Episode 10: Vlad Sherman, A Russian Born in Kazakhstan, Living in Beijing

Vlad Sherman

BIO of VLAD SHERMAN

Vlad Sherman is an actor, television personality, and a host of his own podcast. Born in the USSR, he has been living in China for the last 8 years getting bigger as an actor.
In this episode we talk about his story, the impetus to move from Russia to China, what is it like to be an actor, and can it pay the bills. 
We also discuss his views as an expat and what being a citizen of the world means to him. 

SOME OF THE TOPICS COVERED

  • Moving from Russia to China
  • Difficulties of making it as an actor
  • Stories from his education back in Russia
  • Don’t quit your dayjob! Do most actors still have to keep a normal job?
  • What his favorite thing about being an expat is.
  • Cultural differences he notices between Russia and China

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CONNECT with VLAD SHERMAN

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/realvladsherman/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC39k6Pr8t2T3KU23JKigXkg
weibo:https://www.weibo.com/u/5196059772

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TRANSCRIPT

You can read the transcript below or download here.

Zach Ireland:

Hello everyone, welcome to the expat chitchat show, I’m your host Zach Ireland. Today, I’m filling in for Manny Pacquiao. Senator Pacquiao could not be here with us today as he is on tour promoting his book, Violence Isn’t Always the Answer But Man, Does It Pay The Bills. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pacquiao during these trying times. Joining me today in the studio is actor, television personality, social media influencer and full time dream chaser, Vladislav Sherman.

Vlad Sherman:

Hello, everybody. Hello Zach, thank you very much for your invitation. I’m really excited about being here.

Zach Ireland:
Thanks for joining me. 

Vlad Sherman:

Thank you very much.

Zach Ireland:

We’re very happy to have you on the podcast because not only are you all these things I mentioned before but you’re also a good friend of mine. We’ve worked together in several projects, known each other for several years. In the process of podcasting, I’m learning that in one of the best ways to reconnect with friends and to know more about your friends is through podcasting.

Vlad Sherman:
Exactly. Exactly.

Zach Ireland:

We’ll start off with something very simple. Let’s start about where have you lived? From the beginning to now.

Vlad Sherman:

Alright. Okay. Actually, I’m from the southwest of Russia. At the age of 21, I moved to China so I guess when it comes to living, I’ve lived only in these 2 countries, however, my work has taken me to a lot of places so I have worked in UAE, India, Nigeria, also.

Zach Ireland:

The UAE, India and Nigeria?

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, it was briefly that I worked there.

Zach Ireland:

Wow, fascinating. What city did you start off in in Russia?

Vlad Sherman:

Actually, I’m kind of IT guy, computer person. I have started working in Russia doing system administrator job for one year. Actually, at the same time, I did my acting job. I did a theater performance in that time so I’m doing two stuff at the same time, so at the moment I have a fulltime job to pay the bills. In China, I worked as a product manager so you can say, as I said, as an IT guy.

Zach Ireland:
Before we get into that, let’s start off with where you’ve lived.

Vlad Sherman:

Actually, I was born in Kazakhstan.

Zach Ireland:
You were born in Kazakhstan?

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah. At that time, that was a USSR so my mother went to watch her sister and I was born there so I have a kind of weird passport, Russian passport because I’m from Kazakhstan but it’s actually a Russian passport.

Zach Ireland:

Okay. So, you yourself is Russian even though you were born in Kazakhstan?

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah, I’m Russian, 100%. [laughs]

Zach Ireland:

And then after moving from what was the former USSR but now currently Kazakhstan, then to Russia, when you moved to China, what city did you start off in?

Vlad Sherman:

First time I came to China I stayed in Dalian to doing my Master’s Degree. I stayed there for 4 years then I moved to Beijing.

Zach Ireland:
Okay, alright. So, moving on from that then, how would you describe your job title?

Vlad Sherman:

Okay, at the moment, I have a fulltime job to pay the bills. I work as a product manager so you can say I’m sort of an IT guy. For a while, I worked as a system administrator then in China, I have been doing my entrepreneurship. At the same time, I work towards my dreams. I want to be an actor, an entertainer. I want to get into filmmaking, doing some performance. Back there in Russia, I did some theatrical performances. After coming to China, I started taking a part in various creative projects, acting, performing, making videos, also, these past two years, I’m doing kind of filmmaking stuff. I’m studying so I hope me and my team, fortunately, will create something viable in the future.

Zach Ireland:

So, knowing you personally, I can tell that you are being quite modest about this because you’ve done several appearances and performances on talk shows althroughout China.

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah, I think the most of them, the same as your appearances and it’s really exciting about this job. I love acting but from the beginning, acting is not my strong point. From the time when I was a child, I’m really afraid to speak in front of the people. I remember when I was a child, I had a project to discuss and I forgot everything. What I need to say, what I was supposed to say and I was crying a lot and just ran away. From that time, I thought it’s really difficult to be an actor, it’s really difficult to be a public speaker so I decide to starting doing something. I go to the theatrical performance club then I  got to the stage and actually in a couple of years, I really know how to do simple acting and at that time, when the first time when I make my performance, we had a 2-hour Anna Karenina…have a…at that time, I had a kind of main role in it and I remember when we did that performance, everybody was clapping their hands and I was standing on that stage and something changed in me. I was not afraid to speak more, in the end. From that time, I get to know real myself. I had understand that that is what I’m really are and what I liked to do so from that time I start doing some performances.

Zach Ireland:

Beautiful. For those of you at home, and actually a lot of people don’t know this, several years back, I would say three years ago. You and I were in a project together called [00:05:48] the tragedy of the [00:05:53] people. At that time, you actually played my father in this show.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, exactly. That is kind of funny, funny story. Actually, nobody noticed this.

Zach Ireland:

No, no one noticed this because originally, when I suggested you for this role, I thought you would be playing my father like in flashbacks because they were looking for someone around your age but then, you were cast in this, we found that we had scenes together and you were actually one year younger than I am.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, one year younger than you and actually, in that role, my wife was Chinese and we actually don’t look like each other.

Zach Ireland:
I actually look more like her than I look like you.

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah, exactly. So, as I know these Hakka people TV series didn’t come to the TV.

Zach Ireland:
it’s hard to say because I’ve seen some clips and I’ve seen some photos of it online. I don’t actually know because I asked people where they’ve seen this and I’ve never gotten a response.

Vlad Sherman:

I’m really excited to watch it.

Zach Ireland:

I’m excited to watch it too, it would be very, very interesting. So, you talked a bit about your…how you describe your job title. Can you talk a bit more about that? so, you currently have a full time job working in sort of an IT and you’re using this in order to pursue your career in acting and in media.

Vlad Sherman:
Right, I think there are so many things what people don’t know about these two different majors or careers. I think what a lot of people do is they usually stereotype when it comes to jobs. So, IT guys are perceived to stick to the plans, kind of geeky people. Actors are perceived as very greedy folks. While it’s true to some extent, it’s also not. For example, being an IT guy helps me in a lot of things: post-production, doings some special effects, editing videos, etcetera. Being an actor, helps me to do my IT job because sometimes you need to think outside the box and come up with approaches not used before because being a product manager, you need to have a good imagination. It’s all about creation, creating something so some qualities, while they are certainly constantly attributed to a group of people, also helps do jobs one would not usually think of when it comes to said qualities. Another false perception is that being an actor is an easy job. For me, it’s the most difficult job I have done. Actually, two years ago, I have asked you how do you do that? you do a really good job to be an actor and you are sitting here like, “Eh, Vlad,” You are sitting here laughing and said to me like, “It’s easy to be an actor. Everybody can be an actor!” but not everybody can be a good actor.

Zach Ireland:

That sounds like something I would say.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, and being an actor is not saving lives but it doesn’t diminish hardships and difficulties when it comes to actors’ profession and it’s hard to just sometimes, to the lack of schedule, from another perspective with a nine to five job, you know where you will be next week on Sunday at 3 o’clock in your workplace. With acting, it’s not the case. You might be doing a gig or you might be unemployed. Everything is possible. It’s hard to get into some roles, make them believable and enjoyable, sometimes for me, and however, for me, personally, these things which make acting job hard also make it the most exciting of all.

Zach Ireland:

It sounds like a lot of what you’re saying are things that I agree with. I find one of the more difficult things that people don’t necessarily think about when it comes to acting is, it’s like what you said is, the actual logistics of it. Of scheduling if you have 2 different projects going on at the same time, how do you find time to be on both of these different shows and then what people would think as the hardest part like crying on cue or laughing or being believable is actually quite…it’s easier in comparison but it also depends on how your brain works.

Vlad Sherman:

It’s easy, I think, for you [laughs] For a good actor. I’m just pretending that I’m a good actor sometimes.

Zach Ireland:

It’s not about being a good actor. It’s all about, what is it? It’s like any other job. It’s experience. Once you do this enough times and lets it goes back to Stanislavski as you know, once you do it enough times, then it just becomes habit. This interview, again, is not about me. This interview is, again, about you.

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah, you never know.

Zach Ireland:
So, what is something that you really love about your job? What is something that sparks joy for you?

Vlad Sherman:

As I said earlier, it’s those hardships and difficulties which make acting jobs exciting, in my opinion. Another important factor is meeting and interacting with fans. You probably don’t think about it after you have been on the set for 15 hours or more and exhausted but when the work is done and you see how the people get excited about your coming work, that’s very memorable thing. You know this feeling, yeah?

Zach Ireland:
Yeah, absolutely. Do you have any memorable stories that you would like to share to people at home about this?

Vlad Sherman:

Sometimes, just getting in your social media and find some picture or drawings what people use to draw like you or me and it’s really exciting because sometimes you can find really good people and really good fans. Maybe with some of them, you can become a friend, a really good friend. Maybe with some of them you can influence to teach something to them because to being an actor, entertainer, is also to be an influencer, to influence somebody’s life, you can share your feelings, you can share your opinion and I think it’s a really good thing to do.

Zach Ireland:

Do you have any specific stories maybe? Like a moment where you just met a fan or someone just really enjoyed your work?

Vlad Sherman:

I had one story. I had one situation, really weird situation which I had maybe 5 years ago. For me, I have never been like, how to say, in Chinese it’s called [00:12:40] fan, crazy fan.

Zach Ireland:

A fanatic.

Vlad Sherman: 

I have never understand fanatic people but one day, I met two girls, maybe 13 years old, they were crying and shaking their hands like they saw me on the informal talks and they want to shake my hands. They told me, “Can I shake your hand?” and I said, “Of course, we can hug, yeah!” I hugged them, I shake their hands and at that time, I realized that her hand, while I’m shaking her hand, her hand was shaking a lot. I was really afraid and actually, in 2 years, I met Jackie Chan and I have been that kind of person. Fanatic person that my hand was shaking a lot. So, when you do acting or when you’re trying to chase your dreams, you also should have kind of different perspective towards everything because sometimes, for some people, it’s okay to be fanatic. For some people, it’s okay to be…how to say…proud actor or sometimes be a humble actor. Everything is right for the good position of perspective, I think.

Zach Ireland:

How did that particular situation make you feel when you saw these…remembering that you also come from humble beginnings. We have similar backgrounds and you remember what it was like to be 13 years old and be afraid of public speaking but then to see these young women approach you as if you are a massive, massive celebrity. How did this make you feel?

Vlad Sherman:
The thing was I believe that every entertainer is kind of a dreamer, dream chaser. So we kind of try to idealize our lives, we try to be perfect sometimes but nobody’s perfect and when you’re born in really humble situation, for example, you were born in a small, small city in Nebraska, I was born in Caucasia, really tricky place, there are war there sometimes and I didn’t have anything when I was a child and I was dreaming to do something, to influence people, to have a kind of sharing platform to let people know me and actually, when I came to China and I start to realize that, actually, I can do that, through your hard work, through your passion, everything is possible but the main thing, what I understand, is every person should be humble, most of the time because after that shaking, I thought like, maybe should I continue to be humble a little bit? Because it’s not really…that feeling that when you have a lot of fans, sometimes can change people and I’m really afraid that it can change me.

Zach Ireland:

It can and sometimes, particularly, a lot of celebrities nowadays, it’s almost cool to be sort of standoffish. It’s almost cool to act as if these things don’t really affect you and it does definitely make for less genuine people and I think, because I’m also a massive fan of Jackie Chan, I’ve always been a fan of Jackie Chan, and one of the things that I personally love about him is how humble he has remained. Here’s actually some entertainment gossip for you. When Jackie Chan takes a group of people out, he always pays for the bill. He always pays for whatever anyone wants to drink, whatever anyone wants to eat, everyone is allowed to order whatever they want but there’s one stipulation, that they have to finish everything that they order. They’re not allowed to waste food. They’re not allowed to waste drink, alcohol or anything like that, and that is because he finds it very disrespectful. Some people in an attempt to show opulence, to show how great they’re doing, they will order all these extra food and then just waste it.

Vlad Sherman:

I have never thought about that, that story. It’s a great story because Jackie Chan didn’t invite me to dinner with him last time. [laughs]

Zach Ireland:

 There’s always a next—maybe because he knew that you were a bodybuilder and trying to gain muscle at this time and he was worried you might break the bank.

Vlad Sherman:

Maybe! Who knows? [laughs]

Zach Ireland:

Alright, so moving on a little bit, can you tell me some things that may annoy you about the job? Something that people may not think about or just…

Vlad Sherman:

What annoys me about the job or about people? I think, in general, sometimes in this kind of industry, you usually can meet some people which you maybe don’t like. I think what actually annoys me a lot is [laughs] lazy, negative people. I’m a very positive person and I’d like to share positivity with others. If we are talking about professional life, I would say nothing in particular, otherwise, I wouldn’t have chosen this career.

Zach Ireland:

When you describe negative things or when…I think we can all relate like we don’t like negative people but also something that I do know about you is that you don’t really enjoy when other people complain.

Vlad Sherman:

Complain? No, I think it depends on who are they, for me, if it’s a really good friend, of course, I will try to help him. I will try to understand why he’s complaining, what he’s complaining about something and when I was a child, I really like to study psychology and I really good at listening. Maybe I’m not good at public speaking but I’m a really good listener and it really helps me a lot to understand people, to really understand people and I’m really trying to…if that person is my friend, I really try to understand him, I really try to help him through my talk maybe through some things I can do for him. So, it’s okay. Everybody can complain. You can complain to me [laughs]. Try it!

Zach Ireland:
[laughs] That’s okay. I am here with you, I don’t have anything to complain about. I’m enjoying my time. What are— are there any things that— is there anything that you want people who don’t do this type of work, whether it’s IT or people who don’t do acting, is there anything that you would want them to know about your job and your profession?
Vlad Sherman:

I mentioned a lot of things when it comes to qualities usually associated with these jobs and I feel like this is not something people outside the industry used to think about. Another thing is perception of acting as being an easy job. I feel like people don’t usually realize that acting can also be grueling and this, I think, are major points who have never acted don’t usually think about and it’s understandable at all. We all have certain perceptions of jobs but we not truly realize what they are until we delve deeper into them or actually do them.

Zach Ireland:

Sounds like you want more empathy from people. More of the ability for people to—

Vlad Sherman:

—feeling.

Zach Ireland:

Yeah, to stand in someone else’s position and look at things from other people’s perspective and not to say, “Oh well, your job is so easy. Why do you complain?” or “Oh, all you have to do is a simple task, why are you unable to do it?” Things like this.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, I think everybody should do the same stuff. 

Zach Ireland:
I agree with you.

Vlad Sherman:

When you talk, when you interact with another person, it’s kind of sharing. When you share something, it should be you share your energy and sometimes you have to change your perception of you. You should understand. If you really want to understand somebody, you need to change your perspective from the side.

Zach Ireland:

Okay, so where can the people find you on social media or articles or if you want them looking you up, how do you want them to look you up?

Vlad Sherman:

In the past, people could see me on Chinese TV quite often. Probably in the same shows as you. On social media, I don’t really stay with one platform. My fanbase is spread across Instagram, Weibo, Meipai, Youku, [00:21:30] and so many platforms. In America, we have only YouTube, Instagram. In China, we have kind of 30 different platforms, main platforms which we use so that’s it.

Zach Ireland:
That’s very true. We’ll include something in the links, linking to your Weibo and Instagram but for the people listening right now, can you tell them your Instagram and your YouTube platform?

Vlad Sherman:

My Instagram account named @realvladsherman is my stage name. My Weibo name [00:21:59] V-L-A-D. You can find me there.

Zach Ireland:

And YouTube?

Vlad Sherman:

YouTube? RealVladSherman also.

Zach Ireland:

Actually, later today, I will be making an appearance on your podcast.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, exactly. I’m really excited [laughs].

Zach Ireland:

I’m really excited too. It’s finally an opportunity for me to talk about me [laughs]. Feed the ego, all for Zach, all for Zach. What is the name of your podcast?

Vlad Sherman:

Our podcast name is Cheeki Breeki. I don’t know. Have you ever heard of this kind of word?

Zach Ireland:

Cheeki Breeki? Yeah. Like a cheeky monkey like someone is being quite cheeky. Breeki, I don’t know.

Vlad Sherman:

In Russian, cheeki breeki means everything will be okay.

Zach Ireland:

Oh, that’s beautiful. Cheeki breeki!

Vlad Sherman:

Yeah, cheeki breeki.

Zach Ireland:
How would you use that?

Vlad Sherman:

Cheeki breeki, it’s kind of, I don’t know how to say, how to explain it.

Zach Ireland:
Is it like c’est la vie?

Vlad Sherman:

Actually, not kind of every person in Russia use this word. Kind of people who used to ricketeer? The racketeer use this stuff.

Zach Ireland:

What is ricketeering?

Vlad Sherman:

Racketeering…when you…how to say it?

Zach Ireland:

Do you mean racketeering?

Vlad Sherman:

Racketeering, yes! That people from mafia, they use this word to make it cool.

Zach Ireland:

Don’t worry, my friend, this will be very cheeki breeki.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes! [00:23:21] we are saying like this.

Zach Ireland:

Say that one more time.

Vlad Sherman:

[00:23:25]

Zach Ireland:

[00:23:27] I like that. That’s…here we go! We’re learning new things on the expat chit chat show! If the people at home have any Russian friends or Russian family members in their life, if they go to them and say this, what will be the reaction to saying this?

Vlad Sherman:

It’s okay. They can use that.

Zach Ireland:

You’re not going to get any of the listeners in trouble?

Vlad Sherman:

No, not exactly. This is why I chose this name for my podcast [laughs].

Zach Ireland:
Alright, so let’s move on to another question which I always thought would be a very simple question but whenever I ask it, it tends to get very in depth and go…reveals some things that are very unique and interesting about people. What is your background? How do you self-identify? Who is Vladislav?

Vlad Sherman:

Okay. Let me think about that. My educational background includes 2 bachelor’s degree I got in Russia which are information security and weightlifting and master’s degree in finance which I done in China. Quite serious if you ask me for someone who wants to be an actor. Nowadays, I think creativity alone is not enough.

Zach Ireland:
It’s quite an interesting pairing of security—

Vlad Sherman:

Information security.

Zach Ireland:

—information security and weightlifting.

Vlad Sherman:

Weightlifting.

Zach Ireland:

So… [Vlad laughs] My friend, if you would not respect this information, I will get very cheeki breeki on you.

Vlad Sherman:

In Russia, we used to train a lot so at that time, when I did my bachelor’s degree, I used to make performance. I used to take a part in different competitions.

Zach Ireland:

Like weightlifting competitions?

Vlad Sherman:

Like weightlifting competitions, yes. I used to attend city competitions of weightlifting and in my university, actually, they end up giving me another Bachelor’s. Yeah, that was really interesting for me. So, when I came to China, I thought I want to understand the entertainment industry and I want to understand how money works because show business is called business. You have to understand, not only—it’s not about only talent nowadays, it’s all about how whole picture works. So, nowadays, you have to be able to do a lot of things, to be a lot of things and talking about identity, if someone were to ask me to describe myself in one sentence, I would say a man with big dreams who wants to inspire people through active and creative idea for others.

Zach Ireland:

So, your identity isn’t necessarily tied to where you’re from or where you’ve lived at all?

Vlad Sherman:

Not exactly, no, no.

Zach Ireland:

That’s interesting. It’s something I’m discovering from a lot of expats now. I don’t think I really look like a standard Russian person now. We came to China with my girlfriend and actually, with majority of our friends, our Chinese and American friends, and [laughs] actually, sometimes, you’re starting to realize, you’re starting to begin to really be weird for your own culture. You’re trying to be a real expat, to be international guy and I think sometimes it’s really good for a person. You can understand different perspective of you.

Zach Ireland:

Do you feel that you have loss some of your Russian identity or maybe did you feel like you didn’t really have much Russian identity at all to begin with?

Vlad Sherman:

I don’t think at the beginning I had this kind of identity at all. I was born there. I’m really proud of to be Russian but at the same point, with majority of Russian people, I can’t find a lot of same feelings. I think in the future, people will all be international. There will be not—we will not have a kind of separation between different countries. We will think about—how to say—

Zach Ireland:

It will be more global.

Vlad Sherman:

—Global personality.

Zach Ireland:
It’s very true because many people I know, maybe because I’m privileged, maybe because most of my friends are expats but they all have intersecting identities. There was a man who was on the show previously who is a, he is from Argentina but is currently living in Beijing and he never really related to being Argentinian. He never really related to being from Spain, from Italy or even from anywhere.

Vlad Sherman:

I totally understand you because the one thing, what I found is, when I meet new friends, I usually try to avoid the question which they usually ask me. Where are you from? Because there are so many people, they are trying to stereotype you, like trying to think like you’re a standard Russian person and you’re not. The vast majority of people, they kind of, sometimes, these stereotypes can influence your relationships sometimes. They think you’re Russian, you’re from Caucasia, oh my gosh. It’s tricky.

Zach Ireland:

You’re going to love to drink and you’re going to be very harsh and…

Vlad Sherman:
Well, even before. It’s drink, work and ba-la-la. It’s a total… [laughs]

Zach Ireland:

So, you would say that you don’t ba-la-like this sort of stereotype.

Vlad Sherman:

I don’t usually say that “I’m from Russia,” I’m trying to avoid this question until we really know each other but a lot of time…

Zach Ireland:

That’s interesting because that’s usually a question people ask right away. They usually say, “Where are you from?” Things like that so that’s something interesting. I didn’t know that that’s somebody wouldn’t like.

Vlad Sherman:

I would probably say, “Where are YOU from?” [laughs] “Let’s talk about you. Not about me.”
Zach Ireland:
I think that’s also why you also host a podcast.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, right. [Laughs]

Zach Ireland:

I think we already talked a little a bit before about what brought you to China, the opportunity to study. So go ahead and just move past that question. So, what are some of the challenges about living here in Beijing?

Vlad Sherman:

I feel like a lot of people would say food and climate but for me, no. I had challenges from the beginning. From the moment I arrived here. I came to China with my girlfriend. When we arrived, we had only 500 to 600 dollars in our pockets and we were separated the first year. We lived in different cities. She studied in Beijing and I in Dalian. However, for us both, the most important thing is to be together as Godfather said, family first. So, after one year apart, we stuck together and so, for both of us, that first year was the biggest challenge, I think.

Zach Ireland:
Okay. That is a major challenge that a lot of expats face is because when you’re with someone, usually you’re with another expat or you’re with someone from local culture, that’s just how it’s going to break down but the very nature of being an expat is that you’re going to travel a lot or there is going to be some times that you’re apart from your partner, what is some advice that you would give to people experiencing that?

Vlad Sherman:

I think the main goal to remain a good relationship is to have responsibility. It’s not only about love or how good you understand another person or your soulmate. It’s all about responsibility. It’s really difficult to remain some different—sometimes you will meet different situation where you have to be with your soulmate like not only mentally, physically and sometimes it’s really difficult but I believe when you really want to have a stability in your family, you will have a—it will become your dream. It will become your goal so if you have this goal, you have to find the way how to implement it in real life.

Zach Ireland:

When you mention responsibility, do you mean financial responsibility? Do you mean emotional responsibility?

Vlad Sherman:

Everything. Every responsibility to which you have. Maybe for some people, responsibility is to be a—to talk everyday through the WeChat, through the WhatsApp. Maybe some responsibility is to be—to not cheat. Maybe some responsibility is to help financially. I think any responsibility, every person have to find his main point and reaching really can be that. Sorry.

Zach Ireland:

That was good. That was really, really good. I take a pause because I was reflecting and responding to situations in my own life. Alright, we’ll move a little bit away from this. We’ll keep it light. That was some very good advice, honestly. So, what are some quirky things that you notice about the people here in China?

Vlad Sherman:

About people here in China? I guess one of the things which makes me love is the question I get asked sometimes as a foreigner in China, all the standard ones about the food and climate aside; people, as soon, as they found out that I’m from Russia tend to ask why all Russian women get fat after 40 years old? I really don’t understand why, where they can get these things. I don’t know how to answer this question.

Zach Ireland:

Yeah, that is something very true about the people here. They ask very direct questions and it’s part of some of the charm and at times can also be part of the annoyances of the experiences living as Western expats here in China. Alright, that’s great! So, now we’re winding down and reaching the end of the interview so let’s go ahead and delve into some listener letters that we have. So, this letter, actually comes from a woman out of Spain and she would like to know, and this actually relates to what we’re talking about earlier with relationships. What are some advice that you would give to people in long-distance relationship?

Vlad Sherman:

I think sometimes, in a relationship, everybody have to make some compromises, some sacrifices. For me, for example, my girlfriend, she abandoned her education in Russia for 5 years. Whole bachelor degree, she abandoned it in Russia. She moved with me to China then she waited one year and then she started doing her Bachelor in China from the beginning. It’s a big sacrifice, I think, nowadays and for everybody, it should be—you should find your—you have to prioritize a lot of things and the main thing which you need to prioritize is understanding that you can have friends. You can have parents. You also can have work colleagues but only one person will remain with your whole life: it’s your soulmate. It doesn’t matter how you’re good to your friends or how you’re good to your boss or colleagues. There is only one person, even your children will be not always with you. They will get married eventually. They will move to live with each other and when you realize it, you start sometimes afraid as we are human beings. We are all afraid to be alone so when you really realize it, actually, I think, you shouldn’t be afraid of it, you should take this responsibility, take this risk and let your dreams come true. Maybe your dream is to create a really great family. My parents didn’t have a really good family. My parents were at the wars when I was a child. I used to, when I was 5 years old, I saw my mom, they were shouting at each other with my parents during the wars, that was really—that created a really big, broken picture in my life. When I grow up, I started to hate these things. I start to hate that—maybe that’s the reason why I moved from Russia—psychology, I didn’t know and that is really—that situation get me to realize that only passion with what I’m doing everything in my life is all about family. I’m doing this all for my family. Even creating a podcast, maybe in the future, I will—I don’t know. Nobody knows. So, sometimes you have to get sacrifices. You have to choose something for your family and I don’t know, sometimes you have to work a lot but everything, what you’re doing, it all have the main point.

Zach Ireland:

You have to have a goal at the end. You have to work at the end. Cool. I’ll go ahead because it’s such a good answer, I’ll go ahead and save the rest of these letters for some more episodes but let’s go ahead and leave the people with some last minute advice. What sort of advice would you give to some people out there who are interested in moving abroad but maybe they are finding things that are holding them back, whether it be budget or whether it be family, friends, fear of the outside, what are some of the advice you would give to these people? And it could be ethereal or it could be very practical like, for example, today, I will give something less emotionally-based but something more practical: my advice is when you’re travelling, always make sure, not just in your suitcase—your suitcase, you always have to have clothes and some things like that but always pack extra socks and extra underwear in your carry-on because you never know if you’re going to go hiking or you’re going to be out somewhere and your shoes get stinky or your feet get stinky, you’re going to need to change these very practical things because that can honestly change your whole mood and no one wants to make friends with somebody who’s very stinky.

Vlad Sherman:

[laughs] Exactly!

Zach Ireland:
Also, in China, make sure you have a pair of chopsticks with you or on your person because at times you have to get some food delivered and there aren’t any utensils there or you need to stir some instant coffee and you don’t have a way to do it.

Vlad Sherman:

Another practical advice which I can give is to take in good mood with yourself. Every time when you go outside, yes. So, my maybe emotional advice will be no matter who you are, where you are, where and what background you’re coming from, don’t just sit around on your ass hoping for the better. Move, move and do something. Dream and work to make your dreams come true. Dreams make reality and most importantly, never forget about people around you. Those who you love and those who love you. Sometimes you will do great and other times you will fail and you should learn from both. Be yourself and never hesitate.

Zach Ireland:

So, you worked in UAE and India and Nigeria, can you talk to me a little bit about that?

Vlad Sherman:

Right, we did, I remember, we did a TV show in India and partly, my product management job, we did some research in UAE and Nigeria so, I think the interesting story will be about India. I have never thought that India is a…

Zach Ireland:

So, you did a TV show in India. I haven’t been. What was India like?
Vlad Sherman:

It’s an interesting country and I have never thought that in India, is kind of…it’s totally different than other countries. I have never seen so much difference between…definition between the poor and rich people. We went to one city called New Delhi and Old Delhi. It’s on city which is separated by bridge. We went on the Old Delhi and actually, I saw the child, I saw a lot of children who were sleeping on the ground. I have never seen that picture and I thought, “Wow, I was born in Caucasia. I was born in Russia.” I saw a lot of things and when I saw that child was sleeping on the ground, I was shocked and actually, we—while we were recording that TV show, we used to go to one bridge and there is a school under the bridge. The bridge with the train lines and there are so many children who were studying English with teachers who are volunteers.
Zach Ireland:

And this is a school underneath the bridge so all these children are here listening to teachers while trains were just going overhead.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes, the trains are on top of them and at the back of them, there is a road where so many cars so traffic jam.

Zach Ireland:
How many children are there per class, would you say?

Vlad Sherman:

I would say maybe 30 or 40 people. Yeah, there were so many children and actually, we did some kind of charity to them. We did send a lot of different books, a lot of pens, simple stuff and I remember the child which, when I took that pen and I tried to…how to say it…to give to one child, another child came and he was trying to catch it and suddenly, I realized that “oh my gosh, this simple pen is just a pen but for somebody, it’s not just only pen. Maybe it’s an opportunity to change their lives,” I was really shocked. After that, when I moved back to China, I don’t know. Something changed in me and I thought it’s not only about the material life. It’s all about the passion and about who you are and sometimes, when something happened in your life, something bad or maybe you argue with somebody and your mood is not great, sometimes you actually can’t compare—make a comparison to that children that maybe it’s not bad as that situation and it actually can motivate people to become much more passionate about…to become really powerful or maybe, how to say, to become wealthy person to help other people and I think, I don’t know how to say it, it really motivated me to become much more, I don’t know, in the future I want to help these people to doing something. Maybe I will go every year to India, I will bring these pens and send them and yeah, I think that is the most shock of all and interesting story which was outside of China. In UAE and Nigeria, I think it’s quite simple.

Zach Ireland:

But what was the TV show about that you did in India?

Vlad Sherman:

The TV show was about travelling. We went to different countries, Russia, China, India and we recorded different, interesting kind of…interesting stories about the culture. I remember in India, we went to one small village. Old people in this village, they used to train cobra snake

Zach Ireland:

Oh, like snake charmers?

Vlad Sherman:

They’re trying to play a flute and snakes used to dance so we met that guy, really old guy. He was a, I don’t know, they called the yoga and yoga master. He was talking with me. He told that snakes are better than people. They never betray each other. They never betray you as your, how to say, owner.

Zach Ireland:

As your owner, as your master.

Vlad Sherman:

And actually, I didn’t believe it because I have never thought that I will have one snake in the future as my pet and actually, in certain minutes, I was sitting with that cobra on my head, this cobra was sitting on me and actually, I remember I kiss it on the mouth because we are entertainers, we try to do something crazy sometimes and I was kissing it in the mouth and cobra actually, she never try to bite me. Actually, she was trying to protect me. Other people with cameramen, they were standing, staring around and cobra was trying to attack them because she thought that I’m her master and actually, that was so exciting so after that I went to India, I just want to have a snake, a cobra snake [laughs].

Zach Ireland:

I don’t think that your bunny will enjoy that.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes [laughs].

Zach Ireland:

Alright, wonderful and here we are at the end of the show with one of my favorite sections with what did we learn? Today, I learned that it may not always be a polite thing to ask somebody where they’re from because not everyone identifies with where they are from. Sometimes, their culture is not as influenced from their background where they’re from but more so of the people who are currently around them. I also learned that there is a school in Old Delhi where it’s underneath the bridge and there are train cars passing over them but the children underneath the bridge look at every single opportunity that they can have to succeed. I also learned that a pen is not always a pen. Sometimes, a pen is an opportunity. Sometimes, a pen is education. Sometimes, a pen is a plane ticket out of the situation. Thank you so much for joining me today, Vlad. I really enjoyed this. Do you have any last minute words, quotes, advice to people at home?

Vlad Sherman:

Thank you, Zach. I’m really excited to talk with you. I have a last quote for people who are listening to this podcast, that is my favorite quote. If you are afraid of not succeeding of something the first time, then skydiving is not for you.

Zach Ireland:

And I’ll add on to that by saying a parachute is like a mind, it works best when it’s open.

Vlad Sherman:

Yes [laughs].

Zach Ireland:
Alright, thanks everyone for listening and I’ll talk to you next week.

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