The New Russian Business Leaders
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The New Russian Business Leaders

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Stanislav V. Shekshnia, Konstantin Korotov and Elisabeth Florent-Treacy

Based on extensive interviews with the pioneers of Russian business and the authors’ own experiences, this perceptive new book attempts to decipher the enigma of Russia’s new generation of business leaders. The authors present six in-depth case studies focusing on companies of vastly differing sizes, ranging from a newly-privatized operation, and the creation and organization of an oligarch’s empire, to several entrepreneurial start-ups in different service industries. The case studies document the changes and developments that have occurred in Russia since the privatization era of the 1990s, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the emerging business leadership orientations.
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Chapter 9: World Class Heroes for Russia Commentary: Olga Sloutsker, Heroine for a New Russia

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Stanislav V. Shekshnia, Konstantin Korotov and Elisabeth Florent-Treacy


9. World Class heroes for Russia World Class fitness centers have given us the gift of harmony in body and spirit. Before, we used to persuade ourselves that physical appearance is not important, as a human being is made beautiful by rich internal content. That’s right – an internal content makes one beautiful. However, the human body is a home for one’s soul, at least a temporary one. Why then should a beautiful soul waste its time in a house that is falling apart? World Class is the founder of the fitness movement in Russia. It was the first to offer unique fitness and health improvement programs (about 55 in total) that miraculously rid us of everything unnecessary – extra kilos, illnesses, complexes and fears.1 When we first read this description of World Class fitness centers in a Russian magazine, we found it somewhat incredible. ‘Miraculously rid us of everything unnecessary’ … sounds good, sign us up! But seriously, we wondered, what kind of organization is this, and how does it work? The concept of fitness was never a marketable commodity in Communist times. Generations of Russians had grown up accustomed to the Soviet-era exercise experiences. They all had been – at least once – to state-owned sports facilities for the masses. These were inexpensive or even free, but permeated with what was called the ‘Soviet horrors’. They were small, dirty and infested with cockroaches. The fitness machines were cobbled together with whatever parts were available, and placed in tiny rooms without air-conditioning. The swimming...

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