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The culture of Silicon Valley: features and differences from Ruslan Gafarov, CEO of San Francisco innovation hub

Ruslan Gafarov, an experienced entrepreneur and the author of several books about Silicon Valley, created a unique educational program that immerses participants into the valley’s culture and practices in order to teach them how to succeed in the startup capital.

Photo courtesy Ruslan Gafarov
Photo courtesy Ruslan Gafarov

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

Silicon Valley is known worldwide for its entrepreneurs and corporations. However, the inner-workings of the valley– the culture of its organizations, common business policies, and incredible wealth generation from scaling businesses– seems elusive and difficult to understand. Ruslan Gafarov, an experienced entrepreneur and the author of several books about Silicon Valley, created a unique educational program that immerses participants into the valley’s culture and practices in order to teach them how to succeed in the startup capital. He joined us to share some Silicon Valley tips and secrets. 

Ruslan, tell us: what is the immersion program in Silicon Valley?

Our week-long immersion program in Silicon Valley is tailored to each unique client who comes to the program with their own goals and experiences. As part of the program, the team and I conduct many transformational exercises and arrange meetings with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with non-standard thinking. Communicating with the owners of large corporations, participants are given the chance to transform their thinking and gain a new understanding of how the business world works. Moreover, participants gain access to the Silicon Valley community, which operates at an order of magnitude higher than all other business communities in the country.

Based on our extensive experience holding such events, I want to note that all people manifest their goals in different ways during the course. Everyone makes their own unique request, and, within the framework of this program, we clearly define each participant’s best path forward. After the course’s completion, we individually help participants implement the knowledge that they learned.

How can participants expect to benefit from your program?

We guide participants in studying the internal motives of successful entrepreneurs, setting tangible goals, and learning to implement business strategies. Most importantly, perhaps, we help them find like-minded people. During the program, numerous meetings with successful business owners will not only give a “magic boost” to a participant’s development, but also tangibly contribute to the growth of their company. Our community is permeated with trust, and we will help you join it. When you gain a trusted spot in such an open and knowledgeable community, your business grows and prospers.

At the meetings, we invite interesting speakers to share their personal experiences, as well as their knowledge about business tools and models for business development. Subsequently, the program participants are able to implement these methods of development into their own business processes. Each member of our community thus has their own set of management tools that will help them develop and globally scale their business.

Photo courtesy Ruslan Gafarov

The program lasts only a week. Historically, has this been enough time for participants to master new skills? If a student needs more time to develop, are there any additional programs for him/her?

Our programs are “intensives.” Usually, a week-long active marathon is enough for everyone. To prepare for the intensive, our team collects the maximum amount of information in order to determine what each client wants to achieve. After that, we organize individual zoom calls, during which I help to formulate tasks more clearly, share my insights, introduce successful people, and discuss the possibilities our community offers. Occasionally, a few participants come to us again and again to delve into new depths– some as part of investment projects and some as part of consulting.

How did you begin working with such major Silicon Valley organizations as Lincoln University, Draper University, and others?

We continue to build our community in Silicon Valley, holding a large number of events and bringing together many interesting and successful people. Our last party was attended by representatives of SpaceX, various venture capital companies, and top corporations. These ambitious and creative individuals come to us imbued with the culture of openness, ready to find a common language with the new residents of our community. We are constantly building fruitful relationships with these like-minded people. 

You’re the author of several books. Can you tell us more about them? Would you say that they contain your observations and personal discoveries?

Yes, I’ve found my books to be a good way to structure everything I’ve learned. First of all, I organized all of my research and discoveries myself as I learned. As a result, I built not just notes over time, but rather a high-quality filtered manual. My first book, “My Own Boss,” is devoted to how our organization worked before the pandemic. This is a business book, presented in the first person and accompanied by an interesting plot. It is filled with a huge amount of useful information for entrepreneurs.

The second book, titled “Silicon Valley Corporate Culture,” incorporates knowledge about many useful practices. It can be safely called a business textbook, in which I explain how culture works in Silicon Valley, compare the cultures of organizations, give specific business tools, and suggest ways by which certain business techniques can be successfully implemented. The techniques described allow the reader to increase their efficiency of management. A huge number of Silicon Valley experts shared their feedback, giving high assessments of the book. I’m proud to say that thousands of organizations have studied the text! 

Ruslan, you talked about your work with individuals. Do you think your company will lose its uniqueness when working with corporations?

A successful corporation is also a kind of community. A corporation employs almost the same principles that a community of like-minded people does as it forms and functions. Major corporations such as Apple, Google, etc. are, in fact, communities of innovators.

How do new companies successfully grow a culture of trust?

Trust begets trust. In order for employees to start trusting the company, the company itself must trust the employees. A lot of work needs to be invested to launch this process. One of the tasks we work on as part of our consulting process is the creation of a culture of trust. This is achieved when each employee feels that his feedback is heard and is important to the organization. Many failures in business occur precisely because of the lack of feedback.

What indicators can be relied upon to determine that a business’ goal has been achieved? 

Most Silicon Valley businesses adhere to a certain methodology, according to which a certain goal is set. A shared guiding principle is to “measure the most important thing.” Here, an organization finds a simple, ambitious goal that resonates with all team members. This goal should not be measured in only one category, such as direct sales, but rather a wide range of criteria.

The company’s task is to set an ambitious goal that will mobilize the whole team. The team should understand that simply putting in hard work will not lead to the desired result. Rather, the team will need to continuously strive to improve itself by finding new life hacks or innovations and implementing them into the work process. When setting a goal, the team should also understand that if it completes 60-70%, this constitutes a job well done. Even if the team reaches the 100th goal, it must keep going. The successful mindset is one of constant growth. 

You have played a major role in supporting the careers of many new entrepreneurs. Have you yourself been supported by someone on your business journey? 

Of course– I have a wonderful and reliable partner in one person, my wife Alina. We have been growing in this direction together for more than ten years. Each of us performs certain functions. For example, I am responsible for the strategy and development of the company as a whole, while Alina focuses on operational management. In this way, we complement each other perfectly– in business as well as in everyday life.

What are your plans for the near future?

In addition to further work developing and strengthening the community, we plan to enter the investment market and take a strong position there. We have set ourselves a big task– to invest more than $100 million. To accomplish this, we will strengthen our position and gain new experience as well as the necessary portfolio.

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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