The interview that served as the basis for this article was recorded for publication on a personal development channel. It turned out that one of the guests on my tour combines the roles of a top manager and a “success coach” in an unusual way, many of whom are ironically referred to as “info-gypsies.” After the meeting, the guest asked to record my vision of professional development for publication on his channel, announcing its publication to his audience the very next day. The interview, which mentions Issyk-Kul, was specifically focused on an audience interested in learning something new about professions in the context of personal development. The approach in creating it assumed that the combination of “top management” and “info-gypsy” adds a certain degree of “freedom of worldview” to the host of the channel.
And so, the next day, instead of an interview, a text with reflections on devaluation is released, and only a few days later, the audience is presented with a rather “sterile” paragraph with recommendations that mimic a trivial “selling text” of a tourist request aggregator.
In the comments under the article, I suggest discussing why such an interview did not pass the channel’s self-censorship.
Here is the interview text:
“The first question that arose was, ‘What valuable experience for personal and professional development does the work of a tour guide bring?’ But it would be more appropriate to make it the overall topic of the conversation and start approaching the exploration of this topic step by step. ‘How did the idea of doing tours come about in the first place?’“
– I am a humanitarian, educated as a historian, in a city where the economy had long carried a reputation that “earning decent money here is only possible through engineering and other types of work in large enterprises.” My student years fell on not the most prosperous times. Therefore, I tried various topics that were somehow related to humanities and allowed me to earn something. It started with unloading books at 5 a.m. at the train station in any weather. Numerous experiences and interests made me the very first humanitarian in the field of IT, who didn’t retrain as a programmer for the sake of making money or a “journalist instinctively trying to get closer to websites,” but someone who combined humanitarian methods with completely new niches. Discussion platforms, news feeds, encyclopedias written by readers themselves. Nowadays, the ability to effectively communicate with artificial intelligence is considered a “specialty that will absorb hundreds of specialties,” but at first, I had to endure comments like “why should I buy your banner, where is it located anyway?”
When I encountered tour guides during my student years, I must admit, I was rather repelled by the pretentiousness surrounding trivial topics, the unwillingness to listen to people, the focus on showy “Potemkin villages,” and the juggling of surnames in the style of a second-rate compromiser, “especially about those who have nothing to answer.” To say “there aren’t many reasons to try yourself as a tour guide” would be an understatement.
A failure with my own small business, which resulted from my “natural lack of tactical acumen,” freed up some time, and an agency that specialized in city tours offered me the opportunity to lead small groups during the New Year season. Why did they offer it to me? They said that I was good at composing stories. Working with the agency was memorable for its laughable fees (an incredibly small share was given to the agency by today’s standards, and the price of the tour was low). But there were also some interesting aspects that kept me engaged with the topic for a whole season — the short contact with a new group and the generally positive attitude of the groups towards the interaction process, plus the extended active presence outdoors in any weather. In the IT field, it’s easy to become jaded from hours of immobility in front of a monitor and the feigned skepticism of counterparts, which is generally characteristic of Russian-speaking business contacts.
– And after that, did you continue independently, without the agency?
– No, I didn’t. After that, I had many purely IT projects – databases, new communication platforms, and one of my topics, which started almost during my student years, grew into a million-dollar website for “Hurst and Shkulev Media” with a huge number of visitors “thanks to social networking features even before social networks existed.”
And so, while conducting research at the intersection of online usability and offline consumer behavior, I came up with the idea of offering tours and started promoting it to personally experience every aspect of the interaction, from start to finish. In other words, the tours emerged because I personally delivered the product without needing to involve anyone else. And off it went. On holidays, I could work continuously for 15 hours, and during winter vacations, I walked half the distance from Nizhny to Moscow “if you stretch the route in a straight line.” I came up with many things at the intersections, such as elements of catering, sailboats, and an informational Telegram bot for tours. In fact, I became the highest-paid tour guide in the region for several years.
The story itself is close to strategies, and unlike career historians, you have a lot of contact with real life. As I got older, it gave me a good sense for the stock market. I don’t approach it like mathematical forecasters, but rather as a “buy-sell” approach. Because through discussion platforms, I know how much “parasitic” role a large number of notifications about “important indicators for you” can play in the informational sense. And people themselves don’t notice how they become “slaves to the lamp.”
– Currently, with domestic tourism on the rise, is the topic of tours gaining popularity?
– I disagree. Just as interesting clients from international channels started coming in, a strange policy began, removing foreigners from our corner of the planet.
But the most important thing is not that. Firstly, they introduced licensing for tour guides, “like in Europe.” The criteria are very peculiar – you must remember the length of the Kremlin walls, for example. This means that the youth entering the profession, in this niche, instead of striving for knowledge and its connection to the real environment, will be “filled with empty facts,” considering it the foundation. Secondly, the mass consumer, to put it mildly, is not getting richer. Thirdly, many tourists have emerged – political and ideological fanatics, precisely among the low, understandable price segment from which the youth starts. And there, the tourist simply starts to protest why the tour material doesn’t lead them to guaranteed acquisition of moral and ethical imperatives that we have lost. If to rephrase it – humanitarian knowledge, in the hands of such individuals, is not used for the freedom of scientific inquiry, like a researcher, or for clever social maneuvering, like an elitist, but for mental self-restraint – “to make it easier to overcome hardships.” And they literally demand – both during the tour and in the feedback at its end – that the tour works towards strengthening their imperative, otherwise, they declare the product “hostile” – “undermining their principles.” The youth in the profession will not necessarily start working precisely for them, but it will make the materials, both in a scientific and leadership sense, “toothless” as a result of their interaction with such types. These types existed before, but earlier they did not automatically consider the “rules of the game” in their niche as applicable to society as a whole. Therefore, there will be a decrease in quality in the profession in the coming years.
To avoid being infected by the “atmosphere in minor tones,” I started focusing on the topic of tourism around the high-mountain lake Issyk-Kul. There is currently a significant surge there, and the potential is even higher. What personally pleases me is that the people there are freedom-loving – a nation high in its historical landscape. And quite inclined towards education. So, there are still many topics ahead that allow sharing knowledge at the intersection of IT, humanities, and methods and attracting increased attention to them.