Meet Natassja Aleksy – a problem-solving entrepreneur reaching excellence using words, education, and creativity. During the Covid pandemic, out of necessity, Natassja set up her own online teaching business which uncovered her passion for marketing. By pursuing the work that she loves, she landed in Web 3 and the Blockchain industry where she is now a Project Developer for Diversity in Blockchain.
Take a look at her career story, where she tells us more about her journey and the challenges she’s overcome along the way.
In 2-3 sentences, please tell us a little about you!
I’m Natassja from Diversity in Blockchain, a registered 501c3, I work for them as the marketing and general project manager. It was more of an accident how I ended up here, as I’d studied Spanish and linguistics after being encouraged by my family to pursue something that I enjoyed, rather than a specific something that would lead to a specific job. After teaching and marketing my own language school, a contact noticed my writing and one thing led to another.
What does success mean to you? How do you align with your definition at the moment?
For me, success is mostly about being happy and stable. I’m a single mother of two and have in the past scraped by financially, at the same time as being in an isolating, precarious situation physically and emotionally. Now, success to me is having all these basic Maslov needs met and then having a little extra to be able to enjoy life — travel, not turn down a dinner invitation, go to an aquarium. I don’t think success is synonymous with extravagant ambition, it’s about being just a little above comfort, financially and emotionally.
What prompted you to pursue the career or business you’re working in/on now?
During Covid, I had to turn to the internet to be able to maintain some stream of income, so I set up an online teaching business, of which 80% was marketing, and a small percentage of it actually teaching. I enjoyed the buzz of seeing my efforts rewarded with a new student, more than seeing a student learn something new haha. Part of these marketing efforts was a blog. A contact of mine, a financial journalist, encouraged me to develop the copywriting side of things, and it all just snowballed from there.
How did you know this is what you wanted to do?
As I’ve said, it was more serendipity and a natural evolution. How I know it’s what I want to do, rather than wanted as I could never have envisioned a job like this, is because I get to use all of my favourite skills — talking to people, collaborating, marketing, the creative side to all that. I love that I have the freedom to take the projects where I want to take them and I am trusted to do so. I read something recently that said, “Hire the person for what they can do, not what they have done.” I love this, and this leap of faith by DiB has given me one of the best career opportunities I could have imagined.
What excited you most about the project you’re working on, or the industry you’re working in?
The industry, Web3 and Blockchain, have so much potential. I wasn’t majorly interested in crypto or NFTs, but having spoken to many people in these industries I’ve realized there’s so much potential for utility. We can mitigate violent crimes like domestic abuse or school shootings with Blockchain, there’s an App called Zeer Safe in beta now. We can provide clean water and education more easily to those who need it anywhere in the world, for this example it’s GoodDollar provides that in Africa. The whole world of Web3 is a progressive opportunity to make the world better.
Have you made any big transitions or changes in your career? What were they? How did you do it?
Yes, from scraping by teaching English and Spanish classes to migrating that activity to online pastures. And sitting and sifting through hours and hours of YouTube videos to learn how to build a website, how to effectively market a business, and how to create a Favicon. Embedding code, finding the right legal jargon, making shit memes in the hope of going viral, setting up a payment platform. All this was completely alien and I didn’t have a spare cent to outsource any of it. More than necessity, Plato my man, desperation is the mother of invention. Now things are better, I can focus more on harnessing my creative outlets, the part of my career I love.
What is something that has been particularly challenging throughout your career?
The glass ceiling, living in a country where there is a lack of employment opportunities for many people, and then on a personal level, a scarcity mindset exacerbated by being a single parent, in a country with a lack of opportunity for women, and even less for foreign women. Going it alone, without knowledgeable support from other people.
What have been your go-to tools and strategies to overcome challenging experiences or people in your career?
I don’t necessarily struggle with people, as I believe we can adapt to different people’s demands or attitudes. Not that we should, but tactically, there is a way to meet in the middle or at least make other people believe that’s where we’re meeting haha. I think choosing your battles as far as people are concerned is important. Not everything is worth a fight. I’m as comfortable with walking away as I am swallowing my pride and holding my hands up. Then, for challenging situations, resilience, and patience with yourself. You have to keep trying. But it’s OK to call it all off for a day and mope around watching Netflix because rest and a stark mental break can reinvigorate you. Tell everyone you know about your difficulty. Be vulnerable, people are willing to help someone who wants to help themselves. Specific tools and strategies you can copy and paste are tough, I think it comes down to character more, and striking the balance between assertiveness and passivity — both are useful in different circumstances.
What is one personal or professional skill you’re working on at the moment and why?
It’s more of a practical issue, I’m struggling to get people to interact with the charity on Twitter. I guess a personal one is not being such an oversharer, particularly at work haha. I think we do need a level of personalness, but not everybody is ready for it. So I need to reign it in and go a bit slower on that front.
What is something you wish you’d known when you were first starting out in your career?
Things take time, and the ‘success’ that you see, however you define it, doesn’t happen overnight for the majority of people.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is about to embark on the journey that you have been on for the most recent period of your life?
Ask for help, it’s out there. Mentoring, and I’m not just saying this, would have really helped me to progress further. A go-to person, rather than a lifeless resource or YouTube channel. I’m all about the people.
How can we follow your journey?
Follow the charity @DivinBlockchain on Twitter, and you can follow me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/natassjaaleksy/