Vlad Gîrboan creates terrariums that bring nature to your desk

Vlad Girboan is a Team Leader in the Call Center Department of Yardi. He loves learning as much as coaching although, from what he told me, being a Team Leader is pretty far from his childhood dream job: as a kid, he wanted to be nothing more, nothing less than a hacker. Which means that right now, he could have been looking at 2 really plausible options: working for the FBI or shaming bankers, politicians, and dating sites. But I guess now we’ll never know what path Vlad would have chosen. In fact, it seems like the only computer-related passion he kept is computer games. After realizing that “telling computers what to do got boring”, Vlad focused on psychology and finances and, in his spare time, on creating terrariums, which are beautiful bowls, glasses, and glass pots containing cacti, succulents or just small plants and moss that enliven spaces like our desks and our offices. But I’ll let you find out more about Vlad, terrariums, his life motto, and mentors from Vlad himself.

What would you say is the best part of your job?
I don’t think I could even pin point it down to just one thing. I love the beginning of the day, when I come in and I get to see everyone again, exchange some jokes and then get to work. As a team leader the best part is the success of my agents and of everyone that I help. It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment when things turn out for the best and I was the one who planted the „seed”.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working here? What other job do you see yourself doing?
That’s a good question; well, first of all, entrepreneurship has always been on my mind. I would like to run my own business one day. Other than that, I think I would still enjoy working as a coacher or a consultant on Customer Service for different businesses and help them get better at it. I know that’s one thing that a lot of businesses in Romania need and all of us experience it first-hand.

What is the best type of reward for you?
The „Thank you”-s. But not the ones you receive daily. The „thank you”-s that you get over a phone call 2 years later, from someone that realizes you played an important role in their life. The really deep and honest ones.

Do you have any mentors or people you look up to, or who taught you something? Who? What did they teach you?
I think my mother would be the #1, most important figure for me. She raised me by herself and proved to me time and time again that you can make it in life with dedication and hard work, even if you don’t take shortcuts. If I were to name a few celebrities that have impressed me, Elon Musk and Richard Branson would take the first prize, and neither of them for their financial success.

Now moving on to your hobby, how did you get this idea, of creating terrariums? How did you get started and how is it now?
I always loved nature and biology. I was also fascinated, for as long as I remember, by nature’s ability to balance things around and to recycle everything it uses. At one point I wanted to try to create my own ecosystem and the basic version of that was a corner of nature trapped in a jar. Then, after my first rudimental „grass-in-a-jar”, I started reading about this and I made a few more tests, alternating the plants and ratios inside. Eventually after quite a few tries my „jar-of-mud-with-grass” slowly started to turn into a nice desktop centerpiece or a present. The purpose of Living Snapshot and my terrariums is for me to capture a little corner of nature, enclose it in a jar and make it self-sustainable, so that after someone buys it they can just forget it on their furniture and it will „never” die.

What are some of the steps of creating a terrarium?
The good news is that I plan to organize workshops on this in the future and teach anyone interested all the tricks of the trade. But let me try to walk you through the process. It all starts with the container, I try to work as much as possible with unique stuff. The Oser flee market is a great place to get those. The second step would be to gather everything else you need. Now that you know how big your container is, you can go plant-hunting. If you’re looking for something easy and simple, moss would be your best bet. Take a walk around your block and look down. You’ll see moss is almost everywhere; try to gather as many different looking types as you can to increase your chances of actually getting one that will live longer in your terrarium. If you want to go further and try adding ferns you need to go higher (up the mountain) and deeper (in nature) to gather those. When you start filling up your container the golden rule is that 1/3 should be full and 2/3 should be empty. The bottom should always be gravel to help with drainage, second layer over that can be either smaller gravel or sand, followed by a layer of activated charcoal and then a thin layer of soil. If you’re just going to use moss inside, make sure you water the soil before you add the moss and that you firmly press the moss onto the wet soil. Take a lid and put it over your terrarium and leave it for a few days. If you see too much dew on the jar walls, leave it open for a day or two to help it dry out. If there’s no condensation at all, spray a little water over it.
If you try and you fail, try again or contact me for the real deal or maybe a workshop.

And for the last part, I would just like to ask you to give me your two cents on these quotes:

„Get yourself in trouble” – I always do, but that’s how I learn. Just say “Mischief managed” when you’re done.

„The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” That is the biggest pleasure indeed, you just have to be sure that you DO know better than those “people”. Otherwise, if they’re right, it’s going to be their second biggest pleasure to tell you “I told you so”.

„My work is my life” – I never did and never will agree to this one. We all need to work to pay for our life, but the two should never coincide.

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