It’s impossible. You need to decide what is important right now. So priority and patience are probably the best two things and I would like someone to tell me earlier and explain that again and again. Until I will memorize it and remind myself that maybe the last last thing that I will add over here to those two things I started with was patience, then priority, and then time.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Max Simonovsky of SOAPY.
Inspired by his son, Max leveraged his medical background and inventor’s spirit to create SOAPY and become a change agent for good. A true visionary, Max lives five years in the future and pushes Soapy to constantly innovate and to operate with purpose.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
The thing that drove me to my specific career path was my son, who is eight years old. We came back from the playground and when we entered our home, he told me that he finds washing hands pointless. I was surprised, especially myself coming from a medical background.We already had the hygenic discussion and he even had some habits structure on a proper hygiene, and suddenly everything disappeared. My first response was what happened? And he replied that he always tried to wash but there was no water in the faucet (in a time where our street stopped the water system for maintenance). And because there was no water, he decided how important could water be?. And that means that washing hands is not important. Drinking is not important. Even taking a shower is not important.
I was shocked by that. Even though our water was off and it was an infrastructure issue, at that specific moment, I started to realize that education is not enough. We need to have solutions or technology, even if it’s basic that can support our regular basic habits, our house and our hand hygiene.
That’s how I started then. Actually, we forgot about it. I forgot about it for up to six months and then after six months, several friends and there kids visited us and we had a discussion of young children and about how we educate our kids to develop good habits for a variety of things education, going to school, homework, hand hygiene, dental hygiene, making showers, you know organizing their rooms, etc. And then my wife remembered this, this thing that happened? And she said well, you know we educated, educated and educated but then something happens that is outside of our control and that breaks in higher structural habits connection, and that specific moment that actually gave me the idea for SOAPY. And coming from a medical science background, I was dealing with high end technologies, I realized that this is actually a problem and maybe using technology we can solve it. That’s how everything started.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One of the most unique stories I have is when we just started.
We thought that our main market was emerging markets, developing countries, companies and countries in South Asia. What was unique was not the installation of our product in a new territory, but was one of the conversations that I had with one of the boys living in the village. This kid was eight years old.
Same age as my son today. He said that he loved the smell of clean hands so much. And he really loves his mother. So he wanted his father to have the same experience by washing his hands. But as he tries to explain the SOAPY machine and all of its features, his father comes back home late, refusing to and says he smells. The boy mentioned how he loves this small ritual they have before he goes to sleep and wanted to know how he could convince his father to do the same. For me this is an emotional experience, especially seeing how technology can empower kids and how technology can help children.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We messed up a lot of things. But I think one of the main things that I have right now is whatever, whatever plan you have, well, it will never go as you think it will.
You’ll never be ready 100% of the time. You know? There is always so much happening in any market, field, or industry. If I need to point into a specific story, I’ll probably say hiring people, expecting from them something that you expect from yourself, is not that smart and can be funny, but than be frustrating. But we are unique, each and every one of us. And I think that each one of us has its own capabilities, knowledge, experience, and understanding.Everyone is looking at the same thing a bit differently and expecting my team and my employees to see things the same way that I do, is not helpful.
That is why right now, my team and I have discussions to communicate, learn from each other, and express our different opinions.
I want them to tell me if they think I am doing something wrong with leadership, to ask questions, to say I don’t understand. Please explain that again. I tend to do it. I prefer to not be the smartest person in the room. I prefer to be a person that asks the most questions, just to make sure that we’re standing on the same page.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Soapy is about making the world safer and healthier.
It’s about preventing infections.We believe that preventing a lot of that is focusing on basic human rights and to have proper access.
We actually have reports that in schools where our stations are, has actually resulted in more school attendance.
Better attendance starts with breaking this cycle by using knowledge, empowering children, powering tradition, and empowering people.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I think it’s a bit more than just one specific individual. Of course, my son is a big part of the idea being triggered and he can see how a vision can turn into a dream that can turn into reality. But, also seeing elders, nurses, and people working in Covid units smiling after washing their hands is inspiring.
It’s not about a specific individual. I think it’s about everyone. We have user facing consumer knowledge and we bring change day over day. So unfortunately I do not have a story.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
The last few years, we’ve exposed a lot of challenges we have in our modern society, about the miscommunication of information about the education and dismissing the basic health care. I think we have to have a better understanding that our world is much smaller than it is because things are coming from the other side of this globe. in less than 24 hours. It’s a small globe and we all live on it. We are one, one community, not separate. I think the thing that people can help is to stop disregarding basics that are important for our house.
Stopping illness and disease from spreading.
But in general, we live in a better world than our parents had. We have better medicine. We have better medications. We have a better food system. We have to extend nutrition. We know how to avoid educational problems, and how to prevent ecological problems for our kids.
We are small but we should not forget the basics. So if you see people that are not trusting or understanding medicine, and you do think it’s your responsibility to make sure they know, share your knowledge.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
For me, leadership is conversation. For me, leadership is lifting your team and making sure they grow. When they grow, you grow. When they learn you learn.
It’s not only, you know, being the first in the field and as I said that’s of course part of it. For me leadership is also building others and helping people become better.
For me, leadership is being a parent and having your children become better than myself.
It’s you know, being responsible for any things, yours or you keep being honest and transparent
For me, leadership is probably what my father was for me and my mother as well. And my grandmother. It’s being responsible for what you’re doing.
And taking back responsibility, honesty and showing example, I think that leadership if I can summarize that in just one word is “example”
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
There are so many things I could say for this answer, but the most important thing is patience. It’s really about understanding everything takes time, and that the stakes are part of the journey. And the stakes help you to become better.
And you need to be patient with your colleagues and their mistakes. You need to be patient with your customer mistakes, and no customers are not always right. But even when they are wrong, it’s our responsibility to make it better and to solve the challenges. It’s about being patient with yourself.
You can’t do everything at the same time. It’s impossible. You need to decide what is important right now. So priority and patience are probably the best two things and I would like someone to tell me earlier and explain that again and again. Until I will memorize it and remind myself that maybe the last last thing that I will add over here to those two things I started with was patience, then priority, and then time.
Everything takes time. Maturity, X time, product improvements, knowledge and development. Whatever time you think it is it will make for whatever timeline you have, it will take more. Everything takes time.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As a businessman, I say, if you can share information about someone’s company, it will be very helpful. I’ll be very happy. We have a lot of info that we share and we want you to do the same.
Businessmen want comments, feedback, and opinions on their product or service. We want to know that our mission makes sense. Let us know what you think and we will learn about it. We have to prove what we are doing is important and credible.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If your plan is for one year, plant rice; if your plan is for ten years, plant trees; if your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would probably go with any of these people
1. Mat Diamond and Water Org.
2. Guy Kawasaki
3. Elon Musk
4. Ryan Reynolds
Because they are all such inspiring men from all different backgrounds and industries.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Max Simonovsky of Soapy Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.