This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Oleg Loughheed. Oleg has an incredible story. He was born into poverty in Russia. He lived with an alcoholic mother, slept with bed bugs, and was lucky to get a good meal when he could – even if that menat he had to steal it. He never met his father. At 12 years old, he left his birth mother behind not knowing he would never see her again and entered an orphanage to be adopted so he could have a better life.
He was adopted by a family in the U.S. This changed his life and gave him all the opportunity he could ever asked for. And Oleg is not wasting it. He is the founder of Overcoming Odds – a non-profit dedicated to helping people share their stories and experiences of resilience and overcoming insurmountable odds to teach others how they can do the same.
As an international adoptive father, I can not only relate to Oleg’s story of where he came from and the situation he was in, but I also have a special appreciation of what it took to overcome it. And it’s this unique perspective that I want him to share with you in this episode.
Oleg’s story begins in a small town in Russia. He was born into a broken home. At 3 years old, Oleg’s mother became an alcoholic. And at 3 years old, Oleg was reliant on her and in her state, she could not really be there for him. His sister started to become his caretaker but was not prepared for it. He was a “rock in the middle of two islands.”
His sister was reluctant to look after him and resented her mother for it. Oleg says he is grateful because everything he went through makes up who he is today. The strength, courage, and who has become is all due to these experiences. At 9 years, HE DECIDED to relinquish his parents’ rights and become an orphan. He decided that the orphanage could provide better for him than his current situation. Some of this was true, but there was also physical and mental abuse that came with it.
At the 9 min mark, we discuss the amazing decision Oleg was able to make at 9 years old to separate from his family. He shares how he had to mature much faster as he was tested at a very young age at the highest levels to have to grow up. Whether it was fighting hunger, finding a way to survive, watching his mother’s abuse and her being abused from those around her, he had to essentially live on his own and take care of himself. He learned early on to be a problem solver and part of his issue was he wanted to solve problems for his mother but could not.
At 12 years old, he was adopted and brought the U.S. He was put into 6th grade. He could not speak English and new very little about this area of the world. He had to figure everything out. He had challenges with keeping up, making friends, even communicating. The only way he could communicate was by kicking the soccer ball back and forth on the playground and this is how he began to make friends. It took him about 2-3 years to get up to speed.
At the 16:30 mark, Oleg talks about how he found his drive in the times he had gone out searching for his birth mother and what he encountered.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve taken away from your journey that have helped your success?
- Never say you can’t do something in life.
- Language really matters. What you tell yourself is who you become.
- Never sell yourself short.
What was the hardest thing you had to overcome in your journey?
- Some of the closest people to us can be the biggest critics and the ones that can stop you from living your story.
- Stepping outside of this was the biggest challenge.
- The way to get through it is to understand that you have a bigger purpose and you must fulfill that purpose.
- Patience is critical as it takes time – not only to go through it, but to work it through internally.
- Results, many times, come years down the road.
Tell us about RDNA. What is it?
- Resilience is developed over time
- Resilience comes from your self-confidence in your own abilities and decision making.
- Before confidence comes perspective. How you perceive things impacts your confidence.
- What makes you unique? Who are you? Who is helping you? Who is not?
- Who is part of your network?
- Who should you be surrounding yourself with?
- What are the qualities they should have?
- You must be who you are today.
- Don’t wear a mask.
- Be true to yourself and know yourself.
At the 37 min mark, Oleg talks about discovering one’s purpose…
- The challenge is defining your purpose and then refining your purpose over time.
- Ask “Why me?” Look at your journey and ask why you had to go through what you have gone through in your life. Why me? What are you supposed to learn from this?
- Ask how this has shaped your trajectory and who you need to be grateful to for their help along the way.
- Be careful not to overcomplicate things. The answer is usually right in front of you and simpler that think….
- It comes down to, “If not you, then who else? “Who else is meant to go through to understand life from the particular view that you can?
- Our purpose is always already within us. We have the experience and events that happen in our lives. Its about being able to define those experiences and events on how we choose to view them and use them to help us and serve others.
- Building something before you know who you are and what you stand for, can lead you down a dangerous road.
What is developing an entrepreneur mindset a necessity?
- Most of us are entrepreneurs at heart.
- A lot of the things we do in today’s day and age are about surviving, thriving, and connecting which is at the core of entrepreneurship.
- Entrepreneurship is solving problems, and this is a built-in ability for us.
What is the best advice you would give an entrepreneur starting out today?
- Really commit to understanding who you are. Keep asking “Who am? “Am I doing this for the right reasons?” “Am I connecting with the right people?”
- You are the best ideal customer to solve a problem for and start a business around. You should build something that’s of value to you. Don’t build for someone else.
- Build for yourself and it will attract others along the way.
- When you build for you, it will be to solve a problem for you and not just about making money immediately which is a bad reason to build a business on.
Oleg’s acronym for authentic…
- Accepting your past. Ask, “Who do I have to forgive in my past to move forward in your story?”
- Understanding you are unique. What makes you unique, what makes you, you?
- Tell your story. Your story has impact and hearing yourself is critical as your story becomes who you are to the world.
- Encourage others. Encourage others to share their story.
- Never say you can’t. Never say you can’t do something in your life.
- Tell you story to more people!
- Influencing others. Show them where really are and let them see what is really going on. Help them see that they are not alone.
- Connecting with others. Don’t be afraid to build your community and bring in those that can challenge you.
Best Quote: Your past doesn’t have to define your present or your future. Your past is a foundation to learn from and give your lessons and takeaways. It is a reference point for how far you’ve come in life.
Oleg's Misfit 3:
- Ask “Why me?” Why did you go through what you went through and how did you overcome it? What did you learn?
- Language truly does matter. What words to do you use with yourself? Are you encouraging yourself and others to live out their story or not? Perspective.
- Is this happening TO you or is it happening FOR you. The perspective you choose to take in life will have a dramatic impact on your life.