In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

“Where there’s a journey, there’s sacrifice” – Nikita Emtsov 

It has always been our goal that listeners hear themselves in the guests we interview on this podcast because it’s only when you relate to a person that their story and message resonates and moves you to action. 

Nikita Emtsov is a perfect representation of the professionals in the Art of Coaching community and in this episode you’ll hear his raw depiction of the challenges (from self-acceptance and mental health struggles to finding a unique niche and vocation) we all go through in pursuit of our own hero’s journey. 

Nikita is a Russian-born, Toronto-based strength coach and certified personal trainer.  Having pursued a plethora of creative vocations over the last 15 years—some of which have included stage acting, filmmaking, songwriting, and graphic design—he has faced plenty of challenges finding his place in the world before developing a passion for weightlifting and- ultimately- coaching.

After finding a multitude of unexpected mental health and creativity-related benefits in his pursuit of strength, Nikita has made it his mission to help other creative storytellers get physically and mentally stronger and make training part of their own Hero’s Journey.

We discuss: 

  • Ways to balance perfectionism and creativity – are they truly at odds?
  • Why we should use storytelling to script our own “hero’s journey”
  • How to listen to and utilize our internal voice for good 
  • Methods for relinquishing control and embracing uncertainty

Connect with Nikita:

Via Instagram: @nickemstov 

The clock is ticking on 2021 Apprenticeship dates. We only have a few spots left at each location. Don’t delay, book your spot today! (Rhyming unintentional) 

Upcoming Apprenticeships:

Lastly, a big thank you shoutout to our sponsor Momentous for today’s episode!  For those looking for the cleanest, best tasting protein and supplements on the market, Momentous is my choice. Their products are for athletes as well as individuals who just want to ensure they are getting enough protein in their diet. Code: BRETT15 gets you 15% off. 

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Brett Bartholomew  0:13  

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Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me and now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Alright, guys, we’re gonna cut the fluff and call it like it is. If you listen to a lot of podcasts, you know, there are some that feature interviews with subject matter experts, people that have written perhaps insightful research or a unique book on a given topic. And that inspires you and makes you ask all kinds of unique questions. There are others that are more narrative in format. And they have a lot of highly produced nuances to music and sound effects and what have you. And there’s a staff of 15 or 20 people that work on them. And they’re beautifully produced, and they’re very entertaining. And then there are others that feature guests who just like you are real people going through the mess of life, trying to figure out what the next best path is trying to make sense of the voices in their heads that tells them, hey, this work isn’t good enough, or this is what you should do. And this is what you shouldn’t be doing. People that are just trying to figure it out. And that’s what we have for today’s episode. We have a tremendous individual named Nikita Emtsov. Joining us somebody who survived a bombing from a terrorist at 10 years old. And him and his family ended up moving from Russia to Canada, and had to assimilate to a lot of different aspects of that culture there. 


Nikita has sung opera directed movies, acted on stage, dreamt up of a wide variety of businesses. And now works in both the fitness space and graphic design space while holding down a full time job. And if you’re thinking well wait a minute, what does he do? It sounds like he does a little bit of everything. You’re absolutely right. He, like many people in the post COVID World has experimented and is also struggling with the voices of perfectionism. And that’s why I think you guys are gonna love today, because today is all about perfectionism. Nothing about this episode as well rehearsed. This was Niktia’s first conversation on the air. And so imagine having a language barrier and this being the first episode you’ve ever done, but also sharing some elemental truths that I think a lot of you are going to be able to relate to and make sense of in your own way. So I could not be more excited to bring you this conversation between me and my friend Nikita Emstov Listen up here we go


Hey, welcome back, everybody to another episode of The Art of coaching Podcast. I’m here with Nikita Emstov. Nikita, how are you buddy? 


Nikita Emtsov  4:57  

I’m good. How are you? 


Brett Bartholomew  4:58  

I’m doing well. Listen But as is the case, most times when we have conversations, the bio that we read off at the beginning doesn’t always do justice to the individual we’re having a conversation with. And just to frame all of you guys listening up, you know, today we’re going to talk about a variety of things, both perfectionism, a little bit of storytelling, how the narratives of our lives can really keep us from doing certain things that we want to be able to do. And I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Nikita over the past few years, somebody that it’s one thing when people say they’re a perfectionist, it’s another thing when we meet somebody that’s truly on kind of a different cultural spectrum of that. And it’s been enlightening because I deal with these things as well. And I know that anytime Nikita, I’ve listened to podcasts that have researchers, or pop science kind of book writers that talk about these subjects, they give a lot of interesting facts about the situation, but not always about the person. And it’s important to me that our audience gets to know you a little bit because they’re going to see a lot of yourself in them. And maybe we can help some people out. So if you wouldn’t mind, just going into a little bit of your cultural background growing up in Russia, the standards that were placed on yourself at a young age both, you know, internally and externally. And what that leads into what you do now as a day job, and as a side project, and some of your approach to life in general. I’d love to give them more insight on that. 


Nikita Emtsov  6:25  

Yeah, absolutely. So starting from my upbringing, and growing up in Russia, I think my perfectionism and troubles with that started Back in school, when I was really, I really liked getting perfect grades. In school, I really liked that feeling of people admiring me for that, that I kind of obsess over that. And that has been an impediment to me throughout my life. Because, you know, on the one hand, getting the perfect grades seems like the perfect thing to get, right. If you get perfect grades in school, you end up going to good college or university, and then you end up getting the perfect job and earning lots of money and things like that. So it didn’t ever occur to me that maybe that’s not the healthiest thing to do. It’s almost like with, exercise, you know, I’ve posted that poll once on my Instagram, like, what’s the healthiest thing out of the two is a salad or a burger. And most people would say salad, obviously burgers it’s not the healthiest food in the world. But when we look at the larger picture of that particular individual, one particular individual, maybe they are so obsessed with eating healthy, that it becomes an eating disorder for them. So maybe that salad might not be the most healthy thing for them to eat, maybe they could live with eating a burger once in a while. And that was the same thing for me with with the, you know, being a student in school, like, I could definitely get a not the perfect grade. And I would be devastated. Whereas if somebody told me that, hey, that’s just a part of life. But that’s part of the journey, you fail, you learn from that and you move on. And that sets you up for the next journey, as well, that sets you up for things that you haven’t learned that you haven’t got into on the first sort of track that you’re going to learn the next time. But that wasn’t the case. For me. I was really good at getting good grades. And it’s only later in life where I started failing at things very started being doubting, sort of my path in life that I got really, for the lack of a better word. Depressed. Yeah, I mean, it’s been a journey, for sure. 


Brett Bartholomew  9:10  

Yeah. And, you know, I appreciate you going that deep. And I think a lot of people can, you know, you mentioned these things start with wanting to get good grades. And then it might start with some people wanting to let’s say, somebody plays baseball, they want to pitch the perfect game, or they want to have the perfect resume and then they want to build the perfect life. Right? We have this idea of what perfect is, and we struggle with that. Because you know, you think about things being relative? Well, that’s going to be the case with everybody, right? I know somebody who’s 39 I’m 35 at the time recording this. And they’ve written three best selling books, they have three kids, a massive platform, and I know you know, we have built a lot of different things at art of coaching and it seems like certain things never happen quickly enough in our life, or that they don’t unfold the way that we want and it’s easy to lose, track of kind of like alright, well here’s the progress we made, you know, one thing I wanted to chat with you about, as well, because you do describe yourself as a creative person. Is that correct? 


Nikita Emtsov  10:08  



Brett Bartholomew  10:08  

Right. So we, hear you describe yourself as a creative individual. And I want to continue to leak a little bit more of what you do day to day into the audience as so they can get to know what that means exactly in your context. But then we also talk about perfectionism. And I think there’s a lot of people listening that can probably relate to this in a way of saying, Yeah, I am perfectionistic. But I know that there’s other things I could put out in the world. And I either start them, and I don’t finish them, or, you know, I don’t even begin it, because I can’t make sense of it in my mind. And I’m not very organized in my own head, you know, where, how do you reconcile the fact that to be creative, things are not going to be perfect. And that eventually, if you want something to make a difference, it’s going to have to get put out into the world. So at what point does perfectionism not become you know, some kind of asset that allows you to do high quality work because of the demands you put on yourself. But really, it becomes more of this obstacle where you never get anything done. Because it’s never going to be good enough for you?


Nikita Emtsov  11:08  

Well, I see it, almost as if I’m sitting in this room. And it’s a really nice place. There are interesting things, there an interesting project that I’ve begun creating, and I’m working on either one of them or all of them simultaneously. But I get so so focused on that. So focus on working on those projects that I forget to, to go outside and get some air and talk to people about them. And it’s almost like, I work on these projects for maybe a year without going outside, I’m speaking figuratively. And then when you go outside, and when you meet people, you almost get scared because the world has changed in that span of time. But you were isolated in that place. And that makes you scared it makes you scared of being judged for what you’re creating or who you are or where you live for getting your sort of mind space get a little bit messy. While you were working on those things. So you go back inside, and you get scared and you stop talking to people and you just either continue working on those projects or you switch to something else, which has happened to me. A lot of times, you know, I would get I still do I still get I’ll get excited about one project and I take it one step. I’ll take it somewhere, you know, I’ll create something and then do take it to the next level. It requires more work. It requires actually getting things into the world and talking to people showing these things to people. And it’s scary, man, it gets scary.


Brett Bartholomew  12:54  

No, I think I can get where I want to go deeper with that still is when you say it goes scary. What are some of the narratives you say internally, like I know, if I’m transparent, you know, I often talked about before I was hospitalized if I was training or working out myself, you know, I’d get on a treadmill or I’d be doing something else relatively intense. And if I didn’t make it another mile, I would have some negative self talk like Ah, you’re not gonna accomplish this or that or what have you. I mean, it happens when I work on my books. Sometimes we all have this idea, or these negative voices and self talk that come into our heads right, which create a narrative. And I’m curious just because some of our listeners may share yours. And if you’re comfortable sharing what do some of those internal and of course, hypothetical voices just so nobody thinks that you have voices actually going through your head. What does that perfectionistic voice say to you?


Nikita Emtsov  13:50  

I’m personal is just scared of people being indifferent to what I create or to who I am. I’m scared of being average, to tell you the truth because I really liked from the very young age I liked impressing people. And I still do


Brett Bartholomew  14:12  

where does that come from that Where were you not getting that not to psychoanalyze? Right but like, where do you think you got that from?


Nikita Emtsov  14:21  

I think it was from that time when I started school and people. I mean, it wasn’t difficult for me to be good at school. Whereas it was for some people and like not to be arrogant or anything but they was what’s the word if we get the word I stood out as a student that’s


Brett Bartholomew  14:47  

where I’m gonna push back in may have been a little like there’s a lot of I mean relatively there’s a lot of folks that you know, they’re pretty good like I’d have to imagine like no doubt you’re intelligent individual, very intuitive, perceptive. But there had to be other people. So I’m not buying. And I say this in a friendly but challenging way. I’m not buying that. It was just like, oh, yeah, school. I mean, like, what were you like the were you? Did you graduate at like nine? You know? You know? So like, 


Nikita Emtsov  15:12  

No, I wasn’t the Prodigy, 


Brett Bartholomew  15:14  

right? So where else where else was that coming from? Because it couldn’t have just been attention at school like, what was your parents view on some of this stuff? You know, Did they find it? Did they like that? Was there something that did school not even impressed that what were they like a little bit? If you don’t mind me asking? What are they like?  


Nikita Emtsov  15:31  

I mean, they always encouraged me to get good grades. And it’s not like I would get beaten or anything like that were punished for getting a bad grade. I wish they told me that it was okay to get a bad grade. I wish they noticed earlier that I was a little bit obsessed with that. 


Brett Bartholomew  15:52  

You wish they had already said 


Nikita Emtsov  15:53  

I wish they had that I was being obsessed, or obsessive about getting good grades being the perfect student. I think it would serve you serve me better in life if I had failed more earlier.


Brett Bartholomew  16:07  

And I think that’s a really good insight, because you talk about and to give you guys listening a little bit more context, Nikita. And when was this, this would have been November 21 2019, you applied to our coalition program, right, our mentoring program. And still to this day, your application has stood out for many reasons. But I’m going to read an excerpt, if you don’t mind, you had said, you know, on one hand, I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be employed at a stable workplace for so many years. As a newcomer to Canada, after you moved from Russia, obviously, some people are not that lucky. And the flexible schedule allowed me the freedom to pursue all sorts of interests. As a young adult, I’ve sung opera directed movies, acted on stage drempt up a great number of innovative businesses that surely would have taken over the world. Obviously saying that tongue in cheek, you have a wonderful sense of humor, had, you know, somebody ever escaped that? Or had they ever escaped that dream realm? So, you know, given that, what do you mean, you didn’t have the opportunity to fail because it sounds like you’ve loved headfirst into, I don’t know, if the average listener has sung opera, you know, I think we’ve all done some, you know, relatively interesting things, whether we perceive them to be interesting or not in our lives, but seems like you had a lot of opportunities to fail there. So did you cherry pick something, were these things that you were always really good at? Elaborate on that?


Nikita Emtsov  17:28  

I think once I, you know, there’s a reason why I’m not doing most of those things anymore. Because once I failed, once, I would start failing at something, I would lose the passion for it, or I would feel like I’m losing passion for it. Whereas, you know, that feeling of being discouraged, is not something like, there wasn’t anything wrong with that. I don’t think I was losing passion for the thing that I was doing. It was just like, I hated failing. So I would fail once or twice, and then I would move on to something else. And as that, you know, you starting that journey, and you run into the first obstacle, and you choose another journey to go on. And you never finish anything, or you never finish anything really significant, whatever that may mean to you. So yeah, for me, it was that it was once I started failing, I would get really discouraged to continue.


Brett Bartholomew  18:31  

So we think of this now. And we have a wide range of listeners, people that are coaches, managers, business owners, you know, what have you from all over the world. And what they’re hearing, if they’re paying attention, is unintelligent individual that is filled with a lot of conflicting thoughts, strong attention to detail, inherently perfectionistic sometimes can’t get out of their own way. You know, million dollar question is how do you lead somebody like you, you know, if they’re working with somebody like you that they respect, and they admire that person, or maybe they have a friend in their life that, you know, is very gifted, and they’re really struggling to get them to believe in their gifts and ended just hey? Do it. Whatever it is, what are some guiding principles or even thoughts you could give them on? Maybe how to reach somebody like yourself? I know it’s a tough question.


Nikita Emtsov  19:27  

It is. Because you know, people are different. Obviously, there’s going to be a different thing for


Brett Bartholomew  19:32  

sure. Yeah. They understand that it’s general, right. So like, don’t worry, we do enough disclaimers. This is Nikitas views only. But the idea is if we’re just generalizing, looking at the archetypical individual that has gifts, interesting thoughts, but doesn’t believe in themselves to the point where they put it out and they stymie it before it even gets to the you know, the early phase of being integrated and put together. Just what are some things you said you wish for example, your parents would have said, Hey, If you can fail, you’re encouraged failure more like so is that something you would say? Or at the most basic level? What would it be?


Nikita Emtsov  20:07  

Yeah, it is. That’s what that’s what I was thinking actually. What if you’re working with a person like that, who’s who you know is like that, or maybe you found that they’re like that. You have to know that once they fail at something, or I mean, fail is a big word. But if you give them some project or something to work on, and they’re not successful right away, they might not say it to you directly, but they’re probably beating themselves up. one way or another. They might feel they probably do feel like you’ve like they have disappointed you. And that, as a leader, that would be something that I would tell them, hey, this is okay. Like we can, it’s still a work in progress we can it’s fine. The there’s no rush. If you fail that fail today, you know, you’ll be successful tomorrow.


Brett Bartholomew  21:18  

Guys, we’ll get right back to the episode with Nikita in a moment, I hope you’re enjoying this, I want to urge you to take a moment and go to, you guys are going to find the five final dates where I’m going to be running our workshops this year, there are going to be no more other than the ones that are listed there in the United States, UK and Europe. Once you guys open up, we are going to get there ASAP. And we have some things planned. But go to There are super early bird discounts, Early Bird discounts for anybody that’s gone through any of my online courses, you get $180 discount, you can save upwards of 380 to $500. Just by registering early, we’re going to be in Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, and Nashville. And I know some of you are like, well, when are you come into New York or when are you come into California, guys, we have new dates posted all the time. But what I’m telling you is these are the last ones we are going to be doing this year. So I’m going to ask you, yo, when are you going to come over to Boston or Nashville. If there’s something you want to do, and you know, you need to work on it, you will prioritize it. I’m trying to give you a respectful kick in the pants, get to one of these cities, go to and do not miss the opportunity to save money by registering early again, that’s For those of you that are strength coaches, 1.8 CEUs, for those of you that are not, you don’t need to worry about any of that we have people from over 30 different professions attending these, and we can’t wait to help you meet you and work with you.


Nikita Emtsov  23:06  

It’s fine. There’s no rush. If you failed today, you know you’ll be successful tomorrow.


Brett Bartholomew  23:13  

Yeah, I think it can be helpful. And guys, it’s worth revisiting too. And this is something we talked about in episode 105. And Nikita I’d be interested if you know which one you are, but we talked about something called the fraudulent five when it comes to imposter phenomenon and what some people talk about as imposter syndrome. And one of these and everybody can have an amalgamation of them, right? But we have the perfectionist somebody that says this isn’t good enough. You know, I need to set the standard. And I’m not going to put it out until it’s just right. We have the soloists which, hey, if I can’t do this without help, and I’m clearly not as good as I thought I was, I know that I’ve definitely had aspects of that. The visionary is, you know, I can see what needs to be done. I can envision the final project or product, but I just can’t seem to get all the pieces together. Right? These are people that have the grand vision, but they need an integrator for sure. The expert right, like again, it well, if I really knew my stuff, it wouldn’t be that hard. And I think that hits with people that ever tried to write a book, or if anybody even tries to do in a podcast, right? It’s so different. Figuring out how to manage the conversations, right? You can hear a podcast and you know a bad one when you hear it. You know a good one when you hear it but I think sometimes forget that there’s a lot of nuance, right? there are certain podcasts that are more narratives, some that are more conversational, some that are more interview, so I know  that’s frustrated me at times. Then there’s the warrior, right? Everybody’s gonna think I’m a fraud. I’m a phony and all these things, you know, just based off of those five and I’m happy to repeat any of them. Which one do you generally generally most identify with?


Nikita Emtsov  24:50  

Well, I would pick all of them if I could, but most generally, I would identify with the visionary. For sure there’s no shortage of genius. As you know, quote unquote, movies and songs and books that I’ve thought of in my head, that were never, that never saw the light of day, and probably never will, they might, I’m not sure. But yeah, it’s having that grand vision, and really not being sure on how to approach it, how to begin to approach it, and not being satisfied. Like, you know, we get gets all like, it’s baby steps, and all that, but it’s difficult to, you know, to take those little steps and still be stay on track and being satisfied with that sort of pace.


Brett Bartholomew  25:44  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think the thing that when I think of this, and I think of advice I would have given myself or these people that generally go through this is, listen, I mean, that you’re gonna bite a bullet one way or another. And it’s why they say that, you know, the place with the greatest wealth in the world, is a graveyard, because that’s where people lie that, you know, there’s songs that weren’t sung movies that weren’t made businesses that weren’t started advice, it wasn’t given. And so I think, either think, Hey, I’m gonna put something out, I’m gonna deal with this, and I’m gonna move on, or I’m gonna take a new job, or I’m gonna do whatever. And I’m going to take some heat from that, and that’s okay. Or, you know, I could lay in bed one night and realize about all the things that I didn’t do, I think, also people just forget this idea of a version 1.0. And they tend to forget that, you know, it’s pretty straightforward. There’s a reason all of our phones and our computers continually update, you know, because they’re not finished products when they’re released. And, you know, it goes into something I know, that you put on your Instagram before is where there’s a journey there sacrifice. And that’s where I want to kind of transition a little bit is you talked about journeys. And you’ve always been pretty fascinated with storytelling, I think, the more I’ve gotten to know you, the more a lot of that stuff gravitates or your interests gravitate to storytelling, the narratives we say. So, you know, these are tied in because you’re, we tend to think we’re all the main protagonists of our own story. Yet, really, we’re the antagonists in many ways. So why storytelling? Where did you gravitate towards this? How does this relate in any way to what you’re doing now? And, yeah, any insights on those pieces that might be helpful?


Nikita Emtsov  27:18  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, seeing my life as a story, helps me come to terms with failure, for sure that I think that’s the main element. I almost see it as like, if you know, the hero’s journey, it’s, like a circle and it’s divided horizontally. Then the first the top part is, the unknown world where you are right now. And the bottom part is the unknown world. And it’s where all the challenges lie, it’s where you are venturing to discover something new and to change and to transform in one way or another. And I almost see it as like, you have a certain goal. And maybe you’re trying to lose weight, let’s say, and you lose that weight. And then you plateau, and you try to take the journey again, but you know, it stops working for you, and almost see it as like I call it an artifact. So once you defeat that, sort of a demon or a dragon, or you lose that weight, you see something shining in the grass or in the soil, and you pick it up. And it’s a strange object that you don’t really know the purpose of. And you’d take it home with you take it back to your home from the unknown world to the unknown world. And that artifact that represents to me something that you haven’t tackled on your first trip on your first journey. It’s something that sets you up for a sequel. And we all love sequels. Right? That’s what makes the story interesting. So the next on the next step of the journey, you’re going to discover the meaning of that. So maybe, to give you an example, maybe you exercise consistently, you lost the weight, but you didn’t really grow any muscle. So that was the thing that is not completely clear to you how to do and that the artifact represents that so that sets you up for a sequel maybe on the next trip, you’re going to figure that out. And then you find something else that you haven’t understood completely yet but you were excited to discover and you take it back with you again, and you keep going through those journeys. And you have to find it has to be a conscious thing. If you’re not consciously, seeking something out that you want to bring back with you that you don’t completely understand, then you’re not going to do that. Probably. So you have to seek something else you have to seek. Look for that shining object in the grass too. Take it back with you. That’s what makes life interesting, you know, things that you haven’t discovered on your journeys rather than, you know, rather than going through your journeys in a perfect way, and, you know, losing the weight and growing the muscle. And, yeah,


Brett Bartholomew  30:16  

but that’s where I push back on you Nikita of thinking, Where the hell was that advice when you’re talking to the audience about how to deal with somebody like you, you know, are perfectionist, right? Like that alliterative device, you know, where is that because it goes hand in hand with something that I posted today. And it’s a card to which I know you’ll appreciate because you’re tremendously skilled at graphics, if anybody’s ever looking for any kind of graphic design help or your presentation suck, definitely reach out to Nikita, but we’ll talk about that towards the end. But you know, the post has a pill bottle, and it’s straightforward, right? It says hard to swallow pills. And the hardest swallow pills, that true expertise doesn’t come without experiencing numerous failures. That’s just how that is, right? Like, you can’t social media yourself to success, you can’t fake your way to success long term, somebody’s gonna find out at some point, everybody’s going to have to put skin in the game they are, they’re gonna have to put skin in the game proactively, they’re gonna have to put skin in the game reactively. And you’re going to have to put your work out there for the world to criticize or tear down. And those who don’t do shouldn’t teach. And that’s a push back on something that I heard a lot of, well, those who can’t do teach, and I’m like, What an awful phrase, right? Because you don’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to have all the answers, but you do have to be willing to grow. So why not use that same advice that you just gave, or that example of the hero’s journey, hey, you’ve got to find you’re gonna go through some ups and downs, you got to look for some artifact, something that is going to help that inciting incident and whatever is holding you back in life, or whatever’s put you in this tough situation. It’s gonna help remove that, or it’s going to help bring new light to that thing. Why is it still so hard for you, as somebody that researches stories so much to you still get past some of your own stuff? What’s still in the way?


Nikita Emtsov  32:04  

Well, it’s because I am fascinated with all that stuff. Because it’s hard for me. You know, it’s that thing I have posted on my Instagram as well. And I use it with my clients. Sometimes that phrase, it’s because not despite, I don’t, I’m not fascinated with those things. I don’t practice those things. You know, despite? You know, despite being not good at them, I practice them because I’m not very good at them.


Brett Bartholomew  32:40  

Sure. Yeah, no, I can appreciate that. You know, so, is that how, you know, if somebody’s listening to this, and they’re like, alright, this sounds interesting, but like, What do you mean? How do I find my story? You know, what is that? What does that mean? How would you explain that? How would you explain people find their story, if somebody’s listening in their car, they’re halfway trying to figure out when they need to turn, you know, and they still want to listen to you, and they want to take something actionable away from this, you know, what advice you’re given them to find in your story? Like, how would you coach them to do that?


Nikita Emtsov  33:14  

I would say start noticing those little stories play out in your daily life. Even with that, you know, you inviting me to be on the podcast is, very much a hero’s journey. For me, it started when you invited me. So that started in my mind, you know, I started preparing for that mentally. And right now, I’m, you know, you better be sure I’m fighting the dragon. You know, I had to prepare for the journey, I had to tell myself that. No, I’m going to forget something. I’m going to forget my words. I’m going to forget to say something that I really want to say, I’m going to be frustrated with myself, I’m going to sweat bullets. But I’m going to go through that it’s not going to be perfect. But I’m going to go through that and I’m going to take away something from that and that artifact that I haven’t really you know, maybe I haven’t tackled with you during that discussion. Maybe I bring it up on my Instagram, on my social media once I figure out what it is and I’ll continue that discussion but with my  audience on Instagram. 


So yeah, it can be the those really mundane things that I can’t even say we are recording this podcast. We were supposed to record it a month ago. But then you got the flu, so we’ve had to cancel it and oh, man, that first time that first day leading up to our call that eventually got canceled. I was so nervous. I was so freaked out. I prepared and prepared, I had 1000s of words of notes on my computer, I was so ready. And when, you guys texted me that it’s not going to happen. I was like, such a mixed bag of emotions. So it was like, I was relieved. And I was disappointed. And it was so interesting. So today, I wasn’t, you know, I was still nervous leading up, to our discussion, but I was not as nervous as before, because I’ve gone through that journey already. Do you have to look for, those journeys the way they play out in your daily life. And every, you know, if you use Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, sort of template, that circle, every journey starts with a call to adventure something, you know, you get excited about something, you want to tackle something in your life, maybe it’s a project, maybe something else. And the call to adventure is usually followed by a refusal of call, maybe you feel doubt that you have what it takes to do that. But then, you know, you might give up on that from that point, or you might proceed. And then you venture into that unknown world and you start facing challenges, and then you tackle the biggest project, the dragon, and you, and then you come back to your present world. And you share your story with others. So they can take something away from that. So it can even be something like if I tell you to, not you, but you know someone in the audience, and they can tell you do 10 Push Ups right now. So try and be aware of what of the thoughts that come into your head. As I say that, you some of you are probably thinking, Well, I’m not going to do that. That’s just not something that I’m interested in doing right now. So that’s the refusal of call. And some people may say, okay, yeah, I’ll,do that. And so you go through that journey. And those 10 Push ups are the dragon. And then you maybe you take something away from it, maybe not so but that’s a journey as well.


Brett Bartholomew  37:24  

So I think about this, within the context of that just to gain more clarity, you know, I have to write probably about 10 to 12 pages tonight, I have a methods and Methodology section for my doctorate. Right. So what you’re telling me is, when I’m doing that, or when I sit down to think about the things that are in my head, well, what’s in my head is I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to sit down, I’d rather be running the workshops, then constantly writing about the underpinning framework, or I’d rather be talking about the underpinning framework as opposed to sitting down, you know, in a stationary sense. So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying when you’re doing anything, right, like, pick out key moments and think about or reflect about what you’re thinking about in those key moments. It sounds like what you’re talking about a little bit, is just being mindful or being present. Am I misinterpreting?


Nikita Emtsov  38:10  

No, that’s correct. And, yeah, if that journey means something to you, if it’s really meaningful, then you’re going to have to be mindful of all those things that you’re going to encounter on the journey.


Brett Bartholomew  38:23  

So you know what, like,  if you think about it from a communication standpoint, right, we tend to think about our messages and the messages we try to get across. Well, just like a story, they’ve got to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Here’s what I want to say, this is where it’s taking the conversation, and at some point, some conversation has to come to a conclusion. Now some people are able to do that better through words, some people are able to do that better through imagery, some people are able to do that through another medium. How do you feel you are best able to channel the way you communicate? Right? Do you feel like it’s a verbal strength? Do you feel like it’s more pictorial? What is your preferred way of communicating given everything that we’ve talked about the constraints you face? And the dabbling? You’ve done?


Nikita Emtsov  39:10  

Yeah, it’s always been mostly the written words for me. I know you hate email, but I’m here to say that I love email.


Brett Bartholomew  39:18  

Yes, okay. You don’t have to love or hate the same things I love or hate. That’s perfectly fine.


Nikita Emtsov  39:23  

So yeah, I really love that. I really love that. I can express all my thoughts on in several paragraphs. So yeah, the written words. I’ve always been good at that. But verbally, it’s yeah, it’s been difficult. We discussed that on the AOC Channels app that I’m part of discuss it with Ali and Stephanie Seeley. I remember when I first came to Canada obviously It was the first time I was being exposed to native English speakers.


Brett Bartholomew  40:04  

And real quick sorry, Nikita, why did you come to to Canada because our audience doesn’t have that information. And it’s something I’d love to be refreshed on in general, they heard that you grew up in Russia, what have you, but why Canada? Where did that trek occur?


Nikita Emtsov  40:18  

So I moved here with my parents, they decided to, emigrate. And part of it was because of the safety situation in Russia at the time. Not to get off track, but I can remember one particular story from my childhood that was probably a one of the major reasons why we moved. So it was I was 10 years old. It was 1999. And it was early in the morning, I was just laying in my bed that was sleeping. And I remember waking up and I see this. I look up at the ceiling, I see the curtain, the window curtain, just floating, sort of parallel to the ceiling. And it’s like it’s floating in slow motion. And I Still remember that image in my head. And the next thing I know, my mother runs into my room, she grabs me, she puts me under the doorframe, because we’ve been told that when an earthquake happens, we have to stand under the doorframe. So nothing drops on you from above. But it wasn’t a an earthquake. So I was so confused. I was just asking my mom, but, what happened? And she was like, we’ve been bombed. It was a terrorist attack. 


Brett Bartholomew  41:47  

So the so the curtain had been because of the force of the explosion, and the concomitant wind or Blauer, you know, gust whatever from it. That’s what had caused it to blow parallel. Am I understanding


Nikita Emtsov  42:01  

that’s just what I remember. So, yeah, then I see glass everywhere, the window frame kind of torn off that with the concrete from where it used to be, and the doors are broken, and things like that, and we will run to the street. And everybody is standing there. Not sure what happened. So confused as because it was a scary moment. 


Brett Bartholomew  42:33  

How old were you? This was a terrorist act that occurred? How old were you? 


Nikita Emtsov  42:38  

I was 10. 


Brett Bartholomew  42:39  

And is this something that you’re I imagine your parents, so I have to remember this clear as day?


Nikita Emtsov  42:44  

Yeah. When I was home with my mother, my father was working out of town at that moment, so there was no, I have to, I don’t think I’ve asked him like what was running through his head on the I think he heard on the radio that there was an explosion, and he rushed back to us, I think it was there for like an hour.


Brett Bartholomew  43:05  

So then, I mean, this is a lot to process. Right. So I didn’t know about you as well. So how long? You know, after that, did you decide to move to Canada? And then more importantly, I mean, was this just a quick decision? Like, hey, you were out? I mean, did you have to, I couldn’t imagine that was a cheap thing to do. I mean, your family had jobs. There are people right now that have tremendous difficulty finding jobs, you know, just coming out of a pandemic, how do they even search a job? You know, or did he work for a large company that had it was a conglomerate and an aspect of it in in Canada? How did that just seems like a lot? How did that get managed?


Nikita Emtsov  43:41  

Yeah, no, not at all. My mother wasn’t working. My father was he was just selling stuff. At the time. He was just kind of


Brett Bartholomew  43:50  

What kind of  stuff. 


Nikita Emtsov  43:52  

He was selling bikes and rugs, and whatever he could 


Brett Bartholomew  43:55  

So just hustling, like selling whatever he could. 


Nikita Emtsov  43:57  

It was Russia in the 90s. 


Brett Bartholomew  43:59  

He was Russian and like what we see okay, like in the st with Val Kilmer. There was a cold fusion that he was selling it was. So then he just decided we can pick this up and go to Canada and do the same thing. Why can’t it be?


Nikita Emtsov  44:12  

He was selling his car, I think it was a couple years after the explosion, and he was selling his car to this guy, and they got to talking and this guy mentioned that he was moving to Canada with his family. And that’s when my father started to think about oh, that’s actually possible. This guy is doing a so let’s see where that takes us. And it took a long time for us. It took I think six years for the whole process to come to fruition.


Brett Bartholomew  44:14  

So then picking back up to the original question and thanks for going deep there. I can’t believe you were gonna leave that out. You punk. You know, you’re talking about preferred communication methods and you love email and the written word and when you had first immigrated to Canada And then you know that’s where we went. So go ahead.


Nikita Emtsov  45:03  

Yeah. So when I first came to Canada, I was I couldn’t really speak the language really, I wasn’t fluent. So I remember being very controlling about my accent and the way I sounded when I did speak. And I remember people, like native English speakers commenting on that, they didn’t really hear any accent from me, because I really try to sound Canadian sound like a native speaker, because I wanted to fit in. I couldn’t speak fluently. So I tried to speak with a perfect accent. And with time, as I kind of learned to speak without thinking too much about it. And I started understanding people what they were saying to me. I remember starting letting go of that control over my accent or the way I sounded. And right now, I mean, you could say that, it was pretty clear, I have a Russian accent or European accent. But at that point, I no longer cared how it sounded, because I was able to express my personality, you know, the way it is from just through speaking to people in discussions, and I was able to understand everybody, so I let go of that control. And I forget what we were talking about, but I think a lot of those things is that it’s about learning to let go of control when you have to let go of it. And even with that podcast I mentioned, you know, the first time I’ve had probably over prepared my notes. And that got me really anxious, I didn’t want to leave anything out. But yesterday, as I was thinking about out talk, I remember consciously letting go of that control a little bit, and just allowing myself to be myself and just to have a discussion with you. And that, just made me smile, as I was thinking about it. And it got me relaxed and got me excited about, you know, this opportunity to tell my stories to the world and maybe help people through, you know, talking about my experiences. And it’s like restrictive dieting, you know, people restrict their diet so much, they hold that control, they hold it, they hold it, they hold it, and, their grip gets so tired. So they have to let go of it completely. And their arms are so tired at that point from holding that control, that they no longer can hold any sort of control. So it’s like it’s finding that happy medium of control. Not being perfect all the time. But being good enough, consistently, that makes a difference to me and my projects and  the way I think about the way I live my life.


Brett Bartholomew  47:58  

Yeah, and you mentioned control, I think it’d be interesting to get your take on what role you think that plays in perfectionism. Because to me, that’s a very clear correlation, right? And I wonder if sometimes people, they say, you know, I’m perfectionistic? or what have you, it’s really, they’re putting a different term on somebody, maybe they have trouble relinquishing control. And, you know, we know that that can be a self esteem issue. We know that it can be a number of things. But what would you say to those folks that again, you right now there, and I think if you want me to give you a case study, and I’ll change your name, let’s say your name is Bridget, but I’m looking at it literally right now, as I’m talking to you, right. And she’s talking about how she has six kids at home. And her time is incredibly limited. And she needs to be strategic on how she does anything. And so it’s hard enough to gain focus in general with six kids at home. I mean, can you imagine, but she’s got work that she wants to do. She’s got contributions she wants to make. And you know, I’m not asking you to give advice on parenting, I’m not asking you to give advice on her business. I am asking you just something you would say to a Bridget or a Tommy or anybody a Bjorn, whoever it is that is saying that conditions are not right. The conditions are not right. Therefore I cannot create. What would you say to that person? What would be a strong coaching moment, or soundbite you would say to that individual who thinks there is going to be this time? Or maybe or maybe he doesn’t think there’s going to be but maybe is hoping and waiting for it? What would you say to him?


Nikita Emtsov  49:35  

I would say take stock of things that you’re trying to control that you really cannot take stock of things that you can control and should maybe control more. And see if you pick one thing and see if you can let go of controlling that a little bit and see if anything changes or anything horrible happens. Yeah, I mean, that’s what I would say to them. 


Brett Bartholomew  50:06  

Yeah. Listen, I think that might be the message that they need to hear. You know, Nikita, I want to make sure and point people towards the many things that you do. And I’ll be you know, I’ll be transparent, I think that it’s and for those of you listening, and we get asked this a lot is, oh, hey, how do you do some of your graphics or what have you, you know, so much of what we do is in house, but Nikita has been kind enough to come on through a mentoring capacity and some things that we’ve helped him with and things that he helps us with. He is tremendously skilled at graphic design. And, you know, this has kind of been an unexpected thing for you, right? Like you first came over to Canada, and you had, what was your day job? What was the main job that you did before you got into anything fitness related And whatever else? Could you give us some insight there before I go on and give more context in what I’m saying?


Nikita Emtsov  51:00  

Yeah, I’ve been doing that day job for 13 years, I think no I work in television broadcasting in the master control room. So if you imagine like a 1000s of screens in front of you, and you put up commercials and things like that you control the quality of the broadcast. That’s what I do.


Brett Bartholomew  51:21  

Great. So if people have seen and thank you for going into that because it’s gonna highlight if people have seen the dark night, you’re basically Morgan Freeman’s character standing in front of all those screens. But then you dabbled in some fitness stuff. And really, you found a lot of strength in graphic design. I know, I’ve recommended a lot of people to you, what have you. How did that come to be? And if other people listening right now are like, damn, you know, I would pay this guy for a little bit of help with graphic design, whether that’s my presentations, or whether that’s some other stuff. How can people find you? How can they support you? What’s the best way they can even do that?


Nikita Emtsov  51:54  

Sure. Yeah. if I can talk about this. 


Brett Bartholomew  51:58  

Yeah, do it. Definitely. 


Nikita Emtsov  51:59  

Yeah. So it’s a funny thing with me with graphic design, and it might help some people as well. When I came to Canada, I really wanted to be just study acting. But like I mentioned before, I couldn’t really speak the language fluently. So I kind of opened the book from the college that I was probably going to go to, and I just picked the first creative thing that I could find. I never had a passion for graphic design, I never got anything like that. I didn’t have a proclivity to, like art, and stuff. But I just picked that because it sounded creative, it sounded interesting. And I did that. I studied that for a couple of years. And then I quit because my heart just wasn’t in it. But then throughout the next decade or so, I just kept doing graphic design here and there for my other projects, like for my filmmaking, or for my friends, projects, and things like that, doing posters and greeting cards or whatever. And it’s almost like I accidentally became good at it. Just from practicing it, and now, it’s like this unconscious competence. And I don’t even have to think about it. I just, I can just relax on my couch and watch a movie. That’s to give you a glimpse of, that process. That’s how 


Brett Bartholomew  53:26  

It’s a troubling glimpse. It’s a troubling glimpse. So then where can people like how do people reach out to you for this? How can they contact you for this?


Nikita Emtsov  53:33  

They can just reach out to me on my instagram. It’s Nick Emstov N I C K E M T S O V. Yeah, that’s my main social media profile, and they can just DM me


Brett Bartholomew  53:44  

perfect. And we’ll make sure to put that in, the show notes. Nikita, I know that this is a huge step out of your comfort zone. I know that, you know, I screwed you up the first time getting sick. My apologies. Really, you know, we’ll just play the blame game. I’ll blame my son. I think I’ve been sick about 30 times this year. We’re normally I get sick maybe once a year. But it’s the daycare stuff. It’s always fun. But I couldn’t be more grateful for you coming on and baring your soul and allow me to jab you a little bit at the end of the day, man this is relatable and there’s a lot of people that are gonna listen to this and deeply appreciate your transparency. So you know, thank you and I want to give you the final word.


Nikita Emtsov  54:26  

No, thank you. I really appreciate you having me on and then just mentoring me through the coalition and being a good friend and a mentor to throughout these couple of years. It’s really been a life changing experience and I hope we can meet in person again. Soon once the borders reopen, and we can just hang up.


Brett Bartholomew  54:49  

No question. Well, guys, until next time, Brett Bartholomew, Nikita Emstov and the art of coaching podcast. Please if this or any episode has helped you whatsoever leave a review on iTunes. We depend on them. We are a small business trying to do good. Tell a friend share it with five people. Reach out to our guests, show them your support. We appreciate you listening and we will talk to you soon

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