Nothing happens unless you do something. To accomplish anything meaningful in life, it takes a massive amount of energy, perseverance and hard work. Now, it is true that some people get lucky right away — but for most of us, it can take close to 20 years to achieve that so-called “overnight success.” I can wholeheartedly say that passiveness will not get one far in life, especially if one has formidable goals and dreams. We all have to actively draw on resources from our environments, taking the time to plant and cultivate those seeds in order to enjoy those trees full of sweet, luscious fruits that will feed our families for years to come.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Oksana Kolesnikova.
Inspirational and visionary, the Russian-born American, Oksana Kolesnikova, is a renowned artist, philanthropist, business consultant/educator and franchisor. She is the CEO of three companies: Oksana Management Group, Inc, Oksana Franchising International, Inc and Oksana Foundation. In 2019, she launched franchising opportunities for her scholastic and arts-focused business, which was already successfully operating with a large roster of instructors and was established in numerous schools. Born from her love of music performances, composing, and teaching music and languages to students, she sought to provide a quality-based resource for student enrichment beyond what her high-demand, one-on-one lessons would allow.
Oksana has recorded eight CDs of original, classical and popular music and her own instructional video for students of piano. She has collaborated with other international musical artists for recordings, and her original compositions have been chosen by international artists to record on their own CDs. “Oksanabella,” her YouTube channel featuring her performances, has nearly 3 million views from all over the world.https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FwYEem6_Zjac%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DwYEem6_Zjac&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FwYEem6_Zjac%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube
Thank you so much for doing this with us Oksana! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Tosummarize it into one term, it would have to be “inner evolution” — I have always believed that the only life worth living is when we pursue our passions, life mission and happiness. I personally consider myself blessed because I discovered what these passions were early in life, and I have been pursuing them with vigor and enthusiasm ever since I can remember. Now, that’s not to say that it has always been easy navigating these trails and creating my own path, but in the end, it was a crystal vision and raw purpose that kept me going when that going got tough.
Every one of us boasts our own unique talents and interests that — once cultivated, refined and matured — can deliver a plethora of personal joy, satisfaction and benefit to society at large. I have done just that in my professional career, and what I mean by that is the following: I have utilized my interests, loves and passions in the areas of music, education, children and entrepreneurship, and through them all, I’ve nourished pastimes and business pursuits, all within the realm of these aforementioned interests.
When I awake each day and just before going to sleep at night, I show gratitude for the gift of being able to live my life with a sincere, keen purpose.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is one area that I find myself going against the grain, so to speak, as it relates to popular and traditional belief; this belief is that as a small business owner, you are supposed to maximize your chances of success by narrowing and refining your niche.
I myself went through the whole “entrepreneurial self-taught schooling,” believing this was true, reading countless books on the subject and seeking out research wherever possible. However, my experience happened to “fly in the face” of what had been traditionally taught to entrepreneurs throughout the years; indeed, once again, the proverbial recommendation of “Listen to the masses…do the opposite” rang true. Perhaps this aforementioned philosophy was rooted in evidence 20 or 30 years ago, but now, because of extreme competition and the commerce world shrinking due to the internet and outsourcing, the owners of small businesses cannot survive in just one specific niche if they are servicing their only community in just one category (and if they don’t possess the funding to scale their niche outside the local market).
I started with the niche approach, as I was taught, but gradually realized that I had to diversify, which turned out to be a much more effective strategy for achieving greater results.
Now, let me be clear: I am not saying that businesspeople must turn to multiple industries and split themselves thin, but we can all diversify within our own industry that we already operate in and which we are familiar with. Also, I believe that we can offer more products and services within this same arena, allowing for not only new customers but the opportunity for up-selling existing ones. What’s important to take from what I’m saying here is that when one side of business slows down or halts, there should be other sides that “bail us out.”
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
My mentors have been my parents, many teachers and the challenging environment during the years I was going to school. Once I was out of school, I sought, on my own, supplemental education not typically taught in garden variety institutions — specifically as it related to entrepreneurship and financial education. Because I loved reading and became an avid reader, many of my “mentors” became the authors of the books I took to; in fact, I consider myself, even to this day, an “active reader,” being that I search for the information I can act upon as opposed to being a “passive reader,” which equates to reading for pleasure. The elements I absorbed and took away from such books have drastically enhanced my life and career — that I can say for sure.
There are many great authors out there that bring tremendous value should one decide to use it and follow through with it. Ultimately, it comes down to one’s own personal decision and how passionately he or she wants to learn.
Can you share three of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Number One: Do what you love, and you will ultimately succeed. Believe me when I say that I have experienced my share of naysayers in my life, and I’ve heard it all — from “You cannot be successful in music” to “Starting your own business is too risky,” “Nine out of 10 businesses fail,” “Too much competition will hinder your success,” “There are people that are better at this than you are” and “It takes money to make money.”
At the end of the day, I’m glad that I didn’t pay too much attention to all this and kept doing my own thing while loving the experience every step of the way.
Number Two: Nothing happens unless you do something. To accomplish anything meaningful in life, it takes a massive amount of energy, perseverance and hard work. Now, it is true that some people get lucky right away — but for most of us, it can take close to 20 years to achieve that so-called “overnight success.” I can wholeheartedly say that passiveness will not get one far in life, especially if one has formidable goals and dreams. We all have to actively draw on resources from our environments, taking the time to plant and cultivate those seeds in order to enjoy those trees full of sweet, luscious fruits that will feed our families for years to come.
Number Three: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We have all heard this one, but there is so much truth in it; we all hate setbacks, but everyone must endure lessons in life, otherwise, we simply don’t grow. So, when I experience a setback, I don’t reject it or become defensive about it, even though it’s completely natural to do so — I look at things objectively. First, I assess if there might be an opportunity in disguise, which there very often happens to be, and then I analyze what kind of lesson I can learn from the situation.
How are you going to shake things up next?
I’m taking my experience, knowledge and successful business model from the local to a national plateau. I’ve recently become a franchisor, heading the operation of the Oksana® Enrichment Franchise system, a decision I made after seeing the potential in the private education sector of today. In a proverbial nutshell, the private education sector is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and there was and always will be keen interest in educating children to provide them opportunities beyond what general education offers. For as long as there have been kids, their parents have wanted them to get involved in sports, music, art, drama and, of course, anything that will improve their grades through tutoring — i.e. strengthening their academic performance.
I realized, through building my OMG, Inc. company, that I could scale my business model based on this demand. It took us a decade of hard work and trial and error to arrive at this level of success and expansion, but best of all, our franchisees are able to minimize the learning curve and avoid costly mistakes to get to the same point. We provide a proven formula and turnkey operation for other entrepreneurs to be just as successful.
Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park, as they say; it was a plethora of hard work, extreme organization and, truly, plenty of sleepless nights. It took one full year of diligent work and preparation to put it all together with the help of our franchising consultant, who made getting approved by the FTC and U.S. regulators possible.
Still, as it stands, I’m proud to say that as of October 2019, Oksana Franchising International has been officially approved to award franchises in 35 states to start.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Indeed — one of the first influential forces in my entrepreneurial foray was author Robert Kiyosaki, and once I read his books, I signed up for the courses his company offered; to say that this decision paid me back many times is an understatement. Prior to this, I was operating as a sole proprietor and freelancer, but the message that really stuck with me was that there are only so many hours in a day that one can work and earn accordingly — as such, there is and always will be a ceiling to reach. However, I have found that by utilizing other capable people’s talent, time and skills, you will achieve the ability to expand to unlimited hours of operation; you can, for instance, spend time with family or travel as team members make you money while you are “off the clock.” These days, when I choose to teach or perform, I do it primarily for pleasure and not out of any kind of necessity. Indeed, I’m in control of how much or how little I want to engage in something, an approach that provides me copious amounts of freedom.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I always dreamt of having my own foundation one day…to give back to the communities that have nurtured my own hopes and dreams, and through which I could perform charitable work. Additionally, I have always exhibited a burning desire to help underprivileged youth by offering them educational opportunities that they otherwise could never afford. These dreams became a vivid reality when the unfortunate current events surrounding the pandemic we find ourselves in lead to the launch of my non-profit Oksana Foundation.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Oksana Foundation has been providing free-of-charge online music programs to children aged seven through 13 and who have been confined at home due to social distancing measures. A plethora of kids have joined our virtual classrooms each week to master a new skill, and we’ve been welcoming more students who wish to join us — irrespective of where they’re located in the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Take charge of your life and control your destiny.”
It seems so many people complain about pretty much everything — the economy is bad, my boss is a horrible person, my kids and spouse are driving me crazy, the government is out to get us. I suppose that being an immigrant has made me see things with a different perspective; I’m an individual who lives by a principle of gratitude and appreciation. This beautiful country has so much to give — a premise that should be highlighted more often in the current turbulent, anger-driven political climate of today that seemingly encourages the destruction of patriotic monuments — and there are so many opportunities for everyone to build their own American Dream…if they only work hard and believe.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am very active on social media. I post not only personal but also career, talent, education and entrepreneurial-oriented content daily. Your readers can find me on Instagram ([email protected]), Facebook at OksanaFoundation, LinkedIn ([email protected]), Twitter ([email protected]) and YouTube (YouTube/OksanaBella).