EP 90 - Margarita Poluyko - Obstacles are Stepping Stones to Success Part 1

Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.

Margarita Poluyko immigrated to the United States from Belarus as a teenager and, like many immigrants before her, found starting businesses a more viable path to success than competing for entry-level jobs with American youth who had expensive degrees and existing networks. Starting out with nothing, Margarita worked extremely hard to build a life for her family in the US.

After working several traditional jobs that didn’t go anywhere, Margarita decided to pursue a life of entrepreneurship in a wide variety of fields including real estate, mortgage, insurance, and product-related business. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but her entrepreneurial mindset and drive to succeed allowed Margarita to move away from a dependency on employment roles for her family’s well-beings, and to take her life into her own hands.

In 2014 Margarita, along with family members, began selling physical products on Amazon. The company grew from basement operation to an 8-figure business in only a couple of years. Her experience in varied entrepreneurial fields led to an expertise in management, negotiations, product selection, and marketing.

Margarita’s story is proof that an immigrant can come to the United States and, with extremely hard work, an intelligent plan, and quiet determination, succeed beyond any expectations


Obstacles are Stepping Stones to Success Part 1

On this episode, Steve’s special guest is Margarita Poluyko. Margarita with her brother Igor is a brother and sister team from New York City who have been leaders in the Amazon space for nearly a decade. Here are some interesting lessons from this episode:

  • How an immigrant like Margarita found starting a business is a more viable path to success than competing with American jobseekers.

  • When starting a business, be aware of cycles and how things work.

  • Why you should take responsibility for your successes and failures as an entrepreneur.

So, sit back and listen to Margarita’s amazing story and be inspired.

02:12 (Steve introduces Margarita Poluyko.)

06:35 (Margarita shares her origin story.)

11:56 (Margarita shares her defining moment shifting from an employee to becoming an entrepreneur.)

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


If you're launching a new product manufactured in China, you will need professional high-resolution Amazon ready photographs. Because Symo Global has a team of professionals in China, you will oftentimes receive your listing photographs before your product even leaves the country. This streamlined process will save you the time, money and energy needed to concentrate on marketing and other creative content strategies before your item is in stock and ready for sale. Visit SymoGlobal.com to learn more. Because a picture should be worth one thousand keywords.

You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Steve: You are listening to Episode Number 90 of the Awesomers.com podcast series and this is just like any other episode all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/90 to find the show notes and relevant details. I do want to take a quick moment to just talk about this is the middle point to my promise of delivering 180 episodes in a row every single day for you Awesomers out there and we've watched the downloads continue and I'll be honest I haven't yet figured out how to track subscriptions and things like that, but I'm excited by this process. We're spending a terrific amount of time and extraordinary amounts of money producing these episodes. So, we sure hope that they're helpful and instructive to you. As mentioned earlier, the middle point on my first day promised to deliver 180 episodes is number 90 and we're right there right now.

02:12 (Steve introduces Margarita Poluyko.)

Now, I'm going to introduce you to my very special guest today for part one of a three-part series with Margarita Poluyko and I apologize Margarita if I got your name wrong. I'm just not that good at pronunciation. So, Margarita in immigrated to the United States from Belarus as a teenager and like many immigrants before her found starting a business more viable as a path to success when could then competing with entry-level jobs with American youth who had expensive degrees and existing networks of people. So, literally starting out with nothing, Margarita worked extremely hard to build a life for her family in the U.S. After working several traditional jobs that didn't really go anywhere, Margarita decided to pursue a life of entrepreneurship in a wide variety of fields including real estate, mortgage, insurance and now product-related businesses. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but her entrepreneurial mindset and drive to succeed allowed Margarita to move away from a dependency unemployment roles for her family's well-being and to take her life in her own hands. How inspiring is that. In 2014, Margarita along with some of her close family members began selling physical products on Amazon and the company grew from a basement operation to an eight-figure business in just a couple of years. Her experience in varied entrepreneurial fields led to the expertise in management negotiations, product selection and marketing that's helped her business succeed today. Margarita’s story is absolute proof that an immigrant can come to the United States and with extremely hard work an intelligent plan and quiet determination succeed beyond any reasonable expectations. Margarita is truly a great entrepreneur, a great woman and somebody who should be quite inspiring to all of us Awesomers around the world. Let's get into today's episode right now.

Hey Awesomers, it's me Steve Simonson. We're back again for another episode of Awesomers.com podcast and I've got great news. My very special guest today is Margarita Poluyko. Did I get that right?

Margarita: Almost, Poluyko.

Steve: I never get that right. You know, as long as I've known you and your brother Igor I never get the pronunciation right. Poluyko.

Margarita: There you go, much better.

Steve: All right. So, there's a good chance I’ll mess that up again, my apologies to you and for the audience keeping score at how many times I mess up names. This one is in the lost column for me, so my apologies. Margarita, thank you for joining me. I'm thrilled to have you here. I know a little bit about your background and now the audience has heard the read in, so they know a little bit about your high level bio, but tell us what you do day-to-day and where you're living right now so the audience can get a sense of what's happening now.

Margarita: Well, thank you very much for having me. Currently, I live in New Jersey about 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. I have several brands of physical products that we sell on and off Amazon.

Steve: Nice, yes. I think you know an E-commerce seller in general and an Amazon-centric seller, there's a lot of interest out there on this particular genre of opportunity and I know that you guys are really really good at it, so I'm thrilled to have you today. Let's talk about just real briefly, how long have you been in business kind of on your own? I'm curious. We'll dive in a little more to your origin, but I'm just curious about that? When did you start a business on your own.

Margarita: Well, business on my own outside of what I do right now, I've been about for 15 years.

Steve: Okay, nice. Yes, that's – you know, a lot of people when they have this entrepreneurial idea, you know often that we work you know part-time or you know we put together our life in such a way that we can pursue the so-called side hustle of entrepreneurialism, but you have been able to do it for more than 15 years it sounds like as a full-time venture huh?

Margarita: Yes. And it was pretty much incidental for me as to how I became an entrepreneur. I never thought I would be, but yes it's been over 15 years now.

Steve: I love it. Well, that's great. So, as I like to do, I like to get right into the origin story and there's nothing more origin than where you were born, so can you share that with us?

06:35 (Margarita shares her origin story.)

Margarita: Yes. I was born and raised in Belarus at the time it was a part of the USSR incidentally in the same small town as Gary Vaynerchuk. I don't know if you follow him, but a lot of people do know him. Yes, and I move into the States as a teenager.

Steve: So, Gary V. from the same town as Margarita P. I don't know, there could be something there.

Margarita: You never know.

Steve: Yes, I like that so – and now Belarus, I've actually heard of it. I'm not sure I could place it on the map except I would look kind of Eastern Europe. Am I in the right zone?

Margarita: Yes. It borders Russia and Ukraine. So, it's right there.

Steve: Right in the serenity corner I'm sure. No problem there.

Margarita: No, so far no problems there.

Steve: Yes. So, when you were born, what kind of work did your parents do or maybe what kind of work did they do throughout your lives?

Margarita: Well, my mom was an elementary school teacher and my father was a general contractor for the government. He was building schools, hospitals, small little towns. So, that's their background.

Steve: Fascinating. How about any siblings?

Margarita: I have two siblings. I have a brother that you mentioned who is my partner and I have a younger sister and she does work with us as well.

Steve: Oh nice. A family affair then, that's nice.

Margarita: Yes. Yes.

Steve: How about university? Did you go along to university?

Margarita: Well, the short answer is I do not have a degree, but I do enjoy learning very much. I graduated high school back in Belarus. In Belarus, there are only 11 grades, so when I came to the States I had an opportunity to go to high school, but my parents were told that since my English was not great I will be bullied relentlessly so they chose not to. I ended up going and working and eventually going to County College just to kind of learn English then I wanted to become an attorney and I was told well you'll always have you accent and no one will hire you, so as you can see I still have my accent, but now I you know I like it. It makes me who I am, but again I enjoy learning and now I feel like I can create my own curriculum because I can learn what I need for my business and my personal life and I learned from a lot of sources, from people around me, from books, from experiences. So, again, the short answer no, I do not have a degree.

Steve: Well, you're in good company, I don't have a degree either and I dropped out of university after one semester. I was thrilled about it by the way. And the reality is you know for some people university can be a great experience and other people it's not necessary and by the way you're in good company because Arnold Schwarzenegger also was told that he would never be able to act because of his heavy accent. So, we know how that went.

Margarita: And that’s exactly what got him there.

Steve: Exactly, yes. Now, that's his trademark. So, that's a great lesson for the Awesomers out there that you know turning the so-called weakness into a strength is really it's a good skill, it's a good talent and you know Schwarzenegger is a great example. Margarita is a great example. To be able to just say whatever the obstacle is, that's the way that we're going to go forward and I salute you for that. So, since you went from high school you mentioned you got a job, what kind of work were you doing at the time?

Margarita: I worked as a cashier at a retail store and for about a year I spoke very little, only when necessary and I spent that entire year just listening and trying to pick up the language and trying to pick up the accent, but yes that's basically was my first job.

Steve: Well, in fairness you – oh well, actually I should ask. Where did you first come to the U.S.?

Margarita: I came about 22 years ago.

Steve: And was that in the New York area generally?

Margarita: I came in – we came in to Brooklyn and we spent a couple of months there. It was eight of us in one-bedroom apartment and yes and eventually my father got a job in New Jersey, so we did move.

Steve: Nice. Well listen, whether it's a Brooklyn or New Jersey there's accents there that are just part of the American accent. I'm sure you’ve heard of you know forget about it, hey I'm walking here, that kind of stuff so. You had no shot at really nullifying any accent because there's already a heavy accent there.

Margarita: Right. Well, I'm very proud of it now.

Steve: I love it. So, as you as you went from that cashier job and you mentioned that you know you're trying to pick up the language as you were listening, was there any specific challenge? Was there anything that you were really struggling with at that time? I'm curious.

Margarita: At that time, things were pretty simple. I was just trying to adjust. I was trying to make friends, so I did not have any huge aspirations. I just took it as it came. So things were pretty good at that time.

Steve: I loved it, yes so you keep it simple. Now from that point until now, can you share you know any defining moment or moments that put you kind of on the path that you're on today because there had to be some kind of shift from cashier to entrepreneur?

11:56 (Margarita shares her defining moment shifting from an employee to becoming an entrepreneur.)

Margarita: Well, there were many many many defining moments, but at some point I was working as an administrative assistant to an I.T. Director for a huge hospital chain. I was there for about a year. I loved it. People respected me and people loved me, but my husband was temping for a mortgage company and he loved it as well and he said, “You know what, you're quitting. You're becoming a real estate agent. We're going to open a mortgage branch and we'll take it from there.” So, I said, “Okay let's do it.” So, I became a real estate agent. We eventually opened a mortgage branch. We worked really really hard. I remember a time, it was midnight, I had two small children with us in our office sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor and we’re just working making sure we make that deadline. So, all in all we became very successful. I became top agent of my agency. We had a top branch and things could not have been any better. You know, we thought people will always want to buy houses. Therefore they will and that was until the market crashed–

Steve: I have to say before the spoiler comes out, this is when the heyday of real estate was happening I could feel. I don't even know the timeline for sure and like you said everybody is a buyer. Everything is happening. It's all moving along and everybody just thinks the curve is going to go straight up forever. Is that right?

Margarita: Right. We're very young. We did not have experience in business or life at that point, so we did not know about cycles and how things work. We just put everything into it. We worked extremely hard. We bought our first dream house and two months later market crashed. A few months after that, the company that we had a branch was closed. We lost all our income, bills to pay, kids to raise. I had a high-risk pregnancy at that time with my twin boys, so it kind of all came out at once.

Steve: Wow.

Margarita: Yes and–

Steve: I have a feeling during that time, I mean because that could be quite overwhelming for the average person.

Margarita: It was. It was one of the probably hardest times in my life because I'm very responsible. I like to do things right on time, pay my bills on time and there came a point where I couldn't do that anymore and that was really really tough on me. I mean there were days that I would basically just wake up to take care of my children. And I'm not alone. There are millions of people who went through that unfortunately.

Steve: Definitely not alone. That story has been shared on the Awesomers podcast a number of times and it was you know when the market finally crashed and that you know people they're unfamiliar necessarily with the cyclical nature of some of these markets and even today by the way, people have this in their mind that oh no no, real estate is going to just keep going up and up and up and the market is going to keep going up and up and up for stocks and these things have corrections. They have cycles. It's never straight up. There's always some bumps and this was one of the most historic bumps ever. So, you're definitely not alone. You know, as you're struggling with all that and you're kind of coping with all that, how did you start moving forward and gaining some momentum again?

Margarita: Well, I kind of had no choice, but specifically what I remember about I would say five to six years before then, I purchased a course from Anthony Robbins and I listened to probably one or two CDs and I'm like not my thing, not for me and for some reason I just it was in my car and I just began listening and the very first CD I remember driving in the car crying because it made so much sense for me and it's just opened up a completely different world because growing up in former USSR things were completely different. You basically you do what you're told and nothing else in the world exists. So, it opened up a different world for me. I finally – and I heard him say it is up to you and I knew if it was up to me I would get it done no matter what it takes. So, this was kind of my first wake-up call. After that, it took years and years and years. So, it was not something that was a magic bullet, but at least it started to open up doors into a completely different universe for me.

Steve: Yes, so that's very interesting. It reminds me of that great 80s song or at least some of the lyrics are back in the USSR. So, let's go back there for a minute. And you know you talked about this idea that you know you kind of just had to do what you were told and stay in your own little box and that contrast was very different than what Tony Robbins was kind of telling you on those CDs, is that right?

Margarita: Absolutely. Like I said, it was a completely paradigm shift for me. It's completely opened up and completely different reality if I can call it that and it was fascinating to me and I began to listen to everything that he had put out and that opened me up into some other people that I have been following ever since. So again, I love Anthony Robbins, but I think it's the idea that really did it for me.

Steve: Yes. Well that's–

Margarita: That there is something else.

Steve: I think that's a really important point, that it doesn't matter the vehicle that the message comes in, it's the idea of breaking that paradigm. And there's a lot of people who are driving around right now or at home listening to podcasts or radio or whatever and they believe their world is structured in a certain way and they believe that all the way through to their core, but how they're exposed to kind of another way of thinking or another perspective, they don't realize there's a whole other world of opportunity outside and it sounds like you found that opportunity by listening to those CDs. Is that right?

Margarita: Right, but also I think you have to be ready and open to it because like I said I purchased those CDs maybe five, six years prior and I did listen to one or two and it did not speak to me. It did that make sense. I think I had to go through some of the struggles. I had to be at the bottom where there is no other choice, but to come up and you basically will grab at anything just to make it up and this was one of the things.

Steve: Boy, I think that's a very very good point. You know, the timing really is so relevant and so many times – this is one of the things that I talk about a lot is that you know when we talk about things here on the podcast or in you know the masterminds or any of the other things that we do, not everybody is ready at that moment to hear what needs you know what they need to hear or hear what could help them and so they only internalize it at the point that they're actually receptive and ready, and sometimes that takes you know catastrophic external events, you know a personal or financial or whatever the case is. Other times it's just a matter of all right now I've gotten this far in my career in my life and now I'm ready to kind of figure out how to level up, so that moment that you're receptive to it, very good point by you.

We're going to take a quick break and be right back after this message.


Empowery, the name says it all. Connecting E-commerce entrepreneurs with great people, ideas, systems and the services needed to sustain business dynamic into growth. Empowery is a network; a cooperative venture of tools and resources to make you better at what you do. Because we love what you do. We are you. Visit Empowery.com to learn more.

You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Steve: Well, there you have it Awesomers. That's part one of this three-part series with Margarita and this has been Episode 90 of the Awesomers.com podcast series, so all you have to do is pop on over to Awesomers.com/90 to see the relevant show notes and details and perhaps any links that we may have discussed along the way today.

Now, you know I've always enjoyed hanging out with Margarita and Igor, her brother. They've been members of the Catalyst88.com Mastermind in the past and they're really just very brilliant yet determined and just you know that great combination of you know whatever the mountain is we're going to climb it and I know that you've learned that from her story today. They are all about solving problems, getting the job done and coming from the history you know from Belarus and you know kind of understanding some of the background history there and then immigrating to the U.S., so much interesting detail and a lot of inspiration, at least that's how I find it. I'm sure that you’ll agree with me. So, again, this is just part one of three. Join us tomorrow for part two and we'll get into some more of the details and interesting background that Margarita has to share, lots more to learn, don't forget to tune in tomorrow.

Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.