October 3, 2023
Four Years After Moving to Canada's Largest City, I Returned to My Village in Deep Russia to Meet With Students. I Left a Changed Man.
For the first time in four years, I walked into the school where I had spent 11 formative years of my life to share my journey and insights on finding a good job with the next generation of graduates. Little did I know that this trip had stored something profound to teach me in turn. In this blog post, I share my experience and how it impacted me as an art director and as a person.
Andrew Reutsky speaking at an organized event on the first day of school with over 100 anticipated graduates in attendance
Перевести на Русский

our years after moving to Toronto to make waves in the advertising industry, he returned to inspire students facing ge

After travelling for 36 hours, I was finally arriving in Ust-Kuda, a small village of about 2,000 people in the middle of Siberia. And as the plane descended over the vast Siberian expanses, a whirlwind of memories engulfed me.

Four years ago, I embarked on a life-changing journey in the opposite direction, from this village to Toronto, the largest city in Canada. I was chasing dreams in the realm of advertising, and the journey has been nothing short of transformative. From studying at Humber College to becoming an Art Director at Leo Burnett, I’ve been fortunate to live a life I once only dreamt of. Now, I was excited to be back, although only for a week.

I came on the first day of school to speak about my recently published paper about starting a successful creative career, which is now available in Russian. During the talk, I shared my experiences as an art director and offered insights on how to find a great first job to over 100 anticipated graduates. I discussed the importance of pursuing what you’re passionate about if given the opportunity. I gave practical advice and shared how Canadian education taught me to work for the result, not the grades. The lecture was well-accepted, but what truly touched me came afterward. 
Andrew Reutsky, Award-Winning Art Director and Author, Shares the Steps to Starting a Successful Career with More Than 100 Anticipated Graduates

our years after moving to Toronto to make waves in the advertising industry, he returned to inspire students facing ge

As the applause died down and the room began to empty, a small group of students approached me. Their eyes were filled with a mixture of hope and curiosity, a stark contrast to the weight of the challenges they face daily. One young woman, her voice tinged with nervous excitement, asked, “How do you stay motivated when everything around you seems to be falling apart?” Another student, a young man with a quiet intensity, inquired, “What was the role your family played in your professional success?” “Immeasurable,” I answered.

As I looked into their eyes, I could see the flicker of dreams yet unfulfilled. They weren’t just listening; they were absorbing, contemplating, and perhaps seeing in my journey a glimmer of what could be possible for them.

Yet, here they were—undaunted and unbroken. Their resilience wasn’t just inspiring; it was a revelation.”

Russia is grappling with the harshest global sanctions in history.1 Prices are soaring, and wages are stagnant, leading to a deteriorating quality of life, especially for those already underprivileged. Yet, here they were—undaunted and unbroken. Their resilience wasn’t just inspiring; it was a revelation. In a country burdened by the biggest war since World War 2, sanctions, and unprecedented international pressures, these young minds were undefeated. They were looking forward, planning, and dreaming big. Their resilience left an indelible mark on me.

And as I boarded the plane back to Toronto, I realized that my perspective on life and success had shifted. I began to see success not just in terms of financial gain or career achievements but also in terms of impact and contribution to society. I realized that the key to a fulfilling life is not just about what you can achieve for yourself but also what you can do to make a positive impact on others.


In the grand tapestry of life, we are all both teachers and students. Sometimes, the most profound lessons come when you least expect them, from places and people you’d least expect. This trip was a poignant reminder of that universal truth, and it has forever changed how I view success, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit.

Write to Andrew Reutsky at andrew@reutsky.com

¹The EU has imposed massive and unprecedented sanctions against Russia in response to the war of aggression against Ukraine, started on 24 February 2022, and the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. The United States has imposed thousands of sanctions against Russia. The sanctions are intended to isolate Russia from the global financial system, reduce the profitability of its energy sector, and blunt its military edge.