Alex Mikhelson - January 2015 Associate Spotlight
The Land of Opportunity
Viridian Director Alex Mikhelson of Pennsylvania has made a habit of being quick on his feet and finding opportunity in adversity. He joined Viridian in February of 2011, but feels that he’s only recently tapped into skills he didn’t know he had.
“A year-and-a-half ago, I was on the train to a luncheon with (Viridian President) Meredith (Berkich), reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Alex reports. “As I was reading it, I kept getting goose bumps. I realized I had a gift, and I was in the business where I could share my gift with others.”
He became an entrepreneur at age 11—barely two years after coming to the United States. With his parents and brother, he emigrated from Ukraine in 1989, during the breakup of the Soviet Union. The family arrived with barely the shirts on their backs. They found temporary shelter in his aunt’s Philadelphia home and then went in search of the American Dream.
Alex learned English quickly through immersion in the Philadelphia public schools and through popular TV shows. “I learned English watching ‘Married with Children,’” he jokes.
His first money-making endeavor was helping sell mix tapes that his father had created for the Russian immigrants in Philadelphia. “My aunt owned a produce store. My brother and I, we’d sit outside with an old stereo and a box of tapes, coming up with different promotions to sell more,” he says.
After earning a Bachelor’s degree at Penn State, he kept his education going, saying yes to various opportunities and teaching himself whatever he needed to succeed in those ventures. He says he likes to be an independent contractor, which gives him more freedom. In his current day job he’s somewhat dissatisfied, he admits, because his company does not allow that arrangement.
However, he says his frustration there gives him motivation to keep building his Viridian business. Early on he realized that Viridian was a company he could believe in—and he feels that he’s making a difference. “Once I believe in something and feel passionate about it, I do everything to be very influential.”
As often as he can, Alex takes advantage of Viridian’s free personal development tool Viridian Learning Center powered by SUCCESS on Demand and listens to or reads inspirational books, books by Anthony Robbins, Jim Rohn and others. “I didn’t get into this just to make a few hundred dollars. I’ve made thousands already with Viridian—and intend to help countless others do the same.”
Alex recently wrote to Meredith to share that he was celebrating 25 years as an American. Until recently, he rarely told anyone about how he came to the U.S.; he didn’t feel it was relevant. But as a Viridian Associate he now looks at it differently.
“We knew this was the land of opportunity,” he says. “We had lost it all and left everything to come here and start something…something that I now see clearly and will do whatever it takes to build.”