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Gleb Maltsev – who are you?

The modern take on it is that I’m a pitch coach.

On a fundamental level, though, I’m a practitioner of rhetoric — one of the original liberal arts. It dates back to the times of Demosthenes. In Ancient Greece, citizens had to learn how to speak in front of others. It was often to resolve legal disputes or talk their way out of trouble.

Demosthenes managed to do just that when he was 20. He was — what we’d now call an archetypal nerd — a physically weak orphan with a speech defect. To top it all off, he got cheated out of his inheritance by his guardians.

So, what did he do about it? Think Rocky’s theme song. He taught himself how to speak by studying other orators, trained with pebbles in his mouth to fix his stammer and pronunciation, went on to sue his guardians — and won. Not bad for a scrawny kid that just turned 20.

So, as a nerd with a speech impediment of my own, I got inspired. I named my company Stoneful, a homage to the man and his bumpy start. Like he, I went on to train others on how to speak. It’s been almost ten years now.

What projects are you working on currently?

For the last nine months, I’ve been hosting a large volume of webinars and training hundreds of people that way. In that sense, I was lucky to have my Shure mic, a stable internet connection, and a dedicated space at Workland.

When I’m not broadcasting, I’m working on new workshop material. It’s based on my research of over 300,000 words of transcript data. This research is the kind of work you get into when you keep asking the question ‘why?’ from people way too many times. It also makes you sound like the Merovingian from the Matrix but without the French accent.

It will likely deal with randomness, order, and meaning in a narrative context. It’s about the art and science of stories we tell others and ourselves — a practical guide.

Otherwise, I spend the rest of my time lurking on the internet searching for rare cat memes.

What is the model you set for the world?

Talk about a hardball question. To spare any reader patient enough to reach this paragraph a deep dive into chaos theory, I’d say the following.

I used to treat new ideas as I treated my first Rubik’s cube. I’d deconstruct it, reduce it into separate tiny parts, and then put it back together again. Now, I’m puzzled by complexity.

It’s kind of like the Humpty Dumpty riddle. To be more precise, how the nursery rhyme illustrates the second law of thermodynamics. The law states that your chances of returning things to their previous level of lower entropy are slim. Even if you manage to bring Humpty Dumpty back, the result will echo the efforts of Victor Frankenstein.

To quote Philip Warren Anderson: “…the whole becomes not only more than but very different from the sum of its parts.”.

Photo by Maido Parv
Photo by Maido Parv

What is the best working environment for you? What do you value the most?

The questions remind me of a famous, often misused, quote from a play by Jean-Paul Sartre. It’s called No Exit. It starts with three people locked in a room.

It’s a co-working space of a sort. To me, it’s a metaphor for how the perceptions of others affect my perception of myself. That perception is what can give or take away freedom.

So, yeah, I guess I just want to be free, man.

Why did you choose Workland Maakri?

To borrow Jonathan Haidt’s analogy: I’m a rider on the back of an elephant. I don’t know the exact reasons for my decisions, yet I’ll venture a guess regardless.

Here’s the rational and utilitarian answer. Workland had a coffee machine, a couch to read on, and plenty of bookshelf space. It offered a better price-performance ratio compared to its competitors.

In the other part of the story, the elephant needed a lot of room to play hide-and-seek with people because he was lonely.

What would be the three words that best describe your experience at Workland?

Patience. Practicality. Purrs.

Which companies would you encourage to join Workland?

I’d suggest it to those who need to make many calls and then focus on their work in a quiet area. The co-working space has rooms for both. It would be a good option for founders, VCs, freelance designers, developers, and writers.

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