Maria Serbina is a business celebrity mentor and social influence online strategist, an author and speaker. She is the founder of List Wealth Model Business School, author of the book If I Can’t Find You in 3 Seconds You Don’t Exist: Being Findable Online for Ultimate Visibility & Profits and co-author of # 1 Amazon bestseller, Savvy Women Revving Up for Success. Maria teaches entrepreneurs how to get more exposure and credibility, create celebrity status and get outstanding results using social influence marketing and the power of Google+.
She holds two Master’s degrees: One in Construction Engineering and the second in Business Administration, E-Business. She owned a successful trade and construction company in Russia at 27.
Maria helps clients in five countries to establish their businesses. Her main focus is to helping entrepreneurs build sustainable, reliable, predictable and sellable businesses. Maria runs free weekly live broadcasts for Innovative Business Acceleration training on Google Hangouts, contributes articles for Press Advantage and View on Southern Utah magazine.
Maria is obsessed with shoes, making videos, live broadcasts on Google Hangouts and pomegranates. She loves organic wine and good cheese. She has lived in five countries and traveled the world. It is easier to ask her what she hasn’t done in her life then what she has done. She was born in the Former USSR and emigrated with her then-husband and two daughters to Canada in 1996. In 1999, she and her family moved to Buffalo, New York. She has been residing in St. George, Utah, since 2003.
Travel Style: I like to be pampered. I prefer to stay at a condo or villa. I am not big fan of most hotel rooms.
Favorite Destination: Big Island of Hawaii.
Necessary luxury: Brita water bottle with the filter.
3 Travel Things You Can’t Live Without: Tempur-pedic pillow, facial mineral spray, my own hair dryer.
What does travel mean to you?
To me travel equals an adventure. I travel a lot for business. It gives me a great opportunity to meet new people, learn about new places and enjoy airports’ commotion. Only one thing that drives me crazy when I go through airport security is taking my shoes off.
One of your guilty pleasures?
One of my guilty pleasures hot coffee latte in a special red ceramic mug at 6 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes I take the mug with me when I travel.
What does luxury mean to you?
Convenience, such as get to the airport by limo/taxi. Be able to fly from my home town without driving two hours to the airport in Las Vegas. Fly first class. Stay at 5-star timeshare or villa. I love to cook my own food, coffee and breakfast especially, because I can’t stand restaurants even the best one. Organic food store is next door to the place where I am staying. I have to have a great internet connection c– which is luxury in lots of (even the best) hotels.
Your favorite luxury item: Avène Thermal Spring Water.
Your favorite travel story: When my father and I started our company, our main international partners were several companies in Inner Mongolia and Beijing, China. At the beginning of 1994, we placed a few big orders for shoe manufacturing. In July, we went to visit factories and explored more markets. We were thinking about expanding into Hong Kong market. Unfortunately, neither of us could speak Chinese. We had to have an interpreter on staff, which was really difficult to find. To us, anyone who could speak at least few words in Chinese was golden. We had a Russian interpreter who told us that his Chinese was fluent. We relied on him when Chinese entrepreneurs were visiting Russia. We used his services abroad as well.
As it happened, on this particular trip, he couldn’t go with us and we had to rely on Chinese interpreters. It was nearly impossible because it didn’t matter if they spoke Russian or Chinese, the sound was the same. It was really hard to understand what they were saying.
You’re probably thinking, “C’mon Maria, you could’ve spoken English.” The answer is, “Negative. I could barely put three English words together verbally at that time. So English would hardly have saved our lives.”
By that time, I knew one phrase in Chinese: “cam bay,” meaning, bottoms up! In order to say it, I would need a drink first.
Our first stop was Harbin in Inner Mongolia. We spent two days there without any trouble communicating because there was a Russian fellow who spoke Chinese. His grandparents had moved to Harbin after the Bolshevik Revolution. There are still a few Russian families that live there. The Old Russian Empire had significant influence in this region because of the railroads in this Far Eastern region. In the 1920s, the city was considered China’s fashion capital because new designs from Paris and Moscow reached here first before arriving in Shanghai.
Our troubles started when we arrived in Beijing. We had Chinese interpreters doing our meetings and negotiations with Chinese and Hong Kong businessmen but for the remainder of the time, we had to rely on ourselves. It was a really interesting experience.
We wanted to try all the fruits and vegetables there. The problem was, we couldn’t figure out what was what and the Chinese locals couldn’t really explain the fruits to us. Aside from that, sales people at small stores were taking advantage of us, charging us double the original price. In big stores, we had a hard time explaining what we wanted because of the language barrier. There were only a few people on the main land of China who could speak English.
Do you know what “W.C.” stands for?
The best part of our trip occurred on the fourth day. I was staying in a room with our accountant. We woke in the morning from a very strange sound of running water—oh, I forgot to tell you that we stayed in a five-star hotel in Beijing— was coming from the bathroom. When we opened the bathroom door we realized that our toilet was plugged. It was an EMERGENCY!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t pick up the phone, call the front desk and explain what was going on. There was only one way to deal with it: run downstairs and use sign language.
After being in China for a week, I had learned two words in Chinese: cucumber and girl. I realized that screaming “si-hun-shi” (cucumber) wouldn’t explain what was going on upstairs. I decided to use an international approach. I started screaming “kunya” (girl) and “W.C.” (for the German water closet).
Now picture me—the crazy white woman—screaming the word “girl” and swinging her arms like she just killed someone. Later on, the front desk personnel told our interpreter that they honestly thought that some girl drowned in the toilet.
A bunch of people ran upstairs with me and saw what was going on. The problem was fixed. Too bad that smart phones with their awesome cameras didn’t exist at the time, because the video of me screaming in Chinese and scaring the crap out of people would make me millions of dollars.
Your best travel tip:
If you want to be comfortable on a plane and look good after a long travel, always carry with you a small bag (even if you travel first class) with your comfortable sweats, sleepers, comfy warm socks, silk facial sleeping mask, small travel blanket (I have one made for me with my name on it) , facial mineral spray, facial cream, mascara and lipstick. Don’t forget about a little tooth brash, tooth paste and floss. Put everything in travel organizers. They will help you to find stuff in seconds.