A Rebel’s Dance With Dmitriy Kozlov
Dmitriy Kozlov was 13 years old and tired of being rejected. For years, this young immigrant from Soviet Russia felt the sting of abandonment and rejection from one person after another.
Bullied in school, dismissed by teachers, without a father in his life and unable to lean on his ever-busy single mother for emotional support, young Dmitriy gave in to his anger and began a dance with rebellion, swaying with that dance through dangerous times, self-discovery, and ultimately on to a new stage of success.
Desperate to belong somewhere – anywhere – Dmitriy joined a gang. For a while, he felt like he was part of a community, albeit a dangerous one. “They got me into a lot of trouble,” says Dmitriy, “but they gave me a sense of belonging.”
That sense of belonging didn’t last long. One day, his own gang turned on him, leaving young Dmitriy close to death. When authorities ignored his pleas for help, Dmitriy realized no one believed he was worthy of much. The realization ignited something within him.
“My rebellious nature said ‘Screw this. I’m better than this.”
Turning his pain into purpose, Dmitriy focused on proving everyone wrong about him.
In the midst of his tumultuous years, he’d found refuge in the creative outlet of rap music. He’d even gone as far as recording and releasing his own demo album. Now, the artist in him joined with the rebel, composing new lyrics for his life’s dance;
“The more you all try to break me, the stronger I get.”
This defiant streak has always been Dmitriy’s dance partner. Sometimes he leads it, sometimes it leads him. He’s well aware of its presence, having gone to extreme lengths to peel away his life’s layers and reveal his driving forces.
When Dmitriy leads the dance, his defiant, rebellious streak is brilliantly on-point. For instance, when a kennel owner was the only one who would offer him a job before the age of 14, Dmitriy turned his rebellious streak right back around, on to himself. “I was scared to death of dogs,” he remembers, “but I grew to love them.” He worked that job for five years, mastering his fear and channeling the sensation of conquering that obstacle.
His near-death experience was a defining moment in his life. Until then, he’d come to accept the notion that the dangerous gang community would be the only community he’d ever belong to. But when that was ripped out from underneath him, he was forced to find a new stage for the next act in his life.
Dmitriy choreographed a new dance for this next act, unleashing his inner rebel to perform. This time, it was a passionate blend of positive purpose fueled by all of his life’s experiences.
Every upset was turned into a lesson. Each drop of pain was turned into a new beat for success. Rather than dwell on the absence of emotional support at home, he accepted this as a blessing in disguise, as it afforded him the opportunity to learn self-reliance and develop a stronger sense of maturity than his peers.
The stark contrast of life in Soviet Russia with its limited possibilities and extreme hardships were used as a reminder of all the potential left available to him in this country. The rejection of his peers and the festering wounds that left were used as a calling to him to create a community of his own, offering others the acceptance he’d longed for.
Slowly, Dmitriy Kozlov turned his life around.
Step by step, he proved all his Doubters wrong, earning top grades, maintaining a job, moving on to graduate college with a double major, and constantly seeking to surround himself with strictly positive influences. Still, he knew there was one more adversary on his path to a fulfilled life – Himself.
Although he was managing his inner rebel, it was still a strong foe. Dmitriy was familiar enough with this side of himself to understand it has the potential for healthy and unhealthy outlets. Try as he may, he still struggled to master this trait and harness it for healthy outlets.
This need took him to Peru, where he stepped into a 10-day experience he credits as being a “Purpose Accelerator.”
Dmitriy joined a small group of ten entrepreneurs on a voyage into inner discovery. They sat down with a Shaman and dove into this experience. Unlike the rest of his group, Dmitriy was already clear on his purpose of helping others find their own voice. He simply needed to find a way to accelerate this in the world.
Deep in Peru, Dmitry embraced the opportunity to address his old patterns and expose all of his wounds, so that he may finally and fully heal them. “Our wounds are beautiful things because they can create places where the light shines through,“ he realized.
It was an intense process and he committed wholly to it.
The outcome liberated him from the pain and unhealthy patterns of his past that had still been clinging to him. Unencumbered by these burdens, Dmitriy renewed his dance with a lighter step and a clearer focus.
Now, Dmitriy still allows his rebellious streak to take the lead – but he makes sure he choreographs the dance.
He’s not yet 30 years old, and he’s co-created a group for highly accomplished young entrepreneurs called Maverick NEXT with Yanik Silver. He’s also joined several high level masterminds, including an exclusive trip to Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson.
Inspired by the influence of such extraordinary company, Dmitriy Kozlov resolved to offer others similar opportunities.
He’s created several communities of his own for young entrepreneurs to encourage, support and learn from each other in events packed with opportunities for self-discovery and growth. Nagged by the reminder of helplessness associated with the feeling of not having a voice, he’s developed Influex (Influence +Expression) personal branding websites for a range of wildly successful people. Then he took it a step further.
The power of expression is something Dmitriy places a high value on. For him, it was a game-changer, allowing him to reach and impact people across the country. Now he’s opened that expressive platform up to Influencers with like minds, having successfully completed a campaign to launch professionally branded sites for 25 of these Influencers.
He also maximized this impact by combining proceeds from those sites with matched donations from Influex, to create Vision Village in East Africa. Together with Village Enterprise, Influex created a unique village of homes and entrepreneurial opportunities that will lift approximately 1000 people out of poverty through these entrepreneurial outlets.
Dmitriy is dedicated to his work and his mission. He’s also reignited a once-snuffed flame for the spoken word. In his teenage years, he expressed this love in the form of angry rap music. Today, he’s found a positive outlet for that artistic flair via spoken word performances based on his own experiences.
Dmitriy Kozlov is setting his life’s stage on fire with his own rebel’s dance.
It requires a rebel’s heart to fight through the setbacks he’s had. It requires a defiant soul to step off the predictable and safe path and leap onto the entrepreneurial platform, and it requires a strong will to defy the opportunity to embrace only the pain of his past, rather than the purpose it offered.