Let me introduce myself to help you better understand where I’m coming from. Born in a country that had been incorporated into the Soviet Union, I studied the standard Soviet curriculum. My school was nothing special—in fact, nothing about me was special. Not only did I have no idea how my life would be 25 years later, I had no reference for even imagining it. After school I planned to attend university like all my peers, perhaps become an engineer and work in manufacturing, like my parents. I had no reason to think that my life could be different.
When the Soviet Union dissolved, more opportunities were available to me—I could study business, for example, or law. But instead I blindly followed the pattern that had already been set for my life and enrolled in a university to study mechanical engineering, in line with my parents’—and my community’s—expectations. In this as in all respects, I was an entirely ordinary person.