Hayk Vardanyan: get involved in projects in Armenia
Read the new interview with Hayk Vardanyan who is the founder of Network Nations podcast where he interviews people who contribute to Armenia.
Repat Armenia: Please tell us about yourself
Hayk Vardanyan: I am a digital nomad who splits his time between Germany and Armenia, but also travels frequently. I grew up in Armenia and studied physics at Yerevan State University. After completing my PhD and postdoctoral studies in Germany, I switched to the IT industry to work in a more dynamic environment and have the freedom to travel and visit my home country whenever I want. Working remotely was already a big part of my life before the pandemic hit.
RA: Did you always follow the news in Armenia when you lived in Germany? Who or what media exactly were you following?
HV: You can take an Armenian out of Armenia, but you can't take Armenia out of the Armenian. I am no exception. The thoughts, emotions, and attention of most of us are primarily drawn to our home country, wherever we live. To stay updated, I followed traditional media sources like Armenian news websites and YouTube channels, as well as social media influencers and bloggers.
RA: Have you finally moved to Armenia? What challenges do you have right now?
HV: I am a part-time repatriate :) I spend more time in Armenia than I used to, but I still travel often and return to Germany regularly. My biggest challenge is to remain productive and take care of my physical and mental health while traveling. This is easier said than done and requires a lot of energy and effort.
RA: You started the Network Nations podcast. How did you get this idea? What problems does it solve?
HV: I started the Podcast after the war in 2020 while I was in Germany, looking for ways to help Armenia. At that time, I was reaching out to individuals starting social projects, to learn more about what they were doing and how I could contribute. I was then sharing the information with friends so they can contribute too. Eventually, I decided to record the conversations and put them online so that others could also learn about these projects and get involved if they were interested.
RA: What was your first step in starting your Podcast?
HV: I went on Youtube and searched "How to Start a Podcast in 2020" :) I spent a few days researching and learning everything I needed to launch my Podcast. It only took me a few weeks to record and publish the first episode.
RA: How did you choose what to talk about on your Podcast? Who is your audience?
HV: Network Nation is a podcast about Armenian projects worldwide that are contributing to Armenia's development. My goal is to bring together Armenians who are making an impact and amplify the good they're doing.
In each episode, we dive into the mission and vision of different initiatives and the problem they are solving. We also discuss how our listeners can get involved and help make a difference.
Our listeners are mostly middle-aged professionals - half from Armenia and half from the diaspora - who have achieved a certain level of success in their careers and finances and now want to give back to their community.
By the way, if anyone from the Repat Armenia community has ideas for creating a network of Armenians making a positive impact on our country or would like to get involved in the Network Nation project, I would love to hear from you! Let's connect and make this happen together.
RA: Which podcasts/podcasters do you really like and why?
HV: I don't have a regular podcast that I follow, but there are a few that I always check out, and if the guest or the topic is interesting, I listen to them.
1. Huberman's Lab - In this podcast, the host discusses various health topics like sleep, rest, and the immune system by breaking down scientific research in an easy-to-understand way.
2. Lex Fridman Podcast - This podcast features amazing guests with intriguing perspectives.
3. Deep Dive with Ali Abdaal - I enjoy listening to this podcast as Ali delves into topics like productivity, health, wealth, and others that I am interested in too.
RA: Do podcasts have potential in Armenia?
HV: Podcasts have become very popular worldwide in recent years, and they have a great advantage in that guests can express their ideas in a relaxed manner. They have become increasingly widespread worldwide, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be the same in Armenia. Although there are certain challenges that Armenian podcasters need to be aware of, such as the fact that video content is still much more consumed than audio-only content, and that the market is relatively small compared to other countries, but other than that, I think podcasting is a great way to find your audience and build a relationship with them on a personal level.
RA: What tools and processes make up your workflows? What apps, gadgets, or tools you can't live without?
HV: Laptop, Smartphone, Headphones - these are pretty standard, I believe :)
My favorite apps are:
Audible - for audiobooks
Headspace - for meditation
Spotify - for music and podcasts
Notion - for life management
And of course, gg - for getting around in Yerevan :D
I want to add a few words about the Notion app. I have been using Notion for some time as a simple note-taking tool, but it has increasingly become a powerful tool for my entire life management - like my second brain. I keep and organize all my book and project notes and track my weekly, quarterly, and yearly goals in this tool. It has truly been a life-changing experience.
RA: What excites you most about your industry? Where do you see it heading in the near future?
HV: One thing is clear: the future is borderless. Regardless of the industry you represent. Geographical borders have started to play a lesser role since the advent of the internet. With the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people moved to remote work and experienced the benefits of working from anywhere. As we realize this, we'll see the advantages and opportunities this provides us and the problems we can solve globally.
With my Network Nation podcast, I am working on creating a network of Armenians worldwide that have a social impact on our country.
SafetyWing, the company I am part of, has gone even further - we are building a global social safety net and creating the first country on the internet.
Both of these projects are aligned with the same realization that the future is borderless and that problems are no longer local but global.
As a global nation, Armenians have a unique advantage, and now is the perfect time for us to harness the power of our network.
RA: What's your advice to your compatriots thinking of starting an initiative in Armenia and how do you encourage them to do so?
HV: If you're planning to start an initiative in Armenia, take it slow and grow gradually. Don't invest everything into your initiative or rush into repatriation without understanding the reality, and get frustrated because things aren't what you expected.
Get involved in projects that are already happening in Armenia. You can help out as a mentor, tutor, or in any other way. That alone will be a big help for our country.
You can also try working remotely from Armenia first. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing you can always return to your country while getting a better understanding of the local processes.
When you feel comfortable, you can start your own project or repatriate to Armenia. Most importantly, have a clear purpose for starting your initiative or repatriating, as this will guide you through any challenges you may face.
Despite any difficulties, I assure you that the most rewarding part is knowing that you're making a positive impact on people's lives in your home country. Even if it's only a small impact, the experience of making a difference is truly priceless.