Victor Tsaran: ‘Listen to your heart and don’t be afraid to change your opinion’

The workshop  “Innovation, Success, and Leadership: Myths and Truth” with Victor Tsaran, a Ukrainian who works for PayPal in Silicon Valley, USA, was held at the LvBS Ideas Lab on November, 13. Since the age of four, Victor has been visually impaired, but this didn’t prevent him from obtaining a higher education, traveling the world, and changing the lives of others. Before PayPal, Victor spent 7 years developing software for people with disabilities at Yahoo!, took part in different initiatives, and launched educational programs for visually impaired users in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.

“Innovation is not something totally new, but something interesting in a certain context which depends on the place, time, people, and audience. For example, before Facebook there were other social networks, but Zuckerberg launched his project exactly at a time when everybody was starting to use personal computers very actively,” Victor said about creating and launching innovative projects.

He thinks that today is a perfect time for innovation. The only thing you need is to understand your audience and choose the right place and time, as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did.

Victor also shared his experiences from working at Yahoo! and spoke about the corporate culture of the company. “Yahoo! is a company with a friendly atmosphere, starting from the office design and working space to the communication between personnel. It doesn’t matter who you are, a president or a manager, from my experience in Silicon Valley I can say that there is no hierarchy at all, you are treated as an equal regardless of your position.”

Victor is sure that corporate culture depends on the leader. It’s an administration that creates the internal atmosphere and relationships. As examples he gives Twitter, Facebook, and Flicker, which have the culture of “open tables” where people work together, side by side, and where they feel at home in the office.

One of the key questions at the meeting was the challenges visually impaired people face in finding employment and everyday life. Victor thinks that the main problem lies in the wrong image of people with disabilities. “We used to feel sorry for them and treated them as people who are not able to live normal lives. It is important to motivate such people to do something, but not just give them money as we tend to. Money will run out, and then what will be?”, Victor asks. According to him, we need to change the approach. The United States is a very good example: there they create all the conditions for people with special needs to lead a comfortable life. Victor thinks it is the state that must encourage the development and assist in the job placement of visually impaired people, but it doesn’t mean to build separate factories as Ukraine has tendency to do.

In addition to his main job at PayPal, Victor devotes much his time to music. He is a musician, composer, singer, lyricist, and a laureate of the Chervona Ruta competition in the nomination “Original Song.” Accordingly, Victor finished his workshop with a performance of one of his songs on the guitar.  “If you don’t stop trying then you will achieve something. I value my friends because I don’t believe that a person can cope with everything alone. All that we have, we achieve thanks to the people who are near us. I hope that today you’ve changed your mind about visually impaired people!”