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Today we are going to speak with our friend Lena Miladinovic from Serbia. She is a Woman International Master in chess, an international arbiter, and a FIDE instructor, coach, and CEO of Outpost Chess. The Outpost Chess is a new global platform that connects event organizers, chess clubs, players, arbiters, trainers, and offers a comprehensive hub for tournament organizers where they can find an end to end solution for running their events under one roof. And she won a startup of the year. 

This is Derek from Opening Master, the biggest human quality chess database with 9. 6 million official chess games, sharing the chess wisdom, education, and great stories around the world. Opening Master is a proud supporter and partner of Outpost Chess.

Derek from Opening Master - Lena, your journey in chess has been truly fascinating from being a successful player to becoming an inspiring trainer, arbiter, and now a visionary businesswoman with Outpost Chess. Can you take us back to a specific moment or experience that ignited your passion for chess and made you realize that it would be an integral part of your purpose in life?

Lena from Outpost Chess - Hello Derek, nice to meet you. Well, the first question is, it's not easy to answer it all. So, when did I find out that chess is going to be an integral part of my life?

To be honest, I have no idea because I started to play chess when I was five.  Um, and then I started winning trophies and everything. It was so interesting. And after that,  I started being a trainer and started teaching little kids, which was so interesting.  And I wanted to know more. And then I started, you know, passing tests for arbiters and I become intern international arbiter.

So it was so interesting. And I have no idea when was that moment, but I always knew that I. Don't want to be focused only on one thing. I want to meet everything  So once I meet every single angle in chess,  I started thinking of okay Let's meet the business angle and let's fix the things that chess needs to be fixed like bad connection bad Communication bad representation of us as a players.

I'm having a trouble to find a club. I'm having a trouble to find a tournament  Let's, you know, gather everything together at Outpost Chess and that was like my vision and my idea. Let's help chess people monetize out of their skills. Let's help players find a club. Let's help arbiters find some tournament.

 Let's help trainers and students find each other and eventually let's help tournament organizers to organize their tournaments  on easy, easy, smooth Way because of them we are playing in tournaments and that's what is important. So, uh, that was the aim of, uh, Outpost chess in my whole career. And your dedication to chess and its community is evident in your role as a FIDE certified instructor Teaching and inspiring young minds.

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Derek from Opening Master - Is there a particular student or moment in your teaching career that deeply touched your heart and reaffirmed the importance of passing on your knowledge and love for the game?

Lena - When it comes to me being a chess trainer, that came just after me being a professional player. And I found out that I wanted to contribute my knowledge and my experience and to teach mostly kids.

Uh, when you ask me who is my favorite, uh, students, I'm going to say kids, but chess is for everybody for adults, both. So, uh,  from zero to 100 years, whoever is interested actually to learn about chess,  you can reach out and find a fine trainer. Maybe Outpostchess is the best platform to find somebody to teach you to play chess.

And when it comes to like, Um, most amazing adventure I have in my student. It's definitely one of   my favorite students, Luca from New York. Um, and we went together  to Nashville to National Champions, um, in U. S. and he was, uh, like top 15 player out of like hundreds of kids there. So that was one of my favorite, um, venture, um, regarding me being a trainer.

And, um, After all, I became a FIDE instructor, so I got the title and I, but my purpose in that field is, um, is definitely to learn kids how to think in a, in a chess way, because it's, it's pretty important for, for life right after. It's clear that Outpost Chess is more than just a business venture for you.

It's a way to connect and uplift the entire chess community. As you strive to revolutionize individual sports organization and empower organizers, has there been a specific challenge or obstacle in this journey that tested your determination and belief in your vision? When it comes to me being in the business angle of chess, yes, definitely, there was a lot of obstacles, there was a lot of challenges, there was a lot of pivots there, but it's how business function actually. And when I entered there in that world, I'm still pretty young in the business world. It's like barely three years. Um, I didn't know how that role function.  And I actually, when it comes to similarity, and differences between business and chess.  There are a lot of things to mention there.

So similarities is the uni strategical thinking. You need to see moves ahead. You need to think about your, you know, environment and take all the things and consider everything in order to... Try to calculate something like in chess, but when it comes to business world, the things that I'm so disappointed in is I cannot calculate that much in the business world  because there's so many different options.

There's so many different answers. There's so many different situations that you need to just, um, uh, think through and there is no way to figure everything out. So the best advice for me is to just Just when it comes to business, just don't think a lot,  just jump in and swim because through that path you're swimming, um, you will learn a lot  and you will get a lot more than just thinking, is it a good idea or should I go or should I stay?

So just jump in and, and, um, and you're going to learn a lot.

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Derek from Opening Master - Throughout your life, you've pursued a well rounded approach, emphasizing physical and mental well being, as well as exploring your passion for music and creativity through singing. How have these additional pursuits influenced your journey in chess and the development of Outpost Chess?

I definitely always pursue a well rounded approach because I always knew that I'm not going to be just a player. I'm not going to be just a trainer. I'm not going to be just something. I want to meet everything. I want to go everywhere.  I want to learn about everything especially when it comes to chess.

 It's That is the reason why I created Outpost first for players To find tournaments to find club to find engagement and monetize their chess skills So we can live out of chess and seconds for organizer to create in a hub for organization Where they can easily do everything under one roof because of them, we are playing tournaments and we need to help them improve.

And, um, yeah, when I start, uh, creating Outpost chess platform, of course that I didn't have a time to play that much tournaments as I played, that caught that much as I, as I, uh, as I caught before. And to, to, um, to be an arbiter that much as I was before, but still I'm in chess and  I'm accepting the huge adventures like Olympiad in India last year  because me being in tournaments means a good thing for Outpost chess and a good things for the future for chess because um, um, I have a vision that chess can be connected digitally and that we can all be easily connected.

I can. I can easily find a club. I can easily be paid for something what I do.  So my vision is all about chess. I can do everything at once,  but I'm not anymore, anymore professional in chess because I put a lot of effort and time in being an Outpost CEO and trying to make the better place for everybody.

Derek from Opening Master - My last question, and also a question from our social media comments. Your purpose extends beyond personal success, as you seek to make a positive impact on the chess community and beyond. Considering the challenges and achievements you experienced so far, what message or legacy do you hope to leave behind as your contribution to the world of chess and the broader sports community?

Interview Lana Thumb

My purpose is to make... Every individual sports, not just chess, but chess first and chess mainly, but not only is that to make organization of sports, especially individual one easy to make people find a tournament, to make people register for tournament, to make people easily be paid for the tournament or for any of arts, any players get at the tournament.

And so my, my purpose and my vision is actually for Outpost chess, especially is when. Whoever asked you where to find an engaged chess person, the answer should be, hopefully soon, Outpost Chess.  There you can see player, there you can engage player, there you can pay player, and you can do whatever you want with your chess career as a chess career management.

Tool right there at Outpost Chess. I hope you're gonna like it. Um, I, I wish you can all register and I wish you can all, uh, try Outpost Chess service, um, from this, from the early stage to who know where we can go together. And we are lucky to talk with all our users. We are lucky to soak it up all feedbacks  we can in order to create the features that our users want.

And actually that chess. Um, users, uh, want to see on our platform, uh, in order to help them improve in chess in every single way. Thank you, Derek, for having me here. And I wish, um, to talk with you soon with some updates. Thanks a lot.

More questions and answers in the podcast series.
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