. They – I mean professionals, companies, non-profits, governments, doesn’t matter what unit we are talking about. If your team can implement the new strategy in up to 5 days, you’re the winner. If not, and you are still in service, you can become a loser on the next crisis say in a year or two.
“If your team can implement a new strategy in 5 days, you’re the winner”
Name one person who has had an extraordinary impact on your career. What did they do and what did you learn from that person?
It is definitely Sergey Dmitrichenko, founder of AmazingHiring. He discovered both sourcing and tech recruitment for me, and he is a role model for me until now. Both as an entrepreneur and as a recruiter.
Thank you Narek Aslikyan for taking 20 Questions with The Recruiters Tribune