Irina Khakamada: “I am grateful to my enemies – they taught me how to use a sword!”
Irina Khakamada – Ph.D. in Economics, a public figure and politician, the first of two women in Russian history to run for president of the country. Time magazine named her a 21st century politician among 100 well-known women on the planet. She has repeatedly won the nomination “Woman of the Year” and, in 2005, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her best-selling books were released in a total circulation of one million copies, and more than 350 thousand people have already attended her performances! Every year, Irina Khakamada conducts a series of master classes entitled “The Tao of Life: The Anatomy of Personal Success”.
Premiere Business spoke to this versatile and interesting woman about work, leisure and just about life.
Irina, you have achieved a lot and were able to realize yourself in various areas – in politics, business, cinema, family…
I consider myself the most successful in politics because, although I was out of all sorts of commands – oligarchic, trade unions, political – in itself, I was able to pass all the challenges of small business and demonstrate that a woman can be smart and elegant, and a professional politician. And, in the field of business training, I also consider myself successful. Having started 12 years ago, I actually created this trend “couching”, and now everybody is taught this.
When did you feel the need to share information with others?
It happened completely by accident. I left politics behind and wrote a book for a year, and then they called me and said: “Let’s try to share your experience with people!” There were only 50 people in the hall, but then everything flowed out so fast that even without much effort, it grew into a huge activity.
It seems that you are able to move mountains. What causes you to grieve or feel unbalanced?
Actually – everything, I am a normal person! I just know how to manage my moods, emotions and attitudes.
Are you a life owl or a lark? How does your day begin and end?
I am an owl. A favourite time of day for me is from 10 pm to 1 in the morning. My day can start in different ways – I’m a freelancer, but when I wake up, I always drink warm water, prepared the day before with a piece of lemon in it, without squeezing out the juice. Then, I eat some dried fruit and, after that, I drink coffee because coffee cannot be drunk on an empty stomach. At the same time, I watch news on RBC and Instagram feed and, if the time has come, I change my post to another post in social media. After that, I take a shower, get dressed and bring myself completely in order. Then, I have a small breakfast (it may be an egg or porridge in water, but with the addition of vegetable oil – some fat in healthy food). That’s all. After that, I go on to business.
How to recover and rest after public speaking? What helps in difficult moments?
The first thing to do is to lie down in the bath for 20 minutes (you can add pine extract, ylang-ylang oil or lavender to the water – you need some soothing and relaxing aromatherapy). Then, I watch a movie most often – a good movie helps me to switch to rest from all that was in a day. And then, I go to sleep.
What is your very first childhood memory? Since what age do you remember yourself?
I even see this picture: I am four or five-years-old, an early gloomy morning, the sun is not enough, I want to sleep and I walk on Moscow street, holding my mother’s hand, stomping to kindergarten.
“Fathers and Sons” – have you encountered this problem in your life?
My parents were not so close – my mother just loved me, but she was constantly busy and was sick a lot, and my father did not pay much attention to me at all. When I grew up, a couple of times, we travelled with him to the south, but we lived separately. My friend and I were in the private sector, he was in a sanatorium. We rarely saw each other. Therefore, no one pressed me, but no one helped.
And, as a parent, I, of course, faced a bunch of problems, especially if we bear in mind that I was married for the second time and raised my child (son Danila) and the child of a widowed husband – the boy was only five years old .
Using a personal example of raising a daughter, you helped many to believe that any problem can be solved (the daughter of Irina Khakamada, Maria Sirotinskaya, was born with Down syndrome). What advice would you give to parents of special children?
Stop thinking that they are special, but do not go to extremes. The first mistake: “They are so special that they are not adapted to life, so we will take care of them from morning to evening”. And, they also need to “be thrown in the water”, so they swim out themselves. The second misconception is the opposite: “They are so special, they are not of this world, and this child must completely obey me, because he is not quite a person”. This is a terrible delusion! And, the third, additional mistake: you cannot sacrifice yourself for the sake of a child. You need to earn money, so that there is enough for an assistant and people who can help him to adapt – and continue to live your interesting life.
If you had the opportunity to meet with yourself from the past or from the future, where would you go and what would you say to yourself?
I am not interested in the past. Every time, I close the door behind me. But, if I had met myself from the past, I would have said: learn languages, especially Japanese, English and also Chinese – they will be needed. And, in the future, I cannot direct myself to this question, but I would gladly go there myself!
Who and for what are you most grateful in life?
There are a huge number of people whom I met on my way, not even suspecting that they would act as an example for me. I am grateful to them! And, even to my enemies – because they taught me, as they say, to wield a sword.
What would you like to learn?
I would like to become a DJ who creates his own tracks, mixing different fragments of electronic music.
You are an eloquent example of the fact that, today, women can successfully combine family and career. What is your secret to a harmonious relationship with the other half? And, what is love for you?
For me, love is finding your own person: not half, because the half does not exist and each person is a whole person, but a friend who, moving towards his goals, accepts you as a person and opens the door to some new worlds, and you are interesting to each other! And, everything else – sex, loyalty and all sorts of everyday quirks, have little interest for me. With my man, I will always find a way around this.
You write books. Is there any time to read other authors?
I read something all the time. Recently I read Pelevin’s last novel (‘Secret Views of Mount Fuji’). Now, I am reading one of the books of an American political scientist and sociologist about micro-trends in the modern world.
What books would you take with you to a desert island?
For my soul, I, of course, would have taken Leo Tolstoy‘s “War and Peace”.
And, concerning favourite drinks – a bottle of wine, for example?
I do not care for all these drinks – on a desert island, you need to find clean water.
You once said: “Do not pursue eternal youth! In a modern woman, the social age is much less than the biological age”. You always manage to look great and keep your style. How?
This is a huge job – I cannot describe it in one second. This is management of my energy and balance, but without any diets, focusing on nutrition (after seven o’clock in the evening, I do not eat). Sports, but without tension, twice a week. Endless walking, relaxation and the ability to be in absolute silence, merging with the universe without any meditations. This is a lifestyle. There are no ready-made recipes or magic pills. You should not chase after youth, but carry your body consciously, so that it does not interfere with your progress towards your dreams.
Do you believe in miracles?
All miracles are within us. The main goal is to get to the bottom of them.
Interview by Julia Vertova