Meet the CTO: Max Gusakov
In this interview Max, a co-founder of Careerist, will share his story with us. He’ll tell us a bit more about himself, his interests and his hobbies. Max has an incredible attitude towards his work-life balance, and he’s also a very motivated team player - we can all learn something from him.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself...
My story starts when I got my first job at 19-20 years old. I was living in the Sakhalin region. My partner, who worked in design, was a true master of their craft. It was at that moment that I became the programmer and manager of my own company. I did website building then switched to complex software solutions in IT. In the Sakhalin region back then most IT jobs were underpaid, and you basically needed to be a multi-specialist to find a good job. Like becoming an accountant, manager, programmer or designer.
Doing various jobs at once didn’t suit my style of work. I’d always thought that being a designer meant that I’d literally be a designer, and that I wouldn’t be distracted with other stuff. On the other hand, doing different jobs gave me an opportunity to grow as a UI specialist, manager and product manager.
Because there was a distinct lack of tech professionals where I lived, I learnt a lot during this time. It did take its toll on my wellbeing, but at the same time I developed myself a lot during this period in my life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your educational background…
I have always had a poor academic record, and I have to admit, I can’t study in the classic sort of way. I didn’t graduate from university, and I left education after sitting my final state exams. I didn’t do my diploma project because I simply didn’t understand why I had to do it.
Tell us about your work-life balance and any interests that you have...
The work-life balance I have has really formed itself now. But there isn’t alway a perfect work-life balance. It’s more about getting the balance right at work, and making sure that work brings pleasure to my life. Everything at home is fine as well, my young daughter just started school this year.
I do my best to go to the annual meditation retreat. It’s good to go because you feel better in yourself, you get a new perspective of the world, and you can see things differently.
I also do evolution training. I do a bit of photography too, but I don’t always have enough time for it. In order to become a photographer I need to take pictures of landscapes/events and that kind of thing, but I just don’t have time to arrange these trips.
Do you love your job and how do you avoid professional burnout?
In order to love the job you do, you need to identify with it. I mean, your job should be a part of you. Your work must match up with other parts of your life and your values. If not, your role will not bring you any pleasure.
For instance, if you earn good money, and earning a huge salary is the only reason you do your job, then your role will eventually cause frustration and annoyance. You won’t love, or even like your job, and this may result in professional burnout over a period of time.
Based on my own experience, I would say that programmers have a very interesting job. When working in the zone we can work for whole nights at a time.
It’s also important to create the right working environment, so you need to surround yourself with like-minded people, who raise you up, not drain you of your resources. I think I manage to create a good environment for myself and others at work.
I occasionally cancel meetings that I’m not really needed at. I enjoy looking for solutions to problems, but regular meetings aren’t of much interest to me. I love taking part in meetings where we have to break misconceptions and come to a unanimous decision. I like valable meetings that have meaning for the company and for the meeting’s participants.
Have you ever considered a career change?
I have always loved what I do.
I am interested in coaching and I’m currently working with a professional in this area. The idea inspires me a lot. I actively study this topic and each day I learn something new.
Coaching to me is about a choice: whether to use a car to reach your destination, or to go on foot in the same direction.
It’s also a major opportunity for me to grow myself and to aid others.
Why do you practice meditation?
At one point in my life, my physical well-being was quite poor. I guess I’d devoted many years to mastering my knowledge and skills in the tech area, and it just started to get me down. At first, meditation was a tool to reduce the symptoms I was experiencing, and in time practising mediation became a huge part of my life.
When I’m completely relaxed, I become focused on just one thought, and I can feel my inner processes becoming more stable. It’s at this moment that I understand what’s going on inside me: all my feelings and thoughts.
Mediation is something that anyone can try. There’s no special secret to it, some people will find the task easier than others. But everyone can learn something from it.
You’re interested in photography, who’s your favorite photographer?
I don’t have one favorite photographer. I actually have many subscriptions on Instagram, and I’m inspired by many photographers out there. I love the creativity behind their work. Creativity is about yourself. It’s like you’ve come to an agreement with the outer world, you go out and get some experience, and then you just go on to create your own story.
I like black and white photos a lot. I’m interested in the story in the photo itself, rather than the colour. I like it when you can tell a lot by a photo. The photos I took ten years ago are still valuable to me. I feel completely at home looking back at my own collections.
What would you like to try doing in the future?
Spin biking interests me a lot. I often work sitting on my bike. I also have an interest in trying out bouldering one day, but I don't have time for it now. I would also like to go on a bike trip, but it doesn’t match my schedule now.
In your opinion, will artificial intelligence change the world, and will it replace tech workers?
Our world has always and will always be developing, and everything that happens from now on is geared towards simplifying our lives, and satisfying more basic needs.
For example, a person living in an ancient civilization years ago had to continuously work in order to get a bowl of rice. If they stopped working they would die. This doesn’t happen nowadays. We’ve developed other means and ways of sufficing our basic needs.
Taxi services, delivery drivers and so on have developed, so that they can help people to solve their basic needs. Like you can get shopping delivered right to your door. And these areas will just continue to grow in order to help more people.
In our time, organizations like Apple and Google are focusing more and more on bringing new ideas to this world. I think there will always be a place for gifted specialists in the tech world.
Thanks a lot for the interview. It was interesting to learn more about you, your approach to work and how much you love your job. All the best as you continue on your journey to becoming a professional coach.